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Hot Travels with Hutch!!

Welcome to Nikki Hutchison's Travel Page. Here is where I will be keeping a record of my travels for all of you to read. Please feel free to leave a comment for me. If I have time in between discovering new places and meeting new people I will reply to them!

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Diary Entries

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Location: Vientiane, Laos

Ta-dah!!

here is the link to my new blog. I am playing around with the look of it, but there is a post nonetheless.

Enjoy!!

http://notesfromnikkithenomad.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Location: Laos

Hello Everyone!!

I'm back and in the swing of things in Laos. Busy getting back into the swing of things and will write soon. I have researched other blog sites and I will be changing from Planet Ranger. Stay tuned for my new link!

Sunday, 05 June 2011

Location: Vientiane, Laos

I know, I know...you haven't heard from me in a long time. But, I have to say that not much has been going on. The past few weeks have been busy with graduation and the end of year hustle and bustle. Graduation went off without a hitch - I didn't botch it up too bad so they'll keep me around for another year!

One thing that is coming up, that I'm not looking too forward to is saying 'good-bye'. As you've seen in many blog entries my colleagues from Michigan -- Tony and Sharon have become quick friends. I am sad to report that they are leaving Laos and will hang their rulers in India next year. Although I'm thrilled that they found fabulous jobs, I would be lying if I didn't say I was sad. I guess this is the big nasty about international teaching- your friends move away. Good thing though is I now have a new place to visit!

Next weekend brings the final staff party and then it's just a few short sleeps until I will board the first of four planes back to Regina. I'm happy to be able to spend Father's Day at home, and equally thrilled that my sister, Ashleigh and her best friend Patrick will be making the trek to Reggie for a week to visit. My social calendar is getting filled, but it's my hope to kick back and spend some quality time with my family while I'm home. I've been dying to kick my dad's ass in cards and curl up on the couch with mom and watch the PVR'd cooking shows!

I do apologize dear followers for not posting much lately - but I haven't been too exciting. I will say this though...next school year looks pretty jam packed.

October - Cambodia
December - Phoenix
April- New Zealand
July- Australia

When are YOU coming to visit?

Until next time...

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Location: Hoi An, Vietnam

After what seemed like forever in planes and airports, we arrived in Hoi An, Vietnam. It was quite late so we didn’t get to see much on the ride from the Danang airport. Hoi An is a sleepy little Historic Town on a less than clean river. But, it’s murky water was easily forgotten about when I walked in town.

Hoi An is the Mecca for tailoring. It boasts more than 500 tailors who are happy to copy an existing piece of clothing, or make something from scratch. This was my mission while in Vietnam. Upon recommendation from a colleague, I headed to Kim Chi tailors on 2 Le Loi St. A chipper and well spoken girl, Kim(not the owner, just happened to have the same name) helped me choose fabric and was thrilled that I brought pictures and items to copy. After measurements and tallying…I was at 12 items. I worried about how everything would turn out. So, at 9:30am I walked out of the tailor under instruction to be back at 7pm for my first fitting. Are you serious?? Long story short, a few fittings later and some pesky shorts that didn’t quite ‘work’ I walked out with a dozen new pieces for my mae ban to care for! My mother is going to love this place!!

A few days later, Kim took me down to the markets to go shopping. It was amazing how much cheaper things were when shopping with a ‘local’. Many of the peddlers told her ‘it’s not your money, so why are you worried about spending it?’ She got me some great deals and I will definitely see Kim again when I return.

I attended a cooking class at Morning Glory. It is an amazing restaurant and the owner also has two other dining establishments: Cargo Club and Mango Rooms. I highly recommend any of these places. My dad will love the ‘quality treats’ at the Cargo Club. My cooking class was five hours long and I managed to follow along and not start anything on fire. We did a market tour and I met some great people. I will let the pictures do the talking, but I was full and satisfied when I left. My friends are all eager for me to try my new skills on them.

One day we headed out on to the China Sea. My friend Carol was doing her PADI(SCUBA) certification and Sharon, Tony, and I went along. Because of my bad ears, I’m not a candidate for SCUBA but I did manage to swim and frolic in the Sea. The visibility wasn’t great, but as many of you know…I’m a water baby and am happy to be in the sun and floating around.

Most days were spent laying by the pool for a big chunk of it, getting clothes fitted, and walking around the historic town. One of my most favourite things in Hoi An are the beautiful lanterns that are being sold at dark. The colours and textures were amazing. Of course, a few happened to fall into my suitcase!

Arrived home to Pii Mai festivities in Vientiane. I have managed to get absolutely soaked on several occasions from New Year celebrations. Hoses, buckets and water balloons have hit me quite a few times. It’s been a great spring break. Hard to believe in two short months I will be home for a visit.
Sokdee Pii Mai!!

Until next time…

Friday, 01 April 2011

Location: Vientiane, Laos

Floral shirts, silver pots of perfumed water, marigold garlands, mounds of sand, wet hair and a general spirit of excitement can only mean one thing here in Vientiane: Pii Mai Lao!

Lao New Year takes places April 14-16, and the celebrations are just getting started. Friday was our last day of school before a two-week vacation, so we held a special Pii Mai assembly. First, children strung garlands of marigolds and frangipani, the Lao national flower. Primary and secondary kids worked together with the assistance of Lao staff members.

Then secondary students explained the legend behind some of the Pii Mai traditions, followed by a skit about the annual Miss Pii Mai contest and a water blessing ceremony.

After the water blessing demonstration, classes met to bless their teachers. This is one of my favorite experiences of the school year in Laos. The children offer such heartfelt appreciation for their teachers. Very touching.

Water plays a big role in the Pii Mai holiday, so people inevitably get wet (whether they want to or not). In that spirit, our assembly wrapped up with water games on the soccer field.

Happy Pii Mai Everyone!!

Lao New Year Traditions:

Water is used for washing homes, Buddha images, monks, and soaking friends and passers-by. Students first respectfully pour water on their elders, then monks for blessings of long life and peace, and last of all they throw water each other. The water is perfumed with flowers or natural perfumes. Some people prefer flowers in the water to give a pleasant smell, as well as adding cologne/perfume. The idea of watering came from the legend of King Kabinlaphom, whose seven daughters kept his severed head in a cave. The daughters would visit their father's head every year and perform a ritual to bring happiness and good weather. Over the years another tradition has developed with Lao New Year: people will smear or throw cream (shaving cream or whipped cream) or white powder on each other during the celebrations.

During Lao New Year, there are many spectacles including traditional Lao music, mor-lam, and lam-wong (circle dancing). During the daytime almost everybody is at the temple worshipping, hoping to have a healthier and happier life in the new year. During the evening, people of all ages go to the wat for entertainment.

Enjoy the pictures...Until next time...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Location: Vientiane, Laos

I know it's been awhile since I 'blogged' but there honestly hasn't been much blogworthy in the last several weeks...until today. Myself and four other colleagues were invited to our friend Morven's for a Lao Cooking Class. She is starting a business called Lao Experiences where the focus is to learn authentic Laos cuisine by way of fresh produce. We used all fresh ingredients and were guided to make the most healthy and beautiful dishes. I will let the pictures do the talking, but it was a great morning of food, fun, and cooking!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Location: V-town, Laos

Hi all:

Just a note to say that I'm still alive and well. Not much blogworthy action going on here, but stay tuned for March and April when I head to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and Hoi An, Vietnam.

Until next time...

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Location: Kuwait, Egypt, Thailand, Laos

Well, my month of holidays are officially over and I felt the need to update my peeps(mainly Lori St. Dennis who is a self-professed "blog stalker")!

A few short days after school ended in December, I hopped on a plane to Kuwait. Kuwait you ask? Yes, Kuwait. I have a good friend who is teaching there and we decided that we were going to spend Christmas together. I arrived to a very gloomy looking city. I couldn't decide if it was really that drab or if it was because I had literally been in the jungle for the past five months of my life. Kuwait is a concrete jungle full of malls, money, and men in dresses(dishdashas) who smell incredibly good. I had serious sticker shock and you can imagine my surprise when my purchases at IKEA were 5X more than what I would have paid in Canada. Who knew??

Jestina took me to a fabric souk, and several markets to satisfy my need for retail therapy. I did in fact purchase so much fabric and other gifts that I had to buy a new suitcase to bring all my goodies back!

December 23rd we boarded a plane for Egypt. Yes, I was going to spend Christmas in Egypt. Crazy. Our first stop was a little resort in Dahab. We were right on the water and the resort was cozy. We made several friends with Brits and Scots but NOT the Russians. Boy, are they rude!!! On Christmas day we embarked on a snorkeling adventure. How did we get there you ask? Well, we rode camels. If you're wondering, my butt has just to pre-camel shape. It was seriously tough work riding one. We swam and snorkeled at Abo Gallum and the Blue Hole. Both outstanding. We were treated to a lunch made by the Bedouins and when we returned to the hotel we fought over who was going to get in the shower and remove the salt water matte from our hair!

December 26th we took ourselves to Sharm el Sheik. You may recall that recently quite a few tourists have lost lives and limbs in these waters. We steared clear of the water for fear of becoming "War Amps" but also because collectively we may possibly have the worst luck ever. Sharm was a huge change from Dahab. We stayed at a massive resort with 2000 rooms and 12 pools. A bit too big for my liking, but I did manage to get my tan on which was a priority for this pasty white Canuck. I preferred Dahab, but sitting by the pool and checking out the sites and sounds of the market was incredible. I will say this...Egyptian men are the smoothest operators I've ever met. I had 5 marriage proposals before I bought my first t-shirt, which was for my dad, and by allowing the vendor to touch my butt got me $2 off. Dad would be so proud!

December 30th we boarded the plane and headed back to Kuwait. We were pretty lazy and did some more shopping and on New Years Eve we celebrated with take out and an evening full of cards, laughs, and snacks with one of Jes's neighbours and colleagues, Jude. Before I knew it my two weeks in the middle east and Africa were complete. I hopped on a plane on the 1st to come back to Laos to switch bags and do laundry before heading on the second part of my holiday adventure.

My very good friend, Michelle whom lives outside of Alberta was given the gift of a flight to come and see me. I'm convinced her husband Mike was actually giving himself a holiday too :) Mike is a fabulous fella who graciously cared for their 3 and 1 year old daughters while working full time on the dairy farm. I understand why Michelle refers to him as her "dreamboat".

I met Michelle in Bangkok at 1:00am on January 5th. There were tears of joy and we were giddy with the excitement of seeing each other. We quickly got to our hotel where we hit the sack because we had an early flight the next morning. Phuket, here we come!! We lucked out and got a great room at a cute little boutique hotel. We went to the "Simon Cabaret" which is a bunch of men singing show tunes. The next morning we packed up and boarded a big boat to embark on what would be the most beautiful place on earth, Koh Phi Phi. I will let the pictures speak for themselves, but sadly they don't even do the place justice.

Two days in Phi Phi and then back to Phuket for a night...up the next day at en route to Bangkok. We spent two days in Bangkok and managed to go to a movie where we sat in leather seats and reclined(I slept), saw the Grand Palace, and did alot of spa'ing and bartering on the streets. It was so fabulous to be with Michelle. If we weren't laughing we were eating, or having massages, or kicking each other's ass in cards. A perfect holiday!

We boarded the plane on January 12th(my mama's bday) and came back to Laos where I was excited to show her my part of the world. We spent half days at spas, rode around on Scooby the scooter, ate, shopped, haggled. Before I knew it I was putting my friend on a plane and my thirty days of holidays were over.

It was stunning to me that in a month I was in Egypt, Kuwait, Thailand, and Laos. I'm so thrilled and blessed that I have been given this opportunity to be a broad abroad!

Until next time...


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Recent Messages

From Lori St. D
Your mom is counting sleeps til you return to sunny Saskatchewan! Safe travels ... The queen city is awaiting your arrival!
From Lori St. D.
Hey there!
Sounds like things are slow in your corner of the world ... hee hee.

I had to drop a line to say I envy your experience of having your clothes tailored to your specifications. How sweet it is!!!
From Mom
Hi there,
Love all the pictures and the explanation of New Years is good to know. It is April 16th and we got a big dump of snow again..heavy, wet stuff, but it is melting. Terrible flooding in Sask. and our dear friends at Crooked Lake are experiencing very turbulent times to say the least. Remember them all in your thoughts and prayers.

I can hardly wait for you to take us to some of these spots!

Tornados are wreaking havoc in the eastern US; people losing their lives.
From Dominie
Hi Nikki,

I was just going through the registrants for the OACAC conference and saw a school in Laos. My husband and I spent some time there last summer and absolutely loved it. I googled your school's name but they didn't have an email for you. So I googled you and found this blog. I read a bit - sounds like you're having an adventure!

Anyway, I'll be the counselor at Harare International School in Zimbabwe this upcoming school year and just wanted to reach out to you. I'm hoping to be able to attend the conference in Calgary as well. I'd love to hear about how you decided to take up international counseling, other positions you may have held and what the job is like.

Take care,
Dominie
From Lori St. D.
Yippee ... got the link to work. Just needed to be patient! The food looks like works of art!! Terrific job ... everything looked really good. Thanks for sharing!!
From Lori st. D.
Yoo hoo ... how are you? I couldn't link on some of your cooking pics. I will have to get my tech savvy date to see if I'm doing something wrong. I want to see what you're up to!

It seems that spring may finally be around the corner in Sask ... the puddles and potholes are everywhere!

Take care ... cheers, Lori
From Marilee
Hey Nikki
Was there any aftermath in your area from the recent earthquakes and Tsunami's in Japan? I know you are a distance away but I was just wondering what you may be experiencing.
Obviously we were thinking of you...Marilee
Response: No worries for us, however we've had rain the past few days and apparently we will have it all week. Not sure if this is normal for this time of year or not. Thanks for thinking of me :)
From Lori
Hello??

Are you still there?? Your blog is quiet. Surely there's some noteworthy tidbits to share with the rest of the world?

What's happening in sunny Sask you ask? More of the same ... cool temps and cool weather ... sprinkled with a hint of snow.

Look forward to your next update!

Lori
From Kim
Nikki

It is now February 17 and there are no new blogs. I am a Blog stalker as well, and right now you are the only friend that I have that is travellig and supposed to be keeping a blog!

Cobb
Response: Hey Kim: My life hasn't been full of blogworthy bits and bobs! I promise March and April will be much more exciting!
From Lori
Aha!!!

I see I've arrived ... I've made it to the top of your blog!!

Such a hoot that I had read this update ... so tell me how is it that I missed the opening sentences??? My explanation is that I was too immersed in the stories unfolding on the page to fuss with the opening sentences. Hee hee.

All is well in sunny Sask. Despite the warmer temps here I can't help but envy folks that are (or will be) enjoying warmer climates this winter!

Tell me, have you had to worry about shoveling any snow off the rooftops during your travels???

Take care ... and keep the updates coming!

Cheers ... Lori
From Marilee
I'm glad you added the update as I have been checking for an update to see how you are doing. Love the pictures...
You'll be glad you are out of Egypt with the news there now but how fortunate you were to see it. Glad to hear all is well. M
From Mom
Good to read the blog. I have worked my way through all of the pictures. WOW. You sure have had some adventures and seen some beautiful places....and got to do it with friends. Dad and I aren't too fussy about which island experience you treat us to when we come to SE Asia. As long as you are paying, we are all good. I am proud of you. I hope that the cultures you have experienced and the kindness you have been shown in so many countries will remind you to stay humble and be who you are. I am sure everyone enjoyed meeting you and experiencing that huge smile of yours.
From Stephanie
Great pictures & update! With the wind today it was -46C!?
From Lori
Hey Nikki ...

Say it isn't so!?! Where's my holiday update?? Tragic to think I am relying on your folks to hear the highlights of what sounds like a ton of fun and adventure during the holidays! (And thanks for the 2011 calendar ... very much appreciated! I may be one of a handful of people that still uses a paper calendar ... who knew?!? I will put it to good use.)

In case you haven't heard yet, the weather in Canada is atrocious. Snow, snow and more snow. Shocking ... the City has maxxed out its snow removal budget already! Go figure!

On that cheery note, I'll sign off for now ... and remind you to keep those updates rolling! You know there are some folks that rely on your adventures to make the long, dreary days of winter!
From Gaye
Yikes!!! Think I would have been seasick trying to sleep in a swaying house on stilts!! I admire your adventuresome spirit!! Makes us realize how fortunate we are. Have a Great Xmas!! Wonder what Laotians have for xmas dinner?
From Kim Cobb
Wow! Sounds like an amazing trip and great experience. My eyes welled up too, when you described how poor the village was. Hope that you are now getting a good night's rest in your own comfy bed!

Keep blogging!

Kim
From Gabriella
Finally got a chance to read your blog entries. You are too funny girl! I can just picture you sleeping on that school room floor. . . oh so comfortable. Anyways, keep us posted. Love reading about all of your adventures. Can't talk too much as I am now teaching full time. I know . . . how do I do it? Take care!
From Tara Meadows
Hi, Nikki.

I love reading your blogs. Sounds like you're having such a great time. I would love to skype with you. Let me know when a good time is. Talk to you soon. Tara
From Lori St. D.
Hey there!

Wow ... what a great update you've shared with your online family!!! It's a little surreal to see the extremes of your pictures ... one extreme shows the absolute poverty while the other extreme shows you basking in stunning surrounding and beautiful sunsets! They say pictures are worth a thousand words ... and despite your written description, I would agree the pictures paint quite a picture for your audience!! Your mom was sharing some of the highlights from your recent conversations ... thanks for the updates. I was anxious to see what you've been up to!

One question for you ... tell me when you say you went for an expensive meal at McDonalds, just how expensive is "expensive"??? I wonder if its off the charts, or more reasonably priced but that you've become accustomes to super low rates these days??

Keep the messages rolling ... always happy to hear what's going on on the other side of the universe!

Cheers, Lori
Response: Hi Lori: Thanks for the note. McDonald's.....same prices as home, which to be seems absurd now!! Sorry to hear about the weather in Regina but happy to hear about the Riders!
From Mom
Can hardly wait to see the updates that will include Ho Chi Manh City (sic) and the Village adventure! Glad you are learning so much, teaching so much and having so much fun. WOW It is hard to believe what you have done since leaving home in July.
Love Mom
From Lori St D.
Hey hey hey!

Love the updates on your whirlwind tours. Isn't it surprising you don't really know how tuckered out you are until you allow yourself to take a break? Too bad you had to suffer through massages, pedicures, manicures, and frilly drinks while you're suffering in paradise!!

And now, back to reality ... a quick note about the winter season that is just around the corner in Saskatchewan. (You do remember winter weather, don't you??) Austin has new winter tires on "your" suv ... he's fallen in love with the vehicle all over again!!

Take care and keep enjoying the adventures! And, keep up the updates ...
From Mom
You are right....sounds just like a place your Mom would love! Glad to hear that it was SO beautiful because I know how much you were looking forward to the trip and break from work. Too bad about the rain though. That better not happen when I am there - will end up pouting cuz I can't sit on a lounge chair outside AND I will have bad, frizzy and curly hair!! Keep the blog alive; everyone loves to check in and read what is happening. We are living vicariously through your blogs!

Love Mom
From From Tara Meadows
Hi, Nikki.
This is the first time I've looked at your blog and I absolutely love it! Sounds like your having an interesting time in Laos. I'm looking forward to reading more of your adventures.
Take care,
Tara
Response: WOW!! I'm SO happy to hear from you. How are you doing? How's the new addition to the Meadows family?? I was talking about you and our horseback adventure just the other day. I would love to catch up over email or Skype. Take great care and thanks for looking me up!
From Kim Cobb
Okay...no one has asked but I need to know, Placenta of what? for placenta soup?
Keep up the great blogs...love checking up on your "Hot" travels!

Kim
Response: I have NO idea what the placenta was. I certainly didn't have enough intestinal fortitude to try it out!
From Gary
Did you see "Hot Travels with Hutch" had the 4th most visits this month? You're in the top 5!!! Go Nikki, Go Nikki...

Back to back blog entries?!?!? Needless to say I fell out of my chair. HA! I enjoyed your Anna Grilled Duck entry. Coagulated pig blood in the soup and eating unidentified duck parts is SO COOL. You can write a book about this stuff. (save your blog entries) Heck, Anthony Bourdain does a whole TV series on eating unidentified animal parts.
Response: Tonight we're heading to a place called "Europe Steak House". Something tells me it may be a bit less risque than "The Duck", but I will post about it! Thanks for keeping me honest about my Blog...I'll be more diligent!