A fairytale village in Czech you've probably never heard of

Some of the best places we visited on our travels have been discovered by coincidence and that was the case with Loket, a small village in the Czech Republic.

Small and mellow is the best way to describe Loket, for only about 3000 people live here. As you enter the town across it's main bridge, it may begin to look oddly familiar. That's because this little town was used as a stand in for Montenegro in the 2006 James Bond film, Casino Royale.

 The big G sign is where the locals hung out. At the Restaurace u Karla IV. Beer was good and much cheaper than in other bars.

The big G sign is where the locals hung out. At the Restaurace u Karla IV. Beer was good and much cheaper than in other bars.

Despite the early hour, there was not a soul to be found on the streets and the only one grocery store in town was already closed. As we tried to navigate through the narrow streets looking for our B&B, we got a glimpse of this fairly tale town, with a castle sitting on the top of the hill. We couldn't believe that we had never heard of this place before. 

Our hotel Stein Elbogen, which we booked just a few hours earlier turned out to be better than in the pictures. Perfectly situated by the river, this beautiful mansion, painted in a tasteful pinkish color with original stone walls, used to belong to the owners of the oldest porcelain factory in Bohemia. After dropping our bags off in our spacious room, we headed down to the restaurant. We walked down an old, stone staircase with vaulted ceilings, which felt like walking through an old castle. The hotel restaurant was just like the town, cute and quiet. We sat by the crackling fire place and ordered a beer. Behind the bar the owner was casually chatting with a friend and we kept wondering where were all the people on a Friday night? 


A day in Loket

Loket castle

Saturday morning felt unusually quiet and most of the shops around the main square appeared to be closed. We headed to the castle on a self guided tour, which included some typical castle stuff like a porcelain display room, armory, and of course, a torture room in the dungeons.  We spent a few hours walking amongst the cold castle walls, and we even climbed the tower to see the view of the city. Again, there were barely any tourists around, which was great for so many reasons, but most importantly we didn't have to photoshop any of our pictures. 


The gingerbread tradition in Czech dates back to 1324 and it was probably introduced by bakers from Nuremberg, Germany. Till this day gingerbread is baked here, and Loket is known for a specific type if gingerbread called Elbogener Pumpernickel. You can see a wooden mold for gingerbread in the middle picture below.

The Bridge

After the tour of the castle we walked out on the bridge to get a full view of the town. You really get a sense of the scale from a distance. The original suspension bridge opened in 1835, but was later replaced with the existing stone bridge due to the economic crisis in 1936. From the bridge you can take the stairs down to a path along the Ohře river, where the locals like to go for walks.


The Brewery and Museum

Rodinny Pivovar Svaty Florian is an excellent local brewery with a long tradition of brewing beer. The first floor is a small museum/gift shop and the bottom floor is a restaurant and a brewery. They serve four types of beer: light, dark, and two smoked. They are all excellent! You can also try some traditional Czech food here, but we've been told that food is not as good as the beer.


At the end of the day we returned to our lovely B&B and booked another night. We wanted to spend another day here repeating what we did the first day. We also found out why the town has been so empty. Apparently, after the new years a lot of businesses close for a holiday break and reopen in late February. Some hotels might still be open but most of shops and cafes are closed during this time. We actually enjoyed the quiet and peaceful atmosphere during our stay in Loket but next time we would love to come back and visit in the summer when everything is in full swing.  



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5 Cities you must visit in Mexico

Mexico has been one of the top destinations in the world for the past few years. Despite the bad news and press, people continue to vacation in Mexico. Check out these 5 great destinations that you should visit on your next trip!

1. Mexico City

CDMX or Mexico City is one of the largest and most populated cities in the world. It's an important financial and cultural center in the Americas, with many tourist attractions. You could easily spend a week here just eating street tacos-no judgements, YOLO. 

Mexico city is filled with amazing modern and old architecture. Walk around Condesa and Roma, two trending neighborhoods with great farmers markets, restaurants and bars to experience the city life.

The historical center is full of great traditional architecture. The most iconic attractions include: Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Metropolitan Cathedral but perhaps the most important is the archaeological site, Templo Mayor - the hidden ruins that Mexico city was built on. The ruins were accidentally discovered by two electrical workers in the 70's. It has been a work in progress to excavate the old Aztec city since then.  

Catch a break and grab something to eat at the beautiful Casa de Los Azulejos. If you love museums and are willing to travel a bit outside of the city center, Museo Dolores Olmedo is also worth cheking out; and of course the famous Casa de Azul, the house where Frida grew up, now turned a museum dedicated to the artist's life and impressive art collection.

If you are headed to Mexico City read this full guide here.

2. San Miguel de Allende


San Miguel de Allende is a small charming town with a lot of history and a lot of expats, mostly from the States, living here. The colorful buildings, cobble stone streets, a beautiful park in the center where the locals gather, could fool you that you are somewhere in Europe. Spanish ruled Mexico till 1821 and although San Miguel de Allende still looks very European it is proudly 100% Mexican. This was the first city to declare freedom from Spanish rule. Every year the whole town celebrates Mexican independence day and puts on a great festival with parades, music, horse rides through the town, ending with spectacular firework show at the main square. 


3. Guanajuato


Guanajuato is another great town in Mexico that is full of character. Guanajuato is located in a narrow valley and most of the streets are small and winding, which resulted in an intricate underground tunnel system used not only by cars but also the pedestrians. Guanajuato became famous for it's silver mining back in the day, and although some silver mines are still functioning today they are also open to tourists. If you speak Spanish, there are many people who worked at the mines perviously, and now can take you on an interesting tour of the mines.

University of Guanajuato attracts students from all over the world. In any student town you are guaranteed a great night life and the best happy hour. Getting lost in the narrow alleys while looking for the best deals on drinks is part of the fun. 

4. Guadalajara


In comparison to San Miguel de Allende or Guanajuato, Guadalajara is not the prettiest city. It  might seem a little bit rough around the edges at first, but this town is definitely worth stopping by. Guadalajara is the largest city in the state of Jalisco, and Jalisco is the most famous for TEQUILA! If you visit Guadalajara make sure to try all the various types of tequila. There are also day trips you can take to the country side and see how tequila is made. 

Guadalajara is known for the best mariachi music. For just few bucks you can got to a show in El Parián de Tlaquepaque, order a cazuela (tequila cocktail) and listen to a live mariachi band. If you are willing to spend a bit more, the musicians will also play a private, mini concert at your table.

The food in Guadalajara is one of the best and very distinct from the rest of Mexico. Make sure to try: Torta ahogada aka drowned submarine sandwich-filled with pork covered in red tomato/chili sauce; birria (spicy meat stew) and sea food dishes like Sopa de Mariscos. The best place to taste all of these dishes is Mercado Libertad. We ate there everyday and loved it! Just make sure to check the prices first because we made that mistake once and ended up paying a lot more than everybody else.

Also be aware of your surroundings as it's a known hot spot for pickpockets.

5. Tulum


Tulum is a very well known vacation spot in Mexico. It is definitely less crowded than Cabo San Lucas and the resorts here seem to be less gaudy and attract more of the bohemian crowd. The warm, turquoise waters, white sand beaches and the fresh ocean breeze make this place a paradise on earth. Besides the beautiful beaches Tulum is great for scuba diving. If you aren't scared of darkness, diving in the cenotes - underwater caves is an unforgettable experience. 

You will also taste some of the most amazing sea food here. Try some fresh from the sea ceviche, a fresh sea food marinated in lime juice and served with Mexican spices. Another local specialty are shrimp cocktails, which here is prepared with only ketchup and no tomato juice. Unless you love chugging glasses of ketchup at once, we recommend avoiding this dish. If you are a vegan, there are many restaurants here serving the most delicious and high quality foods from fresh juices, smoothies and amazing salads.

English is very common in these areas due to the high number of Americans coming here for yoga retreats and relaxing on the beach. You will see a lot of foreigners here scootering and biking around the town all day and night. This is a very safe area for tourists to be carefree. 

You should also visit the Tulum ruins. This abandoned Mayan city is located on the tall cliffs overlooking the Carribean sea. The views are breathtaking! 

We hope that you enjoyed the read and we encourage you to visit some of the places we mentioned here on your next trip, and if you have been to Mexico before please let us know what was your favorite spot. Cheers!


Bella Luisa


Apple Slices (approx 5)

Ginger Slices (approx 5)

3 oz Lemongrass syrup

2 oz White rum

approx. 3 oz Sparkling Water


In a sturdy glass muddle the apple and ginger slices with lemongrass syrup. Strain the mix into a shaker, add rum and about 3 oz of sparkling water. Lastly, mix all the ingredients together and you are ready to drink it.


*Recipe courtesy of Palacio del Inca, created by Alejandro


From the heart of Lima to deep into the Sacred Valley, 'Rhythms of Peru' takes you not only to Peru's most iconic, but far beyond to experience Peruvian life off the tourist path. Filmed over the course of a month, and in collaboration with several local organizations, my wife and I were able to meet some really amazing people and participate in some really fun events. Although we visited some really amazing places, this is by no means an all encompassing portrait of the country. We did not make it to the north or the amazon this trip. I would love to go back and film a part 2 at some point. I'd like to give a special thanks to Kuoda Travel whom without their help, this film would have not been possible. 




2 oz Simple Syrup

2 oz Lime Juice

0.5 oz Egg Whites

4 oz Pisco

Ice cubes


Combine all the ingredients in a shaker. Shake it well, first without any ice and the second time add a few ice cubes and shake it again. Pisco sour is served without any ice. The drink will be chilled but not watered down. 





2 oz Ginger beer

2 oz Italia Pisco

Slice of Ginger

0.5 oz Simple syrup

05. oz Pomelo juice

Ginger Ale


Mixed all the ingredients in a shaker, pour into a glass and top with some Ginger Ale!


Recipe: courtesy of the hotel Palacio Del Inka, Peru





1 1/2 oz Sweet passion fruit syrup

3/4 oz Torontel Pisco

3/4 oz Lime juice

0.25 oz lemon infused Italia Pisco



Mix all the ingredients together in a shaker. 


Recipe: courtesy of the hotel Palacio Del Inka, Peru





1 oz Citrus juice ( Orange and Pomelo mix)

2 oz Aperol

3 oz Sparkling white wine

0.5 oz Simple syrup


Mix all the ingredients and serve in a wine glass.



Recipe: courtesy of the hotel Palacio Del Inka, Peru


Mexico City travel guide

"Muy Grande" is the first thing that comes to mind when describing Mexico city. Although, it can feel a bit intimidating at first, this is a very friendly tourist destination. Like any metropolis, Mexico City is filled with amazing art, museums and beautiful buildings, but somehow Mexico City feels different than every other city. Its streets are colorful, carrying the sound of cumbia and delicious smells of food from street carts. You will never see a place more dynamic and colorful than Mexico city!

The Tipsy Gypsies stayed in Mexico City about a week and there wasn't a day that we got bored. Check out our recommendations for Mexico City!

1. Centro Historico

The main plaza at the Centro Historico is the largest plaza in Latin America. It is surrounded by historical buildings as old as the 16th century. Unfortunately, Mexico city and it's beautiful buildings are sinking, due to the fact that this city was built on an ancient lake bed by the Aztecs. You can see the deterioration with your own eyes; some buildings have sunken more than a few feet on one side, leaving the structures looking crooked.

Perhaps the most fascinating site located in Centro Historico, is Templo Mayor. It's an ancient temple built by the Aztecs. When the Spanish arrived in Mexico in the 16th century, they tried to destroy the existing culture and one of the things the Spanish did was to build over of the aztec structures. The Temp Mayor was accidentally discovered by two workers in 1978, and it has been excavated since then. New discoveries to the site are constantly being made. 


2. Palacio de Bellas Artes

We started our tour of Mexico city by visiting the Placio de Bellas Artes. It's hard to miss this grand, white marble building located near the historical center. Not only is the building itself gorgeous, but the museum inside is filled with beautiful murals, which are quintessential in Mexican art. Palacio de Bellas Artes is a good start to get aquatinted with the work of the great muralists like Diego Rivera, Siqueiros and many others. We are not going to link any pictures of the murals here because we feel like the pictures don't do justice for expressing the scale and beauty of these masterpieces. If you are interested you can also attend dance and music performances at the Palacio de Bellas Artes.


3. Chapultepec Castle

We visited this castle as per many guide books recommendations. We don't regret visiting this castle, but we were a bit frustrated to learn on arrival, that all the historical information was written in Spanish only. So if you love history like us, and would like to learn about this place, we recommend hiring a tour guide before going into this museum. The castle itself is very beautiful and well preserved. Since we couldn't understand any of the descriptions, we walked around enjoying the gardens and massive murals. 


4. Xochimilco

This place is a lot of fun and is popular not only amongst tourists but locals also like coming here, especially on the weekends. What is Xochimilco? It's a series of canals where you can rent a boat and cruise around. It's not quite as glamorous as the Venice canals and gondolas in Italy, but in our opinion it's more fun. Where else can you get a giant 1.5L Michelada, buy food from vendors, and listen to the Mariachis on a boat? Only in Xochimilco!

We paid 500 pesos/per hour for the whole boat. Even though we came here during the week, and the place was dead we couldn't get a lower price. The best option is split the cost with other tourists around.  Even thought this activity was a bit expensive, we enjoyed the whole experience. 


The Tipsy Gypsies Tips: If you come to Xochimilco be sure to visit the nearby market Mercado de Xochimilco and try some of the local specialties, like grilled corn with cheese (Elotes) or tacos. This is the spot if you are hungry!

5. Try Pulque

Let's start with explaining what Pulque is. Pulque is an alcoholic drink made from a fermented agave plant. The consistency is a bit thick/viscous, but if you can get pass that, the taste is actually quite nice. Apparently, this drink had a bad reputation for a while and many traditional Pulquerias (a bar that serves Pulque) disappeared, but luckily it is making a come back! 

Pulque comes in many different flavors: from the natural, white in color, to fruity like mango, coconut, savory like celery and even pistachio. Our friend told us that it's hard to get drunk from Pulque because the drink is almost like a meal itself, but we had 2 and fell asleep in our uber ride back home. 

The best Pulqueria in Mexico City, in our opinion, is El Temple de Diana located in Xochimilco. This place is a true local's hangout. There is a very small sign on the building, and if you didn't know what this place was you would most likely walk by it. It's like a speakeasy, but its not trying to be one. You enter the bar through some very nondescript glass doors. The floor is covered with saw dust, which apparently helps to create extra absorption against the spit on the floor, and it is easier to clean the tiled floor underneath.

As we were drinking the Pulque, a three amigos band came into the Pulqueria. We paid them to sing a few songs for us an they were great!

We left the Pulqueria feeling happy and drunk.


6. Coyoacán Free walking Tour

We highly recommend signing up for the free walking tour of Coyoacan with Estacion Mexico. Our guide spoke perfect English, was very knowledgeable and took us to some cool spots that otherwise we would have not found on our own. The tour was about 10 people and we got to ask as many questions as we wanted. We loved it!

7. Hang out at Cafe Breria. Coffee shop and bookstore combined

These bookstores/coffee houses can be found all over Mexico city, and are very popular amongst the locals. We don't understand why this great concept is not trending anywhere else in the world.

The atmosphere is more relaxed than your typical restaurant. People come here to enjoy a quick snack or like us, a full meal. You will see couples on dates, business people and singles reading books. You are not obligated to buy any books but it is very tempting. 

The Tipsy Gypsies Tips: Try their Pozole, a vegetarian chickpea soup. It's the best thing on the menu!

8. La Casa Azul Frida Kaho Museum

The Tipsy Gypsies are big fans of Frida Kahlo, and it was sort of a dream to visit La Casa Azul. The famous blue house, where the artist grew up and now it serves as a museum. 

We tried to purchase the tickets online, but our US credit card was declined, therefore we had to wait about 30 minutes in line to buy the tickets at the museum. We arrived at the museum around noon, which was a bit late hence the long line to get in.

Although the museum was a bit crowded, it was very informative, inspirational and totally worth every penny and the wait. We also paid a bit more for the audio guide, so that we could learn more about the art, house and the fascinating life of Frida and Diego.

9. Museo Dolores Olmedo

Have we already mentioned how much we love Frida's work? There is another great museum, that not only features Frida's work but also her husband's Diego impressive art collection. At this museum you can view a private art collection that belonged to a wealthy woman, Dolores Olmedo. Dolores was an art collector and one of many Diego's lovers.

You can find many paintings here by the famous artist couple, Frida and Diego. One of the best features of this museum is the surrounding property. There are peacocks roaming around the gardens and you can see the "strange looking" hairless dogs here too. The museum it a bit outside the city, but it is an easy and cheap uber ride. Since it is a bit outside the city, you also won't find many tourists here. 

Cameras are not allowed inside the museum, but you can take as many pictures as you wish of the gardens.

10.  Visit the Art University

Academy of San Carlos, located near the historical center, is a great way to see what the talented art students are up too. When we got to the university there happened to be a nude drawing session, right in the middle of the courtyard near the entrance. We stayed till they kicked us out (just kidding nobody cared). Maybe you will get lucky to experience that too. The replicas of the famous sculptures displayed in the courtyard  are all made by the students were very impressive!

There is a great free museum on the 2nd floor that you must visit here as well. 


We want to say big thanks to our friend Rodrigo Nieto, whom we have met in Mexico city, and was our local guide. Thank you for showing us so many great places, taking your time and making our experience in Mexico City so amazing!!!

Muchas Gracias!! 


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The Tipsy Gypsies recently discovered this amazing drink in Guadalajara, Mexico. We would describe Cazuela as something between a traditional Margarita and Sangria, but much lighter. If you love tequila, refreshing and low sugar cocktails you will definitely love this drink.

Cazuela originally is a popular dish, similar to a stew, served across the latin Americas. Its name comes from the cazuela cooking pot (a shallow terra cotta dish with a wide opening). Some genius decided to throw some fresh fruit with tequila into the pot, making this delicious drink and its been tequila heaven ever since!!! 



Serves 6 people (or two Tipsy Gypsies)

Fresh squeezed juice from 1 grapefruit

Fresh squeezed juice from 2 oranges

Fresh squeezed juice from 2-3 limes

3-4 cups of tequila blanco 

Fresh cut slices of oranges, grapefruit, lime (one of each)

Fresca, Squirt, *Jarritos or other Grapefruit Soda (about 5-6 cups)

* Jarritos is a traditional Mexican soda and it can be found in the USA in Hispanic grocery stores, but if you can't find it you can use any other grapefruit soda or even a lemon soda. 


Salt, chile spice (optional)




In a large bowl combine all the ingredients: juices, sliced fruit, tequila, ice and top it with some grapefruit soda. 

Serve the drink in a cazuela or other shallow dish with a straw. Decorate the rim of the cazuela dish with salt and chile. First cut a lime and rub it on the rim of the cazuela dish. Then dip the rim of your cazuela in a mixture of salt and chile. 



Thai Egg Custard in a Pumpkin

We had the pleasure of learning how to make this delicious dessert in Thailand at the Sompong Thai Cooking School. We definitely recommend attending their fun cooking class when visiting Bangkok. This dessert is light, easy and relatively fast to make. If you want to know what Thailand tastes like, try this recipe below.



1 pumpkin (500-600 gram.)

4 eggs

1 cup coconut cream

1 cup palm sugar

1/2 tsp salt

5 pandanus leaves (or 2-3 drops of vanilla extract )

  1. Clean the pumpkin, remove the top and scrape out the seeds and membrane, but leave the flesh intact. ( you can use a thai soup spoon for this process, which makes this process fast and easy)
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, coconut cream, palm sugar, pandanus leave/or vanilla extract and salt. Mix until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Pour the custrad mixture into the prepared pumpkin, filling until about 1/4 inches from the top. ( You can also use small custard cups, instead of the pumpkin to cook the custard. Pour the custard mix into the cups and add shredded pumpkin flesh on top.
  4. Steam low heat the pumpkin in a stacker steamer or other steamer for 45-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the custard comes out clean. It will look set but still jiggle a bit when shaken. The custard firms up as it cool ( about 10 minutes). ( If you are using small cups, steam for about 10-15 minutes.). To prevent your pumpkin from cracking, put it in a bowl that fits nicely around it, and avoid steaming with excessive heat. After the custard is done steaming, leave it to cool before you remove it from the steamer.
  5. Cut the custard including the pumpkin "crust" into wedges and serve! Voila!


  Doctors recommended dose: take 2oz. per shake.

Doctors recommended dose: take 2oz. per shake.

It was probably 20 minutes after checking into our 10th floor Airbnb in Mexico City when Marta asked her obligatory, "can this natural disaster happen here?" question. This time it was earthquakes. Previous choices have been tsunamis, hurricanes, landslides and of course, volcanoes. 

"Yes, I believe Mexico does have earthquakes" I replied, but I couldn't say for sure. A quick google search by Marta and our question was answered as she stared in horror at photos of the devastation from the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. The death toll from that quake varies wildly from 5,000 - 45,000. Regardless of the actual number, it was catastrophic. 

Marta then expressed concerns about us staying on the 10th floor of a building whose design she questioned. Naturally I brushed her off and said everything was fine. 

A few days later we were exploring the city with our local friend Rodrigo and the '85 earthquake came up. He reassured Marta that most buildings since then were either built or retrofitted to withstand a powerful earthquake. I'm not exactly sure how much this reassured her, but throughout the next few days she kept talking about her feeling that there would be an earthquake. I of course thought she was crazy. 

Then on the evening of September 6th we heard a loud siren blare and a message in Spanish blasted over a speaker. It reminded me of the tsunami and hurricane sirens I heard growing up on Kauai. We had no idea what it actually meant so I began searching for "Mexico City sirens" and discovered that it's a sophisticated earthquake warning system that can give you up to 60 seconds to evacuate before the quake hits. At this point it was too late to leave but luckily nothing happened. I then read further that these sirens go off all the time as false alarms and residents of Mexico City now suffer from "alarm fatigue" and so basically everyone just ignores them. None of this reassured Marta any more while we lay in bed of our 10th floor apartment.

Moving on to the night of September 7th... it was probably about midnight and I had sipped a bit of delicious tequila that evening so I was just heading off into a mariachi slumber when.....

"RRRRREEEEEEEERRRRRRR...... Atención! Something, something in Spansish...."

I looked over at Marta and told her it was going to be another false alarm and that it happens all the time so she had no need to worry. Again, she was not convinced. So I rolled back over and closed my eyes and just as I did I heard her say, "the building is moving". I opened my eyes and I definitely felt something.... but was it the building, or the tequila? 

Then I saw the suspended light start to swing. Okay... it wasn't the tequila. No worries, it will just be a small tremor. Again, I was wrong. Then the building REALLY began to sway and you could hear the walls creaking and cracking. Marta ran into the living room to find our roommate there. She asked him if he had ever experienced something like this in Mexico and he said, "never". 

I threw on a towel and joined them in the living room. As the building continued to creak and sway, we lay on the floor next to the wall. Finally, as things began to ease up, we all decided to vacate. 

So down ten flights of stairs we flew and out onto the street were we were greeted by many other frightened people. As it finally became clear that the tremors were over, I got a few giggles and laughs from those passing by as I realized I was still in just my towel. Safety before clothing right? 

After returning to our apartment and finding paint chips from the wall everywhere, we saw the damage was minimal. Looks like Rodrigo was right! Our building held up well. 


As we lay sleeplessly in bed watching the news unfold online, we would learn that Mexico City did quite well. But unfortunately the states south of us were not so lucky. Oaxaca and Chiapas received heavy damage as they were closer to the epicenter of the 8.2 earthquake. This was the largest earthquake to hit Mexico in a century!

I must say, I am now absolutely terrified of my wife and her confirmed ability to see disasters coming. Now if she ever questions a flight we take, or a place we go, I'm going to be left shaking in my boots. 

We have since sadly watched the death toll rise from a few to almost a hundred over the last few days and now seen the pictures of the catastrophic damage to the region. Unlike Mexico City, the construction in the south is not as sophisticated and I don't think they have the early warning system either. Many people were fast asleep when the quake hit. 

But what was most surprising to use was the chance to witness this warning system they have in place in Mexico City. Coming from Los Angeles we have heard the debates of trying to build a similar system for years, yet nothing has been done. And here we are in a FAR more impoverished country than America and yet they are LIGHT YEARS ahead of LA or even San Francisco when it comes to preparedness for this type of event. 

Seeing the potential it has for saving lives I cannot fathom how this hasn't been budgeted and implemented YEARS ago. And the only answer I can come up with is yet again, politics have trumped social wellbeing. And that of course, makes me sad. So I bid you adios until next time, as I I take another sip of Cazadores and go back to playing, "Is it Tequila, or is it Tectonic?"

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Even the smoke from the largest active wildfire in the U.S. (at the time) couldn't completely hide the vies of Glacier National Park. We had a lot of fun exploring this awesome place (aside from almost getting eaten by a bear and her cub!)

Visiting the UXO Museum in Luang Prabang

We love to travel because we want to learn the history of other countries and understand its people better. And after visiting the UXO museum in Luang Prabang we were reminded of why it is so important to travel and learn from others.

We visited Lunang Prabang because we read that as a UNESCO heritage site, it was a beautiful and relaxed place to stay for a while. For the first 3 days we enjoyed biking, watching (respectfully from a distance) the florescent orange robed monks as they made their way to and from the temples, swimming in waterfalls, going to the night market and eating way too many French baguettes. But this post is not about that. It’s about the brutal history of Laos and it’s people.

We visited the small but very informative UXO museum in LP (pay by donation). For those who are not familiar with the term UXO, it stands for Unexploded Ordnance. It rarely seems to be more than a paragraph in high school history books, but Laos has had an extremely difficult and tragic history. It first was under the protectorate of France, followed by a Japanese occupation during WWII, and then briefly reoccupied by France, continuing into civil war after they left, and finally was almost obliterated during the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War in Vietnam, is a well documented and talked about event and everyone for the most part knows about the atrocities that took place there and the protests that ensued in the U.S. But what you don’t hear much about, even now that it is public information, is the secret bombing campaign the U.S. led on Laos that left it the most heavily bombed country in the world.

The majority of the bombings took place along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which during the war, the communist fighters never admitted its existence. So the U.S. followed suit and denied the existence of it’s bombing campaign, because if the Trail didn’t exist, there was nothing to bomb, right? Therefor, no one knew this was happening.

The United States forces flew more than 500,000  top secret bombing operations over Laos leaving over 80 million unexploded bombies and millions of other UXO’s that at it’s current clearance rate, will take at least 100 years to make the land safe again. That’s a long time for people to pay for a war that “never happened”.

On average, one person is killed every day by a UXO and many more injured and disfigured. Laos is a very poor country, with a lot of farmland and many of the villagers either die or get injured when working in the fields. It is extremely dangerous for kids to walk to school or play in the yard. On top of that, the land and water are contaminated with chemicals that were dropped too.

Luckily there is the UXO Lao program that helps to clear the land from these dangers but if it’s going to take another 100 years to clear them all, then the program is completely underfunded and understaffed. They also educate people and children about the danger of UXOs so they can take precautions to avoid them.

In 2016, more than 50 years after the Vietnam War, Obama visited Laos and the US government agreed to pay $90 million USD to help clear the UXOs.

To us, this isn’t enough. What was done to Laos should be considered a war crime and if individual leaders aren’t held accountable, then nations should be. $90 million is a drop in the bucket to the $700 billion per year or more that the U.S. spends on military. To leave such long-term devastation on a country that affects generation after generation of people who don’t even know what the Vietnam War was, is unacceptable.

After leaving the museum we were yet again, left with a bad taste in our mouth for our home country. As the “leader of the free world” and “spokesperson for human rights”, America really has it’s own poor track record on these issues and rarely will America properly own up to its mistakes.

Don’t get me wrong; Laos itself has plenty to blame for when it comes to its current status as one of the poorest countries in the world. Because hand in hand with that title, it is also ranked as one of the most corrupt governments in the world, and that is their battle to fight.

But how can a country progress when its kids have to fear being blown up on the way to school, or if a farmer has to wonder if he will make it home from the rice patties because of the UXO’s that he knows are still buried out there? And these are issues we are responsible for.

We know it won’t happen but we’d like to see the U.S. do more. There are a lot of problems in the world that the U.S. sees fit to interfere in at a huge cost, but this one seems to be of little importance. After all, it was a war we lost and a region we since decided to ignore so why should we pay right?

How responsible to do you think a country should be for its actions? Is there a limit or cap to how much a country should pay? How much did you learn about the Laos bombings when you were in school? We’d love to hear your thoughts


Best Bars in Siem Reap

Aside from its rich culture and architecture, Siem Reap has one of the best drinking scenes in South East Asia. The most famous (or infamous) place to get drinks in Siem Reap is of course, Pub Street. Pub Street is exactly what it sounds like, a street full of pubs, but also some restaurants and massage parlors. Most of the bars on Pub Street are known for their cheap buckets, a mix of terrible bottom shelf alcohol and your choice of soda. A 20 year old backpackers paradise. Buckets are a fun and fast way to get drunk but sometimes you might want something a little more sophisticated. Every bar on Pub Street is offering the "best happy hour" in town and it can be hard to decided where to go. 

So we did the work. We drank A LOT. The Tipsy Gypsies got completely drunk (again), and although Pub Street is great, we also discovered a lot outside its neon glow. Therefor we've created this list of our favorite bars in Siem Reap, on and beyond Pub Street.

"You see we never ever drink

Nice and easy

We always DRINK nice and hard

We started the night nice and easy but finished it hard"

(thanks Tina Turner "Proud Mary")

Miss Wong

One of our favorites, Miss Wong has the best central location. It is situated in a small alley, just few steps away from the madness of the Pub Street, which is way more relaxing and classy.  Miss Wong is well know amongst locals and tourists, and it is well worth the visit not only for drinks but also the elegant atmosphere.  

We arrived at Miss Wong around 6pm, just when the bar opened and things were just coming to life. We were immediately impressed by the gorgeous interior: high ceilings, crimson red walls, glowing lanterns hanging off the ceilings, lots of paintings and moody lighting. This place is sexy! There were so many great details in this bar and our eyes were constantly traveling up and down the walls discovering new trinkets.

We were greeted by the super cool owner of the bar Dean, who is an expat from New Zealand and has been living in Cambodia for the last 12 years. Dean opened and designed the bar himself 8 years ago. The design is based on a paining that the owner's grandmother had in her home back in New Zealand. The painting is of Miss Wong, a beautiful, mysterious woman painted by a Russian artist, who became famous for his prints of Chinese ladies he painted. The painting was a great inspiration for an asian theme speakeasy and it also reminded him of his home.

When Miss Wong opened the idea was to offer something different from the popular and cheap buckets of alcohol. The owner wanted to serve a top shelve alcohol to his clients, but 8 years ago that was a problem in Siem Reap. The better quality liquor had to be imported and was very expensive. That is why he decided to infuse his his own alcohol. Dean's background is in biochemistry, and when you taste his infused vodkas you can tell that he knows his craft. The infused vodkas, also used in mixed drinks, are very unique flavors like Tom Yum (yes the famous Thai Soup), cardamon or pepper. Vodka has never tasted better!

The Tipsy Gypsies recommend:

Mixed drinks:

Jen Queens Ang-Pau

Jen Queen Year of the Cocktail

Apricot & Kaffir Lime Martini

Spiced Bloody Mary

The Elbow


Pepper infused vodka

cardamon rose gin

Tom Yum Gin (so pretty much all of them)

They also serve delicious appetizers. Pictured below: dim sum

Georges Rhumerie

This place is all about rum, but not just any rum. This rum is made in house and to make it even better, it's all infused. This place is a MUST try in Siem Reap!

We arrived to Georges Rhumerie by rickshaw around 8pm and the place was not very busy. Perhaps because G.R  is located a bit "outside" of the tourist zone (aka away from Pub Street), and is why this place is not super crowded. If you want to hang out with some awesome expats and stay away from the crazy drunken tourists of Pub Street, this bar is great! The rickshaw ride was only $3 and it was totally worth the cruise outside downtown. Also, don't worry about getting back to your hotel. They have trusted rickshaw drivers waiting outside so when the bar is finally closed, they will help you get home safely. And after this journey through rum heaven, we definitely needed some assistance getting back.

We sat at the outdoor bar area, which is very casual, but if you need AC they also have an indoor restaurant. The relaxed atmosphere, very friendly bartenders, who joke around and talk with the customers is probably why so many expats (and us), love to hang out here. 

Our bartender served us a flight of rum shots to start with. The flight was 10 different infused rums, and if you think we can tell you what was our favorite, we would have to say all of them! We definitely recommend this sampling experience as all of the flavors are wonderfully unique.

We desperately needed to eat something after our "little" sampler of rums, so we ordered a delicious appetizers plate of samoussa, bouchon, baida and crackers with home-made delicious jams! Trust us, you will want to snack on something while you're sipping on one of their many delicious concoctions. The snacks were well paired with the drinks and we never thought that jam and crackers would go so well with rum, but we swear it's worth it!

We don't know when to say no to alcohol, and so when our bartender suggested that we try some of their cocktails we ordered not one, but two: Bokator and George's Grog, both very delicious, refreshing and light. 

Our master bartender, Houern, who was entertaining us the whole night told us that the staff likes to create their own drinks, and if they are popular they end up on the menu. He mixed us his latest creation, which was not yet listed on the menu, and we hope it has since been added because it was absolutely fantastic. It was hands down one of the best cocktails we've ever tasted. He called it a "Svay" or "Mango cocktail" ( ingredients: mango rum, mango juice, mint syrup, lime juice, milk). If you visit Georges you must try this cocktail!

Park Hyatt

The Park Hyatt is probably the most gorgeous hotel in Siem Reap, and we had the privilege of staying with them. We highly recommend that you go to and splurge at least one night with them and have a drink either on their patio surrounded by fire pits, enjoying a traditional dance performance (check schedule) or you can sip a cocktail in their gorgeous 'living room" lounge, decorated with pinks sofas, fresh lotus flowers, dimmed lights and soft music playing in the background. The design alone is worth the $10 plus drinks.

If you time your visit right, the traditional Cambodian dance performance is absolutely spectacular. Just sit in the patio and enjoy your drink and the show.

The Tipsy Gypsies recommend:

New York Sour

 Singapore Sling

Hemingways Diary

Victoria Angkor

This hotel has a great pool and if the day is hot, which is almost always the case in Siem Reap, there is no better way to cool down than by the pool while sipping on ice cold drinks. The best time to go is for brunch on the patio, overlooking the pool area or directly by the pool under umbrellas. There is also a bar inside the hotel and their drinks are very good, but there isn't much night life going on. 

The Tipsy Gypsies recommend:

Frozen Coconut Mojito

Passion Daiquiri

Mango "Caviar" Fizz

Angkor What?

Did we mention the buckets? Angkor What? is a very popular, if not the most popular bar in Siem Reap and it would be wrong not to mention it. It was probably our least favorite bar because it's a bit loud. Every time we went there to meet with friends they were blasting obnoxious music. We are not saying they should change what they are doing, just keep this is mind. If you are planning on conversing with friends at this bar, forget about it. But if you want to get some cheap buckets and dance your ankles off, this is the right place for you. Angkor What? is located on Pub Street and with it's grungy design and cheap drinks, it obviously attracts a younger crowd. The buckets are large and strong so be prepared to get shit faced or make some friends to share it with. And lastly, don't wear anything white as all those "invisible" stains will be shinning bright in their black lights. 

“The more I drink, the better I write and the more I write the better I drink.”

Disclaimer: We make sure to have at least few drinks before we start to write any bar or drink reviews! Because who wants to write about drinking when you're sober?