Wanderlust Wendy

Blog

Rest Better on Airplane Mode

Live slower on airplane mode

Life in Saigon has resumed to normal from COVID-19 for several weeks now, and so has the city’s infamous hustle and bustle. This lively city felt suffocating after a month of calm. The Vietnamese government successfully kept the COVID-19 pandemic under control, in what felt like a flip of a switch. Just as suddenly as the city went quiet, it came back alive with compounded energy akin to millions of freed birds. Within days, I…

Saigon Visitor Guide: Restaurants, Cafés, and More

Ho Chi Minh City, more commonly referred to locally as Saigon, is a vibrant and energetic city. The rapid urban development leads to an ever-changing city, balancing between the new and old. My favorite thing to do in Saigon, as is in any city, is to wander aimlessly, looking into alleyways. Saigon has no shortage of hidden gems. I love discovering a charming café or sophisticated wine bar nestled within an unimpressive building.  Most of…

Practice Cooking Meditation to Live Slower

cooking meditation, mindful cooking

Like many, I’ve been cooking and baking up the storm. But for me, this has been going on well before the global pandemic began. I’ve had some time to reflect on why cooking brings me so much joy, and why you, too, should practice cooking meditation. An Incapable Cook in College In college, I was a terrible cook. I often made food that was so bad that I would end up buying sandwiches or eat…

2020 Q1 Business Update

The first quarter of 2020 felt never-ending. Amid a global pandemic and a new job, I managed very little progress with the blog. I contemplated whether to continue these updates, since this blog, much like my new day job, is more a nonprofit endeavor than a business.  Out of curiosity, I went back to the first update I published a year ago. Looking at the YoY growth, I am quite pleased by the progress. While…

Saigon in the Time of Corona

Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, Vietnam

By now, you are probably so tired of reading about Covid-19, the novel coronavirus that has led to a global pandemic. I’m impressed if you even clicked on the link to get here. If you got here by accident, feel free to close the tab. My feelings won’t be hurt. Like most of the writing on this blog, this post is for my future self to remember this major point of history.  This coronavirus has…

Tet Holiday on Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam

Phu Quoc Island, Bai Ong Lang, Vietnam

After our year-long whirlwind travel, we were looking for a vacation. Not travel, but a vacation, where we don’t feel pressured to check out all the sites, and hanging out all day by the beach is perfectly acceptable. Five days on Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam checked the boxes.  The Night Before Tet Holiday We flew out the night before Tet Holiday began from Saigon’s Tan Son Nhat airport. Big mistake. The airport was absolutely…

A Toddler Taught Me How to Live More Intentionally

Live Intentionally with a Toddler

For 2020, I had set the year’s theme to “Live More Intentionally.” I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve this other than being slightly more aware of my daily activities. Before getting a new job, I had booked a three-week trip to St. Louis to spend time with my nephew. I was looking forward to some quality family time. I even had lofty ideas of getting some blogging done during these three weeks. …

The Luxury of Doing What You Love

The Luxury of Doing What You Love

On a Monday morning, as I sat in the Grab car that is weaving through Saigon’s nutty morning traffic going a new job I love, a thought came to me, “Doing What You Love is a Luxury.” I was immediately filled with gratitude as I bask in this very luxury that I couldn’t afford just a few years ago.  The Luxury to Disregard Pay A decade after I began that expensive graduate degree, I’m finally…

2019 Q4 Business Update

After the existential exploration of my writer identity in Q3, I decided to focus on writing in Q4, and worry about everything else (how to make money, career, etc.) next year. While I dove into writing, the universe presented new plans on how I should spend time in 2020. #NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge In the world of blogging, it’s easy to get distracted with marketing, SEO optimization, photo curation, edits, etc. In November, I dabbled in…

2019 Year-in-Review: Be Uncomfortable

Year-in-Review post is always my favorite post to write each year. It allows me to reflect on the year, identify all of the marvelous changes, and prepare for the year ahead. Usually, I lament at how quickly time has passed. But for 2019, I marvel at the way January feels like a lifetime ago.  This year, I gave myself a central theme to work toward, rather than new year resolutions. The 2019’s theme was Be Uncomfortable….

Cruise Vacation Review: 7-Night Western Caribbean Cruise with Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean Cruise

In my household, I’m not the only globetrotter in the family. My sister leads an equally unique life. She had met her husband while working on the Royal Caribbean cruise line. My brother-in-law still works on board as a navigation officer. They had a new baby, and we accompanied our six-month-old nephew on his first cruise adventure!  I’m not typically a cruise vacation type of person. Still, after 8 months of non-stop traveling and planning,…

Chile’s Atacama Desert: Road Trip Across the Driest Place on Earth

At the end of our whirlwind Workaway adventure, we treated ourselves to an epic trip up North in the Atacama Desert. We had decided against Patagonia since we didn’t have sufficient time to do proper hiking and had already spent ample time on the Argentina side.  As fate would have it, the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth, was flooded two weeks before our scheduled arrival. I was following forums on TripAdvisor closely to…

City Guide: Wander in the Artsy Hills of Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso, Chile

A Workaway experience that turned awry unexpectedly took us to Valparaiso for three weeks, where we worked on a different Workaway project. This hilly seaside town surprised and delighted me in the best way. Our three-week stay here allowed us so much time to expand beyond the usual tourist bubble, and see this unique city for all that it has to offer.  When reading up on Valparaiso before arriving, I had an image of a…

City Guide: Discover Cosmopolitan Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile

We traveled in and out of Santiago numerous times during our month-long stay in Chile. I loved the artsy cosmopolitan vibe that the city exudes. If you get a chance to visit Santiago, here are my recommendations!  Accommodation In total, we were in Santiago 3 different times, and we stayed in three different AirBnBs that were all near Lastarria/Bellas Artes neighborhood. The rates were really affordable, with ample choices. We like the ability to cook…

Explore Montevideo and Coastal Uruguay

Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

Journey from Buenos Aires to Montevideo via Colonia Express After three whirlwind weeks in Amazing Argentina, we headed to Uruguay. Xav’s brother has lived near Montevideo for over a decade and visiting his family for Christmas shaped our winter plans in South America.  I had booked tickets only a few days in advance via Direct Ferries. The most economical option was a ferry to Colonia with a direct bus transfer to Montevideo. The one-way ticket…

Argentina 3-Week Itinerary Summary

El Chalten Mount Fitz Roy

Argentina is an incredible country, and we packed in as much to see as possible during our time here. I was never much drawn to wildlife sightings. Experiences like safari or whale watching were never of interest. Argentina changed all of that for me. My world has been opened, and our encounters with wildlife have granted me a newfound appreciation for nature. Perhaps everyone would care a lot more about climate change if they step…

Saigon Chronicle Month 5: Building a Community Abroad

Chocolate Cake, Community

Last month, before a trip back to Shanghai, I struggled to find my place in Saigon. Unlike previous moves abroad, the integration this time around feels slow. Partly, because I’ve adopted to living slower, but also I’m in a different stage of life – married and in my 30s. In month five, things seem to begin to click. Perhaps it’s due to a change of mindset post-Shanghai, but this city finally starts to feel like…

Argentina Patagonia Part III: 5-Day Road Trip from Trelew to Puerto Madryn

Day 1: Rental Pick-up & Overnight in Trelew From El Calafate, where we sighted the impressive glacier and the infamous Patagonia mountain range, we headed East to Trelew, where we begin another road trip to see penguins and other beautiful wildlife.  Learn Manual Shift Driving Before Arrival We picked up our rental car at Trelew airport. An Asian-American couple ahead of us was returning its vehicle. “I thought you said you could drive a manual…

Argentina Patagonia Part II: 4-Days Around El Calafate

El Chalten Mount Fitz Roy

Day 1: Traveling from Ushuaia to El Calafate  For part II of our Argentina Patagonia adventure, we took a short 70-minute flight from Ushuaia to El Calafate. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize the flight was delayed until we arrived at the airport. The short journey, unfortunately, took us 6-hours door-to-door. I’ve heard flight delays can be common since the weather in Ushuaia can sometimes be unpredictable. In El Calafate, we had booked a cottage at Solares del…

Should I Have Stayed in the Corporate Grind?

Leaving Corporate Grind to Travel

January 1, 2020. This date is fast approaching. In fact, only 55 days remain according to my countdown app. Oh, how I used to obsessively check this countdown clock to our original “Freedom Day.”  If all went according to plan, on this date, our investments, applying the 4% withdrawal rate, would have yielded enough income to cover our basic living expenses. Not all, but enough to not need full-time work. We were on this path…