LOCAVORista may have fallen in love with Buenos Aires and thought it had the best street art, but she was mistaken…Sao Paulo holds that crown. Yes, Buenos Aires offers a wide array of high-quality street art, but it pales in comparasion to Villa Madalena’s paint covered walls. In fact, it’s harder to find places without street art in this posh Sao Paulo neighborhood than trying to locate art. Let’s take a quick walk through the neighborhood to check out just some of the paintings.
The minds of the many artists in the neighborhoods have spilled out onto the walls exactly as this mural depicts: directly from brains to spray paint.
One of the larger works, the whimsical scene stretches almost an entire block, even working in the landscaping.
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Erica & Matt Chua: Sao Paulo Street Art Smackdown
WHAT WAS YOUR SCARIEST TRAVEL MOMENT?
For reasons yet unknown I found myself quite intoxicated. Maybe it was the beer with lunch, or the beers between lunch and dinner, certainly the beer at dinner didn’t help, but no matter when and how, I needed to go home. Home was our friend’s Hong Kong apartment which we had arrived to the day before. He lived, conveniently for those of us of Chinese descent, above a 24-hour Dim Sum restaurant and a 7-11. While great neighbors, both of these establishments are as frequent as skyscrapers in Hong Kong, which means it could be anywhere on Hong Kong Island. If you didn’t know exactly where his street is and where to find his discrete door, you’d never find his place. Luckily for me, with built-in GPS, even in the state of inebriation I was in, I could found his place after leaving LOCAVORista and Michael to drink the night away.
Hours later I woke to the sound of the door opening I saw Michael enter…alone. He turned on the light, looked me straight in the eye and said, “I lost Erica.” This was an “oh-shit” moment. I asked what happened, to which he responded, “last I saw her she jumped over a median and was running. You wouldn’t believe how fast she is! I tried to catch her but she was gone…” She had little money on her, didn’t have a credit card, or any way to contact us. We had no idea where she could be, how to find her, or if she’d be able to find a safe place for the night. We thought about going to the police, but realized that was best done in the morning, hoping we would find her before we would need to explain ourselves.
We had lost Erica. This wasn’t the first time, but definitely the most serious. Losing Erica on the Macalester College campus at home was one thing, Hong Kong, a city we’d been in for two days, was another matter. Knowing this was a situation with no resolution we cracked open another beer and watched “Swamp People”, because, you just lost your wife…what else are you going to do?
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Erica & Matt Chua: He Said/She Said FAQ — Scariest Travel Moment
The Middle Eastern version of the free market is the modern day souq. A visit to Dubai wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through the covered alleyways in search of exotic treasures and fine jewelry and silks. While these markets don’t offer the luxurious shopping experience of the Mall of the Emirates or the Dubai Mall they give visitors a glimpse into the origins of Dubai’s trade.
The Dubai Creek where many of the historic and still active souq’s are located is the foundation of modern Dubai. It originally served as a port for trading vessels plying to and from India, Africa and the Middle East. You can still see some of the old custom houses, but the creek is frequented more by local shoppers and tourists than by shipping vessels these days. Take a step back in time with me and take a peek into Dubai’s souq’s:
The dazzling gold souk, located at the mouth of the Dubai Creek is a must vist for any visitor to the gold-obsessed UAE. The small shops are packed with large quantities of gold and shop-owners ready to bargain. Most of the gold is 22 carat and sold by weight with an additional charge for craftsmanship. The window shopping is excellent, but prices are high for prospective buyers.
The textile souq’s alleyways are adorned with luxurious silks, yards of beaded fabrics, pashmina scarves and everything you need to outfit yourselif in traditional Emirati dress. If you want something special made any of the vendors will be happy to help you, just remember to bargain.
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Erica and Matt Chua: Dubai Souqs
Hours, no days, of any “expedition” to Antarctica is spent on your ship. Considering the majority of the time you’ll be on the ship, what will you see? Here’s a photo guide to an Antarctic Peninsula trip to show why time on the ship won’t be wasted.
Our ship, the M/V Plancius, had an open bridge. That meant we could wander up to the controls whenever we pleased to get the captain’s view. This was “the” moment that we saw the first land of Antarctica with bare eyes after two days of seasickness inducing, rocking through the Drake Passage.
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Erica & Matt Chua: What to See on an Antarctic Voyage
Many people travel in search of a place. There is an idea among travelers, whether spoken or not, that one day they will come across a place so perfect they’ll lay down roots. Even among non-travelers there is an idea that there is somewhere that will feel the way home should. The people will like you, the scenery will inspire you, work won’t be work…in short, in the perfect place life will be perfect. The core of this idea is that a place can make us happy, not that we make a place happy. Couchsurfing in the Middle East showed me that it is up to us to make a place, a home, spending our energy making a life rather than trying to find one.
Having met and stayed with expats the world over, the people we met in Oman and UAE were different, they had made their lives there. Most of the young people we’ve met working abroad were abroad because they didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives. We even met one person who moved to Asia because they clicked on a facebook ad promoting teaching opportunities. There is no discounting the amount of work that everyone teaching abroad must do, from visas to physically moving across the planet, but, in general, most of the young expats I met were abroad not because they knew what they wanted to do, rather they were there because they didn’t know what they wanted to do. At their worst they were killing time, at their best they were hoping to find themselves. In the UAE and Oman though, the people we met were dynamic, seizing the opportunity to live in a rapidly changing place, who were making a life abroad.
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Matt & Erica Chua: How to Make a Life Abroad
I like vegetarians, they taste good. Nowhere else is this better understood than in South America, where meat isn’t just part of a meal…it’s the meal. Balanced diet? That’s when your plate has an equal amount of meat on all sides, right? Vegetables? We feed those to the animals, so it’s pretty much in the meat, right? Seemingly ridiculous to say at home, a proper South American parrilla (or asado) ignores the Surgeon General’s warnings about eating healthy for meat, meat, and more meat.
Where’s the beef? Such a question doesn’t even make sense to South Americans who love their beef with sides of chicken, sausage, fish and anything else that once moved under it’s own volition.
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Erica & Matt Chua: South America’s Must-East Meal
Get up close and personal to whales, icebergs and flying penguins…what’s not to love about an Antarctic zodiac ride? A certain highlight of any Antarctica expedition are the zodiac rides cruising between massive icebergs, having whales swim up to check you out and seeing the unexpected beauties of Antarctica. While the view from the ship is great and the landings incredible, the zodiac rides provide an opportunity to get close to key parts of the Antarctic ecosystem.
How often do you get to be in a boat that is dwarfed by an animal? Not just an animal, but a curious animal that wants to see what you’re all about? The sealife’s interest in the zodiacs is unforgettable, especially if you get to have a leopard seal try to eat your zodiak (it can’t, but that doesn’t stop them from taking a bite).
Icebergs are beautiful from a distance, but stunning up close. Often I found myself just staring, mouth agape, at the array of colors, textures and angles of the icebergs. What my mind tells me should look like giant ice cubes are really so much more, acting as kaleidoscopes, coloring everything nearby.
This Georgia O’Keeffe iceberg beckoned our zodiac closer with the array of colors and…uh…welcoming shape. You know, like her flower paintings…
As the light of the day changes so do the colors reflected by the icebergs. By the later afternoon the contrasts between blues and whites increase as the shadows progress around the seemingly infinite shapes. During the still morning and evening hours the reflections become supreme, revealing the true vastness of Antarctica where the views are truly endless.
As you can see, the zodiac rides are an unforgettable part of a journey to Antarctica. When booking your Antarctic cruise make sure that your ship has enough zodiacs for all passengers to disembark at the same time and that these rides are part of your trip.
Interested in exploring Antarctica yourself?
Click here to read our Antarctica Travel Guide to learn how, who to go with, and how to get the best deal.
WHEN YOU GO:
Choose a guide. The crews of many ships are multi-national. To get the best experience choose a guide that natively speaks your language, ideally with cultural similarities because they’ll understand what you want to see.
Dress warm. Of course, it’s Antarctica…but the zodiac rides are even colder because of the wind, make sure you have and wear wind/waterproof jackets, pants, hats and gloves. Actually just wear everything you brought…
Consider a waterproof camera. While they take terrible photos most of the time, the underwater photos and videos of sea lions and whales people took were incredible. Of course this requires sticking your hand underwater…so have waterproof gloves or a dry back-up pair to slip on after submerging your hand!
(Cross-posted from LivingIF.com)
Mexican food. Bet you thought I was going to say family and friends, but seriously…imagine life without Mexican food. You can’t, can you? Living in the great USA you think Mexican food is a God given right. I fell into believing that the hardest part of eating Mexican food would be choosing if I wanted guacamole with that. Then I went to the ROW, that evil “Rest of the World” that doesn’t border Mexico and found that getting an OK burrito, fajita, or quesadilla is impossible. Here is my open apology to Mexico for taking it for granted.
I hope you are doing well. I hope that you’ve been moving on and, as much as it hurts to say, I hope you’ve been as good to others as you were to me. I think about you constantly, there is nothing that compares to you. I miss your smell, how you made me feel when we were together, even when you made me sick to my stomach. I miss how you celebrated my birthday with a giant sombrero and “all-you-can-drink” birthday shots. My heart burns with desire for you today the way it did when I tried to drink your “special sauce” straight from the bottle. Mexico, I want you back in my life.
I know I’ve done so much to hurt you. I shouldn’t have blamed you for my party-ending flatulence, that was my fault, I know I have lactose issues, I shouldn’t have ordered más queso. Even then I knew that the New Year’s debacle wasn’t your fault as I claimed, I made the choice to drink a mug of tequila. Too many things I’ve blamed on you and for that I’m sorry. I’m an adult and I have to take responsibility for my choices because Mexico, I want you back in my life.
Mexico…we have so many memories together…we should make more.
I’ve changed, I understand how much joy you brought to my life. I miss the feeling of your massively thick burritos in my mouth. I miss the sizzle of the chicken on the make-my-own fajita platter. I miss your spice, your flavor, your mariachi, even if I am upset with you the day after. Please don’t make me beg, because I will. Please don’t make me watch soccer, because yes, I’m willing to even go that far. I’ll do anything you ask to have you back. Please, Mexico, come back to my life.
Unlike trying to come up with my favorite place in the world this question is much easier to answer, the thing that there is no replacement for anywhere in the world are the people I left behind. I miss my family and friends back home more than any kind of food, activity or place. It seems that everyone who embarks on a long journey, regardless of the reason, becomes more aware of what is most important to them and what they value. Family and friends have always been important to me, but being away from them for so long has made that even more clear.
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Erica & Matt Chua: He Said/She Said — What Do You Miss Most From Home?
In the whole, wide, world I most wanted to visit the Pyramids of Giza. In fact, it was one of three things I wanted to see on this entire trip, yet it took two years to make it happen. The pyramids are worth the wait. They stand up to the hype.
During the heat of the desert day exploring the area can be a tiring experience, but as the sun began setting the true beauty was revealed. At their least impressive, during the heat of the day, the Pyramids are a well-organized arrangement of rocks. Yes, they are enormous, but they are pretty plain. As the colors of the sunset start to hit them, the ancient tombs come alive with vibrant yellows and oranges.
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Matt & Erica Chua: Bigger than Imagined — The Pyramids of Giza
Part 2 of 4: FINDING A HOME. When we left home we left with the hope that we’d find the city for us. We’d walk the streets and feel comfortable. We’d savor the foods and feel fine if we got fat there. We’d see the homes and picture ourselves there. It would feel like home. After visiting more than 200 cities, where have we decided to settle? Follow us on the second Wednesday of each month to discover what traveling the world taught us about where we want to call home.
Click here to read Part I of Finding a Home: Living in a Developing or Developed Country
Having decided last month that the developed world is where we want to live, which country? Do we want to live surrounded with the history of Europe? Do we want to enjoy the culinary delights of Hong Kong and Singapore? Do we want to live in the Land Down Under?
I have always seen myself as someone who would live abroad. I’ve dreamt of returning home for my 30th high school reunion to elicit envy for my globetrotting lifestyle. I’d call places like Monaco, Chamonix and Singapore home, maybe all at once. Most of all, I’d be able to say I went somewhere in life, somewhere exotic compared to Middle America.
Beyond the allure of living abroad I see some quantifiable benefits. I’d be freer to start new businesses with national healthcare instead of employer-based care. I’d be more easily able to quickly visit interesting places based in Europe or Asia. I’d be able to take public transportation instead of sitting in traffic. These lifestyle benefits can’t be discounted.
It’s easy to picture myself living in a modern metropolis like Busan.
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Matt & Erica Chua: Living Abroad vs. the USA