Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
Budget or How do they travel for a YEAR?
Traveling in Asia long term is different than a week’s holiday in Hawaii or somewhere else close to home.
One important thing to consider on long-term travel is visa requirements and how long are you allowed to stay in different countries. Travel with a USA passport is generally easy; for our current trip we arranged a two-month visa for Indonesia before we left home.
But the thing that makes most traveling partners fight is usually money or different expectations about money and living standards while traveling. When George and I left for a year in 2008, we had very different ideas about what “great” travel was. George had been in Paraguay in the Peace Corps and dug his own latrine. During that same time, I traveled in five star luxury working for Princess Cruises.
When we arrived in Bali four years ago, George brought me to a “great” hotel and I burst into tears. I said, “This is the great hotel I have been waiting to see?” He had been there years prior with two male buddies and the three of them split the $10.00usd a night which magically included breakfast. I looked at the room with walls painted different colors, the threadbare window covering, the falling-apart single sheet on the bed, the lack of towels or toilet paper and the grimy bathroom and said, “This is where you’ve brought me?” We had many discussions during our trip about the difference between what we each thought made a great room and the importance of using the word cheap or good value instead of great as a modifier!
Over our years of traveling together, we have met people who kept track of their budget to the penny, hoping to save enough each day that their trip could be extended from a twelve-month trip to a fifteen-month excursion. We met a couple last summer in Tonga, who were mainly WWOOFING and couch surfing and managed to have a long trip starting with only $12,000. I have watched a group of three guys bargain a room down in Guiling, China from $15 to $12 and then go out and spend $10 each on beers. Everyone seems to have a different important luxury whether it is the room, the sites, the food, or the souvenirs.
This year like our last long trip, our budget is $100usd/per day for the two of us. So far we are doing great on our budget and staying in some really nice places. Bakung Sari in Kuta and Bali Lovina Beach Cottages in Lovina were both great and both on Asiarooms.com. We did find a lovely place in Lovina for 125,000Rp, which would be only 100,000Rp for multiple nights (about$10usd) with a fan and a beautiful garden and includes breakfast but I am not sure we are going to stay any more nights here.
Yesterday we ate at Bintang Bali, right on the beach, for lunch with free wifi and we enjoyed a large bottle of water, watermelon juice and two chicken satays for about $6 USD. For dinner we went to Triple 9 and enjoyed the live band and a great dinner with two juices (one pineapple, one watermelon) each 12,000Rp and a Cap Cay and a Fried Vegetables at 19,000Rp so, about $7 with tip. Including our trip to the store for some soda and a small bottle of rum, we spent about $65 for our room which includes breakfast and our day out in Lovina.
We had several long walks on the beach. We did not go on the Dolphin tour as we rarely participate in adventures that include that word “Sunrise.” At Angkor Wat, we did wake up to see the temples at dawn and the experience was worth it. But at Mt. Bromo, we went at 11am and saw no crowds and nor need for jackets. Last summer, we went on a whale-swimming adventure and swam with humpback whales as well as spinner dolphins—so no sunrise wake up for us in Lovina.
This sleepy beach town is enjoyable with great restaurants, live music and lots of room for relaxing. Do not worry about shopping, the vendors will find you. We are a great disappointment to the ladies on the beach as we do not shop while we travel unless we need to replace something, and we rarely buy items to bring home.
Will we stay another day in Lovina? Are we off to Tulamben? I know we will have breakfast at our hotel and then we will see what the day brings as we relax and let the journey unfold.
July 9, 2012 More at WeSaidGoTravel.com
Loving Lovina: Video
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July 24, 2012 | 4:18 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
While in the town of Kuta in Bali, we stayed for two nights at Bakung Sari Hotel, booked online at Asiarooms.com. On our last trip in 2008, we did not carry much electronics with us—only a digital camera, new Kindle (they came out in 2008) and an iTouch. We had no phone or computer. One couple we met in Thailand had, three phones, two cameras, a computer and a video camera. They called us brave for traveling without a phone. We said we remembered traveling before there were cell phones! We told them they could do it too.
Over the last four years during our travels, we have noticed fewer Internet cafes and more Wi-Fi zones. For many reasons, we decided that on this trip we would bring more toys: we now have a Macbook Air laptop, an iPhone 3Gs unlocked, an iTouch, a Lumix digital camera, a flip video camera, and a new Kindle 4. It seems like a lot of technology to drag about!
Using Asiarooms.com gives us more options because on the last trip we opened up the Lonely Planet, tried to follow the maps, and hoped the hostels we chose would still exist and have an available room. Sometimes events worked out and sometimes they did not. But now, with Asiarooms.com and other online booking sites, there are so many deals to discover.
Bakung Sari Hotel has a lovely setting in a temple site, with gardens and a pool. The rooms could use some care; our bathroom seemed to have termites and needed a bit of an upgrade. We did have air conditioning, a TV (albeit one with no real working channels) and a refrigerator. The breakfast was nowhere near as extensive as Bali Kuta Resort but was quite good and included in our room price of $28 a night (we did meet a couple who had gotten it for $23 on the same site!).
Using Google maps, we figured out how to walk the 1.4 kilometers from one hotel to the other. I think the locals were shocked that we never took a taxi. We did arrange transport today to Lovina from Kuta with Perama on their shuttle bus.
Private transport would have been 200,000Rp per person (about $20, exchange is generally 93000Rp for $100.00 USD) with a pick up at our hotel at 9am. Group bus transport was 125,000Rp per person and you needed to show up at the office at 9:45am. They claimed the ride took three or four hours depending on traffic, but we arrived at 3pm at the Lovina station. We were fed fried rice with egg and they showed interested guests to their rooms, which are located two kilometers from the town and the beach. Quite a few people chose to stay at the Perama rooms.
We continued by bus to town and walked 100m to our new hotel, Bali Lovina Beach Cottages which was 294,000Rp online or $31 but with all the taxes and fees turns out to be $38.00usd which does include breakfast, air conditioning, a balcony, refrigerator but no wifi. Wifi is 50,000 per day. At both our Kuta hotels, wifi was included and fast.
One last thing for today, we usually get all our local currency at the ATM as that gives the best rate so we do not have to carry much cash. On this trip we have changed some money with money changers. A few things to know: you get a better rate for larger bills (as in $100 bill will get the 9300 rate and a few $5 bills will get a lower rate perhaps 8500), if the exchange rate seems too good to be true, it probably is. I do not recommend changing money in alleys or sketchy places; remember to bring your common sense along with your suitcase.
All in all, it was a great day. I am happy to be out of the traffic of Kuta and enjoying the rice fields and beach town of Lovina. Hope you are enjoying sunsets and summer vacations. July 9, 2012
Bakung Sari Hotel: Video
July 17, 2012 | 9:42 pm
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
July 3, 2012 in Los Angeles at 6:31pm, July 4th, 2012 9:31am in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
Our Year Adventure Begins: Three Flights to Bali, Indonesia from Los Angeles, California
What a trip! Three flights from Los Angeles to Bali; with the help of modern chemistry we slept through most of the first 12 hour flight from LAX to PEK. I think I slept nearly 10 hours. I even fell asleep before we took off. Our flight was at 1:40am July 2nd. My cousins, Eric and Krystie, who just moved to Los Angeles on the day before we left, took us to dinner and from there to the airport. We passed Air China in Terminal 2 at Los Angeles Airport because we were so sure we would leave from Terminal 4 the Tom Bradley International Terminal—but we were wrong. Luckily together our two big packs aren’t so heavy—so schlepping back to the other terminal was not too painful. One of the TSA men commented on how most people pay extra so that each of their bags can be over the fifty-pound weight limit yet together we have less than one person might have. All in all, the Los Angeles airport is an embarrassment compared to other countries’ international hubs.
We marveled at how modern, big and spacious the Beijing airport felt. Not like LAX. We went through immigration and on the tram to pick up our next two boarding passes. Honestly it was a bit confusing but we survived and we got help from a few officials. The tram and all the other signs were in English and Chinese; we really did not think we had to go through immigration as we were in transit and had no visa. We found a Starbucks had a snack and wandered about until our next flight. We could not log in to the “free Wifi” but we did not have much to say yet to anyone back home anyway.
Our paperwork for the three flights said “no meals” on all three flights which seemed odd for international flights but in fact there was food on all of them. The Air China B777-300ER was surprisingly nice. I had thought that our two legs from Beijing to Singapore(6 hours) and Singapore to Bali (2 hours) would be the most enjoyable segments of the trip, but our twelve hours on Air China were the best. Biggest seats in economy, nicest amenities, and better movies. If I’d wanted to pay the big bucks for First Class, the sleeping pods for Air China looked phenomenal!
Other than the thirty-minute line to get a taxi coupon at the Bali airport, and the half an hour of bumper-to-bumper traffic to our hotel in Kuta (which reminded me of Los Angeles evening traffic although in Los Angeles no one creates an extra lane), the whole journey could not have been much better or easier. And that fact that our three flights were paid with United Frequent Flyer Miles made the start to our year’s journey in the East very pleasant.
We are excited to be back in Bali. More about the Swiss Bel Hotel: Bali Kuta Resort soon! Lisa
Video from our flight to Bali: Click here
July 6, 2012 | 3:30 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
Northern Ireland. It warms every hand that stretches, and it thaws the frozen seas within us. There is something eternal about the light of this land, a radiance that unshadows the future, like the pillars of a bridge supporting what we see into the delights of what we soon will. So praise this bridge that carries us over, because here is a peerless berth of beauty, bread and song, of castles, culture and cheer. It is a place of ambition big enough to build the ship of dreams, and to craft huge legends, tales and unsinkable stories. It has an eye for the natural, and a heart that doesn’t waiver to protect it. It is almost criminally rich in splendor, aptitude, customs and passion. It is an adventure big enough for giants, where water and time have done nothing but saturate the soil with inspiration. For it is a land of artists, from poets to painters, from designers to distillers. Art, it could be said, is the unceasing effort to compete with the innate beauty of this acreage—and never succeeding. Some would say this place is better than Irish whiskey—it intoxicates both the holder and the beholder, and it beckons back for more.
Check out this short video from Richard’s “mini-quest” to Northern Ireland during the Titanic celebrations.
More from Richard Bangs at http://www.richardbangs.com/
Credits: Music by Aidan O’Brien (http://www.youtube.com/user/musicaid1).
More stories from Lisa and George at http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/
June 29, 2012 | 5:52 pm
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
The only thing Belfast does in moderation is moderation.
Always, it has been Brobdingnagian in spirit. Always, it has lived large.
Once it was the largest linen producer in the world. And had the largest ropeworks. It was the largest manufacturer of fizzy drinks; largest shirt maker; had the largest flax machine works; largest tobacco factory; largest handkerchief factory. Jonathan Swift, when he was living at Lilliput Cottage near the bottom of the Limestone Road in Belfast, imagined the nearby Cavehill Mountain a sleeping giant. Big in Belfast is the roar. Annalisa Wray of Belfast holds “The Guinness Book of World Records” for the loudest shout on Earth, a deafening 119-decibel effort.
My friend Virginia Moriarty, born and bred in Belfast, has a theory, which she espouses while I pay a visit. She calls it the “Second Child Syndrome.” Throughout the 16th century, the Noble families of the British Empire (Barons, Viscounts, Earls, and Dukes) would grant their first son title and estate inheritance. Second sons were out of luck. But since 1603, when a victory over the Irish in Ulster allowed Britain complete control of Ireland, the Lords of Scotland and Wales and other parts of the Empire would often send their second sons to the remote, rocky, incommoding land to stake claims. And, these second sons, denied the attention or privilege of their older brothers, set out to prove themselves. Pop psychologists call it an ingrained inferiority complex that drives a compulsion to do things bigger and better, often, though, without self-examination. Sigmund Freud said the Irish were “the one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.” When I ask Virginia, who happens to be second in birth order, about this she says there are many manifestations of the Second Child Syndrome, and certainly over-compensation is one; equivocation is another. “I used to be indecisive; now I’m not sure,” she volunteers.
Whatever the reasons, Belfast remunerated with bigness. Beyond-the-pale amplitude. It was a town with few natural resources…everything from coal to timber to iron had to be imported. And yet for a time, a century ago, it was the world’s leading industrial city, anchored by the biggest shipyard in the world, and there it created the biggest man-made moving object in history….the ocean liner Titanic.
Writer Andrew Wilson in a 2012 article in “Smithsonian Magazine,” speculated that “Titanic” is the third-most widely recognized word in the world – trailing only “God” and “Coca-Cola.” Daniel Allen Butler said the same thing in his 1998 book, “Unsinkable.” My reaction: Really? Outflanking 9/11 or Michael Jackson or JFK (of Irish descent), Barry Obama (his great-great-great grandfather was Irish), Bono, Van Morrison or Guinness? What about Noah’s Ark? Regardless, I would hazard that most, until recently, would not have associated the city of Belfast with Titanic. Certainly Southampton where most of its passengers made way into the fatal ship; or Liverpool, where it was registered, and which was emblazoned high on its stern to be seen in a raft of recreations and films, including James Cameron’s little contribution. Or Cherbourg, where it made its second stop and some of the wealthiest and best known passengers boarded. Or even Queenstown (Cobh), in the south of Ireland, its final dock, where a large number of third class passengers emigrating to the United States fed into the bowels, sort of like the lower-deck passengers on an a380 today. And then there is Newfoundland. The doomed ship was in near constant communication with Cape Race on its Marconi wireless prior to hitting the iceberg as passengers passed along greetings to folks all over North America; and Cape Race coordinated the rescue efforts with other vessels after the incident, just 300 miles off the Newfoundland coast. So, at the end of the day, Belfast was not a big part of the popular story, its coordinates invisible to most narratives.
And after the disaster, Belfast went quiet. Titanic was a dream not remembered.
Beforehand, the city was unbelievably proud of what it had created in Titanic and its sister ship, Olympic. Some 15,000 shipbuilders won a living fashioning the “unsinkable” ship, something aloof to weather, with the strength to ignore such bagatelles as icebergs. It was not just the biggest, but the most luxurious liner ever willed to existence, incorporating the most advanced technologies of the time. Belfast beat the world. It was their place, their time.
It’s easy to imagine the inflated chests, the crow and brag that infused the city on April 2, 1912 when, at 8:00 pm, Titanic’s giant screws thrashed through the waves and the ship blinked its farewell as it vanished into nothingness.
But, with the unfathomable death of Titanic, swallowed by the sea as if a pill, accusations were leveled at all parties, including the shipbuilders and their materials, the design, the size of the rivets and general craftsmanship. The reply was, “there was nothing wrong with the ship when she left.” But, again with the pop psychology, the second sons, under the pressing weight of conscience, felt ashamed and Titanic was a subject not to be broached in Belfast for many, many years. Optimism and sense of purpose drained away like water from a punctured container. Greatness had passed.
Cut to the present. Now, it might be said, the city should be called Titanic Town. Just as James Joyce jibed, “It would be a good puzzle would be to cross Ireland without passing a pub,” it would be a puzzle today to cross Belfast and not pass the word Titanic.
Somewhere along the way somebody had the bright idea of turning lemons (there were 16,000 on Titanic) to lemonade, not only embracing the Belfast association with the tragedy, but turning the “built here” stamp into its main tourist magnet. It was an attitudinal sea change. Today the official slogan is “Our Place, Our Time,” and the city is awash in exhibitions, tours, cruises, concerts, collectables, drinks (Titanic Tea, Titanic Whiskey and Titanic Quarter Ale), snacks (Titanic potato crisps) and folderol, all branded Titanic. There is the Titanic Light Show, the Titanic Bike “N” Boat tour, the Titanic iPad app, the Titanic suite at the Europa Hotel, the Titanic Road Rally, Titanic Triathlon, Titanic Cemetery tour. Down the road, at the Grand Opera House, “Titanic, the Musical” is playing. Even the grocery stores feature iceberg lettuce.
The cornerstone of the jamboree is Titanic Quarter, formerly Queen’s Island, and the great display case is Titanic Belfast, an angular, silver-colored construction that some think suggests an iceberg rather than the bow of a mighty ship, as was intention. I mistakenly call the 150 million dollar, ineluctably grand edifice a “museum,” and am promptly chastised by one of the staff… “It is not a museum. It is an Experience.” That approach might be because there is little actually of Titanic to see in the building, or even around town. On the whole, Belfast is more about the spaces Titanic left behind.
One, of course, is the 880 foot-long Thompson Graving Dock, where Titanic was hauled to check and clean its hull and fit the propellers. Standing on the edge of this naked 44-foot deep footprint one at last gets a sense of how huge this ship was, or at least it allows imagining. And Colin Cobb, a self-professed Titanorak who runs Titanic Walking Tours, brings it home sharing that the dock could hold 21 million gallons of water, or, in terms better understood in Ireland, 168 million pints of Guinness.
But that’s just it…Belfast is more about the idea of Titanic than the tangible. It’s the absence that teases, inviting us to color in the book, to put ourselves in the story.
Part 1 of 5: More of the series will be presented here or click here for the series at Huffington Post.
June 8, 2012 | 11:46 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
What inspires you? Where will you go next?
Join us for a travel meet, mingle and get inspired happy hour!
Meet us at XBAR in Century City. Hyatt Regency Century Plaza
2025 Avenue of the Stars Los Angeles, CA 90067
PARKING: $8 with validation or 2 hrs free at Century City Mall
June 12, 2012
Have you seen Caine’s Arcade yet? We are having a raffle to raise money for the Caine’s Arcade Foundation!
An overnight stay at the gorgeous Hyatt Regency Century Plaza
TOURificEscapes Sites & Bites of Hollywood Tour for 2 ($200 value)
$100 in travel with Groundlink, the next generation car service
Enjoy an evening in the XBAR at the Century City Hyatt ($50 value)
(2) bottles of Napa Wine from the Napa Valley Wine Project
Signed TRAVEL LITERATURE
: The Voluntourist by Ken Bud, Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli, Richard Bangs, Red Goddess Rising by Halle Eavelyn, The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman,
Video 101: Tips & Tricks for Awesome Visual Storytelling by Lisa Lubin
Memberships: MemberTravel ($99 value)
TrekR Travel Washcloth
Giftbags from Jetset Extra
More about this event at http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/los-angeles
June 6, 2012 | 9:01 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
We asked Dina Bernat-Kunin to share about her recent trip to gorgeous Ojai, California for a powerful and fun Women’s retreat.
The road to Ojai is very familiar to me. I call it freedom road. I usually avoid being the driver because I just hate driving. Being the passenger allows me to relish the relief I feel while traveling. But on this trip, I offered to drive a close friend to the Ruach Nashim women’s retreat up at Camp Ramah in Ojai, California. My friend, Andrea, was in no condition to drive as she was experiencing the trauma of having to move out of her house almost immediately after her home was flooded. How ironic for her that the theme of this retreat was water. As I thought about water, images of the spray from the Banyas waterfall flooded my mind. As a Healer and an Ima, I am always working on cleansing and clearing, both physically and internally.
I couldn’t wait anymore for my freedom! My anticipation built as I exited off of the 101 freeway to the 33. It would not be long from here. The flood of memories began. My husband and I have a history of coming up here for our getaways. Sometimes we’ve made it a family trip, but more often Ojai is our couple’s refuge. I felt my heart beat with more excitement as we passed the Blue Iguana Inn. A big exhale pours out of me with a sigh. I was waiting for that exhale all day. “We’re free! We’re free!” I yell. Andrea’s understanding smile is happy for me, even though she was still recovering from a hectic week. I took another long breath, releasing the “Aaahhhh” of relief. For some reason, I was happy to be driving. Huh, new experiences were already happening.
I did not grow up at this camp, but my kids have. They live for summer at Ramah. When they ride this road, they have a different flood of memories. Their Ojai freedom came from being a child in a place that they’ve always felt safe, independent and joyous. Don’t we all want that!
Andrea and Shawn had been encouraging me to come for quite a while. This women’s retreat has been going for 7 years. Family, finances, and work always presented obstacles to going. But a voice inside of me insisted on coming this year.
As I sat in the introduction circle of 75 women of various ages, I noticed how busy my head had been. My brain was still working, still prioritizing other things that were not at Ojai, and still a little unsure of what was to come. I didn’t want to experience this weekend with all that garbage talk in my head. I wanted to be here, to truly be present with the women in front of me. With determination and some trepidation, I stepped into the circle.
As the workshop progressed, we met each other through song, dance and Moving Torah. This was Andrea’s amazing creation as she brought a unique life to each word, to every song as the Torah moved through our bodies. All together, we mimicked, sculpted, and flowed with the feelings and meanings of our words. Like the waving of hands which welcomes in Shabbat, a spirit of joyous womanhood entered the collective body of the group. I loved the feeling of being fully immersed in the spirit and energy of women. What a gift. As my mental resistance melted, I allowed the current of Shabbat to carry me into an ongoing rush of amazing davening, incredible learning, and the joy of hanging out with great people. I was just soaking up each moment!
Prior to coming on the retreat, I had asked Rabbi Shawn Fields-Meyer, the Retreat Coordinator, if there was any opportunity for me to offer a learning session at the retreat. “Yes!” she responded with great enthusiasm, “Shabbat afternoon, for Spa Ramah, people offer different kinds of relaxing and nurturing sessions”, Shawn shared. I was so excited. It was a chance to share the work I had been developing in my private practice as a Healer called Deep Body Listening and Body Dialogue. At lunch, I told the group about the newly offered session, gushing with enthusiasm.
Then, panic struck! So many women came up to me saying, “I’m coming to your session!” I had assumed that everybody was going to take a Shabbat nap! It turned out that the idea of being gently guided to connect deeply with our bodies was very appealing. I had mentally prepared for maybe eight people showing up.
Twenty eight women poured into the workshop space! It was the first time that I would be presenting my new work to a group, and 28 women show up. To calm my pounding heart, I gave myself a pep talk. “Be open to having a new experience, Dina”.
Something clicked as I stood before this group feeling confidence and joy. I brought them to feeling our hearts, asking them to feel their chest in a more intentional way. Textures, colors¸ temperatures, shapes, and emotions arose in the women. So rarely do we, as women, get to focus our full attention on our own bodies. So often, we are caring for others. But today, it was our turn to feel the warmth of our own hearts. Using specific breathing techniques, I guided the group to bring this warmth to the bottoms of their feet as we touched upon each body part. “Do this slowly and thoughtfully so that each place in your body feels received”, I kept repeating. “Now, ask your body where you need attention the most. Just listen and receive whatever message your body has to give you. As the participants learned to listen more deeply to their bodies, I directed them in bringing their heart energy to each neglected spot. “Feel the gift of bringing that warmth to your OWN body.” Women shared how nurtured their body felt and they expressed gratitude for being able to attend to their body in this new way. The feeling of exhilaration washed over me and I felt so energized leading this incredible session.
Shabbat came to a close, allowing us to participate in an evening of arts. There was something for everyone; writing, drama, Moving Torah, ceramics and silk painting. The rooms were just vibrating with an intense creative energy everywhere.
In return for the enormous gift of participating in this retreat I expressed my gratitude and enthusiasm by asking to be included in the planning and coordinating team for next year. To all those who will be at next year’s retreat, I can’t wait to see you next year on the road to Ojai!
Dina Bernat-Kunin, LCSW has a private practice in the Pico/Robertson section of LA. Her sessions offer Intuitive Exercises, Energy Healing, Talk Therapy, and Deep Body Listening and Body Dialogue. She can be reached through her website www.dinabernatkunin.com
More stories, photos and videos from us at WeSaidGoTravel!
May 25, 2012 | 2:47 pm
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
Bella’s tale drew me in from the first line, “I’ve never seen so many bikes before.” While looking at the illustrations, I was thrown back to my time in Hanoi, trying to cross the street myself. I enjoyed listening as the family discussed their adventures together, from bargaining for shoes and exploring different Hanoi streets, to wandering a park with the option of phở for lunch or having custom-made clothes tailored in Hoi An. The reader clearly understands that these cultural experiences do not occur often in the USA.
My first grade students were entranced when I shared the book’s highlights with them. We looked at maps together, first a world map to find our location and to see how far Vietnam is from Los Angeles, and then we examined a map of South East Asia to compare Vietnam’s location to the first Bella tale in Singapore. The extended anecdotal information near the end of the book – including the recipe for pho - provided more interesting details about Vietnam.
I spoke with Stacey Zolt Hara and learned about her family’s journey from Chicago to Singapore and how next Bella will travel to South Africa to learn about animal preservation! My students cannot wait to hear more from Bella and now they have placed Vietnam on the top of their travel wish lists! They have really enjoyed their personal interaction with the author. Stacey was kind enough to write back to each of my student’s questions!
The next edition of the book would be well-served by a map, which would be a useful addition to this story. But recently, “Bella’s Chinese New Year,” the App with the first book in the series was released! If you aren’t sure how to pronounce a word in the book, you can touch the screen and hear how to pronounce it! Enjoy Bella in her two books and in her new online game! I cannot wait for Stacey to be back Stateside later this year so we can Skype with her in class. I know she has spoken with hundreds of students at assemblies in Singapore; her inspired storytelling will be welcome here in America.
Stacey has certainly inspired my students and even her own children. Her daughter told her after looking at the moon near Cape Town, “I just can’t wait until we can go visit the moon. That will be a fantastic trip.” The belief that nowhere is out of reach, and that a person can go everywhere and make connections around the globe is the 21st century, is a dream that I would like to inspire in my students. I am honored to use Stacey Zolt Hara’s books in my classroom. Her character Bella really engages in the new culture, meets its people, tastes the food, and shares her stories. As Stacey says, “Bella’s trips are a window to travel experience for others and they can now dream about it.” I hope you and your children enjoy the stories and help to create a plan that will fill your passport with stamps and your life with experiences.