Tag Archives: travel

Travel From Thailand To Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia With The Rawfoodfamily

16 Nov


We did it!
We finally left our lonely island in Thailand where we lived for the last 4 months and moved on.
The South-East Asia Tour 2012-13 with The Rawfoodfamily continues.
Enjoy one of the most beautiful cities on earth – Kuala Lumpur – see through the eyes of Ka Sundance and his family.



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Blue Bell Ice Cream

8 Apr

What’s the best job in the world? (Well, besides mine?)

How about inventing new ice cream flavors for Blue Bell?

Christy Moran, food scientist and flavor developer at Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham, Texas (photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler)

Christy Moran, food scientist and flavor developer at Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham, Texas (photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler)


That’s exactly what food scientist and dietician Christy Moran does at Blue Bell Creamery.

“We eat ice cream every day!” she explained to me when I toured the world-famous ice cream maker in Brenham, Texas. Christy and her team get to play with ice cream in their lab until they come up with the best new flavors.

How do they decide what the next flavor will be?

“We think about what you like to eat and we put it in ice cream!” Christy told me. For months, the Blue Bell team pours through food magazines and cookbooks, and even accepting ideas from other Blue Bell employees. From a list of around 200 ideas, Blue Bell developse 5-6 new flavors each year. Most of these flavors are seasonal, because Blue Bell only uses ingredients that are fresh and in season.

I made it quite clear on Twitter that my favorite Blue Bell flavor was Lemon Bliss, which I was able to eat right out of the carton as part of a “consistency test” in the lab. I also had to sample the Red Velvet, and Blue Bell’s bestselling “Homemade Vanilla” right off the line. Yum.

Another hard day at work for me, of course, but given that we still can’t get Blue Bell back home, I needed to optimize my opportunity down here in Texas.

“Testing” the Lemon Bliss ice cream at Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham, Texas (Photo by John Evans)


Visitors can tour Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham, Texas, Mon-Fri 8:30 am-3 pm

Blue Bell Ice Cream Blue Bell , Bluebell , food , frozen , ice cream , New Brenham , Texas , tour , travel

A Day in Dallas

28 Mar

I came to Dallas with no expectations, and despite some disparaging tweets and comments from the online peanut gallery, most of my well-traveled readers eagerly guided me through the third largest city in Texas, pointing out where to go and what to see and do.

I was grateful for their advice and how it reinforced my belief that no matter where you land in the world, no matter how familiar and mainstream it might be, there are splendid and exotic moments to be found. Dallas, Texas is such a city and even after just one day of perusal, I grew convinced that I needed a few longer days to truly know what this place was all about.

In the morning I was overwhelmed with tulips and bridal gowns at the Dallas Arboretum, then enjoyed a smokey, meaty brunch at Smoke. Afterwards, I explored more of the downtown and arts district, including the Dallas Museum of Art, the outstanding Crow Collection, and Nasher Sculpture Center and in the late afternoon, I was able to peruse the Highland Park and Preston Hollow neighborhoods, famed for the giant mansions that reflect some of the great wealth attached to this city. I also went for the biggest baddest steak in Texas at Bob’s Chop & Steakhouse and had a cracking foot massage. The next morning, I hung out with some of my Twitter followers at Klyde Warren Park (an urban space-turned nature park with its own Twitter address) and talked about how much I had enjoyed Dallas–really.

As I travel across this state, I find it impossible to fit Texas into any particular box–and you can say the same  about Dallas. Anyone who travels here can find whatever they want, from JFK conspiracy theorists soliciting followers to Vietnamese food trucks and glossy high-rises that reflect the passing clouds in blue and copper windowpanes.

I know I’ll return–Dallas is a city with a long To Do list, including a visit to Cowboy Stadium (next time) but until then, I’ll remember everything I did get to see and do in the Big D.

A Day in Dallas city , dallas , Texas , Texas Trip , travel , visit

Going Home

10 Mar

The Big Texan Steakhouse outside Amarillo, Texas on Route 66 (Photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler)

I was born in Texas.

It was the Seventies, Gerald Ford was president, and my father worked for an oil company. Beyond the distinct toddler memory of my crawling on the brown shag carpeting of our Houston home, I remember nothing of my birthplace.

I remember leaving, though. Our family piled into our big Dodge van and head north to plain and boring Ohio. All of us kids cried and so did my mother—then we did our best to settle into that odd place that wasn’t Texas.

I distinctly remember strutting to my new elementary school in a pair of shin-high, yellow leather cowboy boots. They were my favorites because they were from Texas and I didn’t have to tie them.

By mid-morning I had been summoned to the principal’s office.

“You can’t wear your cowboy boots to school,” he told me sternly. “They’re just too loud. You’re disrupting classes when you walk down the hall.”

I was just six years old but found my principal’s authoritarian reprimand unnecessary, unjust and downright discriminatory. He hadn’t just attacked my footwear—he’d offended my culture.

I arrived home in tears and tossed my contraband cowboy boots into my closet—clunk, clunk. I was just a young kid but I had learned this much: Yankeeland was hostile territory for my kind. To survive I would have to change—to lose the drawl and stop saying “y’all”. My cowboy hat and boots and bandana were relegated to the dress-up box, only to emerge on Halloween and the 4th of July.

Yet amidst this subtle northern aggression, my mother never let us forget where we came from.

“You’re a Texan!” she would shout to my brothers and I, like a rallying cheer. It was her way of telling us to be tough. When we fell out of trees, off bicycles or skateboards, she’d dry our tears and say, “Good thing you’re a Texan.” She hung a Texas license plate and Texas maps on the wall of our bedroom, read us books about Sam Houston, told us bedtime stories of Davy Crockett at the Alamo, and fed us Texas-shaped cookies and Texas sheet cake. Never was such an indoctrination of identity so thorough as mine, so that despite growing up a thousand miles away from Texas, I claim the state as home—the place where I’m from.

During the Great Lakes winter, my mother pined for the clear Texas sunshine and the second their kids were all grown up, my parents high-tailed it back to Houston with its freeways and bayous and big buffet restaurants. From time to time I visited them from faraway England, shocked by the alligators and armadillos that wandered the neighborhood and amazed by the familiarity of the people. I recall waiting in line at the DMV and walking away not only with my new Texas driver’s license, but also in possession of a convenient catfish recipe and a hand-scrawled map where I could go and “catch you some.”

Itinerant soul that I am, my definition of home is rather fluid. I live life on the road and find that wandering the world makes everywhere less foreign. Travel also teaches us where we’re from and who we are. This month’s issue of National Geographic Traveler is devoted to rediscovering your roots through travel. Last month I tracked down an ancestor in Scotland and years ago, I visited the village in Wales from whence my Evans namesake departed for America.

For this entire month I will be exploring my native land of Texas and what it really means to be a Texan. Though I was born here and claim it on applications and at cocktail parties, I have never truly traveled the great state of Texas—and I do mean great.

Welcome to Texas, where EVERYTHING is bigger. (Photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler)

Welcome to Texas, where EVERYTHING is bigger. (Photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler)

Texas was in fact an independent country before it was a state, and no country on Earth feels as big, as wild, as peculiar, as spectacular, as elaborate and individual as the Lone Star State. It’s larger than France and has millions more people than all of Australia—that’s a whole lotta Texas to see and a whole lotta Texans to meet. I am very excited to be here.

This trip will be different than the others. I am confident there will be surprising adventures, great sunsets, oversized food, tumbleweeds and terrific new friends, but above all, this is personal. I’ve wanted to come home for a long time now.

Good travel reminds us who we really are—and I am Texan. I have yet to discover what that really means, but I’m glad you’ll all be helping me figure it out, one step at a time. It’s a daunting endeavor, but I think I know where to begin.

I reckon I need to get me a pair of cowboy boots.

Going Home ancestry , cowyboy boots , culture , Evans , Going Home , heritage , roots , Texan , Texas , Texas Trip , travel , Traveler

Galápagos Iguanas

6 Mar

When Darwin camped in Galápagos back in 1835, the young British traveler found it difficult to pitch a tent given the incredible number of iguanas and their burrows.

Nowadays, there are fewer lizards crawling around the islands, but there are still colonies where the lava rock is literally blanketed in iguanas. Climbing so closely to these scaly creatures feels like a small portal into ancient times. I found the land iguanas on Isabela resembled yellow dinosaurs with glowing red eyes, while the marine iguanas bear an uncanny resemblance to Godzilla. (In fact, like a marine iguana, Godzilla was said to be amphibious).

The joy of photographing Galápagos iguanas is that much of the time they are absolutely fearless and rather slow-moving, so that I was able to get quite close to the animals. In some cases (as seen in the gallery), I was even able to use my micro lens to highlight their jewel-like eyes. The following images are just a few of my favorites from my past few days sailing among the islands aboard the National Geographic Endeavour.

Galápagos Iguanas Animals , biodiversity , Ecuador , galapagos , Galapagos Trip , iguanas , land , marine , reptiles , travel , zoology

The Radar: Travel Lately

6 Mar

The Sydney Opera House, one of the most iconic buildings in the world. (Photograph by Phillip Durden, My Shot)

The Radar – the best of the travel blogosphere – is a regular feature on Intelligent Travel every Wednesday.

Here’s this week’s:

  • One couple’s comprehensive guide to Sydney proves that it’s oh so much more than the “gateway to Oz.” Here’s how to maximize your time in Australia’s biggest city. @yTravelBlog
  • There is life beyond Barcelona and Madrid in Spain. One young adventurer shares ten lesser-known cities that are just waiting to be explored — and well worth the trip. @YoungAdventures
  • Visiting Angkor Wat shouldn’t be the only thing on your Cambodia to-do list. Once you’ve been mesmerized by the Khmer temple, see the rest of country on a budget by following these simple steps. @budgettravelsac
  • Sunny skies and sandy beaches lure visitors to Los Angeles, but one L.A. enclave hasn’t always been paradise. From bleak to chic, discover a transforming Venice Beach. @MatadorNetwork
  • Tourism is usually thought of as a boon to any nation’s economy, but what happens when there’s simply too much? This blogger explores the future of sustainable travel. @thismyhappiness

The Radar: Travel Lately Angkor Wat , Australia , budget travel , Cambodia , los angeles , Matador , ngtradar , radar , Spain , sydney , This is My Happiness , travel , Venice Beach , Young Adventures , yTravelBlog

My New Camera

7 Feb

Nikon D600

Ladies and Gentlemen, for this next assignment, I will be breaking all of my own rules.

Those of you who follow my travels regularly know that I a man of habit. For example, 1) I never divulge my destination or travel plans ahead of time, 2) I always work alone, and 3) I typically travel with six or seven cameras.

Why so many? Because different cameras do different things—some are good for fast and easy video, others better for high-res stills, some let me edit and post photos immediately, others are waterproof . . . and also (little known fact), I tend to destroy cameras very easily.

Well, this time I am traveling with just one—uno, solo, single—camera (gasp!).

My new Nikon D600 showed up at my office like a baby on my doorstep (as if delivered by some friendly stork) and I opened the box as gingerly as a parent peeling the blanket from a newborn’s face.

Unwrapping a brand new camera brings a swell of excitement and the promise of future adventures and artistic endeavors. As I fiddled with the camera’s switches and buttons, my new baby giggled with electronic beeps and then sighed the satisfactory click of a virgin shutter.

Unlike newborn babies, my new camera comes with a 340-page instruction book detailing all the ins and outs of this rather high-tech, digital SLR, and although I am generally allergic to technical writing (weak plot), I am forcing myself to read this diagram-rich paperback line by line.

In fact, I am reading two books in preparation for my next National Geographic Traveler assignment: the Nikon D600 User’s Manual AND the only slightly-longer Voyage of the Beagle by a guy named Charles Darwin.

In Chapter 17 (Spoiler Alert) Darwin arrives in the Galápagos Islands and writes, “The natural history of these islands is eminently curious and well deserves attention.” I was relieved to read this because tomorrow morning I intend to make my way to the Galápagos Islands, where I hope to take many splendid photographs with my new camera.

So there—for the first time in the history of this blog, I am revealing my destination a full 24 hours before my departure (don’t get used to it folks). How excited am I about this next voyage? I am thrilled (ecstatic!) and I cannot think of a better place on Earth to exercise my new camera. There will be many animals—there will be penguins!—and there will be good light. My camera will be happy.

And finally, to shatter just one more habit—I am bringing somebody with me!

Allow me to introduce photographer Brian Forbes Powell, winner of our recent Nikon “The Full Story” photo contest. Brian’s photo essay about ranchers and land use in Arizona was beautifully depicted and although he has won many accolades, a new camera, and a trip to the Galápagos, the real prize is the traveling with me—of course.

Together, Brian and I will be spending a week exploring the vibrant Galápagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions. I am truly looking forward to this voyage, especially since I will be focusing primarily on photography.

Darwin didn’t have a camera, and so all we have from his trip is a chapter in a book where he does his best to relay the color and strangeness of this exotic world with words. Fast-forward to our day, where all of us are trading thousands of images with one another without stopping.

Photography lets us share stories in a way that words cannot.

This is precisely what makes me so excited to use my new camear down in Ecuador. I have a lot to learn about the D600 but I am already very happy with certain aspects, like the time-lapse feature (that let me share this Montana sunset) and the wifi adapter, which allows me to tweet high-res images directly from my SLR (like this grizzly bear!)

Now I know that so many of you entered this contest and hoped to win a camera and a trip with me, but the beauty of the internet is that you can still travel with me online. We leave tomorrow first thing in the morning and should reach Galápagos 24 hours later. As always, I will be tweeting from @WheresAndrew and sharing the beauty of the place here on my blog—just bear in mind that starting now, every image I share was shot with my new camera.

My New Camera Camera , Charles Darwin , contest , D600 , Ecuador , galapagos , Nikon , The Full Story , travel

The Kauai Coast

21 Jan

I am drawn to the uninhabited places of the world, a kind of strange pull on my person which is likely what led me to Antarctica, to the middle of the Atlantic, and way out Woop Woop. In Hawaii, my search for wilderness took me to Kauai, Hawaii’s Garden Island, a place so steep and so green, the color seems to soak right down the roots that cling to the red dirt.

I only came to Kauai for three days, which is unforgivable, really. Nobody should ever travel all the way to Hawaii and then hop over to a heavenly lump of stone in the ocean, with all the shallow intentions that accompany a return ticket. But which is worse? I reasoned: to never go at all, or to go for a brief-yet-rich taste of an island that not even the majority of Hawaiians have ever visited.

With a boastful tone, so many the islanders on Kauai offered me varying figures: “Well, you know, our island is 80% uninhabited!” they averaged, and I did not question them. A map of Kauai shows a lovely splotch of green in the middle, void of all roads or towns or anything. Even the topographic lines are not so noticeable since most of them are scrunched up so tightly: not only is Kauai extremely green, much of it is extremely steep.

I knew all this map-wise before I got there. I learned it foot-wise when trying to hike inside the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park. I spent half a day making my way along the coastal path, which runs up and down over the volcanic ridges, graduating to steeper and steeper climbs with breathtaking drop-offs. Permits are necessary for longer hikes in Na Pali and with good reason. This is not easy terrain . . . but it’s beautiful.

Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, near Hanalei (Photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler)


I made my home on the north shore of Kauai (at the St. Regis near Hanalei) — luxurious, yes, but also wonderfully separate from everything else on the rest of the island and with a constant view of the coastline that I had come to explore. After a day of fighting the rain forest on foot, I succumbed to the tourist temptation of a helicopter ride, which hands down is the greatest way to see all of the island of Kauai.

We took off in the regular drizzle of this wet island, the chopper doors removed so that the wet breeze kissed my face, and bringing the vertical landscape so close, I felt like I could graze the green cliffs with the back of my hand.

Higher up, the drizzle turned to a wet mist, brightened by sunbursts, so that time after time, arched and intensely-colored rainbows appeared and then disappeared. Buzzing over a rain-soaked volcano, chasing red and indigo prisms — this was the Hawaii that I had always imagined.

I was especially thrilled to pass over Mount Wai’ale’ale, considered to the wettest spot on earth with the highest rainfall (over 450 inches per year). I remembered this small fact from childhood, back when I was studying for the National Geographic Bee. Soaring like a dragonfly over the rippled landscape of Kauai, I suddenly missed the NG Kids who I’d been traveling with back in Oahu. I thought how much they would have loved this island and most of all, this unbelievable ride on a helicopter that brought me to places most humans will never reach by motor or foot.

For us mainlanders out there, I think the great shock of Hawaii is the need for a regular reminder that everything one encounters — the gargantuan cliffs and prehistoric-looking landscapes, the impossible mountains that seem to be the imagination of a malicious child — this whole wild and tropical castle; all of it falls within the realm of the United States of America.

I must keep remembering this important fact, because ever since I was the age of the NG Kids, I have been singing America the Beautiful.  Up until now, whenever I get to that final strain, “from sea to shining sea,” I have imagined the mid-Atlantic beaches of home and the crashing white surf of coastal California.

“This is the span of my country,” I used to think as I sang out the slow line, but after my helicopter ride in Kauai, my vision for this one American anthem has changed forever.  The Na Pali coast is wild and unruly, rocky and beautifully forbidding. Now that I have been there, I will never forget the dramatic, chest-gripping heights of this wall of rock and moss, and I will never forget the truly shining sea of the blue Pacific  — the mostly-uninhabited place on the other side of America, the beautiful.

Secluded beaches on the Na Pali Coastline of north shore Kauai (Photo by Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler)


The Kauai Coast

Tour Guide: These Streets Are Made For Running

20 Jan

Img_1899By: Ashley Thompson

What do Charleston, S.C., San Diego, and New York have in common? They are all cities with these new-fangled things called jogging tours.

Ladies and gentlemen, a new and improved way of sightseeing: City Running Tours. They’re more time-efficient than leisurely walking tours, and they’re a heck of a lot more eco-friendly than bus tours. And the best thing? They aren’t necessarily tailored for running fanatics. The tours (led by an expert jogger/tour guide) span anywhere from six to 13 miles, but there are frequent photo-op stops, giving you and your legs time to regroup and snap a shot.

“We do not have one niche of the running community,” says City Running Tour’s president, Michael Gazaleh. “We run with people of all levels. We get those who are training for a race and need to keep up with their training schedules, as well as recreational runners. We run with high schoolers to people in their 60s.”

Expect to pay

$60 per person for the first six miles (which takes between an hour and an hour and a half), plus six dollars for every mile after that.

It may be more pricey than a hop-on, hop-off bus ticket, but included in the price is a free T-shirt and a glamorous photo of yourself huffing and puffing with sweat dripping off your nose. Oh, and we suppose there’s also something to be said about the unhurried pace that doesn’t whiz you by city landmarks from a packed bus, but still allows you to cover more ground than walking does. And it seems like a great way to work off those oft-dreaded vacation-mode pounds.

City Running Tours offers its services in six cites across the country, with Washington, D.C., Austin and Chicago rounding out the mix.

Photo: City Running Tours

Tour Guide: These Streets Are Made For Running