Boarding Pass – Natasha Lawler
Today’s Boarding Pass belongs to Natasha Lawler of HKhousewife, her blog documenting the ex-pat life abroad while her husband’s job took them to Hong Kong. As an expat myself, I love reading her tales of life abroad in Hong Kong, from her “first” Thanksgiving (we both agreed this is an awesome holiday to celebrate overseas) to hosting an ugly sweater party. And besides being a slice of life, Natasha also shares practical information for transcontinental jetsetting and comfortable travel. Oh, and she contributes to the Minted blog (they ‘re a cool card company). Thanks, Natasha!
last trip taken:
Beijing, Vietnam, and Singapore
next trip on deck:
Ralei Beach in Thailand with my flower girl (and her parents)
one place you would go back to again and again:
For snow: Park City, Utah where I grew up skiing and return for Sundance—this will be my 12th year in a row.For sun: Casa de Mita in Punta Mita, Mexico (north of Puerto Vallarta).
place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
For fun: I really like traveling for experiences or events, so I would recommend Munich for Oktoberfest. What I thought would be a drunken frat scene was actually incredibly full of tradition and culture. What’s not to love about live bands, decorated tents, incredible pork knuckle, lots of good beer, dressing up in fairytale garb and grandmothers doing jigs on top of tables? Plus, Munich is such a beautiful, well-edited city with lots of world-class museums and chic shops. And crazy King Ludwig’s nearby castles are out of this world. I also learned the most amazing word there: gemütlich. It means having a feeling or atmosphere of warmth and friendliness; coziness. This is what I now shoot for at every dinner party I throw!
For a meaningful experience:
Haiti. We volunteered there in June and it is a place that needs all the time and hope we can give it.
preferred method of transportation:
Train or junk. Despite the fact that I get on a plane on average about every ten days, I’m really a nervous flyer. Here in Asia, you really appreciate how incredibly efficient and easy trains are. I love taking the Shinkansen in Japan and they are building more and more bullet trains in China—they just completed the line between Shanghai and Hangzhou. I loved seeing Halong Bay by ovenight junk and here in Hong Kong we often rent junks for the day to explore the outer islands and go swimming in clean water.
place you’ve never been but dying to go:
Moscow. I dream of seeing the Kremlin’s domes and I’m obsessed with Fabergé eggs and Russian icons. And I guess it’s not surprising given that my name is Natasha!
place you’d never go back:
Vegas. It’s just not my thing.
most memorable trip in 2 sentences or less:
My honeymoon which my husband planned and was a complete surprise until I got to the airport …we went to Paris and then did a tour of Italy—including a stay in Ravello at the Palazzo Sasso, which we think is hands-down the best hotel in the world. I am the Type-A, planner in the relationship so I had no idea that he was even capable of planning something like this and I also had no idea that such simple food could be so insanely good!
how do you prepare for a trip?
There is always so much to do! I like to read lots of novels set where I am going. They get me so much more excited than a guidebook ever could and you learn so much more about the history and what matters to the people living there. I usually try to read a little something on the politics or current events of where we’re headed and I try to learn how to at least say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ so I don’t seem like a dumb American. I love reading other people’s travel blogs and TripAdvisor. I always bring a print out of addresses so I can send postcards. I’ve also done a few posts on my blog on what I pack.
how do you record your travels when you’re traveling?
I write lots of postcards so that helps me to actually absorb all that we’re seeing. I make sure to keep all of the business cards and receipts from eating out and shopping… unfortunately the money trail is usually a pretty good record of what you’ve been up to ;) Plus, I appreciate good logos! All the rest I’ll remember or can google when I get home. And take lots of pictures.
what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
Usually the food! I like to try to remember a few dishes to try to recreate back home.
on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
Not as many as some, probably about 75. I always wish I took more, but sometimes you just have to be ‘in the moment’.
what do you do after a trip?
I usually do try to post pretty soon after on HKHousewife and for big trips I try to make a photobook or scrapbook, but that can take years!
favorite souvenir/thing to bring back?
I love cooking and entertaining so I collect things for the tabletop, mainly tablecloths, placemats, napkins, and candles. There is nothing more essential to a place than the way people gather together to break bread. I am also obsessed with stationery (I work for a card company) so I always buy cards, preferably by local artists. When we were in the Riviera in May, I found some linen placemats at a market that I adore. When we were honeymooning, we tracked down Palazzo Sasso’s signature scent in Florence and bought several bottles so now our home smells like we’re permanently in Ravello! I also found some gorgeous cards in Florence hand painted by nuns.