Lush villa evening

The staff at our villa is very attentive and the chef is fabulous. We have enjoyed every minute of the luxury part of our trip.

Last night they decorated for Tarik’s surprise proposal. It was gorgeous and Zeina did not see it coming! We spent the evening in enjoying dinner, drinks and the ocean and pool.

Panos got excited about opening the post proposal bottle of champagne!The boy band Tarik working the bar on his big day, still pretending that we were celebrating Sara and Ahmed’s a recent wedding and Sam and Tami’s recent engagement.The staff lit citronella oil lamps in pits in the sand. Below is Mike finding his zen place. Fresh coconuts with a splash of Malibu

The following photos are the religious shrines at our villa. I find them charming and couldn’t help but take a few photos.

Below is just one of the small luxuries that our villa provides. Every day they light candles in small scented oil burners in each of our rooms. The scent varies but is so pleasant to come “home” to.

Koh Samui

Yesterday was a lazy day at our villa. We kayaked and SUPed, played volleyball and spent a lot of time in the pool. In addition, in the evening Tarik proposed to Zeina so we celebrated the happy event! Today saw us zip lining past waterfalls. This is a beautiful island. I would be happy to spend a bit more time here.

Cu Chi Tunnels

Yesterday saw us traveling outside the city center to the Cu Chi Tunnels.

The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Củ Chi District of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong‘s base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968.

The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort.The immensity and complexity of the network of tunnels is mind boggling. We went into a few of them and they are VERY narrow. If I hadn’t put my hands up over my head, my upper body would not have cleared the entrance. It was uncomfortable being down there knowing that I would safely exit within a short distance. I can’t imagine being in there during war time and not knowing what you may find around the next bend. I have great respect for the service men that entered those tunnels. I don’t think I would be able to force myself down in there under those circumstances.

This is the actual size of the entrance and it doesn’t get a lot wider inside. In the photos you will see below, of the inside of the tunnels (and a guy’s butt traversing in front of me,) have been widened by 30% for tourists. And guys were on hands and knees to make it through. Remember that these two photos show tunnels that have been widened by 30%!We also saw a display of many different booby traps that the Viet Cong soldiers set for US soldiers. I can’t imagine what a terrifying experience that war must have been. Pungee sticksAfter the tunnels we tasted a “specialty” of Vietnam, Snake Wine. It is wine with a cobra and scorpion stewing in it. It wasn’t good but it wasn’t bad, either. Tastes like crappy whiskey. Looks awful!

Lazy day in Saigon

Today was primarily eating and lounging, with some scooter riding thrown in for excitement!

Lunch was huge amounts of dim sum and dinner consisted of a four hour culinary (local food) tour on the backs of Vietnamese college student’s motor scooters.

The scooters toured us all around the city, stopping at pre-arranged restaurants to eat different local foods. We had some delicious meals and were given the opportunity to eat a fertilized duck egg. I couldn’t do it. Some friends did.

The first course was a green papaya salad with liver, which was surprisingly good as I generally dislike liver. The liver here is marinated in honey, garlic and other spices and then dried. The consistency was that of beef jerky which I found much more palatable than the texture of liver prepared fresh.

Course number two was fried quail which was delicious! You could eat it like tiny chicken wings but I preferred it prepared as a sandwich with herbaceous greens on the Vietnamese baguette (bánh mi) which is much lighter than a French baguette. You can see the quail head in a photo below. I took a pass on that part.

We then moved on to a crab dish that had noodles and rice pops. The broth was coconut milk based and the dipping sauce was chili and lime.

Onward to pork pancakes that were cooked outside in a barbecue style. My friends gave the cooking a try. This is where we were given lessons in how to consume the such egg. When she said “you start by cracking a small hole in the top and sucking out the liquid,” it was game over for me.

Last course was my favorite, coconut ice cream with either mangoes or black rice and frozen yogurt with hibiscus flowers. Yum!

Duck egg delight

HCM City

Day two saw us getting in a little bit of culture. We went to the Reunification Palace (Independence Palace) and the war remnants museum. In addition to checking out the city in the daytime and trying some local cuisine. I’m still boggled by the number of scooters here, intersections are hilarious.

As for the palace it “was designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during theVietnam War. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.” Wikipedia

I didn’t find the architecture or interior design of the palace appealing (it felt rather communist block style) but it was interesting to see the opulence of it and recognize that while the country was in the midst of a horrific war, one side was living in such luxury.

The next stop after the palace was the war remnants museum. I struggled there seeing the photo displays of birth defects from agent orange, war crimes and US service men in country. I’m saddened that wars continue to happen around the world despite the fact that they rarely seem to have any positive outcomes.

At one point in the afternoon I had the “opportunity” to try birds nest drink.

Edible bird’s nests are bird nests created by edible-nest swiftlets using solidified saliva, which are harvested for human consumption. They are particularly prized in Chinese culture due to their rarity, and supposedly high nutritional value and exquisite flavor. Edible bird’s nests are among the most expensive animal products consumed by humans[citation needed], with nests being sold recently at prices up to about US$2,000 per kilogram, depending on grading.

The texture was slippery with chunks, I choked down a big mouthful of it and can add it to the list of things I have tried. It’s certainly not going on the favorites list.

Lunch was Vietnamese Pho (pronounced fu) which is a broth based soup with lots of greens, spices and chunks of meat. Dinner had us at a restaurant where the cooking is modeled after local home cooking. Prices here are unbelievable but the currency is loaded with zeros so doing the exchange math is a bit funny. Our dinner for six, consisting of huge amounts of food, a cocktail or glass of wine (or two) for each person plus a few bottles of local rice wine came to 3,500,000 dong…or about $23 USD per person!

Following dinner was a nightclub called Republic. We split into two taxis and my group ended up at the wrong club named Republic…we got it sorted and found out upon arriving at the correct one that we were initially at the largest gay club in the city. It was a good laugh. The club included just about everything, drinks, shisha, fresh fruit and whippets.

We even squeezed a bit of tourist shopping into the day!

First night in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Half of our group arrived yesterday from points near and far. One from Lebanon and one from KSA via a stop in Paris first, myself from Jeddah, KSA and two from Riyadh, via Dubai, and our fearless leader, Mike from Singapore.

After a 2.5 hour visa process (this was after already acquiring the preliminary e-visa docs online) we freshened up and headed out on the town.

Our hotel is a gorgeous new boutique hotel called The Myst. It’s near the busy and popular Dong Khoi street and is beautifully decorated and loaded with fresh flowers.

We had a welcome drink on the lanai and then headed out to a nightclub called Apocalypse Now. Everything is cheap as chips and the city is clean and friendly. Hundreds of scooters, they seem to be the main form of transportation.

Had my morning coffee on the rooftop by the pool and headed out today to see the war memorial and eat too much! Bánh mi (the Vietnamese baguette) for breakfast and Pho for lunch are on the agenda.

Nothing wasted here…

I have posted some of the things that I see in the grocery stores here but haven’t put these photos up yet.

When I see this stuff, I can’t help but wonder what American chicken processing plants do with all these parts? Are they wasted? It seems a shame if they are edible to be wasting food…but I just cannot see most Americans eating them. The feet I think happens in the south but the other parts, I don’t think so.

Please chime in if you have eaten any of these delicate bits of chickens. I’d love to know how, when and where. I am a good food taster (lambs brain was probably the weirdest one) so I would try these if offered. But, I’d have to be literally starving to fix them at home.

And I’d be curious to know about strange foods that people have tasted. I had camel milk squirted straight from the camel into my mouth, that one made for some funny photos! And octopus with ink sauce was a tough one for me to get down. But I am pretty flexible about giving things a try.

One of the only things that I have encountered that I just couldn’t do was the fresh cows blood and warm milk combo that the Masai people in Tanzania offered to us. I get queasy just thinking about it. They milked a cow into a dried gourd and then shot an arrow into an artery in the cows neck (cow doesn’t die, I’m still not sure how they figured this trick out) and let the blood stream into the gourd with the milk. They give it a shake and a swirl and drink it down. No one in our group was up for trying it.

The hearts are bite size 🙈

40 years young

I’m sitting here, a few hours away from turning 40, and I’m boggled that I could possibly have spent 40 years on earth already! For the most part it went in a blink. And while I’m not overly thrilled to have to say that I’m 40, I’m ever so fortunate to say that I am thrilled with the life that I have created for myself.

I have a challenging career that I truly enjoy and that pays well. I have friends all over the world (well, living on four different continents but hailing from five) whom I actually get to see fairly regularly. I travel for 4-5 months out of the year to fabulous locations that many can only dream of.

I live in a country that is going through an exciting time, changing and growing very quickly, and I get to make an impact in the lives of not only my clients in the kingdom, but also in the professionals who I am training in the science of ABA.

I’m struggling more to maintain my body where I want it to be, but I am healthy and strong and I still love to play and move. I have to watch what I eat a little bit more, but I still rarely turn down chocolate.

My family is healthy and, while I miss them, I see them about 3 times a year. Not enough but I value the time more because it is limited. My nephews bring me great joy and I can’t wait until they can get on a plane and come travel with Auntie Sage. I want to share the world with them.

Tiny Nals (the littlest dog) is my faithful companion on this around the sun tour. She is faithful and provides unconditional love.

To be able to honestly say that I am living the dream is a gift. I look forward to every day and I enjoy almost every minute. Few people can say the same. I don’t know where I will end up, and I have moved beyond trying to plan it out. I am living in the moment and trusting that the path will be clear. As long as I continue to work hard, and follow my dreams, I know that this will be true. I won’t settle, and I won’t compromise.

I’m looking forward to the next 60 years! I have so many things yet to enjoy!


Nothing terribly exciting here. Just some things I found appealing as I was out and about.

These are all in Balad. Parts of it are a Unesco world heritage site. It is in the old part of the city and fun to go poke around.

This photo is silly but the sign made me laugh. It is a translation error and should say “family section” not session. But I thought that either one was kind of funny posted directly over the rubbish bin.

There were benches here, which are what the sign was actually referring to. Family section means that single men can’t sit here. One of the less than useful cultural norms here that I can’t sort the purpose of.