26.3.15

Volatile

hanami in Shinjuku gyoen
Parece que fue ayer, pero hace ya un año. Supongo que es la sensación que conlleva, eso de aferrarte a lo que no quieres dejar atrás.

En Japón, antes de que abandones el país, te hacen una Sayonara party. Consiste en beber mucho y en que te regalen cosas que tocan la fibra sensible, a menudo con tarjetas donde la gente deja mensajes tan sinceros y emotivos, de esos compañeros de trabajo que, terminan por convertirse en tu círculo allegado. El día siguiente es duro, resacoso y deprimente. Una de esas veces en las que parece que saltas al vacío, mientras todo gira tan deprisa a tu alrededor, que termina por parecer un sueño.

Mi último día en Japón lo pasé por Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku. Paseando por todos los rincones que os he enseñado mil veces, que tanto adoro y echo de menos. No fue precisamente agradable. Dejar de vivir en Shibuya, olvidar el latido de los rascacielos desde el salón y los paseos por Yoyogi el finde, dejar de codearte con rockabillies, niños en kimono y ladies who lunch. Meter los trajes en un cajón, porque los customer meetings con intérprete se acaban, igual que los karaokes de disfraces y las pestañas postizas. 

Es duro despertar de una vida, que era tu sueño convertido en realidad. Abre una herida que te desangra de desesperación, al encontrarte en un mundo que no es el que te inspira, sin capacidad de reacción. Trato de ser positiva, de pensar que todo pasa por una razón, que por cada cosa que pierdes, ganas otra, pero no puedo evitar soñar con que llegue el día... En que se me abra la puerta para volver.

Estoy cerca de mi madre, de mis amigos. Tengo un gato maravilloso. Pero no pasa un día, sin que eche de menos la energía de las calles de Tokyo, la sofisticación Asiática, el metro y la sensación de aprender continuamente cosas fascinantes, desde el idioma hasta la cultura, pasando por las tradiciones milenarias que conviven con la gente más kistch del mundo. 

Hace mucho tiempo que opté por dejar de hablar de mis sentimientos. Simplemente, porque a nadie le importa como te sientes en realidad. Es más sencillo juzgarte en base a lo que "debería ser" en su cabeza. Te miran con caras raras cuando dices "me estoy adaptando a vivir en una ciudad pequeña". No entienden, ni entenderán por qué Málaga nunca será Tokyo y nunca lo podrá reemplazar. Te empujan al paredón, por preferir una vida que te motive, aunque sea en la distancia y no tener planes ni remotos de quedarte embarazada, como se espera de las mujeres casadas de tu edad.

El lado positivo es que sigo trabajando con Asia. Hay días en los que pienso que se trata de lo único que me mantiene con vida, lo único que me permite sentirme conectada con ese lado del mundo donde, siento que encajo mucho más que en este. A veces, hay suerte y me sale un viaje en el que me vuelvo a sentir viva y "en casa", por largo o corto plazo (da igual lo infernal que sea, siempre y cuando se trate de GMT+).  Supongo que la oportunidad de ver a mi madre y amig@s es lo mejor de vivir en Málaga, pese a que no consiga eliminar el vacío que siento a diario, cuando esa gente que tan feliz me hace, deja de estar cerca.

No ha sido un año fácil. Se nos quemó la cocina, me rompí un dedo del pie, terminé en un juicio para que no nos deshaucien, ya que el casero ni paga la hipoteca, ni tiene seguro sobre la casa que nos alquila. Todo esto sola, con Enrique en USA durante casi 5 meses. Creo que una gran parte de mi percepción está asociada a esta casa, que a veces parece "haunted". Espero con que nuestra mudanza (en un par de meses) empiece a sentirme más en casa y menos como alguien que vive de prestado en una pensión de mala muerte. Encenderé una vela, esta Semana Santa.

PS: Hemos rediseñado el blog para que sea más fácil de navegar y se vea mejor con el móvil, espero que os guste la nueva versión, pero como siempre... Agradezco que dejéis un comentario con vuestra opinión.
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25.3.15

Tropical Vacation Suitcase Essentials

I love Aruba sign

During our last holiday, we often joked about our past experiences - the time when I got badly burnt in Australia, when I froze coming back from a night dive in Hawaii, when so many mosquitoes bit me that I managed to catch a Malaria-like illness in Polynesia. Soon after, someone told me "you gotta be an expert on packing, right? You travel SO much with so little planning". Bang. I suddenly realized how far we've come in terms of travel, suitcases and adventures of all sorts.

Here's my list of essentials for a Tropical Vacation Suitcase, so you can enjoy as much as we do. When you go on vacation it is key to, stay Connected, Healthy and Active. Here are our key items, grouped in these 3 sections, for you to have a quick checklist and make sure you got everything you need

1. Stay Connected

fiji water bottle

1.1. Plane: Pen, earplugs & water bottle. I usually buy 1l Evian, drink it before security check and refill it in the last restroom before boarding. I need to stay hydrated and those tiny glasses are simply NOT enough for me. Please note that in some airports (e.g. Schiphol) the security check for the long-haul flights is also inside the airport, so watch out or they will take your water bottle away. This is a serious thing (each bottle 3-5€, multiply x several flights and you may save 30€ in a trip like our Caribbean route last December). Make sure the water is drinkable in that country before refilling. Earplugs are compulsory to avoid killing babies on-board. Pen comes in handy for immigration and customs related paperwork.

truck in Bonaire Natural Reserve

1.2. Stay: Right Voltage / Current in your devices, plug adapter, car charger, OSMandNavi. Usually high power things (like hairdryer) are not multi-voltage so either get one that matches the destination voltage OR leave yours home. Plug adapters are kind of obvious, but a car charger for your smartphone if you plan to rent a car as well as a GPS that does not require data connection (like OSMAnd Navi) is the best idea to reach off-the-beaten track spots, on time.


2. Stay Healthy

sunscreen

2.1. Protect: Mosquito repellent "Goibi", Sunscreen. I hardly ever used sunscreen, until I started traveling closer to the Equator. Tropical sun bites like hell and even if you go for 50+, a nice tan is still guaranteed. As for the mosquito repellent, Goibi is the strongest (even recommended by our company recommends to the people travelling to Africa) and key to survive through sexy yet humid tropical nights.

2.2. Protect: Compeed. I have extremely delicate skin. Hours of hiking, sweat , sun, typically turn into blisters in my feet and cold sores in my face. Compeed is by far the fastest and most convenient way to heal anything, with the advantage that it fits in the smallest purse and it's there right when you need it.

girl with sumbrella

2.3. Protect: Foldable hat, cap or umbrella . May it rain or just be too sunny, they have saved us many times.


3. Stay Active

with tevas in the Caribbean

3.1. Walk: Tevas & hiking shoes or sneakers When on vacation, we always do what we cannot do home. Anything from running every morning, hiking volcanoes, 7000 year old forests, jungles or walking around old Polynesian villages. Comfortable shoes that you can comfortably walk in are the key to make the most of the days off. Enjoy the sunlight, you can dress nicely at dinnertime.

snorkelling in Curacao
snorkelling booties in Curacao
underwater drybag

3.2. Dive: Snorkel & googles, booties, underwater bag & lycra t-shirt. These are super cheap things that people never bring, to end up buying shitty stuff on arrival or even worse, cutting themselves on the coral and getting burnt while watching tropical fishes. A proper mask & tube will cost nothing, last forever and offer hours of snorkelling fun. We never take the fins, but the space of the mask & tube is well worth the magic of seeing amazing things like sea turtles in action. The underwater bag is the key to enjoy without worrying about leaving your belongings on the sand - specially when you travel as a couple, it is not fun or safe to go in the sea alone. Finally, the t-shirt will prevent getting burnt on your back after a long and enjoyable snorkelling session.

kitesurf girl in Bonaire

3.3. Ride: Neoprene suit, impact vest, booties (again). Lucky us, we got them for our birthdays. Your own neoprene is advisable if you want to try kitesurfing. Mine is a present from my BFFs - from Ripcurl's super cool line called the Bombshell, like the VS of surfing. It will keep you warm and protect your arms from scratches or cuts with the lines (aka threads of the kite).  You can see I am also wearing the booties. I broke my toe in Tarifa last year, wouldn't have happened if I had worn them to start with. As said, we learn from mistakes. The impact vest is a cool version of the safety vest, key to keep your head outside the water and really helpful to not drown when learning.

Fjäll Räven Kånken

3.4. Hang out: Fjäll Räven Kånken, small bag to keep valuables under control. I got the backpack in Sweden, years before I realized how popular it would become in Asia. I got the bag in Helsinki airport, on my way to Seoul back in 2010. These 2 are my must for any vacation. The backpack is uber light, I can carry anything, wash it when it gets dirty and fold it into a teeny weeny thing when empty. The bag is awesome to manage money, lipstick & keys, so I can go buy a drink or for a walk along the beach without having to take "the big one".

White wedding truck from Miami in Curacao

3.5. Dress: White cotton dresses & shirts - preferably long sleeved. Since our first trip to Asia (Thailand, 2010) where Enrique got burnt the first 30s on the motorbike, we learnt that sun is strong and sometimes, regardless of sunscreen, the only way is to be covered. Cotton apparel is fresh, comfortable and looks awesome on tanned skin. I have been buying these kind of dresses ever since. Some from ZARA, some from Asia, some from Formentera. While I wear other stuff when we go out for dinner, they are my vacation basic and main protection against burnt shoulders - really when you are walking the whole day, there is no cream that can avoid it.

pañuelo hippy

3.6. Cover: ZARA Men Linen Scarves. These huge linen scarves double as beach towel, are incredibly light and useful if you plan on a quick dip after a long hike - instead of a whole day by the beach resort. As you can see, tevas don't look so bad when worn with normal clothes during your vacation.

afternoon drinks in Australia

I hope you enjoyed this list of essentials for a Tropical Vacation Suitcase, here's a recap:

1. Stay Connected
1.1. Plane: Pen, earplugs & water bottle.
1.2. Stay: Right Voltage / Current in your devices, plug adapter, car charger, OSMandNavi.

2. Stay Healthy
2.1. Protect:Mosquito repellent "Goibi", Sunscreen.
2.2. Protect: Compeed.
2.3. Protect: Foldable hat, cap or umbrella .

3. Stay Active
3.1. Walk: Tevas & hiking shoes or sneakers
3.2. Dive: Snorkel & googles, booties, underwater bag & lycra t-shirt.
3.3. Ride: Neoprene suit, impact vest, booties (again).
3.4. Hang out: Fjäll Räven Kånken, small bag to keep valuables under control.
3.5. Dress: White cotton dresses & shirts - preferably long sleeved
3.6. Cover: ZARA Men Linen Scarves.

Si lees este blog normalmente, te ha gustado este post pero preferirías que escribiera en Español, por favor deja un comentario. Últimamente los visitantes son como 50% (EN) - 50% (ES),  me cuesta decidir qué idioma es más adecuado. Evidentemente, el hecho de que tu ordenador esté en español no implica que no entiendas inglés. De ahí, mi confusión...
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23.3.15

Stockholm i mitt hjärta

paseo de invierno por Estocolmo

Tanto los que lleváis años con nosotros como los que acabáis de llegar, deberíais bastante claro que Estocolmo ocupa un lugar muy especial en mi corazón. Es la ciudad donde me independicé, donde terminé la carrera, donde encontré mi primer trabajo, nuestro palacio blanco y el amor suficiente como para casarnos en la Embajada Española justo antes de mudarnos a Japón.

Mientras hay quien sueña con los clásicas capitales Europeas, yo me quedo con las perlas ocultas como Viena y Estocolmo. Simplemente porque resultan más off-the-beaten-track están menos atestadas de turistas y plagadas de esas esquinas con encanto que escasean en una ciudad uqe ha crecido demasiado. Estocolmo es una ciudad muy cosmopolita, gracias a que sus habitantes viajan mucho y están muy abiertos a otras culturas, en un mercado muy avanzado donde se testean muchos productos (conceptos) antes de lanzarlos en Europa. El diseño minimal convive en armonía con edificios de 1900, que son imposibles de derruir - por ley. El skyline es clásico, pero no por ello menos alucinante.

De ahí que cada vez que me dejo caer por la ciudad, haga el nostalgia walk que consiste en atravesar las tiendas de Norrmalmstorg, para luego cruzar por Gamla Stan y explorar Söder, que siempre será mi barrio, independientemente de donde esté viviendo hoy en día.

El tiempo en Febrero es muy soportable, al menos este año. Había unos 5C. Yo llevaba mi parka de Woolrich - que irónicamente compré en las rebajas del 2011, justo antes de irme a Japón y sólo he llevado en ocasiones especiales, como esquiando en Hokkaido o durante estos días, pero había gente con abrigo de paño y un jersey, aguantando bien. Eso sí, unas zapatillas con goretex como las que hace Tretorn en exclusiva para sneakersnstuff son super recomendables si visitas una ciudad donde la nieve abunda - sea Estocolmo, Andorra o Ezcaray.

Los atardeceres, los podéis ver vosotros mismos en las pocas fotos que me dio tiempo a hacer durante mi corta estancia por motivos laborales, el Febrero pasado. Supongo que si me seguís en instagram estáis al tanto de lo caótico que ha sido el Q1 para mí. Espero que las cosas se vayan calmando y os pueda dar unos consejillos tras nuestra escapada Caribeña en Año Nuevo.

paseo de invierno por Estocolmo

PS: No pude resistir la tentación de dejarme caer en las mil tentaciones que ofrece ACNE - jeans que sientan como un guante y unas sandalias de ante para el verano y mis viajes por los países del sudeste Asiático, donde tras largas jornadas de trabajo y avión, reservo los tacones para los customer meeting.

paseo de invierno por Estocolmo

Ahora sí, os dejo con mi nostalgia walk.

paseo de invierno por Estocolmo
paseo de invierno por Estocolmo
paseo de invierno por Estocolmo
paseo de invierno por Estocolmo
paseo de invierno por Estocolmo
paseo de invierno por Estocolmo
paseo de invierno por Estocolmo
paseo de invierno por Estocolmo
paseo de invierno por Estocolmo
paseo de invierno por Estocolmo
paseo de invierno por Estocolmo
paseo de invierno por Estocolmo

PS2: Os acordáis de los famosos bolsos que Acne lanzó hace poco, donde ponía Lil. Nyg. 23?? Es simplemente la dirección de los HQ de la firma, Lilla Nygatan 23.
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16.3.15

Bangkok : Wat Traimit「พระพุทธมหาสุวรรณปฏิมากร」

Wat Traimit

Wat Traimit, also known as the Temple of the Golden Budhha is located in the heart of Bangkok's Chinatown. It is home to the World's largest gold Budhha statue (3m tall, 5.5 tonne) with a current value of US$40M. Scultpted in the Sukhothai style, the image is thought to deta from around late 15th century. Its story is as inspiring as its peaceful look.
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13.3.15

Bangkok : Aloft Hotel

Aloft is our recommended hotel in Bangkok

When you feel sorry about leaving the hotel, you know it was a great choice. My week in Aloft Hotel was busy, but memorable - both due to personal and professional experiences - at the same time.

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11.3.15

Bangkok : Wat Arun「วัดอรุณ」

Wat Arun temple in Bangkok

Standing on the other side of Chao Praya river, Wat Arun is the antithesis of Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew. Guarded by giants called Yuk Wat Jaeng (ยักษ์วัดแจ้ง) who happen to be mortal enemies of the Yuk Wat Po (ยักษ์วัดโพธิ์) standing at the other river bank it is a sample of the Khmer Architecture, characteristic of Cambodia and crystallized at Angkor Wat, its master piece. It is commonly known as the temple of dawn, because it shines when the sun rises up into the Thai blue sky, but stands dark at dusk.


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9.3.15

Bangkok : Wat Pho「วัดโพธิ์」

Wat Pho

Wat Pho is home to the largest reclining Buddha statue on Earth but, it somehow feels less commercial and much more authentic than Wat Phra Kaew. It was the first temple we visited during our first visit to Bangkok and it made a huge impact on me. I could still remember the peaceful atmosphere, the silent Buddhist monks wandering around on their orange clothes, the orchids blooming and the beautiful contrast of a majority of white walls, against golden Buddha statues.


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6.3.15

Bangkok : Wat Phra Kaew & Grand Palace「วัดพระแก้ว」

Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace, Bangkok

If you have been following us for a little while, you have probably realized that I am a sucker for white, gold and all things bright. So you can imagine how I felt coming back to the main temple of Thailand and spiritual core of Thai Buddhism, Wat Phra Kaew (temple of Emerald Buddha) gleams and glitters with so much glory that I was not sure whether I was dreaming or about to faint. Pity Enrique was not here to shoot some wide angle glory out of such grandeur, but I think I managed to get pretty decent shots for you to get a feeling of what awaits there. As explained in our Bangkok Weekend guide, there's no problem coming in there dressed with anything sleeveless or short, it will just add some waiting time (at the borrowing clothes queue) and require 200 BAHT deposit, which you will get back upon returning the clothes.


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4.3.15

Bangkok : Weekend Guide

Sightseeing guide for a weekend in Bangkok

Here's my weekend Bangkok guide for the busy business traveller or those who just spend a couple of days in town, before jumping onto one of the many awesome islands in Thailand.

Bangkok was the first city I ever visited in Asia, back in February 2010. Our vacation in Thailand at the time was both an amazing and terrible experience, as we were guilty of all the mistakes a traveller can make in this country (e.g. take a tuk-tuk, believe the driver who tells you that "the temple is closed today", get tricked into buying silk and jewels, attend a ping-pong show).
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3.3.15

Taipei : Garden Hotel「台北花園大酒店」

Taipei Garden Hotel 台北花園大酒店

When visiting a new city (specially for a short period) it is always hard to pick a good hotel. Our criteria is typically focused on the hotel location (close to the subway, so access to the key sightseeing areas is easy) as well as on the cost (no millionaire here). When travelling for work, I do not get to pick where I stay, but sometimes the choice opens up for a comfortable stay as well as some ad-hoc sightseeing that is always welcome, given you are alone, in a new place, during Sunday.

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2.3.15

Taipei : Shilin Night Market「士林夜市」

Shilin Night Market 士林夜市

Night markets are essential to any trip to Taipei as well as to Taiwanese culture. 
Today we take a stroll around Shilin Night Market

I discovered the concept while shopping high-fashion at wholesale price in Seoul but after visiting Hong Kong and Taipei, it is kind of obvious that they are something extremely Asian, probably originated in China. So they were popular already in 900, despite the attempts of Tang Dynasty to shut them down through sanctions. But then, economy expanded and so did the then-called Ghost Markets, which were the heart of Chinese nightlife. Some were open at night, some where open 24 hours - along with brothels and restaurants, that usually mushroom around the business districts. As my friend, currently based in Taipei, put it:

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13.2.15

Taipei : Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall「中正紀念堂」

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei

A short walk from the shopping district and you arrive to this huge and overwhelming park called the Memorial Hall Square. Surrounded by four of the most impressive structures in Taipei - excluding 101, you feel seriously insignificant when walking amid the National Theater「國家戲劇院」, National Concert Hall「國家音樂廳」, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall「中正紀念堂」and the Gate of the Great Piety「大孝門」.

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