We are in ‘Nam! (hanoi)

We are in ‘Nam! (hanoi)

We have eaten a lot of Pho and have attempted to bob and weave through the absolutely mental scooter traffic in Hanoi. Beer here is 5 dong. Essentially 15 cents. I love it already. 
We went on a free highly informative walking tour (did you know that most of Vietnam doesn’t identify as any major religion? However, 4 million of the population in Hanoi is catholic (french influence) Also, November is a very very popular time in Vietnam to get married so there were couples everywhere getting their photos taken…with very strange backdrops). 

It poured rain most of the day so we decided to go visit the Vietnams women’s museum for the day. WOW. This museum was really awesome and incredibly well done. Every floor was a different aspect of female life in Vietnam. One floor in particular that fascinated me the ‘marriage and birth’ floor which detailed rituals, traditions, beliefs of different groups of vietnamese people from all over the country. I found it highly entertaining and also super interesing. They have so many neat traditions! If no one slaughters a buffalo if I decide to get married the wedding is definitely off. 

   
 Additionally the floor detailing all the woman involved in the war efforts was incredible. Most people should know Vietnam’s complicated and tragic histories particularly involving the United States but I got to say they celebrate their women in a way that most western countries don’t. A LOT of woman have received the highest military honors for their efforts during the revolution and during the american war for helping on the front lines, for being medics, for fighting and leading troops into battle, for bringing down jets?!, I mean I’m not surprised I know women are awesome and completely capable but it was really great to see them celebrated and honored in this way, instead of being overlooked or there efforts being minimized by history. 

We are heading north to Sapa and going on a 3 day trek through the national park and the countryside and doing a homestay with some local vietnamese people now. I’m excited to explore more of this incredibly beautiful country. It’s however hard to hear about the risks of unexploded ordnances that litter the countryside from the american war still blowing people up. The haunting aspects of destruction on a grand scale. The way Americans are framed here. 

In light of everything that is happening in the world at large right now I just want to simply say that we must always remember that every choice our country chooses represents us everywhere and it is not ever forgotten by the countries and the people we choose to act against. Violence only breeds more violence. Ingrained hate passed from generations is difficult to dissemable. Our actions aren’t forgotten once we pack up and leave and the headlines quit covering it. It’s pretty easy to see why there is hate if you look, read, and think past 90% of the bullshit we’re all spoon fed. 

We want to leave a legacy that our children, grandchildren, friends, family won’t be embarrassed to say where they come from. 

We want to leave a legacy where it wouldn’t be tragic poetic justice to have an American (or anyone) 50ish years later blown up by a bomb dropped from their own country meant for an unknown ‘evil’ other. 

The simple beautiful challenging art of being

Theres been a lot of waiting on this trip. Waiting in lines and long winding van rides and hopeless ferry windows and all this waiting holds the promises of the next. The next town, adventure, view experience. 

I feel perpetually that in these moments (as I’ve been doing my whole life) I forget the now and focus purely, fully on the next. It’s a common coping mechanism for impatient people, those of us that are not zen enough or enlightened enough or balanced enough to exist and be and stand patiently without fidgeting. I think we all know these people and I think some (most) of us are these people. 

I know I am. I live, even what in retrospect may have been a beautiful stunning moment, forever considering the next. I wish I didn’t. I wish I could be better at simply being. I desire desperately for my mind to not haphazardly wander and wane and take me to other places when I should be exactly where I am. 

But I’m working on it. This trip is a perpetual process of me working on it. 

These past couple days were me working on it in a big way. Hanna and I chose to take the south east Asia famous journey from northern Thailand to Laos via slow boat.   

The slow boat is a 3 day journey from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Luang Prabang Laos. Two of those days you spend the better part of your morning and entire afternoon idling and weaving and slowly and randomly picking up locals and dropping them off down the Mekong River. There’s no wifi or outlets or really comfortable chairs and all you can do for 8ish hours daily is stare out at the jungle as you float along. 

The slow boat is a test in patience and endurance and ultimately an experience that is wholly and entirely about the journey. It has nothing to do with the next.  It was one of the first times I’ve felt myself truly “be”. Be where I was completely and engaging actively with the beautiful incredible slow boat squad (almost family they are so familiar) and our surroundings and be a part of something that was truly just what it was. No distractions or fanfare (we are talking about workers that pushed the boat backwards with long bamboo poles. Feeling thankful for reverse and bow thrusters and power steering).  

It was lovely and despite the gross parts (vile bathrooms, horrible smells, questionable guest houses) it was a bonding experience that is unparalleled.

The slow boat was a remarkable, memorable experience that is rare in a world of travel that often feels rushed or jam packed with desire for ‘ultimate experience.’ The slow boat had nothing to do with snapchat or Instagram or a senseless desire to prove how interesting our carefully curated life is. It was simply what it was. A jungle boat full of people from all over the world mixing for three days and exchanging perspectives and personalities. It was beautiful (except for the Laos border crossing. That was a test of sheer force of will to survive). 

Everyone should go. Everyone should find their own slow boat, whatever form it may take, to practice the simple challenging art of being.  

On to the Next Adventure.

I am writing this post in the nicest hotel I have stayed at in 9 months of traveling (beats all the benches, parks, and train stations I have taken residences on at least).  However, I am already experiencing some post-Salzburg depression and missing my Salzy family. Mainly though I have been randomly telling different stories to my family over dinners, breakfasts, walks through the Louvre etc that have made me quite introspective.

In 9 months I have traveled to 20 countries and made 39 new family members that are more precious to me than anything I have ever owned. I don’t have words that can sum up my feelings regarding leaving behind Salzburg and my (semi) nomadic life however, I know that I was destined to have to say goodbye to it. I know that this year, this incredible unbelievable year is only the beginning of what will be a lifetime of adventure. More than anything else though I am so unbelievably thankful. I could never thank my family, my friends from home, my family from Salzburg enough for everything they have given to me in these long and simultaneously short 9 months.  I am incredibly blessed in every single way.

My life has been irreversibly enriched.

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” -Jack Kerouac.

On to the next adventure!

First Beer. First Night in Salzburg. I had no idea what was to come
First Beer. First Night in Salzburg. I had no idea what was to come
Opera at the Vienna Opera House. I may have slept but I looked awesome.
Opera at the Vienna Opera House. Also the beginning of a year long perfect picture partner involving Jill.

 

Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Pure Glee on that face.
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Pure Glee on that face.

 

Keeping it classy in Budapest, Hungary.
Keeping it classy in Budapest, Hungary.
Amazing day trip to Innsbruck, Austria.
Amazing day trip to Innsbruck, Austria.
Champagne tasting in Reims, France
Champagne tasting in Reims, France
Notre Dame with a few of my favorites. Paris, France
Notre Dame with a few of my favorites. Paris, France
John Lennon Wall Prague, Czech Republic
John Lennon Wall Prague, Czech Republic
Thanksgiving Dinner with my Salzy Family
Thanksgiving Dinner with my Salzy Family
Beaches of Barcelona, Spain
Beaches of Barcelona, Spain

 

Only presentable picture from Amsterdam, Netherlands
Only presentable picture from Amsterdam, Netherlands
Mumford and Sons in Nottingham, England
Mumford and Sons in Nottingham, England
Christmas Markets in Salzburg
Christmas Markets in Salzburg

 

Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland.
Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland.

 

Skiing in the Alps.
Skiing in the Alps.

 

Doing some Yoga in Scotland.
Doing some Yoga in Scotland.
Monasteries in Meteora, Greece
Monasteries in Meteora, Greece

 

Athens, Greece.
Athens, Greece.
Rome, Italy.
Rome, Italy.
Spring Break in Gozo, Malta.
Spring Break in Gozo, Malta.
London, England.
London, England.
Easter Break in Istanbul, Turkey.
Easter Break in Istanbul, Turkey.

 

Krakow, Poland
Krakow, Poland
Plitvice National Parks, Croatia
Plitvice National Parks, Croatia
Fruhlingsfest Munich, Germany.
Fruhlingsfest Munich, Germany.
Last weekend in Salzy
Last weekend in Salzy

 

An example of my easily persuadable personality.

My apologies for posting twice in one day but I figured it was necessary to remark on my decision to change the name of my blog.

A dear friend pointed out to me that My Pants feel Tight, although brilliant, is a misguided name for a blog that almost never talks about food.

Here is a summary of our conversation:

Jake: Cass, your blog is wonderful/awesome/hilarious but I think you should rename it.

Cass: are you insane? My Pants feel Tight is perfect. It’s the most accurate representation of my perpetual existence.

Jake: Your pants aren’t tight and you never write about food. For people that don’t know you well this is probably misleading. You’re perpetual existence involves drinking WAY to much coffee and never being in the same country. I think you should rename your blog what do you think?

Cass: Jake, are you calling me thin? Thanks! Are we talking about a particular day where you saw me thin or just in general? What was I wearing?

Jake: Can we stay on point here?

Cass: sure, so I should rename my blog to be more coffee and travel related? Alright will do.

Jake: *exasperated* good.

So in an effort to more accurately summarize my blog I have chosen to change the name to: Caffeinated Cassie Takes the World.

I may look docile but I am in fact on an impressive coffee buzz
I may look docile but I am in fact on an impressive coffee buzz

 

Saturday Night Snooking

Last night I decided in honor of my great pal Hanna’s birth I would snookify myself. We named my alter ego Wooki (white Snooki) What began as just a fun and goofy way to go out ended in my becoming FAR to much invested in my character.

I expect a call from the jersey shore producers any time now
I expect a call from MTV at any moment.

I duck faced, I yelled, I lost 500 intelligence points, I kept trying to remove clothing, and generally just made a fool of myself for Hanna’s birthday amusement. My night ended rather abruptly with me busting a move in the middle of the bar in true Snooki fashion

This ended with me falling and twisting my already injured knee: https://cassiecolleen.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/that-time-i-fell-down-the-colosseum-steps-was-taken-to-a-questionable-italian-hospital-and-then-escaped-from-said-hospital/

Needless to say I did Snooki proud.

You are welcome Hanna.

Excuse me while I attempt to get all this hairspray out of my hair.

Not Classy. Not even a little bit.
The birthday girl, Hulk Hogan, and Wooki. My friends are fun.

 

 

Feeling spunky. Will Blog.

Despite the eclectic weather Salzburg has had this week and the unfortunate early morning that I suffered through in the name of research (see future post: Research gone wrong). I have had a delightful week in Salzy land.

At first I was distraught upon returning home. Coming back to Austria after a 3 week spring tour was positively devastating.

I fixed this with excessive coffee consumption.

Photo on 9-25-12 at 8.56 PM

 

I have ran every day this week (ACHIEVEMENTS) and managed to only consume 1 bar of chocolate (PROGRESS).  I have buried myself in the internet and been positively annoying to all my proactive homework doing friends. (see below)

The thread unfortunately continues. In my defense, Nicole LOVED it.
The thread unfortunately continues. In my defense, Nicole LOVED it.

Because of all these things I am feeling particularly spunky. Here I am post run:

Photo on 11-26-12 at 1.22 PM
I am deceivingly fit in this picture. (Not pictured: me stuffing my face with chocolate)

 

I went to a hockey game last night wherein which I learned how to smack talk in Germany.  To do properly one must have stiegl in one hand continuously drink from it while simultaneously sloshing and utilize other hand to make profane gestures at other team.  Then yell *drunk german accent* AHH SCHEISSE ESSEN!!

I am going to now revel in my exuberant mood, pretend to work on my homework, and drink more coffee.

Cheers to the weekend.