2017 So Far!

It’s hard to believe that nearly 2 months have gone by since I last wrote a blog post. Since deciding I was going to move to Hong Kong, I’ve written on a fairly consistent basis. Sadly, this year, though, I’ve lacked the motivation to just sit and write. When I do have spontaneous thoughts about good blog ideas, I haven’t been writing them down or cracking open my laptop and writing them that instant as I used to do. I attribute my lack of enthusiasm to write to the fact that I’m just too darn busy! Luckily, though, it’s all good things:

  • I started teaching a new yoga class!! It’s at 360 Chicago, the beautiful 94th floor observation deck at the John Hancock building. (P.S. I get free tickets if you want to come!). It’s on Saturday mornings at 9:30. The pay is great, the view is amazing, and next week I’ll be on TV promoting it!

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Restaurant for Two: Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille

Restaurant for Two: a feature where I bring a friend to a restaurant and we write a review together. John is a foodie, so we made a date night out of it. 

From start to finish, our meal at Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille in Oak Brook was delightful. The service was impeccable; everyone – the hostess, our waiter, the Nutty D’Angelo maker (see below for video) – was polite, friendly, and willing to answer any questions we had. Starting right at dinner time, the lights were turned way down low to set the mood, the wine wall was fully stocked, and the pianist was crooning jazz.

Because we were there for a tasting for this review, John and I were served multiple dishes that were sized down so we could fit it all in. Please note that dishes are smaller in these pictures than they will be when served to you!

Our first course was served with a mini martini trio; the drinks menu offers nearly a dozen options for you to add to the trio. We were treated with Perry’s new Smoky Rita (Hornita’s Black Barrel tequila, fresh-pressed lime juice and agave nectar, with a habanero rim); the Mango Passion Fizz (mango passion Belvedere vodka, peach liquour, fresh-pressed lemon & lime juice, Chandon brut champagne); and the Mai Tai (two types of rum and fresh lime juice with a hibiscus rim and edible orchid).

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Pai, Thailand

Known for its laid-back, hippy vibe, Pai is a 3-hour drive from Chiang Mai, Thailand. Most hostels in Chiang Mai can get you set up with a ticket for a mini-bus; some travelers brave the many, many hills, twists, and turns by renting a scooter as well. I was in Pai for 3 days which proved the perfect amount to fit in everything I wanted to see, but there are a lot of people who fall in love with Pai and never leave. I can’t say I was that enamored, though I did enjoy the relaxed feel and yummy street food.

Carrot on the Moon

While I did have a nightmare hostel for one night, I moved accommodation and can fully endorse Carrot on the Moon hostel. The service was great and the free breakfast was amazing.

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The Downsides of Solo Travel

In December, I traveled solo for one week to northern Thailand. It wasn’t my first time taking a trip by myself, and I’ve written multiple posts about how much I’ve enjoyed being alone.

And while I met some really lovely people on the trip and enjoyed myself overall, I felt pretty lonely most of the time. When my carefully laid out plans got cancelled (on multiple occasions), I had no one else to turn to and say, “What’s next?” When the first hostel I stayed at in Pai was a nightmare, I texted friends at home and said, “What do I do?!” instead of hashing it out with someone else IRL. When I was tired and couldn’t muster up the strength to leave my bed, I needed someone to shove me out and say, “You’re only here for one Sunday! Don’t miss the Sunday market!!”

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Restaurant for Two: Ixcateco Grill, Brunch Edition

Restaurant for Two: a feature where I bring a friend to a restaurant and we write a review together. Thanks to John for joining me at Ixcateco! I’ve eaten dinner at Ixcateco and was lucky enough to try brunch recently as well. Check out my review on their dinner, too!

Ixcateco Grill in the Albany Park neighborhood presents authentic Southern Mexican cuisine. Chef Anselmo Ramirez uses fresh, locally-sourced organic or sustainably-raised ingredients as often as possible. This BYOB restaurant is packed for dinner every weekend, but the brunch crowd was scarce and not because the food isn’t great. Brunch service at Ixcateco is new, so I expect that people will come.  It’s not located in the most convenient area, but the fresh ingredients, friendly service, and innovative cuisine make it worth the trek.

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Accommodation Nightmare

I have stayed in hostels a handful of times and have always had pleasant experiences. The people I met were nice. The accommodations, while sometimes sparse, were doable. The facilities were clean. Until…December 14, 2016.

On this day, I was faced with the worst hostel I could imagine (well, minus the horror movie type), at Common Grounds, in Pai, Thailand. I knew from the second I walked in that I was not going to be happy there. Reluctantly, I paid $18 for the three nights I’d signed up for (hey, it had good reviews online!).

Walking past the many stoners hanging out on beanbags in the outdoor verandah, the staff led me to my room: a 4-bed room with an in-room bathroom. The room was shabby, and I had flashes of bedbugs in my mind. As I was unpacking, I heard many other patrons being led to their rooms and one piece of instruction was a little different than what I’d gotten:

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Taking Chicago by storm…one date, one yoga class, one salsa lesson, one blog post, one trip, one drink, one meal, one new friendship at a time.