At the end of each month I round up what I’ve done and wrote about that month and include it in a single post.

And That’s a Wrap 2017!

Over 65,000 miles (104,000 kilometers), 7 continents, 23 countries (yes, most in transit getting to where I was going), and 3 disputed territories/unrecognized states later I made it back to Alaska at the end of 2017.

No, I don’t plan to travel anywhere near as much in 2018.

The only trip I have on the books is that expedition I’m leading in China, Tajikistan and Pakistan in June, and potentially that one through Iran preceding it… and maybe one in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan later in the year.

So what happened in 2017?

Lots of shit. Probably more travel than most people do in a lifetime. Am I gonna write about it all in detail in this post? Nope. Why? I don’t fucking feel like it, plus not many people read these monthly/yearly roundups anyways.  What brings in people is those 2000-5000+ word travel guides I slave away at. You know, because in 2017 no one will even so much as eat at a restaurant without reading through at least 50 online reviews about it. Which leads me to some bitterness and frustration about spending the inordinate amount of time I spend writing those travel guides. A lot of these countries or regions I’ve wrote those guides for I visited blindly with little to no information prior to visiting (yeah, Tajikistan is very much one of them). I emailed a couple bloggers that had posts with a little info about their visit to pretty much say ‘This is what experience I have and gear I carry… you think I can do it on my own?’. So if I can do it without all the info I’m giving people for absolutely free, why can’t you? Have you heard of an adventure before? Then again, Tajikistan is mostly a box to tick off for most on a trip with more time invested in its Central Asia counterparts, largely Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. I’ll never understand- seeing that after having spent a decent chunk of time in the region, Tajikistan is the most scenic in my opinion (not to take away from the others, but come the fuck on).

My favorite new countries I visited?

I think I’d have to say those would be the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan, the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh in Armenia or Azerbaijan, whichever team you side with, and Antarctica.

Afghanistan, Wakhan Corridor, solo woman in Afghanistan

Did you know Afghanistan could look like this?

I didn’t get to spend nearly the amount of time I would have liked to in Afghanistan. But the time I did get was definitely the major highlight in my travels in 2017, and really all my travels, period.

Nagorno-Karabakh, Karabakh, Artsakh, Republic of Artsakh, Nagorno-Karabakh roadtrip, Zontik, Zontik waterfall, Nagorno-Karabakh waterfall, Hunot, Hunot canyon, Shush, 10 off beaten path 2018

This photo just makes me wanna go back to NK.

The impromtu visit to the Republic of Artsakh, better known by its former name Nagorno-Karabakh was definitely one of the cooler roadtrips I’ve taken. If you’re ever in the region do it! Plus, I mean it did require me to visit Armenia… and seeing that the members of System of a Down are Armenian by descent I got to check off a place I’ve wanted to visit since like middle school.

Antarctica, reasons to visit antarctica, Brochgrevink, Borchgrevink hut, Borchgrevink's Hut, Cape Adare

Oh Antarctica…

And of course there’s Antarctica. Like how would you not be stoked on a place full of penguins. How?

As for everything else

Tajikistan feels much like a home away from home to me. I’ve actually spent more time there than any other country on earth aside from home. Kyrgyzstan gets a mention here as well, especially places like Osh and Bishkek, which being a person not from a city they both feel like a second home because I know my way around. My short time in Sydney and my New Zealand North Island roadtrip were an absolute blast. I’m still not sure how I feel about Myanmar. I think I can now declare Cypriot cuisine to be my favorite in the world, as well as having the most fun ever with one of my best friends who moved to Nicosia in October. And Morocco: I hated Marrakech, but the lovely Sidi Ifni And Tafroute in the little visited south balanced things out.

Tajik, Bartang Highway, Bartang Valley, Bartang, Pamir, Pamir Mountains, Pamirs, Tajikistan, GBAO, Gorno Badakshan Autonomous Oblast, Badakshan, Badakhshon, Khafrazdara, Khafrazdara Valley, Khafrazdara Lake, Pasor, 10 off beaten path 2018

Tajikistan is really the prettiest place in my opinion.

As for December

Here are the posts I published this month:

Bartang Highway, Bartang Valley, Bartang, Pamir, Pamir Mountains, Pamirs, Tajikistan, GBAO, Gorno Badakshan Autonomous Oblast, Badakshan, Badakhshon, Lake Sarez, Sarez,

Bartang Highway Guide

Everything you need to know about traveling into the Bartang Valley in Tajikistan, seriously it’s fucking beautiful.

Nagorno-Karabakh, Karabakh, Artsakh, Republic of Artsakh, Nagorno-Karabakh roadtrip,

3 Day Nagorno-Karabakh Roadtrip

Here is the itinerary of that impromptu road trip into NK I did with complete strangers and it turned out to be one of my favorite adventures this year.

camel, sunset, Morocco, spend the night in the Sahara, camping Morocco, camp in Morocco, Sahara desert, desert, Merzouga, Erg Chebbi, campaign Africa, Merzouga tips

Tips for Merzouga Tours to the Sahara

Just some good pieces of advice to help make a 3 day Merzouga tour go even better.

Armenia, Goris, cow, Armenia cow, Goris cow

Worst in Travel 2017

Crazy shit happens to me ALL THE TIME. Travel is cool, and I’m not really complaining, but my style of travel is not glamorous. And even when I try glamorous I always manage to fuck it up, or the universe does… whatever.

Zulfa, Zulfa Mosque, Zulfa Mosque Seeb, Zulfa Mosque Seeb Oman, Zulfa Seeb, Zulfa Seeb Oman, Zulfa Oman, green mosque Oman, One week in Oman, 7 days Oman, Oman Road trip, Oman roadtrip, Seeb, Seeb Oman, Seeb mosque

10 Off the Beaten Track Destinations for 2018

Some cool ideas for places to visit in 2018 that you won’t have to elbow through the crowds to enjoy.

Happy New Years everyone!

Thanks for reading all my whinging, pissing and moaning for another year.

Gentoo, gentoo penguin, penguin, penguins, Danko Island, Antarctica

Penguin fight!

 

 

It’s The End of November, So You Know What That Means…

Roundup time!

*This post contains some affiliate links.

Hi from Alaska guys, I’m finally home! After over 100 days on the road through several countries, a couple break-away territories, a few dead ends, food poisoning, gropings, roadtrips, and more- I’m home. So to cut to it, I’ll tell you about what I did this month.

Cyprus

I the first couple days of the month in Cyprus before heading off to Morocco. We explored the beautiful and nearly tourist-free Karpas Peninsula, I promise I’ll write about it one day soon!

Golden Beach, Cyprus, TRNC, Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, Northern Cyprus, Karpas, Karpaz, Karpaz Peninsula, Karpas Peninsula

The most crowded stretch of Golden Beach on the Karpas Peninsula!

Morocco

We didn’t get off to the best start- Marrakech easily became my least favorite place, causing me to write the Women’s Survival Guide to Marrakech. I figured the least I could do is prep you for the sexual harassment and scams you’ll likely have hurled your way in the Marrakech Medina. Things quickly began looking up when we rented a car and drove south to explore Morocco’s South Atlantic Coast and Antiatlas Mountains. Sidi Ifni and Legzira Beach were highlights of our time spent down that direction. The village of Tafroute in the Antiatlas was an easy favorite in the rocky interior. We felt that Southern Morocco was the most authentic part of our travels in the country by far.

Salem-Aleykum from #Morocco 👋🏽 . I’ve been in Morocco for about the last week trying to get in the best of and a few hidden gems before I head home! This was one of my faves: Legzira Beach, near the adorable seaside town of Sidi Ifni. Well worth the drive down the South Atlantic coast, and a sweet relief from Marrakech. The area around Sidi Ifni has a beautiful coastline and has remained a perfect little secret hideaway off the main tourist trail. Unfortunately Legzira Beach where this arch is located used to be home to a second arch, but the smaller one collapsed in the dark of night last year. . Currently I’m wrapping up a 3 day Merzouga desert tour with @kkdaytravel, so hop on over to their account and watch my takeover of their stories! . #Legzira #legzirabeach #visitmorocco #sidiifni

A post shared by Nicole ✨AdventuresOfLilNicki (@adventuresoflilnicki) on

Next up we took a 3-day Merzouga tour to spend the night in the Sahara Desert. Making stops in Ait Ben Haddou, The Atlas Mountains, Tinghir and Todgha Gorge on our way down to the desert. Of course stargazing under the milky way with camels was the highlight!

🐪 What’s better than sitting under billions of stars in the Sahara Desert?✨Watching meteor after meteor fly by with a camel at your side! On my recent 3-day desert adventure with @kkdaytravel we were able to experience just this. After a warm tagine at our Erg Chebbi tent camp a couple of us headed out to take photos of stars and a few others to stargaze. Eventually we were met by our lovely Berber nomad guides to join us to watch shooting stars wiz by. Then M’hamid (one of the guides) asked if we wanted to go take photos with one of the camels. Of-freakin-course we do! Although I had my doubts trying to get a camel to hold perfectly still for one of these long exposure shots of the stars, in the end camels actually made great models. They stay perfectly poised for decent amounts of time (or maybe Bob the camel was just in a good mood that night 🤷🏽‍♀️). Either way it made for some of my favorite photos I’ve ever shot. Who wants to spend a night in the Sahara? ⛺️ #sponsored . #visitmorocco #morocco #sahara #saharadesert #camel #merzouga #ergchebbi

A post shared by Nicole ✨AdventuresOfLilNicki (@adventuresoflilnicki) on

After finishing up the tour we went back to Marrakech to try to like the city- exploring the Bahia Palace and Ben Youssef Madrasa. Both the Palace and Madrasa were a sweet relief from the craziness in the Medina, but taking refuge in Riad Chams Marrakech and Les Jardins Le Riad Laarouss were clear highlights.

Do you love or hate Marrakech? I’ve never been a place I’ve felt so bipolar about. I had a horrible experience on arrival here in Morocco, enough to make me say Marrakech is officially the worst city in the entire world. I’m now back again trying to like this city, but the scammers, touts and disgusting harassment makes it nearly impossible, but then you round the corner into Ben Youssef Madrasa and I forgot about it for a minute, and staying at @riadchamsmarrakech made me realize there is some humanity in this city (if you ever come to Marrakech, I 100% recommend this Riad- it’s just lovely). Who wants a no-Bullshit guide to how to survive and what to avoid in Marrakech especially if you’re a woman?… I think that may be an upcoming blog post. . If you haven’t gone over and checked it out, go watch my Instagram takeover of @kkdaytravel from the 3 day Merzouga tour! #marrakech #morocco #visitmorocco #madrasa #benyoussefmadrasa #travel

A post shared by Nicole ✨AdventuresOfLilNicki (@adventuresoflilnicki) on

Alaska

And finally the day came, I got on a plane and headed home for the first time in nearly 4 months. It’s one of the first times I’ve ever been kinda excited to go home, really. But I can’t complain too much- I was able to visit Europe and Asia on this trip and of course make it down to Africa, meaning I have visited all 7 continents in 2017. Antartica made 7 for 7 earlier this year, but Africa made all 7 in under one year. I’ll likely never be able to do that again in my life (and I’m not sure I’d want to again). Anyways, sorry for the tangent… back to Alaska. I have done literally nothing in the two weeks I’ve been home… well, adventure-wise. And I am not at all upset by that. I have, however, been working on new content from this trip and editing a stack of photos.

What to expect in December?

My first post of the month will be a travel guide to the Bartang Highway in Tajikistan! I quickly realized with how many searches land visitors on my blog looking for Bartang Valley information, that there isn’t one. There is not one single guide to the Bartang Highway out there on the internet. There are a few accounts of bicycle and 4×4 trips up it, but that’s it. So I put one all together to share with all of you researching and planning trips to Tajikistan. Another post you’ll see next month will be my best tips to help anyone planning a 3-day Merzouga tour into the Sahara Desert trip go off without hitch (I figured these all out the hard way, so you don’t have to). I’m hoping to get more out on Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Nagorno-Karabakh and Cyprus in the near-ish future.

Posts from November:

Here’s what I managed to write!

What it was Like to Spend the Night in The Sahara Desert

15 Awesome Gift Ideas for the Adventure Traveler in Your Life

Women’s Survival Guide to Marrakech

Karakalpakstan Travel Guide: Uzbekistan Off Course

What it was Like to Visit The McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica

See you in December!

…and happy all the fucking holidays. Was that PC or fucking what?

Ya Sas from Cyprus!

Ya sas from Cyprus!

It’s the end of the month so you know what that means…

Time to see how many of you signed up for my emails only to get the free ebook… Let the unsubscribes begin!

No, not really (whatever, it’s partially true!). It’s time to muse you with the giant mess of a life I lead that happened in real time. Buuuuut, the biggest news of all is that tour I’ll be leading in June next year in China, Tajikistan and Pakistan… go read the itinerary and sign up here.

This month has been weird. Real weird. I started the month still in Myanmar and then followed by Georgia, Armenia, Artsakh, and Cyprus. Figured I’d save the bullshit and get to the point for those of you just curious about where I went… or you can continue to read on for some more details.

Myanmar

I was still in Myanmar at the beginning of the month. I finished up a jungle trek in the Shan state out of Hsipaw, then continued on to Bagan. The jungle trek was great, would definitely recommend it, however Bagan was a let down, but not because of Bagan, but because, well, you can’t always get lucky with the weather.

I still have mixed feelings about Myanmar and having went there with what’s happening in the Rakhine State. A friend had planned a trip there and invited me so I went with, after all I had been wanting to visit Myanmar for a while… I just wasn’t sure now was the time to go. I actually never knew much about the country besides the surface info most people know. When I decided to go on the trip, I’d never even heard of half the ethnic groups in the country, let alone the Rohingya people.

I see a lot of people now boycotting Myanmar because of the treatment of the Rohingya. That’s fine, everyone’s, entitled to boycott/not boycott anything they want, but here’s my thoughts…

To those that have already went in the past and are vowing to not go back… NEWSFLASH: this was going on when you visited too, so you’re not a humanitarian saint for your new vows, just naive at best, but I think ignorant would be the proper term here. I’m with you in the ignorant club, when I had dreamed of a trip to Myanmar in my mid 20’s I’d never heard of the Rohingya, among many other ethnic groups in Myanmar that are often oppressed. I’ve read some on the Rohingya now and this isn’t new. Next I see others who haven’t been saying they will never… however they’ve surely visited countries that have committed horrible atrocities (people visit Serbia after their ethnic cleansing campaign, Turkmenistan even though it has a regime similar to North Korea, among many other places. People visit the country I’m from and look at our track record for fucks sake). But then on the flip side of the argument: is it right to all vow not to visit a country as fragile as Myanmar and further isolate the people within the country? Not all the people of Myanmar agree with what the government is doing there, no different than Americans that most vehemently do not agree with the ideas of Trump, or those of Obama, Bush, Clinton or any other leaders who have sat in office.

Then again, you can’t really go to Myanmar without funding the government. You can do your best to avoid it, however the people you give your money to for services pay taxes, just like most everyone else in every nation on earth. So yes, you cannot avoid funding the problem.

So there you go. I don’t really know the right answer, even though most comments I read on articles in regard to Myanmar and if you should travel there sounds like most people want to just further isolate the country by boycotting anything to do with it. Myanmar could easily spiral back to what it used to be, closing everyone out even more than it currently is so that they can easier hide what horrible things are happening.

Aside from my mixed feelings about going to Myanmar, here are my thoughts and realizations from Myanmar…

I don’t really like Southeast Asia anymore. It’s not you, it’s definitely me. It’s too hot and humid for my liking, I was uncomfortable the entire time. I used to look at the region as my home away from home. Where I felt most comfortable, sorta understood how things worked and where I figured out how to be a backpacker. This has nothing to do actually with Myanmar and it’s inner workings, it just made me realize I don’t enjoy sweating, at least not that much. Is this what growing up is like?

Myanmar was a huge eye opener as to places that just can’t sustain mass tourism yet. We went to Bagan at the end of the trip because we wanted to do the hot air balloon ride over the pagodas and figured out that doesn’t happen till October. Well, spoiler alert: it didn’t happen. First they were booked out, then we made it off the waiting list and scheduled for October 6, then cancelled the morning of because of weather. However, this isn’t the point. Bagan was packed as it was the Thadingyut Festival and many people from all over the country were there at the same time. Accommodations were for the most part all booked. And then I started to see the nuances of too many people in one place. Rolling blackouts, wireless service being almost completely unusable because the system was overloaded… things like this. Going without power, internet, phone calls and texts doesn’t bother me at all, but think about the people who live here. The hotel can kick on a generator to get the AC back on. A local probably doesn’t have this luxury of kicking on a generator at home for any needs. That’s when I really saw that Myanmar isn’t ready for mass tourism. It can’t sustain it without taking away from its own people. I’d really think about that if I was plotting to go during the high season.

Myanmar has been able to avoid the drunk asshats that have invaded its neighbors, I was dreading going back to Southeast Asia about this as I wasn’t sure if the idiocy had spread here. Don’t get me wrong, I like a drink, but I didn’t come here to get frat boy wasted.

However Myanmar has been infiltrated by bloggers and vloggers, which is fine. Great, promote whatever you want. A sizable chunk of the people I met traveling in Myanmar were doing one or the other. The thing that really annoyed me? The ones touting how they were trying to get free this and that for exposure on their blog, Instagram, whatever. That’s one of the perks of doing this and getting established. However, I couldn’t bring myself to pitch any companies in Myanmar knowing just how low the average income is. Or am I the only one that really thinks about that when I choose who I pitch?  Or maybe I just thought it was absurd since I did go to Myanmar to be a tourist, I didn’t go with the intent to write, photo and document the trip. I guess for everyone else this also means that you’ll see your fair share of dinguses walking down the street talking to a GoPro, iPhone or some form of video recording device. Something I would definitely not recommend for your own personal safety. Or maybe you wanna get run over by a moped. #YOLO.

Then my plans fall apart…

The PR company handling the press trip to Abkhazia of course waited until 4am Myanmar time the day before my flight to Georgia to tell me that the Abkhaz tourism board pulled the plug on the entire project. Great, now I’m going to Georgia for absolutely no reason. I had a feeling something fishy was going on when I had been asking for a few weeks at that point for further information on the trip, as well as proof that my visa would be issued and they kept bouncing me around to different people and no one had an answer. And of course the PR company is trying to play it like they’re trying to help but let’s face it- they’ve done nothing to compensate my colossal waste of time on this and clearly are protecting the tourism board from me, probably having figured out I’m pissed.

On a side note, I’ve been wanting to visit Georgia and the Caucasus for quite some time, however, I wanted to go on multi days treks that are far and beyond the typical trekking itineraries in the region. Just not in October….

Georgia.

I arrived in Tbilisi with literally no plan except for check out the Caucasus and then travel overland through Turkey and eventually hop a flight to Cyrpus. 5 hours into Georgia I find out that US passport holders can no longer obtain visas to enter Turkey because of the two manfants running the US and Turkey and their inability to come to an agreement. Fucking lovely, let me just reroute my de-railed plan, yet again.

I kept hitting dead ends in Georgia as well. Most places I wanted to get out to in the mountains I wasn’t going to be able to because well, it had snowed in some passes the roads lead out to the treks on. And let’s just be honest here, it pissed rain almost the entire time I was there anyways, and I was frustrated because of, well, everything. I ended up only seeing Tbilisi and doing a day trip to Gori to see the Stalin Museum, not because I love mass murderers, but because I like history. My favorite part was when Marion, the man who drove the van of us out there said Stalin’s train smelled like communism and he didn’t want to go inside. I did, it smelled like the dilapidated shack I lived in till I was 8. Turns out communism and being poor smell real similar.

Ahh communism.

I got up one morning and thought fuck it, I’m going to Yerevan. I decided it was probably best for me to get out of Georgia and return another time.

Armenia, and a horseback molesting.

I hopped on a shared taxi to Yerevan and figured I would wing it from there. It all worked out well because I met a Czech guy on the marshrutka who was picking up a rental car and two Armenian sisters he knew the next day to road trip the Nagorno-Karabakh and invited me to go with. Done. After we arrived I did find a cheap flight to Cyprus from Armenia the day before my birthday. Booked.

We all headed for Tatev in the morning. Of course by the time we got there it was in a giant cloud and didn’t budge. I didn’t even bother spending the money to go on the cable car, because I know what the inside of a cloud looks like. The cloud stayed, we left.

Finally we ended up in Goris which actually turned out to be pretty cool because we camped in a cave overlooking the town that night. Then I realized we were camping above a graveyard on Friday the 13th. I think that would freak out most people, and then there’s me over there like, cheers life, bring it the fuck on, what next? No really, how are you gonna fuck with me next?

I really feel like I’ve been being poked with a stick by a shithead 6 year old since I left Central Asia.

Not a bad spot to pitch your tent, eh?

Here we go: The next morning I got in a fight with a shepherd. Because he was a perv. At sunrise I got up and walked by myself a further up into the hills to take some photos. When I got near the top I crossed paths with a shepherd taking his cows to graze, he was on a horse. He hopped down and tried talking to me in Armenian which I unfortunately after less than 24 hours in the country didn’t know a single word of. I tried Russian and he did know some. He insisted I ride the horse. Did I ever mention that after the Great Horseback Riding Incident of 2003 I’m terrified of horses? Okay I probably never told that story on here but any of my family knows this story, and for those of you don’t it’s probably one of the funniest incidents in my life and well, I thought I was gonna die. The. Whole. Time. So Shepard helps lift me up on the horse. Then he jumps on behind me (weird) and immediately goes in for a full on tit grab. Like he grabbed it and squeezed. Hell to the fuck no. I jabbed my elbow square into his ribs. What in the ever loving fuck? I didn’t think that walking up a hill in a hoodie and sweatpants and breath that likely smelled like I gave a street dog in Bangkok with worms a rim job warranted a 7 am molesting. By then the horse is already trotting along and I’m about to clock this motherfucker upside the head and tuck and roll. I’m yelling and trying to get off this horseback ride to a bridenapping and before I know it he reached his hand around and grabbed my vagina. Okay Donald Trump. It’s on. I turned just enough and punched him. Square in the side of the head. I finally beat and fought my way to a release. Dosvidanya motherfucker, I hope your horse rapes you*.

*I don’t even feel slightly bad about that statement. Not. at. all.

MOOOOOOOOOOO!

But don’t worry Armenia, I don’t believe this asshat is a representation of Armenians.

Nagorno-Karabakh but now known as the Republic of Artsakh.

And no I’m not trying to get political here, but here’s a little unbiased information on Artsakh. The Nagorno-Karabakh (or Artsakh) is a region that has been squabbled over essentially since just before then dissolution of the Soviet Union. It did escalate into full scale war in the early ‘90s, however there has been a cease fire in place since 1994. The UN recognizes it as Azerbaijan, but the region remains under control of ethnically Armenian separatists, and has been operating as a de facto independent country. It’s only enterable from Armenia.

Artsakh or Nagorno-Karabakh, whatever you would like to call it ended up being my favorite part of my time in Caucasus. It’s beautiful. However, I will say that you don’t really wander too far off the beaten track here as it’s still heavily landmined from the conflict.

How is this waterfall not the coolest? How?

The first stop inside the country/not country was a waterfall. Waterfalls don’t interest me too much, well unless it’s a behemoth so I went in indifferent. It ended up being the coolest waterfall I’ve seen. Okay NK, you’re winning me over. Then it was on to Stepanakert, the capital. It’s compact and has a interesting statue just the outside city (that in fact was the only photo I’d ever seen of NK before I went). We’d spent more time there than planned because we had to wait to get our visas for the country/not a country.

The only site I knew in Artsakh before entering.

Later that night we camped under the stars at Sarsang Reservoir and burned some sweet marijuana to cook dinner with (It grows wild, I swear!).

Our final day included a hot spring, an invite to a lunch that consisted of mostly Araki (it’s alcohol), and a crazy road trip high into the mountains on a trail not a road in a gutless 2-wheel drive car. More on this later, but it ended up being one of my favorite days this month.

Yum, smoked fish.

Some random roadstop lunch attendees.

Cyprus.

Onto Cyprus for my birthday! One of my best friends just moved here and well, you gotta take advantage of that. Plus, it’s so nice to go somewhere and not feel like you need to see it all because it won’t be your only opportunity to be here.

Three things I will say you need to come to Cyprus for:

1. The best food I’ve ever eaten in my life. Geena took me to 7 St. George’s Tavern and it is without a doubt the best meal on earth. You know it’s gonna be good if there’s no menu.

2. The people. Cypriots are ridiculously nice people (unless they’re driving, what in the ever loving fuck is up wth the driving?). There’s been so many times we’ve gone somewhere and had a Cypriot yak our ears off, and not in a bad way. People here seem to take their time and genuinely want to get to know you.

3. Some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen some incredibly blue water but I swear the water here is a different kind of blue.

So what’s coming next month?

I’m off to Morocco in a couple days and then HOME! You have no idea how excited I am for both.

What annoyed me this month?

Rant time!

This one blogger’s photos from Oman I stumbled across on Instagram. My friend and I were actually trying to decide whether to visit Morocco or Oman (I went to Oman last year and absolutely loved it!). I took to Instagram to show my friend photos of Oman. and I came across this said blogger’s photos of herself in bikinis and one where she’s literally picking her shorts (that are so tight and wedged so far up her ass she could probably taste the denim) out of her, I’m guessing, well tanned crack from the looks of her bikini choices. Honey, this ain’t Ibiza it’s the Middle East. While Omanis are incredibly kind, and I doubt anyone would say anything about her choice in dress, it’s so ridiculously disrespectful to the people and culture to be flouting around in clothing like that outside of the tourist resorts. So if your going to Oman, my Allah, cover your anus.

Idiots who can’t negotiate. Yeah I’m talking about Erdogan and Trump and how they’re both giant fucking babies. Rather than solve the problem at hand they both do nothing and bar all the people who have nothing to do with any of this from entering either country. With their idiotic visa bans imposed on each other’s citizens it makes me wonder how many places will be completely off limits for either nationality by the end of the year.

Tourism boards and their flakey bullshit. Do I need to say more?

What Did I write?

Travel as a Solo Woman in Afghanistan: The Wakhan Corridor.

How to Visit Sary Chelek, Kyrgyzstan.

Travel Palau on a Budget.

Travel with Me to China, Tajikistan and Pakistan in 2018!

What’s coming next month?

Hold on to your seats…. *crickets*. I have no posts written out yet for next month. I have some ideas: Karakalpakstan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Antarctica, Moldova, Transnistria, Cyprus… we’ll see what I come up with.

See ya next month.

Mingalabao From Myanmar!

Mingalabao from Myanmar!

Oh hey guys! If you’ve been following along on Instagram (or Facebook to a lesser degree) you probably already know I’m in hot, sticky, Myanmar traveling with my friend Treva. But I’ll give you an update as to what I was up to in September, since I clearly am not good at blogging in real time.

I started off the month with grand plans to be in Afghanistan by September 1st. Did I not tell you that? Nope, I didn’t. I know quite a few would lose their fucking minds if they knew I was planning a jump into the graveyard of empires.

By August 21st I had secured a visa to Afghanistan with plans to visit the Wakhan Corridor. Well the September 1st plan didn’t pan out because yours truly is a poor planner and didn’t pay attention to the upcoming Eid holiday, so luckily I found out the day before that the Eshkashim border would likely be closed for the next few days. Naturally I had a backup plan to trek to the mountain lakes of Bachor in the Central Pamir (Tajikistan).

Of course the Bachor trek couldn’t go as planned since I went and got sick the third day of the trek. Not altitude but surely something food related. It was pretty up there none the less, however it’s a place I plan to revisit in the future. I ended up turning and going back because I’d prefer not feeling good at 12,500 feet rather than nearly 15,000 feet. Then a couple days later headed back to my home-away-from-home, Khorog.

Afghanistan

And then came the day, heading to Afghanistan. With no fixer in place on the other side of the border and fingers crossed to trek some of the Wakhan Corridor I went anyways. I did manage to find one tourist (who was fully prepared and booked on a private tour) that was planning to cross the border that same day so I did hitch a ride to Tajik Ishkashim with him. Border crossing went fairly easy and I was in. From there was the bumpy taxi ride to Sultan Eshkashim, the Afghan fraternal twin on the other side of the river. We were brought to the Marco Polo guesthouse where I met Malang, who was probably the key person to meet in Eshkashim. He started arranging as soon as he met me. Off he went into town with my passport to get the bureaucratic nightmare kicked off. You need special permits to travel in the Wakhan Corridor, and like most anything else in this part of the world, it’s a multi-step process that involves nearly 10 photocopies of your passport and 4 passport photos. A day and a half later of ramen noodles, canned tuna, meeting half of Eshkashim and a 4 hour visit to an Afghan police station, permits were in line and we were on our way.

With my two week plan in Afghanistan cut short to about 8 days our new agenda was this: Visit Qazideh (this is Malang’s village), head to Wuzed to begin the trek into the Big Pamir, trek to the Shepard settlement of Maydon and eventually to the summer pasteurs of Aksanktich and the nearby high altitude lakes before returning to Wuzed and then making my way back to Eshkashim.

So over the course of the next few days I was kidnapped by mobs of women and girls Io be introduced to their lives and spend afternoons over tea laughing together, got a quick glimpse into the daily lives of the remote and super traditional Wakhi people, learned how to milk a yak, ate fresh yogurt and drank bowl upon bowl of shirchai.

The negative? Well the only bad thing that happened in Afghanistan was the 8 hour Afghan colon cleanse I experienced about the moment we set out from Qazideh. A long day in a Toyota Corolla on probably the world’s bumpiest road. I don’t think I’ve ever clamped my buttcheeks together so hard and for that long in my life.

The other negative? Getting a small taste of Afghanistan left me of course wanting more. I had a feeling this would happen. The Wakhan is very removed and isolated from the rest of the country. It’s never faced any of the warfare or Taliban control as many other areas of the country have. Now I can’t help but be curious about what the rest of Afghanistan is like.

Don’t fret: There will be upcoming posts all about my time in the Afghan Wakhan!

Back to Tajikistan.

And without hitch I made it back into Tajikistan although this round was essentially a transit. I got back into the country on the 14th of September and needed to catch a flight out of Bishkek at the ass crack of dawn on the 22nd. And with my normal luck I got back to Tajik Ishkashim just a little too late to make the shared taxis back to Khorog and so there I was with a night in Ishkashim and a very long next day with a shared taxi to Khorog and then another to Murghab to be followed the next day with yet another to Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

Onto Kyrgyzstan.

First stop: Osh!

With 5 whole days I decided to go somewhere I hadn’t been yet- Sary-Chelek. Of course this involved a mini bus from Osh in which I’d eventually be buried in a pile of luggage, backpacks and vegetables on one of the weirdest road trips of my life where myself and two French backpackers would eventually get kicked off at the village of Arkich. (The bus said Sary-Chelek, so we wrongly assumed it went all the way to the park near the lake). So we decided the three of us should split a taxi.. that is until I greatly offended the driver by busting out laughing when he drew the second zero in the 1500 som price tag in the dirt on his minivan window. I had read that if you had to take a taxi from Arkich that the prices were extortionate, so I kinda expected this. I think the damage was done to his macho when I laughed so he wasn’t even really willing to negotiate, plus it’s not like there’s a plethora of taxis or tourists here for that matter. So with about a half hour walk I successfully hitched us a ride in the back of a good ol Russian UAZ work truck headed toward the small lake a few hundred meters before Sary-Chelek.

The perk to Sary-Chelek? We were the only tourists who camped there overnight. Like literally not another soul around. Well, except for that angry cow that chased one of the French girls on her way back from the toilet that night, and then came over and ate the apples we had collected on the way out there.

Yeah, one of these days I’ll share how I got to and from Sary-Chelek with you all so that any of you Kyrgyzstan-bound readers can visit as well.

Then it was off to my final Central Asia stop: Bishkek. Bishkek gets a bad rap for being boring. However that’s the beauty of Bishkek. There’s not much in the way of big attractions so you never feel pressed to cram your visit, but it’s got enough Soviet era architecture, good coffee, a variety of restaurants and the perfect amount of Central Asia weirdness to keep me entertained for a while.

I did manage to squeeze in a lunch to finally meet Stephen Lioy (amazing photographer, by the way), thoroughly explored the hectic Osh Bazaar and went wakeboarding.

Did you know there’s a wakeboard park in Bishkek? Neither did I! I had to take advantage of that, and this was the first cable park I’d ridden at. I stayed at Asia Mountains HOSTEL (there are a Hotel Asia Mountains 1 & 2, these are not the same place), and Timo who runs it also coaches at the wakepark. And yes, stay at the hostel. I loved it, plus they have probably the cutest cat in the world.

So slightly suffering instant separation anxiety I found myself at the Bishkek airport waiting to board my flight to Dubai. I still cannot believe those two months in Central Asia came and went. I honestly feel like I was there for two days, and I miss it.

Dubai.

In Dubai I got to catch up with my friend Inna from Moldova and meet her lovely husband. Inna was actually my very first host on Couchsurfing. 5 years ago she showed me the ropes in Chisinau. I think a lot of my fondness for Moldova is all thanks to Inna.

Bangkok.

Not much to note here other than a long layover. However I spent that layover at the Boxtel. It’s in the airport and you can rent tiny private rooms by the hour to catch some sleep between flights.

Myanmar.

Catch up to real time! I’m currently the #BigSweaty, frying in the sun here. It’s been a while since I traveled Southeast Asia. I’m not sure I’m equipped for this climate anymore, I’ve been spending way too much time in ridiculously high altitude moonscapes more recently. However, Myanmar is amazing.

I’ve been traveling a lot of middle of nowhere destinations in the last couple years and I was worried Myanmar would be a shock coming from Central Asia but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not crowded and overtly touristy like some of its neighbs. I feel like Myanmar is very much raw, pure and uncut Southeast Asia. And also the people are incredibly friendly.

First stop was Yangon to check out Shwedagon Pagoda and then an overnight bus to Hpa-An.

Originally our plan was to go up to Bagan first but we quickly found out that the hot air balloons are grounded for July, August, and September so we rerouted the trip! We actually enjoyed Hpa-An enough that we made a quick trip to Mawlamyine and came back! Hpa-An has a lot to offer. Then next we endured the overnight bus to Inle Lake, which hadn’t been on our radar but after hearing so many good things we decided to head on up.

Inle Lake was interesting and we even arrived as a festival was going on (although we never did find out what the festival was celebrating). Then from Inle Lake we endured yet another overnight bus, this time to Hsipaw from which I’m writing this post, sweating profusely. If you’re reading this, I am currently trekking in the jungle.

So what’s up in October?

My 31st birthday of course! But that’s not till the 17th. I will be in Myanmar until October 8, until I leave the plans are to trek in the jungle and catch the sunrise from hot air balloon over Bagan.

My next jump will be straight back into ex-USSR territory: The Caucuses! I have a press trip to Abkhazia for about a week exploring the separatist region. After that the plan is to travel back into Georgia and explore Armenia and Georgia before taking off into Turkey to traverse the country and then end this trip finally in Cyprus.

What I wrote this month:

Okay, let’s face facts. This is a lie. I wrote every post except for this one you’re currently reading and ‘How to Get an Afghan Visa’ before I left home. But I only pre-wrote posts through the 20th of September, so fingers crossed I can keep up with writing on here until I head home!

How to Get an Afghanistan Visa

How to Camp Like a Boss

How to Shoot the Aurora: Editing

How to Shoot the Aurora: Camera Settings

How to Shoot the Aurora: Camera Gear

July 2017 Roundup

Kesugi Ridge, Alaska, Kesugi, K'esugi, K'esugi Ridge

Later Alaska.

July 2017 Roundup

*This post contains affiliate links.

Oh hey guys! If you guys didn’t catch that post from a couple weeks ago, I’m in Moldova right now- just arrived a couple hours ago if all my flights have gone according to plan (yes, I wrote this just before I left home). In a couple days I’ll be headed to Khujand, Tajikistan. But back to the point, let’s talk about July!

I was at home in Alaska in July until the 30th. I mostly worked my day job, cranked out some posts that will be coming up on my blog while I’m traveling the ass end of nowhere, went on a few really long hikes, and got everything prepped and ready to go for this trip! So I’ll skip over the boring stuff and talk about the exciting stuff- the hikes I did this month.

I did three hikes this month and all of them are ones I’ve never done before. First up was Exit Glacier and Harding Icefield just outside Seward. Can you believe that I’ve lived in Alaska my entire life and had never been here? I think this is probably one of the most popular places tourists come to visit. The same weekend we hiked into Lost Lake just a little further out of Seward and camped out there. Then just last weekend we hiked up K’esugi Ridge. Just a word of warning, don’t do it in two days like we did: It was miserable! We did get lucky and had perfect weather the first day with not a cloud in the sky and clear views of Denali.

Denali, Alaska, Kesugi Ridge, Kesugi Alaska, K'esugi

The biggie.

What Stuff I Recommend to Buy:

I’ve purchased some new shit this month in preparation for my trip and have been testing it out before I left home.

Osprey Daylight Plus

I bought a daypack, finally! The Daylight Plus by Osprey is pretty handy because it attaches to several of Osprey’s other models of packs, like my Aura 65L.

Goalzero Nomad 7

I did a ton of research and found a new solar panel. I ultimately went with the Goalzero Nomad 7 because it’s super lightweight and attaches easily to my pack while I’m out hiking. It is suuuuper slow since the output is so little on it, but it does the job.

Canon EF-M 15-45mm lens

I broke down and bought a mirrorless lens to use with my mirrorless camera, the Canon M3. It’s tiny and has a decent enough zoom range to be a good option for my carrying around cities when I don’t want to bring my giant 5DSR with me.

Joby Gorillapod Focus Tripod

Another update to my photography kit. I went ahead and tossed my MeFoto to the side (it’s great, just super heavy!) and got the Gorillapod for travel. It only weighs a pound not including the ball head mount which makes a huge difference for me living out of a backpack in the mountains for days on end.

Osprey 3L Reservoir

I have backpacked all over and have always had a cheap $10 reservoir for my pack. Lesson learned, just spend $30 more for the nice one, and it even has a magnet to attach the mouthpiece to your chest buckle.

Lifeproof iPhone Case

I am destructive.

What I wrote this month:

Uzbekistan, Central Asia

10 Reasons to Visit Alaska. Because my home is kinda awesome.

Wanna Go to Socotra? Good Luck. I get lots of questions about visiting Socotra. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but here’s the reality right now.

How to Spend One Week in Oman: A Self-Drive, Budget Itinerary. Oman was A M A Z I N G! Get there before everyone else finds out.

I’m Going Back to Tajikistan (and Moldova Too). Info on the trip I just started.

Antarctica 2018 Itinerary. There’s still spots open on the expedition I’m leading to Antarctica in 2018!

One Week in Alaska: Hit The Highlights, Anchorage to Fairbanks Roadtrip. Part 1 of the 6 part series with ideas for self-drive itineraries.

One Week in Alaska: The Dalton Highway. Part 2 of 6. This is way off the beaten path Alaska.

I also put up some photos on my destination pages for Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. One day I’m going to get around to writing posts on them I promise!

Guest Posts this month:

travel to Socotra, travel in Socotra, Socotra, Socotra Island, Yemen, Socotra Yemen, Socotra Island Yemen, Yemen Island, Yemen islands, Socotra Archipelago, Yemen, dragon blood tree, dragon blood trees, Socotra tree, homhil, homhil protected area, homhil socotra

Traveling Solo in Antarctica on We Are Travel Girls.

The Most Alien Landscapes on Earth: McMurdo Dry Valleys on Matador Network.

The Otherworldly Beauty of Socotra Island on Matador Network.

What’s Coming in August?

I’ll try to update you all on the happenings on this trip through Moldova, Tajikistan and beyond. The remaining parts 3 through 6 of the ‘One Week in Alaska’ series will trickle out over the month and at the end of August I’ll begin my 4 part series on how to shoot the aurora. See ya next month!

~Nicole xx

 

 

June 2017 Roundup

June 2017 Roundup

*This post contains affiliate links. 

Anyways, June was busy. I visited Spencer Glacier on the Whistle Stop Train (and wrote a post on how you can do it too!), attended Chickenstock- the strange bluegrass music festival that takes place in Chicken, Alaska each year, backpacked into Reed Lakes (in the Hatcher’s Pass, AK area), and did a day hike to Symphony & Eagle Lakes to celebrate hitting the elusive 100k followers on Instagram… finally! I wrote two posts that were featured on Buzzfeed (10 Reasons to Visit Antarctica & 10 Reasons to Visit the Remote Ross Sea), and another post about Franklin Island, Antarctica that was featured on Oceanwide Expeditions’ Blog. All this while working my day job, full time as a hygienist 4-5 days a week where I often pull 8-10+ hour days.

Instagram, hitting 100k on instagram, adventures of lil nicki, adventures of lil nicki instagram

This months posts:

The Ultimate Female Packing List: Spoiler alert: I HATE PACKING!  But after seven years jammed with tons of travel, this is an area I have great expertise on. This list includes everything you should pack to travel the world as a woman… Also, with a few adjustments all the men out there could use this list too!

Salar De Uyuni Tips: My best tips and tricks I learned first hand after visiting the world’s largest salt flat in 2016.

Antarctica Travel Guide: Everything you need to know about visiting the polar continent. (In partnership with Oceanwide Expeditions).

Day One Response Waterbag: A great product that will provide you with clean drinking water while backpacking and traveling. They also donate clean water to millions in need around the world with the purchases.

10 Days on the most Alien Looking Place on Earth: What it Was Like Traveling to Socotra, the one destination that I love more than almost anywhere else.

Take The Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop Train: Part of my series sharing how you can travel Alaska on a budget. How to visit Spencer Glacier via the whistle stop train as a day trip or a camping trip.

Hitting 100K On Instagram: I finally made it! But also I wanted to share the struggle, the bullshit endured getting there, and how we are all fed up. I’m no longer going to man Instagram so stringently. I’m going to do and post whatever the fuck I want, whenever the fuck I want.

Solo Female Travel In Tajikistan: One of the most common questions I receive is how to travel Tajikistan solo as woman. I did it last summer and am finally sharing all my tips with you! Tajikistan is a great destination to travel solo, even for women. Even though I am still receiving comments on Instagram from people who have never visited and know nothing of the country still saying things along the lines of ‘it sounds dangerous‘. Why? Because it ends in ‘Stan? I want to debunk the BS idea that Tajikistan is unsafe. With standard precautions, it’s an unbelievable destination with some of the most welcoming people the world over.

10 Reasons to Visit Antarctica: Need help convincing you to book the upcoming trip to Antarctica with me? Here’s 10 reasons to go!

Guest Posts:

An Igneous Paradise: Franklin Island: My guest post on Oceanwide Expeditions’ blog about Franklin Island in the remote Ross Sea. (In partnership with Oceanwide Expeditions).

10 Reasons to Visit Antarctica: A short, easy to digest listacle over at Buzzfeed. (In partnership with Oceanwide Expeditions).

10 Reasons to Visit the Most Remote Place on Earth: The Ross Sea, Antarctica: See the allure of the most mysterious and remote place in the world over at Buzzfeed. (In partnership with Oceanwide Expeditions).

 

Products I’m obsessed with:

Coleman Peak 1 Stove:

Hi! You probably know I’m a big fan of camping… I finally bought a stove and I’m in love with it.

Ozark Trail 10 Piece Camp Cookset:

To match with the stove I bought this awesome cook set that will take care of two people. I’ve always carried a one-man set, but finally bought a larger set up for going camping with others.

Tactical Camping Hatchet Tool:

It’s a hatchet, a knife, a can opener, a bottle opener, and more! It’s like the Swiss Army Knife of tactical gadgets.

DJI Mavic Pro Drone Bundle:

This was a huge splurge, but if you want professional grade aerial video this drone is a backpacker’s best friend.

MSR Hubba NX 1-Man Tent:

I know I’ve raved on endlessly about this tent. Still hasn’t changed!

Osprey Ariel 65L Backpack:

Another item I’ve probably worn out with my fond appreciation, but I’ll keep on keepin on… Osprey makes the best packs in my opinion. Plus it’s hard to beat their lifetime guarantee!

Heather’s Choice:

I was just recently introduced to Heather’s Choice Dehydrated Meals by my friend Amber. Heather makes them locally in Alaska (don’t worry, you can order online here!). She has a background in evolutionary nutrition and makes tasty, nutritious and healthy dehydrated meals perfect for adventuring!

Collapsible Drinking Cup:

Perfect for traveling, backpacking and camping. These cups are made of silicone and fold up flat and weigh next to nothing!

So what’s coming in July?

IRL (that stands for ‘in real life’, Mom) I am hoping to take off on loads more adventures in Alaska! Of course, now that I’ve realized how little Alaska is covered as a destination, and the pathetically minuscule amount of info on the internet about how to do it on a budget… I hope to research more places and try them out for you guys to share how you can do it too, whether you’re a local or are a tourist planning a visit. I do have posts on deck about Oman, Antarctica (including the one I promised earlier with more info on the upcoming trip with yours truly), Socotra, Alaska, and more… so be on the look out! I have so many ideas and can’t write them out fast enough. Aside from that I will be planning my upcoming trip to Tajikistan and eventually to Cyprus… What happens in between  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ suggestions are welcomed! Where do you wanna see me go in between?

So happy 4th this upcoming week to all my readers in ‘Merica, and happy July to everyone else! See you next month…

~Nicole

PS: Be on the lookout on Instagram this weekend for the giveaway I’ll be doing in part with Earth Bands!

 

 

May 2017 Roundup

may 2017

May 2017

*This post contains affiliate links.

I’m gonna keep this round up super short. I spent most this last month working on getting blog posts out and working my day job. I did absolutely zero travel. None. Went on a handful of day hikes and that was it. Also, in case anyone cares I wanted to tell you all that I chopped my fucking hair off last week. I know this has nothing to do with travel or my website but I think that accounts for about a 2olb weight loss.

The most exciting thing that happened around here was the release of my first ebook: ‘Beyond The Beaten Path‘. If you haven’t subscribed to my email newsletter that comes out maybe 1-2 times* per month then subscribe and I’ll send you your free copy of the ebook! If you’ve been subscribed in the past you’ve already received it in your inbox.

*I’m not one of those advantageous and annoying bloggers that send out an email daily… man, I unsubscribe from that shit too. 

 

Lost about 30lbs 💇🏽 @bei_capelli_907 ❤️

A post shared by Nicole Smoot (@triplenicki) on

As for the posts I published this month…

How to Get A Denali Road Lottery Permit: THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO ENTER! The deadline is midnight Alaska Time tonight. If you want to visit Denali and self drive, save this post.

The Pamirs Travel Guide: if you want to visit the Pamirs, the GBAO region of Tajikistan or travel the Pamir Highway you must read this guide (or print it and bring it with you!)

Alaska Travel on a Budget Guide: Traveling in Alaska is usually fucking expensive, but if you’re willing to rough it a little and do it yourself you can get away with an affordable trip.

That One Time I Went To Yemen: Most thought I was crazy, some thought it was suicide. I went and I lived to tell about it. Man am I glad I took the opportunity to visit the country while I had the chance.

The Worst Travel Day Ever: Ok, it could’ve been worse, I mean no one died. I did however get in a train wreck, lose a tooth and faint on a filthy bus station floor all in one day. It’s a glamorous life.

Free Things To Do in Anchorage: This is a re-release of a post I published in 2015, but it’s been updated! For those of you wanting to stay on a budget visiting Alaska this is a helpful list of things to do.

My Travel Photography Gear: Another updated post from 2016. I changed it up a little and recommended which solar charger to absolutely not purchase. You know because I purchased it and it’s a complete piece of shit.

How To Score A Cheap Galapagos Cruise: Man the Galapagos is expensive, which shouldn’t come by surprise as it’s super isolated. But if you follow these steps you can get on a cruise of the famed islands and explore for less!

How To Get To The Mendenhall Ice Caves: I’ve been in a few ice caves since my visit to Mendenhall Glacier, and while they’re all beautiful and amazing in their own right none of them have been as grand and impressive as Mendenhall Ice Cave. See it before it’s gone, at your own risk of course.

Tips For The Best Visit To Machu Picchu: Machu Picchu is amazing, but if you want to enhance your visit even further follow these tips to make that trip the trip of a lifetime.

New products I found this month

trtl pillow, may 2017

The Trtl Pillow

The Trtl pillow is a handy travel pillow that folds up nice and small but provides super comfortable neck support for those naps you wanna get in on trains and planes and more.

And that’s a wrap. Hopefully June is a more exciting month. So far I have two short trips planned. One on the Whistle Stop Train to Spencer Glacier and the other to Chicken, Alaska so we’ll see what happens….

Thanks for reading and of course you can follow me on all the stupid social medias if you dare.

April 2017 Roundup

Oh hey guys!

So as you’ve probly figured out; I’m finally back in Alaska. I landed back home on the 1st from Chile.

And to get to the point, here are the posts I released this month:

10 reasons to visit the Ross Sea  See why you should visit this little-touristed slice of Antarctica,

Tambomachay-Cusco walk   Peru on a budget? Here is a cheap day trip option.

Campbell Island   New Zealand’s Subantarctic Paradise.

Fann Mountain Guide Trekking and general information for Tajikistan’s stunning Fann Mountains.

How to get an ESTA  Planning a visit to the USA?

Cruising El Nido w/Apetours Who to book with in El Nido + video!

How I’ve Made $414.68 as a Travel Blogger The follow up to my post in 2015 How I’ve made 0.21 As A Travel Blogger.

And if you care to read about what happened in April….

The highlight reel:

 It’s springtime in Alaska

March through June is my favorite time of year!

Snowboarding

For the first time in 3 years at Alyeska. Don’t worry, I still got it.

Flightseeing

and glaciering at Spencer and Knik Glaciers.

Aurora chasing

Probably the last storm for the season that I’ll get to see!

Making videos

I’m finally making the jump! El Nido was my first project.



Watch them!

I’ve begun the process of getting Italian citizenship

I’ve known for years that I’ve been eligible for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis. I’ve been saying I was gonna do it for years and am finally getting around to it. Although I did debate on whether to list this on the highlight reel or the shitlist, as it’s a pain in the ass! Plus now I have to wait for a date to magically open up for me to go to the consulate and apply… however navigating that website is an all out nightmare and it doesn’t look like there is any availability to schedule an appointment for the next decade (I’m not kidding). I even emailed them and asked if could call and arrange an appointment and they told me to check back on the website at 3 pm each day to see if anyones cancelled. Really? I live roughly 4,000 miles from the nearest consulate… I need a little time to plan. I figure it’s probably backed up because our beloved el presidente and now everyone seems to want dual citizenship somewhere else. That’s not why I’m applying, I mostly want it for travel related purposes and to have the option of working in EU if I ever choose so. Don’t worry, I’ve always disliked Donald Trump. I couldn’t stand him before it was trendy and hipster to hate him. I couldn’t stand to listen to him talk when I was a teenager on the ‘Apprentice’ when it first started on tv. And if at this point you’re making assumptions about what I identify with politically, you’re probably wrong. I’m non-partisan in case you were curious, because I think all the parties are full of equally slimy, shitty, poor excuses for human beings- otherwise known as politicians.

The Shit List:

Matanuska Glacier

The hillbillies that own the land adjacent to Matanuska Glacier are officially on the list of things the rightly pissed me the fuck off this month. I get it, they had every right to charge people for use of their access road at a steep $25 per head for the complete lack maintenance guised under the lovely lie they spew for the fee going toward road maintenance. But y’all motherfuckers don’t own the glacier. Unbeknownst to me, I drove all the way out there only to find out these asshats are now imposing a $100 ‘mandatory guide’ to access it, even if you’re only going out to, say, picnic at the end of the road and not going to explore the glacier. So if you’re planning a trip out here and wanted to explore on your own, go elsewhere. Alaska has plenty other easily accessible glaciers for viewing without the ridiculous surcharge. And PS, there are a couple legit companies like MICA Guides with real guides offering guided tours of the glacier for those of you still wanting to visit.

All social media

Do I need to even go into any kind of depth with this? They all suck a bag of dicks. ALL OF THEM.

Some stupid organization called Social Native

Fuck you Social Native and an even bigger fuck you to Coca Cola… I got an email from ‘Nancy’ at Social Native (they’ve been crawling up my ass about joining their stupid program or app or whatever vapid garbage their peddling). Nancy had found a campaign that was a ‘perfect fit’ for my Instagram account. So I clicked her bait link out of curiosity… oh my god, I hit the elusive motherfucking jackpot….

NOT!

The perfect fit was to post a photo between this date and that date of a Coke product they’d send you while gaming and then in your caption and include the usual circle jerk req’s- tag them, blah blah blah, and also speak about how you love drinking Coke while playing video games. And then Coca Cola would pay me a whopping (drumroll) $42.

Yo, Nanc- ARE YOU FUCKING BLIND?!

When have I ever posted a photo of, spoke of or even brought up gaming? Or Coke, or even soda for that matter? Nice generic email, Nanc.

Have some dignity Nancy, and go fuck off somewhere else.

And really Coca Cola, the billion dollar brand? $42? Go find the nearest dingy gloryhole at the shittiest bar in town and go get fucked. Plus I highly doubt it was cash, probly just a coupon for $42 of Coke products knowing how slimy this industry is.

Some stupid hiking sticks

The other weird one I was roped into this month was from some (probably fictional) person named Tiff. Tiff sent me a DM on Instagram asking if I’d be interested in trying out some trekking gear. So I emailed her back and said yes, that this was a fit and asked find out what exactly the plan was (typically me posting a photo/photos on my account in these types of cases). I get an email back saying that she could probably procure some trekking poles. Ok, cool… but what are the details? Then a few days later I receive an email from good ol Tiff saying I didn’t win the drawing. Umm I didn’t enter into a drawing or contest and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to just throw people into your contests without their consent, as well as your mailing list, Tiff.

Plus I don’t even understand what her plan was behind this anyways… fucking weird.

And my personal favorite: the CEO of Instaollowers

That’s not a typo, it’s not instafollowers. Of course the email kicked off with the same old ‘we’re impressed by the 80-thousand-whatever-odd followers you have’ but have you thought of what you could do with 300k followers? With 600k? With over 1m?

So his price list?

10,000 followers for $500 (Trial Package)

50,000 followers for $1,000

100,000 followers for $1,800

200,000 followers for $3,000

250,000 followers for $3,500

300,000 followers for $4,500

400,000 followers for $5,250

500,000 followers for $6,000 (Most Popular)

600,000 followers for $6,750

700,000 followers for $7,400

800,000 followers for $8,150

900,000 followers for $8,500

1,000,000 followers for $9,000 (Best Value)

Haha, really? No ones gonna notice when my Instagram account growth goes from the rate it’s at and then is suddenly several thousand to millions of followers larger in just 5-7 days? Oh and that’s right, you only take payment by bank wire.  HA, SCAM!

Plus I wonder if @FreePeople  @FitnessForAll  @FashionBook  @99Muses  @StyleArtists and @Revolve  will want their names on his site with his claims that him and his team grew them to that point.

Nice try, fuckboy.

I even took it upon myself to point out every weakness in his scam. He got a bit pissy over that one.

And pretty much every news outlet:

Unless you can tell us (the general populace) pure unbiased news, then go do us all a favor and go fuck off already.

~Rant over. 

And that’s a wrap!

Thanks for listening to me bitch about things annoying me for yet another month. I’ll be back in May with more Antarctica posts, some posts helping you plan more for Tajikistan travel this summer and some travel gadget/gear, heck maybe even travel toiletries recommendations, and hopefully some more video*… I got lots of ideas!

*I just want you to know that video is probably the absolute hardest media to produce! I now understand why so many vloggers only release videos 1x/week…

Ape Tours, Palawan, El Nido, Philippines

 

The end is near… of the month!

Antarctica, penguins, emperor and Adelie, Adelie penguin, emperor penguin, Cape Hallet

An Adelie stealing the show from an Emperor.

I’m on my way home guys! Right now as this publishes I’m somewhere between Santiago, Chile and Anchorage. 10 weeks later, a short visit to Sydney, a top to bottom New Zealand road trip, an over 6,000 nautical mile expedition from Bluff, New Zealand beyond the Antarctic Circle to my 7th continent and back up to Ushuaia, Argentina, a trip to the famed 3 towers of Torres Del Paine, over to Argentina’s Perito Moreno Glacier, and a short day in Santiago and I’m finally headed back home for a break.

Torres Del Paine, Mirador Del Torres, Three towers, Chile

Torres Del Paine, Chile.

So as you guys probably know I spent the first half of the month cruising around Antarctica with Oceanwide Expeditions. At the beginning of the month I was still in the super remote Ross Sea- cruising between ice floes, watching Emperor Penguins tower of Adelies on pack ice and coming face to face with a gigantic leopard seal. Eventually we crossed to the Amundsen Sea en route to Peter I Island (unfortunately no landing there due to weather) and then towards the end of the journey to the Antarctic Peninsula were I got to sit among curious Gentoos and experience the mirror-like views in the Lemaire Channel.

Leopard seal, Antarctica, Ross Sea, OCeanwide Expeditions

I thought this Leopard Seal was gonna jump in the zodiac with us!

Of course it all had to come to an end eventually, were I crossed the Drake Passage (it wasn’t too bad either) and I hopped off the m/v Ortelius in Ushuaia on March 17th.*

*Brace yourselves for the upcoming Antarctica overload in my upcoming posts!

Gentoo, gentoo penguin, penguin, penguins, Danko Island, Antarctica

The Gentoos who snuck up on at me at Danko Island in the Antarctic Peninsula.

I didn’t have any plans as to what I was going to do after I jumped off the ship, but it didn’t take me long to start getting lost. My time in South America included sailing in a yacht to Puerto Williams and back to Ushuaia, taking the forever long journey by bus to Punta Arenas, Chile, and another short bus trip up to Puerto Natales where I proceeded to stay for a few days, a couple days tromping around Torres Del Paine National Park, The short Mirador Doratea hike towering over little Puerto Natales, a day trip out to Perito Moreno Glacier (back into Argentina), and then a day spent in Santiago.

Perito Moreno, Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina.

Needless to say after countless adventures in Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, Argentina and Chile jammed into 10 weeks I’m ready to head home for minute and get caught up on everything. Especially sharing with you guys everything you need to know to go to Antarctica.

Lemaire Channel, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

The Lemaire Channel, Antarctic Peninsula.

So, see you next month, from Alaska!

New Zealand, Antarctica, February is Gone…Oh my!

February is Over guys!

This month really flew by! As of right now I am somewhere in the Ross Sea in route to Antarctica with Oceanwide Expeditions. Go check them out if you’re thinking of a trip to the Antarctic, or even the Arctic.

But real time though… I’m writing this form the back seat of a rental car in Wanaka, New Zealand… I opted to use the backseat of the car as a hotel room for my last three days in NZ.

As far as February has went:

New Zealand, I think I like you…

I flew from Sydney to Auckland on the 1st and was picked up by my friend Jeremy and then continued on a road trip around the North Island, including… Mangawhai, Cape Reinga, Piha, Rotatrua, Tongaririo, Taranaki and Wellington, (and of course a bazillion stops in between). Jeremy saw me off from Wellington where I hopped on a flight to Queenstown. So far I’ve driven up to Wanaka, hikes up Roy’s Peak Track (aaaaamazing!) and have today and tomorrow (13th and 14th) to play around this lovely area before I make the drive to Bluff/Invercargill to get on the M/V Ortelius and cross the Ross Sea to Antarctica.

So far on the expedition I have likely made stops at Campbell Island and Cape Adare and am bobbling around somewhere in the Ross Sea. I will fill you in on all the details when I finally arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina on March 17th!

So without further babbling on… Here’s the measly few posts I wrote in February.

To The Pamirs and BEYOND! Day Haft.

Yup, still hashing these out for you guys… got a few more days to go writing on the Pamirs.

A Flight Over Palau with Pacific Mission Aviation.

A must do on any trip to Palau, I promise!

Preparing for Antarctica.

All the stuff I had to do to get ready for the trip I’m currently on with Oceanwide Expeditions!

Figure 8 Pool: A Sydney Day Trip.

8 steps to getting out and Enjoying Royal National Park’s Unique Figure 8 Pool.

I’ll have a post per week scheduled for you all while I’m cursing through the Antarctic and will let you know all the details as soon as I get back to civilization (and internet!) when I get to Argentina in March!

*I have a business relationship with Oceanwide Expeditions and will travel onboard the M/V Ortelius sailing South to the Ross Sea and Antarctica as an independent press & media representative. All opinions will surely be my own. Follow my travel blog as I visit the Ross Sea & Antarctica.