Asia, Travel

About a week ago, I came back from traveling in Sri Lanka with Layth. This was our second trip there – we went two years ago for a friend’s wedding – and I guess we liked it so much we decided to go back. We also just needed some beach time, tickets were reasonable, visas are easy, and it’s not that far from Jordan, compared to flying to Thailand or somewhere.

But – have you ever gone on vacation and gotten stressed because there’s nothing to do? I think we were both in that position – we were both anxiously thinking about upcoming job interviews, and I’d been working on a paper for school down to the wire (see below), needed to make revisions and just couldn’t work on it without a computer. So instead I spent a lot of time reading what turned out to be a very stressful Japanese novel, before I gave up on that.

Me, trying to finish a paper in the Amman airport using my phone, Google Docs, and a bluetooth keyboard. I’m clearly awesome at academia.

Anyway – last time in Sri Lanka, we started with a few days in Colombo, took the train to Kandy, then went on to tea country in Nuwara Eliya, then had some harrowing bus rides down south to Matara and finished in Galle. This time, we opted to stay close to the southern beaches – from Colombo we immediately hopped on a bus to Galle, where we stayed the night in this super pretty art deco-themed hotel inside the old fort.

Galle

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Packing Lists, Travel

When moving between countries, I don’t always succeed in packing light, but I kind of feel like I’ve mastered packing my under-seat carry on bag. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten something out of the overhead bin during a flight, so I always like to have these items ready to go, easy to access from my seat. Some of these are necessities for any trip, but others will make long-haul flights in coach ever so slightly more luxurious, or at least comfortable. Continue Reading

Europe, Travel

I’m only exaggerating a little when I say I spent two weeks in a town as small as Muenster, Germany, and barely saw it. I have embarrassingly few pictures of the city, hit exactly zero historic sites – and that’s because for 14 days straight, I was in class from 9 am to 6 pm. When I left my Air BnB in the morning to walk the 20 minutes to the city center, everything was still closed, except for a few cafes and grocery stores. When I headed home in the evening, it was dark, and many shops were closing up. I was so busy I never even saw the main part of my university’s campus. Continue Reading

Packing Lists, Travel

I’m not the kind of person who travels 80% of the time for work, but living in Jordan and doing a master’s program in Germany, I do travel internationally several times a year. It’s great, but costs add up (which I know now, since I made a grown up budget in Excel today) – and one way to save yourself time and money and general frustration is to pack light. Says the girl who almost never succeeds at this.

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Asia, Packing Lists, Travel

So, it’s been a while, and I’m not very good at blogging unless momentous life changes are taking place, or if travel is on the horizon – and both are true at the moment.

More on the life events later, but in less than three weeks me, Layth, and our friend Mohammed will be off to Malaysia for 10 days of city sightseeing, jungle trekking, beach time, and eating all the food. And we’ll all be coming in from different places: Amman, Riyadh, and Singapore.

So naturally, my backpack is nearly ready to go already – but this isn’t totally ridiculous given the amount of shooting and editing work I have to wrap up before I jet off and leave my laptop at home. And actually, since we did make our plans a bit last minute, we just barely made the cutoff to sign up for our trekking tour.

Ta da! The lightest I have ever packed – I get to automatically shed 20 pounds just by not carrying my computer and camera gear. I also have an awesome, giant purple Osprey Aura 65L pack, but I think I am gonna go with my smaller 40L backpack from REI. This one is solidly carry-on size, will keep me from bringing too much there, and will be easier to lug around for the hiking portions.

The list:

Windbreaker jacket (will wear on the plane)
Black cardigan (for cooler weather in the highlands/ covering up for mosques and temples)
2 pair cotton pants
1 pair Columbia pants for hiking (quick dry)
1 black knee-length dress (might wear with leggings)
1 pair cotton shorts
1 pair athletic shorts (not pictured; for sleeping and/or getting wet)
2 cotton t-shirts
1 athletic shirt (quick dry)
2 tank tops
1 scarf (for covering up in mosques and temples)
1 swimsuit (not pictured)
1 Turkish hamam towel (Layth decidedly does not believe in towels, so I’m not packing one for him)
1 REI quick dry travel towel
2 Buffs (one for me, one for Layth)
1 headlamp
Bandages & basic first aid supplies
Glasses & Sunglasses (don’t want to deal with the extra liquid involved in carrying contact solution, keeping them sanitary, etc)
Umbrella (not pictured, stowed in the water bottle holder of the backpack)
4 pair socks
underthings
1 pair Merrell Tough Mudder trail running shoes (for hiking and such)
1 pair Crocs sandals (surprisingly comfy and lightweight – may look around for other sandals in KL)
Kindle Paperwhite
Fujifilm X20 camera + charger and extra battery
Small crossbody purse
Toiletries bag
Canvas tote – extra space for souvenirs on the way home (yay Trader Joe’s)

Even looking at this now, there are more odds and ends I need to bring, which might push the bag to the limit, or force me to ditch a pair of pants or the cardigan or something. Then there’s all the toiletries (planning to pick up shampoo and soap there), migraine medicine, Cipro and water purifying tablets just in case…

But considering at any given time I’ll be wearing one of these pairs of pants, a shirt, and shoes, I think this’ll be ok.

So. Excited.

Life, Travel, USA

I head back to Jordan on Tuesday after a pretty amazing three weeks in the US. Coming back to America less than two weeks after the election, I really didn’t know what climate we’d be walking into – in New York, in the south, and places in between. It was eye-opening for both of us, and Layth is much better at having civilized, reasonable political discussions with people who he disagrees with than I am. But more on that later.

We finally made it official by having a wedding party in Louisiana, and I was overwhelmed with how generous and welcoming my family was toward both of us. Continue Reading

Middle East, Travel

A four-day Eid weekend took us south to Petra, Wadi Rum, and Aqaba and the Red Sea, with a fair amount of off-roading along the way.

Layth took us on the scenic route to Petra, via a turn-off south of the Dead Sea – and luckily we we were in the trusty Feroza, and luckily Layth knows these roads really well. We passed quite a few “road closed” signs, but pressed on as it wasn’t physically blocked, and it was actually paved for the first part – I guess this road was pretty much unpaved until quite recently. But we came to the unpaved part, and going up the steep switchbacks made for some stunning views of the valley as we made our way to Petra. Continue Reading

Middle East, Travel

Yesterday was my birthday, and we drove two hours northwest of Amman and spent the day at Umm Qais, in the presence of Roman ruins, overlooking the Golan Heights and Syria off to the northeast. It’s one of my longstanding favorite places in Jordan, but it makes me sad to think that at night now, you can often see airstrikes happening just over the border. We had a classy picnic with some friends, ate a birthday cheesecake, had a nice hike, and got to see plenty of sheep and goats happily munching on the grass. All in all, a successful birthday outing.

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