Tag Archives: Shopping

Do We Get Tired of Traveling?

We’re off on safari! I am not sure what kind of internet connection we will have, so I have set up a few posts to go live while we are away. These posts answer questions that friends and readers have asked about our journey. We’ll have updates from Namibia soon.

We’re often asked if we get tired of traveling. Isn’t it exhausting to manage two little kids? Aren’t we tired of living out of our bags?

Traveling with young children forces us to be slow. We are under no delusions that we are going to see every sight, climb every mountain and enjoy every meal. What’s great about traveling with the kids is that, by traveling slow, we really absorb what we are doing. We don’t travel as tourists, we travel as tempats – temporary expats. It works out well for the entire family. Sandeep and I aren’t the sightseeing type of tourists. We’d much rather spend the days getting lost in the backgrounds of a city than in it’s famous museums. Our preference, combined with the luxury of time, makes it easier to settle in to local neighborhoods and take life slowly.

What do we do to live tempat lives? We find local coffee shops that provide us with a sense of community. Our favorite thus far has been Mavra in IstanbulWe live and shop where the locals do. We rent apartments wherever we go and frequent grocery stores and markets. This helps us understand local food sourcing, preparation and consumption. I was not shy in Thailand to grill vendors about their strange wares at Thanin market. I have yet to poison the family with my cooking.

We take public transportation wherever available. It’s slower than a taxi, but it forces us to ride along with locals and possibly make friends along the way. The 101 in Penang was our lifeline around the island. The one place where we took taxis over public transportation was Athens, as we were warned about crime on the Metro.

We make friends at playgrounds. Sandeep and I are more than happy to exploit the kids in order to make local friends. Playgrounds, such as this on in the shadows of the twin towers in Kuala Lumpur, are a great place to meet other parents also hungry for adult conversation.

We walk around a lot. Rather than rushing to places, we walk (sometimes stumble, crawl, trot, hop, skip, shuffle) around as much as possible. Ava and Kayan literally stop to smell all the flowers but, after some frustration at our glacial pace, Sandeep and I realize that is part of the journey.

Some days we do nothing. We eat in, the kids paint and we surf the net. If we were going on short vacation with the kids, we would likely ramp up our travel pace. The benefit of being on extended travel means that it feels natural to take life slowly and on occasion do nothing.

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Lessons From Shopping at an Istanbul Mall

We spent our first week in Istanbul soaking up our immediate neighborhood. Beyoglu is sometimes referred to as the Soho of Istanbul. It’s the perfect base to explore tiny cafes, drink international wines or local raki, listen to live music and watch independent theater. Living hear reminds us a lot of living in New York’s East Village.

Sandeep needed to do some research on a few home furnishing stores so we decided to combine work and hopefully find some pleasure by breaking away from our area and exploring Istanbul’s most prestigious suburban mall, Istinye Park. We were heading well out of our comfort zone – we are not suburb people and we are not mall people.

Istinyi Park is a great way to observe how Istanbullu families spend their weekends. In a contrast to what we’ve seen in the city, fancy strollers harboring well dressed tots parade around the hallways. The mall has a large rotunda by the food court that is perfect for kids to burn of energy. The enterprising mall management has centered children’s toy and clothing shops, as well as a mesmerizing fountain, around it. As the kids engaged in an instant play date, we enjoyed coffee and caught up on the newest toys and gadgets, including these spiffy kiddie cars.

The mall is more upmarket than any I have been to in The States. It also required us to open our wallets wider. Sandeep and the kids started drooling at the thought of southern fried chicken, so we paid 14 Lira ($8) for a three piece meal. They’d say it was worth every penny and I had to pry the cleaned chicken leg bone out of Kayan’s grasp. In addition to the bill, the kofta place sandwiched between the American fast food joints was our only reminder that we were in Istanbul and not a ritzy suburb back home.

I passed on the chicken fest but found my happy place in the mall’s vast food bazaar, with vendors specializing in everything from specialty vegetables to sugar covered almonds in every color.

What did we learn during our day at the mall? Istanbul has a laid back side and a luxury side. The mall had stand alone multi-story buildings for brands Gucci and Louis Vuitton that were bigger than their 5th Avenue flagships. We also learnt that we have been out of touch with what’s new in popular culture. We didn’t recognize  any of the new English movies or children’s toys. And our outfits, reflecting what we packed five months ago in New York, were definitely not up to par with Istanbul style.

The luxury of spending time in a city is that we can explore its different faces. We’re loving Beyoglu, which provides many of the comforts of home with a decidedly Turkish flair, but we’ve also been able to glimpse the suburban life, which on the surface took us back to America.

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