Tuesday, April 21, 2015

On why I CAN'T EVEN.

I've been trying to wrap up my post about Puerto Vallarta for about a week now, and I just can't do it yet. I suppose that is the discipline that writers must build-to write even when it doesn't feel natural. I'd so much rather write about things on my mind so I can pour and process everything out into palatable words, because that's how my thoughts start to make sense. Journals and diaries are probably better for this stuff, but typing is faster and I love the sound of my keyboard going 'click click click'...

I'm going to be 27 in a few weeks, 15 days to be exact. I'm pretty sure I cried the afternoon I turned 26, not because I was officially in my late 20's but because I had just moved back to Portland and wasn't where I wanted to be in life. A year later, I've done pretty well for myself career wise, become a blondie, backpacked South America and trekked Macchu Picchu, found a paddling team, created a beautiful home for myself, traveled a bunch, fostered new friendships, paid off a huge chunk of student loans, living a very blessed life and I'm still single. Roll your eyes all you want at this constantly revisited rant of mine, it's my blog so I'll write what I want :D

Being single is not a disease, but I still hate it. I HATE dating-I hate the drama, I hate the games, I hate the pride and the hurt and the guessing and the waiting. Whenever I'm happily single-always when I'm the MOST happily single-it'll attract a random dude and he'll fuck everything up. I've learned how to close doors and bounce back more swiftly than ever by now (practice, my dear) but I can't stop this cycle and frankly, I'm too old for this now. And it still hurts every time. I literally can't even. All I want is to be in a kind, fun, loving and secure relationship with someone I respect and adore, and someone who treats me how I deserve to me treated (text me back, don't be late and buy me flowers-ridiculous expectations I've been told recently. Is there a middle finger emoji? Can someone make one please?) I would still love to fall in love.

A few weeks ago I taught a workshop for my company on Online Dating 101. Specifically, how to work Tinder. It was a roaring success (so I've been told) but a part of me was whispering inside, "so you'll meet someone in person and maybe you'll like each other...and THEN what?" During Q&A, someone in the class asked how online dating has worked out for me and I had to confess-I've gone on many awesome dates but I've never MET anyone. At least none that I remember anyway-no fireworks, no one I had to tell mom about right away, no one I wanted to make breakfast for (going out for brunch tastes better anyway). Online dating is exciting at first, and then it gets repetitive and depressing. It's definitely worth a shot, I just haven't lucked out yet.

Some of my girlfriends have vowed to be single for a period of their lives, so they can focus on their careers and schooling. Rachelle, Rose, Erica, I see you and I wish I could be you. You guys are my heroines. I did that senior year of university already, and involuntarily did it this past year and it was great, so can I please have a boyfriend now? Wait-I'll be 27 soon.

I guess it's time to confess: Boys, step aside. I'm looking for husband material this year. Is there an app for that?


#butfirstletmetakeaselfie


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

So I ran off to Canada last weekend.

If you live in Portland and want a PLAYcation, Vancouver BC (oh, Canada!) is where it’s at. My friend Andrew and I decided to drive up there on a whim last weekend to celebrate a three-day weekend and it was AWESOME.

I learned a thing or two about Canadians while we were up there, which was refreshing since the last time I was on their soil was in middle school (?). By the way, it’s been agreed upon that Canada is the most boring vacation your family can do as a road trip during childhood. I almost didn’t want to go based on my memories of being dragged through every Chinatown by my parents, and having to get out of the car and get photos taken next to every horse drawn carriage. My friend had the same traumatic experience, but then we figured, if Portland got so much better after we turned 21 (or got fake IDs), how bad could Canada be?  

The first thing I learned was that Crown Royal at the duty-free store next to the border patrol is really, really cheap. All the liquor is, but you can only bring back one liter to the States. 

Second, I was reassured that Canadians really are the friendliest people! I guess this doesn’t say much because I usually just adore everyone (except for pretentious East Coast men) You can get a passport stamp at the border if you ask reallllly nicely and smile! J We stayed at an adorable Airbnb in the West End (their version of Nob Hill or NW Portland) and our host was this sweet, down to earth, artsy blonde chick whom I instantly developed a girl crush on.

Third, Easter is a big deal. I think Good Friday is an actual holiday that people get off work, and a lot of the shops and restaurants were closed due to it. Oh well. Also, tea is a big deal. I’m assuming it’s from the British influence? GAH I must not have paid enough attention at the museum, I’ll get to that later.

Fourth, I’ve never seen so many restaurants in my life. Food is everywhere, and every street is packed with incredibly diverse cuisines, from Malaysian to seafood tapas. Vancouver locals are definitely foodies.

I made a list of things to do and places to dine and drink at during our drive up, curated from generous recommendations from friends and Google.  We had two-ish full days and checked just about everything off our list (got shit DONE!), but it would have been great to stay and relax/shop for an extra day.

Highlights:




Exploring Granville Public Market. If Pike Place Market in Seattle was in Canada instead, this would be it. Isn't it funny how if you’ve been to a lot of places, after a while everywhere you go reminds you of somewhere you’ve already been? It’s comforting and annoying at the same time to me. Lots of fresh meats, pastas and delis serving gourmet local pastries, pies, etc. It’s under the bridge along a pretty waterfront as well!


Gastown. This is a downtown, gritty bar district, which makes it glorious and also essential for any decent city. Although most of the shops were closed for the holiday, each bar was just a stone’s throw away from each other and packed. We popped into a few for drinks, and then hit up a highly recommended Japanese izakaya for dinner.


GUU. OMG. Is it bad that I lived in Asia for four years and I’m tempted to crown this place the best izakaya I’ve ever had?? I was beyond impressed with the quality and flavors of our meal, everything was perfection. I’m no foodie, but the fried chicken was breaded masterfully and so tender, the yakiudon was seasoned JUST right…best meal of our trip hand’s down. If you’re in Vancouver, GO EAT AT GUU.

Keepin’ it classy in Yaletown. They say Yaletown is for yuppies, so I guess it was like Portland’s Pearl District..only there were a LOT of well dressed, drunk middle-aged folks on dates. That's just what I observed. Anyways, when a bartender at a swanky bar insists that you check out another swanky bar down the street, you should go. That’s how we discovered George Lounge, a plush, sexy joint playing 80’s music and packed with 40-year-old divorced housewives in 5 inch heels. No, I really loved it. Their cocktails were excellent (I’m a cocktail snob now, don’t you know?) and I was thrilled that mine came in a Chinese take-out box. Probably my favorite cocktail ever!


Taking the ferry to Victoria, the capital and one of the oldest cities of British Columbia. I like taking ferries, I take them whenever I can because I’ve never been disappointed by the views. It was too windy to sit outside, but I could have stared out those windows for hours. Oh wait, I did. I’m too lazy to think of adjectives so here’s a photo. Protip: If you’re only here for a day, no need to bring your car (which will cost you $100+ CAD to drive on to the ferry each way). Double decker buses #72 and #70 picks people up right outside the terminal and brings you straight to downtown for $5 CAD round trip. You can buy bus passes in the gift shop on the ferry, you’re welcome.




Stumbling into the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria. Totally unplanned, but I saw this on the map and we decided to throw down the $16 CAD to check it out. THE MOST AMAZING MUSEUM I HAVE EVER BEEN TO. I’ll admit I usually don’t beeline to museums so I haven’t been to many, but I’ve still been to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and this was way better. It’s better than OMSI too. I walked through movie-set like exhibits learning about the colonization of British Colombia to now, it was just so done. Maybe I’ve just gotten older, but this was the highlight of Victoria for me, and it would have been such a shame if everyone missed it!

Oh last thing I learned about Canadians- they adore Portland. J


And tomorrow, off to Mexico I go!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Life as I know It

SO I haven't posted since the beginning of January, which was a very, very long time ago for someone who claims to be an aspiring writer.

Last week my little brother posted a disturbing Facebook note about a period of depression he went through alone, and how he has been saved by Jesus again. My parents wrote to me immediately to make sure I was aware, which I was, because I always know everything going on with everyone around me as long as it's on Social Media somewhere. EVERYTHING. 

As for myself, I've spent the last few months being an emotionally unavailable borderline alcoholic. But you know what I've realized? So is everyone else like me, and we are all pretty reasonably happy this way! I keep on wondering if anything is wrong with me, but naw. I still have a cool job I love, I've successfully moved into a new apartment, I've traveled a bit here and there and will again soon, I hit the gym, I've made new friends, etc.etc so basically still a functioning adult. The emotionally unavailability of course is referring to men, but that's an old and boring story by now. If you love someone, let them go. If you hate someone, let them go. Basically, let everyone go cause boys can be dumb. I'm too busy being obsessed with other things.

For the past 2.5 weeks I've been completely obsessed with my new flat. I knew I would be, so it feels right to me. I'm really grateful to have found a studio I love so much, to have this blank canvas to create a home I can't wait to return to. There's been no holding back, what my baby lacks my baby gets. Antique armchairs, bar carts, chandeliers, all the things I've always wanted but never wanted to splurge on-I don't mind this time around because I've finally found a city I want to call my home base. The longer I've lived here, the more I've fallen in love with Portland. It's just ridiculous. Maybe I should get a toaster oven before I go out and get more mantle decor. 

And when I finish, I'm flying off to Mexico to celebrate. Because life is short, travel is my therapy and I think I can try liking tequila again. Also, the Shamrock Run this coming Sunday was obviously not enough motivation for me to get back into shape (shoot though, it came up SO QUICKLY), so maybe Mexico will be. My girlfriend who is coming with me keeps on swearing to lose weight as well but so far we just end up hitting theee brunch and bars. #firstworldproblems

What other brain spillage can I afford to leak out. My schedule is working out again so that I can go resume dragonboat paddling and IT FEELS SO GOOD. Being out on the river is my happy place. It is my zen, it is my balance. And balance is the most important thing. 

Over and out. 


Friday, January 9, 2015

A Week in Taiwan


There is a place where you can sleep in until noon, work part time, eat out three meals a day, live in a sleek studio, party until 4am and save up enough to travel on the weekends. There, you can easily learn a very useful new language, discover and develop hobbies, enjoy the outdoors every day, and make life-long friends that will become your family. There are endless natural wonders to explore from enchanting mountain villages, hidden hot springs, to dreamy islands off the coast. There, strangers will help you with directions and the cost of living is low, yet the quality is superb. You don’t need a car, or even a scooter. You don’t need to come with much more than a suitcase, a degree of any sort, a couple hundred bucks and an open, adventurous mind. Taipei is a gem, and for years travelers have been streaming in to see if the rumors were true and end up staying because, well, they are. I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t fall in love with Taiwan. If you’re even consider it, stop it and just go.

My experience living in Taipei is difficult to put into words. Three years, three glorious, unforgettable years, flew by as I spent my early 20’s there. It’s just another one of those things where you have to experience it to understand what it's like.  When I got on the bus to leave Taiwan in September of 2013, I bawled uncontrollably throughout the whole 40-minute ride to the airport. I’m surprised the driver didn’t stop and ask me if I had just lost a family member. I’ve never even cried that hard over a boy before!

I didn’t think I would be coming back for a long time, and I feared that when I did, everything would be different. I thought I was losing a part of my world I would never be able to return to. It was time for me to close that chapter and move on, grow up, establish myself somewhere, and get a ‘real’ office job. Well, we all know how that turned out.

This ‘real’ job gave me a pretty generous holiday break, and although I heavily considered Mexico at first, I couldn’t say no when my parents offered to meet me up in Taipei. I see them like, once a year if that, and if I were to pick somewhere to go ‘home’ for the holidays, Taipei with my friends and family would be it. So that’s how I ended back for a week. It was the best week I’ve spent in 2015 so far!

I didn’t do or go anywhere new, but I loved moment because every place held so many memories...the familiarity was exciting. Also, got so much quality time in with my forever friends and family. Here are some highlights of my trip:


WULAI: Wulai is an aboriginal village in the mountains, famous for hot springs and wild boar sausages. The buildings are bit run down, but the scenery as a whole is breathtaking. A river runs through the town, and you need to cross the bridge to make your way up the ‘Lover’s Path’ to see a waterfall! I went with my parents on their first day meeting me up, and they were sooooo slow due to holding hands the whole time. More on them later.



HIKING: One morning I got up really early and met two of my friends to do a random hike before they had work. It was really windy that day, and I was thrilled that I was able to get a breakfast sandwich to have once we got to the top. The views were astonishing, and our selfies did it no justice.



HALO: I really wasn’t sure where to spend my actual New Years Eve because so many of my friends were doing different things, and I wanted to spend it with everyone! In the end I decided to do the thing you should do, where you should be doing it. To me, that ended up to be partying and watching the fireworks at Taipei 101 from the balcony of one of the trendiest lounges in the city with friends that had flown in from all over the world. It was seriously magical-we were so close to the fireworks the ashes could have fallen into our champagne glasses. Epic way to begin an epic year.



BIKING: The weather was sunny every day I was in Taiwan, which is NOT what I remembered from past winters spent there. But hey, I wasn’t complaining. One day a group of friends and I all rented Ubikes and biked all afternoon through the city, alongside the river, and to Danshui, the fisherman’s wharf. When we got there, we fought through crowds on the historic touristy main street to get our deep-fried snack cravings sorted. I don’t like biking, but I will go with friends and especially if the destination includes food. Or booze.


PUB 45: A month ago, another returning friend and I planned a joint ‘welcome back’ party. There are no breweries (yet!) in Taipei, so we settled for Pub45, a simple bar stacked above an herbal medicine shop close to Shida. I used to go there and be depressed with their draft selection (still only two, still only Taiwan Beer or Stellar Artois) but it was alright this time cause I knew I would be back in Portland soon. :) It was one of the best nights during my trip cause one by one, familiar faces were approaching me with wide smiles and it was like I had never left.



SHIFEN: This is a railroad town on the outskirts of the city where the yearly Sky Lantern Festival takes place. On normal days, friends and lovers can take the train out and release their own lanterns up into the night sky. I LOVE watching our glowing lanterns float up slowly into the darkness. I had no idea the rest of the world even knew about this until I saw Frozen.



SUN MOON LAKE: Spent two days with my parents at Sun Moon Lake, a popular honeymoon destination due to the scenery. This was my third time, and it was a nice break from the city. There are ferries that take you between 3 ports around the lake for sight-seeing and hiking. Last time I biked around the perimeter of the lake, but this time I was glad to relax and enjoy the views! All the food stalls were still right where I remembered them and I think my parents finally fell in love with Taiwan there.

Actually, every day and everyone I met up with was a highlight, and if I go on I’ll never be able to be a travel blogger cause I’ll just be gushing about my friends and things I love and no one will ever take me seriously. I honestly don’t know who reads these posts, but apparently more people than I thought, and it’s so humbling! Especially the touch rugby guys ie. Ting, Spencer, Doug, what a nice surprise ;) Thank you, thank you for spending your precious time reading whatever spillage my mind randomly has. I’m always flattered at first, then I get really nervous and hope I haven't written anything embarrassing. EOM. (Finally found out that means End Of Message, duh.)

PS. I also ate a lot of food:





EOM!!!









Monday, December 15, 2014

What it's like to work at Airbnb, yo.

On Tuesday mornings my phone vibrates at 8:50am on my desk, and everyone at the office snags the last bagels from the toasters, fills up with coffee, and piles into our open area on the third floor for the weekly meeting. For any other workplace, this is probably a mundane, pain-in-the-ass gathering..but not at Airbnb.

Lots of people have asked me about what it's like to work at Airbnb. The way they ask, you'd think I worked at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. And I suppose, from what they've read online, magazine covers and the experiences they've had traveling with us, it's understandable. Airbnb is unlike any other company in the world. 

First off, I love working here because of the people. I don't know how they did it, but I could sit through an international flight with anyone in my office. Everyone has a story, we are all passionate, with a heart of gold. The people I work with every day have been hostel owners, baristas, magazine editors, non-profit founders, boutique owners, and any other profession you can think of that demands intelligence, resilience, hard work, and a love for people. Dreamers AND doers. We have our own unique hobbies and expertise outside of work that we share with each other, like fine beer tasting, button making, coffee roasting, marathon training, safety lanyard making, painting with Bob Ross, etc. Most of us love to host or attend fun, local events (like once I almost got killed in paintball), which makes living in Portland so much more interesting. We have a Happy Hour every Thursday, which means an open bar at super hipster venues and we all share coconut water with each other the next day. Well, not like SHARE..but we have loads at work and we drink it. Since most of us have lived in Portland for a fair amount of time, my colleagues are also a wealth of Portland knowledge. It's really easy to belong at Airbnb because we're so diverse that you're bound to find someone with the same quirks. We've also got each other's backs. If I'm ever in need of a pick-up truck or want brunch buddies, I know I can send out an office email and be taken care of. Many of us are Airbnb hosts in Portland, and ALL of us have traveled and stayed at Airbnbs. We are fans. I think if you want a spectacular company, you need to start with spectacular people. Airbnb knows this, and the people that continue to join us are just, so cool. 

Second, our work. When I started in our office in Portland, we only had about 40 people. Now we have over 220 people, and we're still going to be growing into next year. That's just the Portland office, the headquarters are still in San Francisco. We are a start-up, but becoming one of the largest start-ups in the tech world. We are making history in live time, because we are changing how people travel. The mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, and where there will be no more strangers. Far fetched? I think not. On my last trip, almost every stranger I encountered became a friend. Love and friendship is an international language. In every new city I visited, I booked Airbnbs and so I had someone there waiting for me, to welcome me, to highlight the best places to go, and we left as good friends. No joke, we're Facebook friends and everything. I felt like an Airbnb commercial. Most of us in the Portland office are Trip Experience Specialists. I talk on the phone every day with users, both hosts and guests from all over the world. They tell me everything, from the good to the bad, but one thing is apparent to me: everyone just wants a unique accommodation experience and to connect with others when they're traveling. And we do that. One of my favorite things is that if a guest is having an unexpected experience, since I've had plenty of my own traveling mishaps, I can genuinely emphasize...and I can save them. You have to have been through it in order to understand it, and luckily my colleagues are also explorers, travelers, and determined free spirits with a deep concern for others. The great thing about Airbnb is that if something goes wrong, we will do everything within reason to save the day, whereas other companies won't. I feel good about the morals of our company and the choices I get to make, and I would not say the same of every company I've worked for in the past. There's definitely a feeling of being a part of something bigger, and it's so exciting. 

Third, the perks. I know this is what everyone is curious about. Yes, it's all true, and I don't take any of it for granted. Airbnb takes very good care of their employees. We are, after all, Airbnb Family. If you follow my Instagram (missw0ng, #airbnb #airbnbpdx #airfam), you know we have amazing, organic and local catered breakfasts and lunches every day. We have an espresso machine but also a selection of freshly brewed, gourmet coffee available. We get lots of vacation days, reasonably flexible schedules, beers on tap, impressive health care benefits, and travel credit with Airbnb. We get office picnics, team getaways, Bluestar/Voodoo/Wafflewindow deliveries, and the building is even dog-friendly. The pay is not bad either, and with the company growing so quickly there are lots of opportunities for upward mobility or to get involved with the community through Citizenship or designing office space. Oh, this week we finally revealed our office space to the public. Our office space might be the envy of all of downtown offices, with our yurt, tree house, hammocks and beautiful living room nooks. It's really nifty, and coworkers come in even on days off to hang out. We even have 'landing zones', which are like standing desks with cubbies so we have a place to store our stuff, but in an innovative, non-desk like way. We don't have assigned seats, and the views out the window make me fall in love with Portland all over again. We all have MacAirs, and tons of Airbnb swag. I could probably go a whole week just wearing Airbnb clothes. Gotta rep that RAUSCH bélo. 

I love Airbnb as a host, a guest, and an employee. It's been undoubtedly one of the best things that have ever happened to me, and every day I feel like the luckiest girl alive. There's magic where I work, and it's probably even better than Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. 

PS. We are allowed to bring guests in for tours or even for lunch! If you would like to come by let me know in advance. 

Here's a nice little thing about us on OregonLive

One of my favorite rooms

It feels like...a home. 

Doggies are a big part of our family. 

Even when it's raining outside, it looks so pretty from the inside. 

Our treehouse! 



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Confessions of a Single Girl (oh shoot, that's me.)

The best thing about traveling is that you get to experience the best of all worlds. I love making new friends, trying local food, picking up languages, seeing beautiful scenery..and then coming home and falling into my soft, ever-welcoming bed, enjoying craft beers, and having good times with my beloved, established friends. In fact, traveling makes me love my home even more...if I don't make that obvious enough.

But the holidays have got me feelin' funky. I know you wanna hear it, so I'll confess-lately I've been kinda wanting to fall in love. Like, the type where I end up going steady, in a committed relationship, with a boyfriend, whatever you want to call it. I have no idea how I could ever find one or what to feed it. Wanting to be in a relationship seems to be irrationally unpopular these days, for my age and in my city. I think I may have just committed social suicide, but I don't really care. Flirtations are easy to find (Tinder, duh!), but where do you find the boyfriends? At home, having a beer and watching Netflix? Well how the hell will I ever meet them then if they're all in their own homes?! Everyone seems to have someone that they belong with, and no matter how hard I try to focus on other insatiable hobbies, wanting companionship nags at me with the same force as wanting to travel. Traveling is much easier to gratify though, you just buy a plane ticket and go.

The problem is, my standards for an actual match won't stop rising and it's getting out of control. I think one of the most heart-wrenching moments during my trip in South America was when I was out kayaking with a French dude I met on the bus. We're just friends, and he stops padding to ask me in a heavy accent, "I don't understand. You are so pretty and fun. I just don't understand how you do not have a boyfriend." I just laughed and told him that every time I like someone (and I rarely ever do) he's not right for me. It was the simplest way I could explain it, and it's pretty accurate. I had proved it true just the week before, when I fell for a frustratingly charming man in La Paz. He was traveling through the country as well, and he just had this confident, playful grin and genuine energy to match. But we had to kiss goodbye, cause our buses were leaving in opposite directions and I'm not naive enough hope for anything more. See, never right for me.

How in the world, filled with billions of people, do two people meet and actually like each other? And what are the chances that even if they like each other's personalities, looks, have similar interests, goals, values, live in the same country, are ready to date, and have chemistry...who knows if they will want to commit to each other? And not fuck it up a week later? I guess that's why they say love is magic. 

I am very happy with my life, and I love the time I'm getting to spend with myself. I need the space and freedom to breathe, grow, create and be lazy if I want. I'm not mad about being single, and the bachelorette life has treated me well. I'm pretty awesome and I don't need this validated by a guy. But if I'm to be honest with myself, I'm still feelin' funky.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How I Survived Machu Picchu

First off, I barely made it. Whoever told me that anyone with average fitness levels would have no problems is a liar. Hiking the four day, three night Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was one of the hardest things I've ever done, mentally and physically.

Maybe it was harder because I had expected it to be easy, and I admit I've been in better shape before. It's not my fault Portland is THE beer mecca and beer is my biggest weakness. Anyways! Hiking Machu Picchu now requires you to go with a guided tour group, and I went with Llamapath. I highly recommend them, because they were amazing. If you want to do the classic 4-day trek that I did, you have to reserve your spot months in advance, like I did. In order to go in November, I paid for my spot in August. Otherwise, you can show up to Cusco, walk up to a tour agency, and buy a day package to go straight into the Machu Picchu ruins via bus. Don't be lame.

To prepare for this hike, I bought hiking boots and zippy pants, two things I would have never been caught dead wearing a year ago. But I figured everyone else would be wearing the same stuff there, and functionally is the most important thing (IT WAS). I was also convinced into renting hiking poles, and I forgot my sleeping bag so I had to rent that too. HOW did I forget a sleeping bag?! I brought my big Osprey backpack which was incredibly light whenever I had it on due to how the weight was designed to be distributed. Our group had a prep meeting the night before leaving in Cusco, so that they could tell us we were going to meet at 4am the following morning. I didn't even get a chance to go to the expat Irish bars!

If you go, bring clothing for all four seasons, 'cause the guide said it, and nothing was closer to the truth. Bring sunscreen, bug spray, a poncho, a really warm jacket, sunglasses, everything. Every day was different, but some days it would be scorching hot and then it would hail on us! My tent-mate (I got pitched with the only other single girl traveling alone..she was from Canada and let's just say we did NOT become best friends) (but I loved everyone else) brought duct tape to wrap around her toes to prevent blisters. Also, I carried my own backpack cause I didn't want to be a wussy, but in hindsight I wouldn't recommend it. Hire a porter, a native who works for the company to carry things for you-their calves are bigger than your head! Almost everyone in our group had a porter, and although I'm proud of myself for enduring the massive annoyance, I would have enjoyed the trek more if I had been free to prance around. The path was rocky and steep, with really massive inclines at some points and slippery, narrow descents. It was always changing and some parts were alongside cliff drops, so we had to focus on our footing.

We hiked for hours every day, starting really early in the morning like 5am and then ending around 4-5pm for dinner. I felt like I was in the army or something and we were on a mission, so I rarely complained. Each day we had to cover certain distances in order to reach our next campsite, which the porters would run ahead to set up and prepare for us. We had delicious, elaborate multiple course meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, like ceviches, fried Kondor drumsticks, kababs, pizza, mashed potatoes, steak salads and even cake. It was like a magic show every time they brought out the next dish. Everyone thought we were going to lose weight from hiking all day, but we certainly gained it back during meal times. I guess our excuse was that we needed it for energy, but honestly everything just tasted so good, and it got extremely cold at night so we all almost overdosed on Milo and instant coffee.

And the views really were breathtaking, just like everyone said. It wasn't overrated at all. We took multiple breaks to drink water, reapply sunscreen, and take photos. I cried often whenever we got to a viewpoint (okay, maybe more like silently shed a few tears) because being amongst the clouds up in the mountains just filled me up with awe and appreciation for the beauty of our earth. And also, it felt really, really good to take my backpack off. Our guide would have us sit in a circle sometimes to tell us stories of the Incas as we overlooked ruins. It was hard for me to pay attention to the history of the stuff, even though I knew it was very important. I would just be the first to walk up and touch the rough stone surfaces and trace the cracks and patterns engraved there from so many years ago. Whenever we got to a site that had homes, I would walk through the doorways and try to picture which room I would want. From what our guide said, the Inca Trail was made to be a pilgrimage for the future rulers of their civilization, and the different sites along the way all served different purposes. He also told us tons of random facts, like how potatoes originated in Peru. Then the Spaniards brought them to Europe. And the Europeans brought them back to the States. Haha!

On Day Four, our whole group decided to be the first ones to reach the Sun Gate. Usually our group would camp at different sites, but on the last night all the other trek groups are at the same site, in order to get to Machu Picchu first thing in the morning. We had to get up at 2:50AM to be the first. WHAT THE HELL. I honestly didn't really care to be the first group in, but everyone was so adamant about it I just pretended to be excited too. The Sun Gate is a lookout point that overlooks all of Machu Picchu, the entrance. I was drenched in sweat from racing to the top with my group, so disgusting that I didn't even want to take a photo. OH! Did I mention there were no showers for the duration of the trek? Baby wipes all the way. The view was pretty, but I was so dizzy from it being a weird hour and running with the altitude that I was just happy to enter the site.

You know how they say it's about the journey, not the destination? This was a perfect example. I'm not saying that Machu Picchu wasn't impressive, but it wasn't much different from the other ruins we had passed on our way to get there. It was just a lot bigger, and flooded with tourists. Still, we had to get that money shot. You know, the one on the rock with Machu Picchu in the background. I had spent the entire trek rotating my thoughts between boys and how to post for this photo. There were also a lot of llamas wandering around, just to meet everyone's expectations. But we were so damn triumphant about completing the journey, I bet we could have ended up anywhere and been happy. 

After a few hours, I got on a bus to take us down to Agua Calientes, a little town 30 minutes away to recoup, eat, and prepare to take the train back to Cusco. I had a beer, but I would recommend skipping it and just getting a piso sour instead.

And that's it!

Dead Woman's Pass

Setting up camp after Day 1, a lady with a basket was selling beer haha

Good morning, our base camp of Day 3 and sweaty laundry

Day 3 ruins

Taking a moment to soak in the sun.

We ate well, really well. 

Morning of Day 4, waiting for the Sun Gates to open-almost there! 

Gringo Ladder, how bad do you wanna get there?

Money shot-group photo first. 

It really was all about the journey. 

Look, I found llamas!