Trekking Huayhuash Independently

Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

These are the technical details from our trek in July 2015 for anyone looking for info on Trekking Huayhuash Independently. If you’re looking for the color commentary and all of our pretty picture you can find those here.

Our original plan was for 9 days 8 nights was something like this:

  1. Huaraz – Pocpa – Janca
  2. Janca – Carhuaccocha
  3. Carhuaccocha – Huayhuash
  4. Huayhuash – Agua Termales
  5. Agua Termales – Nevados Valley Camp
  6. Nevados Valley Camp – up to San Antonio Pass and back – Huayllompa
  7. Huayllompa – Gashpampa
  8. Gashpampa – Lago Jahuacocha
  9. Lago Jahuacocha – Llamac

Here is what we actually did:

Day 1

Huaraz – Chiquian Llamac – Pocpa

Bus: 5:30 am bus from the corner of 28 de Julio and Internacional.

Notes: We switched buses in Chiquian about 7:30-8:00am and had enough time to grab breakfast there. We had some mild bus mechanical issues which put us about an hour behind. Then it was on to Llamac where we paid our first “fee” and switched to a cattle hauler truck (run by the bus company, no less) which we road on top of to Pocpa where we paid our second “fee.” We started hiking from Pocpa and with in 5 minutes we got a ride to the mining camp in the back of a pick-up truck which saved us another ~45-hour of walking. Overall we probably started walking a little after noon. And then another hour or so walking down the road to the Quarterhuain campsite.

Quarterlhuain – Cacanunpunta Pass – Janca

Quarterlhuain (4170m) to Cacanunpunta Pass (4690m) ~2 hours

Cacanunpunta Pass to Junca campsite (4150m) ~1.25 hours

Notes: Not a lot of wind protection at Junca but not a bad campsite.

Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

Day 2

Janca – Carhuac (Yanapunta) Pass – Incahuain/Carhuaccocha – Tres Lagos

Junca (4150m) to Carhuac Pass (4640m) ~1.5 hours

Carhuac Pass to Carhuaccocha camp (4150m) ~ 1 hour

Carhuaccocha to Second Lake (Lago Siula) (4290m) ~ 1.5 hours

Notes: Because it wasn’t even 11:00am yet when we got to Carhuaccocha we decided we would head towards Ciula Punta but the weather was rapidly depreciating (light rain/sleet/snow and then thunder and lightening). Our map showed the trail going along the East side of the first lake. We followed that and it appears that hasn’t been the trail in a while… a far amount of bushwhacking was involved while we could look across the lake and see a nice clear trail on the West side of the lake. Take the West trail and then cross back over after the first lake. We ended up camping in a nice depression with a big rock for wind protection next to the second lake (Lago Siula). It was also just about the only place to camp between Carhuaccocha and the Pass.
This turned out to be our favorite campsite of the trek.  


Day 3

Tres Lagos – Ciula Punta Pass – Huayhuash – Portachuelo de Huayhuash Pass – Atuscancha (Aguas Termales)

Lago Siula (Second Lake)(4290m) to Ciula Punta Pass(4834m) ~2 Hours

Ciula Punta Pass to Huayhuash camp ~2 Hours

Huayhuash camp to Portachuelo de Huayhuash Pass (4750m) ~1.75 Hours (moving pretty quickly)

Portachuelo de Huayhuash Pass to Atuscancha (Agua Termales) (4365m) ~2 hours

Notes: There were a few big groups at Huayhuash camp when we got there ~noon and the weather was not the best so we figured we’d push it to Agua Termales. Agua Termales was another great camp and the Hot springs are perfect, should have stayed there for 2 days!

Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

Day 4

Atuscancha (Agua Termales) – Punta Cuyco Pass – Huayllapa

Notes: This is where we really started having navigation issues. We lost an hour walking all the way back to the dame (which is what our map made it look like we should do) in reality you don’t have to back track very much at all, the trail is on the Agua Termales side of the rocks/hill that the trail and the river cuts between.

Agua Termales (4365m) to Punta Cuyco Pass (~5000m) ~1.75 Hours (not included detour)

Punta Cuyco Pass to Huallapa (3500m) ~5.25 Hours (lots of map checks and errors)

Notes: Coming down the pass we ran into another couple that gave us some advice to “stay left when you get to the swamp… it’s a lot shorter than the right side that the donkeys go.” Hindsight, something was probably lost in translation and this added to our next error. We completely missed the campsite in the Nevados Valley and the trail to San Antonio Pass. Looking back it was probably where the trail split and the left trail went over a little rocky finger that sticks out into the valley and the right trail goes way out around it. Never the less, we never say it and by the time we realized we had completely missed it we were so far down the valley we figured we’d just keep going as the weather was crap and you couldn’t really see any of the awesome mountains we assumed were there.

The trail crisscrosses the river as it goes down the valley and at one point it crosses the river at a little house and it looks like you’re walking up to someone’s house and not the trail. THIS IS THE TRAIL! We didn’t think it was and stayed on the north side of the river and the trail eventually disappears. A nice kid on a horse showed us a bridge and got us back on the trail and basically escorted us all the way to Huayllapa. (Thanks Harley!).

I would not recommend going all the way to Huayllapa.

Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

Day 5

Huayllapa – Huatiaq – Tapush Punta Pass – Gashapampa – Yaucha Punta Pass – Jahuacocha

Huayllapa (3500m) to Huatiaq camp (4253m) ~2.5 hours

Notes: We never saw official second camp (Incahuain)

Huatiaq camp – Tapush Punta Pass (~4750m) ~2.5 hours

Notes: There is a mining road (wide enough for a truck and tire tracks) that starts big switch back to the left steeply up the hill and there was a small cairn at the corner of the first one with a very small trail heading straight (towards the Tapush peak). We debated a bit and ended up taking the mining road, but at the top they meet up again, I would suggest taking the smaller trail as it looked like it would be prettier thought maybe a bit more challenging.

Tapush Punta Pass to Gashpampa Camp (4625m) ~40 minutes

Notes: Gashpampa was a pretty ugly campground, a couple of out houses (and old outhouse holes) lumpy, spikey grass and not much of a view (especially when it’s over cast).

Gashpampa to Yaucha Punta Pass (4847m) ~2 hours

Notes: As we made our way around Mitishccocha we came to a little house, nice guy and we probably could have camped there much prettier and better camping that Gashpampa. But we wanted to make it to Jahuacocha Lake.

Yaucha Punta Pass to Jahuacocha Lake camp (4075m) ~ 1.5 hours

Notes: Jauacocha was a pretty developed camp but the view is pretty epic.

Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

Day 6

Jahuacocha – Llamac – Huaraz

Jahuacocha (4075m) to Marash Punta Pass (7272m) ~2.5 hours

Notes: We followed the sign to Llamac (one of the only trail signs we saw on the entire circuit) and on about the 3rd falls pass a donkey driver passed us and asked us why we went the hard way and not the easy tourist way that doesn’t climb the mountain and just follows the river down to LLamac. Apparently the high road, over the pass is the old way and only donkeys do it now.

Marash Punta Pass to Llamac (3500m) ~1.5 hours

Notes: The bus back to Huaraz stops in LLamac on it was to Pocpa about 10:30am and then passes back through headed towards Huaraz at 11:00am. We also had another delay on the way back as a truck was broken down blocking the road so we waited about 2 hours for it to be fixed. All in we were back in Huaraz about 4:30pm.  

Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru


We used the Skyline 1:75,000 topo by Aonek’er. It was a source of constant frustration on the trail as it didn’t really have enough detail (we couldn’t see the peaks because it was overcast). It’s a bit outdated lot of trails (mining roads, donkey trails etc) aren’t really marked so there are a lot of forks that aren’t very obvious which way to go (as there is no fork on the map). They also put icons right on top of major intersections obstructing the trail. There is a better 1:50,000 “German made” map that got a green cover. Bring a compass for sure.

The Trails:

There are LOTS of trails, People trails, Mining trails, Donkey Trails, Cow trails, game trails. And there are almost not trail markers or signs (apart form designating camp sites) and the one trail sign we saw pointed us the wrong way. You get the feeling they really want you to have a guide, because they aren’t marking anything. We spent a lot of time trying to decide which trail to take and often we made the wrong choice and ended up on the donkey trail.

Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru


There weren’t a lot of people out on the trail we only ran into a couple a day (usually collecting fees) they were friendly and helpful if you asked. ALWAYS ASK to confirm you’re on the right route.


Plenty of water all the way, we never carried more than a liter a piece at any given time. But it’s all needs to be cleaned. 


All in we paid about 195 Soles per person for our 6 days of trekking (about 2 billetes a day).



We were expecting “Andean Summer” with perfectly clear skys and perfect weather. We unfortunately got pretty misserable weather for the first 3 days. Rain/sleet/snow flurries and lots of clouds kinda killed all the views.  

Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

8 Favorite Moments of Bolson & Bariloche

  1. Teaching Cards Against Humanity to new Argentine friends in the middle of nowhere
    We were in the middle of a four-day trek outside of Bariloche and one of the Refugios had Cards Against Humanity. A group of local Argentines asked if we knew how to play and would teach them, so of course we obliged. The funniest part was having to define so many of the cards, things I never really wanted to have to explain to anyone. But we all laughed for hours!P1140168
  2. Attempting to trout fish in Cajon de Azul
    We didn’t catch anything, but it was such a beautiful place. It was a good thing that Refugio Cajon de Azul had a lamb dinner for us! It was the most beautiful refugio we went to, I could have stayed there for three or four days.Cajon de Azul Collage
  3. Surviving the Haupi Nahuel Traverse
    Our most technical and mentally exhausting hike to date. It involved rock climbing 50m up a narrow rock shoot on the side of a mountain with a 1,000ft drop below us (probably shoulda had a harness and rope) and 4 hours of ridgeline rock scrambling, followed by 3 more hours of tough hiking.P1140260 P1140296
  4. Experiencing a real asado
    We stayed in a small guesthouse owned by a sweet family who immediately took us in. After a lot of trekking, and then camping our first night we went to “the locals’ butcher” picked up half of a lamb and learned how you make the perfect asado on your parilla.Asado Collage
  5. The hippie market of El Bolson
    We just hung out there for hours. Great people watching, good artenseal beer, organic produce. I also scored some feather earrings. El Bolson is Boulder, CO’s long lost twin sister.Bolson Collaga
  6. Sunrise at Refugio Frey
    The granite peaks in the background turned bright pink and orange and the lake reflected it beautifully.P1140172
  7. Stopping to pick wild blackberries
    In the middle of our search for a hostel in El Bolson we came across a huge patch of wild blackberries and just stopped for 30 minutes to pick them and eat all we could. They were so sweet, I think I ate a couple of pints there on the side of the road.
  8. Staying in The Penthouse with a view over Bariloche
    Best view from a hostel room we’ve ever hadPenthouse



6 Things I’ve Learned About My Bride

Liz on a Horse

After 6 full months of travel here are 6 highlights of what I’ve learned about my beautiful bride, Liz:

1) Girl Can Eat an Apple

Apple results

She has the most amazing ability to methodically eat every last edible bit of an apple. Quite quickly too, she can turn a perfectly whole Honeycrisp to into nothing but seeds and stem in under a minute. I knew she liked apples going into this trip but had no idea she had such a scientific approach to eating them. I was also unaware of how gracious she’s been with sharing bits with me over the years; my bits clearly didn’t fit into her scientific approach, and were never in the right spot, or the right size. She’s since shared her approach with me and shown me how the appropriate time to ask and take a bit of someone’s apple who uses the Liz method is at the very beginning, that way they can work with and correct your incompetent bites.

2) She is a Terrible Hitchhiker


So recently we tried to hitchhike. Liz was gung-ho about it and thought it would be a huge boost to our budget. I on the other hand wasn’t real optimistic about the our possibility of our success considering we were looking at a 1500km journey, but thought it would be fun to try and a great experience if we succeeded in getting picked up. I knew it could possibly be boring just standing on the side of the road waiting for a ride, but what I wasn’t counting on was how quickly Liz would be over it. Maybe it was the cold. Maybe the wind. Maybe it was that there was nothing we could really do to be “better” at it. Maybe it was the ADD. We lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes before one of us threw in the towel. Maybe we’ll try again down the road.

3) She is the Perfect Date

I kinda knew this about Liz but it’s been on display a lot in the last 6 months. She can fit in any situation. Black tie gala? She’ll be joking with the celebrity Emcee by dinner. Hostel Kitchen? She’ll have a family style barbeque planned for dinner with a bunch of gap-years kids she just met. Fine dinning? She’ll be the one whispering which fork to use (Thanks Cotillion). Ska-Punk Halloween Concert in Bangkok? She’s in the front row singing along. Boardroom? Trust me, you want her on your side. Knife-edge of a mountain ridge in the remote backcountry? She can find a trail.

4) She is Super Thoughtful


Over the last 6 months I learned often just how much she puts me before herself. She’s always thinking about me. She is constantly concerned with my preferences and making decisions in light of what she thinks I would like. It is amazing to be loved like that.

5) She is a Loser

Not that kind! She loses stuff. Surprisingly often, especially for how few things we have with us now. She’s not allowed to hold anything important for more than a minute or two. She gets her passport from me when we walk up to the counter then it goes back in my pocket. She’s gotten better lately, but it is still funny because she still thinks she losses stuff all the time and will get so upset with herself when she just forgot which pocket she put something in.

6) Her Attitude is Weather Dependent

If it’s overcast or rainy you can pretty much count on Liz to be a bit of a grump, or at least fighting off the urge. Blue sky and she as happy as can be. This was a bit of a challenge in Patagonia where the weather changes every 10 minutes. And there is almost nothing you can do to change her attitude in bad weather… except putting her on a horse.

After spending almost every second of the last 179 days with Liz I can’t imagine spending a day without her.

She is Perfect for Me.

6 Things I’ve Learned about My Husband in 6 Months Traveling Around the World

Rick Challenging himself

Mountains to climb

1) I Can Trust Him

That is absolutely NOT to say that I didn’t trust him before! I definitely did. Maybe it’s just that given more opportunities to put more trust in someone, you build even more trust? I don’t know. But my trust in Rick’s abilities and intentions has grown ten fold on this trip. Rick can figure out and take care of anything thrown at him. And he is always looking for how to put me first. He’s incredibly diligent and dedicated to making sure we’re all taken care of – from doing all of the visa research and logistics, to the biggest challenge, managing our trip budget! Which brings me to my second thing….


2) The Man Can Rock a Budget

If you knew us before the trip, and especially before we were married, you may be laughing or in shock right now. But it’s true! The first week of the trip in Nepal, Rick told me I had to stop worrying about the budget and our daily tracking, it was taking too much of my energy and enjoyment away, he was going to be in charge of it from then on out. I was reluctant (me being the saver, and him the spender). But it has turned out to be the best thing he could have done. He is meticulous! Every dollar (or rupee, baht, dong, euro) is tracked, tallied, averaged, analyzed. He stops us when we’re over spending. He manages to balance out the spending when we have a big unexpected expense (hello, $80 cab ride to Krabi!!). He reworks the big budget to compensate for us going rouge and going to four countries we never planned to, two of which were more expensive countries than where we’d plan to be. And six months in, we are EXACTLY on budget. I’ve managed $100 Million+ marketing budgets, and I have to say, this travel budget is just as complicated, if not more so! (“hmm what category do we put bribes in? and do we spread that over the month long budget for this country?”)

Rick with a Hat3) He Doesn’t Know All of the Words to Any Song… Or Joke

But he’ll repeat the few he does know OVER and OVER. I think he hopes that the other words will hear their cohorts and magically fall out of the sky. It doesn’t ever happen and it kinda drives me nuts. But after six months of 24/7 together, it’s become oddly endearing.

Rick Climbing mountains4) He Loves to Challenge Himself

…just for the sake of taking on the challenge. If there is something to be climbed up and balanced on, he’ll find it. Which is not something that comes naturally to me… I require a reward, something to make it worthwhile to take on the challenge. I’ll climb the mountain if there’s going to be a really awesome view from there, or it’s a pretty trail. I’m constantly asking “why? Is it worth it?”, infamously asking “is the juice worth the squeeze?”. Rick climbs the mountain because it’s going to be a hard mountain to climb, even if it’s not pretty or interesting or has a good view. This is true for just about everything we do. I love that he loves to take on big challenges… maybe that’s why he married me?

Rick Challenging himself5) He is a Magnet for the Most Diverse Set of People

As we’ve traveled I’ve gotten to watch all kinds of people become enamored with my husband, and it has been so cool! He doesn’t just get along with everyone, but seems to draw them in. And they immediately become Rick Fans, just like me.

Rick and the Guanaco6) He makes up the best goofy voices and characters

…to get me out of a bad mood, up a tough mountain or through a cold night of sleeping in a tent or 30+ hour bus ride. There’s Kurt the Turtle, the ferret collector from Craigslist, the guanaco (pictured above)… the list goes on. It probably sounds weird, but it makes me so happy and brightens my mood even when we’re in the crappiest of moments. And the fact that he’s in the middle of the storm with me and takes the energy and creativity to come up with something to make me smile means even more.

Top 11 Places We’ve Stayed (so far…)

Hut British Columbia, Canada

While on the trail Liz and I have a lot of time to think and talk. We play silly games and come up with all the awesome blog content that never gets written. And occasionally we actually make a note or two about what we’ve talked about that we think might actually be an interesting blog post. This is one such blog post that, fortunately, actually got written.

Top 11 places we’ve stayed
(so far…)

There are a few caveats to this list:

It couldn’t be someone’s actual home, we’ve stayed at a number of peoples houses and they are all the best, and would easily trump anything on this list, so if we’ve spent time in you’re home, know that it was better than anything on this list and thus wasn’t allowed to compete. It just wouldn’t be far.

In the same vain of “playing fair” major hotel brands/resorts or anything paid for with “points” or gift cards wasn’t allowed to be included either. It had to be a hostel, small hotel, rental property, AirBNB, etc.. i.e. something we’d normally consider as a backpacker/traveler. Again level playing field. 

We decided to open it up beyond our current big voyage. We’ve stayed at a lot of backpacker places over the years and some are part of the reason we decided take the big plunge and travel extensively for a while.

The List…

11. Bluesky Bungalows

Koh Lanta, Thailand – This is the Thailand experience we expected. Cute, cheap, and clean, bungalows right off the beach with a hammock to lounge in while the sunsets. We only got a couple of nights there because they were completely booked with repeat customers.
Koh Lanta, Krabi, Thailand

10. Mountain Crossings 

Neels Gap, Georgia – The hostel that started it all for us. Way back when Liz worked for Arby’s we went on a backpacking trip up Blood Mountain and at the end found Pirate and his the Hostel on the AT. It was the first hostel experience for either of us. We found a warm place to sleep, a cool vibe and great people. This is the first place we got our trail names. For various reasons at lot of people that through hike the AT (or any other long trek) use trail names, basically nicknames, only cooler. Pirate ran the hostel, we meet Virgin at a waterfall and Cool Breeze gave us a ride back to our car in the hippy shuttle.

9. Karibu Hostel

Moshi, Tanzania – We stumbled onto this one after the place we found online (but didn’t book) was full when we arrived. It’s run by some awesome Spaniards and proceeds from the hostel go to a local school they started. They’re hard working and focused on the environment; while we were there Sam, the owner, was building a swimming pool by hand to soak the locally sourced bamboo they were going to use for another building project. Industrious to say the least. Sam was extremely helpful in booking our Kilimanjaro trek and very transparent about the whole guiding industry in Tanzania. If you’re ever in Moshi, this is the place to stay.

8. Lub d Surf

Bangkok, Thailand – This is the only one on the list that may no longer be in operation as a hostel. Lub d has a number of hostels in Bangkok and we had a great time our first time in Bangkok staying at Lub d and hand a great time on Halloween there. So the next time we were moving through Bangkok we cashed in the free night at Lub d Surf we had and it was pretty cool. It wouldn’t call it homey or particularly friendly, but it did have a giant artificial wave, It’s located at FlowRide in Bangkok and it was pretty cool to have a pool and wave for entertainment.

7. The Barn at Centaura Stables

San Raphael, Costa Rica – When we reached out to Esteban of Centaura stables a few years ago about budget accommodations near his place where we could ride he said he had a room in the barn. Liz was in heaven. It was simple room with just a bed, no internet, no TV, just a bed in a room next to a bunch horses. I was slightly annoyed by the horse that decided to play with the rake that was leaning up against it’s fence… clank, clank… clank, clank, clank, all night long, but was it warm and cozy and seeing Liz so happy was totally worth it.

6. Banyan Tree

Pokhara, Nepal – Clean and tiny (4 rooms total) at the end of Lakeside in Pokhara site Banyan Tree our home away from home in Nepal. The rooms were economical to say the least <20% of the going rate at the other end of town. Clean, hot water, wifi and a great view, what more do you need? The staff was nice even letting us borrow a couple of glasses for the celebratory wine we had brought with us from the states – thanks to Gavin Davis!!
Bayan Tree, Pokhara, Nepal

5. The Wolfpack Hostel

DaLat, Vietnam – Yes, it’s really called The Wolfpack. This was another super homey hostel, completely with an optional family diner. The owner was an ex tour guide and really understood hospitality. He arranged great tours for us at great prices and event rented us his scooter for a couple of days. Constantly going out of his way to be helpful, on his way back from dropping another guest off at the bus station he saw me walking to the ATM, he pulled over asked me where I was going and told me to hop on as he drove me to the ATM and back to the hostel. Above and Beyond.
Wolfpack Hostel Dalat

4. Hotel Super Upgrade via HotelTonight

Whistler, British Columbia, Canada – We took a practice trip, of sorts, last July to BC, staying only at hostels, camping, AirBNB, etc, and trying not to book anything more than a couple of days in advance. Basically a practice run of our life on the Big Trip in a country that speaks English and is pretty easy. After a few days camping in Garibaldi Park outside of Whistler, we ready for a warm shower and figured we’d try and score a deal on HotelTonight. HotelTonight is an app that lets you find last minute deals on hotels, but only allowed you to book the same day of your arrival, perfect for us. (They’ve since expanded it to a few days in advance, which is great). We saw a great place for a great price with a hot tub, I was sold out (if anyone knows me at all they know that if a hotel has a hot tub it jumps to the top of the list for me).It was late as we had hiked into town that day and so after book on HT we were checking it a little after 9:30pm. The guy at the registration desk was a little flustered as it was a super busy day, and he was the only one working, he hadn’t had dinner and his system wasn’t cooperating with the HT system. He said he didn’t actually have the room we had booked on HT but he had another one that was equivalent. We told him it was great we just wanted to get in the hot tub before it closed at 10pm. Liz ran to the car to get our bags while I completed the registration process. After putting on our swimsuits we heard that all to recognizable beep of a smoke detector with a low battery. Another beep and I found it… on the ceiling; the vaulted ceiling over 15 feet up. No worries we’ll tell the guy on the way to hot tub and it’ll be fixed when we get back. While we tell the guy Liz asks him if he had gotten any dinner yet and he says no, so she gives him an apple and a Cliff bar from our rations. He was grateful.
We enjoyed the hot tub and some hockey talk (what else would one talk about in a hot tub in Canada) and upon our return our friend at the registration desk was apologetic, he hadn’t been able to fix the smoke detector but he had another room for us. He gave us the keys and mentioned, the hot tub doesn’t close, as long as you’re quiet. Our new room is unbelievable, kitchen and living room on the first floor, bathroom on the second floor, and bedroom on the third floor. Oh, and a private hot tub on the balcony overlooking Whistlers Main Street. Out of curiosity the next day I looked to see if I could find the normal price for the room we had… let’s just say it was WAYYYY out of our price range. It makes the list not only for the amazing room but the extremely generous and help registration desk guy.
While we can’t guarantee you that kind of deal we can give you our coupon code for $25 off you’re first booking with HotelTonight and well get credit towards a future booking as well. Just use the promo code RAGOSTIN when you register.

3. New Manaslu Hotel

Annapurna Circuit, Nepal – I’m pretty sure we were the first people to sleep on the mattresses at The New Guest House. The rooms still smelled of fresh cut timber and the views were out of this world. The hosts made our stay extra special by graciously invited us into the kitchen while they prepared dinner, this is extremely UNcommon in Nepal as kitchens are typically very private places for the family and the occasional guide or porter. We got to warm ourselves by the oven and watch the goat meat dry overhead. It was pretty magical.

Danakyu Tea House Kitchen

2. Erratic Rock

Puerto Natales, Patagonia, Chile – This is the place we almost never left. Bill, Kit and the crew made us feel so welcome from the moment we walked in the door. Helpful and easy going clean and homely; It’s what every hostel should feel like. A well equipped kitchen that we actually enjoyed cooking in, cozy common areas, an amazing included breakfast, and caring helpful staff.
We will be back!
Erratic Rock Hostel - Puerto Natales, Chile And Finally the Number one place…We’ve stayed…Drum roll…………


1. The next place

Somewhere, Out there – We’re drawn to new places and new adventures, and often the best place we’ve stayed is the place we’re at right now or the place we’re looking forward to next. Got a hostel or AirBnB we should check out? Know a small hotel that we’d just love? Let us know and we’ll try and check it out somewhere down the road.

Food Fails of Vietnam; and some Epic Wins!

Vietnamese Food Wins and Fails


Vietnamese Food Wins and Fails

I think I have a bit of a love/hate relationship going with Vietnamese food. Food here is a symphony of fresh bright herbs, crisp greens, addictively salty savory umami, subtle sweetness and spice. It’s complex, satisfying, yet refreshing. It’s also why I’ve gained about ten pounds since we got here!

Y’all know I love trying new foods, and I’m game for trying pretty much anything, so Vietnam is a playground for my curious taste buds. I love experiencing a culture and people through the food.

In our travels through Nepal, India and a little of Thailand, my curiosity had not led me astray, but alas, my winning streak comes to an end here in Vietnam. Even with a few food fails, I’d say I still came out on top.

Bahn Xeo

Ban Xeo
Build it yourself spring rolls of heaven! I don’t even want to admit to how many of these I’ve eaten. They bring them out by the plate and count your empty dishes and skewers to calculate the bill.
Verdict: WIN!


Bo Taye Chahn

Bo Taye Chahn

Bo Taye Chahn

Like a cross between beef carpacio and ceviche but with Vietnamese flavors. Thin sliced steak that is marinated in lime juice to cook it a little. Then topped with a slightly sweet, spicy, garlicy vinegarette, green onions and cilantro. So good!
Verdict: WIN!


Tasting Menu of Vietnamese Tapas style dishes

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One of the highlights was getting to go out to a very locals spot with our friends’ Vietnamese tutor. She and her husband just kept ordering and delicious small plates kept coming.
Verdict: WIN!


Banana Blossom Salad

Banana  Blossom Salad

It’s awesome flower power. I’ll leave it at that.
Verdict: WIN!


Mantis Shrimp

Have you heard of the magical creature that is the Mantis Shrimp?!? It is one of the coolest animals on the planet – The Oatmeal does a pretty great job explaining it.

Mantis Shrimp
It’s a specialty of Ha Long Bay but it was a fail because I didn’t get to try it.  And we kept meaning to get it, but it was either too expensive, or the place would run out of it, or we wouldn’t have time to sit and enjoy the meal. Check out these bad boys though!

Mantis Shrimp
Verdict: FAIL!




Crazy dessert drink, there are dozens of varieties, but most include some form of sweet bean custard. The green bean custard is more mild, red bean is more fibrous and beany, think flan meets kidney beans cooked like refried beans. Then layered on are these cubes of “jelly” made from seaweed and flavored with black sesame or coconut; while they’re called “jelly” I would say it’s close to the result of that time you tried to make Jello but only added half of the amount of water called for. Then you might get these little things that look like tiny pink and yellow caviar. You might get some fruit pieces in there. And it’s finished off with coconut milk. You mix it all together and switch off between spoon and straw to get all of the delicious sweetness. I’m a bigger fan than Rick is, something about “if it’s a vegetable, it’s a vegetable. If it’s a dessert, it’s a dessert. No playing both sides.”

Verdict: WIN!



Unlike our French friends, the Vietnamese don’t mask the snail flavor with a butter bath and the results are equally, if not more delicious.
Verdict: WIN!


Hot Pot

Hot Pot

Sort of a fondue style experience. A burner and pot of broth come to your table, along with a big plate of fresh veggies, raw shrimp and squid and a packet of dry noodles. You make it yourself. Fun experience and some of the freshest most flavorful shrimp I’ve ever had.
Verdict: WIN!

Sour Fish Soup

Sour Fish Soup

Sour Fish Soup

I asked the owner of the restaurant what he recommended and this is was I got. It was sheer will that I ate it. The fish that came in it (as you can see the gray lump of ick) had been cut into sections like you would cut a summer sausage, so you got pieces of spine surrounded by cartilidge, bone, organs, vessels and buried in between a smidge of meat. But the broth was the really special part. You know when you pour off the water that’s in the can with your canned tuna? Well they took that water, made it about three times as strong, then they somehow extracted the sour flavor from Sour Patch Kids and Warheads and added that to it. And then maybe let it sit out for a day or two. I think there were veggies in it to, I can’t remember though, my memory and taste buds were seared with the lingering flavor of the fishy-foulness of the broth.
Verdict: FAIL!


Fresh Grilled Squid

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I had no idea how good squid could be. Super fresh, right off the boat, on to a skewer and over some charcoal — it just melted in your mouth. Makes for some entertaining photos as well.
Verdict: WIN!





It’s not just for breakfast… ok, maybe it mostly is because it’s near impossible to find good Pho any other time of day! But we did get some very delicious pho that puts anything I’ve had in the U.S. to shame.
Verdict: WIN!


The Jars of Doom

Jars of Doom Jars of Doom

Filled with potent rice liquor and a whole bunch of dead animals – lizards, snakes, starfish, scorpions, birds and more. They are supposed to help your sexual potency. I was feeling pretty confident in that area on that particular day, so I opted out of these. I did try the Honey Rice Whiskey though, mostly because it was offered to us as a gift of appreciation by a local restaurant owner after we had dined with him a few days in a row. It was strong, it burned, it made Jack Honey look good (shout out to Will Jacobus!), but we got it down.
Verdict: FAIL!



The variety of sauces was awesome. We had at least three different kinds of fish sauce with every meal. We also learned from some locals that took us out that you do not mix and match sauces. Each sauce is meant for a specific dish, get it right or be shunned. The sauces were even better when I started putting them with the right stuff.
Verdict: WIN!


Jellyfish Salad

Jellyfish Salad

P1070296Jellyfish Salad


This one is particularly sad for me because I had been wanting to try this from the day we got into Vietnam. It sounds so exciting, light, delicious! And a break from the rice, rice noodle, rice cake, rice dumpling, rice noodle of a different size, rice noodle #3, rice diet. It came to the table as a beautiful tangle of translucent, almost iridescent jellyfish pieces on top of fresh greens, sprinkled with peanuts and a bright acidic dressing. I dug in, big piece of jellyfish, the initial flavor was light, almost lacking in any strong flavor, just picking up a little of the dressing… but then it was time to chew. And oh the texture of the jellyfish…

<<shutter, mild gag>>

Each time you bite into a piece it feels EXACTLY like when you bite down on the inside of your cheek really hard, like really hard, and your tooth goes through and breaks the skin. There’s a softness, then a pop, and you break through, and it’s squishy. It’s truly uncanny. It’s disturbing. I kept trying to eat it, thinking “oh I’ll get over that”, nope, no getting over it. To the point that I could almost taste blood because it felt so much like I was biting through my cheek or tongue. I tried smaller pieces. I tried smaller nibbling action. Nothing helped. I’m sad to say I finally, after gagging down every piece I could, gave up and we left most of the jellyfish there. UGH even just writing about it I have goose bumps from the sensation of biting it. Ick ick ick.

Verdict: FAIL! FAIL! FAIL!


Mi Quang

Mi Quang




Mi Quang

Half noodle soup, half salad. All delicious.
Verdict: WIN!



Dragon Fruit Chom Chom

Crazy varieties of fruits here that I’ve never seen or heard of. Chom choms were my favorites. Followed by Green Dragon Fruit. Oh and Jackfruit, it tastes just like Juicy Fruit gum – it’s super sweet, and the fruit is gigantic, I heard it can be up to 60 lbs per piece of fruit! We ate our fill of Dragon’s Eyes too, dabbled in Custard Apples (or as they call it here Milk from Mother’s Breast, a bit creepy) and enjoyed the usual tropical suspects like mango, papaya, mandarin oranges, watermelon. And I think I drank coconut water from couple dozen coconuts.
Verdict: WIN!


Thịt chó – Dog

Thit Cho - Eating Dog in Vietnam
Well that’s just another post all together. I’m sorry, Ruger, I swear we didn’t know what we were eating.
Verdict: FAIL!

17 Things We’ve Loved about India

The Taj Mahal in India
  1. The People.
    Super friendly people everywhere that just want to chat. To ask where you’re from, how long you’re here, tell you about their city, the culture. It was amazing – true genuine hospitality and friendliness. Everywhere!
  2. Diwali Lights.
    It is the festival of lights and, boy, do they decorate accordingly! There are Christmas lights everywhere – it’s really festive and puts you in a fun mood. And while the strings of lights were cool, my favorite part were the little candle flames everywhere giving off this warm glow.
  3. Rick is a celebrity. Photo ops!
    We had a lot of folks asking to take photos with us. It was quite funny to us. And as soon as we would say okay to one guy, there were 10 more that appeared wanting pictures too! Like they were just waiting for the first brave guy to ask. We humored just about everyone that asked… even when it meant we were standing around for photos for 15 minutes. And we just get a picture with them too – because, why not? It’s fun… but the staring does get a little weird after a while. Crazy eyes!
    Being a celebraty in India
  4. Party Cows.
    We call them Party Cows – they were painted and decorated for Diwali and all over the streets. There were also Party Donkeys, Party Goats… pretty much if you could get it to stand still for long enough, it was painted!
    Party Cows in India - Dawali
    “Party until the cows come home” – uh oh, I think the cows came home. Knock, knock.
  5. Jaipur Shopping Festival.
    In celebration of Diwali, Jaipur has a huge shopping festival. The stores decorate their store fronts with crazy elaborate scenes – it’s like NYC at Christmas.
    Diwali - India
    Popular Indian night club? Nope, just people waiting to get into the temple for Diwali.
  6. Diwali.
    Ok, I know that’s three things for Diwali, but it was so fun! Everyone was super friendly on the “big night” of Diwali Oct 23 when we were in Jairpur. Cheery people shouted down the street at us “Happy Diwali”… came out of houses to tell us “Happy Diwali”.Diwali - IndiaThere are also poo sculptures involved. Not so sure on what these mean or what they are for (or if it’s real poo), but all over the streets on the 24th there were little “gingerbread man” sculptures made of poop.
  7. Street Food.
    The best food we’ve had on the trip so far! Street food in India is delicious. From dahl and chapatis, to lassis, to samosas with curry flavors inside. We basically never really know what it is, but if it’s popular with the locals and there’s a line in front of the cart, we’re in! The flavors have been incredible.
    Street food in India
    We are in Delhi until this evening, so more street food is in our near future!
  8.  Sunsets.
    Absolutely stunning sunsets. Everyday. So the cause may not be so sexy… I think a lot of it has to do with the pollution, but the results are amazing.
    Sunsets in India
  9. Palaces.
    Lots and lots of palaces. I think Udaipur had the best ones! We spent 4-5 days in Udaipur, it’s a beautiful city, said to be the most romantic city in India. I can see why, it’s set on a couple of lakes and has beautiful palaces surrounding the lake, and even in the middle of the lake.
    Palaces of India
  10. Marwari Horses.
    I loved getting to ride them so much, it’s a separate post.
  11. Trains.
    The trains are awesome. You can get everywhere by train… and it’s like a moving hotel if you get an overnight one (awesome for us budget travelers!). And it’s a nice, comfy hotel – I think I got my best sleep on the trains in India. And you wake up and you’re in your next destination.
  12. Henna.
    It really is beautiful how intricate the designs are.
  13. Taj Mahal.
    Pretty impressive place.
    The Taj Mahal in Agra, India
  14. Elephants and camels everywhere.

    Elephants and Camels in India
  15. Tuk tuk rides.
    Always an adventure – but far better than to be in one, than dodging them on the street, they can be ruthless.
    Tuk Tuk Rides in India
    Pay up, buddy! No free ride here!
  16.  Rooftop cafes.
    Roof Top Views in India
  17. “Everything is possible!” … and “it’s not possible”
    We heard both. A LOT. We made a wonderful friend in Agra who took care of us at his rooftop restaurant every night we were there. The first time we walked in we were greeted warmly and told “what would make you happy? Everything is possible!”
    Everything is Possible at Join Us Cafe in Agra, India
    On the flip side, when someone here wants to say no to your request (like “May I take a picture of your shop?” or “May I have another beer?” near closing time)… the answer is a very proper sounding “Not possible.” It’s very disarming…. We’ve come to find it kind of endearing and funny now. But there’s a little part of me that always wants to argue, “It’s not really that it’s ‘not possible’, sir. I think what you really mean is you don’t want to!”

We have one last day in India to enjoy the wonderful culture, people, sights and flavors.