Lifestyle Relationships Work

How to Travel Full-time: Interview with Ariel Lee (Cult of Lee)

July 31, 2015
cultgirl

Social media is a great way to connect with people from around the world. And with that, I love to check out photos of people traveling around the world as either a thing of expanding my bucket list of destinations, or as a way to wanderlust in my consistent mundane life (dramatic). With the snap of a finger or photo in this case, Instagram has been able to create a bridge to otherworldly destinations with people taking photos of luxurious and beautiful destinations. One of my favorite Instagram follows is Ariel Lee better known around the web as Cult of Lee.

I first discovered Ariel’s Instagram feed one day with her photo from Antelope Canyon in Arizona (photo here). I instantly thought to myself, this place is added to my bucket list, and man isn’t this a cool photo? As any person would do, I continued scrolling through her feed eyeing beautiful destinations like: South Ari Atoll (Maldives), Hong Kong, Big Sur and more.

Ariel is currently globetrotting, right now from Hong Kong and I got the chance to ask her a few questions for what I hope will become a full fledged and complete travel series. Check out the interview below, and make sure to check out Ariel on Instagram and her website.

cult1I know you were the co-founder of Boomrat but what else were you doing before you started to travel full-time?

I was in college at USC when I started Boomrat. In college I was doing freelance creative jobs in web design, branding, and graphic design. I also helped launch a restaurant called the Daily Dose that’s in DTLA.

That’s pretty cool. What initially got you into traveling, and how were you able to make it your full-time career?

I’ve always loved traveling, since as far back as I can remember. My mom was a stewardess for Cathay Pacific back in the day, and my dad grew up moving around as well, so I guess it’s in the genes :)

I wouldn’t call traveling my full-time career.. more like my lifestyle. You can live anywhere you want to.. I’ve just set it up so that right now my homes are tropical islands in SE Asia. For money at the moment I consult on creative direction and branding remotely, live off my savings, and am putting pieces together before I start my next venture.

I’ve always heard that when people travel alone, they really learn a lot about themselves because you’re forced to be with yourself. With exploring the world, what are some of the biggest things that you have learned about yourself while traveling?

I’ll be the first to admit that I have many deeply rooted patterns that I’m working on letting go of.. pieces of the Ego I’m trying to break down. This is a constant lifelong process, and the more I travel consciously the more I let go of. The most important part of travel is to push your boundaries. The further you push, the more you realize how strong you really are, and what you’re capable of.

Also I know that you recently took a 4-day hiatus in the jungle in one of my bucket list destinations of Bali. How was that, and how was it to really unplug for that long?

I did a 4 day silent meditation retreat with an awesome teacher, which involved 10 hours of meditation, pranayama and asana a day. No eye contact, no internet, no phones, no talking, but luckily on this trip we were allowed to journal. This was an awesome little preparation for more hardcore retreats like 10 day Vipassana’s that I’ll do when I go back to India. It’s a beautiful experience to not just unplug but to actively work on and explore your internal state. It’s more than beautiful.. it’s necessary!

cult2How do you choose your destinations that you will travel to and how do you locate experiences that are unique to each of those destinations?

I just go with the flow. I don’t make plans, I just let things fall into place. I’m flexible and I book one way tickets! That’s the best way to ensure an amazing experience… just go and experience!

How important are the relationships with locals you make along the way for exploring and finding local gems?

This is essential. I almost always have local friends ready to take me around when I fly into a place. Either friends or friends of friends that I’ve never met before. Helps immensely.

How important is it for you to build or find a community in the places you visit?

This is not so important for me – as long as I’m enjoying a place, I’ll stay. I also met my boyfriend Tristan in Bali last year so we’ve been traveling together since. Whomever we meet up with… that’s our community.

Another question about relationships, I know that with traveling, it may be hard to keep and stay connected with everyone from back home. Is it hard to stay consistent with those relationships, also how is dating since you’re gone a lot?

When you’re gone for a long time, you realize who your real friends are, and who your proximity friends are (people you just hang out with because it’s convenient). It’s easy to keep in touch with the ones that matter.. I whatsapp them all the time (or when I have wifi / 3G). I probably talk to my best friend in California at least once a day. I’ve been lucky with dating – I’ve been in a relationship for the past 8 months.

What have been the best cultural experiences thus far?

Living in India in itself is a cultural experience. That’s been the most rewarding and transformative one yet.

What are five tips you could give to anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps and travel full-time?

1) Stop buying things you don’t need to fill a void you don’t have.

2) Stop working a job that you hate to buy things you don’t need to fill a void you don’t have.

3) Cultivate skills that you can use abroad. People tutor online, or consult remotely, work in farms, bars, teach, etc. Make yourself useful.

4) Figure out what’s important to you.  What kind of places do you want to visit?  What are you trying to learn? Why do you want to travel in the first place?

5) Just go!

cult3Are there any places that people should look for or into for traveling deals, or work while they are traveling?

I heard about http://www.wwoof.net/ lately and it seems like an awesome alternative.

Last question, which is kind of a greedy foodie question, but how has the food been while traveling? Do you have a favorite dish from a country and if so, what was it?

There’s amazing food everywhere in SE Asia, which is where I’ve been based recently. The hardest place for me in terms of food was probably India.. a lot of amazing Indian food but not a lot of healthy options. Forget about kale salad. But they do have my favorite drink… Masala Chai tea. Nothing beats a good steaming cup. Dishes I can’t pick there are so many!

Lifestyle Relationships

The Misadventures of Single & Searching: Blind Dates, Porn & Velvet

July 31, 2015
People on phones with social media icon chalkboard

This was a post that I originally posted on Medium last year, but since I don’t post there much (and here either obviously) I thought to post it here as well.

Facebook makes me feel like I need to get my life together.

My friends from High School are getting married and starting families, and here I am beautiful, single, and writing on Medium currently. I have what it takes to be a great girlfriend so I’ve been told. I’m smart, witty, a music enthusiast, and I like Sports — Basketball only. I also can cook. Yes, I can cook. I would say I can throw down, but I’m not trying to toot my own horn… to much. I also love traveling, inexpensive dates to concerts or coffee shops so I’m pretty low maintenance and chill.

I’ve had lots of “Situationships” in the past filled with grey areas and unfulfilled dreams of last names and Happily Ever Afters. I’m always working which is why I think I’ve been out of the love market for a while. In hopes to change this, my friend suggested online dating. For me, going to a defined area for soliciting a man seemed like a foreign idea. I’ve had my share of online loves courtesy MySpace but never a platform designed exclusively for it. However, in the spirit of being young and doing as my best friend in my head Drake says “YOLO” I got my life together and joined OkCupid.

Today, online dating isn’t taboo like past years with documentaries like Love Byte and magazines doing exposes on the topic, but I was still a little hesitant to tell people that I myself, was partaking in the adventure. After I filled out a questionnaire which seemed somewhat excessive I entered the land of online dating and met some interesting people. One guy said he wanted to start a Tech/Music Podcast with me and another suggested I help his Rap career by being his publicist. I met one guy however, who was a little quirky, funny and bearded named Mike.

After I deactivated my account — after three days, and weeks of talking, Mike and I agreed to have coffee on a Sunday afternoon.

Mike came to the East Bay from San Francisco on BART and I had to pick him up because he doesn’t drive. He was shorter than I imagined, his style was also random. He wore: Chucks, Jeans, a Hoodie and a Velvet Blazer. I wasn’t sure what his look was trying to achieve — was he an eccentric poet, or a tacky man? My curious mind was visible on my face I assume because he asked me what was on my mind and I played it off talking about how the Isaiah Rashad song that blurred from my speakers made me think.

Once we got out of the car and walked to the coffee shop, he complimented me and held the doors open for me. He also got me an Iced Tea to drink while he ate his Meatball Sliders. While at the table we talked about life and how I was his 12th date from OkCupid which raised flags. He also started rolling weed from his pocket while he told me he works in the Porn industry and is a creative on the side.

Me: “You work in Porn?”

Him: “Yes, I’m a set designer currently, but I would love to get into it in the future.”

My face I’m more than sure read puzzled as I had no response — I know that Porn is a lucrative industry. It’s a billion dollar industry to be completely honest but I couldn’t imagine myself dating a guy who is a Porn star. In response I did what most people would do in this situation and listened to the noise that pigeons make when they are mating. Have you ever realized that Pigeons really do make this noise, I had no idea.

Needless to say, I am now off of OkCupid and online dating but I have a better understanding of nature.

Music

The Internet – “Girl” (Prod. Kaytranada) Music Video

June 25, 2015

Since I haven’t really blogged, I missed posting this but phew, this is my favorite song I swear. After giving us a little teaser of the track a few months back, The Internet is finally releasing the visuals for their Kaytranada produced single (banger in my opinion) “Girl”.  The song will make it’s home on The Internet’s forthcoming album, Ego Death, which will be out June 30th. You can pre-order the album now via iTunes as well.

Also, if you happen to be in the Bay Area July 11th, make sure to check out The Internet and more at Wine and Bowties presents the Feels 3. For more information on the event click here.

Wine and Bowties Presents The Feels 3

Music

Video: Overdoz – “Last Kiss”

June 25, 2015

As of late, one of my favorite songs has been “Last Kiss” by Los Angeles based group OverDoz. Let’s face it, OverDoz always makes jams- think “Dested” or “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girlfriend” and that trend continues with this song. It makes me want to dance, have some ribs, a Corona and just chill.

The video for the Pharrell produced jam follows suit. In the video, we see the group trying to get rid of female drama while trying to have a party. The song will be making its home on Overdoz’ upcoming album 2008, which will be out later this year.

 

Books

‘The Opposite of Loneliness” By Marina Keegan Review

June 25, 2015

When I first read the story of Marina Keegan and how her collection of Essays and Stories in the form of ‘The Opposite of Loneliness” came together, I knew it was something I had to read.

I knew however with reading this book, I may be in my feelings and may even cry from reading it. You see the thing is, Marina graduated from Yale in 2012.  She had the world in the palm of her hands–she had been published in the New York Times, interned at prestigious publications, and had already created a resume that would make many jealous including myself.

During her graduation, Marina spoke to her class through an essay referred to as the same title of the book saying essentially how they were all young and had their whole world in front of them, and that the community they created while at Yale was the opposite of being alone. Sadly however, while on Cloud 9 with a new sense of independence Marina passed away after her boyfriend fell asleep at the wheel. She died instantly, and he walked away unharmed.

A terrible tragedy her passing was, and understandably so, her parents needed closure of some sort so they along with one of her professors Anne Fadiman put together a collection of essays Marina wrote and put them together in this book.

What these essays show is that if Marina were in fact alive, she may be one of the literary voices of our time. She wrote so well, and created pictures and stories that were almost so vivid and vibrant that you could see them happening. Some of the essays in the book were nonfiction and others fiction and for me, two stories stood out while reading the book.

The first story that stood out to me was the very first essay “Cold Pastoral.” The essay tells the story of a somewhat first love between a guy and a girl, where the guy passes away. Initially, I got a chilling feeling when reading the first page, but eventually I was able to actually absorb the essay. As the essay continues, you see the girl having another sense of heartbreak where I almost felt like crying for her. Without giving the story away too much, there’s a pretty sad love triangle that becomes exposed through a journal.

The second story that I love was in the non-fiction section “Against the Grain.” The story opens with a line that made me sad once again, “On my deathbed, I will instruct a nurse to bring me the following: a box of Oreos, a bag of Goldfish, a McDonalds hamburger, an assortment of Dunkin’ Donuts, a chicken pot pie, a Hot Pocket, a large pepperoni pizza, a French crepe, and an ice-cold beer. In my final moments, I will consume this food slowly and delicately as I fade to oblivion.” When you hear what her friends have to say about her, this essay really personifies the person who I think Marina was. She was funny, nonchalant, and witty. She also like her friend said, would speak about death in a way that it didn’t seem like such a sad or depressing thing. Some of the lines here were super quirky, but overall the essay made me laugh in it’s matter of fact tone.

Overall, when I posted that I was reading this book many asked if I would suggest this book and I can honestly say, yes. Marina was such a great writer. The stories are good and short but not so short that you’re left wondering what happened, but short and complete. It’s a quick read, but a great read. Also, the quotes from other writings from Marina that open each essay is a nice touch as well.

In closing, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book.

I want enough time to be in love with everything.

Purchase the “The Opposite of Loneliness” here.

Uncategorized

Music: SiR – “Love You” (Prod. by Knxwledge)

June 10, 2015

On one of my SoundCloud binge sessions, I came across the page of Los Angeles based singer SiR. On his interlude, “Playa” which is a Dilla track, he says this line which I was then and still am convinced speaks to the core of who I am as a person: “…The whole town know I’m all about dark skinned girls with thick hips and pretty smiles, and she fits the description” (I know my selling points). But ever since then, I’ve been keeping track of what Sir has been coming out with and am very excited that he’s about to release his debut album Seven Sundays on July 31st via Fresh Selects. 

From the album, SiR is releasing his first offering in the form of “Love You” produced by Knxwledge (Stones Throw & To Pimp A Butterfly) . This song is smooth and makes you want to two-step and just be in love. Sir’s album Seven Sundays features Andersoon Paak, Chris Dave, Iman Omari, Tiffany Gouche and more.

Listen to the single and pre-order the album here.