Chicago has been home for 3 years. I’m constantly in awe of the unique culture this city cultivates, the endless architecture, the grit, and the diverse people who live here. I’m so lucky to call this city my home.
Solo in SE Asia.
I began my trip to SE Asia in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Later I traveled to Hanoi and Cat Ba Island before making my way to Thailand.
What I remember most: the people, the limestone mountains in the North, the banh mi, and the sea of motorbikes on every road. I know I’ll be returning to Vietnam again - next time to explore places in Central Vietnam like Hoi An and to learn more about the history of this distinct place.
If you go…
- Try lots of banh mi and pho, but also tap into the coffee culture. I personally drink tea, but enjoyed a daily classic Vietnamese iced coffee.
- Go to a museum or try to learn about the history of Vietnam. I learned a lot at the War Remnants Museum.
- Try to teach yourself how to ride a motorbike like I did. The first time I tried in a hilly town with bad road conditions, but when I got to Thailand I took a 30-minute lesson from a rental company. In more remote places, motorbikes may be the only way to get anywhere, but its also a beautiful way to sightsee.
Little alley’s full of life
The art of motorbiking
Land of Smiles.
I began in Chiang Mai, took a detour to Pai, and ended up in Bangkok. The locals that I met in Thailand (the “land of smiles”) were friendly and warm. A girl who worked at my hostel in Chiang Mai chatted with me in the lobby for two hours - she printed out maps and wrote down notes full of places to see at my next destination just because. Little doses of hospitality go a long way when you’re traveling solo and in a new place.
If you go…
- Embrace the crowded night bazaars/markets. Bangkok has the largest market in Thailand. Shopping wasn’t on my agenda for the trip, but it was impossible to resist. Also, don’t forget to bargain.
- Eat lots of mangoes, street pad thai, and papaya salads. I really loved khao soi (a delicious noodle soup from Northern Thailand).
- Forget to bring a pair of long pants. Many temples require you to cover your shoulders or legs before entering.
2nd Annual Women's March in downtown Chicago ft. badass women and men supporting equal rights. January 20, 2018.
1871 is the tech & startup hub of Chicago. The incubator hosts 1000+ events per year. Photographed: high school touring 1871’s office space and a workshop on branding.
City & mountains.
Of course we went to Red Rocks Amphitheater (with a snowy twist) and it lived up to the hype. We found all the Chicago parallel’s of Denver’s neighborhoods, museums, food scene, and nightlife. The thing that stood out most was how infrequently I saw the people of Denver glued to their phones everywhere I went. Instead, they were in the moment and engaged with everything around them.
If you go…
- Wander around RiNo. Stop into a coffee shop then walk around to look at all the awesome street art.
- Go to the MCA Denver. This was one of the best museums I’ve been to in the States. I saw the Cleon Peterson exhibit & a very moving exhibit called Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death by cinematographer Arthur Jafa. When you get tired, take a break on the museum’s cute rooftop.
- Forget your sunscreen. Denver has 300 sunny days per year. :)
My reunion with the PNW.
Watched fireworks, saw my friends get married, and took it easy.
If you go…
- Spend some time in nature. There’s something for every level of nature-lover. Hikes, parks, kayaking, boat rides - take your pick.
- Get your Asian food fix. Fresh sushi, Thai, Chinese to name a few.
- Get stuck just around Pike Place. Drive to the mountains, check out Alki Beach or walk around a different neighborhood (Capitol Hill, Fremont, Ballard).
Dragon Lights Festival
2018 Dragon Lights Festival lit up Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Too beautiful for jet lag.
I ignored jetlag with a sleep-when-your-dead mentality when I began exploring this well-preserved central European city. In summary, Prague was full of gothic architecture, cobblestone streets, and gorgeous hillside views from Malá Strana.
If you go…
- Walk around Old Town Square at night to avoid crowds. You’ll still catch the famous astronomical clock & nighttime street performers.
- Do a free walking tour. Prague is very walkable and the tours are free. You’ll likely explore the Jewish Quarter or you can hop into a restaurant walking downhill from St. Vitus Cathedral to enjoy a beautiful view from the hillside.
- Reject the food fad that is the trdelník pastry. I don’t have a sweet tooth, but ordered mine with ice cream filling with no regrets.
When I travel, I’m usually headed to the next big city. But I wanted R&R, warm weather, and a beach to do absolutely nothing on.
This was my first time in Mexico and I got a taste of the deep culture that lives there. Mexico is much more than Cabo and your spring break. Tulum rests in the Yucatán Peninsula, a 2-hour bus ride south of Cancun. The town is geographically known for their cenotes (beautiful and natural sinkholes), some of which you can swim in.
I stayed in the pueblo (town) instead of the beach to avoid expensive resort costs. This was where many locals live and where I found the tastiest, yet affordable food.
If you go…
Do:Rent a bike, swim in the Gran Cenote, take a cooking class, carry cash to buy handmade empanadas on Playa Paraiso, and learn a few Spanish phrases.
Don’t: Hitchhike with a stranger to get to Gran Cenote (sorry, Mom).