Live it Well at Bangkok’s Swissotel Nai Lert

Explore Bangkok and stay at the Swissotel
Editor’s Note: This post is in partnership with Swissotel. Bangkok. The Big Mango. Thailand’s crowded capital I’ve been to too many times to count. It’s a city I used to dislike. Crowded. Humid. But, the more I have gone, the more I have begun to like it. I could wander down the sois and discover adorable coffee shops and restaurants in the Ari neighborhood. Or, explore the trendy area of Sukhumvit with its nightclubs and world-class dining. Or, I simply could shop until I drop at the many massive shopping malls (and, let me tell you, they put American malls to shame. Shame, I say).

Of course, my last visit to Bangkok was only a few weeks ago. It was my first time returning to Thailand after more than 10 months away from what used to be my home. It’s always weird to return to a place I used to live. It’s an urban jungle, and one I am slowly … slowly … coming to love.

Featured

Daily Wanderlust: Gunung Kawi, Bali

Editor’s Note: While I am preparing to leave Las Vegas, embark on an epic cross-country road trip exploring America and relocate to Thailand to become an expat, I have opened my blog to special guest posts from travel bloggers I love. This is a guest post written by Theodora Sutcliffe.

I’ve travelled to over 50 countries among the world, over 20 of them with my young son, and Bali, Indonesia, is one of the most consistently beautiful places I’ve visited. If you are planning a visit to Southeast Asia, make sure to search for Bali hotels.

Link Location: In content

It’s not just the landscapes of rice terraces, volcanoes and cliffs descending to world class surf. It’s the indigenous culture, a form of Hinduism that’s unique in the world, and sense of beauty that makes everything, even humble flower offerings, food or the art of tying the sarong an aesthetic exercise.

This tranquil spot is Gunung Kawi temple, a few miles outside Ubud. With its flowing water, lush palms and simple, elegant architecture, it’s the essence of Bali, and bathing in the springs is an absolute must.


Destinations Guest Posts

Yoga for airplane travel

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Willow Withy.

When visitors first reach a destination, eyes are captive with a new view and a mind ruminating with the trip’s itinerary. Also upon arrival, when people check into his or her body, chance are they are sore and exhausted – especially for those who have taken long-haul trips.

With an adrenaline kick, the traveler has managed to lug those suitcases through a sea of people, sit still in cramped quarters and navigate through unfamiliar territory. Travel is not easy on the mind or body. Without wellness, a journey can feel like a long, painful detour from home.

Fortunately, there are some stretches which can be squeezed into a trek that will restore the body from stress, fatigue, neck, back and hip pain.

It’s all about you

Most pain can be avoided through the awareness of posture and body mechanics. Before every day’s journey be aware of alignment.  The basis for good posture is maintaining a “neutral spine.” A neutral spine retains three natural curves: a small hollow at the base of the neck, a small roundness at the middle back, and a small hollow in the low back. A neutral spine is neither rounded forward nor arched back too much while seated or standing.

That is ideal, but in reality we all know you’re slouching when your reach the terminal because you have one bag on your shoulder and a carry on is trailing behind. You slide down in your chair to get comfortable – completely wiping out all hollows in the spine.  Your neck is out of alignment while checking your phone/magazine/laptop/book/stalker from the next seat over.  Generally, your mind is probably not on your alignment until it starts to ache.

Basic poses to relieve aches

Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)

Draw your wrists directly below the shoulders and your knees directly below your hips.  On an exhalation contract your pelvis and the front of your rib cage towards each other, simultaneously expanding the back of your rib cage.

For a seated variation of Cat Pose begin with your legs parallel and your shoulders above your hips.  Then, hold onto your knees and contract your pelvis toward the front of the ribcage and expand the back of the rib cage while rounding the neck and lower back into a long curve.

Try pairing Cat Pose with Cow Pose …

Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

Begin in the same neutral position as Cat Pose – hands and knees below shoulders and hips.  On an inhalation, expand the front of the rib cage, arching the back, lifting the gaze and the sit bones upward.

 

Do the same motion in a seated modification.  (Maybe consciously add this stretch while checking if the seatbelt light is illuminated.)

 

Those suffering from tight hips and lower back pain caused from sitting for prolonged periods of time can be released in this dynamic king pigeon pose.

King Pigeon (Rajakapotasana)

This is a leg-option-only of the full pose. The benefits of this pose include a stretch to the thighs, groins, psoas, abdomen, chest, shoulders and neck.

Starting on all fours or in downward dog, slide your shin forward parallel to the front of the mat.  Let your sit bones slide down and extend the back leg.  Be mindful of keeping the shoulders and hips in alignment and try to avoid twisting to the path of least resistance.

The seated variation is my favorite “sneaky stretch” as you can easily use reading material in the hands as you hinge forward from the hip.

Half Lord of the Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

This twist energizes the spine and gives the digestive system a boost (we know the nutritional value of food on the road will put you in a calorie-induced coma).

This sounds complicated, but stay with me, it is easy and so rewarding.

From a neutral seated position (both sit bones rooted to the floor, shoulders lifted above the hips), place your left foot to the outside of your right thigh; the left knee will point to the sky.  If your sit bones can stay level try bending the right leg and pull the heel toward the left sit bone.  Reach your right arm over the shoulder then place the elbow on the outside of the left knee. On an inhalation lift or “grow” the spine upward.  On an exhalation twist deeper over the left shoulder.

 

In the seated modification, place one foot just above your bent knee.  Try twisting gently in both directions holding onto the foot or opposing knee for stability in the twist.

Refresh your body

These  traveling yoga tips will refresh your body and your mind and allow a yogic view of your new destination – experiencing everyday things as if for the first time in which nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.  Maybe the journey of movement within your own body will offer a fresh perspective.  While sneaking in a stretch maybe you’ll find another destination along the way, as Martin Buber says, “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

And if by chance your path leads you to Las Vegas I hope our paths will cross.

About the Author: Said to be one of the best instructors in Las Vegas, Willow Withy teaches private sessions and classes on and off The Strip. Willow brings an extensive knowledge of movement and body mechanics to her yoga teaching which allows her students to achieve a wide variety of goals ranging from therapeutic recovery and improved daily functioning to achieving higher levels of fitness and performance. Guests of any hotel can book private sessions with Willow. She teaches poolside classes, weather permitting, at the Four Seasons Hotel and at the Mirage Hotel. An especially unique yoga experience is available in the Dolphin Habitat booked through the Spa at the Mirage Friday – Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. She is a studio instructor at Sherry Goldstien’s Yoga Sanctuary and hosts a popular Happy Hour Vinyasa Groove on Friday nights. If you still can’t catch her she also teaches a few classes at Life Time Fitness in Summerlin and 24 Hour Fitness. Book a session or connect online. Stay updated with special events and daily inspiration on Facebook.

 

Guest Posts Travel Tips

5 ways to get over being travelsick

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Heather Healey. If you are interested in providing a guest post, please contact me.

The other week, I gave readers tips to fight the homesick during long-term travel. But, what happens when you return from being gone? How do you keep that travel feeling long after you’ve landed? Here are some tips to fight the travelsick, or reverse homesickness you’ll likely feel after becomign stationary:

Check out events like the Festival of Colors.

Attend events that are foreign to you

It’s like traveling to a foreign country without the high cost — plus it’s easier to find friends who can come with you! I went to the Festival of Colors when I returned home,  a Hindu celebration in early spring to celebrate a new season. I went for the first time last year and can’t wait to go again this year. In fact, you should find one in your neck of the woods and check it out! It involves covering yourself and others in bright colors. Besides the fun, there is some delicious Indian food!

A constant reminder of time spent abroad.

Pull out the old memorabilia and nostalgia

When you travel what kind of souvenirs do you buy? I prefer to buy souvenirs I can wear, use or display to gently remind me of my travels. The house slippers I wore in Russia, a necklace from Mexico, the purse I bought in Tel Aviv, the hat from Paris, tea from Jerusalem, and coffee and wine from Hawaii all measure prominently in the layout of my land. Sure, there is the down side that if you use it then its going to get worn out, but I prefer it that way. No need to let the knickknacks pile up, I get lots of compliments on them and I always have a reminder of where I’ve been, stories I’ve lived and friends I’ve met.

A reminder of time in another country.

In Russia, tulips are very common. They are sold on the streets in spring, given on women’s day and used on holidays (like these from Victory Day). When tulips are in season they are almost always in my home and serve as a bright reminder of my spring in Russia.

Deck the walls with past trips.

Hang up those photos

The cheapest and simplest way to get the memories flowing is through pictures. I love pictures– I’m a sentimental shmuck and like I mentioned before ‘things’ get used, worn and broken; pictures don’t. Thanks to the digital age there are plenty more memories to be printed in case your photos get stained, ripped or tattered with age. There’s also the truth that while people love to hear your travel stories, odds are they aren’t going to sit for hours and listen. But, those photos? They’re quick conversation starters and make it fun to tell a favorite anecdote from the travel days.

Eat foreign food

This is a two-fold remedy to beat the stationary blues.

The first option is expanding your restaurant horizons. Try new dishes on the menu from places you’ve visited or places you wish to go. This can be a better alternative for you if you prefer not to cook, don’t have the access to certain spices & ingredients or if you’re in a group that will want several options.

The second option is to cook at home. I enjoy cooking at home for friends, family and myself when I am craving something specific in hopes that I can recreate it. This can also satisfy the adventure of traveling; not knowing your dish is going to turn out perfectly, experimenting with different recipes, ideas and ingredients. Cooking at home may also be a cheaper alternative and is a great way to include family and friends. Teaching them about the food, culture and sharing memories of your time traveling and what that was like.

Tell those awesome travel tales

I warn my friends, family and strangers that if they get me talking about travel it’s likely that I won’t stop until they explicitly ask me to. While I think it’s good for others to hear about traveling and to learn about the world outside their own, it may do more good for me than them. I get travel-sickness more often than I get homesick, I suppose that’s why I hope to make a life and a career of it, but that also means it’s a very large part of who I am. So in my selfish attempt to incorporate more travel in my life, I try to include more of my life in my travels. Which in turn means incorporating my friends in my travels, asking about where they’ve been, asking where I should go, what they would do if they were going here or there. Share what your passionate about.

What do you to do beat those post-travel blues and remind yourself of life not at home?

About the AuthorHeather is passionate about three things: 1) traveling; 2)humanity; and  3) education. In 2012, upon earning her Integrated Studies degree in History & Political Science, she is leaving her life in Salt Lake City, Utah to live the life of an expat. With only the intention to travel, she is leaving the planning and itinerary to where the trade winds of the universe send her. Follow Heather’s journey on her blog, HeathersHarmony, onTwitter and Facebook.

Guest Posts

Escape of the Week: Juxtaposition in Sarajevo

It’s been one year since I was in Sarajevo, a city I fell in love with. The charm of the city. It’s heart-breaking past and triumph of recovery left me overcome with emotion. For a week, I wandered the city streets, crossing over the river, walking past the destroyed National Library, meandering between the European and Turkish buildings, sipping the strong coffee …

While I was there, I visited the airport where an underground tunnel funneled supplies to the Sarajevo troops fighting to maintain a hold on their city. Like the rest of the city, this part of the town was riddled with pockmarks, untold struggles from the war.

This photo is one of my favorites from Sarajevo. To me, it shows that, even with a dark past, beauty and life can flourish.

Bosnia/Hercegovina Destinations Europe

Sleeping in Napa Valley

The first time I visited Napa, over President’s Day Weekend in 2008, I became enamored.

The lush, green rolling hills. The yellow blossoms of mustard carpeting the ground not occupied by vineyards. The gorgeous and grandeous wineries. The trailer wineries. The Napa area immediately captured me and held my interest well beyond the days I spent drinking wine.

In the years since I first visited, Napa was never too far from my mind. I had met Kiran Patel, the owner of Chardonnay Lodge, on my first trip to the town.

My best friend from childhood, Becca, and I had decided to stay at her property and were quickly taken with how adorable it was. And Kiran, well, she was just wonderful. When Becca and I checked in, she enthusiastically greeted us and took us on a tour of the rooms. They were in the process of being renovated, and Kiran was not only the owner of the lodge, but also the interior decorator.

“Each room has a theme,” she explained, ushering us in and out of a few of them. “And all of the paintings on the walls are original …”

“They are beautiful,” we had both commented.

She smiled. “I painted them.”

Wow.

Over the years, Kiran and I stayed in touch. I helped her with some PR, and she always offered a room for my next visit to Napa.

Of course, when Abby, Kristin and I were planning our Napa leg of the adventure, Chardonnay Lodge and Kiran came up in my mind first.

I messaged Kiran the night we bought our tickets, and she graciously offered us a room.

After an afternoon of leisurely sipping champagne and wine around Napa, the three of us pulled into Chardonnay Lodge.

From the outside, the place is unassuming … easy to miss, except for the  statue of a girl in the front lawn thick with roses, and the little vineyard on the side of the road. It looks like a motel, but, the interior of the rooms … so beautiful. So lovingly created with little touches of comfort and home (I totally dig the complimentary bottles of water and granola bars placed in baskets in each of the rooms.)

Kiran was out of town, but her husband checked us in. We were in the last room on one side, the Paris Room. Outside our door was a cute little iron bistro table and chairs set-up, next to the vineyard thick with bushels of green grapes.

So. Cute.

Inside, we were greeted with a king bed, two flat screen televisions, a huge jacuzzi tub and, the perfect touch, a hand-painted mural of the Eiffel Tower on the wall.

It was charming, unique, even more luxurious than I had remembered.

The three of us unwound for a little bit before we decided to venture out to Oxbow Market for some wine, cheese and more wine.

It IS Napa after all.

Americas Blog California Reviews

Travel and a Trainer: Skinny Jean Rules to Live By

This is a guest post by Kristin Weiland, a certified personal trainer. This is the first in a series of articles about staying healthy/keeping in shape while traveling. Have fitness question? Send it over to me, dtravelsround [at] gmail [dot] com, and maybe Kristin can answer it in an upcoming post!

Ahhh, vacations! While they are great and needed, these trips away from the norm can completely sabotage your diet and workout plan –if you are not careful. Time spent away is fun, exciting, and interesting since you get to visit new places and meet new people, but it can quickly turn into havoc for the seams and buttons on your jeans. Vacations typically mean you are spending time consuming more wine (or other refreshing alcoholic beverages while watching the sunset over the beach or mountains or … ) and dining out frequently (how can you say “no” to the local cheese plate?).

It’s easy to fall into the same trap as everyone else when it comes to food — you know how it goes — you tell yourself, “as long as I work out regularly a glass of wine or a hamburger won’t hurt me.”

Right.

Unfortunately, one glass turns into two or three and once you do the math, you find out you actually consumed close to 3/4 of your daily caloric intake in one meal. Each glass of wine is approximately 280 calories and a hamburger, even a plain one, is more than 450 calories. We tend not to keep track of what we are eating and drinking when we are on vacation, and that is a sure fire way to sabotage all the hard work you put in prior to your trip.
It is important to remember that 60-70 percent of your weight-loss results come from managing your diet. I am not saying you should deprive yourself, because if you do you will eventually crack and binge eat – and instead of eating a few bites of that cheesecake, you end up eating three slices of it! It is possible to go out with friends or go out for a nice evening with a special someone without completely blowing your diet.

If you want to have a drink with dinner try to limit it to one or pick a drink that won’t make you feel guilty. There are several low calorie options to alcohol such as the “skinny girl margarita.” If you wish to have a drink with friends, there is a great Web site for concocting your own low-cal cocktails to sip while vacationing.

But, you are on vacation, so going out to eat is only natural. When you go out to eat, follow some simple rules to help keep you from consuming too many calories:
1. Have the waiter bring a to-go box when he or she brings out the meal. After your meal arrives at the table immediately place half of it in the to-go box to eat the following day (assuming you have a place to properly store it, if not, take the remainder to go and give it someone who looks like they could use a good meal). Most meals served in restaurants are entirely too large. If you get half the meal out of your sight immediately you won’t feel like you need to finish it. The old philosophy our parents had of “you have to finish everything on your plate” no longer applies.

2. Choose baked or grilled over fried. You can still have the chicken breast or the shrimp – just have it prepared differently. Skipping the fried foods will help keep you in those skinny jeans or micro mini you were finally brave enough to purchase, let alone wear on your trip.

3. When it comes to sides, skip the fries. Now this is a tough one for me because anyone who knows me, knows that I love fries. Not only do I love them, I salt them before I even try them – which is a terrible habit! Always try the food before adding additional salt – nine times out of 10 you won’t even need to add anything to it. Instead of fries try to get the seasonal vegetables or the sweet potato without the caramel and marshmallows.

4. Just because it is a salad doesn’t mean it is low-calorie. I have seen people load up their plates with salad at the salad bar and then pile on bacon bites, egg, croutons, and dressing. Well congratulations, you are about to consume your entire daily caloric intake in one sitting! Remember proper portions are also important when it comes to salad. Yes, green leafy veggies in general are GREAT for you, but they are no longer healthy if they are drowned in bacon, egg, and ranch dressing. Always get the dressing on the side and dip the tip of your fork in the dressing first, then grab a bite of food — this will keep you from eating all of those empty calories, but still get the taste of the dressing.

Remember these tips next time you pack your bags. Your jeans and your body will thank you! Especially when you return from your holiday.

——-

Kristin Weiland is a personal fitness trainer certified through the International Sports Sciences Association. She has worked in the health and fitness industry for more than five years as a personal trainer. She also served in the United States Air Force as a meteorologist and physical training leader for eight years. She specializes in pre and postnatal training, weight loss, strength training, and speed and agility training. For more information on how to get healthy, visit her site., K.Weiland Fitness.

Travel Travel Tips