I’m not especially a car person, but when you get a chance to ride in a Porsche on the automaker’s German racetrack, you take it, right?
I’ve just returned from my first trip to Germany, during which I became acquainted with the most excellent town of Leipzig in Saxony, 150 kilometers south of Berlin. It’s a wonderful place with a very special mixture of old and new, which I hope I’ll write about in more detail in another post.
It’s also home to Porsche’s high-design plant (the whole thing is rendered in the shape of a diamond, as pictured above) and adjacent racetrack.
My first experience with white-water rafting was in Bali, and it was incredible.
We chose the reputable company Sobek (foreshadowing: you’ll want to choose a reputable, well-established, and insured adventure outlet if you do this) and selected the class-3/4 Telaga Waja River in the foothills of Mount Agung for our outing. Of the rafting options, it was described as the more challenging (spoiler alert: harrowing), versus the more family-friendly (though closer to Ubud) Ayun River.
A short, hourlong flight from Saigon landed us in the southeastern town of Nha Trang for the beach portion of our trip (pause to note I hardly find a trip worth taking if I don’t find a beach on some part of it. You can take the girl out of California, but…)
Quick backgrounder on Nha Trang: it’s a vacation destination populated by tons of international tourists, largely Russian (on account of the communist connection? Not totally sure). It’s also a huge draw for backpackers, and though we are beyond our backpacking years (no, wait, I was born past my backpacking years), it has a fun, youthful, lively energy. You will also find at night a healthy (“”) selection of bars offering “buckets,” basically copious amounts of cheap alcohol designed to inspire bad decisions among 22 year olds for under $1 US.
Also, remember those zillions of motorbikes that threatened our demise in Saigon? Oh man, did Nha Trang also have its share. Cross the street at your peril. Think more Vietnmese Miami than sleepy beach town. Totally alive.
In the week between the first and second weekends of pool and open-water training, I’m working with some new advantages and disadvantages alike.
As for the advantages, the fear of the unknown is somewhat diminished. And I now have a certain faith in the power of the anti-motion-sickness drug, Bonine, plus the knowledge of how and when to take it for maximum effectiveness.
As for the disadvantages, I’ve seen how badly some people fared on the first trip out. I’ve seen a bunch of green faces, borderline hypothermia cases, and even a perforated eardrum.
Hubby decided now — ahead of our trip to Vietnam and Bali — was the time to pull the trigger on the scuba certification we’d been talking about since before our Tahitian honeymoon in 2010.
I resisted a little bit, only because of the significant expense (close to $1,000 for the pair of us), and time commitment: eight hours of online coursework, followed by two weekends of solid training in the classroom, pool, and open water. But far be it for me to deny hubby any bucket list-y item — and I’m always game for an adventure. Plus, if we want to be certified in time for our trip, it’s now or never, with nary a weekend to spare. (We’ve never been interested in getting certified while on vacation because we move around a lot and don’t want to waste precious few days on a short trip on training dives anyway.) So away we go.
I’ve been so excited over so many personal projects that I’ve not slept much this week. Today I woke up at 3:45 a.m. and thought, “I’m going for a hike.” There’s a lot that doesn’t add up about that. “It’s arithmetic,” Bill Clinton might have said mockingly of my suggestion.
Anyway, it’s now 6 a.m. and I’m at the summit of Runyon Canyon — writing you, dear readers, from the most perfect bench in Los Angeles County. Regular Runyon hikers will know it well.
Without ado, here are my tips for hiking Runyon Canyon before sunrise: