19 July 2012

Gulliver's Travels

First off, without further ado, let's announce the two lucky winners of the Too Much Soul giveaway! Remember, ladies, Too Much Soul offers up trendy affordable jewelry - no piece is over $15 and shipping is free for orders over $30.

Drawn at random, the two winners are: Taylor from Two Wheelers & Jessica from Breakfast at Gigis!

Congrats, gals, you will contacted directly by the Too Much Soul crew to select your item and fulfill your winnings. Thanks to all who participated!

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floral paisley

I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to travel and visit places that I typically could only dream about. I know I whine about the whole “getting there” part, but I am genuinely happy to have the opportunity, even though the whole “work thing” typically gets in the way of my being able to enjoy myself thoroughly at the new locales. My recent trip got me thinking about all the cultural quirks that I run into when I visit new places so I thought I’d share some of the things that have stuck in my non-cultured mind -

The biggest (and most obvious) thing that struck me about my trip to the UK was their driving on the left side of the road. Because though I was there for a week and passed numerous “look right” signs on the crosswalks, I still could not get my head around the right way to look or turn for traffic. If I was supposed to drive in the UK, I am pretty sure that I don’t think my mind could work its way through that. And having afternoon tea with the assorted yummy sandwiches and scones – seriously, how excellently civilized (and clotted cream, I don't hate you).

floral paisley  floral paisley

I adore France, but it’s got its own pace and style that even the locals can’t help but smirk at. Like asking the reception guys at a luxury hotel in Paris on getting a taxi and being directed to go to the taxi stand down the block, instead of having someone hail one for you like I've seen every other hotel do (I know, I know, First World problems …). Or not being able to get hold of local vendors because it is either the month-long summer vacation season or one of the five million national holidays or someone has earned so much time off they “have” to take it. But the quality and importance of food and eating in that country - Paris is the only city where I will eat steak tartare. And every time it has been delicious and I have been able to just sit and savor.

When I went to the Middle East for the first time, I was expecting a slightly different attitude towards women and Westerners – but even when you’re expecting it, you don’t really expect it, if you get what I mean. And though Dubai is about as cosmopolitan and Westernized as you can get in the Middle East, you still have to get used to women being served last, people addressing the men in your group even if they are referring to you (and you’re standing right there), and not having priority over Emerati, no matter how much money you think you can throw around (not like I go around "making it rain" anyways ... ).

floral paisley

Singapore was about how multicultural the entire place was. Mosques and temples and churches were located right next to each other and all these different religions and cultures seemed to mesh together seamlessly. Plus almost everyone speaks English, the entire country is impeccably pristine, the food is delish and it makes for a good Asia 101 point for newbs.

Guilian (aka not a major city in), China was realizing that in fact there are people on this planet who have never seen a blonde-haired, blue-eyed person before. And they are not afraid to gawk. And follow. And point.

Surprising about the Netherlands was how open everyone was – like, use your blinds and curtains, people! And how for a country of really tall, big people, they all have no qualms about crowding into the smallest cars, bars, hotel rooms, restaurant tables imaginable without batting an eye.

In your travels near or far, what have been the most surprising/unusual/amusing things you ran into when experiencing other cultures?

floral paisley

Dress: Asos paisley floral (on sale - sim, sim, luxe)
Necklace: J.Crew tessellate via Ebay (original, sim, pricey)
Belt: Asos metal keeper (sim)
Bracelet: Asos pyramid stretch (worn here - sim, sim)
Clutch: UO woven flap (worn here - sim, sim, luxe)
Shoes: Vince Camuto bello (worn here - sim, wedge, chunky)

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And please don't forget to enter my Shopbop giveaway for a $100 gift card! Giveaway is open internationally.

60 comments:

  1. I appreciate how honest you are about the experience in Dubai - most people try to be very politically correct about how women are treated there. I lived in the Middle East for 10 years and the treatment of women is still in the dark ages.

    Also, when you get bored of that dress you should send it to me. ;)

    ~Natasha Fatah~
    ~Natasha Fatah~

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  2. oh my goodness this is just so so so fabulous! i love that dress! i wish i had the opportunity to travel more. i've been to africa and rome, but that's about it. i might be going to dubai in october for work... thank you for sharing your experiences!

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    1. I'd love to go to Rome! Well, if you ever want any recs or anything for Dubai, let me know.

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  3. The paisley print on your dress is just gorgeous!

    You've been to so many different countries! I'm impressed by how well traveled you are. I haven't traveled much (mostly due to my major flying anxiety) but I felt the same way in the Bahamas because they also drive on the left. We thought about renting a scooter but I'm pretty sure we would've gotten killed with the traffic being on the other side!

    -Sharon
    The Tiny Heart

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    1. Girl, I used to get major air sick. I've just learned to try to sleep as much as possible (easier to say than do) and whenever it gets bumpy, make sure I'm buckled and close my eyes so I don't get nauseous trying to read or anything.

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  4. What a fantastic dress you are wearing - love the print and you look fabulous, as usual.

    I had a similar experience in the Middle East when I was in Cairo with my sister in the late '90s. We made the mistake of wearing shorts from the airport to the hotel. Luckily we made friends with a male American journalist on the plane who helped us with a taxi to our hotel and reminded us to wear pants. Didn't like the way women were treated there at all, and it looks like things haven't changed much.

    On that same trip we were down in Zimbabwe and Botswana on safari and everyone wanted our Nikes. We would have traded them except they were the only shoes we had!

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    1. You go to more off-the-beaten-path locals and I really admire your sense of adventure. And note to self, if I ever go to Africa, bring Nikes.

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  5. I love all your travel commentaries! (and jealous of all that you have seen and places you have been!)

    Probably one of the most random thing I have seen was in Budapest. I was looking out my (very nice in a very nice neighborhood) hotel in the Pest area and saw a mother just pull her 5 year old pants down, plop him over a bush and let him go....in plain sight...on a public parkway...with public bathrooms in sight. Apparently, this is very normal in a lot of European countries. Also, people walking around with open alcoholic containers EVERYWHERE in Kiev was a bit interesting...and sad, as alcoholism is rampant there.

    I adore your dress. If it would not turn my entire complexion green, I would buy it on the spot...but instead I will marvel at it's loveliness on you :)

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    1. I had co-workers visit major cities in Bangalore and they saw some things that would put your Budapest comment to shame, haha - but there's a different kind of "normal" wherever we go!

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  6. I really don't think I could handle driving on the other side of the road...I get stressed out enough driving as it is lol! I love your dress, and dying over that necklace!

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  7. I have live in Dubai for 6 years the first 2 years was a struggle totally a culture shock! Sands are evrywhere! I witnessed all this Booming building works all over dubai, Houses, Malls and Malls and more MAlls ;-) I have no problems living there as long you are respecting their culture. Yep showing more skin is a No no no... even me I feel ashamed with some Foreign women who wore just their Bikinis and on a See through dress in the Mall!

    I love Paris but hating to eat in the restaurant WAiters are so snob they are not so friendly at all :-(

    You look so stunning on that gorgeous dress ;-)

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    1. Yes - I remember seeing girls in skimpy tanks and short shorts walking through mosques and other older areas of town as tourists and I couldn't help thinking, "cover up, girl!"

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  8. OMG...i LOVE your dress! just put it in my cart! your posts always make me think...and then i have like a 12 page comment so this time i will just stick with the fashion! =)

    xoxo, jenn
    the stylish housewife

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  9. this is such a great look! love everything about this outfit.


    kisses,
    jasmine
    AdamAlexMommy

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  10. I loooooove this outfit! One of my faves. Ever!

    I just had a similar conversation with a friend after another friend that moved to India posted on fb that she wasn't prepared for all of the gawking she would get as a black woman in India. I had a similar experience while visiting Russia. I don't think many of the people had ever seen a person of color so there was lots of pointing and starring and on one unfortunate occasion a racial slur hurled at me.

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    1. It is 2012, but sometimes I forget that there are still many many parts of the world that are immensely homogeneous and not used to anything different than themselves.

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  11. OMG, I won!!! This is literally only the 2nd thing I've won ever! This is too exciting!! Thank you!

    You are so well traveled! I've never been out of the states--in fact, I crossed the Mississippi for the first time in 2010. And by crossed, I mean we drove across it just so I could say I had.

    And I'm totally into paisley or handkerchief prints right now. Love the dress!!!

    Wow, thanks again for doing the giveaway!

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  12. you've been to some amazing places Lisa! it was fun reading the high and low points (well not low, but different or rather unique). what's strange to us is normal to others and vice versa. i've only traveled within the US so i haven't come across anything that has shaken me up. congratulations to the winners and hope you have a great day! the dress you're wearing is gorgeous.
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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  13. You are so lucky to travel to amazing places for your job. I have not had the chance to travel extensively where I currently work, the last trip was in Europe and I loved Paris.

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  14. I love this post! It's so interesting to hear what you have to say! I especially loved the paragraphs about Singapore and Netherlands. I lived in the UK for about six months and the traffic thing was so hard! When I'd want to cross the street, I'd just look both ways five times before crossing because I couldn't get the hang of looking right then left!!
    --Vivienne

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    1. I thought I'd get used to the UK traffic thing after about a week - nope. Still got confused, still looked both ways a million times and dashed. And it freaked me out that the little green man on the crosswalk light would just vanish instead of counting down or turning yellow - always got me from walking to sprinting!

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  15. 1) I love this look. i'm trying to get my paws on a tessallate necklace myself...

    2) don't mess with bikes in amsterdam. they will run you down.

    3) don't walk into a bar in the czech countryside and expect to be served. you may be chased out. and talk about a language barrier.

    4) don't trust anyone in any country. i've seen kids try to pickpocket someone in italy.

    5) embrace the fact that in some places beer is cheaper than water. and never drink the water - get bottles.

    6) italy will always have my heart. always. the food, the culture, the people.. london is a close second.

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    1. No.2 - YES! I am more scared of them than cars in Amsterdam!
      No.3 - wow, holy crap.
      No.4 - my sis and her hubby when to Italy on vacay once and while on the bus, a group of men literally surrounded my sister and tried to take her purse. Good thing for her, that girl has a set of pipes!

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  16. Driving on the left side of the road is WEIRD. It was on my "bucket list" (I don't really have one) to drive standard on the left side of the road, and I did outside of Dublin two years ago. So weird. I kept almost sideswiping parked cars on the left side because your sense of perception is all wrong, and I kept turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signals (because that's backwards) and punching the door when looking for the gearshift. I drove for about 10 minutes and then I gave up and let the boyfriend drive again. But I can say I did!

    Love the dress and necklace combo!

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    1. Oh you brave girl. I don't think I could do it at all!

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  17. First off, you look beautiful! Second, I am absolutely jealous at your ability to travel, for that is what I would most like to do on a professional/pleasurable basis. I chuckled at your description of getting accustomed to the customs in other countries. Either way, you look fab and I hope you had a nice time.

    * * * glamBLOUSE * * *
    http://www.glamblouse.blogspot.com/

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  18. Gorgeous outfit!! http://www.natalyascloset.com/

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  19. One of the things I love most about travelling is seeing whether my preconceptions hold up or not. It's also one of the things I enjoy most about people coming to visit (e.g. the whole time I lived in Australia, everyone who left at the end of their trip seemed surprised that they hadn't been bitten by a shark, a snake OR a spider!)

    My biggest culture shock actually came when I moved to DC. I expected it to be fairly similar to Australia and I think that's where I went wrong. I was sick for about the first three months because my body couldn't deal with the corn syrup in EVERYTHING, I realised a use a lot of words that are apparently distinctly Australian and I learned how to play a game called beer pong (we don't get kegs for parties in Australia so it was a whole new experience!)

    When I moved to Geneva, I was shocked that for such a multicultural city (I mean, the UN is here), the quality of food - and particularly Asian food - is atrocious. Worse, you can expect to pay around the equivalent of $50 for dinner pretty much wherever you go (and that's not a three-course meal). On the up-side, it makes travelling anywhere else seem extra awesome and super cheap!

    PS That dress is truly divine - love the whole look!

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    1. I've been to Geneva a couple of times and topless sunbathers on the pier in the middle of the city aside, thought the place was beautiful! My only thing about the place was that I felt everything closed down really early. My last trip there, we literally had some sort of Italian food every night - not sure if it was on purpose or not, but I'm glad I didn't try for Asian (though I did get talked to going to a Mexican restaurant once in Amsterdam - no bueno).

      Girl, you are so well-traveled! I would love love love to be able to visit Australia and New Zealand one day!

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  20. What a beautiful dress ...
    I just did a post on, precisely, FLOWERS! aren't they the best Summer print?
    You look great.

    * STYLE ID NET *
    * Filomenas Closet *

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  21. Oh my goodness, the color of that dress is beautiful! I really appreciate your frankness about your travels, too.

    So this is going to sound like such a dumb question, but I didn't want to ask it on the Shopbop contest post and mess with your numbering system-- when you say PA bloggers aren't eligible to enter, is that PA as in Pennsylvania? (please say no!)

    xo Julie
    ♥Julie Rose Sews♥

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    1. Hi Julie - yes, unfortunately I mean Pennsylvania, sorry! It's a rule from Shopbop.

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  22. I love reading your travel diaries! I'd love a job where I could always travel places! The print of your dress is gorgeous by the way! x

    The Style Moodboard

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  23. Can't say I travel much. For work or otherwise. I would like too one day though! I love hearing your stories and I really love this pretty vintage-esque dress!

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    1. Thanks. I adore this dress myself - except it has this exposed zipper in the back and unfortunately my hair is the perfect length to get caught in it!

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  24. Looove this dress! I found most locals in Paris to be able to spot Americans from a mile away & instantly be rude to them. Maybe it was just because we hit all the most touristy spots so they were sick of us, but still. I also hate seeing "typical Americans" in foreign countries. Can we please try to blend in a little better people? I sorta can't imagine going to the Middle East, because of what you speak about, but Dubai looks SO.Cool! I'd love to see all the amazing structures (man-made islands, buildings, etc) that I've seen all over the internet.

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    1. I felt a bit like the Parisians love/hate the foreigners in their city. When I was there, I recall some locals mentioning how gawdy the Eiffel Tower light show was and how trashy the Champs Elysees had become, but then on the other hand, it's partly tourism keeping the city afloat in a bad economy. But shoot, I feel the same way - coming from NYC, whenever I visit, I think, oh you crappy lost tourists clogging up the streets, but then the city wouldn't be quite the same without them!

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  25. Beautiful dress on you Lisa! Japan also drives on the left side of the road so I know exactly how you were feeling!!

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    1. Oh no, I couldn't handle it! I remember visiting Hong Kong for the first time and accidentally trying to get into the driver side of the taxi where I was really meaning to get into the passenger seat.

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  26. Oh your job sounds so freaking awesome and like a dream come true!

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    1. Hahah, thanks! I am lucky that I get to travel for my job, but sometimes I feel like all I get to see is the inside of my hotel room and the meeting location! There are so many places I wish I had an opp to really be able to experience!

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  27. Love the green statement necklace against the yellow floral dress.

    I think it's great that your job allows you to travel and see the world. I became a mom really early on, and I've always urged my daughters to take some time for themselves and travel after college, because it's not as easy with toddlers :P

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    1. My sister's hubby is waiting for the day when their son is old enough for a father/son backpack trip through Europe! ;o)

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  28. I seriously love this outfit! Yellow + pink + green = stunning! :)
    www.colorfulcorporate.blogspot.com

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  29. Those quirks are interesting, aren't they! Not so much a quirk, but what I find interesting is the moment we (meaning me and hubby, or me and sis, or me and friend) speak, outside of North America, people just assumed we're Americans:p Hence the lil pins conveniently showing somehow somewhere hahaha... love the necklace!

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    1. Well, to a lot of Europeans, I think, we're all just a bunch of North Americaners! ;o)

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  30. So nice print and you look great! Love that necklace!

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  31. I adore this outfit...bought the dress because it looked so devine on you...

    Rosalyn
    www.just2fancy.blogspot.com

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  32. Like Lauren, I like seeing whether things match up with expectations and stereotypes. Often they don't: Out of eight days in the UK, for example, we had only one day of bad weather. And everyone I encountered in France, both in Paris and Provence, was polite and accommodating of my poor French.

    I agree that Singapore is a very easy place to visit as an American or an otherwise monolingual Anglophone person. If you haven't already, you should try to make time to visit the national orchid gardens on your next visit — just incredible!

    One of the customs I've found most interesting is the Spanish practice of going to a cafe at 5 p.m. for a drink and a snack, such as chocolate and churros. It seems like a great way to wind down the day, especially because without it you'll be famished by the time the dinner hour rolls around at 9 or 9:30.

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    1. I would love for an opp to visit Spain or Portugal - unfortunately not yet.
      And I really enjoyed going to Singapore. I had an opp to visit more than once but unfortunately it doesn't look like I'll be revisiting this year - the food there is delish!

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  33. Well, I WISH I could say I'm well traveled. Loved reading this post though. I'm dreaming of gorging myself with delicious carbs in Italy... Someday!

    Love this dress on you Lisa!

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    1. I've been to Italy once in my life and unfortunately did not have much spare time to wander. But the food there IS delicious! Did not have one bad meal there.

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  34. What a beautiful print! I love how you styled it!! That J.Crew necklace is calling my name.:)
    -amy
    www.dreamingincashmere.com

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  35. wow- I am dying over the contrast of the green necklace with this gorgeous yellow print! You can bet I am now looking to recreate it! I just suddenly went necklace crazy so I think I need to find one of these...

    I love foreign landscapes- the way something can be simultaneously breathtakingly alien and yet there are so many familiar qualities. Like how the spring greenery in a South African national park looked just like the bushes and shrubs of east coast Canada- except for the herds of elephants and giraffes roaming in and out! Or seeing the same wildflower blooming in the Bavarian Alps as you've picked on a Canadian prairie field!

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  36. You look gorgeous! My most memorable experiences traveling is likely the one time I went to the Middle East. I was unaware of the things I'd run into traveling alone as a female. For starters, it took the crew some discussion to figure out where to place me on the airplane. Once I landed, all the women disappeared, so I thought, and though I was young and brash, I felt very uncomfortable until my dad "rescued" me from the airport.

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  37. What a beautiful dress! I love how you paired the Tessellate necklace with it :) It's been so long since I've traveled (been pregnant or nursing for the past 4 years), that I don't honestly remember any surprises on past trips, LOL

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  38. OMG! Lisa, you look amazing in this dress. But then again, you always look incredible. I may have to consider buying this dress for myself. Then we can be twinsies! LOL. hahaha. Does it run true to size??

    Hope you had a lovely weekend.

    xx Love & Aloha
    http://elisharon.blogspot.com

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  39. Paisley the print that no wear enough, I'm glad to see you rocking it! You look beautiful and I love your necklace.

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