Best Posts from a Decade of Nomadic Living

My preliminary plan for a 10-year anniversary celebration was a massive get together in my then-home of Oaxaca. When it turned obvious that my food-filled bash could be inconceivable, I believed I’d share the writing and images that introduced me essentially the most pleasure through the years.

Today marks one yr from the spinal faucet that modified my life. In what was simply the hardest yr I’ve had, it feels proper to share this lengthy retrospective on my tapaversary.

I smiled a lot and I cried a lot as I rounded up the posts under. Compiling these recollections allowed me to launch a chunk of the grief that I lugged round with me this yr. The course of felt profoundly cathartic. And I really feel lucky, as a result of whereas my recollection over time is sweet, having a written compendium right here of my adventures breathes life into them time and again.

I couldn’t assist however discover that my images have been nothing to get enthusiastic about once I set out, with absentminded framing and no modifying. And that’s okay, as a result of this was a weblog for my mum and my mates. I had no plans to make Legal Nomads the skeleton of a new profession. I see journey bloggers begin out at the moment with their blogs all shiny and able to go, and whereas that’s most likely the very best enterprise resolution total, I’m very glad on reflection that it wasn’t what I did. Those first two years with an occasional laptop computer, little social media, and taking notes by hand on lengthy bus and boat rides offered a stark, arresting distinction to my days in Biglaw.


Over the years, I had many alternatives to run Legal Nomads in another way. I might have added advertisements. Made a lot shorter posts. Taken extra press journeys. Opened the weblog as much as sponsored hyperlinks or visitor writing. As journey running a blog advanced, so too did the methods to earn cash.

The factor is, virtually each time I met a reader on a meals stroll or throughout a meetup, I’d inevitably suppose, “if I met this person at a party, I’d totes want to be their friend.” They have been sensible, they have been curious, they usually have been caring. My fantastic group made it simple to maintain doing what I used to be doing.

My speculation was easy: if I believed my readers have been the cat’s pyjamas, then clearly I used to be writing as my true self.

Writing in a true voice was necessary. Presenting a glimmering model of your self that doesn’t really feel actual is a straightforward path to discontent. You can observe your ardour all you need, however in case you’re not expressing it authentically, in a means that’s indisputably you, the hole will meet up with you. The house between who you might be and who you categorical your self to be exists in various levels. But if it’s too massive, particularly in case your work includes sharing your ideas creatively, the disparity can simply engulf you.

The enterprise philosophy through the years has been easy. Write the way you’d wish to learn, be taught as a lot as you’ll be able to every day, pay attention very rigorously to what readers inform you, and create the merchandise they really feel they want or need of their lives.

(If being profitable alone was the first purpose, I’d have gone again to working as a lawyer.)

With the occasions that transpired this yr I’m very glad I did issues my means. When shit actually hit the fan in January, it allowed me to look again on this decade of concentrated, typically ill-advised journey and say, “no regrets at all.”*

*okay possibly that bus experience to La Paz.

That ethos additionally led to a e book about meals, to hand-drawn maps of meals, and to detailed gluten free playing cards so celiacs can eat meals safely as they journey, with much less nervousness.

You guys positive like your meals.

Which is handy, since I do too.

But it didn’t begin out that means.

Early tales under are largely about journey, for the reason that meals half actually got here in later. It wasn’t till I received to China after which Southeast Asia that meals turned the factor that led me from place to position, studying as a lot as I might. I’ve written earlier than how mates from legislation college discover my meals obsession laughable as a result of then I simply didn’t actually take note of what I used to be consuming.

My title is Jodi, and I’m a former careless eater.

For the final a few years, nonetheless, the quickest approach to happiness was via a bowl of soup.

hu tieu nam vang

Hu tieu nam vang in Saigon, 2013

On this journey of 10 years and hundreds upon hundreds of steps, I consumed many bowls of soup.

Through these bowls of soup, and the gracious (and typically much less gracious) people who made them, I discovered a lot in regards to the world and people residing in it.

A giant due to Candace Rose Rardon for the attractive quick video under, a hand-drawn reward of my favorite soup, bun rieu.

My put up about it, of course, included within the spherical up under.



Ten Years of Long Term Travel (And the Stories Behind the Posts)

bagan myanmar

Overlooking the temples of Bagan at nightfall, Myanmar 2009. Taken by my pal Honza.

Why sure, there IS a desk of contents!

Click to leap forward, or scroll right down to go so as:
FAQs for 2018 and What’s Next


A be aware earlier than we dive in! I initially set out on this round-the-world journey with Jess, who was my opposing counsel on an advert deal we negotiated for our employers earlier than we give up. She was a nice lawyer who additionally wished to journey, and after the closing lunch for the deal we agreed to make the leap collectively. We began Legal Nomads on Blogger, with the wonderful slogan “Two Lawyers, One World”.

I received sick fairly shortly (theme right here, I do know), and Jess continued on once I headed again to North America in the summertime of 2008 for a few months of restoration. She visited India, components of Africa, and documented it right here earlier than returning to the States and lawyering as soon as extra.

So for individuals who are newer readers: Jess was my “s” in Legal Nomads, and why the positioning wasn’t The Legal Nomad to start with. 

Salkantay to Macchu Picchu, with Bronchitis:

In which Jodi discovers diclofenac, and the rescue mule.

salkantay to macchu picchu

Embarking on the Salkantay to Macchu Picchi trek, with the problem straight forward

Friends really useful that I skip the extra fashionable Inca Trail path to Macchu Picchu and keep away from the crowds by choosing Salkantay or Lares treks as a substitute. The selection was made for me once I realized that there have been no extra permits for the Inca Trail that season, so the subsequent step was discovering a tour operator to take me the tougher means: winding up via Salkantay Pass, then right down to the bushes under.

I opted for a firm known as United Mice, and ended up with a very small group who have been all in good condition and prepared to attend for me. Because I had the sensible concept to climb Salkantay with bronchitis and a busted rib. My lungs wheezing up at altitude, the poor rescue mule caught with me as a passenger on the highest factors, and a very painful ladders-and-ropes climb up Putucusi close to the top of the journey.

Still, she continued.

macchu picchu


Despite that temporary stint on the rescue mule, I made it to the highest of Salkantay, and Macchu Picchu, and Huayna Picchu, and Putucusi. Basically, I used to be a loopy particular person.

Bronchitis zero, Jodi 1


Bronchitis? WHAT BRONCHITIS? Posting atop Putucusi, the place I needed to take diclofenac capsules to make it up the ladders as a result of I had BUSTED A RIB as a consequence of sturdy coughing.

Mongolia Dazzles the Mind:

Wide open areas and nomadic residing.

Mongolia, I wrote, was “like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”

I left on my round-the-world journey primarily in order that I might go to Siberia, and that I did do. Lured by an previous PBS documentary in regards to the trans-Siberian trains, and a cloudy gemstone I found as a child, it was as fantastic and satisfying as I had hoped.

But Mongolia. I hadn’t thought that far forward. Silly me, considering Siberia could be the apex of my adventures – solely to seek out the subsequent nation a completely mind-blowing affair. And of course 9 extra years of journey that I didn’t anticipate both.

The piece consists of fairly a few practiced superstitions that have been relayed alongside the way in which, and on the time I bear in mind feeling the awe of a massive 180. Stepping over sheep and goats to pee within the Gobi, shoveling sheep manure to maintain the yurt heat at evening, and sending images from the Blackberry I nonetheless had in hand to my household in Canada going, “CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?” From lawyer a few months previous to tenting within the Gobi with a household of nomads, attempting to stop a magpie from working off with sheep intestines? Yep, issues had modified.

I included this put up as a result of nothing since has in comparison with the magic of merely watching the id I had dissolve, changed by pure marvel. Who I used to be shortly prior didn’t matter, as a result of every part in entrance of me felt so intensely new that it blotted out something acquainted.

All in a Beijing Block:

If solely I knew how lengthy Beijing blocks have been earlier than I arrived.

Joel and I first met after we have been barely out of our teenagers. We spent a summer time stuffing our faces in Montreal, after which stuffed ourselves into a automotive to drive 29 hours for the second yr of Bonnaroo. After the trains spat me out in Beijing at daybreak, he gathered me up for a reunion.

My one-week journey became a month of consuming, consuming tea, and me studying in regards to the metropolis that had grow to be his residence. It was fascinating to weigh the variations in how residing overseas had modified him. I used to be initially of my travels and the truth that he traveled to Beijing after which stayed was a marvel. Could this be what I selected, too?

Fluent in Mandarin and impish as at all times, seeing Beijing via Joel’s eyes was a true pleasure. My month within the metropolis opened me extra to studying via meals, one thing that turned my raison d’être quickly thereafter.

long term travel

“Yawn for the camera, Jodi!” “Ok, Joel!”

beijing feast

99% of our time in Beijing concerned meals and Pu’erh tea. The remaining 10% was journey to the locations the place the meals and tea lived.


Dos and Don’ts of Getting Sick on a Round the World Trip:

This is an early piece in what is sort of a few wellness posts on the positioning. I’ve now aggregated them in their very own class, as they’re one thing readers ask for occasionally. (Came for the journey, stayed for the ache, eh?)

I share this put up for 2 causes: the primary is that there’s a half two, which is actually simply a record of mishaps involving illness – loss of toenails, getting tear gassed, falling off a cliff, YOU KNOW THE USUAL. Somehow the 15 issues occurred in solely three years of round-the-world journey.

The extra necessary cause is that the story I inform in the beginning is a component of why I lastly grew up and began taking my celiac analysis severely: a medication girl in Siberia (yep, Siberia once more!) instructed me that I’d be useless in 10 years if I didn’t.

Ulan-Ude, Siberia

Ulan-Ude, Siberia

This half of the story didn’t make it into my put up, which is primarily some tips on staying wholesome on the highway, and the way mentioned Siberian girl stopped my evil cough on the trains. But it actually caught in my thoughts. Especially because the story occurred in 2008, and we’re… virtually at ten years later. In the again of my thoughts, I’ve actually stored a watch on the clock.

To be clear, she was saying that if I didn’t do what I used to be purported to do with my abdomen, there could be massive issues.

And she scared me sufficiently to cease the “nicely I don’t really feel sick if I eat x factor that’s completely not what I’m allowed to be consuming,” and really BELIEVE the literature my physician had given me, belief the research that confirmed improve abdomen and colon most cancers charges with out a strict adherence to a gluten free weight-reduction plan for all times, and begin me on the trail that led to what’s now a half of my enterprise: gluten free guides and translation playing cards for celiacs.

Lombok to Flores by Boat:

You get what you pay for.

lombok to flores by boat

My chariot for the Lombok to Flores boat journey.

In this case: I didn’t pay a lot and I’m fairly grateful to be alive after this journey! From our boat getting caught in a fishing web simply earlier than daybreak, to sleeping in an over-stuffed low slinging “5-Star Floating Loft” with the captain falling asleep on the wheel just about every single day – it’s a marvel I’m.

Following a pretty ridiculous journey again that involving sitting on the roof of a automotive careening via the mountains with a goat in my lap, this was one of the journeys I wrote about after after which despatched an advance apology to my mum.

lombok to flores by boat

Our boat down under. Beautiful journey, full of misadventures.

El Nido, Paradise Found:

And I by no means wished to go away.

Bacuit Bay, Palawan

The Bacuit Bay, in all its glory, from the lodge that turned my residence for a number of months.

el nido, philippines


I washed up on the shores of El Nido after a wretched 7-hour banca boat journey from Port Barton, Palawan, and it took little or no time to appreciate I didn’t wish to go away.

My residence was The Alternative, a now-closed resort run by a fabulous girl named Becky. She, and her household, took me in and housed me for months in trade for working on the entrance desk and aiding friends if vital. The place solely had electrical energy throughout particular hours of the day, I typically awakened bit by ants throughout the evening, and the one fairly priced means out was through an insane bus experience to Puerto Princessa, or an equally loopy cargo ferry experience to Coron.

I beloved each minute of it.

The Philippines: I got here for the tarsiers, and I stayed for the individuals (and people sunsets).


A Solar Eclipse in Burma:

Bhamo to Mandalay by authorities ferry, together with an additional day for getting caught in a sandbar. Several instances.

government ferry bhamo to mandalay

My chariot for the multi-day ferry journey from Bhamo to Mandalay. We spent hours on deck, we ate, we did yoga, we taught everybody how you can play Memory, and we watched an eclipse.

I had no laptop computer or telephone with me throughout my weeks in Myanmar, so it was at an web cafe that I noticed the upcoming complete photo voltaic eclipse was exactly the place I used to be heading. SQUEE! Research prompt a authorities ferry that traveled from Bhamo to Mandalay. Newfound journey mates echoed this discovering, and a few of us determined to expertise Eclipse O’Clock for ourselves.

I allude within the put up to the effort of shopping for tickets. At the time, solely crisp new US payments with sure serial numbers exempt have been allowed for use in Myanmar. I particularly went to a financial institution within the states earlier than I left asking for brand spanking new payments solely, with out these serial numbers AND THEY WERE SUPER DUPER FRESH AND NEW. Alas, regardless of their cautious vertical residence in my guidebook, the federal government ticket agent rejected them. I mentioned they have been new, he mentioned they weren’t. I received fairly pissed off and licked my invoice to show it was new. He took my disobedience as overt insurrection and threatened to name the cops.

Thankfully, he known as my lodge proprietor who graciously swapped out payments he had for mine, so the gentleman could possibly be paid.

His payments have been undoubtedly extra worn down than mine, however faces weren’t misplaced within the course of – nicely, aside from mine. Because I had a ticket, positive, however I additionally had a popularity in Bhamo for being a very tough pint-sized vacationer who licked cash.

Not my best second.

Regardless get on the boat I did, with mentioned journey mates. The journey included a karaoke-off with the captain broadcast via the complete ferry’s PA system, exploring a half of the nation that’s sadly out of attain at the moment as a consequence of sectarian violence, and watching that beautiful photo voltaic eclipse.

I’m positive you’ll be able to see why I included it on this spherical up! It was an unforgettable journey.

solar eclipse myanmar

Eclipse o’clock on the Irawaddy!

My Safety Whistle, Worth its Weight in Gold:

One of the most well-liked earlier posts on my website, and I nonetheless gained’t go away residence with out one.

Of all of the posts that characterised my preliminary years of journey, this one stays essentially the most notorious. At reader meetups, individuals would convey me security whistles. Companies reached out to ask if I wished to make Legal Nomads branded ones, and any time a new traveler purchased a bag with a whistle on it, I’d get a picture in the event that they learn my weblog.

I wished to ensure individuals had a security whistle, however so many of the posts I learn on the subject talked about feminine security in difficult circumstances. I made a decision to share the tales that have been a little extra zany: how my whistle saved me from aggressive blanket-stealing monkeys, and extra.

I nonetheless at all times have a security whistle on my day bag.


WDS Keynote on Passion, Fear, and Taking Risks in Life

First time public talking.

keynote jodi ettenberg

My first ever discuss, at WDS 2011. (c) Tara Wages

I watched many speeches in my lifetime, however by no means contemplated turning into a public speaker. For good cause: it terrified me. I even gained “most easily embarrassed” as my highschool graduating yearbook honour, so this was not a new downside.

This was my first talking gig, due to some skillful maneuvering from Chris Guillebeau (learn: he didn’t ask me to talk, he put my title up as a keynote after which mentioned individuals have been excited so I shouldn’t again out). I’m very grateful he did, as a result of talking has grow to be a massive half of how I work.

I used to be past terrified to rise up on stage and threw up forward of my discuss. Somehow I managed to seem like I wasn’t about to disintegrate in any respect whereas presenting, or so individuals say. I labored as a company legal professional, not a litigator so I didn’t have courtroom expertise. It was this discuss – to 500 individuals, no much less – that opened my eyes to the transformative energy of my very own storytelling via speech.

To rise up in entrance of a crowd of this measurement, to NOT fall off the stage (for some cause this was my massive concern), and to have the viewers appear …I noticed halfway via the move of my discuss that this was one different medium I wished to embrace.

If solely I might cease throwing up.

The yr following this discuss, I accepted all gigs that got here my means. After my 12th discuss, I finished throwing up. I nonetheless get terribly jittery, however I’ve conquered a good chunk of my concern of talking via particular apply instruments, laborious work, and stepping onstage even when it was terrifying.

An Ode to Spices

Where the meals writing — and Jodi Eats meals walks — all started.

Chilies in Jaipur, India

Chilies in Jaipur, India

This is the put up that led to my e book and to taking readers across the dizzying alleyways of Saigon, feeding them till they have been able to burst. As I discussed above, in my lawyering days I didn’t look after meals the way in which I do now. Time flowed in 6-minute increments, and meals took up a a number of too many. But earlier than beginning in New York I spent a yr finding out European legislation in France. In between courses, I discovered about spices from market distributors and realized that what I believed was “food” was truly simply fairly bland.

One of the toughest issues proper now could be that I’m very restricted it what I can eat. Most meals, together with virtually all spices, fish sauce, and a complete lot extra, give me anaphylactic reactions that have an effect on my therapeutic. I’m at the moment on essentially the most restricted of diets, and it’s astounding to suppose of what I used to eat and can’t any longer.

Decoding the Insanity of Driving in Morocco:

Not for the faint of coronary heart.

renting a car driving over the Tizi n'Tichka Atlas Mountains

Rainbows and storms alongside the Col du Tichka (or Tizi n’Tichka) within the Atlas Mountains.

This quick put up was a sillier one, as a result of how else to convey the enormous sport of rooster that was my cross over the Atlas mountains and into the Sahara? I already had a few weeks of Morocco below my belt, and completely like to drive. While I joke on this piece in regards to the lack of guidelines being the rule, reality is the hours of looping over the mountains have been some of essentially the most exhilarating ones of my travels.

We drove from Marrakesh as much as the Col du Tichka (Tizi n’Tichka). The highway was constructed atop the echoes of an older caravan path within the 1930s, and it climbs up towards the snow-covered peaks of the Atlas earlier than its decline to Ourzazate and the desert. Trucks push laborious, hurtling their means up the steep curves. Roadside meat and soups and tagine abound, and the danger of animal encounters is excessive. I say ‘risk’ as a result of what I actually imply is, “that blind curve ahead? I can’t promise there won’t be 100 sheep standing there as soon as you come around the bend. Good luck!”


The Overview Effect, Mindfulness, and Travel:

Changing how the world works, one vista at a time.

While I later dove deep into John Kabat-Zinn and mindfulness’ impact on ache, this 2012 put up was a very macro publicity to how perspective can change your life.

From that put up:

“Astronauts who have seen the Earth from space have often described the ‘overview effect’ as an experience that has transformed their perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it, and enabled them to perceive it as our shared home, without boundaries between nations or species.”

The time period Overview Effect was coined by astronaut Frank White, who truly commented on the put up (!), and refers back to the shift from seeing the Earth and folks in it as people, to really feel a coherence and unity between all of it. The put up pertains to house and time, however journey can rework views in a related, extra delicate means.

I used to be serious about this put up not too long ago, as a result of this yr’s occasions felt to me like an “Overview Effect” of their very own. They’ve shifted the way in which I see the world, and myself in it. And they’ve skewed my notion of time.

Pictures from Myanmar: Myitkyina, Inle Lake, Mandalay, and More:

Temples of Bagan at dawn

Temples of Bagan at daybreak. Not pictured: goats.

Adventures in spontaneous, considerably unlawful journey.

soup vendor in myanmar

Me with my favorite soup girl on the town, and her lovely grandson. I went again there every single day that I might. A soup lover was born!

I spent a complete of 7 weeks in Myanmar in 2009/early 2010, overstaying my visa illegally and going as far as to photocopy it and white out the dates, to absolutely the glee of the gentleman working on the copy store. When I used to be pulled off buses or flagged on the facet of the highway to current my passport and visa, I would supply the passport and my faux copy. Thankfully, nobody regarded on the date I used to be stamped in on; they have been too busy confused about what I used to be doing alone within the center of nowhere.

During my go to, the Junta was nonetheless in energy and there have been few vacationers within the nation, particularly in comparison with now. Myitkyina, the place I went to attend the Kachin State Fair, was particularly untouristed; the complete go to was a reverse-fishbowl, with the gaggle of vacationers there posing for images throughout most of the pageant. One photographer whined about it unceremoniously, “I’m right here to photograph them!” Boo hoo, think about how they really feel below the gaze of your lens?

Several cities I beloved are fully limits because of the horrifying sectarian violence in Myanmar throughout latest years. In 2009 and early 2010 once I was there, the nation was very completely different. Extremely low cost lodging, no ATMs or SIM playing cards I needed to depend my cash on the again of of the market in Yangon and lug it across the nation in ziploc baggage as a substitute. Without a doubt, the locals I ate with have been among the many nicest individuals I’ve ever encountered, kind-hearted and engaging.

Before I left, I used to be warned that it was extraordinarily necessary to not speak about politics, not ask to see anybody’s residence, not danger their lives because of the authorities on the time. I treaded rigorously, and the vacationers I met did too. People have been dressed conservatively, they have been extraordinarily educated about historical past, they usually have been deeply within the (damaging) politics of the area.

I don’t write this with a tone of nostalgia, solely to share the way it was. When I learn individuals’s accounts of the nation now, it appears a wholly completely different place. I notice that’s the way it works.

But these 7 weeks have been a suspension of something that made sense. With no laptop computer, no cellphone, and a cussed dedication to overstay my visa, every single day was deeply immersive and really felt like I lived a week in 24 hours.

The mates I met touring in Myanmar, too, turned mates for all times.


Travel to North India: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly:

This put up about India is one of the longer ones on the positioning, however as you could suspect primarily based on the size of this one, I refuse to serialize my articles. It goes via the overwhelm of a nation that appears to accommodate the very best and worst of humanity, essentially the most assorted of meals, the brightest of costume. India felt like an train in superlatives, and I synthesized it the one means I knew how: via phrases and photos.

The journey was each a reward to my mum for her 65th birthday – she at all times wished to see the Taj Mahal – and my first time in India. We spent most of our time in Rajasthan.

Before we left Canada my mum was instructed, “if you want to avoid getting sick then just eat at the nicer hotels.” My mum’s reply: “Have you MET my daughter?!”

We ate avenue meals and restaurant meals. We had lassis and curries and dals for days. I received to see her pleasure as she dug deep into the nation’s historical past, and she or he watched me get so excited over a cardamom lime lassi that I cried.

As bonding journeys go, it wasn’t essentially the most enjoyable. But I wouldn’t change it for something.

Jaipur's palace of winds

Jaipur’s Palace of Winds

Lunch in Udaipur

Lunch in Udaipur

Pleading for Bun Rieu Soup in Cai Rang:

When individuals ask me about Vietnam I joke that I got here for the canh chua, and stayed for the bun rieu. This tomato and crab broth is well one of my favorite soups on the planet, and I’ve tracked it down in San Francisco, Ottawa, and additional afield.

In Cai Rang, nonetheless, I needed to beg for it – as a result of the market vendor simply wouldn’t serve it to me. A granny took pity on my soup wants and harangued the seller till he gave me the soup I wished. And then she introduced her mates to beam at me as I completed the bowl.

I really like this put up as a result of my days in Cai Rang have been a true pleasure. I stayed at a fantastic homestay with a Quebec gentleman and his Vietnamese spouse, and spent mornings roaming the colorful markets close to the Mekong. In the afternoons, there have been bike rides and hammock studying. As with many of my journeys, I prolonged my keep and ended up feeling half of the household. A real pleasure.


How to Make the Most of a Transpacific Repositioning Cruise:

I can’t start to quantify simply how enjoyable this journey from Vancouver to Tokyo was, with a group of individuals who have been uniquely assorted but didn’t take themselves too severely. What occurs in case you take a group of entrepreneurs with a childlike enthusiasm for all times, a love of tea, and simply the correct quantity of inexperienced bandanas? Click to seek out out.

I included this put up as a result of it stays one of the very best experiences I’ve had through the years, a testomony to Tynan, who organized it, and Nick, who introduced many of the props and get together video games that made the cruise so enjoyable.

repositioning cruise across the pacific

Heading to shore in Kamchatka province, Russia

repositioning cruise across the pacific

The fab group of “Gang Green,” inflicting havoc and creating pleasure on board the ship.

Japan in 77 Photos:

A short point out for this very lengthy (77 images lengthy, to be exact) photoessay from Japan: it’s right here as a result of I gained an award for it in 2015. For somebody who began out taking images with out considering, not understanding something about framing or cropping. And for somebody who nonetheless doesn’t use Lightroom or any modifying (the images have been simply straightened and cropped in Google’s now-deprecated Picasa programme), this felt very good certainly!

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple) Kyoto

All smiles at Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto

Fushimi Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari-taisha

I by no means thought of myself as a photographer; the images existed to assist the phrases that I wrote. Over the years, I spent increasingly time serious about the best images to accent my items, and studying extra about cameras.

I had a fantastic time in Japan, criss-crossing by prepare, climbing Mount Fuji as that yr’s birthday mountain, and consuming my physique weight in sashimi. Sadly, I additionally received sick regardless of displaying eating places a quick celiac card, and even at instances with a information. So my weeks in Japan have been additionally cause that I created my gluten free playing cards – so different celiacs didn’t have the identical ache I did when touring to the nation.

Why I Love Saigon:

A love letter to the town I fell for at first sight.

jodi ettenberg saigon

Me in Saigon, New Year’s Eve 2014. Photo by Jimmy (Bean) Dau.

During my first day in Saigon, I turned to my good pal James and mentioned, “I need to live here.”

He was shocked.

I had simply arrived, many of our mutual mates discovered the town too chaotic for his or her tastes, and I barely noticed something but.

“I don’t care, James. There’s a soup girl exterior my door, the chaos is magical, and I simply know! I adore it.”

I wasn’t incorrect.

I ended up spending many winters in Saigon, consuming all of the soups. Riding round from district to district, misplaced in alleyways and whirling round within the noise and call-and-answer of distributors on the road.

There wasn’t a week in Mexico the place I didn’t dream no less than as soon as about Saigon. The metropolis marked itself indelibly upon me.

I do know that I solely started to scratch the floor of the town and nation I beloved. But it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to notice that no place captured my coronary heart as shortly, and aggressively, as Saigon. And like a true “love at first sight” relationship, typically they will develop into a nurturing, wholesome scenario. And typically they burn out, scorching and fierce, leaving you dazed.

My time in Saigon got here to an finish when the smog and mosquitos took me down. I wrote a very lengthy put up about all of the road meals I ate and how one can too, however I selected my love letter to the town for this 10-year retrospective as a result of it particulars how the town captured my coronary heart.


Fishing for Socks in Lisbon:

I by no means received to jot down a information to Lisbon, as a result of all of a sudden I used to be in New Zealand, studying to sail and sitting for 10 days of silent meditation. Sandwiched by driving across the nation for a number of months, these two experiences have been so arresting that I regarded again on my Lisbon notes in confusion.

What was I going to say, now?

lisbon portugal

Beautiful Lisbon

Most of the month in Lisbon was spent writing a speech on meals that I introduced in Estoril. My recollections of the town itself have been magical, although, with lengthy wanders round city and hours of considering on the lookouts that took my breath away.

Lisbon was the one different metropolis that felt like residence virtually instantly upon arriving. I used to be in true limerence; nothing appeared incorrect. The buildings, the meals, the wine, and the ocean. The pleasant individuals I met. The difficult historical past – tsunami, fireplace, and earthquake ALL in someday! How might one not fall for Lisbon?

I truly received my Portuguese residency visa permitted and was going to maneuver again there and set up a base when in 2016 I impulsively opted for Oaxaca as a substitute. That resolution led me to a complete new set of recollections and mates and meals, however often I ponder what would life have been like had I chosen the opposite path?

When I received again from Portugal, I discovered a package deal of SmartWool socks on my mattress at my mother and father’ place. My pal Tony despatched it to me after studying this put up, noting, “really Jodi, you could have just bought more socks.”

The piece is about socks, however of course not likely about socks. It nonetheless makes me smile at the moment.

Revisiting Mrs. Pa, the Best Smoothie Cart in Chiang Mai:

I first met Mrs. Pa in 2011, and have despatched everybody I do know to her cart ever since. When this mess occurred final yr, readers and mates handed messages backwards and forwards, till reached out herself to demand that I get higher.

I wrote about her initially in 2011 however this 2015 put up allowed an uncommon alternative to return and ask if the piece had an impact her work, and to share extra about her infectious enthusiasm for all times.

I miss Mrs. Pa’s wonderful strango smoothies with a pinch of lime, however I miss Mrs. Pa greater than all of her fruit mixed.

mrs. pa smoothies chiang mai

My cheerful reunion with Mrs. Pa, in Chiang Mai

On Facing Fear And Learning to Sail in New Zealand:

On Facing Fear and Learning How to Sail in New Zealand

So fairly. So scary.

After virtually drowning as a child within the native pool, crusing felt like a terrifying overreach of sanity. It’s one factor to take a bigger ship throughout the ocean, or a sluggish shifting ferry. But a sailboat, and one you run with one different particular person after solely 2 days of crusing college? Nope.

This piece was laborious to jot down, however even more durable to expertise. Panic assaults, sleepless nights, and sobbing whereas adjusting the sail all determine prominently, however the thrilling half is that I’d get on a sailboat once more at the moment. Learning to sail did assist me overcome my fears, and I hope to get again on a sailboat someday.


Spiders and Silence: My 10 Day Vipassana Course:

Between the crusing and this arachnoid-filled Vipassana course, my time in New Zealand was not a enjoyable one. The Vipassana course, spiders apart, taught me a essential talent that I used repeatedly as a lifeline when the cerebrospinal leak started.

For me, the fascination lies within the neuroscience of how meditation impacts the mind, in addition to the discourses and studying that occurs from Goenka himself. The id side – the choice to vary the way in which you govern your self, completed via the self-discipline of constant meditation – shouldn’t be the purpose of Vipassana. But I used to be doing the course for private causes, and a very private put up is what emerged.

Before this previous yr, the Vipassana was the toughest factor I’ve ever willingly performed. And I’m infinitely grateful that I did it, as a result of it set me up for six months of complete incapacitation. Moreover, as somebody who had by no means meditated constantly previous to doing this course, I went into it with out an current apply to fall again on.

During the months of bedrest following the lumbar puncture, individuals requested if I used to be bored. I actually wasn’t. I spent a lot of my time meditating, and particularly after the 4th patch in January – typically upwards of 5-6 hours a day.

I couldn’t management something about my bodily physique, and so with the assistance of these round me, I turned to my thoughts. Vipassana, guided meditations, and studying in regards to the mind stored me sane at a time the place nothing made any sense. This 10-day course was vital to my means to course of and keep equanimous throughout this terrifying time.

The Most Embarrassing Stories From my Travels:

This piece happened as a result of I used to be stung on the butt – twice – by an indignant yellow jacket wasp. When mates mentioned, “Jodi why does this at all times occur to you?!” I noticed that I by no means wrote about some of the mortifying experiences from my wandering.

You’re welcome.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, scene of one of the extra cringeworthy incidents on my travels.

Really although, in case you can’t poke enjoyable at your self, what’s the purpose?

How to Eat Street Food with out Getting Sick:

This query was the one which guided me towards my e book, and stays one of the extra frequent emails I obtain. So I made a decision to place a put up collectively and share my ideas as somebody who most popular avenue meals to eating places, and had a few years of consuming to show it. It’s one of the extra fashionable posts on the positioning as a result of it’s a query we regularly fear about after we’re instructed within the West that avenue meals is harmful.

This yr we misplaced two meals greats, Anthony Bourdain and Jonathan Gold. Both wrote exquisitely about meals, tradition, and journey. And each noticed consuming — typically avenue meals consuming — as a gateway to experiencing all of humanity in a single little vignette. Yes, avenue meals might be within the incorrect circumstances. But in the best circumstances, it’s merely scrumptious and it’s one of essentially the most genuine cultural explorations you’ll be able to take pleasure in in a new place.

best bun rieu saigon

My favorite bun rieu vendor in Saigon, organising for the day.


The Cow Head Taco Philosopher of Oaxaca:

Not having the ability to return to Oaxaca has been a laborious capsule to swallow about this massive life change. Yes, the town is beautiful. Yes, the encompassing sights are too. But what I miss are the individuals, many of whom are within the meals world. Many have stayed in contact, fortunately, and one who makes me smile further extensive is Israel, he of the cow head tacos extraordinaire.

tacos de cabeza Oaxaca

Israel and his wonderful cow head tacos.

I’ve taken my mother and father to eat at his stall, and readers aplenty. My largest criticism is that he stored attempting to comp me my tacos, after which my mother and father’ tacos. So I took to leaving him pesos below his bag and texting him a be aware later: there’s no such factor as free tacos.

Of course, he was simply being affectionate. But when he realized I’d constantly trick him into paying, he began giving me bottles of mezcal as a substitute. Our backwards and forwards continued, a present-off through the years. I introduced him a fleece Canada hat for chilly Oaxaca mornings throughout the cooler autumn months. He introduced me mezcal and alebrijes. The finest sort of stalemate.

His jovial stomach chortle and enthusiastic hugs are extraordinary. But it’s his perspective – one of letting go of anger, embracing change and connection, and appreciating household – that serves a lasting lesson for anybody. His outlook on life and beneficiant spirit was the genesis for my put up.


My spinal faucet put up was just about it for this yr, so as a substitute…

Some FAQs From Emails with Readers

Many of you will have written asking questions, and I’ve compiled 6 of the commonest ones under, as half of this 10 yr retrospective.

1) Are you going to promote Legal Nomads?

No, I’ve no plans to promote the positioning. (And to the man who pitched one thing else, then discovered of my current scenario, and then requested if I used to be going to promote “since you can’t travel anyhow” – undoubtedly not, and in that case by no means to you.)

2) Are you going to cease writing on Legal Nomads?

No, I’m going to maintain writing and have been quietly updating posts with present info. Some, like my Montreal information, have been up to date to replicate the spirit of the town I now name residence. Others, like my temporary historical past of chili peppers, have been up to date to incorporate the query I most frequently get through e mail: why do our mouths burn after we eat chilies?! And I’ve been updating a number of of my celiac guides as nicely, with Malaysia and Thailand virtually full.

I do have drafts of some extra private posts I sit up for sharing, in addition to different “Brief history of” collection posts, for the reason that microhistory fascination is infinite for me.

And I’ve nonetheless received a few Thrillable Hours posts to place up, and several other extra within the works.

three) What about your writing course?

*For background, awhile in the past I quietly put up a be aware about a course I deliberate to supply, known as “How to Tell Stories in a Digital World” and requested individuals to contact me in the event that they have been .

The writing course! Yes, I hope to supply it as quickly as I’m in a position. It can be live-taught, so if I can’t journey I’m excited to journey via time with readers as a substitute. I’m not positive when it will likely be prepared as I’m nonetheless engaged on the workbook; my plan was to finalize it late final summer time and we all know how that went.

I’ve stored an e mail folder of individuals and can be in contact when I’m prepared to begin.

The plan stays to supply courses of 10 individuals at a time to maintain issues targeted and never too thinly unfold.

four) Can you write in regards to the specifics (therapies, books, meditations) of what’s labored for you as you get well?

Yes, I’m completely satisfied to take action. I’ve needed to change a lot of what I eat, merchandise I take advantage of, and the way I transfer my physique that I do hope to place collectively a put up that provides the specifics as a result of I want I had that data once I was beginning on this highway! Like my put up about ache, I’m positive it’ll embrace heaps of assets.

5) Are you now in Montreal indefinitely?

Yes, although I’m staying with household as I’m nonetheless unable to stay independently. I additionally plan to drive again right down to Florida this winter. Winter and a therapeutic dura are a harmful proposition, particularly for a klutz like me.

My pal Mike must get his automotive down that means, and conveniently I slot in it. So the plan is to return and proceed the therapeutic course of. And the walks with birds.

6) How do you keep so optimistic regardless of what’s occurred?

Every yr that I do an annual evaluation, I speak about gratitude and appreciation. And that’s as a result of I’ve it in spades. Despite this difficult time and the overwhelming not-knowing of this subsequent stage, I’ve a decade of concentrated recollections, a enormous community of caring, sensible readers, and fogeys and mates who’ve prioritized my therapeutic.

There have been many, many weeks once I was not even remotely optimistic. Things have been very bleak, and understandably so. I bear in mind waking up at my mum’s place at 4am with a begin, realizing the depth of how difficult this was. Feeling the deep loss of what gave me unbelievable pleasure over the last decade.

My perspective now could be much less about positivity and extra about selecting to concentrate on what I’m grateful for, what I nonetheless do have in my life. As I mentioned in a latest podcast interview, there’s no therapeutic in being bitter.

At current, I don’t know whether or not I’ll be capable to journey once more safely. It might require a lot of lodging that I’m undecided make the expertise worthwhile. I don’t know as a result of it’s too early to know, too quickly to essentially perceive what my baseline is.

So within the absence of not-knowing, I concentrate on at the moment. Not by denying the validity of any grief or the anger, as a result of that simply makes them take maintain within the physique. But by feeling these feelings, after which setting them apart compassionately, saying to myself – “not today.”

Today, I concentrate on what I’ve, and what I can do.

And that’s the very best I can do for me as I work to get well.



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