Browse Category by Unusual Adventures
Burning Man, Inspiring Stuff, Travel, Unusual Adventures, USA

How Burning Man broke my self-identity: part 2.

How Burning Man broke my self identity

We had arrived.

Continued from part 1.

Part 3 can be found here. 

I’d read about the dust, and with it billowing around us, there was no mistake. We had made it to the playa.

Pulling into the bus depot, we all rush off the bus – we’re here, we’re here! As the baggage gets unloaded, we’re herded into a small group where the virgins are asked to step forward. Knowing that’s me, I move to the front of the group. We’re given a hammer and told to hit a bell as hard as we can as part of our initiation ceremony.

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Burning Man, Inspiring Stuff, Travel, Unusual Adventures, USA

How Burning Man broke my self-identity: part 1.

With Burning Man quickly approaching, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how my first trip to Burning man in 2014 broke my self-identity, rebuilding me into who I am today.

This story deserves to be told it its fully glory, so this will be a mini series. To make sure you don’t miss parts 2 & 3, subscribe via email using the menu on the left (below for mobile).  

*Jurrasic park voice* Welcome…. to part 1! 

If you’ve never heard of Burning Man, you were just like me.

I had just gotten my first ‘big-girl’ job working in downtown Chicago. As such, it was my first job with paid time off. I didn’t know what to do with myself! I’d been working there for a while and had saved up enough money to take a vacation. Where was I going to go? Continue Reading

Japan, Travel, Unusual Adventures

Becoming a Geisha

Becoming a Geisha in Kyoto, Japan

While traveling through Japan I had the opportunity to get a “Geisha Makeover”.

This was one of the things at the top of my list. I’m a huge fan of Mulan (I know, I know, that’s China but it was my first exposure to Geisha) and would love to get my makeup done in that way and get all ‘brided-up’.

I did some research and found a boutique called Miaca in Kyoto, Japan. Miaca offers the Geisha and Miako experience. If you’re a dude, you can still opt for these, or the Samurai experience!

What’s the difference between a Geisha and a Maiko?

I admit, I had never heard of ‘Maiko’. I thought there was just Geisha, Geisha and Geisha. Maybe a super Geisha even since we’re in Japan and everything is all fantastical.

I began to do lots of research on Geishas. How does one become a Geisha? What does a Geisha actually do? Are there still Geishas in modern day Japan? The answers were very interesting.
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Hong Kong, Travel, Unusual Adventures

A Day with the Dogs – a Dog Cafe in Hong Kong

This post is dedicated to the memory of my own sweet pup, Chessie.

May she rest in peace, her gentle spirit always in our memories.


Cat Cafes are popular and all the rage in Asia, but is there such a thing as a Dog Cafe?

If you’re a regular reader, a semi-reader, you may have picked up that I’m a huge animal lover. If this is your first time at my blog, now you know!

Over the last three months I’ve been traveling throughout Asia. I’ve been making it a point to visit Cat Cafes in each country I visit. Hong Kong would be no different!

Hong Kong is a giant city – it reminds me a lot of New York. Plentiful public transit, hoards of people, tons of shopping, and crowded everything. I thought to myself “A big city like this…I wonder if there is such a thing as a Dog Cafe?”

Well, as luck may have it, there is! I spent several hours yesterday petting the pooches at On Dog Dog Cafe.

Dog Cafe 101

One thing thats been taking a little getting used to for me is how Kong Hong is laid out – specifically, finding addresses and businesses. When trying to find my hostel, I had to walk down a rather sketchy looking alley way to find the elevator that would take me to it on the 4th floor.

It’s not uncommon for restaurants, like Pizza Hut and McDonalds, to be on the 4th floor in a suite like an apartment. Such was the same with On Dog Dog Cafe. I managed to find the building, walk up a sketchy staircase (complete with flickering lights like in a horror movie) and knock on the door for 1F.

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Travel, Unusual Adventures, Vietnam

Welcome to Hanoi: Listen to your Gut.

Always listen to your gut. Mine saved me from a super sketchy situation in Hanoi, Vietnam - potentially saving my life.
listen listen

Sometimes you hear people talk about “listen to your instincts, all the answers are there – your passion, your purpose bla bla bla”.

My instincts, or ‘my gut’, never tells me these things. It sits there silently, sometimes mumbling about pizza or sushi. Except last night when it screamed it’s pea-pickin’ heart out.

I arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam late in the evening. Getting off the plane, I smoothly get my visa, pick up my bag and send a quick email to my host family letting them know I’m headed for a taxi. Stopping at the ATM, a well dressed gentlemen asks me if I need a taxi – and yes, yes I do.

Note: This isn’t uncommon in Asia. Whether you’re getting off a boat, the plane, or a simply walking around, locals come and poach people for their businesses all the time.

“Come stay at my hostel!” “Tuk Tuk! Where you go?” “Taxi!”

I told him yes and we went outside. He started smoking a cigarette and asked me here I was from – all the basic small talk. I showed him the address of where I wanted to go, and we haggled a price. He was holding my phone when he said he had to run to the rest room – this maybe should have been a flag for me, but as a sometimes absent minded person myself I didn’t think about it too much. I asked for it back when he returned and checked to make sure no other apps had been opened – they hadn’t.

We head to his car which is not labeled as a Taxi, but again, not uncommon. I’ve ridden with other drivers in Asia who are just trying to make some money and they’ve all been very nice, albeit awkward with their poor English. It’s like when your dentist asks how you are with all their tools in your mouth.

I decline to put my gear in the trunk and keep it in the seat with me. He asks me how old I am – I lie and tell him 30. Why is he asking? I’ve never been asked that before – not even by other travelers.

Getting in the car, I notice there is a second man in the car – this is where my gut starts grumbling. It’s unusual for there to be two people, but I’ve ridden in an Uber back in Chicago where the guy’s girlfriend was zipping around with him in the mini van for the day. It happens fast – the car starts and we drive off.

The second man starts talking to me – he asks how old I am. Not typical small talk conversation. I roll my window down at that point under the pretense that I need some fresh air because my stomach is sick from the plane. He asks me where I’m from and if I have a boyfriend.

After trying to get me to roll the window up, and my adamant refusal, they chat between themselves for a moment, giving me a chance to pull out my hair pin and hold it in my hand. My mom once mentioned that she would hold her hair pins in her hands when walking home from work at night (see mom, I listened more than I let on).

The passenger guy turns around and starts telling me I’m ‘very beautiful’ and offers me a cigarette. While I could have used one at that moment I decline telling him that my stomach hurts. He then offers me a candy saying it will help my stomach – I decline again. He continues to try to get me to smoke a cigarette a few minutes later.

That’s like anti-kidnapping 101: don’t take candy from strangers.

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Thailand, Travel, Unusual Adventures

My first Cat Cafe: Cat n a Cup

My first cat cafe Cat in a Cup
My first cat cafe

Cat n a Cup, one cool cat cafe.

As is my way, I spent one of the first days in Chiang Rai, Thailand exploring my surroundings and getting a little lost.

Walking down the alley near my hostel, I spotted a beautiful clock tower that was so shiny it drew me in like an insect to a bug light.

Clock tower Chiang Rai Thailand
Clock tower Chaing Rai Thailand

So mesmerized by the tower, I almost didn’t realize that I was standing right next to a shop window that was filled with beady little cat eyes.
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