My 2017 Travel Bucket List

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When it comes to travel, I’m a big dreamer. I love reading travel blogs, following travel photographers, and Pinterest browsing destinations. Three months into this new year, I’ve finally put together my travel plans, hopes & dreams for 2017. I thought I’d share my list and why I hope to visit these places this year, and perhaps inspire others to dream towards the horizon.



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Komodo, Indonesia
This tiny island of Indonesia is home to the largest lizard on Earth, the Komodo dragon. The island of Komodo is only 150 square miles, and is entirely a national park. To get to the island, we’d have to fly to neighboring Flores, and take a four hour boat to the park island. In addition to the deadly and fascinating dragons, Komodo has beautiful beaches and some great diving/snorkeling sites. As we currently call Indonesia home, I’m hoping to branch further out this year in my Indonesia travels, and Komodo looks like an amazing place to start.

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Hamilton: My American Obsession

For me, it began in January 2016. I had seen a few Facebook posts and Internet articles about this Broadway show called Hamilton: An American Musical. I can’t say I remembered much about Alexander Hamilton from history class past the $10 bill and the milk commercial. But the cast album had reached #1 on Billboard’s RAP CHART. And I was curious. So I opened Spotify and began to listen to an album that would impact my entire year.

I was immediately captivated by the album. I’ve been a HUGE Broadway fan for years, but less of a rap & hip-hop fan. Still, I was hooked. However, I admit I had to open the Wikipedia page for the show to fully follow what was happening. But soon after my first listen, I went back for more. And more. And more. Until it was all I was listening to. Each time I listened, I heard new lyrics and understood new levels of creativity and significance in the words. Then, came the podcasts.

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City Guide: Amed, Bali


Amed, a sleepy town on the far east coast of Bali, is a diamond in the rough. Decades ago, Amed was probably nothing more than a typical mountainside Balinese village. But as tourism crept in, and the depths of Amed’s Jemeluk Bay were first explored by adventurers, so came the restaurants, guest houses & dive shops. Today, Amed still feels like a Balinese village…with a high percentage of foreigners. Only one road runs through the heart of Amed, and in the midst of tourist expansion, the Balinese heart & culture remain evident. Amed continues to be a favorite getaway spot of ours on Bali, so here’s your guide to what to eat, drink, see & do while in Amed.

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A Freediver’s Journey – To 30m and Back (Pt. 2 of 3)

Guest blog post by Creagon Patrick in collaboration with Fusion Freediving in Amed, Bali. Click here to read Part 1 and Part 3.

Three… I lay flat on the surface of the ocean, one arm holding on to diving buoy and the other flowing with the waves and mild current. Air rushes down my snorkel drawn by the the first of my warmup breaths… strong in, slow out. I drop one of my three fingers, physically reminding myself where I am in my habitual process.

Two… I check that every muscle is relaxed to achieve a near resting heart rate. Although I am pumped up to make this dive, every extra beat is wasted movement and will rob me of precious bottom time oxygen. Exhale….This time I empty every last bit of air, even doing an abdominal crunch to remove the last bits of stale carbon dioxide.

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A Freediver’s Journey – To 4 minutes and 34 seconds (Pt. 1 of 3)

Guest blog post by Creagon Patrick in collaboration with Fusion Freediving in Amed, Bali. Click here to read Part 2 and Part 3.

“Relax… Relax every muscle in your body…” These were the comforting words of my dive coach. I was laying face down in a pool holding my breath. My first 30 seconds without the normal rhythm of oxygen in… and carbon dioxide out… is all about breaking the lifelong habit.


“Release any tension in your neck, shoulders, back…” I could feel a gentle touch helping me identify the slightest unproductive strain on my body. This is when I start to struggle with boredom. Itches appear from nowhere or I am tempted to adjust the fitting of my mask, but I know that any movement now can cost me seconds in the end.

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9 Books To Read While Traveling

I love reading while traveling. Nothing passes the time on a long flight or an unending train ride like a good book. I put together a list of books that I’ve enjoyed while traveling this year, and hope you will too! For more book recommendations, check out my book review blog, Around the World in 80+ Books!

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (contemporary fiction)
Meet Ove, a grumpy elderly man living in Sweden. Ove is used to doing things his own way and getting his own way. But when a young family moves in next door, Ove’s orderly world is turned upside and he’s not happy about it. Ove is a tough fellow to understand and even to like. He’s grumpy, exacting, difficult, stubborn, obstinate, and many other synonyms of those words. But as the chapters unfolded, my heart warmed to Ove. And I let him in. And I’m so glad I did. I also loved how the author told Ove’s story, with a jumping timeline narrative. The more understood about Ove in the past, the more I understand about Ove in the present. A wonderful character narrative set in dreamy winter wonderland Sweden. Continue reading

Balinese Wedding Day

If you ever get invited to a wedding in another culture, always say yes. That’s exactly what I did recently, and I don’t regret it at all. When our Balinese neighbors invited us to attend a wedding of a family member in a nearby city, we accepted immediately.

The day started early, with us in our finest Balinese clothes and a road trip. We arrived at the home of the groom’s family, and I thought the wedding had already begun, but it was actually a different type of ceremony. Before the wedding ceremony, there was a ritual tooth filing. Because it was a holy day according to the Balinese calendar, the bride & groom shared the ceremony costs with 3 other families with daughters needing to get their pointy incisor teeth filed down. For more on that type of ceremony, check out my earlier blog post.

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Travel Photography from Me to You

I’m a shutterbug. I love snapping pictures wherever I go. Whether it’s on my iPhone, my Panasonic GH3, or even my GoPro, I’m always looking to capture a moment. For the past few years, I’ve been selling some of my travel photography in the form of square prints, magnets & buttons. The 5×5 square prints work great as a decorative piece, or framed, or even as a card for friends & family. The 1” magnets bring wanderlust inspiration to refrigerators, lockers and workspaces no matter where you live. Same for the 1” buttons, which can be attached to your favorite travel bag.

All of these are available on my Etsy store, so head over and check out some original travel photography by yours truly. And pick some up to complete your holiday shopping this year!



5 Things I Forgot About America

For the first time in a year and a half, I went back to America. My baby sister was getting married, and I just had to be there. So we packed our bags, and headed back to our homeland. And it was only when I arrived in America did I realize how long I’ve been gone, and much I had adapted to life in Indonesia. Here’s a few of the things I forgot about life in America.


– Free. Refills. What?!? We were at the airport in Chicago, enjoying some delicious American Mexican food, and I had just finished all of my Dr. Pepper [also exciting to have Dr. Pepper again!]. I was sad. I missed Dr. Pepper. Then my husband reminded me about the magical part of restaurants in refills. These don’t hardly exist outside of the US. So I refilled my soda and refilled my soul. Continue reading