Tag Archives: train

It went all over my shoes

In 3 years of traveling, I’ve only gotten what some would consider “sick” just a handful of times. No more than if I were at home living a day to day routine. With that said, here’s a short story that sent my happy trails on a little detour.

It was the beginning year of my backpacking and my first trip to Peru. I had met a sweet young Dutch couple while studying in Argentina that decided to link up with me for a Machu Picchu adventure.

If you’d like an entertaining read with several pictures check out the entire 3 day journey here.

Here are a few photos from that memorable experience.

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2015/01/img_3241.jpg We had completed out trek with an amazing day exploring the grounds of the ancient Incas. Making it back to the main city of Aguascalientes, I was beginning to feel a little uneasy. Nothing major, but just enough ache in my tummy to want to lay down as my friends left to grab dinner. Food was the last of my desires. The hostel we had slept at allowed me to bundle up in the employees room to recoup before our long train ride home to Cusco. Simon and Ashgan (the two kind smiles at the bottom of the page) said we had three hours before our train departed and they’d come wake me up when it was time to go.

I closed my eyes for what seemed like a minute before the door swung open to reveal both of my friends frantically picking up our bags. “We read the tickets wrong and we have to go now or we’ll miss the train!”

Imagine, you can barely move your head without the feeling of Mr.Nasuea knocking at your door and now it’s time to sprint through unevenly paved streets while lugging a 50lb backpack over your hunched shoulders that are protecting your cramping stomach. Oh joy.

I only made it a few steps before Simon (my Dutch Superhero of the day) clearly read my agony and lifted the bag from my back. I was now able to keep up with the two of them as we hustled down the steep hills and tight turns. You’d think that a sense of relief would come over me as I saw the station, but at this point I knew that poor Peru was going to see what I had for breakfast.

I hollered at them to keep going in order to check us in as I took a hard right into a lonely ally. Plug your ears as you read on to find that this type of vomit was far from what I would describe as danty or sickly. Words that come to mind are violent, uncontrollable and…. All over my shoes.

I gathered myself knowing that the train wouldn’t wait for the extra pale-faced chica to catch up. I spotted my buddies who now had our boarding passes, all of our bags and the look of two concerned parents. I actually felt better, so with high hopes I assumed it was a one-time kind of deal and that the train would be more restful than anything. I was wrong.

We snagged a table booth next to the window and got settled in.

Let’s pause for a moment and talk about this “train”. Please do not imagine a high speed European railway or the popular US Amtrak, oh no no no. This was an ancient line of connecting boxes that reminded me of a daunting Disney ride. Looking back, it was actually really neat, but at the moment it seemed like a legal form of torture. This tiny beast rocked back and forth as if to struggle finding balance between one side of the tracks to the other. Clickity clack, clickity clack, clickity clack…

So the “train”, now in full motion, did nothing to my body except create a movement that encouraged another round of losing whatever may have been left in my guts. I excused myself from the table to find the nearest toilet.

“Pardone, ¿dónde está el baño? Pronto por favor!”

The petite Peruvian woman, dressed in professional attire with a gentle smile pointed to an occupied closet. It was locked. I returned to meet eyes with her and clarified why I needed it… Now! Not understanding my broken sickly Spanish she just kept pointing to the door behind me.

Have you ever drawn a blank while trying to remember a certain word? Especially in another language? I could not think of “bag” or “bucket” or anything for that matter, so I proceeded to take the charades route and made motions of puking while gripping my stomach.

Seriously friends, visualize that one for a minute.

I continued to signal for any type of container and with sympathy, she just shrugged her shoulders. Swallowing (literally) with all of my strength to keep it down, I rushed back to my seat and dug through my backpack to find the stash of plastic bags I always keep on the road. Not wanting to provide a show for the fellow passengers, I swayed back and forth to the end of the car and kneeled down. I opened the bag and at that very moment, my body could no longer keep it in.

So there I was, curled in the corner for all the train to endure as this poor girl emptied her insides into a plastic bag with “Muchas Gracias” printed on the side.

I finally reached a point in which I felt settled enough to go back to my seat. I stood up slowly looking down at my bag full of, ummm substance…. What was I ever going to do with this? After unsuccessfully looking for an employee that could point me to a bin, I had nowhere else to turn except a cart that carried all of the snacks and drinks. That’s it! I saw a symbol that appeared to be for “trash” on top of what resembled a waste compartment. Weak and tired, I still had the right mind to look inside first to confirm that it wasn’t where they stored the complimentary cookies. It was empty. I placed my bag inside with an internal (guilt driven) apology to the poor person who had to find it.

I proceeded to drag myself back to the booth, plop down and fall asleep.

I’d love to finish this story in great detail, but the only thing next in my memory was slowly opening my eyes. Relieved to not feel my stomach at my throat, I looked around placing myself in the bottom bunk bed, in the room of our original Cusco hostel. Next to my bed was a box of saltine crackers, a ginger soda and a pack of gum. My dear friends had carried my belongings back, tucked me in and provided just what I needed upon awakening. I’m so grateful for Simon and Ashgan for their selfless act in nourishing me to health and safety. Much love to you my friends!

2015/01/img_3235.jpg Side note update: Since that journey, I’ve traveled to Holland and have been able to reconnect with these two and their families! What a grand, beautiful world we live in.

The Raiders just keep on giving…

Since the Raiders lost during my “birthday” game (seen in “A day in silver and black”) it was felt to attend one more in high hopes for them to redeem themselves. Before I even try to drag this post out, let me just lay it out there. We got demolished. I mean, they generously sacrificed yet another win to allow the visiting team to feel welcome. I just can’t get over how unselfish the Oakland Raiders truly are!

Let’s make this post quick, fun and painless.

Instead of driving, Hayden and I decided to take the route that required no wheels. The first transfer required light rail, a regional transit system, from our home town of Folsom to the main Sacramento train station. Once arriving there, we hopped over to Amtrak that would take all the way to the Oakland colesium!

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Finally arriving to Oakland, we exited the tracks to cross a bridge before entering the sea of black and silver. Tailgaters are already in motion on this side of the gates! Can you spot the flag being carried under us?

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Trucks, food, friends and reunions. Yes please!

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Here are two sets of “last game/this game” photos.

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Football time! Today the Raiders are playing/donating a win to the Denver Broncos.

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Well look here… A foreign color sitting right next to me. Clearly he didn’t get the silver and black memo. Ooh, game on buddy!

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Lucky for Tom, his mustache and fun conversation made up for his choice of team.

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Here’s the last photo I took of the charitable event before we decided to beat the crowds back home.

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So when I say “beat the crowds”, what I meant was join the herd of like-minded fans.

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Waiting for the train… Game over.

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“This girl is on fire!” (to be sang like Alicia Keys)

On my way from Asia back to the United States, I made a pit stop in Japan for some family time and to also gather the rest of my belongings. My dear cousin Brandon, who is stationed in the Navy there, let me stash some bags there until my return. Thanks pal!

Most of my previous experiences in this unique country you can read about in other posts. Some of the popular ones are “You know you’re in Japan when…” and Buddha, when we went to visit the 2nd largest Buddha statue in Japan.
For this one, I’m going to wrap up a few random events that leaves me still smiling about a country I wouldn’t want to live in, but don’t want to live without.

First up is my welcome back buffet. It’s becoming tradition that with each visit, we choose a night in which we hit the local store, grab several random items that look good and/or questionable. Here’s a snap shot from last years spread in “Snacks, Japan style”.

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This year we did just fine after wandering the aisles with confusing character writing and giggling store clerks. If you’ve ever been here, you can vouch that a grumpy employee of any customer service industry is rarely seen. They are typically overly eager to help you and smile while they chant something in Japanese (that I still don’t understand). No matter what mood you walk in with, you generally leave feeling the uncontrollable urge to skip to your car. Back to the snacks…here’s our dinner!

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Fun fact: In Japan, “Sunday Funday Football” starts extremely early on Monday morning. I thought I’d give it try and see if any of the local channels would air it. To my surprise there were some enthusiastic hosts describing the highlights!

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For the halftime show, women’s bowling! How do you not smile when you see this?

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Ok, let’s move on to a night out on the town where I get to introduce a new friend. Originally from California, Craigg is also serving in the Navy at the same base as Brandon. Don’t let his easy going attitude fool you, this relaxed guy not only has an abundance of energy, but a sharp witted sense of humor to match. These two boys in the same room will leave your cheeks aching and mind stimulated (and probably slightly confused).

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After our train ride to the city, we laughed the evening away while making random pit stops in the vibrant streets. On this handstand shot, I was more impressed that Brandon captured it on the first try over the fact that my feet didn’t come in contact with any innocent bystanders. For more detail of this specific area, check out the post called “Wait, it’s not Halloween yet…is it?”

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The next and final event was a extraordinary surprise from my moms dear friend Rome. To this day my mom still speaks of the fond memories she created while working with him. On this day, I was lucky enough to be treated like royalty at an Alicia Keys concert right here in Yokohama!

Me and Rome before the show.

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My date to this international opportunity? Only the perfect partner in small crime, Craigg! We had no idea where the seats were, so we just handed the Japanese written card to the guard and followed their finger pointing directions. A few security men later we were finally led to a roped off area on the floor. What? No way! We were in prime seats, three rows from the stage!

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Let the show begin!

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These employees were clearly not enjoying the show.

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…but I was! “Everybody put your phones in the air!” (For those of you under 20 years old, this used to be an arena full of lighters in the sky).

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*Thank you Craigg for bringing your phone to get the pictures from above!

After the show, we dodged the ropes and shined our V.I.P passes to get backstage. What do you find behind then scenes when the curtain drops? Exhausted musicians, random snacks, a variety of drinks and a bundle of hard working crew members. For obvious reasons he didn’t snap any photos in this area.

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Rome, you’ve raised the bar once again. Many thanks and warm hugs!

“Lady lady, where you from?”

The ride from Hanoi to Hoi An could of been long and boring however, I’ll never know that experience due to the new friends I met along the way. Vilmos and Zsuzsanna had an open door and was game for sharing snacks and travel stories. After hours of eye opening and heart stimulating conversation (thanks again for the new perspective) it was time for rest before we were booted off the train in central Vietnam.

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*They put me in their blog too! Check out the photos and tell me what it says (if you can read Hungarian) at http://rajdakaland.blogspot.jp/

Next stop Hoi An, a quaint old town that used to be Vietnam’s most important port and trading post with China. I’ve been told you can cover the entire town on foot in a day and still have time to snag a coffee. Sounds perfect after the chaos Hanoi had offered. Lets see!

When you walk along the rivers edge, you’ll see locals paddling away while the old boats sit and look pretty. It definitely adds a unique feel to this already small town. It makes me wonder if these waters could talk…

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Lining the river are markets and shops with local owners doing their very best to make a sell. Their favorite conversation starter is “Where are you from?”. For my own entertainment and hopefully there’s as well, I started answering differently every time. “My mom said the moon, but I don’t believe her” or “I don’t remember… where are you from?”. I found the more bizzare of an answer the bigger the smile I got in return. This is either because they thought is was funny, I was out of my mind or maybe they just had absolutely no idea what I was saying.

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Curiosity hits… What’s the reason behind the locals overly aggressive way of trying to get a sale? They would physically grab my arm and begin to guide me in the direction of their shop. After I’d deliver several “no thank you’s” with a bow, they’d keep trying and when the point was finally received that I was not interested, they’d give a disturbing frown almost to a pout. A final “no thank you” would end it and they’d turn away with a snarl.

Although I didn’t appreciate this whatsoever, it just makes me ponder what has been the progression or experiences to get them to act in such behavior? Was it taught, learned through example or just a part of the culture? Are they ashamed or proud, possibly unaware of the environment that it creates? I wonder what it was like here 50, 30 or even just 10 years ago…

Once you’ve made your way through the “assertive” saleswomen, you can begin to branch off and see other stores, restaurants and old buildings. Although its not my thing, I dare not forget to mention (for all my fashionistas) that Hoi An also has over 400 tailors within the city limits. Need a dress, suit or pants? Whatever you fancy they’ll measure you, make it and have it ready within 24 hours.

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A quick pit stop for a street food snack brings me a mung bean patty and a dish that tasted like a rice gelatin substance with vegetable soup and topped with chili sauce and fried onions. What was it really? I have no idea.

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Ooh, creative photo time! Amazing what a tiny camera effect can do to an image.

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As the day progressed, the clouds began to cover and within moments we were showered with unforgiving rain. Little did I know, this was the calming before the typhoon heading in our direction. I suppose my lack of that information was bliss as I splashed around the wet city.

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Evening rolled around and the rain hadn’t only opened the door but invited itself in with no intention on leaving. As I was heading back to my hostel, I heard “I know you!” On a bike rolls up Alex, the friendly German who I shared a cab ride with from the airport! A chat in the rain? Don’t mind if I do! We geared up appropriately and headed out for an adventure in the storm.

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We ended up at Cafe 19, a small little spot that offered $0.25 beers and a local dish called White Rose (which is like a dumpling) that we were both eager to try. Perfect!

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This menu made us chuckle, not that it was so clear in regards to pork or beef, but the proportion of the two animals.

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An early rise for me was welcomed with a complimentary breakfast, a choice of coffee, juice, eggs and veggies or bread. Yes please! I went with a mushroom and tomato omelette, raw veggies and a ginger-lime juice that was so fresh there were chunks of ginger and lime pulp!

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Dear Vietnam, my journey here was short and I may need more time in your country-side to truly appreciate all that you have to offer. Until then, thank you for the warm soup, yogurt coffee and new friends!

Next stop, Thailand!

Hanoi – A day in the streets & the market by night!

I found that when I was walking the streets of Hanoi, the energy from the locals was constantly sending me mixed signals. Food venders on the street might greet you when you smile into their bowl of mystery items and others pretend as if you don’t exist. Many tuk tuk drivers will offer you a kind ride, while others won’t hesitate to nip your heels along a cross walk. Maybe it’s because I was spoiled in Cambodia or that I’m usually staying with locals, but I was taken back by the overall “you’re just a tourist” vibe that dampened this city. I suppose thats what I get for visiting the second largest city in Vietnam. With that said, lets see what it has to offer!

Welcome to the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam!

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Of course there’s a Pub… Haven’t found a country yet that doesn’t support an Irish drinking place!

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These sweet girls welcomed me into their creative shop in which mostly everything was handmade by them right here in the store. What a beautiful group of ambitious ladies!

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A breath of fresh air in this busy city can be found with a walk around the lake (the one seen from the balcony of the egg coffee cafe.

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Like in most cities, as the sun goes down… the energy goes up!

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The famous night market draws in a crowd looking for clothes, trinkets, food, drinks and pretty much anything else you can imagine that’s sellable to a willing customer.

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This friendly couple from Sweden made dinner a treat by splitting a massive feast with me. Each table gets their own grill and a plate of raw food. You add the oil and seasonings, then stir-fry it up! I included the first photo just to show off my favorite mini table settings that the locals dine on.

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If you’re not strolling the night market, just hitting the main streets will keep your eyes on the move!

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Safety tips of the day:
1. Assuming pedestrians have the right away will get you hit by a speeding motorbike.

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2. Once you commit to walking… Keep going! They’ll maneuver around you (That’s my noggin to the left of the photo).

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3. If you can’t beat them, join em!

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Time for a double connection! Egg coffee friends… meet barbecue night-market friends! On this evening, we chose to stay low key with the locals and take a tea on some mini stools.

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Well thank you Hanoi for your introduction to Vietnam. Travelers, if you’re reading this for personal advice, here’s my quick thought:
If you’re coming for a personal “local” experience… get out of the city. If you’re coming for souvenirs and egg coffee… You’ve come to the right place.

For me, it’s time to get out of town! A spicy and extremely sweet local girl offered me a ride to the station so I wouldn’t have to deal with a cab or cranky tuk tuk driver. Thank you dear!

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Not only did she drive me all the way there, she parked her bike, checked me in and then proceeded to walk me all the way to the bed I would be sleeping on during this 13 hour train

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Dear mystery motorbike angel, your kind smile and sassy energy was not only appreciated, but adored!

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Next stop, Hoi An!

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