Viña del Mar: Chile’s San Diego

I have heard Viña del Mar and Valparaíso referred to as “sister cities” before, mostly due to the fact that they are literally next to each other on the map (with no smaller towns dividing them) and they have roughly the same population (about 300,000).  However, I think a more accurate description of these two popular tourist destinations would be STEP-sisters, as they are definitely not of the same breed.

Viña del Mar is the well-manicured, uptight, sorority sister who comes from a wealthy family and enjoys activities like sipping martinis, wearing high heels, and getting her eyebrows waxed.  Meanwhile Valparaíso is… well… sort of the crazy crackwhore of the family.  Let’s compare:

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Photo Chasing & Bad Timing in Northern Chile

Ryan and I ended up in Caldera, Chile because of a photo I saw online.  Considering that the trip back down to Santiago from San Pedro de Atacama is a 20-24 hour bus ride, we wanted to make some stops along the way to break up that journey.  I googled “beaches northern Chile” and saw a beautiful photo of Bahia Inglesa, just south of Caldera.  I said, “Ooh, let’s go here!” Thus began our 2-day “adventure” of photo chasing and bad timing.

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Sydney: Australia’s Commercial Capital

What can I say about Sydney?  My stay here has been a bit underwhelming.  It strikes me as being just a big, ol’ city with a famous building.  Aside from the coastline (which is admittedly beautiful), I find nothing very interesting about Sydney.  It has been kind of a let down after coming from Melbourne.  Also, it is more expensive than Melbourne in every way (lodging, public transportation, food).  It’s one of the few places I’ve been to that I was ready to leave after just a few days, and I have no desire to return. That said, I haven’t had a terrible time here; it just hasn’t been amazing.  Even though it seems like an extremely international city (it feels like almost everyone here is from another country), Sydney seems to lack a real culture.  And it definitely does not have that cool vibe that Melbourne has.

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Da Nang: A Day at the Beach

After doing the motorcycle day trip in Da Lat, I knew that I wanted to see more of Viet Nam from the seat of a bike.  Touring Viet Nam by motorcycle is a “thing.”  Lots of people (mostly guys) come here, buy a cheap bike from another traveler who has just finished his trip, and head on up (or down) the country on two wheels with their packs tightly strapped on the back or in saddle bags.  One day, I will learn how to ride a motorcycle and do this trip myself.  But for now, if I wanted to see the country by bike, I needed to hire a driver.  Fortunately, this is easy to do, as there are dozens of companies (Easy Rider is the most well-known) that organize just this type of thing.

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Indonesia: My Review

I really loved Indonesia.  I was able to visit three islands in two weeks: Java, Bali, and Nusa Lembongan.  Even though I didn’t love the vibe in Kuta or the tedium of Padangbai, there is something special about Bali. Although it has its pros and cons, it is undeniably beautiful and there are good reasons why it’s so popular. I want to go back and visit Ubud, Amed, and other towns along the coast.  I had a wonderful time in Java; there was so much to see and do.  Nusa Lembongan was a perfect island paradise.

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Paradise Lost: Cambodia’s beaches and islands

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I spent my first 10 days in Cambodia on its beautiful, isolated beaches.  First I stayed on Koh Rong Samloem, a small island off the southern coast that is less touristy and less developed than its big brother, Koh Rong.  Then I stayed in Otres Beach, a gorgeous, chilled-out, unspoiled beach just east of Sihanoukville.  The water was warm and crystal clear.  The town of Otres consisted of one dirt road about half a mile long that was lined with beachfront bungalows and restaurants.  The towns were relaxing if you wanted to relax, but if you wanted to get funky, you could find a party.  Chill out by day, party by night… or just watch the stunning sunset, grab a glass of wine, and keep chillin’.  It was definitely the highlight of my 2.5 weeks in Cambodia.

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