Papua New Guinea Mt. Hagen Singsing 2015

by Beth Whitman (August 31st, 2015)

Papua New Guinea Paiya Mini Singsing

Whenever I return from Papua New Guinea, I’m quite literally speechless.

While on our tour to PNG, we attend no less than two different singsings (festivals) over three days and during that time we see about 100 tribes from around this half-island nation. Each tribe wears traditional festival outfits that distinguish them from other villages. These outfits might be worn during times of war, marriage or other celebrations.

Within a tribe, individuals dress in accordance with their tribe, with the paint on their faces and bodies all looking pretty much the same as those in their clan. In addition to their body art, their dancing mimics the vast array of birds found in the in the wild throughout PNG. And just as male birds are more vibrantly colored than females, the men dress more vibrantly than the women.

Papua New Guinea Paiya Man

There is a lot of pride that goes into the donning of the makeup and outfits. They may not always look friendly or inviting but, trust me, they are quite happy to have their photos taken. As a matter of fact, they are bit disappointed if you DON’T take their photo.

Papua New Guinea Paiya Singsing

Prior to the singsings, both the men and women spend hours in the morning peering into a tiny mirror to get their face and body paint just right. Someone helps with their hair and feathers when necessary.

We always arrive at the showgrounds at least two or three hours in advance of the singsing to see them applying their makeup. This is usually the most fascinating part of the day as it gives us a chance to mingle with the groups before they start performing.

Our 2016 Mt. Hagen Show Tour is already sold out (although we *might* have space for one woman if she’s willing to share a room) but you can let us know if you’re interested in joining us and we can put you on the waiting list for the 2016 tour or future trips to PNG.

Be Bold,

Beth

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Best Things to Do in London

by Beth Whitman (July 31st, 2015)

Big BenIn June, Jon and I took off for London to experience as much of the city as we could in about eight days. That seems like a long time to be in a city, right? But there was so much to do, that we still had things on our list that went unexperienced. (Bwaaaaa – a reason to return!)

We started our planning by buying the DK Eyewitness Guide to London. I love these guides because they are photographically-rich and that helps me decide what I want to see (and likely why there were so many things on our wish list for London).

For the first part of the trip, we worked with our friends at Expedia who arranged our hotel stay with an Expedia +VIP Access property. (By the way, +VIP Access gets you some nice little perks such as late checkout and a welcome drink). We stayed at the Mondrian London which sits on the Thames River, though you don’t know that when you first enter the lobby. It isn’t until you walk through the building to the restaurants and bar that you realize the hotel is located on the waterfront with beautiful views and with restaurants and popular sights very close by.

Stonehenge

For our first day, we chose to take a day trip out to Bath and Stonehenge with Premium Tours. Jon and I sat in the upper portion of a double-decker bus and had amazing views of the countryside as we made our way to Stonehenge.

Boy, there’s nothing like going to a place that has loomed large in your imagination for years, and then experiencing it firsthand. No, we weren’t there for sunrise or sunset and no, this wasn’t a private tour. But that didn’t take away from the magical experience we had of walking around these stones.

Roman Baths

From Stonehenge, we drove onward to the village of Bath, where the preserved Roman Baths are located. Nope, we didn’t jump in. But we had plenty of time to tour both the Baths as well as the town itself (adorable!).

Back in London, we took the Highlights of London Walking Tour with City Wonders Limited. With an awesome (and funny) guide, we walked the city for a couple of hours and got schooled on the highlights.

Downing Street

I love to walk a city on my own, but there were lots of little things that were pointed out to us that I would have definitely missed if I didn’t have a knowledgeable guide. Sights like Downing Street, which sits pretty unceremoniously off a busy street. In other words, this was nothing like 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

High Tea St.Ermins

At the end of the tour, we had English tea at St. Ermin’s Hotel. It was the highlight of the tour, for sure, but not just because of the treats and delicious tea. It was a chance for us to sit down with our guide and ask all sorts of questions about London and what it’s like to live in the city.

Paul A Young Chocolates

On Day 3, we took a Chocolate Walking Tour with Celebrity Tours. Oh my gosh. There was so much chocolate (no complaints!). During the 2.5 hour tour, we sampled chocolates from about a half dozen of London’s best chocolate shops including at least two samples at each stop. (Side note – at some point, you just have to stop sampling and start putting those little chocolates away in a bag for later consumption.)

Because it was a walking tour and because we had another excellent guide, we got to learn a lot more about the city and visit areas that weren’t included on the Highlights tour. We stopped at famed department store Fortnum & Mason and walked through a number of arcades (mini malls with specialty shops–including more chocolate).

My favorite was Paul A. Young Chocolates. Everything looked delish but my favorite was Sea Salted Caramel. (Another side note – my mouth is watering just thinking about these.)

London Shard

Later in the week, we took the Hop-on Hop-off bus with City Sightseeing. Buses stopped at specific locations every 10 – 20 minutes so we were able to jump on, go visit a sight (such as The Shard, above, or Harrods) and then get back on to continue out guided sightseeing tour.

Beth Jon Hop on Hop off Bus

I’ve become hooked on hop-on hop-off buses and if there’s one thing you do in London, do this. The bus travels around the city enough that it gives you a great overview and you’re able to see a lot of sights if you choose to jump off at the many stops. On a nice day, sit on the upper deck!

So…we saw a lot. Ate a lot. Walked a lot. But I left London feeling like I could return in a heartbeat and spend another eight (or 16!) days there.

Be Bold,

Beth

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Ahnu Serena Sandal ~ WanderGear Wednesday

by Beth Whitman (July 29th, 2015)

Ahnu Serena sandalsSummer has been glorious in Seattle and, as a result, there have been lots of opportunities for me to wear my Ahnu Serena sandals.

Adorable, right?

But not only are these great to have in Seattle’s warm weather, they are lightweight and small enough to pack away for any warm weather destination.

With travel to Bali and Java coming up in September and Hawaii in December, it looks like I’ll have many more chances to wear these throughout this year. YAY!

So…besides their total cuteness, what makes me love these:

  • With a soft leather upper, I was able to slip them on and, from Day One, never got any blisters.
  • The back has some elastic in it which makes them easy to slip on (the button is simply for show).
  • The footbed is a soft microsuede and it’s contoured to provide comfort and support for my arches. Though I don’t generally have problems with my arches, I appreciate this as it makes it easier to spend all day in them.
  • While they do get smashed up a bit in my luggage, they spring back to life easily enough and don’t look any worse for wear once they’re on my feet.
  • They are really lighweight – perfect for packing in my carry-on luggage.

These look great with a pair of shorts, pants or a dress so they help limit the number of shoes I have to pack.

Also, there’s pretty stitching on both the leather uppers and the footbed.

The Ahnu Serenas come in a wide range of colors including Eggplant (pictured), Black, Brick Dust, Agave Green, Chocolate Chip and Colony Blue.

Available on Amazon for a variety of prices depending on color.

Be Bold,

Beth

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Disclosure: Ahnu provided these sandals to me for review. Regardless, everything I have said in the post reflects my honest opinions.

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