There I was, in the dead of winter, in a car wash, reading a GQ magazine. As the water splashed, sprayed and hosed the ice chunks off my Volkswagon Tiguan, there it was:
The list of the top 10 pools in the world, and my favorite: the infinity pool at the Alila Ubud, a tropical escape in Bali. It was a done deal in an instant. I’m going to Bangkok and Bali.
My sister, KP, and I packed our bags. We hit the largest markets in Bangkok, got caught in a red-shirt protest and ate our way through town in spicy food before heading to Bali. Once we arrived in Bali, we were crazy spoiled at Alila Resorts — which, as mentioned, was really the impetus for the trip.
Alila surpassed the high expectations we had. It was a stunning resort with incredible service, amazing food and one of the best cooking classes I’d ever taken. We went fire dancing, saw the famed clairvoyant, Ketut Liyer (a la “Eat, Pray, Love”) and attended sacred Hindu ceremonies where I lost my sari and had to publicly exit the water sans clothing.
We indulged in daily massages and ate all the Balinese fried rice we could get our hands on. Our readings with Ketut revealed that we were both very powerful women ... who were destined to have three children each. Who knew?
My highlights were riding bicycles through the endless rice paddies and “resort crashing.” I think we managed to visit and photograph every luxury resort in Bali. Sometimes a car wash is all it takes.
SANTA MONICA (2 months later)
After years of prodding and cruel weather check-ins, the powers that be (my sister) convinced me to move to the West Coast. It was a big move in many ways — more spiritually and lifestyle-wise than anything else. I had started a business from scratch with a commercial studio in Chicago and had lived there for eight years. All my contacts were there and it required a huge leap of faith to risk it all for California, not knowing where the pieces would fall and exactly what I’d do with my business or myself.
When I arrived in the warmer climate, I leased a studio in Culver City, created my bachelorette pad in Santa Monica, and began a demi-decade of insane travel. It was the beginning of a new era.
I committed to keeping my overhead as low as possible and investing 25-35 percent of my business revenue into research and development—aka travel. The more I traveled, the more portfolio work I created and the more I got booked for high-end architectural work at home. It was a huge jump at first, but I had the flexibility to travel at any time of year outside of high season, and that alone made the expense much more reasonable.
A period of epic creative endeavors had begun.
I spent my spare time researching new destinations and travel opportunities and contacting photo editors to seal the deal. In a matter of years, my work appeared in Dwell, Architectural Digest and Italian Vogue to name a few.
Next Post in this Series: Sunday, December 10th at 10 a.m. EST / 9 a.m. CST / 7 a.m. PST