Just like Sanur Beach in Bali is currently my favorite beach in Southeast Asia, Apel Villas is one of the best places I have stayed. Ever. I wanted to move there.

The Villas

You can book a double room, a two-bedroom villa, or a four-bedroom villa. I booked through Agoda and the two-bedoom villa ended up being $120/night with tax included. The price for the double room was about half that.

In the two-bedroom villa, we had a gigantic master suite with bedroom and bathroom, a second bedroom, a full kitchen, and a spacious dining/living area with extremely comfortable couches. Everything was clean and in working order.

Read More

Sanur is, so far, my favorite beach in Southeast Asia for kids. Every other beach I’ve gone to, the water has been too deep or too rough for the kids to enjoy. That means the entire time was spent attempting to keep my son OUT of the water – not an easy task with an adventurous and determined toddler or pre-schooler.

Why I Loved Sanur

During the week, the beach was really quiet. We showed up around 9am, and plenty of loungers and sun shades were still available. Everyone at the beach was able to get a lot of personal space, which is key when your kids are experimenting with seeing the sand blowing in the wind.

The water was so calm and shallow that my 3-year-old could play in it by himself for hours. We did have him wear his floatie just in case he started wandering out, but even then he would have had to walk out very far to be in water over his head.

Read More

If you’re planning on coming to Pakistan, here’s a list of books that will give you some insight into the culture and politics of the region.

1) The Dancing Girls of Lahore by Louise Brown

An excellent first-hand account of life in Lahore’s red light district. British author and professor Louise Brown tells the story of Maha, the dancing girl, and her family. Since dancing girls are scorned by the rest of society, the red-light quarter has a culture all its own.

2) Blasphemy by Temina Durrani

This novel, based on a true story, uncovers religious hypocrisy without holding anything back. Only recommended for mature readers.

Read More

In order to truly experience Pakistan, you should shop in a traditional open-air bazaar. Be prepared for a sensory overload and some tough bargaining. I lived in Pakistan for over three years, and I have spent countless hours haggling in bazaars. Here are my top 10 choices for souvenirs from all over the country.

1) Shawls

Pakistani women wear gorgeous colorful shawls during cooler weather. You can buy soft solid colored shawls to match a favorite coat, or you can buy bold patterned shawls with sequins and exquisite embroidery. Shawls come in two sizes, small and large. The large ones are called stoles, and honestly they would probably be too big to actually wear in the West. Alternatively stoles make great wall hangings, curtains, tablecloths and bed coverings. A typical shawl will set you back about 300 rupees ($3.75), is easy to pack and will be a sure hit with any ladies back home.
Read More

This coming weekend, we’ll be flying from Vietnam to Bali, Indonesia with the kids. Our school has a week-long October break, and since this is our only break during the school year where it’s not the rainy season in Bali, I decided to finally use up my Singapore Airlines miles and get one of the adult tickets for free.

Getting There

This will be our most ambitious trip so far within Southeast Asia. Usually I choose destinations that only take one flight to get to, but for Bali, it takes two flights. Since we are traveling on Singapore Airlines, we’ll fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Changi International Airport in Singapore, a 2-hour flight, and then from Singapore to Denpasar, Bali which is a 2.5-hour flight. You could also fly via Jakarta, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur.

Read More