Tag Archives: Linner

Spring Break Plans

I’m soooo excited for Spring Break!! Just another 8 days of work, and then I get a magical 12 days off! πŸ™‚ Linner is coming for part of my break, and I’ll be doing a bit of solo travel, too. Today I finalized my plans and I’m really looking forward to it!

When Linner arrives, we’ll have a quick staycation in Bangkok. The plan is to visit the Floating Market (new to us both), stay in a posh hotel downtown with a rooftop pool, get massages, and eat yummy Thai food. All in all, my kinda thing.

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Linner and I will travel to Krabi, Thailand and stay in Ao Nang at a sweet resort not to far from the beach. I plan to lay by the pool (hopefully I can get in, too!), relax with a pina colada or a fresh juice, and read. We’d also like to explore Ao Nang beach. Again, I hope to take a dip. Ao Nang has beautiful beaches, with huge rocks and cliffs nearby. I’d like to take a boat ride one day.


Once Linner leaves, I’ll be solo traveling to Indonesia! After a quick stop-over in Jakarta, I’ll fly to Ubud, Bali, where I will be staying at a relaxing hotel near the city. It has a pool with lounge chairs, a spa, and a good restaurant. The best part is it only cost me $34 a night, including breakfast! There’s a free area shuttle, and if I’m mobile and able to walk around, I plan on exploring. If not, I’ll lounge by the pool, reading and writing. Either way, it’ll be a relaxing trip!


This is why I live abroad…trips like this are possible and affordable. πŸ™‚

Year in Photos 2016

Sometimes pictures are better than words. They can tell more of a story, inviting the reader to infer their meaning, ask questions about their significance to the writer, and wonder what happened before and after the snapshot was taken. I’ve been telling a story of my year in photos for the past couple of years (click here for my year in photos for 2014 and 2015), and it is an exercise I enjoy, looking back through my year’s photos, deciding which ones to include and which ones are better left out. Without further adieu, here is my 2016 year in photos, in chronological order.

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A Year in Photos- 2015 #sol16 20 of 31

Last year, I wrote a post sharing my favorite photos from 2014. This was a really great way to reflect on my year, and to relive some of my favorite moments. So here goes 2015’s year in photos (in chronological order). I hope you enjoy! πŸ™‚

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All photos copyright of Jennifer Kesler. Please do not use without permission.

Dinner with Linner- SOL #19

Last night, Linner (my nickname for her) and I headed out to Shook, a restaurant in the Swatch Hotel on the Bund, for a fancy Restaurant Week dinner. We both love fine dining, and when we can get it for a cheaper price, we love it even more!

Our first course was the Tomato Basil Bisque with Grilled Cheese “Soldiers.” Giggling as we ordered it, we talked about how we can’t understand why restaurants feel the need to make up names for food like that. They’re mini sandwiches, not soldiers. Just call it what it is. As far as the taste, the soup was really nice, but I personally make better grilled cheese.

Linner with her Espresso Martini…she’s brave drinking so much caffeine at night! Hope she was able to sleep when she got home. πŸ˜‰

I opted for a Pina Colada, a girly drink where the alcohol taste is masked in sweet goodness. πŸ™‚ Later, my drink would be the idea for a song I would sing whilst walking along the Bund. “Do you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain?”…

Our main course was the Pan Roasted Snapper with Potato Puree, Blistered Tomatoes, Cucumber, Fresh Herbs, Ginger, and Tamarind Sauce. First thought was that the presentation was gorgeous. Second thought was what’s all this cilantro doing on my plate? I despise cilantro, and would have noticed that on the menu. Ahhh…it must be the fresh herbs. Luckily, it was just on the top, so I could easily pick it off. After that, the meal was really tasty, but on the smaller size portion-wise.

Our third course, always my favorite, was dessert. Linner had the Lemon Cheesecake with Maple Cranberry Compote, Toasted Walnuts, and Whipped Cream while I had the Coconut Lime Creme Brulee. My creme brulee was perfectly done, with that crispy sugary coating you have to hit just right with your spoon to get into the creamy custard beneath. We shared both, as we sipped our cocktails and shared stories.

Linner is one of those friends who will always be there for you. Whether we’re getting together to swap funny stories, laugh at the happenings of the week, and reminisce about the past, or we’re supporting one another through a tough time, she’s a sweet, loyal, dear friend.

Tonight’s conversation was light and fun, filled with stories. We remembered the time she got the nickname Linner, and how she hated it every time I called her that….until I was relentless and she gave in, accepting that, to me, she was no longer Linnea, but the less beautiful-sounding Linner. I playfullyΒ call her ‘Linner, Linner, Chicken Dinner.’ Secretly, she loves it. We also recalled the time I changed her boyfriend’s name in her phone to ‘Dee my lover’…haha, she was so mad about that one because she couldn’t figure out how to change it back. It stuck until she finally was able to change it a few days later. We talked about the time in Seoul, on vacation together, when I realized that Linner was not to be messed with in the morning. Taking pictures of bed head is not her idea of fun…haha. I’ve realized that throughout our friendship, I pick on her, but she’s a good sport and we’re still friends. πŸ™‚ She’s the nicer one of the two, for sure!

After I passed the fifth woman taking ‘glamour shots’ on the Bund, I decided to take some myself…haha! I love being in China…you can be completely silly and it’s no big deal! πŸ™‚

My favorite selfie of the night…Linner with her serious face and me with my silly one! She’s definitely a friend for a lifetime. Love you Linner!! πŸ™‚

Lost at Sea- SOL #19

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Adventure seems to follow me everywhere. What I mean by adventure is that crazy things that probably wouldn’t happen to most people, tend to happen to me. It’s a gift. πŸ™‚ One such time was back during my first year in China, when Linnea and I took a trip to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Malaysia is known for good diving, so we decided to give it a go.

Linnea was a certified diver, but at the time, I was not. I had been on a 3-day diving excursion in Australia a few years prior, but those were guided discovery dives. Not having a ton of time to get my certification, I opted for the discovery dive again. Linnea, myself, and the guide were only ones diving, so I was pretty excited about the one-on-one attention I would get. Before we dove out in the ocean, we participated in some training in the shallow waters near the shore, things like breathing under water, clearing our mask, removing and locating our regulators, and reading the gauges that indicated how much air was left in the tank and how deep we were. During our training session, things started coming back to me. That unnatural feeling of breathing under the water when your brain tells you “this is wrong.” Remaining calm when your reg was out of your mouth and you couldn’t breathe. The stinging in your eyes when your mask filled with saltwater. I had listened to the directions. I had practiced the drills. I knew the underwater signals. I was ready.

The boat took us out to a deeper part of the water, far from the coast and, sitting on the side of the dinghy, we tumbled into the water, ready to explore. The first thing we noticed was the murky water. Bummer! How were we supposed to see everything when we couldn’t see more than 3 feet in front of us? I guessed that the recent daily rains had stirred up all the sand and muck from the bottom of the ocean. Regardless, we kept going. As we dove deeper and deeper into the depths of the ocean, I was constantly aware of where the guide and Linnea were in relation to me. Linnea was swimming a few feet above me, while our guide was next to me. Once we reached our final depth of 14 meters, we slowed down, taking in the coral landscape in front of us. Every 30 seconds to a minute, I took stock of my diving buddies, making sure I was keeping up with the more experienced divers. Something caught my eye. A clownfish! I had found Nemo! Stopping for half a minute to take a mental image of this beautiful creature in its natural environment, I was in awe.

Following my brief distraction, I swam ahead, checking the locations of Linnea and the guide. Uh oh! I can’t find them! Swimming in a circle, darting my eyes up, down, and all around, I realize I’ve lost them. Crap! Don’t panic, Jennifer. The worst thing you can do 14 meters underneath the ocean is panic. Constantly turning in circles, looking for any sign of them, my mind replayed the directions the guide gave us. When the air gauge reads 50, it’s time to go up, or else you might run out of air. When you go up, you have to go slow because of the pressure. Safety stop at 5 meters, where you wait for 3 minutes before you go to the water’s surface. But what do you do if you get lost? As I racked my brain, I realized he didn’t tell us. As someone with an insanely accurate memory, if he had told us what to do, I know I would have remembered it. Think…think…what would I tell my students if they got lost on a field trip? ‘Stay put! I will find you!’ Two people looking for each other isn’t productive. It was decided. I would just stay put and wait until they came to find me. They would come to find me. Right?

Doing my best to distract myself from the thought that I am 14 meters under the ocean, in another country, as a non-certified diver, in murky waters, alone, I look at the fish and coral around me. Despite my efforts, the scenery is just not as cool as it was a minute ago. Steadily looking at the gauges, I become more and more weary as the little dial marches toward 50. I decide to make a plan. If the needle reaches 50 before I’m found, I have to ascend. I know how to read the depth gauge. I’ll just stop at 5 meters, and since I don’t have a watch, I’ll count to 180, and then safely swim to the water’s surface. Time ticked by. S-L-O-W-L-Y. Swimming in circles, on the lookout for someone, anyone, I noticed the needle touch the 50. Time to go up. Just then, I feel a tap on my shoulder. I’ve been found! Turning around, I come face to face with an angry guide. I get the “What the hell are you doing?” shrug. Me? What am I doing? “I’ve been waiting on you!” I gesture back. Pointing toward the surface, the guide indicates that it’s time to ascend.

Following the safety measures, we reach the surface. Breaking through the water, I am greeted by Linnea’s face, a face that is scared, worried, and unsure. “Where were you? What happened? I was really worried!”

Our guide, clearly annoyed with me, asks me why I didn’t come up once I was lost. “I didn’t know I was supposed to come up. I just thought you guys would find me,” I replied, quite annoyed that he’s mad at the girl who is doing a discovery dive, supposedly under his careful watch.

“I told you, if you get separated, wait 1 minute, then come up to the surface.”

“No, you never told us that. I would have remembered that!”

“Yes I did. You just weren’t listening.”

“Linnea, did he say that?”

“No, he didn’t. I just know from my diving certification course,” she informed me.Β No apology was given by the dive instructor for his lack of instructions.

At that point, we load the boat, headed back to shore, a bit more shaken up than when we left. Linnea had been so worried about me. Apparently I was lost at sea for about 8 minutes. Now 8 minutes isn’t that long when you’re driving, reading a book, or watching a TV show, but 8 minutes alone, at the bottom of the ocean feels like forever. I felt really bad for Linnea. I knew I was safe. I knew they were together, and therefore safe, but she didn’t know what had happened to me. She thought she’d have to go back to RBIS and tell everyone she lost Jennifer at the bottom of the ocean. She thought she’d have to call my parents, and tell them I was lost, or worse. I can’t imagine what she was going through.

See what I mean? Adventure finds me. Even though it was scary, it was an adventure, and it makes for a good story, don’t you think?

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