Category Archives: Southeast Asia

Oh mon Dieu!

About a year ago, I was going through the laundry and I came across the strangest thing.  It was a black beret that had somehow made it’s way into my pile of clean clothes.  It was now about the perfect size for my little dog Sadie as the wool had felted (doesn’t that word sounds naughty!) and shrunk.  When Roem came home later that day I quizzically asked him, “Do you have a beret?”  He burst into laughter and admitted he had found the beret on a park bench earlier that week and wanted to “surprise” me with it.  I will never know what would posses him to pick up a beret off a park bench in SAN FRANCISCO and bring it home as a gift for his fiancee.   Whatever the reason, anytime I feel the need to dissolve into laughter with my spouse i just intone “Do you have a beret?!”  It works every time.

The secret language of couples is a topic that has always intrigued me.  It turns out this habit is a sign of a close relationship and can really help bond a couple.  You can read more about it here.  These code phrases are developed over time and result from shared experiences and memories.  I’ve noticed that we pick up a lot of our vernacular while traveling because we are spending so much time together, and a lot of it is stressful.  Sometime the only way to remember I love the guy after he leaves our camera in a public restroom is to giggle about the time he dropped me on a dance floor in Costa Rica.  It’s these shared experiences that bond us together and keep us sane as we live our crazy lives.  There is nothing better than telling a travel story with Roem or recounting a funny memory when we are bored.

Wondering how I will ever sleep considering the rabid cat hunts at night.

You take all these little moments and somehow they add up to a life together.  Without fully realizing it, you are creating a unit and becoming a team.  The insider talk and couple code creep into your vernacular and you skip the beginning to get to the middle.  So the next time I heave a sigh and start to become exasperated Roem has forgotten to take out the garbage again, he can just meow to remind me of the time he held a dead rat by the tail and flung it into the bush to distract a rabid cat.  Because, in the end, those are the things that matter.


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Filed under Marriage, Sadie, Southeast Asia, Travel

Throw Off the Bowlines

Picture from Flickr l Jack Anderson Photography

My parents are somewhere out in the great abyss right now, on their way to one of the greatest adventures they’ve ever taken.   In just a few hours they will be dropped right in the middle of the swarming, sticky hub that is  Southeast Asia.  I imagine them stumbling off the plane, grubby after their 18 hours of flying about to be assaulted with foreign smells, heavy humidity and the dull excitement that pervades the exhaustion.

There is nothing better than getting off that airplane for the first time in a new place.  On my first trip through Europe as I hurtled through countries at a breakneck speed, I remember feeling anxiety that I was rushing through it all.  Never again would I have that first chance to see the city lights in Paris, party all night in Barcelona, or stumble home from the beer garden in Munich.  But then I started feeling smugly protective of those first few experiences.  I realized that this first trip into the great big world would be all mine, never to be marred by a fight with a traveling companion or a subsequent break up with a lover.  I still feel proud of that teen aged  girl who booked herself a trip for three weeks in Europe without knowing a soul and I’m forever trying to capture that sense of discovering.

That same sense of adventure I had at 18, my parents seem to be inflicted with in their fifties.  Sure they are a little more unsteady and fearful as they make their way, but the commitment to discovery and leap of faith is the same.  They aren’t trying to strip down the experience to expose only the safe, antiseptic parts  like so many other tourists.  They are willing to get dirty, be tired, get sick, be frustrated and challenge themselves.  There are no four star hotels on their itinerary, instead they are following our meandering path through budget accommodations and street food recommendations.

I admit I pushed them a little so I now take full responsibility for their well being.  They expressed interest in a few places I had been, mainly South America, Africa or Southeast Asia.  At first I thought South America would be a perfect trip for them.  With the amazing food, great adventure and the relative ease of travel, I could guarantee they would have an amazing time.  They seemed interested in Africa but it has been awhile since my trip there and I wasn’t positive it was the right choice.  When my dad began to show interest in Southeast Asia, I began to get really excited.  Roem and I had come back from our trip there last year changed forever by the people, the culture and the experience.  I began to sketch out an itinerary and work on a budget.

We began to work on some possible routes and connections, trying to get them everywhere they wanted to be in only two short weeks.  This is the kind of challenge I thrive on and we  spent hours researching modes of transportation and destinations.  My dad was especially interested in Vietnam so I added Hanoi to their itinerary.  We took out the four day trek Roem and I barely survived (okay that was just me) and swapped out Luang Prabang for a few days in Hanoi and one more day in Saigon.  My mom replaced out a few of our more “primitive” hotels and did a ton of research on the destinations, learning every useful tip on the internet.

I still worried about my dad.  See, he prefers more “Americanized” food than the more adventurous females in his family.  Our suggestions of Thai or Vietnamese restaurants are usually met with a grimace of distaste and a suggestion for Italian.  But to my surprise he fully embraced the challenge.  He did a ton of research on Travelfish and watched every episode of House Hunters International and No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain ever filmed in Asia.   He bookmarked websites, took notes and has become basically the most informed traveler I have ever come across.

I admit my eyes tear up  just thinking of them  decked out in wick away shirts and matching khaki pants with their rolling duffles about to plunge headfirst into Bangkok.   I am just so PROUD of them.  I wish I was there to hold my Mom’s hand when she freaks out on her first tuk tuk ride or take a walk with my Dad at the crack of dawn when he can’t sleep because of jetlag.  I want to be there to help them order the perfect plate of steaming noodles or exclaim over the cheap price of a huge bottle of Chang beer.  I even want to bring them back some coconut water when they puke their guts out after some bad food (fingers crossed that doesn’t happen).  But this is their trip.  They know it inside and out and are ready for whatever comes their way.

My parents truly embody the spirit here at White Picket Passport as there is really no time like the present to get out there and experience the world.  I plan to keep you all updated on their travels and will do my best to persuade both of them to write a guest post.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.   Catch the trade winds in your sails.   Explore.   Dream.   Discover.”

– Mark Twain

We love you Mom and Dad!  Bon Voyage.

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Filed under Adventure, Family, Southeast Asia, Thailand, Travel, Uncategorized, Vietnam