Witnessing a Drug Smuggle & Other Asian Bus Blunders

Our travel time from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, was posted at twelve hours. For anyone who has bumped down National Highway 6, the ditch-filled, partially dirt highway connecting Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, you know this travel time is simply impossible. By day, it takes at least seven hours to get to Phnom Penh, and it definitely would take more than four additional hours to get to Vietnam. As it was my friend’s first time bussing around Southeast Asia, I told her to prepare for a fourteen-hour ride.

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What the bus ride might have felt like

Mental preparation is a key part of sitting on a bus for endless hours in Asia. Inevitably everyone loses touch with sanity at some point, but by expecting to be on the bus for an extended time staves off the delirium for at least a short while.

So down Road 6 we jostled until we pulled in to the Phnom Penh bus station. We had approximately fifteen minutes to switch buses for the remainder of the journey, so we grabbed our bags, ran to the bathroom, bought some creepy fried chicken, and tried to get on the next bus. However, they had taken our tickets in Siem Reap and not given them back. This meant that we didn’t actually have tickets for the bus we were trying to get on, even though we had paid for them. Luckily they called the Siem Reap bus station and sorted this out.

We were given the last two seats in the back row of the bus. They didn’t recline, like all of the other seats did, nor did they have footrests. But we were heading to Vietnam, we had air-con, and at least we weren’t in the literal lawn chairs they pulled out for the next two people boarding the bus.

We stopped too many times for us to keep track of, and, by the time we had crossed the boarder (where they let Aly retrieve my passport for me—sketch), we just wanted to get to Ho Chi Minh. We were nearing hour fourteen, certainly nowhere near the city, and rapidly sinking into a restless craze. But we figured that we probably wouldn’t be stopping anymore—next stop, Ho Chi Minh! Thank god.

But just minutes after loading back onto the bus on the Vietnam side of the boarder, we stopped again.

Jesus Christ we both let out exasperated sighs, Why the fu*k are we stopping again?! We literally just stopped. The bus attendant ushered everyone off the bus for a “tea break.”

In some declining mental state between fed up, pissed off, and delirious, we told the attendant we would not be getting off the bus. We stayed in the back row with the two Indonesian ladies who had suffered through this entire journey with us.

We watched as he began unloading very suspicious brown packages from the bottom of the bus.

The lights in the bus went out, and we saw the form of the bus attendant approaching us. Somewhere a few feet in front of us, he pulled up a compartment in the floor and descended into it. This was not the first bout of strange behavior we had witnessed from this bus attendant; he had nearly forced us to abandon our phones at customs in order to get us back on the bus, physically ushering us along as we scrambled to grab all our cords.

We watched as he began unloading very suspicious brown packages from the bottom of the bus. Since we were in the last row of seats, only us and our Indonesian friends could see the packages as he lined them up next to the nearest window.

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This was too much for us to handle in our current state. The two of us burst out laughing, incredulously shining our phone lights around and taking pictures.

Soon after he emerged from the floor, he came over to the giggling pair of us, grabbed my arm and started shrieking “DELETE DELETE DELETE!!!” reaching for my phone.

Trying to push him away with one hand, I quickly deleted the pictures off my phone and irritatedly showed him they were gone. And for the rest of the ride, Aly and I exchanged theories about why he had reacted so strangely. The answer we came up with was that our bus was involved in some drug smuggling scheme. We agreed to watch the packages, and decided that if we made a random stop and he passed them out the window to someone then it was definitely a drug drop.

This is exactly what happened. Just inside Ho Chi Minh, around hour sixteen of this seemingly endless journey, the bus pulled over to the side of the road, all the lights went on, but the door did not open. The bus attendant handed the three brown parcels out the window to a man on a motorbike below. The drop was complete, the lights turned off, and we continued on our way.

How to Not Get Snatched in India While Traveling

Disclaimer: This story takes place in India, a country often portrayed as dangerous, unruly, and in a generally negative light. This was just one experience I had during my five months there, and the only time I really felt I could be in danger. I know it feeds into the stereotype, but overall that stereotype was not at all my experience.

John Legend’s “Number One” chorused from my phone alarm, my eyes opening to my dark room in the small hostel we stayed at barely overnight in New Delhi, India. We had gotten in around midnight, just five hours ago; our train to Jaipur left in an hour from the Old Delhi station down the road. My friend, Emma, and I sleepily shoved our things back into our backpacks, brushed our teeth, and headed out the door.

The nine of us traveling around the North together met in the cramped lobby to make our way to the station. Two of my friends and I, feeling lazy, opted to jump in a rickshaw to go down the road—it only cost 60 rupees (1 USD) so we didn’t mind paying the cost of indulging in this small bit of luxury.

We paused as we entered the station, looking around for our six companions and trying to get our bearings. We figured our group would be fairly easy to find—we were pretty much the only white people we ever saw, even in our relatively busy city of Hyderabad, the split capitol of the Southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, India’s up-and-coming silicon valley.

A man approached the three of us and asked to see our tickets. We half-skeptically showed them to him, and he informed us that our sheets of paper were merely reservations, and that we would have to go upstairs to the international office to get our tickets printed out. Because this is how the airports worked in India, we let him lead us to the staircase in the back of the station.

My eye caught a sign right before we were about to walk upstairs that put me on guard. It said something to the effect of “Beware tourists, this office is only open from the hours of 8AM to 8PM. Do not be fooled by people saying it’s open outside of these hours.” So I knew the office was closed as we followed this man up.

A second man was standing on the landing outside the office. As we approached him he informed us that the office was currently closed. Good sign. After looking at our tickets for a moment he then told us that our train was actually canceled, but there was another train to Jaipur leaving from the New Delhi station at 7AM, and that it was about 8km to that station and a taxi could easily take us. We thanked him, our first thought being that we had to tell the rest of our group about our canceled train.

However, just as we were about to head back downstairs, a shriveled old woman passed us on the stairs, and, once she was behind the two men who were assisting us, she turned around and urgently, but silently, wagged a cautionary finger at us. Her message was simple: do not believe what these men are telling you. In our CIEE program orientation the directors had told us not to take directions from men, and to only ask women and families for help. The lesson from our program staff combined with the ominous warning from this stranger put us on guard, and we quickly thanked the men, grabbed our tickets from their hands, and rushed back down to the main lobby.

“Yo fuck that,” I said as we got out of earshot of the men, “did you see that lady? Let’s ask someone who works here, or a police officer or something. We shouldn’t believe what they just told us. And let’s find our friends.”

Assuming our friends were already inside the loading areas, we headed toward the platform entrance. A man who appeared to be checking tickets stopped us as we headed past him, and, surprisingly, relayed to us the same information the man outside of the office had: our train was canceled, but there was another one leaving from the New Delhi station, about 8km away, at 7AM. He ushered us over to the taxi stand to help us get a ride to the other station.

At this point we were extremely wary of what was going on around us. As we approached the group of cabbies, each of us pulled our little Nokia brick phones.

“Wait,” Emma said as the cab drivers attempted to load our bags into the trunk, “we have to call our friends.”

Here another red flag was raised. The cabby started rushing to try to get our luggage off our backs and us into the car as soon as he heard we were part of a group, and not just three white girls traveling alone.

Seconds later, my roommate walked over to us and asked what we were doing. We explained the situation to her, starting to move away from the swarm of cabbies and the second ticket man, but still amongst them.

“Our train isn’t cancelled,” my roommate said. “It just went up on the board, it’s leaving from platform two. I think everyone else is already over there.”

We turned to the cabby and told him we were just going to get our friends, and rushed off. Needless to say, we didn’t come back, but instead headed to platform two, found our friends, and were on our way to Jaipur within fifteen minutes.

As our train pulled away from the station, the three of us speculated over what could’ve happened if we went with those guys. We were delirious from a combination of sleep-deprivation and adrenaline. At best, we surmised, we would’ve missed our train and been ripped off by these cab drivers; we probably would’ve had to pay them a lot of money for transportation. At worst, we could’ve been mugged, kidnapped, countless other horrible things. But, as it turned out, we were totally fine, and because we trusted our instincts, and kept in mind the warnings and advice we were given early on, nothing bad happened to us.

Even so, I didn’t tell my parents this story until I was sitting with them in the car on the way back from the airport in America. I think they were grateful for that.

It’s Way Too Easy to Get Drugs in Asia

Even though they’re super illegal, it’s no secret that it’s incredibly easy to get drugs, or things passed off as drugs, in Southeast Asia. That’s because the police presence is virtually nonexistent.

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Ask any tuktuk driver on the street for anything he will either sell it himself or take you to a friend who does. Actually, you don’t even have to ask them for drugs, they will probably just approach you themselves. Just walking down the street, I have been offered everything: MDMA, cocaine, LSD, weed, shrooms, and opium. I was literally offered opium the first night I was in Siem Reap. And I swear I don’t look like some drug lord backpacker, just a white girl roaming around. But tuktuk drivers will offer this wide array of substances to any tourist walking by.

Happy pizza is also a tourist favorite, and there are numerous stores that sell happy pizza and happy shakes in most cities. And that shit is strong. In general, weed is pretty easy to come by around these parts, but with most other drugs I would be wary. At least with weed you can tell what it is by looking at it or smelling it. The happy pizza places all sell it and their stash is pretty reliable, and some bars will sell pre-rolled joints or spliffs, as well as space cakes.

A friend of mine bought coke recently from a tuktuk driver, which, simply put, definitely was not coke. The sus-white substance we surmised was probably a random powder you can buy at the pharmacy, stuff in an appropriately sketchy looking dime bag and offered up as coke. It had no effect. Same friend was offered shrooms when we got into a tuktuk, and they gave him a test one. He said that it was just a mushroom you could probably buy at the local market.

On the other hand, I know people who have had insane nights on LSD or MDMA they bought off tuktuk drivers, and who have been whisked off into cities’ secret opium dens.

The shroom shakes in Bali on the Gili islands are a totally different story.

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Wandering around the pedestrian island my friend and I talked about splitting one; we agreed we wouldn’t seek out the shakes, but if they came to us we wouldn’t say no. We weren’t fiends.

Basically the first deli we walked into had a sign next to the register “Happy magic mushroom shake send you 2D moon.” Guess we didn’t have to look very hard.

We drank the shroom shakes around midnight, and after we decided to go to a nearby bar, watch the world cup, and wait to see what would happen. We didn’t get any visual off the shakes, which made us think we didn’t feel anything at all. It actually wasn’t until we reflected on our night the next morning that we realized how weird we had been.

After the shake, we left our other two friends with these Aussie guys we’d met earlier that day- we thought we were perfect wingmen. We created a reality for them in our heads, where they went back to the boys’ hostel and had a romantic night together; we even texted the two of them when we got back to our hostel around 5AM telling them to hit us up in the morning, We kept coming back to how excited we were that they were hooking up, and praised each other for our excellent implementation skills.

The two of us wandered around the island thinking we were being totally normal. Actually we were being incredibly weird and antisocial. I don’t think we talked to anyone but each other. We would sit in bars without drinks and talk, get up and wander on. We bought a joint from someone on the beach, but other than that our only human contact was with the security guards at a hostel that had a pool. Still, we didn’t realize this at the time, and didn’t think we felt anything because of that.

It was probably around 3:30 or 4 in the morning, when passed the hostel we had originally tried to stay at, which had a swim up bar in the pool. There was a light on near the path by the pool area, but otherwise it was completely dark. It was Ramadan, so most things were shutting around midnight or 1AM since many would wake up early to eat before the sun rose. We must’ve been some of the only people awake on the island.

We wandered up to the security guards and asked—no, begged them to let us dangle our feet in the pool. No we weren’t staying there. No we weren’t going in the pool, we just wanted to put our feet in. We promised we wouldn’t jump in. We promised to only stay five minutes. Seriously, I think we went back and forth with them for like ten minutes before we convinced them to let us in. And then we sat, kicking our feet back and forth in the warm blue pool water, looking up at the stars and chatting, for nearly an hour.

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When we got back to our hostel we sat on the couches outside our bunkroom until we were about to fall asleep. Once again, we praised each other on successfully setting up our friends. It was around this time that we realized that, as much as we “weren’t really feeling anything,” it was 5AM, and we had been super weird to pretty much everyone all night.

We awoke the next morning to find our friends, who we thought were with the Aus guys, in our bunkroom. They read our texts to us and laughed—what were we talking about? And did we really stay up until 5AM? What were we doing? This caused us to reflect on our night, and recounting what we had done made it obvious how weird we were being. We had just been in our own shroomy world, but didn’t realize it.

Do’s & Don’ts: Magical Mushroom Camping Trip

If the idea of going camping with an eighth of mushrooms has ever crossed your mind, I would like to share some tips and tricks to ensure you have an epic time. I took mushrooms for the very first time while on a camping trip in Sequoia National Park. It was a magical day, brimming with kaleidoscopic clouds, bedazzled trees, and life-changing revelations. But it was a WILD RIDE for someone who 1) has never taken mushrooms before and 2) does not go camping often. I know some things can’t be planned, especially when it comes to drug trips, but there are a few things I wish I knew before embarking on this psychedelic journey through the forest. Here’s what I learned the hard (rather, horrifyingly interesting) way.

DO pack yourself a bag for the day

Mushroom trips usually last around six hours, during which time you will be frolicking around like a little forest nymph. I’m about to get in serious mom mode here, but you have to pack sunscreen, a jacket, and water! I didn’t want to have to carry anything while tripping, but man did I regret that decision later on. It’s easier to feel chilly on mushrooms and not having a jacket really distracted me from enjoying the last bit of my trip. I also didn’t have any sunscreen with me all day so I returned to camp with a beautiful sunburn on my face and arms.

 

DON’T eat a huge meal beforehand

If anything, eat very light and vegetarian if possible. You will feel nauseous from the onset of psilocybin in your body, so having a bunch of food in your stomach won’t be very comfortable. This also impacts the drug’s effectiveness. Your trip will take much longer to kick in, which is annoying when everyone is laughing at rocks except you.

DO be cautious of your surroundings

You’re in nature, not Disneyland. Try not to be overly-cautious as that might create a negative experience, but just mindful of where you are. I ended up wandering slightly off the beaten path because I wanted to climb this big ass tree. Guess what I found next? A big ass black bear. If I hadn’t gotten so carried away and remembered that I was in a forest ridden with wild animals, I wouldn’t have been paranoid for the next hour.

DON’T try to make friends with other campers

I know you’re stoked because this is “literallaaayy the most amazing experience of my liiiiiifffeee”, but you probably look something like this:

DO bring a camera! (not professional, much buttons, so big, many expensive)

It might not capture the rainbow tie-dye swirl you saw in the trunk of a tree, but at least you’ll have something to spark that amazing memory. You’re new iPhone camera might do, just make sure you bring an extra charger so you don’t drain yours!

 

The Best Campsites in California

With each new responsibility in my life comes a stronger urge to escape to nature. A well-paying job and high-speed internet does have its perks, but this tends to facilitate an existential crisis for me. After reluctantly scrolling through meme blogs for two hours on a Tuesday night I desperately crave encountering a bear and fearing for my life. Fu*k my $2000 tempurpedic, I want some bug bites and a sunburn. So every few months I pack up my tent and hammock and road trip to some of the best parks in the Golden State. Whether you need to run away from your problems and feed some sort of primal dignity or simply love nature, you’re practically obligated to check out these amazing campsites in California.

Starting from North to South:

Yosemite

home-img-01Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View. Image courtesy of yosemitepark.com.

This place is what made Ansel Adam’s photography famous. The 1,200 square mile park is filled with sweeping valleys, natural waterfalls and lakes, wildflower meadows, black bears, and hundreds of phenomenal hiking trails. It’s the perfect getaway for a long weekend or week, if you have the time. And if you’re based in southern California, it’s only a five hour drive away!

Tuolumne Meadows is one of the best campsites, located in the upper-east side of the park. As the name suggests, it is near a vast meadow where many people have picnics or take in the view at sunset. A creek runs through the grounds to sit next to and relax during the day. It is a great starting point for all-level hikes, like the 2.5 mile trail to Elizabeth Lake or the 5,000-foot ascent to Half Dome.

189287Tuolumne Meadows at sunset. Image courtesy of summitpost.org

Sequoia

Congress2General Sherman Tree. Image courtesy of redwoodhikes.com

The Sequoia landscape is quite similar to Yosemite’s with its lakes and trails, however the main distinction is the size and stature of the trees. The Giant Sequoias cover over 196,000 acres of the forest in 34 different groves. At a volume of over 52,500 cubic feet, the General Sherman tree is the largest tree in the WORLD. It’s quite humbling to stand next to and be in awe of its magnificence.

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One of the most popular campsites in Sequoia is called Lodgepole, where some people reserve their spot up to two years in advance. There is a lovely creek and waterfall running through the grounds and you can reserve a spot along the water, if you’re lucky. There are plenty of hiking trails that lead out towards the Sequoia groves and meadows. Also, if you have a fishing license you can fish at most of the nearby lakes. And luckily for those who like to camp clean there is a laundry and shower center just a 1/4 mile away from the campgrounds.

Big Sur

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Pfeiffer state park camping. Image courtesy of seemonterey.com

If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair AND make a pit stop in Big Sur. This drive up the California coast was made famous by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road  and continues to be an inspiration for me and many other curious explorers. Big Sur encapsulates all that is the west coast with its cavern-crusted beaches, dense forests, and sunny weather. If you have a night or two, reserve a campsite or lodge at Pfeiffer State Park where you can go to the beach and hike during the day and roast marshmallows next to a campfire at night- it doesn’t get more California than that.

Joshua Tree

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Joshua Tree is the raddest desert on the west coast and offers some of the best rock-climbing zones in the country. It’s only an hour east of Palm Springs but feels like a light-year once you find yourself standing in a martian-like terrain of exotic cacti and piled rocks. While en route to your camping destination, it is imperative that you stop to see the Cholla Cactus Garden. This vast field features the unique Cholla cactus species ranging from light yellow to pale grey in color and is set against a surreal desert backdrop (Google images doesn’t do it justice). Make sure to camp at Jumbo Rocks and Hidden Valley, where there are plenty of rocks to climb and unbeatable views for watching the sunset and stargazing.

 

Mistakes We Made Camping So That You Don’t Have To: Part 1 – Road to Zion

The road-trip to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon –  an epic week of camping where we learned a lot about what to do and what not to do, the hard way!

1 Volvo, 5 girls, 7 epic days of camping, you do the math.

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Lesson 1

Check campground availability. Although we did successfully plan our route beforehand using the wonderful www.roadtrippers.com and had a comprehensive packing list, our first mistake occurred early on in our trip: we didn’t realize that we would be camping over Memorial Day Weekend. This meant—you guessed it— everyone and their mother (literally) wanted to go camping this weekend, so there were zero campsites open at Watchman Campground in Zion National Park, our first stop.

If we wanted to camp at Zion that weekend, we would have to drive nine hours overnight to snag a first-come-first-served campsite in the early morning at South Campground. Our trip went something like this…

 10:45PM: Los Angeles. With our Volvo bursting with our supplies for the week, we hit the road. Blasting Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar’s “Bad Blood Remix,” we drove-thru Starbucks for some venti coffees to start the night.

3 AM: Gas station on I-15, off the Vegas Strip. What started as an innocent candy refuel stop quickly turned into a disastrous gambling opportunity. $3 were lost at those gas station slots.  Still blasting Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar’s “Bad Blood Remix,” we went on our way. Our ‘Snapchat Stories’ continued to document the story of our increasingly delirious journey on the desolate highways connecting Los Angeles and Southern Utah: dollar bills of the Las Vegas geotag rained on tired heads resting on neck pillows, Nerds Ropes and Hot Cheetos refueled our spirits when we were in desperate need of a 5AM snack, dynamic stretching in an otherwise abandoned gas station helped energize us through the final hours of the drive, and a spontaneous purchase of matching raccoon hats had us cracking up as we greeted the sun that sleepily crept up through our windshield.

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Lesson 2

Know your time zones. We weren’t going to put this on the list, but sadly we struggled with this more than once. In this unfortunate mix-up (the first of two), we were forced to forgo a diner breakfast feast when we lost an hour crossing into Utah. Our two-hour window to get to the park and find an open campsite turned into a one-hour window, so our glorious feast turned into a quick stop at McDonald’s. But hey, not mad about Egg McMuffins. 7:30 AM (NOT 6:30): Zion National Park, South Entrance. We zipped through the waking town outside of South Zion, and were all surprised by the fact that we weren’t really “out here” in the wilderness. In fact, there were grocery stores, cafés, and even a movie theater. Blasting Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar’s “Bad Blood Remix,” we continued into the park.

We proceeded to unashamedly peer pressure a stranger out of his campsite; then crashed for the next few hours before the next phase of our adventure began.IMG_7363Credit: http://bit.ly/1V6TYN9

Lesson 3

REI is your friend. Even though we made some pretty basic mistakes, we didn’t do everything wrong!

If you’re camping on a budget (or not), REI is perfect for you since they have a great return policy and reasonably priced rentals. We rented a tent and a cook stove from these guys—the cook stove ended up being a huge lifesaver as the rainy weather we had for half our trip would definitely have prevented us from starting and maintaining our own fire. We also bought a lantern from REI for our trip, and when we returned it we got all of our money back! (Sorry we’re not sorry, REI).

1PM: South Campground, Zion National Park. We awoke after several hours’ rest, excited to explore the magical park we would spend the next two days in. How much success would we have, and how much more of a joke would our lives turn into? Stay tuned for the next installation of our camping trip, where we restock in nearby civilization and learn the hard way that not all windbreakers are waterproof….

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All the other pics are ours!

Why You’ve Gotta Get to GHENT, BELGIUM

There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of this city, but you should book your next trip here, ASAP. It’s a walkable city with Medieval roots that’s full of charm, friendly people, delicious food, and perhaps most importantly, Belgian beer. It’s a perfect destination for young travelers as the city has a huge student population, meaning there are deals for young people everywhere! Seek these out while exploring the many bars, museums, castles, and churches in this lovely city. Ghent isn’t quite a touristic city (yet), and its proximity to other major cities, reasonable prices, and cultural and historical richness made Ghent one of my favorite European cities I’ve visited so far.

Where to Stay:

Hostel Uppelink- I can’t recommend this hostel enough. Through the hostel’s stained glass windows, you can look out on the best view of Ghent’s city center: a winding, cobblestone street with impressive cathedrals, the busy Sint-Michielsplein Bridge, and a river-side platform that serves as a perfect location to pack a picnic and chill out on a sunny day. The hostel is clean, the WIFI and hot water works well, and there are tons of activities offered by the hostel, such as a free walking city tour, kayak rentals, and a weekly beer tasting. I easily made friends from all over the world in the cozy common room, which holds a bar stocked with plenty of Belgian beer (and a discount for hostel guests).

What to Do:

Go On a Free Walking Tour- It departs daily from Hostel Uppelink’s front door at 1 pm. Walk on your first day for an interesting intro to Ghent and its history!

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Eat Lots of Waffles– I suggest heading to ‘Koffie, 3.14, Thee’ in the Groetenmarkt, grabbing a warm take-away waffle, and eating it along the river. Side note: The Belgians prefer plain waffles, and think tourists ruin them with toppings! However, I can’t resist whipped cream or melted drizzled Nutella…

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While you’re in the Groetenmarkt, also Try Cuberdons (‘Purple Nose’ candy) from the two competing vending carts. Expect a hard gummy outside with a syrupy inside. Expect to feel a sugar high after eating just one.

Taste Belgian Beer- I recommend the beer tasting event offered by Hostel Uppelink. It’s great if you’re on a budget and want to learn about what you’ll be drinking for the next few days.

Hop on a Boat Tour- Can board at many locations along the river at almost any time of day for a quick, enjoyable tour. Student discount!

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’t Dreupelkot Jenever Bar- Jenever is the traditional liquor of Belgium, and it’s what gin evolved from. This bar has literally HUNDREDS of flavors of jenever to try, and you can enjoy them on the outdoor patio if its warm out. Small shots are about 2-3 euros, 3-4 euros for a large. Good deal, good alcohol.

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Climb the Belfry Tower- Provides an amazing view of Ghent from above, and is very cheap with a student discount.

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Go to St. Bavo’s Cathedral- and learn about the Stolen ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ painting- an art history mystery. Notice that you can choose to either see a copy of the painting in the church (for free), or pay to see the real painting.

What Next?

Most travelers in Ghent are also traveling to the romantic city of Brugges, as it is only a cheap, 30 minute train ride away. Others are taking trains or busses to the bigger Belgian metropolises of Antwerp or Brussels, and some are traveling internationally to Holland. If you are taking a train, use the Gent-Sint-Pieters Train station, and expect to take a tram to connect you to the city center.

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Easy Campfire Meals to Survive The Wild

Planning what meals to eat for a camping trip is undeniably one of the most fun parts of the process.
Ideally, you would sit down before you go to the store, write out all your meals, and buy only the ingredients you’ve agreed upon. I’m sure this happens for people who are legitimate, relatively intense campers or backpackers who have to think about what they carry and for how long.

However for the rest of us independent twenty-something-year-olds, I say “ideally” because once you actually enter the store it’s more than likely that your purchasing process will become a free-for-all, guided by a love of snacks and an unspoken mutual fear of starving to the death in the wilderness. And yes, this impulse can, and probably will, take over even if you are consciously aware of the fact that you’ll only be in said wilderness for 24 hours. Because, c’mon, we both know you can’t survive.

Regardless of which category of camper you find yourself in, here are some easy campfire meals to survive the wild.


Hobo Dinners

Credit: http://bit.ly/1PHU3jd

Ingredients

  • bread
  • carrots
  • onions
  • cheese
  • potatoes
  • veggie/meat patty
  • ketchup,
  • mustard
  • mayo
  • salt
  • pepper
  • + 21-flavor mixed seasoning
  • Tin foil (necessary)

Instructions

  • First take a big sheet of tin foil and lay it out on the table.
  • Next, chop all of your food into small pieces and organize them onto different plates (like a buffet). This will make them cook faster. Take as much as you want of each ingredient throw them into your tin foil.
  • Add your desired amount of condiments/seasonings, and a drop of water to help the veggies cook.
  • Stir it all up inside your piece of foil, wrap the foil around the food (the longer and flatter they are the better they cook!), just make sure you make handles with the ends of the foil so it’s easier to pick up.
  • Now set it on the embers of the fire. Your hobo should be done within fifteen or twenty minutes, depending on surface area and food density.

Credit: http://bit.ly/1PHU3jd

Pro-tip: If you’re nervous about your embers or eating raw meat, or just getting hangry, go for the veggie patties – they’re usually pre-cooked so worse comes to worst you can eat your semi-cooked meal safely.


Pita Pizzas

Credit: http://bit.ly/1PHU3jd

Ingredients

  • Pita bread
  • mozzarella cheese
  • marinara
  • pepperoni (optional)
  • Tin foil (necessary)

Instructions

Remember those awesome pizza lunchables we had in middle school? Well this is the same idea.

  • Take a piece of foil and create a circular indent a little bigger than your pita size. Take your pita and fit it into the space.
  • Next, generously spread sauce, cheese, and pepperoni on your piece of pita bread.
  • Now wrap the foil around the top of the pita, but try to create some separation between foil and pizza top so the cheese doesn’t get stuck, and watch it cook.

Pro-tip: Open up the pita and shove all your ingredients in there to make a pizza pocket.


 Hot Dogs

Credit: http://bit.ly/1PHU3jd

Ingredients

  • Wieners
  • Buns
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Relish

Instructions

  • Stick a skewer, or if you don’t have a skewer then a stick, in that bad boy and get roasting. This one you do over the open flames.
  • Put your buns over some tin foil and let them toast.

Pro-tip: Cheddar-infused or bacon wrapped hot dogs make you feel fancy…And they taste bomb.


Cake Batter Oranges

2012-06-19-fudgy-campfire-cakes-baked-580x400

Credit: http://bit.ly/1KZ0JWt

Ingredients

  • Orange
  • Cake batter mix
  • Water/milk
  • Tin foil (necessary)

Instructions

  • Slice off the top of an orange and cut/scoop out the inside. Try to leave as little orange and pulp left in the skin.
  • Mix the cake batter mix with water or milk. Pour the cake batter into the empty orange skin about ¾ of the way to the top. Wrap it in a tin foil ball with a handle and place upright on the grill/fire over the flame.
  • Should take about 30-40 minutes to cook, depending on desired consistency. Feel free to open up the foil and check on your little cake. The cake will be orange-infused, and you don’t need a plate!

Pro-tip: Bring frosting, or mix up the type of cake that you make in the orange for different delicious treats. You can also do brownies!


Banana Boats

Credit: http://bit.ly/1NJNG1n

Ingredients

  • Banana
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips
  • Tin foil (necessary)

Instructions

  • Cut your banana in half vertically, leaving the skin on.
  • Stuff the middle full with marshmallows and chocolate chips.
  • Wrap in tin foil and place on a grill or on embers. It should just take a few minutes for everything to melt.

Pro-tip: Think peanut butter chips. Nutella is also delicious in these! And whipped cream is great on top. Let your imagination run!


S’mores

Credit: http://bit.ly/1X8GsH8

Ingredients

  • Hershey’s chocolate
  • Graham crackers
  • Marshmallows

Instructions

  • Roast a marshmallow on a stick til it’s a golden brown (if you’re patient) or set that sucker on fire (if you’re not).
  • Place it between two graham crackers with some chocolate. A campfire classic.

Or just watch this, and pay attention Smalls!

Pro-tip: Stick the chocolate inside the marshmallow so it roasts with the chocolate melting inside. Or switch out Hershey’s for Reese’s peanut butter cups for an amazing alternative!

Now if it’s between you or the over-confident guitar player, I’ll say you are the real winner on this trip.

 

Men’s Dopp Kit Essentials

A friend probably gave me the greatest single piece of advice when it comes to traveling. You need to be ready to pick up and leave at the drop of a hat.

Think about it. Someone could get hurt, there could be a disaster, maybe you find a briefcase of cash that belongs to the mafia. Who knows?

Traveling is a mindset. You need to prepare for anything. That means being self-sufficient at all times. A robust and resourceful dopp kit is the travelers tool box.

Make sure you have what you need to survive

Toothpaste

People are known to put all types of things in their mouths when they’re traveling. By the end of the day your gonna smell like ass. Do this, every time you go back to the room to reenergize, brush your teeth.

Toothbrush

See above.

Hair gel

Because after you wake up on the train with the gross-seat-slimy-window head, you’re going to be happy you packed it. Substitute for maple syrup when you’re having a hard week.

Floss

Oh who are you kidding? What makes you think you’re going to floss on a trip when you’ve neglected it for 20 years?

Deodorant

Walking all day has it’s drawbacks. You get smelly.

Cologne

For when you go out.

Hand sanitizer

The world is fu*kin dirty. You should carry this with you wherever you go. After a museum visit, in transit and before lunch. Just lather that sh*t on.

Condoms

You never know…..Rather be safe than sorry.

Ear plugs

Amazing! These are a must have to drown out the world. Noise on a plane, snoring friend, or loud hostel/hotel. I actually sleep with them every night. It’s another layer of comfort.

Mints

Keep these on you. Going out straight from dinner? No want wants to socialize smelling like Chinese food.

Baby powder

Swamp butt. Must I say more?

Q-tips

Because because.

Lint roller

If you’re headed somewhere right off the plane, a lint roller will keep you looking fresh.

Electric razor

I hate shaving in general, but when I’ve been traveling for a few weeks, sometimes I end up looking like Forrest Gump. The electric razor is an amazing tool to keep you and that jaw line looking sharp.

Razor

For the guys who are all about that life.

Joint papers

You never know…..Rather be safe than sorry.

Batteries 

For when your headphones or camera run out. Also, batteries are life.

Advil

When you go out drinking all night in vegas or Thailand, you are not going to want to forget Advil.

Tums

When that Indian food won’t stay down and your chest feels like your about to burst.

Flashlight

Sometimes you might need to walk home in the dark. It can also be used as a weapon.