Next stop is... Asia! T-minus 30 days 💕✈️ Catch the updates and bikinis here.

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To celebrate my first year of being vegan, I wanted to share some of my favorites! Pasta for those cheat days :D The Delallo Gnocchi & Zest Vegan Basil Pesto are both on Amazon!

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1. SheIn : Open Front Sweater Coat- YASSSS
2. Coconut Lime Verbena Candle- because anything coconut in winter
3. Solid Color Yoga Blanket- with or w/o the yoga (grey because 'tis the season)
4. Duck Boots: Two-tone and insulated. Navy is cuter than black sometimes and synthetic is the way to go for the fur friends.

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I encourage all of you ladies, men too, to go over and check out Sheshreds.co. As an Ambassador for the company, I have a lot of faith in what these ladies are doing, and am also inspired/over my head impressed with how hard they kick ass.

Sheshreds aims "to make sure that every girl who wants to shred can. And feels damn good doing it. As a cultural experience, we celebrate ladies of all ages who are out there getting their shred on … loving life … being daring … and “gettin’ some” in action/adventure sports/activities, and beyond. And for the ladies who haven’t found the courage yet … we look forward to finding you."

You can also get 10% off when you use code "SAMANTHACLIFTON"

Featured: Sheshreds hooded jacket

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I had a massive 3 week trip planned. A week with Chloe, my best friend and in all shapes and forms otherwise my sister, in Santa Cruz, California- followed with a 2 week binge trip to the Maldives. It was our second time globetrotting together, the first being in 2012 after graduating from high school. We went to Prague, Czech Republic for a TEFL course, and that will be a separate post for you to indulge in!

The week in Santa Cruz was relaxing and enjoyable. Having family there, I hung out with my cousin Michael trekking on the ridge, through a creepy old zoo ground, and popping out onto the Santa Cruz Golf Course, followed by some legit AF Asian cuisine during a Hawks game. This was all followed by drinks and an Italian (VEGAN!) dinner another night with my Aunt Teri and Uncle David. There was much needed catching up to do with my family while Chloe finished up her finals that week.

Then there was the actual take off. We left San Francisco, flew over the North Pole for about 14 hours, layover in Dubai for an awful 12 hour layover in the middle of the night- I showered in the airport bathroom and Chloe tried getting some extra sleep.

As we flew into the Maldives we were snapping pictures of the coral islands, making up what are referred to as atolls, scattered across the aqua horizons of the Indian Ocean. As our planes landing was delayed, we circled the island for an extra half an hour and the excitement for our tropical getaway set in.

We landed and proceeded to be passively nudged in line, as manners were not of importance to other passengers while waiting to go through security checks. After all, we weren’t ALL trying to go enjoy this beautiful country. After the hustle and bustle of the airport security, finding a taxi for our hotel after waiting an hour for them to pick us up, we ended up on a long curving rode in Male, the capital, leading us through what I would consider a less visited and ill-maintained part of the country. There was garbage filling the streets and abandoned buildings both sides of the street we were staying on. It seemed as though everything was under construction, and not quite suited for tourism.

Within hours of walking into our hotel room at the UI Inn, with what was maybe a 1×1′ window and poor ventilation, we made a few calls and cancellations, especially after realizing that the community had little to offer in terms of shops, even for the ABUNDANCE of mosquitos we were fighting off. The next morning we hopped a speed boat and made our first stop in Huraa, north of Male. We were welcomed to a small hotel, the Sunset Holiday, with fresh juice and a young gentleman versing a list of tourist activities and snorkeling destinations, who then, along with the hotel owner, took us on a walk around the parameter of the island (10 minutes?) and showed us the “bikini beach”. This is when our trip started to twist and turn.

We realized slowly that all of the reviews saying there are only certain public spaces due to the Muslim population, were very true. Chloe having traveled to primarily Muslim countries before, doubted that we would have a hard time finding bikini friendly areas and alcohol. Our stay on Huraa was short and very awkward, especially when the housekeeper kept walking into our hotel room without asking and at one point was banging on our door to come in(?)  Followed by what I remember as the same guy, trying to impress us by catching a bird, that he actually ended up killing because he kept dropping it. Not very impressive for two vegan chicks. Wanting to escape and get our drink on after days of planes and boats sober, on Christmas day we went to a private resort called  Club Med Kani Maldives, which provided all of our 20-something year old needs, alcohol included. At Club Med we ran through a foam pit, swam in infinity pools, drank unlimited mixed beverages and witnessed Santa Claus come onto the beach via parasail.

A day or two later Chloe and I went on to the third island, Thulusdhoo. Here we met extremely hip kids at our hotel, Batuta Maldives Surf View Guesthouse . We were on the main tourist beach next door to a few surf lodges, owned and ran by Australian’s. Though alcohol WASN’T permitted on this island, we went out for dinner with some local guys who led us to a hang out spot where they had their extra curricular substances, hash being their “thing”. At thing point Chloe was almost on a food high, after trying a weird delicacy food made of dried-out sea corral paste on *mint? basil*? Whatever it was gave Chloe a buzz, what she described as almost an overdose on toothpaste. So here we were, on the top floor of an abandoned hotel, with 2 local Muslim boys smoking hash. Oh, and barefoot. Nobody in Thulusdhoo wears shoes.

The next day we headed across the water to Chicken Surf Point to snorkel and watch surfers go out. It was a small island that was perfect for the Instagram shots, and even better for some quiet.

The best part of every trip is talking to the locals, especially that are around the same age. We learned that everyone worked every day, one day off a month for the most part. Making around $300-$400 a month. I wish I remembered everyone’s name, but I remember their stories.

The girl we saw all three meals on Huraa for the duration of our stay was from Nepal, where she left earlier that year because of the Nepal Earthquake. She left her family behind to make money to send back home. I asked her how often she worked, and she said everyday, all three meals, and spent her one day off a month resting. She had only been to the main island and capital once since her arrival. I still get a lump in my throat imagining the sacrifices she had made. She was the only female we had met working on that island.

In Thulusdhoo, the two young guys we met told us about what it was like being Muslim. We were surprised because they were so remote and so fluent in English. They knew English, Arabic, and the Maldives had their own language as well. I kept a piece of newspaper because the Maldivian script was just so insane to look at. They told us the laws and how they go about drinking and smoking and being boys. Usually their way of legally drinking is by going out on the Safari boat rides or going to the resorts for the day. They told us basically any native Maldivian was related, and they laughed at my jokes about kissing your cousin. They said there wasn’t much dating going on.

Unfortunately, Thulusdhoo was the most fun island with the nicest people, but we already called home during our awkward experiences at Huraa to get tickets to Hikkaduwa Beach in Sri Lanka. After a week on the islands and a little thirsty for more, we hopped on a three hour ferry boat, ending our stay in the Maldives watching a little boy throw up in plastic bags that the attendant continued to throw out the window and into the ocean.

My recommendations for the Maldives:

-Explore the little islands

-Get to know the locals

-Go to a resort for a day or two of luxury

-Don’t contribute to the littering, all of the trash was being burned and thrown in the ocean

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When I was a young and hip 17 year old, freshly graduated from high school, I took off and out of the country for the first time with my bestie Chloe (as mentioned in my Maldives post). We were gone for about 4 weeks taking our TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course, and then I added an extra week or so onto the trip while she hopped over to Amsterdam with our friend Nick from back home.

While there, I not only received my TEFL certificate, that has yet to have any use, but I also had my first experience of being off my own soil. It was a challenge. Not just the language, or the metro station, but really just being a, well, being on my own and without my parents guiding me. I was flying solo, of course with my similarly immature best friend by my side. We got drunk, we got high, we did school work as usual. I saw Springsteen in concert, like, THE BOSS. We got lost at Cross Club, and locked out of the subway station at midnight. We wandered until 5am when it opened. We ate a lot of fried cheese, pizza, walked across the Charleston Bridge, went to the Prague Castle, took pictures and signed the Lennon Wall. It was an experience I’ll never forget. That is why I have been moved to not only travel again, but more, and for always.

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Preceding a series of strange and unexpected events in the Maldives, we ( Chloe & I) jetted over to Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. We settled into our hotel seamlessly, downtown in the hustle and bustle of restaurants and shopping right by the beach. Not without a life threatening cab ride from the airport on a lawless highway. We spent the week on the beach, bartering for handmade clothes. I had a bathing suit specially made, an awesome experience and even cuter cut. All you had to do was pick the bikini stencil off the wall, choose a fabric, be measured by the seamstress, and the next day you give them $15 for an entire bikini, made especially for you. DEALS. The next morning we were riding tuk-tuks, eating abnormal amounts of hummus and fresh loaves of bread, and drinking tea. We later met up with Susan, chloe’s mom, and continued the next few days by celebrating Susan’s birthday.

One day I took a surf lesson, for the first time ever. I did stand up and ride out a wave, woohoo! We met an Israeli man at one small restaurant. He stepped in for the owners that day and didn’t actually own or even work at the restaurant. He was staying behind the restaurant in apartments that he helped renovate. He was a lawyer, a wealthy seeming one at that, and surfed every morning and every evening. He was good with the ladies, so he said. I’d assume he was.

We ran into him again later on the beach. That day we received massages on the beach by a pushy little man, bought some of his aloe plant, bought tapestries from the women walking up and down the beach, and met a man that was deaf. Chloe and I both having been in ASL before, were able to carry out a pretty decent conversation with him and learned a lot about how life in Sri Lanka was for him.

One particular night, Susan’s birthday specifically, I found myself in a deep abyss of “too f*ked-upness”. At a bar called The Secret Spot, we sat on pillows smoking hookah and kicking back fruity drinks. I remember walking up and down the beach to find different bars, joined by our new friends from the Netherlands (that went on and on about their crazy experiences doing an exchange trip in India and how they rented a tuk-tuk for the duration of their stay in Sri Lanka). I remember blowing out Susan’s birthday candles, trying to have a super hip and relevant conversation with the bartender who happened to be from New Jersey, which is sooo close to Seattle, apparently. I was the definition of a walking shit show.

The next morning came and I rolled out of bed. Seconds later, my head was in the toilet. My stomach was pulsing and I couldn’t find enough liquids to cure an unimaginable drought taking place from the pit of my stomach to my brain. I was vomiting through my nostrils, and all my senses we overwhelming with the buzz of hookah smoke. Why didn’t I stop smoking that shit?! I felt bad, and also like death. Susan and Chloe continued to pack and look for a place to eat before we caught a cab to the airport that morning. I folded, went to the bathroom, folded, and again.

The cab arrived and we were back on the lawless roads of Sri Lanka. I luckily fell asleep at one point, only waking up to the rugged and abrupt movements of the taxi. I looked at Susan and Chloe and could tell they were avoiding asking me how I was doing in fear of making me sick. We eventually made it to the airport, following the most uncomfortable car ride of my life, and hunted down French fries and dense food for the flight into Dubai.


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