Tag Archives: Travel

{Travel Diary} The Pacific Northwest

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As if traveling to the other side of the world wasn’t enough this summer, I took a quick trip across the country to visit my friend who just had a baby in Portland, Oregon and therefore had a little adventure in Pacific Northwest.

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While I’ve done the must-see things as a tourist in Portland like hike in Forest Park, admire the International Test Rose Garden and Lan Su Chinese Garden, spend time in the largest book store, Powells, wait in line for an hour just to get Voodoo Donuts, lunch at the food carts, and get the original Stumptown coffee, we decided to try some new things, including other coffee at Water Street Coffee (also good!).

|ABOVE| Mavi overalls (c/o) // J.Crew tank // Birkenstock sandals // Free People tote // Goorin hat (similar here) // etc… for By Brooklyn necklace // Stella and Dot spike bracelet // Maison Antonym ring (c/o)

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Doughnuts are the new cupcake in Portland—and definitely meant to split to try all of the fun flavors. Voodoo is the most famous doughnut shop there, but this trip we did as the locals do and tried Bluestar donuts, which had some of the most exciting flavors like including blueberry bourbon basil.

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After traveling across the world this summer, it took flying 30,000 feet over Portland to realize how magical some of our own country is.

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We took a road trip to Washington, which was surprisingly mostly desert through the middle and what little forest we saw was sadly on fire. On the bright side, we managed to get past the smoke and watch a beautiful sunset over the gorge next to Arcade Fire in concert. We laid on the grass and watched the stars, something us city folk don’t see often, and enjoyed the show that way.

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We stumbled upon the Renegade Craft Fair and found some amazing local designers and artists braving the oddly hot day for the Pacific Northwest.

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One of my favorites there happened to be a jewelry line called Dea Dia, which won me over with their beautiful recycled brass cuffs with raw crystals on it. I had a stack of them on one arm and was so tempted to buy them all. I’m kicking myself for not purchasing just one of these one-of-a-kind cuffs.

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Another tempting purchase was the most adorable cat food bowl I’ve ever seen by Cinder Ceramics, complete with golden fish scales and a fish in the inside. The designer told me she just sold the other half of the set, which houses the water and a fish actually moves around in it.

Below are more of my picks from these talented Portland designers. Click on the image below to shop their sites:

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{Travel Diary} Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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|ABOVE| Hipknoties dress (c/o) // Dolce Vita sandals // TOMS sunglasses // Scala hat found at TJMaxx // bag and jewelry via Sapa artisans

My final stop in intensely touring the entire country of Vietnam was Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. It was a snap back to reality of my city life back in Brooklyn, as this is definitely the most globalized and populated city of Vietnam.

Unless we were in the tourist areas, crossing the street was by far the scariest experience—with Typhoon landslides being a close second. The motorbikes come from every direction and there are more of them than you can imagine. The good news is they’re usually going pretty slowly because of the congestion, but it makes it even more difficult when there are too many to get through. Shopping through the night market, I nearly got run over by a few weaving around pedestrians.

After 16 days of dressing somewhat conservatively because we were visiting temples and in more traditional regions, I was ready to beat the heat with less layers. This garment from Hipknoties that I wore for most of the trip as a scarf, I finally was able to make into a dress and feel like I wasn’t offending anyone.

There was definitely a more Western influence on fashion in this city with boutiques carrying H&M and Zara in them, as well as a Louis Vuitton and Christian Louboutin in the wealthier part of the city. Still, most women on motorbikes kept covered from head to toe to avoid sun exposure. Pale white skin is coveted as an ideal there, so I can see why. I wasn’t quite as adjusted to that heat like they were and ducked into coffee shops to cool off with some iced coffee during the days. After 3 hot days of exploring here, we were ready for an 18 hour flight home to recover.

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{Travel Diary} Mekong Delta, Vietnam

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|ABOVE| J.Crew tank // Winter Kate kimono jacket // Hathamade wrap bracelet // Chloe & Isabel bracelet

As you can tell by the lack of images of what I wore, traveling through the southern most region of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta wasn’t the easiest place to stay fashionable. The heat was nearly unbearable and the humidity didn’t help. When we weren’t drenched with sweat, we were drenched with a rain that made the plastic ponchos we wore useless. I now understand what Forrest Gump remarked about Vietnam, “We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain… and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath.”

Speaking of hydration, I drank more things that I’ve never consumed before in that day, including straight from a coconut that made me doubt all bottled coconut water, a tea that I couldn’t get enough of, and snake wine (rice wine infused with snakes…for real), which I couldn’t bear more than a sip of.

We toured through the local floating markets by sampan (boats) and watched locals sell goods right out of their house boats, which they also hung their laundry out to dry when it wasn’t raining. The boat took us to a local food market on land as well, where we learned how the locals make coconut candy, rice cakes, and of course, snake wine.

Later, we were dropped us off for a lunch of local foods, including some of the freshest produce in the country. Our tour then split off into small long tail boats, where local women paddled us through a tributary. It was the perfect serene way to explore before returning to the city life in Saigon for the rest of our trip.

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{Travel Diary} Hoi An, Vietnam

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|ABOVE| French Connection top (old) // Vagamundo pants // Birkenstock sandals // TOMS sunglasses // Hathamade necklace // bag and bracelets from Sapa, Vietnam

I think the best comparison of Hoi An would be the “Disney of Vietnam.” Only in the past decade or so has this become quite the tourist destination and shopping mecca, so when our trip was planned by our family friend that’s a native to the country, she didn’t want to spend much time there. I can see why. I definitely saw more foreigners than locals hanging out in the streets of the French Quarter, the old city of Hoi An that was once part of the Silk Road and now is filled with shops and tourist attractions.

Still, there was no denying the charm, beauty, and even the history of this port city. The silk lanterns that filled the shops and lined the streets were colorful eye candy, especially at night, when they all were lit up and the streets were filled with the hustling of tourists and motorbikes. I constantly was dodging one or the other as I couldn’t help from looking up and taking pictures (as you can see!).

Of course my favorite destination in this region was hands down going to Yaly, a store that makes custom couture clothing on the spot. I met with a salesperson who took my hubby and I around the shop to pick out fabrics, silks and blends with silks, for the designs we wanted. We had our measurements taken and they give you an infinite amount of design options with books that have styles they can copy, but they just as easily took the Elizabeth & James suit I had on my iphone, as well as the Armani tux and another suit found in GQ that my hubby wanted. You can see the beautiful result here, which they made in just one evening for us, after a few fittings.

The tailors even worked until midnight to make sure we received our order before leaving for the next city the following morning, so we were there late enough to see the entire city of Hoi An shut down promptly at 9:30pm. All of the lights of the lanterns go out then and the tourists are back in their hotels. It’s similar to what I imagine seeing Disneyland is like after hours is like. The magic is not quite the same without all of the energy of the lights and people.

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{Travel Diary} Hue, Vietnam

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|ABOVE| Vagamundo tunic // Hathamade necklace // Urban Outfitters rucksack // TOMS sunglasses // bracelets from H’Mong women in Sapa

The ancient city of Hue was the most magical stop on my 16 day tour through Vietnam, thanks to the rich history of the central region of country. The temples and Forbidden City of the king were both incredible reminders of the culture of the country, as well as the sad destruction from war. What still stood from what was destroyed, gave me the chills, as it was older than anything existing in our own country and it was easy to envision how they once lived here.

For me, the region won my heart over because of the large Buddhist population, which are all vegetarian, so the scenery was zen-like and the food was heavenly. The smell of sandalwood incense became part of me after visiting temple after temple, where the incense burned around the clock. I had to bring some home after stopping at a market, where they showed us how they make incense. Since being home, the smell transforms me right back.

We spent much of our time in Hue on a dragon-shaped boat, cruising down the Perfume River, which owes its name to the fragrant flowers that surround the river banks. In the evening, we were serenaded by local musicians on the boat and then sent our wishes into a candle to float down the river—a wonderful way to end our evening in this city.

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