28.8.14

Top 10 (Underrated) Places to Visit in Egypt


Typically, I'm not a huge fan of 'best things to do in..." and "top places to visit in..." posts, because they tend to be redundant and rarely offer up new, insightful information. However, I've noticed a sharp lack of helpful posts on the best things to do in Egypt. Sure, everyone knows about the Pyramids and the Library of Alexandria, but there are so many hidden treasures in Egypt that few people ever encounter. And while I'm no authority on the subject, living in Egypt for a year exposed me to most of what the country has to offer. I visited most of these sites multiple times, and can provide detailed information that other reviews tend to leave out. My goal is to provide a fresh list of 10 amazing locations you should visit in Egypt, that you likely don't know about. 

Egypt is a perfect location to visit right now, too. While most people tend to be under the misconception that the country is very dangerous currently, the opposite is true (though keep in mind, opinions of 'safety' and 'comfort' vary). Egypt is between revolutions, they have had no recent riots or upheaval, and tourism is at an all-time low. That means that prices are dirt-cheap, there are no tourists to block your view, and you can get to nearly any site with ease. Still not convinced? Take a look at my top 10 sites, and see if your mind has been changed.

IN ORDER OF MY FAVORITES


1. The White Desert
The number one, without-a-doubt, most-amazing place I visited in Egypt was the White Desert. Never heard of it? You're not alone. Part of the intrigue of the White Desert is that it's relatively unheard of; in the hundreds of miles of sand and rock structures, you'll encounter perhaps 5 other people, at most. The White Desert is a vast expanse of desert with dozens of unique locations. I refer to it as 'the yellowstone of the desert', for while it doesn't host geothermal features, it has several incredibly unique locations in a relatively small geographical area. The desert boasts strange rock formations, fossils, oases, and most famously, a desert covered in smooth white sandstone and giant white mushroom rocks. To visit the White Desert, you must hire a tour from a local Bedouin group (there are several companies available), and they take you out camping for anywhere from 1-14 days. On our trip, we hiked up giant black rocks, collected fossils and strange stones, swam in a real oasis, watched the sunset on massive white rocks, ate traditional Egyptian food, and had an overwhelmingly unforgettable trip. The White Desert, is by far, my favorite place I've been in this whole world. Convinced yet?

You can see more photos from my trip to the White Desert, here. (scroll to center)


2. Karnak, Luxor

While Karnak is not unheard of to most people, it's so incredible to visit that I couldn't help putting it on this list. Karnak is about 11-hours by train or a 1-hour flight south of Cairo, in the river-city of Luxor. Luxor is home to many other temples, ruins, and tombs (Valley of the Kings, Temple of Luxor, and the Temple of Hatshepsut, to name a few), but Karnak tops them all. Karnak is a large temple complex, absolutely brimming with hieroglyphs, original paint (!), statues, obelisks, and any other traditional Egyptian carving and structure you can think of. The place is completely overwhelming; never, in any other location on earth, have I felt so surrounded in history as I did at Karnak. Plus, it's right inside the city - just a few minutes walk or a taxi ride away from your hotel! Luxor in general is the best tourist city in Egypt, but if you visit, put Karnak at the top of your list. 

You can see more photos from my trip to Karnak, here


3. Marsah Matruah


































These sparkling turquoise waters may look like something fresh off a Caribbean island, but they are actually at home off the coast of the Mediterranean in Egypt! Marsah Matruah (See also: Mersa Matrouh, Marsa Matrouh, Marsa Matruha - all thanks to the Arabic letter 'heh' which isn't translatable) is a small city about 3-hours west of Alexandria, near the border of Libya. Because of it's relative isolation and general lack of public knowledge, it is a [stunning] diamond in the rough. The waters are absolutely pristine, the beaches are empty, and the air is the perfect temperature. The above photo features Agiba beach, which is my personal favorite, but Cleopatra beach is another local favorite. In addition to simply lounging around in the sun, there is snorkeling, boating, and cliff-jumping available all within 30-minutes of the main city. The one caveat? To be respectful of the local culture, it is necessary that women are fully covered while swimming (as seen above). I wore leggings and a t-shirt, which was appropriate for the setting. 

You can see more photos from my trip to Marsah Matruah, here. (scroll to bottom)

4. Daashur and Saqqara



































While everyone knows about the pyramids in Egypt, they typically only think of those at Giza. The pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx are, in my opinion, the most over-rated attractions in Egypt (not as a result of their history, or magnificence, to be sure). They are right in the city-center, surrounded by buildings, and crowded with vendors who pester you to buy things. I ate pizza at a Pizza Hut less than 100-feet from the Sphinx; there is no vast sandy expanse behind it to take ride your camel off into the sunset on. What most people typically see images of, without realizing, is the Red Pyramid at Saqqara. The Red Pyramid is the second-largest pyramid (only 10-feet shorter than the Great Pyramid of Giza), but located about 1-hour outside of the main city of Cairo. Less than 5-minutes from Saqqara is the pyramid complex of Daashur, home to the Bent Pyramid (pictured above). There are several other smaller pyramids at both these sites, all of which are nearly devoid of tourists and vendors. The Bent Pyramid has a really awesome temple at the entrance as well, and the Red Pyramid has a newly-opened museum called the Serapeum which shows where sacrificial bulls were killed and buried to honor the gods. Pretty cool stuff. I can also pretty much guarantee that these sites will be empty as well. The people in the background of the photo above were the rest of the staff from my school, and in the three times I visited each site, I never saw more than 5 other people wandering around. And though I wasn't a big fan, you can go inside the Red Pyramid to the chamber in the center (read, climb down a 500-ft, 4-ft tall crawl space with no light in 110-degree heat) for free. 

You can see more photos from my trip(s) to Daashur and Saqqara, here

5. Abu Simbel




































Abu Simbel is an imposing temple complex in the southernmost part of Egypt, just a few kilometers from the border with Sudan. While I never personally made it to Abu Simbel (though I desperately wanted to), my roommate went to the complex for a few days, and it is highly regarded by my other Egyptian staff/friends as an incredible site to visit. If you can't tell from the image above, the statues and temple itself are absolutely massive, and their are plenty of original hieroglyphs to view. Due to it's relative isolation south of Lake Nasser (just 50-km north of the border of Sudan), most tourists don't make it down for a visit; the closest city is Aswan, so if you're staying there, you should definitely make the trip a few hours south to this site. Abu Simbel is actually two separate sites - the temple for Ramses II (above) and a second smaller temple dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Queen Nefertari. Both host original carvings and artwork, and are considered some of the most beautiful remaining temples in Egypt. 

6. Philae



































Yet another amazing site I missed out on, Philae is a temple complex on an island in Lake Nasser. Due to it's closeness to Abu Simbel in southern Egypt, they are a good pair to plan on seeing together. Philae can only be visited by boat, meaning that you achieve a lovely view on your way to the temple, as well as when you land. The temple showcases some incredible bas-relief carvings and hieroglyphs, alongside massive colonnades and huge halls. This is definitely a place you want to visit if you're a history buff or art fan, as there is no shortage of either in the complex. My roommate claims it as her favorite temple she visited in Egypt - which is saying a lot, because she saw them all! 

7. The Khan Il-Khalili, Cairo
So, I know I'm not alone as the only person who is obsessed with open air markets. Honestly, one of my favorite parts of any international trip is wandering around the market places, eyeing pretty trinkets and bits of cloth and taking in the perfume and spices. It's all very Arabian Nights, I know. Cairo is home to a giant outdoor market knowns as the Khan il-Khalili (pronounced ghon-eel-ghah-lee-lee, with 'gh' like you're clearing your throat) This market is an absolute maze of shops selling everything from tourist gifts to original artwork to rugs to tea, and I could never get enough. As with most markets, the further from the edges you get, the more interesting the wares become. I bought a set of emerald green blown glass dishes/bowls/cups/vases for about $40 USD, which is absolutely unheard of for the US. All of my favorite scarves and galibayas (traditional Egyptian dresses) come from the Khan, along with hand-painted ceramics and alabaster sculptures and vintage postcards and the like. Seriously, this is the place to go if you are interested in shopping and culture. Plus, you can always practice your bartering skills here (tip: read my article on how to be a pro-barterer!). 

You can see more photos from my trip(s) to the Khan Il-Khalili, here. (scroll to center)

8. Sharm El Sheikh
Img source
Yet another tropical destination you'd never expect to find off the coast of Egypt, Sharm El Sheikh is a scuba diving and snorkeling paradise. This coastal city is located on the Sinai Peninsula, bordering Saudi Arabia. As a result, you can only get there via plane (safely), and have to truly go out of your way to reach it. Sharm El Sheikh is cited as one of famed Jacque Cousteau's favorite dive sites, and for good reason. It is home to some incredible coral reefs and shipwrecks, perfect for anyone wanting to hang out underwater for a while. And, unlike Marsah Matruah, Sharm El Sheikh is a resort city that is home to tourists primarily, so you can wear whatever bathing suit you'd like (not a full-body outfit). Unfortunately, because of its high tourist levels, prices here are much higher than anywhere else in the country, and you'll have to use a company or resort to do almost any excursion you're interested in. It's definitely still worth it though, and bonus - you can part the red seas if you want (or at least try). 

9. Siwa
Img Source
Siwa is an oasis village just north of the White Desert, near the border of Libya. While it may look like an ancient village, those are the homes of current citizens of the town; in fact, many villages in Egypt are comprised of similar mud-and-brick dwellings. Siwa is cool because (A), it's a real-life oasis in the desert, (B) you can go swimming in nearby springs, (C) there are loads of desert excursions you can take, and (D) there are ancient tombs to visit in that 'mountain' behind the village. Siwa is definitely a location for those who are interested in cultural experiences and desert adventures, as it's a difficult place to get to, and there aren't any particular 'sites' to view. However, it is one of the only villages in the desert, giving you a good base camp for adventures in the White Desert - my favorite place ever. The best things to do in Siwa are go for a swim in Cleopatra's bath, a crystal-clear pool, or Bir Wahed, a large hot spring. 

10. Seven Churches, Cairo
Img source
If you're in the capitol city of Cairo, you should definitely make a trip out to Seven Churches. Seven Churches is actually a section of the city known for it's religious diversity; here you'll find mosques, churches, synagogues, and even a nunnery. It also happens to be one of the cleanest, quietest sections of the city, making it a good reprieve from the general noise and hubbub you'll experience everywhere else. Along with some of the traditional architecture, Seven Churches also features a beautiful church carved into a cave, and some truly lovely artwork and sculptures. If you're interested in art and architecture, you shouldn't leave Cairo without visiting Seven Churches. 

HONORARY MENTION: Alexandria
I felt obligated to include Alexandria on this list, for although it is highly known, it is my favorite city in all of Egypt. I've taken several trips to this city on the sea, and every time I do I fall more and more in love. The city is simply massive; it is the largest on the Mediterranean, which is no surprise given its extensive history. There are loads of things to do, including visiting the famed library or the citadel (where this photo was taken from). In the summer, you can stay at a resort on the beach and enjoy the warm water and sun-drenched sand, or take a scuba diving trip out to where the Lighthouse (one of the ancient wonders of the world) once stood. Also: there is a huge number of Roman tombs and sites in the city, including a Roman Amphitheater and catacombs. I can't praise Alexandria enough; it's my love city, and might be one of my favorites in the whole world. 

You can read about my trip to Alexandria, here


And, because I'm a big fan of maps, here's a helpful one of the locations of each of the sites I've mentioned. Feel free to print this out and take it with you on your next trip to Egypt - I hope you find it helpful!

So what do you think? Do you agree with my choice of these as the best sites to visit in Egypt? What would you include on this list?

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27.8.14

Boating on the Puget Sound

The first 20-years of my life were spent in my home town of Olympia, Washington. While Olympia isn't a huge city - population 50,000 - it is the capitol of Washington State, and boasts some gorgeous views. It is nestled in at the bottom-most tip of Puget Sound, the strip of water that dips down from the Straight of Juan De Fuca in the north. As a result, you can boat from Olympia up to Seattle, or further to the San Juan Islands or Canada (or Alaska, if you were very ambitious). 
As a child, my parents had a little cuddy boat that we would take out on the Sound and go camping in. As we grew older though, the boat began to break down, and we found ourself with less time and interest in taking it out for an evening of adventuring. 
However, the last few years my dad has spent rebuilding the boat, replacing all the old/broken/worn parts, and investing the time it needed to be brought back to nearly original condition. We've been talking about taking it out of it's little home in our garage for months, and finally last night we decided to go through with it.
My best friend, dad, uncle, and myself went out on the boat for several hours in the Sound, and all my childhood memories of doing the same were brought back. With only a few days left before leaving for London, it was a good way to spend a night and to soak in the last rays of summer.
Sometimes, being an avid traveler and looking for the next international adventure, I forget how beautiful my own home-town and surrounding area is. I am positive that Washington State is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and it's nice to be reminded of that while I'm still here. 
























Part of me is thrilled to see the sun setting earlier, the leaves changing color, and the water getting colder, but I'm going to miss nights like this.

Have you been on the Puget Sound before? What's your take on Washington?
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26.8.14

My Writing Style (A Blogging Chain)


So, a few weeks ago I was invited by the lovely Caity of Where the Heart Is to participate in a writing process chain! You can read her answers here. It works like this: be tagged by a fellow blogger, answer the writing-related questions, and tag a few more bloggers! Similar to the Liebster Award, the goal of this project is to introduce up-and-coming bloggers into the blogosphere and to highlight their work as writers. So here we go!

1. How does my writing process work?
Good question. I suppose it depends on the subject matter, but in terms of my blog, it goes something like this:

  1. Blog post idea hits me, typically at an inopportune time, while I'm busy and unable to write.
  2. Quickly jot down said idea, scribble doodles around it, and underline for emphasis. (I keep a little blog notebook in my purse at all times for just this type of event) 
  3. Brainstorm ideas for images/accompanying graphics, since those are as important to me as the writing itself. 
  4. Get home, brew coffee, pour said coffee into my favorite mug, put on background music, and stare at my laptop. 
  5.  Start writing an initial draft of the post. Re-read it, and delete half. Re-write. Walk away. 
  6. Come back to post a week later, re-read everything I wrote previously, delete bad parts (most of it), and re-write the article.
  7. Shrug shoulders, take a swig of coffee, and send the post out into the world with a click of the 'publish' button. 

While tongue-in-cheek, this does tend to be my writing process most days. Besides 'life lately' and current event posts, most of my articles typically sit around as drafts for 1-3 weeks before I publish them. I find that I need to step away from my writing for several days before returning for editing. I also like to inject a little humor (or try to... haha) into my writing as well, and this is rarely possible for me on the first go-round.

2. What am I working on currently?
If you were to look into my aforementioned little blog notebook, you'd see lots of unintelligible chicken scratch like "foreign bathrooms..." and "misadventures are good" and "airplane food?' and then think I was a horrible writer. While that may be the case, I try to aim for 3 general categories of posts per week: one 'travel tips' post featuring helpful information and advice on traveling, one travel story post featuring my own or someone else's travel adventures, and one life update on what I'm doing/where I'm at. While the content of these categories varies dramatically, I do aim to do one of each, weekly. Right now, I've got some cool posts about the Middle East half-written, as well as a few I'm saving up for my adventures through Reykjavik and London. Stay tuned!

3. Why do you write what you do?

Why does any writer write what they do? I honestly enjoy the process of writing (which is good, because I work as a freelance writer, haha), I love traveling, and I love helping/informing people. If I can combine all three right here on Due East, I feel I've been successful. 

4. How does your writing differ from others?
Well, I'm hardly objective, but I'd like to think that I use a little more humor and have a little more personal touch than your run-of-the-mill travel article does. I like to incorporate personal stories into my writing, so that even when I'm just dispensing advice or information, it seems unique to Due East. I also like to talk about the misadventures involved in travel, rather than just focusing on the 'best places to visit in...' and 'I had the perfect vacation at...', since misadventures are very real and often the most exciting part of any trip. 



Thoughts? Questions? How does your writing style work? 

For my part, I'd like to nominate Charlotte Steggz and Jacqueline Kehoe for the challenge! 

Charlotte is a comedian, Japanese translator, and all around awesome lady living outside my future home of London! Charlotte writes about her adventures around the UK at her self-title blog here

Jacqueline is my former coworker through a writing/editing company, and one of the funniest people I know. She lived in Vietnam for a few years, and now writes about her attempted adventures in her current home of California. Read her blog, The Strange and New, here. 


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25.8.14

Life Lately

Here's my life, currently:
-I am scheduled to fly out for school in London in ONE week.
-My visa, passport, and other significant documents are currently 3,000 miles away at the British Consulate, hopefully being processed to be sent back to me right this very second.
-There is a major volcano in Iceland set to erupt this week. I'm supposed to be staying there for 3-days, in a week's time.
-My final check for work - my travel spending money - has yet to arrive after 30-days of waiting.

My chocolate consumption has sky-rocketed this week, but I've yet to identify a firm cause for this.

In order to deal with my stress and wrangle it into submission, I've been coming up with potential solutions for the aforementioned problems. They are as follows:
(A) The volcano blows late this week, friday or saturday. This way if my passport/visa/check doesn't arrive in time, I don't have to pay for changing my flight, and I get an extra few days to wait for their arrival.
(B) I call the consulate, sob to them about my lack of passport/visa and my flight next week, beg them to send them to me ASAP even though I didn't pay the $200 "priority fee" for processing. Bake them cookies as thanks for the exchange.
(C) Call Icelandair, tell them I'm terrified of flying with a volcanic eruption eminent, ask for a full refund of my flight, and wait to purchase flight until visa/passport/check are in hand.
(D) Attempt to board plane without passport, claim someone stole it in the airport, demand immediate retribution for the crime.
(E) Give up all hope, curl up in bed, and watch Criminal Minds for the next two weeks, telling myself that at least I didn't get murdered by a sexual sadist. I just didn't get to go to grad school or move internationally. Consume as much comfort food as my stomach can handle. Wear only sweatpants and stained tshirts.
(F) Become Walter Mitty.
(G) Become a recluse.

So you see, I really have plenty of options, and no need to fret.

On a serious note, I wrote an article for the lovely Caity of Where the Heart Is on "How to Plan Extended Layovers". You should totally go check it out!

Also: I officially own a domain! Due East is now at dueeastblog.com; if you have my site bookmarked, be sure to update it with its new address!

Do you have any tips/solutions for my current travel problems? Chime in - I need all the help I can get!

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22.8.14

Bartering 101


While bartering for prices isn't commonly practiced in The States and most parts of Europe, it's the primary means of shopping in most other parts of the world. Particularly in areas of Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, bartering is the norm. It's not just a way to get a lower price, it's a social custom that many people find enjoyment in.
Prior to living in Egypt, I'd never experienced bartering, and was slightly terrified of the practice.

You mean I have to ask for a lower price? What if they need that money? What if I offend them? What if they get mad at me?
All reasonable questions, though I wasn't taking into consideration the cultural history of bartering. The process of discussing prices has been around since there have been things to sell and trade. Though to an outsider of the practice, it sounds difficult, frightening, and unnecessary. 

I quickly learned to love bartering, after having a brief course in the practice with my pro-bartering boyfriend, Phil. Here's why bartering is awesome:
1. You can get a better deal (without ripping the seller off)
2. You can practice your language skills, if desired.
3. It's an entertaining way to make friends with locals.
4. You engage with the culture more.


Now, bartering is one of my favorite aspects of shopping in foreign markets. But it's useful for more than that; bartering comes in handy for trying to get a taxi and even when you're looking to go grocery shopping/out to eat.

Never done it? Here's what you need to know to be a pro-barterer

1. Know the value of what you're shopping for. Before you can start bartering on a price, you need to know how much it is worth! If you have no clue what the running price is for an item, it will be difficult to determine if the offer you've been given is fair or not. Ask locals prior to arriving at the market what average prices for different items are, or look them up online. For example, I found out that pashmina scarves go for 20-50 EGP, so I knew I needed to be in that price range before settling on a total cost.  Always ask about prices before getting to the market, otherwise the 'average' you're given is likely to be inflated.

2. Always ask for 25% of your first offer. A typical bartering session works like this: you're offered a high price, you return with a very low price, and you continue bartering till you meet somewhere in the middle, ideally in the average price range. For the most part, it's good for your starting counteroffer to be 25% of the original price. Now, this isn't always the case; for example, when I was in Egypt, I'd typically buy pashmina scarves as gifts. As previously mentioned, a quality scarf should run for 20-50EGP. However, the starting price I would be given would be close to 300 or 400EGP. Offering only 25% of that as my starting price puts the scarves at 75EGP, which is much higher than what they're worth. On the flip side, you may be given a fair offer right off the bat, and your counteroffer may not differ significantly from the original price. Use your judgment, but keep the 25% counteroffer as your basis. 


3. Don't set your heart on something. The sellers in foreign markets have been bartering their whole lives, and they'll know when they've caught a buyer. This happens when you've already set your heart on a particular item; you've fallen in love with it, and you can't leave without it. The seller will know this, and as a result, keep their prices very high. They know you'll be willing to pay above what it's worth, since you want that item so badly. In general, try not to fall in love with any items, and if you do, try not to show it.

4. Don't buy the first item you see. If you've ever been to a big tourist market, you'll know that most of the vendors sell the same (or very similar) products. Even if you find something truly one-of-a-kind, you should hold off on buying it right away. Why? Because chances are, you'll find the same thing at a better price, or something you love even more than the first item you chose, later on. Plus, by doing this you can pit sellers against each other in a little friendly competition. "Well, the seller a few blocks down offered me half that price..."


5. Wander the whole market, first. Just like how stores can buy prime locations in a shopping mall, vendors in markets know that placement near the entrance will get them more, faster buyers. At the beginning of the shopping trip, you'll have the most money, be the most excited, and least-likely to barter. This all equals to paying more money than you need to. Wait till you you've explored the whole area, or at least glanced through several booths, before committing to a purchase. You'll likely notice that you can get better deals further away from the entrance and in difficult-to-find areas. 

6. Don't be afraid to walk away. This is the absolute best bartering tip I have. If you're trying to barter a price down and the seller won't budge, just walk away. Why should you do this? Because it's likely that the seller is more interested in selling you their product, than in missing out on a sale altogether. If you walk away, they are potentially losing a sale, and they don't want to do that. 75% of the time, the seller will chase you down the street to offer a lower price. Even if you truly love the item and you can't live without it, it's better to walk away (even if it's fake). If they don't chase you, you can go back later and purchase it at the original price, assuming you didn't find something better/cheaper in a different shop. Only once have I had a seller not follow me after walking away from an item I truly wanted, and I had to go back at the end of the trip and buy it at his price. The ultimate walk of shame - ha!

7. Barter in the local language. I know this might sound terrifying, but hear me out. If you are attempting to acculturate yourself and show that you respect the local customs by trying to speak their language, you'll likely receive more respect from the vendors, and get better deals. Just learn a few words, such as 'yes', 'no', 'thank you', 'how much', and counting/numbers. You'll impress the vendor and they'll lower the price. There have been several occasions in which I've asked for the price of an item in English, but when I refuse in the local language, they drop the price much lower than they typically would. If nothing else, it's fun to try out your language skills in real-time with a local speaker. 

8. Have fun with it! Bartering is supposed to be enjoyable. If you're annoyed, rude, or otherwise not interested in the process, you're not going to get a good deal and you won't be having a good time. Understand that bartering, like any skill, is a learning process. You're going to get ripped off occasionally (it's only happened to me like 739 times), and you're going to miss out on awesome purchases. Take it all in stride. Also, no vendor is going to give a deal to someone who is treating them poorly. Just remember that you're shopping from a person, and you're only buying things. Enjoy yourself!

BONUS:
Here's a photo of myself with a vendor at the Khan-il Khalili in Cairo, who was impressed with my bartering (I wanted that scarf! It's my favorite to this day) and wanted a photo to document the experience. I mean, he never got the photo..haha, but he was fun to barter with! 


What are your best tips for bartering in foreign markets?


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20.8.14

Friends and Fashion and Photoshoots

Before I ever started Due East, I had hoped on writing a fashion blog. Which, given the stark lack of style-inspired posts on here, may come as a surprise. You see, style is a big passion of mine, but I've never focused on it here because I have more fun writing travel articles. I have a massive jewelry collection, basically live on Modcloth updates, and love doing a bit of thrifting in my free time.
The problem is that my travel style is completely different than my 'regular' style, as I tend to dress for comfort and ease of (back)packing. 


Regardless, yesterday I met with a good friend of mine, and she re-inspired me to do a bit of fashion blogging on the side. While it might not be a regular feature, I hope to show you all a bit more of my style and what inspires me.
As a result of her enthusiastic push, we did an on-the-fly photoshoot after our get together. While this is a relatively basic outfit, I think it gives you a taste of my style, and if nothing else, was fun to photograph!





shirt: Modcloth/ skirt: thrifted/ purse: thrifted/ jewelry: vintage

PS: my lovely friend Cait here is an absolute inspiration. She is potentially moving to London as well, so we will get to continue these get-togethers overseas! I am currently designing a blog for her, so keep your eye out and be sure to check her out once it goes live. Inspiring friends are the absolute best, don't you think?

Have you ever had dreams of a different topic for your blog? What's your go-to style?


PS - This is Due East's 100th post! What took me so long, huh? ;) 
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18.8.14

The Best Hairstyles for Traveling


Traveling and beauty don't always go hand in hand. In fact, they rarely do in my case, as I tend to choose sleep and adventures over my daily routine (I have a feeling many of you are the same). That being said, I still want to look good while traveling, even though this may not seem the easiest due to a lack of shower facilities, heat, and the general dirt involved in moving around often.
The solution? These three magical hairstyles. 


I've curated for you the best of the travel hair styles available. My criteria for a 'travel hair style' is that:
-It must take less than 5-minutes to accomplish
-It cannot require the use of hot tools or hair product
-It needs to be sweat-resistant and overall heat resistant
-It needs to be able to last through a long day of moving around


Now, before we move any further, I would like to make a disclaimer. One of my biggest pet peeves is reading hair tutorials and being prepared to style your hair the same way, only to realize after 5 failed attempts that your hair does not have the same nature as that of the model's, and will never cooperate with you. So, as fair warning, I would like to give you a brief overview of my hair so that you can determine if these styles can be accomplished with your lovely locks.

Here is my natural hair, post-shower, with no product or styling involved. I simply let it air dry and finger brushed it to break up strands. 

My hair is:
-Very long (to about my waist, though not pictured)
-Thick and course

-Heavily layered (shortest layer at chin-length)
-Slightly wavy and tends towards curls

If your hair does not share similar characteristics, you might not get a similar outcome using these styling methods.

To be honest, most days I just wear my hair like this. It's easy, looks decent, and I can pull it back if necessary.
 


With that being said, onto the real hair styles!

1. The Braided Crown

This is my favorite go-to hairstyle. It looks complicated, fancy, and time-consuming, when in reality it is incredibly easy and takes [me] under 5 minutes to do it. Plus, you don't need hairspray or product to make it hold. The process for the braided crown is as follows:
1. Begin a regular braid starting to one side of your part.
2. Incorporate in new strands as you work, bringing them under the braid instead of over. Braiding under is known as 'Dutch braiding', and it creates the effect of the braid sitting on top of your head, rather than being underneath your hair.
3. Bring the braid around the back of your head. This part is somewhat difficult, as you'll have to let go with one hand and braid from a new position. Continue adding in strands in the dutch fashion
4. Bring the braid up over the top of your ear as you add in new strands, puling it taut so that it remains close to your scalp.
5. When you've brought the braid around the front of your head and run out of new strands to incorporate, finish the braid in the traditional fashion. You'll be left with a loose tail end that's not attached to your head. Tie this off with a small clear elastic.
6. Tuck the end of the braid into the crown you've fashioned,  and use bobby pins to hold it in place. Pull out a few messy strands near your hair line, if desired. Ta da!



2. The Side Twist

This hairstyle is so simple I almost feel like I'm cheating you by including it. However, I wear this frequently for traveling because it allows me to have my hair down, without the front sections constantly blowing into my face [and getting stuck in my lip gloss]. Also, this takes less than 1-minute flat. So here's how you do it:
1. Take the front section of hair closest to your face; this could be your bangs. 
2. Twist the section of hair backwards and away from your face, gathering new strands of hair as you twist. 
3. Pin the section of hair near the back of your head, and repeat on the other side.  Voila!

 3. The Tie-up Bun

Ask anyone I know; my everyday hairstyle is a variation of the sock bun. Buns are the best lazy-girl hair style, because they'll always look chic (even when messy) and look good even with dirty hair. This variation of the bun is big, slightly messy,  and uses a headband or headscarf to tame fly-aways and add a pop of color. Here's how you do it:
1. Add a small bouffant to the front section of your hair by puling it up and twisting it (no teasing required). Pin it in place with a few criss-cross bobby-pins. 

2. Pull the rest of your hair up into a pony-tail on the top of your head. This style looks better when situated higher on the top of your head, than low in the back. 
3. As you're pulling your hair through the elastic the final time, only pull half-way so that you create a big loop in your hair. You should have tail ends from the loop sticking out on one side. 
4. Take some bobby-pins, and begin randomly pinning large strands of hair from the loop to your scalp, aiming to work around the ponytail and cover it up. 
5. Finish pinning your hair around your head. The completed look will be big and messy, but will hold firm. 
6. Top off your look with a headband of choice. Pictured is the Through the Wire headband from Modcloth - a personal favorite of mine!


I've included a few other headbands styled with this hair, so you can see how versatile it is. Pictured is a wired headband, a vintage scarf, and an elastic headband. 


BONUS: The 8-day Hair Cycle
So, as a result of my hairs' length, course-ness, and overall tendency towards frizz, I only wash it once every 7-9 days.
What?! Taylor, that's disgusting..
No guys, I promise. Washing your hair this infrequently is the best thing ever. I'm lazy, and I enjoy taking full advantage of putting off time-consuming tasks, such as washing my hair. But the best part is that you can't even tell! It's not till about day 7 that my  hair even looks greasy. Win. Above is a series of chronological photos from my 8-day trip to Italy last year. I straightened my hair before the trip, and didn't wash it till I got back. Here, you can see how the style evolves. I highly recommend doing this, if you're able. 


Day 1: This day is the worst. Hair is very dry, frizzy, and prone to static. Straight and clean, though.
Day 2: Hair is slightly less frizzy, slightly less straight, but still good to go. 

Day 3: Today is the best day for hair. Any girl with dry, long hair can tell you; day 3-hair is what you want. If I ever go on dates or have a big event, I make sure to wash my hair 3-days prior... it works. 
Day 4: Today is the last day I'll be able to wear my hair straight. It is starting to get a bit oily and piece-y, and I walked through a rainstorm, so it will soon return to its natural state of wavy strands. 
Day 5: French (dutch) braid for the win! This was before I had layers, so I could braid my hair like this without 4-million strands sticking out.
Day 6: Braided crown for my tour through Rome. Always makes you look more sophisticated than your 6-day old hair really is.
Day 7: Alright.. officially greasy. Also my hair is wet here, so it wasn't actually as soaked-in-oil as it looks. Sock bun for life.
Day 8: End of the trip. Airplane mode. Finish up with another bun before washing my hair at home later in the day.

What are your favorite travel hair styles? Have you tried any of these before?



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