“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us or we find it not.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
You wouldn’t believe the atmosphere of where I’m (finally) writing up my first blog from Asia: a little floating hostel in Kanchanaburi right on the banks of the famous River Kwai, sipping on Singha beer and feasting on homemade spicy Thai food while chatting up a couple other guests from California, of all places!
I probably need to back up a bit though…I have almost two weeks of catching up to do – solo traveling can be rather mentally and emotionally exhausting and blogging was the first thing to go. However, I keep getting repeated requests for updates so I am definitely attempting to give it a go here!
I spent the first 24 hours in Phnom Penh quite sick from my previous Mexico trip, emerging only once from my room to obtain some much needed Gatorade and medicine! Enough said about that. Phnom Penh I found to be quite dirty, busy, noisy but there seems to be some attraction for expats as there are quite a number of them there. While it IS the capital of Cambodia, there really isn’t that much to see or do there as a tourist. A few highlights from my time there included the following:
- a really great cooking class (complete with an AM visit to the market to collect ingredients, lovely international fellow students)
- an open air jeep ride and tour to a wildlife preserve (tons of creepy monkeys, native Cambodian deer, crocodiles, otters, tigers and other endangered species),
- and a private guided tour through the infamous Tuol Sleng Genocide museum and the horrificChoeung Ek Killing Fields
- the delights of eating delicious (and cheap!) Cambodian street food
Much more could be said about each of these activities but perhaps more detail is better for further posts when I can sort through my pictures and reflect.
Siem Reap was AMAZING and I loved it so much better than Phnom Penh! It is open and clean (er) and magical with so much to do and see and explore!
I had such a lovely lovely time there I almost get shivers thinking about it! I shall DEFINITELY save all my adventures and pictures for another post (double procrastination at its finest…) but to highlight my time there,
- I went on an absolutely FANTASTIC offroading cycling tour through the Angkor area, getting off the beaten path and visiting non-touristy temples, and basically having the time of my life with the coolest tour group ever: two British girls (whom I ended up hanging out with the rest of my time there), Candadian couples, a German.
- Tour of the floating villages and forest,
- facial and 90 min foot massage at lovely prices,
- super interesting tour of a silk factory!! from start to finish…poor little silk worms. cannot BELIEVE the work that goes into handcrafted silk material
- insane NYE countdown on the famous Pub Street.
Anyway, my other lovely cycling compatriots talked up the glories of Thailand, so I spontaneously booked a flight into Bangkok, where I arrived yesterday and stayed for just one night. This morning I absolutely reveled in ART!! There is a relatively brand new contemporary art museum there (took me literally interviewing SIX taxi drivers to successfully get there. Seriously, NONE of them know how to read a map!!!) but it was well worth the effort. I photographed some of my favorite pieces. Some of them so bizarrely beautiful with Very different Thai flavor of course to most of it.
This afternoon I railed it out here to Kanchanaburi – a 3rd class ticket on an ancient train. Seemed straight out of a turn of the century British film – corrugated metal shacks so close I could touch them with my fingers, branches whipping by the windows, near-fluorescent green rice fields, towering palm trees and sunlit hills. I felt newly strong and beautiful and happy gazing out the windows at it all, the wind in my face. And now, here I am, enjoying the night river air, good company, background Thai soap opera, and excited about tomorrow’s adventures: waterfalls, elephants, caves, and bridges!
And now I shall attempt to insert some photos…the picky artistic side of me is loathe to include unedited versions but above are a few – some just from my iPhone. Enjoy! and my love to you from Southeast Asia!