Cambodia Better Bring It

Ugh. I’ve been slacking on the blogging. I know. The thing is, I had to run all over town to find shorts. In February. In D.C. where the high temps this month have regularly hovered around “freezing your leg hairs off.”

(Also, I’ve had a lot of big deadlines to hit in the past couple of weeks. But let’s just blame the shorts, shall we?)

But we’re leaving this week for our annual Poe Super Birthday Extravaganza Trip to Far Flung Destinations–and this one is going to be a doozy.

This tradition began in 2008, when XFE was in Rome for work right before my birthday. We cashed in some miles and I met him and some of his co-workers over there, and had a merry old time eating lots of pasta, going to lots of museums and drinking lots of wine. And, of course, going to a soccer game (a tradition now whenever we travel to Europe).

The next year, XFE and his co-workers were in Japan, again, right around my birthday. In fact, I spent my actual birthday on the flight coming home. We did not see a soccer game but we did go to the opening day of a sumo wrestling match in Osaka. And ate lots of sushi, including sushi for breakfast after visiting the Tokyo Fish Market.

Tokyo Fish Market
That’s a lot of frozen sushi, which actually sounds quite gross.
Gambate
I don’t know, how do you sumo??

Every year, XFE has outdone himself, planning a bigger and better birthday trip. For my 40th, it was Australia. Two years ago, it was Peru. Last year, South Africa where I stroked a cheetah (YES, a cheetah!) and ate lamb’s brain at one of the world’s best restaurants.

South Africa Safari
Yep, just chilling with an elephant. No biggie.
South Africa cheetah preserve
That’s a cheetah, with my pudgy paw all up on it.

This year, it’s Cambodia (with stopovers in Singapore and Hong Kong). I know, right? I would not argue with anyone who says that I’m spoiled. I would lose that argument every damn time.

Oh, pardon me, I meant to say, the Kingdom of Cambodia. That is, apparently, the official name. Pretty bitchin’.

I am beyond excited. But I will say, it’s hella hot and humid in those places right now. So, I needed a couple of pairs of shorts, particularly since we’ll be visiting the very dusty, very hot, Angkor Wat. I want to make sure I have as much exposed pasty-white skin as possible to attract all of the mosquitoes in the area, and keep them away from my beloved trip planner, XFE. Love = sweating + risking yellow fever.

I don’t really know what to expect from this trip. I always like to say that we actually get to take a trip three times: once during all the excitement and anticipation of the planning stage. The second when we’re actually there, soaking it all in. And the third when I get to come back and write about it all. In fact, those amazing birthday trips (along with the non-birthday timed trips we tend to take as well) is what led to the creation of this blog. I wanted to document and remember all the amazing places we’ve been together. Even Peru, where my intestines tried to escape my body repeatedly.

You can't tell, but this not-so-young lady is wondering where the nearest bathroom is.
You can’t tell, but this not-so-young lady is wondering where the nearest bathroom is.

But because of the fluctuating nature of freelancing, I haven’t really gotten to take that first part of the trip. A lot of the planning has been carried out by XFE. He’s the one who found a spa for us to go get massages our first day in Siem Reap. He’s the one who found and arranged a fun-sounding food tour in Hong Kong called the Won-Ton-A-Thon.

We’ve actually put off a lot of the planning specifics, figuring we’ll use our 20-hour flight on this ridiculousness (YASSS to miles travel!) to figure out more details. Between stuffing our gobs with caviar and bossing our butler around, of course.

How on earth can they be gazing into each other’s eyes when there’s so many other things to see on this airplane??

Then I realized — when I was working in an office and not very happy with my work environment, I would spend a lot of my free time daydreaming and researching our upcoming trips. Now that I’m my own boss, I seem to be a bit more focused and productive. Hence, no daydreaming and a lack of blog posts, as well.

Which makes this trip kind of exciting. I haven’t ruminated it to death. I’ll be seeing everything with fresh eyes. Sure, we might miss some neighborhood or hot restaurant that we would have known about if I’d just spent more time on TripAdvisor, but I’m looking forward to just being blown away by the strangeness and the newness and the overall foreignness.

I haven’t even really thought out my packing list. Which is why, while the rest of the greater Washington D.C. area was out chipping ice off their sidewalks on Sunday, I was running around a mall trying to find sweltering-weather appropriate gear.

Why didn’t I pack some anti-malarial pills? (nice shorts, btw)

And, while I’m typing this, I’m supposed to be packing. XFE has been packed since Saturday.

Guess I better get to it.

Friday Links: Sassy Cats See Buildings Shaped Like Food and/or Brains Edition

I’m frolicking in Naples, Italy right now, eating all of the thin crust pizza, and pasta, and creamy pastries, and just fried everything I can get my sticky little fingers on while my travel-buddy-for-life XFE actually works. Maybe the guys who make the expandable suitcase below could branch out into some expandable pants in time for my return.

This is the proper way to eat Italian cheese. I learned that from a Euro of Hollywood, so it’s a FAKT.

In the meantime:

Totally Random Search Terms for November

Guess what time it is? Well, perhaps it is indeed Hammer Time, somewhere, say in like, an alternative universe where Aresenio Hall is still cool, Bill Cosby’s only major crime is wearing ugly sweaters, and baggy-crotched satiny pants are the thing. Oh wait. Those pants are actually back. Allegedly.

No, it’s time for Totally Random Search Terms that Brought Someone to thePoeLog this month! For those who don’t remember, here’s a couple of posts that explain it.

This month was particularly interesting for two reasons. 1) I got a ridiculous number of people who found the blog while trying to solve the mystery of My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding. Well, not the mystery of how that show exists, but rather, a murder mystery that was totally mentioned and glossed over on one of the episodes. Someone was beyond passionately curious about what had happened to gypsy Baby Pat’s baby sister. As far as I can tell, that episode isn’t in heavy rotation or anything, so I have no idea why so many people were looking for that information in November.

The other weird outlier falls into the category I call perverts. I, along with a lot of the Internet, I’m sure, get a lot of folks who – well, let’s just say, they’re not here to read about my excellent eggplant parmigiana. But this past month, there was someone/something looking diligently for any information/pictures of Indian women going to the bathroom. All kinds of “going to the bathroom” activities. But very specifically, Indian women. Or Indian aunties. Or Indian girls.

I just can’t. I don’t even. I can’t.

I can't even.

Anyway. That seems like an incredibly awkward transition to the work at hand here: a Q&A using a small sampling of Totally Random Search Terms that Brought Someone to thePoeLog in November.

What to pack for 18 day vacation? – First of all, that is awesome. I’m totally jealous. No idea where you’re going but an 18-day vacation sounds amazing. Unless you’re going to like, Stolipinova in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Apparently, that place is not very nice. And it is the home to a whole bunch of Romani, as in GYPSIES, which would make me kinda excited, but the whole rubbish-lined stinky streets thing does put me off. And the violence.

But back to your question. I have spent many a sleepless night fretting over what to pack for a trip, as you can see here, here and here. Hopefully, this post helped you out a bit as well.

My most recent strategy (and one I’ll use for my upcoming trip to Italy) has been to take everything I wore today, yesterday, and the day before, toss them in a suitcase, add toiletries, clean undies, and a blazer, and go. At least then I know I’m taking stuff I actually wear, instead of inspirational, Pinterest-inspired nonsense.

Are the American Pickers worried about hantavirus? – Ah yes, the hantavirus. I remember this threat from the Summer of Disease Outbreaks. The Wikipedia informs us:

Human infections of hantaviruses have almost entirely been linked to human contact with rodent excrement, but recent human-to-human transmission has been reported with the Andes virus in South America.

We still regularly watch American Pickers around these parts, and I have to agree: with all the disgusting foraging those guys do in really questionably conditions, they should indeed be worried about getting a disease carried by rodent excrement. They should also worry about collapsing piles of trash. That show, while enjoyable, gives me the heeby-jeebies. I can’t handle hoarders, even in the name of “collecting.” Makes me itchy.

Wikipedia also suggests some ways to prevent contact with the hantavirus. I find the last one particularly reassuring:

General prevention can be accomplished by disposing of rodent nests, sealing any cracks and holes in homes where mice or rats could get in, setting up traps, laying down poisons or using natural predators such as cats in the home.

Maybe the American Picker guys should bring a cat along on their trips. Kitty cats + foraging through junk = ratings gold.

Is Judge Loren Lake a little person? – First of all, it’s Lauren Lake. Not Loren. Second, hmmm, that’s kinda rude, dontcha think? I agree completely with calling into question her experience and qualifications as a judge, but I don’t know why her stature is under question.

Although, she does look a bit shrunken behind that ginormous “Paternity Court” bench.

Judge Lauren Lake on Paternity Court

Best Vegas hotel bathrooms. – I have spent a lot of time in many Vegas hotel bathrooms. Wait. That sounds weird.

I’ve stayed in a fair number of Vegas hotels, and many of them had very nice bathrooms. I have not, however, stayed at every hotel, so I don’t know if I can be considered an authority on them.

Of the one’s I have enjoyed, I’d probably pick the Cosmopolitan, which I think definitely had the best hotel bathrobe I’ve ever experienced. I also really liked the lady silhouette wallpaper in the separate toilet area. Very chic. Oh, and the Venetian. That bathroom was amazing. And I haven’t written about it, but the Wynn had gorgeous bathrooms as well, if memory serves.

Luckily, there are other folks who have waded through the Strip powder rooms and come up with lists. I especially like this one from RefinedGuy.com. My favorite in his list is the Ivory Tower Suite bathroom at the Palms. I. Die.

Palms bathroom Las

Things to put on Facebook. – Well, if my feed is any indication, what people choose to put on Facebook are their idiotic rants about politics, race in America, immigration and guns, along with pictures of the same sunsets we all saw on our way home that day, and children in apple orchards/pumpkin patches/Christmas tree farms and the family pets. The truly surprising part is that it’s the exact same group of people posting in both of those categories. Sunsets and race in America. Same person. Weird.

You know, the first rule in writing is to know your audience. There’s no easier place to know your audience than on Facebook. They’re your family and friends. You should have a pretty good idea of their tolerance level for political rants and/or cutesy stuff. But at the end of the day, Facebook is social, so be social. Whatever that means to you. For most people, it means, don’t be annoying or provoke people into fighting with you. That’s not “social.”

And, we’re all adults. If we’re fed up with your “prescription for what’s wrong with America,” we’ll unfriend or block your posts. No biggie. I do it all the time.

So post whatever you want. Maybe even some nonsense on Indian women pooping in Vegas bathrooms while on an 18-day vacation.

The XFE Packing Solution

(Editor’s Note: XFE is back with another guest post.)

That’s right friends I am back and not with just some hotel crashing post full of pictures, but with real, get to know XFE content.  As readers of ThePoeLog know, Poe struggles to get herself properly packed for all of the fabulous trips she takes and quite honestly the whining has to stop.  As a result, our upcoming trip will be packed using the new following approach.

Step 1: Poe will go ahead and pick her suitcases and start the process.

I am sure she will use something like this from Style BluePrint in Nashville full of great tips like “3 swimsuits, and if they are 2-pieces, make sure the bottoms coordinate with the tops so you have even more options.” Thanks for the incredibly helpful tip. You may want to also add something like “If the top of your two-piece with the detachable neck tie, you may want to bring that detachable neck tie, otherwise you will be trapped in Peru and XFE will have to MacGyver you a neck strap from one of your shoe laces from your hiking boots.” But who am I to enlighten the packing community?

This little gem of a packing list is by women for women, and although Croatia-specific it is also backpack specific, with tips like “5 pairs of underwear – Laundromats are plentiful in each town, but I just washed mine in the sink and let them air dry.” I am not sure how Poe could go wrong. Sink rinsed and air dried chonies are fine for the bunk beds at the hostels Poe used to frequent when she was a broke traveler, but not appropriate for Austrian Business class.

Who wants to brush their teeth near these things?
Who wants to brush their teeth near these things?

This list did allow me to learn about another apparently great travel invention The Diva Cup. I will let you read the article. I, however, have already been scarred enough today.

Finally, Poe will undoubtedly turn to some other general packing list, or my personal favorite, she will work to combine multiple packing lists from various sources into her own super mega packing list/approach/methodology. This behemoth will ultimately result in arriving to sunny summer in Croatia with 6 pairs of pants, 1 skirt, 3 shoes (not pairs; you can mix and match) and a handful of hair ties. It will be like last year in Austin where she brought two pairs of cowboy boots AND  bought a third pair of boots but failed to pack a sweater for 50-degree windy January days. So that is it. That will be Poe packing approach. Right until we reach step 2.

Step 2: Poe has to fit whatever pile she has gathered from above into one half of the selected suitcases.

Half suitcase

Only half.

Step 3: XFE will completely ignore what Poe has gathered and will fill the remaining half of the suitcase with bikinis, dresses, skirts, tops, and underwear.  Now, how does that sound different than step 1, you might ask? Well let me tell you: I am not over-thinking it. I am just reaching into the dark corners of the drawers where the skimpy items are tucked, and the top shelves of the closets to find all those great lost gems I have stood outside of dressing rooms watching Poe buy.

This is the Dalmatian coast; where the sun is bright, the air hot and the parties go on forever. Hotel rooms are sold with line passes to nightclubs. We will be there when the country is admitted to the EU, maybe a celebration will break out. We are staying at the #1 hotel in Dubrovnik with a balcony overlooking the city. Heels and a skirt to tour wineries and sample oysters? YES! Wedges and a dress to sit and drink through a long lunch? Yes! Heels and a cover-up to get from our room to the lounges below? YES! The smallest little G-string you own? Yes! It is vacation — YES! YES! YES!

Our hotel in Dubrovnik. Coverups: optional
Our hotel in Dubrovnik. Coverups: optional

This is Croatia and our summer vacation. Have I turned Poe into a Barbie? Maybe – but if it gets her packed and out the door and looking cute for the duration of vacation, it is victory. I am all for it and so should you be, my readers.  Otherwise, we are all destined to be subjected to this packing drama for all of eternity, and I am just not up for enduring that pain.

Friday Linkage: Big Cats Find Love on Metro

  • crowdWant to get even closer to the sweaty intern swaying next to you on the packed Blue line this summer? Now there’s a dating website for DC metro riders. Giving new meaning to “weekend track work.” (I have no idea what I was insinuating there. Doesn’t really work, does it? Look! Something shiny!)

big cat

  • Speaking of metro, I saw the above advertisement on the way home the other night. Apparently, big cats are roaming the wilds of DC and disrupting public safety. Maybe I should alert them about this beastie.

Petunia Garbo

 

  • My super helpful friend Emilia (who’s killing me with her Instagrams of her vacation in Cinque Terre right now) sent me this list of shark-infested waters a couple of week’s ago, with a note: “I bet you’re in the midst of planning your next vacation. Be sure to pass this along to XFE so he can consider one of these & please his loving girlfriend.” Nice. Don’t fall off any cliffs, Emilia.

 

  • It’s only a month till our trip to Croatia and I have not started my packing matrix! Just kidding. Of course I have. And I incorporated a few tips from this packing tutorial on Refinery 29, even though I will obviously NOT be trying to live out of a carry on.

 

  • Life is full of difficult choices. But deciding, NAY, knowing when to drink beer in the shower is no longer one of them, thanks to this handy infographic. Have a great holiday weekend!
Should I Drink a Beer in the Shower?

 

A New Packing Strategy for Sensible People (Not Me)

I forgot to include this in yesterday’s post.

2012 travel

It really is quite impressive. It’s my travel year in review.

I flew 59,866 miles. My longest flight was between Munich and Bangkok, twice 5,474 miles.

Anyway, our latest trip was a long weekend in Austin, Texas over New Year’s Eve.

Usually, I fret and panic over what to pack for a trip. This trip, I tried to employ a new packing strategy that I read about in the online version of Lucky. The part that really, really resonated with me was this:

When people cancel plans on her claiming “I have to pack,” my friend Deirdre says, “Go upstairs. Put what you’re wearing in a suitcase. Then put in what you wore yesterday. Now put on what you were going to wear tomorrow. Go out, like you were supposed to before you came up with this stupid packing excuse. Sleep, get up, put that same outfit on. Add anything you wear for exercising and a toothbrush, zip the thing, and leave.”

YES, I thought. That’s some sound advice. However, I imagined I would have to amend this idea because (a) Texas is much warmer than DC, so I won’t need all those pesky, bulky sweaters I’ve been slouching around in; (b) it’s New Year’s Eve, which is going to require some going-out clothing, but since that’s the only time we’re really doing it up, I’ll only need the one sparkly outfit; and (c) I have to bring cowboy boots.

Hmmm, sparkly cowboy boots? Two birds, one diamond-like stone.
Hmmm, sparkly cowboy boots? Two birds, one diamond-like stone.

So basically, I completely ignored the advice.

On point A: I checked the weather beforehand, and it was pretty up and down. But honestly, highs in the mid 50s didn’t seem to bad. I brought plenty of plaid button downs and t-shirts to wear underneath, and only one cardigan. But winter is winter, and Austin’s weather was as temperamental as a moody teenager. It rained. It got windy. It drizzled. It was cold. It was mild. It was all over the place. Thank the packing gods I had brought a mid-weight coat, but of course, I forgot an even more useful scarf. And there were times when that coat was too warm or reeked of barbecue smoke. LESSON: Next time, I’ll bring a leather jacket and my much missed scarf. Maybe a bulkier sweater as well, just in case.

On point B: An impromptu girl’s dinner at a very nice restaurant popped up on the schedule. It was nice, but not NYE-outfit-nice. A new gray silk sparkly blouse was hastily procured. A blouse that is alarmingly similar to at least three other silky gray sparkly blouses I had in my closet back home. LESSON: Bring a second nice top or jacket, just in case.

On point C: This is the one where I fell furthest from my packing goals. I brought not one, but two pairs of cowboy boots. Then I bought another pair. Which made me look like a total tourist carrying my Allen’s boot box on the plane because I couldn’t get another pair in my suitcase. Embarrassing. LESSON: If you are thePoeLog going to Austin, you probably will buy another pair of boots. So you better just leave a pair at home so there’s more room in your suitcase for the new ones.

boots

Oh well. There’s always next time. I definitely, DEFINITELY will try to pack light for Peru.

Packing Strategy for a Week in Costa Rica

We leave tomorrow for a week on the beach (And in a fishing boat. And a scuba boat. Basically, we can’t or won’t sit still.)

Nevertheless! Vacation looms. Which means so does my favorite part of vacation – packing!

I’ve already referred to my obsession with packing.

And, I’ve come up with a tentative packing list for Costa Rica, thanks to the ladies of RHoOC. However, as I mentioned in that post, my closet and drawers are oddly bereft of hot pink and bedazzled items.

Which of course necessitated a quick(ish) trip to H&M.

To summarize, my packing strategy for a week in Costa Rica (in less than 30 steps)

1. Run to H&M on a Friday at lunch.

2. Dodge mobs of sweaty tourists.

3. Head directly to the swimsuit section since that’s all you really need or in the market for and grab every available size of swimsuit separates.

4. Go to ridiculously packed dressing room line and wait. And wait. And wait.

5. Finally get into a cramped dressing room with no air conditioning and fluorescent lighting.

6. Begin the torture of trying on bathing suits pieces.

7. Cry.

8. Throw bathing suits around cramped dressing room, hitting yourself in the eye with the plastic-yet-oddly-sharp hanger.

9. Leave the dressing room empty-handed and depressed.

10. Grab armfuls of anything tropically-themed or sequined and priced $10-$15. This includes items that may be dresses but are more likely just swimsuit cover ups. Including a leopard print, spaghetti-strapped romper that you most definitely cannot wear a bra with.

11. Avoid the now even more packed 7-item-limit dressing rooms. You have too many items.

12. Go back through the store and drop off anything that might be fitted and might need to be tried on.

13. Replace fitted items with elastic waist items or flowy items with belts.

14. Swoop through accessories and snap up electric blue feather earrings ala Gretchen that you will never in your life wear outside of a tropical locale or bachelorette party.

I know, Gretchen! I’m excited too!

15. Stand in stupidly long line, debating every item you’ve dragged to the register but not tried on, eventually justifying each item as “eh, it’s only $10.”

16. Hand over $100 bucks for like, 22 items. Vacation shopping: complete.

17. Head towards the exit, checking watch to see if you have time to swing by Pret A Manger for a sandwich on the way back to work.

18. See a rack with a cute silky black $10 top that’s (a) tropically themed with an adorable red/orange/pink orchid-y print running down one side of it, and (b) has cute little short sleeves so your arms won’t look like sausages (which they surely will in that other sleeveless sequined top you just bought. Eh, it was $10. Two silky shirts won’t kill anyone)

19. Run around the store playing a very grown up version of the Memory Match game, trying to remember where you saw the hot pink (finally! RHoOC here I come!) pleated shorts that would just perfectly match the cute tropical top you just found.

20. Find the shorts after 13 laps around the entire store.

21. Fret over what size might fit. “Let’s see, normally I wear a size 8 or 10, but this is H&M, which skews much younger than me, so what’s the juvenile equivalent of a size 8 or 10?? And, H&M is a European brand, which always runs smaller. If I remember correctly, in European sizing I wear like a 12 or 14, so what I really need here is a juvenile size 20?? Is that right? Wait, what time is it? Crap!”

22. Do the old “hold this up to my hip bones” sizing method.

23. Grab a size 10 in the shorts and go back to the stupidly long line, which is now at a COMPLETE standstill as cashiers go on break / to restock / to break up fights in the dressing room lines / to administer first aid to a woman with an injured eye who was trying on swimsuits she shouldn’t have been trying on in the first place.

24. Reach the cashier who is taking her sweet ass time about everything.

This guy actually has paper. My girl did not.

25. Listen patiently as she explains that she’s running out of printer paper so she seriously hopes you’re not paying with a credit card.

26. Shove $24 cash at the cashier, who then informs you that she’s out of printer paper and cannot print you a receipt. For items you have not tried on. And might need to return.

27. Snatch bag and glare.

28. Dash back to work. Close office door and try on shorts under your work skirt.

29. Do happy dance in office half-dressed because by some miracle, they fit perfectly. And they’re hot pink.

The final step will be to shove my bag of H&M-ware into a suitcase along with previous years’ bathing suits, floppy hat, a couple of pairs of strappy sandals and some flip flops. Done and done.

But more likely, this will be my packing strategy (courtesy of the very funny and talented Jenna Marbles).

Packing for an 18-Day Vacation: Doomsday Preppers

Have y’all seen this new NatGeo show, Doomsday Preppers? It’s about these crazy people who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it by stockpiling food and other products, sharpening their survival skills and basically, polishing their guns.

That’s basically how my travel-buddy-for-life XFE and I prepare for a trip.

We are not the kind of people that show up at a hotel and realize that we don’t have a corkscrew and a collapsible cooler. Yes, those are actual items on our packing list, a list that, by the way, is quite exhaustive and thorough. We’re very, very prepared. Outfits are tried on, arguments are had, tears flow and eventually, a suitcase (or three per person) is packed.

Continue reading Packing for an 18-Day Vacation: Doomsday Preppers