Tuesday, September 6, 2016

5 Tips To Help You Plan Your Next Trip

I know, I know - I been slipping all summer. I have tons of topics I want to blog about but finding the time these days is impossible. Before I finish my last Dubai post, I wanted to drop a quick post as I have gotten so many travel questions all summer that it's best I have a go to post to refer others to. Please believe I love to share information but what I don't enjoy is being everyone's search engine. Folks get paid for this ish. I aint getting paid. I don't think people realize when they ask for help, that I am taking time to google things that they can google on their own. I have no desire to be a travel consultant. So with that said... here's 5 Quick Tips to Help You Plan Your Next Trip.

1. Set a budget. Know how much you want to spend. Once you know how much you want to spend, you can make better choices about lodging, the types of lodging, location of lodging, etc. It helps to google costs of things in that specific city. If things (food, excursions, transportation) are super cheap then that allows you more cushion to do more. Google prices of taxis, rental cars, activities, etc. These are all things that can literally be found on the internet free of charge. There are threads where people talk about these things all day long. I made the mistake of not looking into transportation before going to Barbados and cabs literally butt-fucked us. I assumed so much based on how cheap things are in Trinidad and Jamaica. Lesson learned because that mess won't happen again.

2. Research activities. I can't tell you how many people think because i've been somewhere one time, I can give them the inside scoop on a location and tell them every single thing to do, where to go, where to eat, etc. Nah son. All I can tell you is what I did. But there's so much more to see beyond what I did. I want you to see those things. So research. Type in things like 'Top 10 Things To Do In [insert city here]" or "Must Try Foods in [insert city here]." All of this information is readily available. If you have a specific activity you're interested in doing, look up that activity. See what people said about it. Look into places that offer that activity and compare the prices. I remember how blown away I was when I looked into Skydive Dubai a little too close to my trip. For one, you had to book like light years in advance. Then you had to be under a certain BMI. Like, whet? LOL & it costs like your first born. It's all good though. It's still on my bucketlist!

Looking for places to eat? Go on yelp.com or download the app. Type in the location and sort by ratings. Voila. Yelp don't lie. People even recommend specific dishes. Looking for a hotel, go to tripadvisor.com. Look at the what the people are saying about hotels in that city and what was around their hotel. You'll also be able to view traveler pictures of the hotel, not just the fancy ones posted by the hotel. Look at the ratings and the prices for the hotel and determine where you want to be from there. Need more information? Call the hotel. Those folks have no problem sharing info with you if it will get you to book with them. The information is there and ready for you to read it.

3. Set a tentative itinerary. After researching activities, places, hotels, foods, etc., you should have a good idea of what you want to do on each day of your trip. Set a flexible itinerary that will help you try to cover all the things you want to do. This is to ensure you get the most out of your trip. For example, certain tours I wanted to do and certain museums I wanted to visit in Bogota were only ran/open on certain days during specific times. Creating an itinerary allowed me to make sure I covered everything I wanted to do while there. Have a list for must dos and a list for would like to dos. Therefore if you have time left over after your must dos, you can fit in some would like to dos. Make the most of your time so you can get the most out of that city. Day 1 - 9am - Noon: Visit Mount Kick In Ya Doors and browse local market. Noon to 2pm: Eat at Chez La Poyesha's and take some photos by the fountain. 2-4pm: Take Garden Tour in the City only offered once a week. Boom!

4. Talk to people who have visited. Nothing wrong with asking someone for their feedback as long as you've done your own personal research. Hey Sharkeisha, what was your favorite place to visit when you went to [insert city here]? Yeah? Do you have pics? How much was it? How far was it from downtown? Post on social media. Mofos love giving advice on social media. Simple. If you're staying in an airbnb (my personal favorite), ask your hosts for their top recommendations about the city.

5. Be flexible. Traveling is only expensive when you have very rigid plans that you have no desire to change. If you have the ability, instead of trying to travel on specific dates and to specific locations, go where and when the flight deal brings you. Flight deals are God's gift to travelers. The tricky things about flight deals though is you often have to travel during times when the flight deal is valid. If you just want to go somewhere, be willing to go to a location where there's a deal. Some recommended sites are theflightdeal.com and airfarewatchdog.com. Browse deals from your departing city and see what you find. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Welp, that's all I have for today. I hope this helps somebody! If you have a specific question I didn't answer, feel free to post a comment. More than likely someone else has the same question. Smooches! xoxo

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Poi Does Dubai Pt. 2

Time flies when you're having fun! I hadn't even realized almost a whole month has passed since I did Part 1. I literally had all intentions of completing 1, 2 and 3, within several days of each other. But life had other plans for me. The summer is here and it's already lit! I have amazing things going on and coming up so i'm really just trying to enjoy all of it. Now I have to try to remember what happened on a trip 2 months ago. Anyone who knows me knows I can barely remember things from 2 days ago. So lets kick it off with Day 2!

Day 2
We paid extra for a Desert Safari tour which is a must if you ever visit Dubai. Apparently it wasn't included in our package, but that's a story for another day. It cost about $70 something US and included dune bashing, camel rides, dinner, henna, hookah, dance show, and transportation to and from the hotel. Anyway, you don't depart till the afternoon due to the heat/sun so we had the morning to chill out, hit the pool, and have some lunch. I had the most banging meal at this Filipino restaurant around the block from the hotel. I learned there's a pretty big population of Filipinos that migrated to UAE for work, majority of them being in Dubai. The area we stayed in had tons of Filipino restaurants.

I believe we met in the lobby around 3PM and left to head to the tour. We left in groups of 4/5 in individual SUVs with our own drivers. One of my travel peeps recommended shot gun so I hopped on it!

We rode through the desert for about an hour dune bashing and it was dope. Halfway through dune bashing we stopped to take some pictures that I was later bamboozled to buy. Its all good though! We had a blast during this portion taking pics enjoying being in the middle of nowhere. 

After taking some pictures, we continued dune bashing till we got to our campsite for the evening. We all got to take a camel ride that was included as well as some pictures on the camel. I also decided to pay an extra few bucks to ride around on an ATV. Something to note... the camels are miserable as f*ck. It actually made me kind of sad. They are tied to each other with muzzles on, often making weird ass moaning noises which I interpreted as "IDFWU."

We got to watch the sunset which was super pretty and relaxing. After ATVing, we entered the campsite where we would have dinner and watch a traditional show. Prior to the show and dinner, there was a section to get henna done, have arabic coffee and these yummy little donuts, take pictures with an exotic bird, smoke shisha, and dress in traditional clothing and take pictures. I was loving the hookah. It was seriously the most relaxing part of the day for me. It was a chill area where you sat on rugs and what looked like bean bags while being barefoot. Pass me the hookah!


We spent the rest of the evening enjoying the BBQ dinner, watching a traditional Arabic dance show while the photographer passed around our pictures we had taken all day that were for sale -___-

At the end of the evening, we headed back to our SUVs to head back to our hotel. Good effing times!

Day 3
I regularly sift through my travel Instagram account looking at other travelers' pics and always noticed the Dubai Miracle Garden as being one of the most beautiful places i've ever seen so it was a given that that was on my list of things to do. We had the morning/afternoon to ourselves with plans to attend a Dhow Dinner Cruise at night as part of our package.  The Dubai Miracle Garden is a flower garden that has only been open for 3 years and has some of the most gorgeous flower set ups. It opened on Valentine's day. It was hot as balls there and I was sweating the entire time. The guards were kind of rude to us but that aint anything new! If you're a girly girl like me, it's a must see! Admission costs 30AED which is about 8 bux. 

Gorgeous, right?!

After replacing my lost fluids, and catching a cab back... we chilled in the hotel till it was time to get ready for this Dhow Dinner Cruise. We really didn't know what to expect but I got dressed in my fancy abaya I spent an arm and leg on. 

Lets just say the cruise, we could've did without. Everyone had an attitude by the evening, the food was just okay and we barely moved anywhere on the boat. Not to mention we later on found out that that was considered one of the 'cheaper' lower end Dhow Dinner Cruises. I did manage to get some more henna though which was dope. By the end of the night we were pooped and looking forward to our day trip to Abu Dhabi that would start at the crack of dawn the next day.

That concludes Day 2 and 3. Stay tuned for part 3!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Poi Does Dubai Pt. 1

It's been a month since I got back from Dubai and I've finally got a moment to breathe and blog about it! Yipee! I've received a thousand questions about it so in an effort to not have to keep repeating myself, i'm answering all questions here! Aren't you lucky?! Because this trip was full of activities/experiences, i'm going to break it down into 3 separate posts.

First things first, I first found out about the trip in one of my many facebook travel groups. A young lady who's an independent travel agent posted in late summer 2015 that she was planning a trip for April 2016, and to post your email if you wanted more info. Boom. Got the email with an attachment that basically broke down the entire trip from the itinerary, to price, deposit, monthly payments dates and all that. Looked great to me. I had never been to Dubai and heard so much about it. I'm lazy so the idea of someone else doing all the planning was ideal for me. I forwarded the email to literally 20 other women who I knew would be interested in a trip like that. With exception to 3 people, most folks were silent. Cool. Keep that in mind when yall keep bitching about being invited and wanting to travel. *rolls eyes* Anyways, I put down my deposit and started the monthly payments. 6 months later, it was time to depart to the middle east. The group consisted of 22 black women including our travel agent. 2 were my cousins, 1 was a family friend, another was the cousin of a family friend, and the rest were all women I had met for the first time.

The trip was amazing to say the least. A few hiccups along the way, but overall pretty awesome. Despite all the negative things I heard about Dubai (it lacked culture, you had to cover up and couldn't drink, it was a place one would only visit once, etc), it is definitely somewhere I would visit again, sooner than later. It's fun. There's lots to see and do. It's Miami, Vegas, NYC all in one with a Middle Eastern Islamic touch. I loved it.

We departed out of NYC Saturday afternoon and reached Dubai Sunday afternoon. The flight was roughly 12-13 hours and Dubai is 8 hours ahead, go figure. That was the longest flight i've ever taken and it wasn't bad at all. Sunday evening we were bored so we decided to hit the Mall of the Emirates for some food and see what Dubai is all about. The great thing is Dubai has Uber like a lot of places outside of the US these days so that's always a plus. Hopped in our Uber and went on our merry way. The Mall of the Emirates has all your fancy stores like Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga... you know all that stuff the rappers rap about. I'm too poor for that though. We ate dinner, walked around a little, met up with a guy I knew from one of my FB groups, and got the low down on Dubai. After about 2 hours, we headed back to our hotel in the Al Rigga neighborhood.

Day 1
Rise & Shine. We met in the lobby to start our treck through Dubai. We had a tour guide and coach bus for the next few days to take us to various places.
  • Jumeirah Beach - 1st stop, we hit the beach. Jumeirah beach is a pretty white sand beach with awesome views and clear blue water. Unfortunately, we were there for less than an hour so we only got to take pictures and sweat. The building in the background shaped like a sail is the Burj Al Arab hotel which is supposed to be the most luxurious hotel in the world. Its the 3rd tallest hotel in the world and sits on a man made island. Apparently there's a suite in there that costs $24k a night. One day when I find my sugar daddy...

  • Dubai Mall - next stop was the mall. It's the largest mall in the world and has tons of stores, the Dubai Aquarium, and a movie theater. I'm not a big mall person so this wasn't appeasing to me. But I had to get some fit bit steps in so I got to walking. We stopped by the aquarium inside the mall for a hot second to see some pretty fish and snap some pics.  

  • Burj Khalifa - next stop was the infamous Burj Khalifa otherwise known as the tallest structure in the world. Its a building that has various uses and including hotel and residential usage, corporate suites, an observation deck, etc. It's right next door to the Dubai Mall. We captured some gorgeous views from level 124 and 125 which is known as 'At the Top.' Tickets cost 125 AED which is about $34 bux. I took a ton of pics!

  • Dubai Museum - the next stop was hitting the Dubai museum. It's the oldest existing building in Dubai housed in the Al Fahidi Fort that's sole purpose is to present the traditional way of life in old Dubai ruled by a dynasty type Islamic monarch. it was 3 AED which is less than $1 buck. 

  • Spice and Gold Souks - the last stop of our bus tour included a visit to the local souks where you could purchase spices, traditional Islamic clothing, Gold, and other random items such as knock off gucci bags. I actually enjoy local outdoor markets so I was pretty excited to see all they had to offer. I managed to purchase 2 abayas and some curry powder. No Gold for me this time...

What a day huh?!

We concluded our day with getting cute and checking out a night club called Sensations located inside the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Dubai's nightlife scene is popping. It gave me Miami vibes for the simple fact that you need to come dressed to impress otherwise you just may not get in. The music is great, the atmosphere is dope, but the drinks are expensive AF. Just make sure you got money or you pre-game before getting to the club.

Excuse the blurriness of the pics... Double fisting like ayyyyeeeeeeeeeee!

That concludes Day 1. Stay tuned for part 2!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Green line, Aunties and Niglet Boogers

I promise you riding the green line is in my top 10 list of things I hate to do... amongst peeling potatoes, forcing conversations, teabagging, folding laundry... you get the gist. Because riding the green line is something I have to do almost everyday, I've implemented things to make the ride a little more bearable, such as always having a great playlist ready to blast in my ears, trying my best to stare out the window or down at my bag majority of the ride, pulling up an interesting article on my mobile device, obtaining a seat as soon as possible, and so on. But then there's those days when you just can't avoid the wrath of such green line foolery and it really makes me question whether it's even worth commuting to work anymore or just staying home and dealing with the repercussions.

Part of my issue with the green line is where I transfer from the red line to get on the green line at Gallery Place. It's always busy, always packed, always someone acting crazy... Here's a great example of some days...

On top of that, there is a certain population of what I refer to as 'Aunties' (older women who aren't old per say, but they are older than me, similar to our aunties) who always want to be the first to get on the train but move slow as hell walking onto the actual train. This slow walking poses a threat on my ability to secure a seat for my ride to ratchet PG county. So depending on how many people are getting on, there may be some 'throw them bows' moments. I don't want to hurt nobody's Aunties but sometimes it's every man for themselves. The few times I didn't catch a seat, I had to stand up and hold on to germy poles/handle bars and risk getting nauseous from smelly humans being too close to me or someone constantly losing their balance and falling on me. It's a miserable feeling.

Tuesday in particular - work was kicking my ass! I had been on calls all day going back and forth with people who don't follow policy, fix problems from said people not following policy, and sift through multiple reports extracting data just to fix those problems. Needless to say, I didn't want any problems going home. I wanted a peaceful transition onto the train, into a comfortable seat where I can just turn on my music and zone out till I reach my stop.

But God had other plans...

I get to Gallery Place and both my arms are almost removed when I exited the red line because people like to shove themselves on the train before allowing others to come off. Okay. I can deal with a little shove. No worries. I head downstairs to get on the green. I see the Aunties already lined up to get on first. Okay, again... no worries. You got it today Aunties because I don't have any energy to fool with yall. Train pulls up and I let the Aunties get on and follow right behind. As expected, they're moving so damn slow that all the seats get taken. Where does that leave me? Standing up, holding a germy handle bar next to a guy with a knapsack as big as a 5th grader, and a very big woman leaning on the handle bar. The train is packed to capacity. Mmm k... just breathe. We get to L'enfant. More people get on. Now the train is actually over capacity. Like I don't understand how this is even legal. The guy with the knapsack is moving constantly for no reason. Stand the f*ck still my nigga... is what i'm thinking.

Go through a few more stops of limited oxygen... Finally we get to Anacostia and a seat lets up. Yessssssss! I get to sit down. It's next to a mother and her baby that is sitting in her lap. We depart. I notice baby is eating potato chips in slow motion. Potato chips that didn't quite make it to his mouth, start landing on my coat. Okay don't trip, he's just a baby. Moms is just staring out the window unbothered. You know how yall do. I look down at baby and he starts picking his nose. He then leaves the finger lodged in his nose for a good 30 seconds and starts staring back at me. In my head i'm like if this little niglet pulls a booger out his nose that lands on me, I'm going to scream. We're having a staring contest. Now I see why when you're young, you're taught staring is rude. Because children seem to be the biggest staring offenders of mankind. They stare directly into your eyes and don't stop staring.

We get to Naylor Rd. Here I am staring at this baby with his finger up his nose. He finally takes it out and a booger rests right above his lip. Grosssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

Before he realizes it's there and tries to remove it, I think it's time I stand up again. Fuck it. Only 2 more stops, I'll survive. I get up. He starts to eat his chips again but continues staring at me. As soon as I get up - I hear unbothered moms say "Stop dropping ya chips on me..." Really chic...

Homeboy with the knapsack is now sitting on the damn floor and I almost damn near trip over him. I'm over this train ride. I finally reach my stop and bolt off the train, up the steps, through the turnstile, and straight to my damn car.

Dear Aunties,
You will get shoved next time
you proceed to walk onto the train
very slowly and make me miss
an opportunity at choosing a good seat.
Frustrated Rider


Thursday, March 31, 2016

32 Lessons

In honor of celebrating 32 years of life on this earth this month, I wanted to put together a list of 32 life lessons I've experienced. It's always nice to reflect on all the amazing things life has taught you, whether good or bad. Enjoy!

  1. A lot of misunderstanding, hurt, or sadness we feel can often be changed by perspective. Once I readjusted my perspective on things, I became a happier person.
  2. Love yourself more than anyone else. You will be able to love others better. 
  3. Distance yourself from those who interrupt your peace. Seriously, stop responding. If you must speak to them, do it sparingly. That includes friends & family. 
  4. Anxiety is a form of not having faith in God. Strengthen your faith and everything else will fall into place. 
  5. Try to find the good in everyone regardless if you can't stand them. 
  6. Understand that negative comments from others have absolutely nothing to do with you therefore NEVER take it personal.
  7. Choose your life. Don't let settle for what you can get.
  8. Eat healthy. Your body will thank you for it and you will feel better. 
  9. Exercise like your life depends on it. Because it actually does. It also helps your mood.
  10. Only offer your advice/opinion when someone asks you for it. Let people be.
  11. Stay open minded. To everything. Food. People. Ideas. Places. Perspectives. Things. It encourages growth.
  12. Read books. Good books. Books for entertainment, self help books, etc. There's a certain type of satisfaction I get when I complete a book that I enjoyed and/or learned from.
  13. Keeping it real with someone is the greatest gift you can give them.
  14. Only God alone can kill me. Like forreal. 
  15. Strive to build and maintain relationships with people you can learn from. Its one of the best investments you can make for yourself. 
  16. Recognize fuck boy shit EARLY and dead it. Seriously, do not entertain the foolery.
  17. What's for you will only be for you and nothing can change that. Understand that if it's not for you, that's okay.
  18. Men are simple as fuck. Just accept it. The quicker you accept it, the easier it is for you to get along with them. Embrace their simpleness.
  19. Learning new skills will only help you. Whether it's crocheting or deep throating. Learn something new. 
  20. People will throw sooooooooooooo much shade. Friends. Enemies. Family. Etc. Let them. 
  21. Folks who just entered your life will often care more about you and know you better than those you've known forever. 
  22. Always go with your gut. 
  23. Never take yourself too seriously. Live, love, laugh.
  24. Agree to disagree with people. Don't you dare waste all your energy trying to convince someone about anything.
  25. Take lots of pictures. Being able to look back on great memories in pictures is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
  26. Things will get better in due time. 
  27. Understand that there are people out there with less than you who are doing more than you. Use that to fuel your drive to be great. 
  28. Take time for yourself. Enjoy being with yourself.
  29. Be yourself. 24/7 365.
  30. Forgive everyone. Just don't fuck with them anymore.
  31. Fear is actually the root of all evil. Don't let it hold you back from something amazing ahead.
  32. Happiness truly is an inside job and you have to choose it.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Your perception is not my reality...

Social media can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it keeps us connected to those we want to stay connected to. It allows us to share things we want to with family and friends. It keeps us updated on the latest whether it be news, trends, etc. It also grants us an opportunity to connect with others we may not know and build new friendships. The downside to it, is it opens us up to criticism from others that we may or may not be interested in. It allows people to say whatever they want to you since they are behind a computer or mobile device. The worst part of social media in my opinion, is at times it can create a warped perception of you by people who don't truly know you.

It's no secret that most of us have people on our friends list who don't really know us. They could be classmates from the past, people you went to church with, people you worked with, or even people who maybe you met through a friend during an outing. Sometimes it's nice to connect with them, sometimes it's not. The reality is they don't really know you. So it's easy for them to perceive you a certain way based on your posts because that's all they really see of you. They don't see you outside of facebook or instagram so that's all they have to go off of. Some of us with sense know that what people post may be a hot 20% of their life. Most people don't have sense. Most people assume what you post is your life. So I get it...

OMG you're always traveling and never at work...

OMG you're always having so much fun and look so happy...

OMG you always have new clothes...

OMG you're always at a baby shower or wedding...

No. No. NO. and No. LOL It may look that way because those are the things and photos i'm sharing. But think about the things and photos I'm not sharing. When I'm idle for 7 weeks going to the gym and work and that's it, no one says OMG you're always at the gym or you're always at work. When I am rotating between the same two pairs of black jeggings every weekend, no one is saying OMG you're always wearing those pants. When I am suffering from allergies or period cramps every month, no one is saying OMG you always have cramps or you're always sneezing. Because I don't post about those things. It's silly and unnecessary. But it exists. And it happens regularly. You also cannot judge how happy someone is just because they are smiling in a picture. I know a ton of miserable people who have pics smiling. Those two things aren't synonymous people. It's just a smile, in a picture. I get it though. People want to somehow put you in a box and label you. Just so they can feel like they understand you. Just so they can feel like they know you and can say, "Yeah I know [insert my name here], we are facebook friends!" No bitch - you don't know me. This is what I want people to understand. YOU. DON'T. KNOW. ME.

A young lady I went to friggin elementary school with proceeded to comment on one of my photos the other day asking if I won the lottery and what was the secret to a well traveled life. LOL. LOL. LOL. LOL. Because she is not the first person who questioned me about my money before, I decided to reply back in my normal sarcastic way for those who talk out the side of their neck. Sell your body on the weekends. She replied with, not about that life and enjoy your vacay. She then proceeded to remove me as a friend. LOL. Girl bye. You don't know what I do for a living. I could be a surgeon for all you know, I could be married to a millionaire, shit I could be VP of a department in a Fortune 500 company. The point is, you don't know. And really it is none of your business. Not to mention I am tired of people associating travel with being rich. But that is a post for another day. I just don't get where people get off saying whatever they want to say on your posts when they don't know you.

I remember during a time where I was planning a few baby showers for friends on a regular basis, people would always comment on my shit, when are you going to have a baby? Um, maybe when I get a husband fool. I know how yall get down but I don't get down like that so FOH. Regardless, it's pretty rude to ask someone that because 1. you're assuming I want to have children and 2. you're assuming I can have children.

I say all of this to say, stop commenting crazy things on people's posts that you do not know. Enjoy the ish, like it, read it, keep it moving. That's it. Because what you  may perceive is not always what it really is.