Tess' first book “Leap: Leaving A Job With No Plan B to Find the Career and Life You Really Want” was published in August 2015 by Random House Harmony. For more information on the book, go here.

Tess Untethered | Odds & Ends
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Random Things I've Seen and Experienced


Old habits die hard, and I always get a thrill from seeing and/or walking into a newsroom somewhere in the world. A new friend who works for the AP here in Bangkok was kind enough to take me through its APAC headquarters. And I snapped the one of the Asahi Shimbun ticker when I was in Tokyo in March.


Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok has the most unusual “escalators” I’ve ever seen. There are no stairs on them — just ramps. I remember Elon Musk saying something about designing people movers like on the Jetsons… this could be a start…

bangkok kiss

A Bangkok Kiss is apparently not the same as a Saigon Kiss.


How do you know you’re at Bangkok’s swank Mandarin Oriental Hotel? A row of Ferraris parked at the entrance.

subway ad

Advertisement for something (???) on Tokyo subway. I’ll have whatever the woman on the lower right is having.

bathroom sign

Easily the best and most accurate “Bathroom this way —>” sign I’ve ever seen. And when you travel this much, you see a LOT of them. From a place called the “Crazy House” in Dalat, Vietnam.

no more town

Road signs in Vietnam are fairly similar to back home in the U.S. but these baffled me. They’re basically a cue to slow down because there’s a town here, or if it’s got the red line through it.. step on the gas! No more town! Which means no pho. Sad emoji.

This gentleman was my driver for a trip from Saigon to Dalat. I noticed along the way that he kept waving at other drivers across the road and I finally asked about it. Turns out these are hand signals drivers use to warn each other about police speed traps. It’s a visual call-and-response, and it’s a constant stream of asking and answering. If you shake your hand like you’d do if you were saying something was “so-so” — it’s the all-clear. If you flatten it out and wave it horizontally, look out! Trap! I think the only reason this works is because there aren’t THAT many cars on Vietnam’s highways, at least compared to, say, California, where this would never work. Headlight flashes are all we have.

ladies bathroom

Women finally learn the secret to friendship that men have known all along… pee together, stay together. Ladies’ room in Hue, Vietnam.

old people

Political correctness has not arrived in Vietnam, at least not yet. You get a discount if you’re “old people.”

key card

How is it that developing nations have figured out that one way to save on energy is to require hotel occupants to turn off the lights as they leave… and the US has not. Your room card goes in the slot when you’re there, and the AC goes on and the lights work. When you leave the room, with your card, the room stops using energy. Sure, you have to wait a bit for the room to get cool again when you return, but it’s a worthy sacrifice.


Ok then. (Seen in a coffee store in Hoi An,Vietnam)

exit row

In the US, if you opt to pay for an exit row seat, the flight attendant will ask whether you are able and willing to help out in case of an emergency. In Vietnam, if you ask for an exit row seat and get one (don’t have to pay), the flight attendant will look at you with great intensity and say “Please do not open this door. It is not to be opened in flight.” Because apparently people think that would be ok?

bathroom amenities

Every single hotel I’ve stayed in — and I’ve stayed in about a dozen over the last six weeks — has a basket in the bathroom with all the stuff you probably forgot to bring. And not just shampoo, shower cap and body wash. There’s a toothbrush and little toothpaste, a razor with a tiny tube of shaving cream, a sewing kit, Qtips, and more. All for the taking. It’s lovely.

Pringles1sPringles 2s

My next expose, the one that will win me a Pulitzer, is a deep investigation into why Pringles are everywhere on the planet, with localized flavors. Pringles! Why?! I saw them in Peru in 2015, I’ve seen them in Europe. The green can is from Vietnam, the others are in Cambodia at the most remote fishing village you could imagine. And it looks like there are some knockoffs, too. WHAT IS GOING ON?!


The van ride from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay is four hours, and one of the rest stops is a bizarre and huge retailing center about an hour outside the city. You can buy all manner of “local” goods at inflated prices — we bought chips and water. But the pièce de résistance of the entire enterprise is located outside that building, in a garden featuring every marble statue known to man, and some you don’t even want to see or know about. Tourists can buy these marble — meaning HEAVY — statues here and have them shipped anywhere in the world. If that’s not weird enough, the place posts photos and FULL ADDRESSES of the people who bought this stuff. I should track down May Deischter of Murietta, California, and ask her if she’s still happy with her purchase. She could’ve gone home with a silk scarf, but I suppose that would have wilted in the garden.

I shot this in a small grocery store in Siem Reap, Cambodia, when I went in to get some water. This is how I know I’m in the right region for travel… paper products are named after me!

Facebook is all-knowing and all-seeing and therefore even though I use a VPN that’s supposed to cloak my location, I am getting ads in Vietnamese. And somehow they even know I need a pedicure. #creepy

Spotted this while walking down a street in Saigon. I guess if a paid ear-cleaning is good enough for my dog, it’s good enough for me?

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