Kathmandu, Nepal: Silent Wonderment

I spent a good amount of time during my under graduate degree with two Professors.  One incited a love for urban anthropology and food, and their other dedicated her career to Nepali disparities and politics. Year after year of listening and barely breaking the surface of Nepal’s diverse people, politics and landscape, I knew I had to put it on my list of places to travel to.

Leaving my comfort zone and expanding my mind is my number one reason of traveling. I had no idea what I was getting into – and that was fine with me. 3 days and 4 nights were all that we had on our itinerary for this small sliver of earth.

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A Letter to Delta

Hi there.  I don’t really expect a response, nor can I expect that the person reading this on the other end can do anything about it.  I’m sure your leadership has discussed this ad nauseam.  But I wanted to let you know, if it counts for anything, that I’m leaving Delta.  For years, I’ve been a loyal Delta flyer.  I proudly put my Medallion bag tag on every year.  I tell everyone they should fly Delta.  I know my SkyMiles number by heart.
When flying for work, I am not permitted to book a first class ticket as much as I’d like to but I do generally book tickets within that “business” window of 3-7 days prior to travel which costs more than the average leisure flyer that books 14-21+ days in advance.  I do, however, have the opportunity to pick my airline and any economy seat within $150 of the lowest cost option.  And, I have to assume that many other companies and the vast majority of business flyers are in a similar boat that I’m in: economy seats, some flexibility on fares and timeframes.
After finally reading about the new 2015 changes, I did all the math and was heartbroken.  There is never an example for me where I would actually earn SkyMiles equal or more under the new system than I would in the existing system.  Never.
I see that your marketing team thought really hard to get people excited about the two new tiers of redemption, neither of which actually make it less expensive to redeem.  And about one-way rewards, which is great for the person not coming back home, ever.  But the new program, for the vast majority of people, is really bad.
You should notice that towards May/June, I immediately cut back on my Delta flights.  I started flying other airlines to test them out and see which ones I like the best.  I learned that, at the end of the day, a flight is a flight.  A seat is a seat.  The small nuances between the airlines aren’t enough anymore to make a difference.  What does make that difference is being able to save up to redeem for some pretty nice vacations, when I don’t have to fly for work, to be able to fly some place fun.  And the new system just doesn’t give me that opportunity.
So, I write you this long and sad message.  As I plan out what very well may be my final revenue trip on Delta, trying to earn as many miles as I can so I can redeem them in 2015.   Off to American Airlines it seems, until eventually they too end the loyalty they hold with their members.

Lessons Learned From Thailand

Lessons learned from Thailand:

  1. Don’t rent a car in Thailand without patience.
  2. Elephants are huge.
  3. Tigers are scary.
  4. I am completely ignorant about animal rights, but I’m pretty sure I got a Christmas card photo with a tiger for $30 USD.
  5. Take the road less traveled.
  6. Monitor Lizards and Komodo Dragons are different, but equally fucking huge.

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BKK

Thailand

We arrived in Bangkok around noon on Saturday.  I thought we both had gotten a decent rest on the 3 legs that got us to Bangkok (Auckland>Taipei>Bangkok.)  The Bangkok airport is massive.  A maze of travelators to different floors, easy customs to navigate.  After punching in our passports we deemed we had nothing to declare and we were fed out into the street.  Starved, and tired of airplane food, we went on a quest for food.

There were minimal options at the airport food court; a Thai restaurant with pictures and a hostess, Subway, or 7 Eleven.  A dear friend who I attended uni with and did a year of teaching English abroad in Thailand advised us that the 7 Eleven’s were quick and easy.  While they appear to be the same as back in the states, there is a complete myriad of amazing choices.  Manny opted for a comfortable hot dog on a stick, while I erred on the side of cautiousness with a KitKat; damn you sesame allergy.  There are so many things I wish I could taste and experience.

Leary of cab drivers, we hopped in one and headed to our hotel in downtown BKK.  Our eyes were peeled as we traveled in and out of slums and beautiful high rises.  The billboards were skyscrapers in their own right.  Towering over the freeway, massive truss work held up both English and Thai advertisements.  Bangkok is truly a city of contradictions. More on that as we explore.  

Cab driver's roof
Cab driver’s roof

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Kiwi Hospitality

 

Kia ora!  Welcome to New Zealand!

We were lucky enough to have two amazing hosts in Auckland.  One prior to our arrival who is a grade school friend of Manny’s.  We were able to meet with Arielle in New York prior to leaving for our trip.  While we patiently sipped a drink, she hand wrote 4 pages of notes what to do in and around Auckland.

Sam, a friend of mine recently relocated to Auckland on a whim from London to wisely explore.

With Arielle and Sam’s suggestions, we hit each and every one of the surrounding Auckland destinations, but I will break it down by day and activities.
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30+ Hours of Travel to the Kiwis

This blog post comes to you from seat 2A on a China Airlines flight from Taipei to Sydney.  So far this is flight #3 in a series of four to get to our final destination of New Zealand.  The flights have been fine, not really any boredom, just a hint here or there in between naps.

Thew view out the window right now is beyond stunning.  We just crossed over the south west tip of Papua New Guinea.  Confused and devoid of any knowledge of what day or time it is, trying to heed my own advice of “live in the timezone you’re in,” came this breath taking moment.  The importance of travel.  I travel to expand my knowledge of oneself, to reinforce there’s no one right perspective.

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Most of my undergrad work was focused on cultural anthropology.  Reading about lands far off untouched by the western thought, and then I woke up staring at the fictional Southern Hemisphere.

It’s strange how a feeling or an act, let’s say a striking auburn sunrise can evoke such thought.  After the past few years working, and living, I felt I always had to rationalize a liberal arts degree.  I must admit I first chose the degree for the amount of field trips that it offered, anything to get out of a classroom.  I was ashamed of this, even so when I had to start applying for jobs.  So, i intertwined a pseudo business degree and learned enough in the process to get by.

Now, I crave field trips.  I don’t regret that 17 year old’s choice.  I think it’s the most important thing in the world to understand another perspective.  To see the things you read about in books come alive, and then maybe write your own one.  To get out of the cubicle, even though I’ve never worked in one of those.
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The Art of Packing

In the months prior to the trip, Kim and I spent a lot of time thinking. Thinking, researching, and wondering. Everything from the countries we should visit to the activities we wanted to cover to simply finding our overarching goal was carefully calculated and discussed. Knowing we only had a month’s time for this adventure and we wanted it to be a buffet of experiences from around the globe, we did everything from listing out countries, crossing them off, and starting over again. Our first list had over 60 countries on it that we wanted to see.

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Numero Uno

Here’s the skinny.

Who: Kim and Manny, corporate travelers (and lovers) who hoarded travel and credit card points for years and planned a really badass trip.

 

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What: A round the world business class ticket purchased on exclusively points; 8 countries to visit, plus an additional 7 in transit, and a once in a lifetime experience.  We’re accepting movie deals starting now.

Where: Visit our itinerary here

When: May 2014, coming home just in time celebrate the 2014 wedding season.  6 weddings are coming up this year and we can’t wait to teach our friends our newly acquired, worldly dance moves.

Why: Leaving one’s comfort level to awaken curiosity.  The world is a huge and amazing place, and it’s time to explore outside of the US of A.

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