Avalanches, Death Threats, and No Lifts. Welcome to the World’s Craziest Ski Race

When one thinks of Afghanistan, one usually does not think of skiing.

There are several reasons for this.

  1. Afghanistan has been war-ravaged for decades.

  2. Afghanistan,” “leisure sports,” and “fun, relaxing time” are not things ever associated with one another in many peoples’ minds.
  3. There are no ski lifts in Afghanistan.
  4. There are people in Afghanistan, right this very second,actively trying to kill/maim/torture anyone with a Western passport. To make it worse, those very same people really don’t like people who have the audacity to have been born with female genitalia.

  5. The country doesn’t exactly scream, “Hey, people, come hang out and spend some of those lucrative tourist dollars!

 

  1. The altitude up there can exceed 11,000 feet, making it very hard to breathe properly when there is not a lot of oxygen floating around. Not ideal when you have to scale a mountain on foot with skis strapped to your back in order to shuss down it.

  2. There are no ski shops within 5,000 miles. Not super convenient if you forgot your long underwear.
  3. There are no female ski instructors (there are a few men who have been trained), and women are not allowed to be alone with men in any situation.

I could go on, but you get the gist.

Avalanches, Death Threats, and No Lifts. Welcome to the World’s Most Dangerous Ski Race

Trekking up the mountain range. (Photo: Paula Froelich)

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Nelson Mandela’s Former Prison Warden Will Read Your Palm #NotKidding

Nelson Mandela’s Former Prison Warden Will Read Your Palm

Meet Kevin Leak, South African palm reader to the stars. (Photo: Paula Froelich)

I had no idea what a chirologist was until I went to South Africa. I don’t feel that bad about not knowing — the spell checker and auto-dictionary in Word on my MacBook Air doesn’t know what one is, and I’m convinced that it knows everything. But when my driver in Johannesburg told me out of the blue that he had a friend who used to be a prison warden and was now a chirologist, I pulled a Scooby Doo (your head swings around and you say, loudly, “WHUH?”).

Turns out, chirology is a fancy name for palm reading. Continue reading

I Finally Learned How To Put On a Decent Skeleton Face

I went to Oaxaca for the Day of the Dead celebration this year because why the hell not, eh? And because it was super cool and rocked the house. And because I wanted to do it right, I went full Catarina Dead Lady… For those of you who have never seen a Tim Burton movie or have lived in a shoe box, the Day of the Dead is, according to Frances Ann Day in “Latina and Latino Voices in Literature”:

“On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives.”

Aaaaand they dress up just like Halloween. PS: DO YOU KNOW HOW FRICKING HARD IT IS TO TAKE THAT SHELLACK OFF? REALLY HARD! After the jump Check out more pics Continue reading

Singapore Airlines First Class Suites Ruined My Life

In August I had a super awesome, amazingly bright idea: I was going to do a video inside the first-class suites on Singapore Airlines.

I’d heard about the airline’s first-class suites from a fellow (way wealthier) traveler a year before. His name was “Big Dave,” and he and his wife, “Carla” (who looked like Snooki), were sitting at a table next to me in a restaurant in Danang. They had just flown to Vietnam from London in one of those suites.

“It’s like your  own damn room!” he’d bragged. “I mean — look at me — I’m a big guy. I hate flying … and I never wanted to leave that plane!” (Big Dave was indeed a big guy. In fact, he was bordering on morbidly obese. I could understand how a normal seat would be confining for a man of his size.)

At first I was only semi-interested. But two hours and many bottles of wine later, I was full-on jealous — and nauseated (he’d started to brag about the “real” Mile High Club).

But I was determined. One day, I would take that mystical, magical flight and sleep in that bed and have the caviar service, Ferragamo amenity kits, and Givenchy sleep suits.

Flying Singapore Airlines in First Class for an Hour Ruined My Life

The first-class suite is just like heaven. (Andrew Rothschild)

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How to Survive a 21-Hour Flight (Without Killing Anyone)

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What would you pay to be able to lay down? (Photo: Andrew Rothschild)

I had never been to South Africa before, and I was beyond excited.

I was running around in circles like a-gerbil-in-a-wheel excited. Then I got the South African Airways plane ticket and realized just how long the flight was.

For the uninitiated, the direct flight from New York to Johannesburg is 18 hours. I was not going direct (Although, I did on the way back.). I flew from New York to Washington D.C., and from D.C. to Johannesburg via Dakar, Senegal. People have given birth in less time than it took me to reach my destination.

That is a lot of time to spend in a small tube hurtling through the sky.

To spare you the agony that I endured, I have written a handy-dandy survival guide for hellishly long flights. Because (trust) the flight is worth the trip to South Africa.

1. Wear the right clothes, or bring something to change into during the flight. In business class, a lot of airlines will give you a comfy sleep suit to change into. Why not bring your own? Or wear one on the plane. There is nothing worse than having to suffer through a constricting pair of jeans as you start to bloat at 35,000 feet. Bring loose, comfy pants; a roomy, dark top (So when you pass out, you can slip that constrictive bra off.); and a nice dress to easily change into just before you (finally) deplane.

2. Pack your carry-on appropriately. Every carry-on should have: a travel pillow, a scarf (which can convert into a blanket), an iPad or books, a large bottle of water, some snacks, and slippers/slipper socks.

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An eye mask is just one of the essentials you do not want to forget. (Photo: Thinkstock)

3. Bring your own business-class-style goody bag. Pack your own amenity bag that includes: an eye mask, a toothbrush, toothpaste, earplugs, hand cream, eye cream, and deodorant.

4. Load up on distractions. Download some meditations on to your iPad, iPhone, or whatever gadget you own. Load up on books, games, and that television show that you have been dying to binge-watch.

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9 Life Lessons I Learned By Ditching My Career and Traveling the World

Life Lessons

A little over a year ago, I was asked to submit a chapter for the new book “The 10 Habits of Highly Successful Women,” edited by Glynnis MacNicol and Rachel Sklar. At the time, I was confused: While I had once been very successful, at that particular moment I didn’t feel so super successful. I was a freelancer who was just about to run out of her savings. Below is a summary and excerpt of the chapter that appears in the book, available on Amazon.

Four years ago, I did the unthinkable (at least to my hard-working Midwestern family). I quit my job. Without another one lined up. And it wasn’t just any old job — I was the deputy editor for the New York Post’s famed Page Six column. I was on TV, had scored on-air regular gigs with “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider,” and was financially stable for the first time in my life. That was the bright side. The downside was … I was miserable. I felt trapped in a job I’d fallen into, that I had no interest in, and I was ironically stuck in a small world that was ruled by Kim Kardashian’s big booty.

The result was a deep depression that affected all areas of my life. So, I pulled the ripcord. I left everything I’d known for the last decade … I collected my toys, cleaned out my office, and went home.

Oddly enough, while I couldn’t go beyond a four-block radius of my apartment, I found that I could pack a bag and fly 4,000 miles away.

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Zebra, Crocodile and Antelope Oh My! I Ate it All at Carnivore, the Meat Lover’s Paradise

Where: Carnivore restaurant, Misty Hills Country Hotel, Conference Centre and Spa in Muldersdrift, Johannesburg. (There is also a location in Nairobi, Kenya.)

What: Carnivore, which prides itself on giving tourists the ultimate authenticity in African experiences, is the meat eater’s Epcot Center. You get to sample meats from across the African terrain, all with over-the-top pomp and circumstance: At least three times a night, the servers and other staff members beat drums and sing and dance across the dining area (which, in keeping with the theme, has zebra-patterned nylon seats). And the waiters will keep feeding you until you’ve stuffed yourself so much that you literally throw in the flag (there’s one on the table for that purpose) to signal that you’re finished.

What to eat: The restaurant serves a variety of game and domestic meats, skewered on what they say are swords Masai-tribe swords. Crocodile oddly tastes like fish. We’re talking fishy fish. And zebra? Stick some slices on rye with a little bit of horseradish mayo, and that would make a mighty fine sandwich. Ostrich is a red meat that tastes like venison. (In the Nairobi location, you can also eat ox testicles, which are weirdly pasty. Just hang on to your gag reflex.) There are veggie and fish options for those who aren’t game (pun intended). Your meaty meal also comes with soup, salad, sides, and dessert.