Papua New Guinea + Sharjah, UAE
Alison just closed a show, and Lulu just got back from overseas. Except neither of these things have happened, because we are recording a few episodes ahead, as we have busy weeks coming up. But we try to talk about things in the real time of when you will be hearing about them. It's a whole time-space thing. We decide to talk about things as if they'd already happened, and then see how much of it does. That's what manifesting is right? We're taking cues from The Secret.
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Alison is obsessed with Dark Horse Wine, specifically their red blend. It's incredible AND affordable. She was gifted it by friend and co-star Becca McCoy, who we featured in our 10K Saturday series. Lulu is obsessed with Fodor’s Travel twitter account. She actually doesn't know how to pronounce the name, which may be a first for us. Lulu really wants their social media manager to come on our podcast.
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While it is almost summer, and this seems impractical seasonally, Alison is wishing for new UGGS. She just wants to be as comfortable as possible while picking up the kids from school, running errands etc. Lulu of course wonders about sweating in them in the Florida heat, as she's never worn them. Apparently she missed out on the 00's footwear of choice that are back in. Wait, are they? Lulu is convinced her wishlist will become everyone's wishlist as soon as she tells it. Especially since it’s affordable. She wants the Moocoo portable espresso maker, which is under $40 on Amazon. You can use ground coffee or Nespresso pods, and get the type of espresso you want.
Alison picked her location by using a random country generator. She is worried by the "primarily known for cannibalism" phrasing she is reading online. Also potentially concerning is that there are over 800 languages spoken in this country. Concerning only if Alison tries to pronounce anything in any one of them, of course. Alison knows all the stats about her destination this week. There are over 7 million people on this small island, and many of the languages spoken can not be traced back to their roots. And while Lulu wondered if Papua New Guinea was near Africa, Alison says while she's not sure she is pretty sure it is off the coast of Australia. And she's right! As a very poor country, it is a very affordable place to stay...we're talking $8-a-night Airbnbs here folks. She did find an upgrade to that in the Kalibobo Village Resort. She stays in their Presidential double suite, which has balconies with harbor views. There is an on-site restaurant, a fitness center, four pools and most importantly, a poolside bar. Now normally we rent a car, or get a car service, but seeing how she was going to struggle to spend 10K here, Alison buys a car. She got a Honda CRV from PNG Autos for $3800.
She starts browsing TripAdvisor for what to do in Papua New Guinea, and everything is max two hundred bucks. Except, wait, what is this for $8500 that has a picture of a mans back that looks like it has alligator scales on it? Alison's sold. It's an eight day trip to the Sepik Crocodile Festival. She is going to "do it right" and divide it up by eight days since she can only do one day. But reading this description, it's not really something you should hop in and out of. So someone go do this for real for the whole duration and report back, okay?
It is a very intense experience, and Alison is fascinated, though doesn't know if she could immerse herself in it for eight days IRL. Here's what the Sepik Crocodile Festival is all about. After a village tour and a large scale song and dance celebration called a Sing-Sing, the Kanrigara tribe performs a ritual involving the cutting of the skin, which signifies the transition of the boys into men. It is believed that if they can withstand the pain it will make them stronger in later life. They cut small patterns into their skin to resemble the scales of a crocodile, an animal they revere as a god. After this, the boys then stretch out in front of a fire so smoke can blow into the deep nicks, while clay and tree oil is inserted into the lesions to help them maintain their raised scale shape. They are then taken to a spirit house where the elders perform traditional rituals with them including dressing them and gifting them a stick or spear. Once the spirit house rituals are completed, the boys are taken out into the community to be seen.
There are more festivities going on during this time, including more dancing and gift giving. This is a real ritual you get to go observe, not something staged for tourists, so on TripAdvisor they ask that you listen carefully to and follow your guides rules, and at all times show respect for the culture. We think that's really cool. And intense, seeing why Alison isn't sure she could do it in real life, but let's get back to how she's pulling off her imaginary day there. Because there is a lot of exchanging of gifts, Alison brought 100 cakes she purchased from The Sweet Spot to give out to members of the tribe. Also, she's going to give them her car. Once she's done with it, anyways.
Alison throws in an afternoon of snorkeling on the reefs with Tufi Dive, which she is prepared for thanks to her pre-trip Amazon Prime delivery of the Atomic Aquatics Scuba Gear Package. She heads to Duffy’s for a bite, and is interested to see what they advertise as the three C's their restaurant and menu embodies - "cosmopolitan, cool, contemporary". Next Alison heads to the City Craft Market, as Papua New Guinea is known for its handicrafts. She's looking forward to chatting with their artist and finding out more about their lives and crafts. She's going to spend $1,000 on crafts and just mail it back home. For dinner, Alison heads to Rapala, touted as the height of fine dining. Inside the Crowne Plaza, "the place is quite old fashioned in its decor and feel. However, the dishes are anything but old". This is the selling point, apparently. What a day!
Lulu had never heard of her destination before, but once she picked it she decided to stick it out and make the most of her somewhat piecemeal day. Sharjah is the third most populous city in UAE, and thanks to the purchase of a few luxury clothing items, she was able to spend nearly her entire 10K budget. Lulu booked the Sea View Tent at the beachside Kingfisher Lodge. The only things between her and the ocean are sand and her private plunge pool. Add in the mangroves, watching sea turtles hatch, and bird-watching and you are in any nature-lover's paradise. Breakfast and dinner are included in her package, which makes her think this is totally doable. You know, asides from the transatlantic flight. Her car and driver with One Click Drive costs a fraction of what it normally costs on her 10K days, so she upgrades to an executive sedan.
One thing that is great about Lulu as a traveler, in real life and in her 10K Days, is that she always researches customs and religious aspects of her destinations to make sure she is dressed properly for their standards. Especially in countries and cities that for religious or other reasons emphasize modesty in dress. She is definitely not the ugly-American-party-of-one traveler. She even found a modest fashion UAE designer, and purchases this Bougessa Cotton A-Line dress. Now that she looks cute and feels comfortable within the culture, she heads out for her day. As one of the only mosques to allow non-Muslims to enter a visit to Al Noor Mosque is a must.
Lulu is especially excited about the Classic Car Museum, which has over 100 cars dating from 1915. Including a 1969 Mercedes 600 Pullman, a limo that for a time was only manufactured upon request. The one in this museum is bulletproof, which Alison immediately wants to buy for her arsenal of zombie-apocalypse survival kit. Next Lulu heads to Al Noor Island, which is an island turned into an award winning park with botanical gardens, art sculptures, and what she is going to drop most of her 10K around - the Butterfly House. She wants to learn more about butterflies, so she searches for a lepidopterist, which is a butterfly expert. Who knew? Lulu finds Rick Mikula, and flies him from Hazleton, PA to Dubai, where her driver picks him up and brings him to Al Noor Island. While he delights in the butterfly house, Lulu heads to the literature pavilion. She gets drinks delivered from Kava and Chai, and has her Zojirushi thermoses ready to keep them warm. What book is she going to enjoy while sipping her tea? Well since Sharjah is the world book capital for 2019 and its ruler Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi is a historical novelist, she's going to read his autobiography.
Lulu heads to Gazebo for lunch, and while a lot of her meal she'd had before, she also tried some unique dishes, such as Kesar Falooda and Gajar Halwa. After her meal she heads for a desert safari on which they serve you tea, coffee, fresh dates, and hookah. She can also go camel riding, sand boarding, and dune bashing. Dune bashing is driving at increasing and decreasing speeds over sand dunes. It takes serious skill and special vehicles. The warning that sand gets everywhere, and Lulu is in a dress, mind you, leads her to get some leggings from The Row, some La Mer sunscreen, and a Clyde straw sunhat. After bashing the dunes, she decides to sand board, which if you are picturing snowboarding but on sand, you are exactly right. Lulu wants her own board so she buys one from Venomous Sandboards.
Lulu wants to buy a luxury souvenir for friends and family and since dates are such a luxury in this area, she searches for "luxury dates Sharjah", though only found escort services. Not exactly what she was thinking. How about she just find some in a market somewhere. She then stumbled upon Al Ghadeer UAE crafts and purchases a hope blanket, a pair of heels (a souvenir for herself, you know) and an Arabian hospitality set which has a coffee pot filled with an Emirati coffee blend, 2 coffee cups, and a pair of pouches with cardamom and cloves. That’s more like it. Now for dinner she could have chosen the BBQ that came with her desert safari, or the included dinner at her hotel, and she's going to have to do one of those as her total is at $9500.
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