Siem Reap, Cambodia
The people are amazing here. Loving, smiling, and full of energy; working hard to re-capture their traditions. The first night in Cambodia, we went to dinner where a children's troupe performed first a shadow puppet show, then a series of traditional dance. The music is also performed by the children. I made a small video of one of the dances to show everyone what the traditional Khmer dance is like. The costumes were Thai in style, because traditional Khmer costumes would have been topless:
This is the first place I have ever traveled that the people literally thanked us for visiting. They were genuinely grateful for our visit, our faith in their new freedoms and (let's be honest) our spending money there and investing in their economy. I was thanked from every tour guide, shop keeper, hotel attendant, driver... it made me feel really wonderful and welcomed to their country!
To see the rest of the segments of the above video featuring the temples of Cambodia, please visit this LINK. (it's very much worth the time!)
Cambodian Landmine Museum
Tonle Sap Lake Floating Village
As soon as you enter the village, you’ll see rows of tourist boats docked closely together. You’ll also start smelling that fishy smell that seems to be present with river villages. One look at the water and you realize that it’s muddy muddy muddy. But such is life. People in the village still use it for cooking, drinking, washing and bathing.
"I don't want to alarm you but behind you is a baby with a snake!"
It was quite the surreal experience to say the least. The villagers are poor, but seem pretty happy. We saw a crocodile farm while there, and I got a few gifts for friends back in the states.
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Resort / Island Life
We slept pretty well, although the beds at each hotel were pretty darn firm - and each day it was a wonderful feeling to think the only thing I had to do was get up, brush my teeth, put on my swim trunks and go sit by the pool. I have said before I loved this trip - but really - really - hear me when I say - I LOVED this trip!
It only took 2 minutes or less before I saw a jellyfish. These things scare me because they sting (and some kinds can really injure a person, even kill them)! I panicked because I couldn't get turned around and to the boat - and I was afraid that I was going to swim into another one... After taking a few breaths and talking myself out of the nervous breakdown I was having, I found my way to the boat, climbed in and realized that the temple on the left side of my head was STINGING. I guess in my swim at some point, I had actually encountered a jellyfish - (the spot stung for a few days!)
John and Chuck spent a while snorkling and I watched from the boat. We ended up snorkling one more time during our trip - in a small cove where I could stand on the reef if I needed to, and where it didn't feel like I was going to float away from the boat. We spent an hour or so in this quiet little spot, feeding the fish, and marveling in the awesome beauty of the life in the water. It was a real treat to get to snorkel and not be terrified.
Who knows if I'l ever be over my small fear of the ocean and snorkeling - but the second snorkel adventure on this trip definately gave me some good memories of the sport, and might even be enough to talk me into trying it again sometime!
Christmas on Koh Phi Phi
It was one of the best holidays I have ever had - spending time with my wonderful friends, and being allowed the opportunity to sit back and really spend time to think of how very very lucky I am to have amazing people in my life. I have been fortunate (even though sometimes it didn't feel like it) and never went a day without eating, have always had a soft place to sleep, and have been brought up in a country where for the most part I can be whatever I want...
Christmas was different than usual for me this year, for many reasons. It was a different season than I expect for the holiday, I was in Southeast Asia, and I had recently made some big changes in my life. The trip allowed me to reflect on what I had been doing and where I was going... and what I realized is that we are alive for a relatively short time - the days are numbered, and if you are interested in doing something, you should just dive in and do it. That being said, since our return, I have designed 3 hat patterns, I have completed a number of knit items, and I am working on a few writing projects as well. I have registered for classes at the local city college, discovered (and signed up for) a free tapestry class, and even been accepted into the HIV counselor training program by AIDS Health Project! Things are moving along these first few weeks of 2011 - and I am certain that the year will be full of good things!
Or so we thought.
The driver brought us to the other side of the island (the more commercial side that reminded me a lot of what it might be like if it were spring break) and parked the boat... they told us that they needed to get something and they'd only be a moment. About 20 minutes later we were trying to figure out what the captain of the boat needed (he had brought a jug from the boat with him) - and it turns out that he RAN OUT OF GAS! - lucky for us we weren't in the middle of the ocean, right?! About 30 minutes later the other escort who was accompanying us to our destination finally reached another boat and we changed from one boat to another and started our trip to Phuket. This should be the end of the frustrations, right?
As we are speeding along, we hear some sputtering and choking of the engine - we have been boating right along at a good pace - and we are within site of Phuket and the bay where we are to dock and get our taxi when the engine shuts off. The captain and the escort talk to each other, hop back and forth and fiddle with the engine - guess what?
We are out of gas. Again. (Seriously? twice in one day? On the way to the airport? Is this really how our amazing vacation is going to end?!) -
Anyway, the captain nurses the boat to a dock (not the right dock) and we do get to a taxi who tells us we are about 40 minutes away from the airport. We are also exactly 40 minutes from the cutoff time to check our bags for the flight to Bangkok! The driver does his best to get us to the airport (slowing down the 3 times he answers his cell phone while driving) - and in the end, we arrived at the ticket counter to find out our flight had been delayed. We made it just fine to Bangkok, where we stayed the night at an airport hotel. The next morning, we got up WAY too early, trodded through the security and found our way to our flight home to Tokyo then San Francisco. The flights were uneventful and long.
I am now happy to be home, settled into the start of my new life here in San Francisco, and looking forward to the adventures I will have here in this amazing city!
Thank you for taking time to read about the trip - I hope that it was as fun for you as it was for me to share!