The Weird Couple in Bulgaria

A view of the Black Sea from a beach in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria. There are a bunch of lounge chairs and white umbrellas.
Beautiful views on the beach in Bulgaria!

Weirdo Magnet

I’m a weirdo magnet. That is to say, if there is a weirdo around, they will find me. This doesn’t change when I travel, then I’m a wanderlust weirdo magnet. In today’s tale, I specifically met a weird couple in Bulgaria.

If there is a weirdo within my general vicinity, they are coming straight toward me without a doubt. A few months ago I got on the subway to go to work. I was terrified because I know that weirdos flock to me. I sat in a seat, minded my business, and dove into my book. Perhaps 15 minutes later, a homeless man walked down the subway car, ignoring everyone looking at him and beelined for me, one of the few people not making eye contact. “I BET YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN ME BECAUSE YOU’RE READING A BOOK, BITCH.” I’ve been on the receiving end of stalking, staring, and being followed more often than I can count, especially in my home city. 

A New Friend

My husband and I were visiting beautiful Sunny Beach, Bulgaria as part of our honeymoon trip. Our resort was all inclusive. There was all you can drink tap beer specifically by the pool which was great. Arthur and I  get beers, two in each hand, naturally.

Husband and I enjoying our free beer and escaping the weirdest couple ever.

“Oh, hello! My name is Melinda. Are you staying at the resort?” We both looked spun around holding double fisting our beers. A smiling, young, GORGEOUS super model type woman was looking at us. A friendly face in Eastern Europe? What was happening?

“Please, come sit!” I shrugged and took a seat and smiled at her. I introduced us both and told her that we were in fact staying at the resort. She began asking us how we liked it, we gave our opinions and she gave hers. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Melinda was from Prague, and I told her that I was heading to Prague in a few weeks with my best friend. “Oh, we must meet up! My husband is a photographer. He’s from the US, he does great work. I’d love to schedule you both for a photo shoot!” She seemed really sweet, and I loved the idea of having memories that last a lifetime. I took down her Facebook information, but didn’t give her mine. Good thing.

The Man of My Dreams Nightmares

When I pictured this sweet and beautiful woman’s husband, I pictured a laid back young bro from the US. So, when she said excitedly, “Oh! There’s my husband!” and I saw the poster boy for a pedephile I was aghast. He looked angry, and like he was hiding something. Being polite folk, we introduced ourselves all the same. “The beer here is shit, I hate this place” was how he said hello. My husband is a social butterfly and responded, “Well, I think free beer is the best beer” to which the man said nothing.

Courtesy: Youtube

The husband never looked us in the eye and answered only in yes or no responses. “So, do you like it in Prague, being from the US?” I asked. “No.” Silence. I tried again. “Do you get to visit the US a lot? I’m sure you have family there.” He smirked. “Let’s just say I can’t go back for a while.” Silence. What a catch! What a dreamboat! 

Guys, this was literally him.

“Honey, why don’t you tell them how we met?” He looked straight ahead and was emotionless. “Fine, I’ll tell the story.” She looked at him with a smirk, and began speaking. “He was a photographer at a night club in Prague. He gave me his number, when I went there one night. I didn’t want to text him because he’s fat and ugly, and I was young so I didn’t. Everytime I went there he would bother me about dating him. A few months later, I slipped into a coma. I decided to text him, and we got married.”

I didn’t know what to say then, and I don’t know what to say now. Of course this weird couple in Bulgaria would find their way into my life. If you know me, that’s just par for the course 

My husband and I gave each other “the look.” If you and your partner or friend don’t have one, make one for situations like these – or a code. 

TIP: Have a code for getting out of an uncomfortable situation discreetly. Make sure you and your travel buddy know what the code is ahead of time. An example might be, “Shit! I forgot to take my antibiotic, again. Sorry – we need to go back to the room.” 

“It was nice meeting you guys, we’re going to go for a swim in the pool” I said with a fake smile. The husband gazed at us from side to side and did his creepy smirk. “I thought you said the water was too cold.” What the FUCK. Luckily, I’m quick on my feet in these scenarios. “Yeah, I’m eating crow right about now because I’m sweating. I can’t believe how brutal this sun is today.” He just stared at us, and Melinda smiled her biggest smile yet. “Don’t forget to message me when you get to Prague!” 

A woman is sitting in a pool holding a beer, hiding from a weird couple in Bulgaria.
The pool at our Bulgaria all inclusive. I went here to hide from the weird couple!

Fat chance, ya fucking weirdo! They were truly the weirdest couple in all of Bulgaria at that moment – I’m sure of it.

This weird couple in Bulgaria really freaked us out. 

My husband and I agreed that they were most likely involved in sex slave trafficking. Whether she was his actual wife, in on the act, or a victim, I’ll never know. What do you think?

What I Learned From This Weirdo Encounter:

  • When meeting new friends, jot down their contact information, but maybe don’t give yours away. You can see why above!
  • If someone that you meet talks about how much their friend/spouse/partner would like you or should meet you – red flag!
  • Have a discreet excuse ready to go for uncomfortable situations. You and your fellow traveler(s) should know the ‘signal’ ahead of time.
  • There is no “safe type” of person. Don’t assume that because someone is a couple, parent, or professional that they are normal, sane, and safe.

The awkwardness isn’t over! Click here for more!

How Laos Won My Love

I’m going to tell you about one of the most shameful and embarrassing things I’ve ever said out loud. You ready? My husband (then boyfriend) and I were planning our first big trip together. I had been out of the country only once, so southeast freaking Asia seemed like the best course of action. Next, we just had to pick which countries. Thailand, of course. Even Cambodia sounded cool.

A beautiful way to be welcomed to Laos

Then, Arthur suggested Laos, and I said the following. “Um, no. We can skip that. What the hell does Laos have to offer? Who goes to Laos.” I know that anyone who has been, or is a real traveler wants to punch me after reading that. However, back then I hadn’t been and was not yet a real traveler. But, even I want to punch myself when I remember saying that. Why? Because Laos is my favorite country that I have ever visited. We did visit Laos, and we decided to go via a group travel company – Contiki – which made it all the better. 

Love At First Sight

We arrived to Laos via slow by way of the Mekong River. From the first time I saw Laos, I loved it. Its dirt roads, humble people, palm trees, brown waterway, and lush terrain. It’s earthiness and authenticity enchanted me from the get-go. It is no wonder how Laos won my love.

Travel by slow boat down the Mekong

A Wake Up Call in Pakbeng

The opportunity to take a private slow boat down the Mekong River to Laos was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The trip takes two days, so we spent one day and night in Pakbeng as a rest stop. If you need a lesson in staying humble, Pakbeng is a place that you most definitely should visit. 

Cruising down the Mekong River

I wrote an entire post on Pak Beng, so I will only give a gist here. Pakbeng is poor – like really, really poor. After we exited the boat, I stood in the grass waiting for Arthur to grab our luggage. I had a family size bag of Goldfish crackers in hand that I had been slowly working on finishing throughout our trip. Without warning, I felt them leave my hand, and at first assumed I had dropped them. I looked to my left, and saw a child running off with them. 

He had stolen them out of my hand! “Hey!” I shouted, completely caught off guard by this tiny thief. “That doesn’t belong to you!” The boy turned around, and with the most sad face rubbed his stomach to communicate that he was very hungry – perhaps even starving. I immediately realized how utterly stupid my fat ass looked, yelling at a starving child for stealing my snack and felt embarrassed. You see, I wasn’t actually mad he had stolen them, it was just a reaction, perhaps because I am a teacher to correct his behavior.

My emotions fell into complete shock. I had never been exposed to legitimate poverty – I had never seen it, or interacted with it. Perhaps the occasional homeless person on the street, but that was the extent. This child was so hungry that he brazenly stole food out of my hands. I couldn’t imagine the level of hunger that would embolden anyone to do that. I gave him a thumbs up, he exchanged the signal, and took off running – showing his other friends his score. This one instance forced me to consider my privilege in a way that I never otherwise would have. 

Hanging out with the crew

It would seem to me that many of the residents of Pakbeng had food situations that to me personally did not seem ideal. On an evening stroll, Arthur and I passed a family barbecuing what appeared to be gerbils or guinea pigs – some type of rodent and invited us to participate, to which we politely declined. 

I had never eaten with so much gratitude as when our guest house served us our evening meal. We had rice, spring rolls, soup, and of course larb. As I ate, I continuously heard a buzzing sound over my head. I looked up at the light which hung ahead and illuminated our dinner in the dark. Hundreds of giant bugs were flocking to the source of illumination. I have a severe phobia of bugs. So much so, that I’ve vomited, gotten the chills, and refused food for an entire day when seeing swarms of them or a particularly large bug.

Delicious plate of larb and other food at our guest house

 I was so nervous that one would drop into my food, but I knew I had to be grateful and eat regardless. Bugs were everywhere in Pakbeng. They were in our bed, our shower, anywhere imaginable. I was grateful to have had this experience, but was SO grateful when we left. In fact, I nearly ran down the hill to the boat in excitement. I’ll be honest – I could barely walk a day in the shoes of the people who live in Pakbeng, let alone live like them. Pakbeng was a stepping stone into my journey toward gratitude for the absolute abundance that I am blessed with in my life. 

Giant bugs galore

Aside from Pakbeng, I became acquainted with a few other parts of Laos.

Vientiane – The Capitol City

The capital city has plenty to offer its visitors. As much as I love gritty cities, I was pleasantly surprised that Vientiane was not bustling and chaotic. A few memories that stand out:

Kong View bar & Restaurant: A really modern restaurant that is perfect for a date night or slinging back drinks with friends. The views from the back deck and the classic southeast Asian string lights add a nice touch.

Cope Visitor Center: This is not to be missed on a trip to Vientiane. It’s a center dedicated to victims of UXO explosions. The organization ensures that victims do not pay a penny for necessary treatment or rehabilitation and provides prosthetic limbs for those who have been maimed. Check out my post about the center here!

Sculptures made of UXO fragments

Vat That Khao: Be sure to tread quietly here, as to not disturb the giant “sleeping Buddha.”

A giant golden reclining, or "sleeping" Buddha outside of a temple in Vientiane, Laos. A couple poses in front of it, sitting on a bench.
Trying not to wake the “sleeping Buddha!”

Vang Vieng – Nature Abound

Vang Vieng has plenty of outdoors activities surrounded by jaw dropping nature.

A shirtless bald man looking out over a river with mountains and palm trees in the background in Laos
Hubby checking out the view from our hotel balcony

One morning in particular, we were awakened at 8am by trucks blasting loud music. We boarded them for a fun day of going caving, not before beers being thrust into our hands in the wee hours of the morning. Drinks so early? It’s no wonder how Laos won my love

Kayaking down the river in the rain was also a ton of fun – the views are unparalleled.

Vang Vieng has long had a reputation for hosting partying backpackers. There was a time when many of them would rent inflatable tubes and float down river, hoping to be pulled by rope into riverside bars. Some of the riverside bars still exist, and they are fun – but tubing has fallen to the wayside. However, there are still great places to party!

A bottle of "Beerlao" with its yellow, gold, green, and white label and tiger emblem

I cannot recommend enough Kangaroo Sunset Bar. We had a damn fun time playing beer pong and drinking buckets upon buckets of rum drinks – sopping up the booze with great burgers and fries.

Some Lao locals stopped in to bless us by lighting a pyre, giving us a shot of rattlesnake whiskey, and tying an orange band around our wrists. This was not to be taken off by force, or else bad luck would fall upon us. This entire set up was exciting and the huge quantities of booze only added to the excitement.

Towards the end of the night, a thunderstorm broke out. The only logical next step was to sloppily dance in the rain together and make out.

Luang Prabang – Postcard Perfect

There are few places as beautiful in my mind as Luang Prabang. It reminds me of Hawaii in terms of its landscape. I saw my fair share of rainbows in the sky in my time there. The wind blows gently and rustles the palm trees back and forth. The fields and dirt roads sometimes seem to go on forever. No one is in a rush. The town entirely reminds me of those friendly, happy cities one might see on a child’s play mat. Everyone seems to be in good spirits and ready to be helpful.

The beautiful view outside of a Luang Prabang hotel room - palm trees and a light blue sky. One of the many ways how I fell in love with Laos

Kuang Si Waterfalls are slippery and terrifying, but terribly fun and a must see!

There are opportunities to jump in from way high up. Don’t get too close to the rapids – or you’ll get pulled in!

Night market – The Luang Prabang night market is full of good fun and great finds. We bought our very own bottle of rattle snake whiskey as a souvenir for my dad. There are rows and rows of illuminated red tents selling flowers, gifts, and delicious treats.

All the Views

Aside from Greece, Laos has the best views of any country I have visited. 

How do I define best views?

They are views that are vast and seem to go on forever.

Views that really take your breath away.

Views that make you pinch the skin on your forearm or thigh and say, “am I dreaming?”

They are views you would think only exist while watching National Geographic

The Kuang Si waterfalls in Laos.

Eat, Pray, Love Moments

There are a multitude of ways to demonstrate your love and gratitude and get right with your soul.


One of the most popular and bucket list worthy activities for tourists and locals alike is giving alms to monks. You must awake as early as 3AM to be ready to meet the monks on their procession through town. Monks may only eat what is given to them throughout the course of the day, and thus depend on the alms given. Givers can line up with food, in our case rice, to hand out to the procession. It was one of the best reasons ever to wake up early. 

Another incredible opportunity was the honor of spending the day tutoring students at Big Brother Mouse. (explanation) My husband and I were so moved by our experience and wanted to give back. In lieu of favors at our wedding, we made a contribution to the organization on behalf of our friends and family. We made placards for each table that told our guests of all of the wonderful work that they do.

In addition, there are plenty of ways to fall in love with your partner all over again. Laos has no shortage of amazing ways to go out on dates. A few of my favorites include:

Climbing Mount Phousi

Exploring Luang Prabang

Enjoying a bougie dinner that would cost beacoup bucks back home

Two margarita sit on a table illuminated by candles in the evening
Margaritas in Vientiane


Laos has no shortages of places to worship. The wats are some of the most beautiful in all of southeast Asia – and the most memorable!

Laos is also home to “spirit houses.” Spirit houses are homes to protective spirits and can be outside of both residences and businesses.

A spirit house in Laos!


Interested in eating? There are plenty of places to grab some typical Laotian grub, as well as some more ‘Western’ options for food. Utopia eatery has some of the most romantic and exciting views. Picture eating in a magical tree house, Indian style on colorful pillows and mats as the sun goes down over the water. There are tropical trees all around and dancing light from candles illuminating the scene. Utopia doubles as a yoga studio during the day. It definitely reminds me of the Green Room in Costa Rica for sure. Fond of decadent French cuisine? See below.

French Influence

I’m mildly obsessed with French culture. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise to see how much French influence was leftover from the days of colonialism. I’m really interested in seeing the effect that countries have over one another. Laos was no exception. If you are a a Francophile, you may very well enjoy this country! In particular, Luang Prabang seems to have a ton of French influence.

There are a host of French style bakeries that serve decadent fresh pastries and deliciously made coffee. 

French bakery in Luang Prabang

Much of the street food serves French influenced such as sweet and savory crepes. The ones we bought were small little pockets full of delicious filling. We split a ham and cheese as well as a chocolate Nutella one. I was never so happy as when I saw a woman selling pancake puffs. They were full with some kind of sugary, liquidy, goodness and were ridiculously cheap. With so much amazing food, it’s no wonder that Laos won my love

Delicious crepes – one of the many things that show how Laos won my love

The height of any French culinary experience is of course, wine and cheese. In Paris, this might set you back a hundred dollars or more. In Laos, take advantage of the ridiculously cheap prices and order bottle after bottle of wine with platters of French cheese at Chez Matt! We had a double date night with our new friends from Vancouver doing this, and we were so full that we didn’t need actual dinner. It was a surreal experience – sitting in a modern and chic cafe in a beautiful and arsty corner of Luange Prabang. We sipped, ate, laughed, and shared stories until all hours of the night. To date, this is one of my fondest travel memories ever.  Looking back, I can totally see how Laos won my love.

What I Learned

The reason that I love Laos? It refuses to change. My whole life I’ve been told I need to change. I’ve been called “too opinionated, too loud, and not lady like enough.” After a lifetime of shame at the expense of these remarks, I also refuse to change. Laos reminds me of the value of being true to oneself. Tourists have come and gone, but it still feels as though you’ve traveled back in time. I’ve not seen a single part of Laos that is kitschy, tacky, or disingenuine. I hope it always stays true itself. Have you ever been to Laos?