Hello Weekend: 5 great stories from around the web

It has been a while since I’ve shared some of the great stories I have been reading around the web. But, in my defense, it hasn’t always been the easiest thing to consume as much content as I’d like, while on my 4 month extended vacation with my husband. WiFi has been spotty in many of the places that we’ve been. We’re now in Ethiopia, and I find myself constantly scattering around the hotel room, waving my phone (and laptop) in every imaginable direction to get that one more bar of WiFi that I know will make my life easier, several times a day. However, when I did manage to get the angle just right, I was able to find these interesting reads. Here’s your (and my) reminder that you don’t have to seek permission to live your life the way you want. I decided not to change my last…

Is Christmas even Christmas without these six songs?

I love Christmas, it’s my absolute favorite time of year. It’s just something about the season, the decorations, the music, and the movies that makes me feel so warm inside. But, being abroad during this time of year, and not hearing my favorite Christmas music over the speakers in the mall, or in the radio of the taxicab as I move about, has me considering: If Christmas even Christmas if you don’t hear certain songs? It’s similar to the age old question, ‘If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?’ Obviously Christmas comes regardless, but if no one is celebrating the way (I believe) it is intended to be celebrated, does it even make sense? Many have attempted to create Christmas tunes that would leave us with cravings each year, and many have failed. Keep your Justin Beiber Christmas album, we don’t want it. Actually, let’s…

Planning a trip to Thailand? Find out what it’s like being a black tourist

I’ll start this post with a disclaimer that we had a great time, for the most part, in Thailand, and would definitely return. However, as black travelers, we had a few unpleasant experiences, and this post addresses that. “Do you know why I wear this umbrella?” Our Thai tour guide asks as we walk through the elephant nature park. “It’s so that I don’t get darker.” It’s a sunny, and very warm day in November, signature of the Thailand climate, and there is not much in the area in the way of sun protection. The land is flat, and the greenery has been cleared down. The handful of guides leading other groups of people around the park, are all wearing straw hats. Our brown-skinned guide continues his explanation on why he doesn’t want to get darker. He tells of how the darker skinned people in Thailand are looked down upon,…

Happy birthday to me!

If year 27 has taught me anything, it has been to take ownership of my life. The last year has been one of the most transformative years of my life. I began this blog, left a job that was no longer serving me, shaved all my hair off, and embarked on a travel journey to places that I never imagined that I would ever see. There will always be obstacles in the way of what you dream of doing. There will always be people to tell you why you shouldn’t. You will be tempted to shrink yourself, and your goals, and your wishes to be more in line with what everyone else is doing. But, don’t stop dreaming. Dream big dreams. You deserve everything you want and more. I am incredibly proud of how far I have come, even through all the doubts, fears, and worries that continue to haunt…

9 reasons you should add Bali to your travel list

Bali, Indonesia was my first destination outside of North America, and my gateway into Southeast Asian culture. Just consider me a Balivangelist, because I will tell any and everybody that they need to go there. We (My husband Rob and I) originally chose Bali for three reasons: Its low cost of living The tropical climate Its location in Asia However, after spending three weeks exploring, I fell in love with the island, and would return in a heartbeat, but for reasons entirely outside of these factors. I would return for the beauty and calming-nature of the lusciously-green rice fields, for the delicious local and international cuisine, and for the rich culture. Everything else is just icing on the cake. This island within the Indonesian archipelago feels more vast than it looks. Nicknamed, ‘the island of the Gods’, the island has nearly two dozen cities and towns to choose from –…

Six lessons after six weeks abroad

This week officially marks six weeks since we said goodbye to our friends, packed up our backpacks, and headed to the airport to launch our travels. I was thrilled that it was finally travel day, but also filled with anxiety because all our friends were successfully settling down, buying homes, starting families, and progressing in their careers, while we were going on a complete alternate path. It led me to question our decision, but luckily, one of my best friends (without even knowing of my internal struggle) sent the sweetest note that reminded me of some of the reasons we chose to travel in the first place. She said I was taking control of my life, and that she was proud of me. “Take your happiness and your life into your own hands. Enjoy life. Travel the world. Don’t wait until they tell you that you have to retire to…

My holy grail of travel gear: Don’t travel without packing these items!

Let the internet tell it, and your travel must-haves would be a mile long, or more aptly, several suitcases full. I have read so many articles that include long checklists of everything from a headlamp to an emergency blanket to an “anti-crease shirt transporter.” But, most of these things would be better categorized as nice to haves (in my opinion, anyways). Excluding the absolute essentials like luggage, your electronics, rain jacket, underwear, and such, there are some items that I have found over the last month and a half to be my absolute must-haves — my holy grail of travel gear. 1. Travel adapter This is number one on my list for a reason. Traveling outside of North America requires different power needs, and without a travel adapter, I would have been unable to recharge my laptop, cell phone, and power bar. If my must-have list had a VIP section,…

Five ways your life will change after cutting your hair (for the type 4 girls)

As a new member of the short hair club, I find myself daily in awe of how easier life is without hair. It feels like pre-cut, I was living in the upside down (Stranger Things reference), and didn’t even know it. Now I finally made my way into the real world, and it’s like you mean to tell me wash day doesn’t have take up an entire day? Like I can wash my hair, and then be completely done with said hair within like five minutes? via GIPHY Yes, Diane that was my reaction too. What type of blasphemy is this short hair business? It seems too good to be true. Here are five reasons why short hair is actually the MVP. Maintenance is a breeze. My daily routine consists of brushing it with oil and gel, and putting on a du-rag before I go to sleep. Wash day turns…

A travel guide to Ubud, Bali

After three days of flying, and about an hour and a half of driving, my husband Rob and I finally arrived to our destination of Ubud, Bali. As the first city we visited in Bali, it was our introduction to Balinese culture. Ubud has the best of both worlds – a bustling tourist district filled with restaurants and shops, and on the outskirts, a calmer zone with breathtaking views of the sprawling rice fields, and farmland. The centre of the town had a familiar energy. It felt like I was walking the downtown strip of my hometown of Nassau, Bahamas (save for the language differences). Much like Nassau, Ubud is a town that is reliant on tourism, and it is reflected in the streets, in the people, and in the culture. The main streets in this area of Ubud bustled with a mixture of taxis, scooters, and pedestrians crossing to…

Six must eat spots in Ubud, Bali

I had one of the best pizzas in my life in Ubud. It was from a booth-sized restaurant on a busy side street that happened to be one of the only places open after 10pm. It was a last ditch effort for food, after the restaurant we had really wanted to go to was closed. But, when I took that first bite, I was completely caught off guard. via GIPHY I wasn’t ready for the flavors, and the authentic taste. Bali is generally known for being a place where people can enjoy a tropical vacation at a fraction of the price. And I can tell you that food, especially international food had never crossed my mind when I thought of Bali. That is until now. In my mind, Ubud will forever be linked with the quality of its cuisine. I have had some of the best food here — to…