May 26, 2013

checking in from chiang mai, thailand -- my home for the next two months :

May 25, 2013

siem reap, cambodia :

while in cambodia, we spent a few days in phnom penh, siem reap, and battambang.  siem reap was by far the favorite because of the angkor wat.  talk about ancient wonderland.  david and i called each other "indie" because we felt like tomb raiders.  we were making each other laugh for three days straight.  it's so fun to travel with family.  do it.  we woke up every morning for sunrise because it's the coolest time of day and the light is prettiest. the angkor wat is outstanding.  it's kind of hard to believe that people who lived so long ago with no technology built such an elaborate, geometric complex.  but a thousand years ago real human beings walked through those temples when they were new and the walls glimmered with jewels and diamonds and they said to themselves, "we built this."  what!  on our last night in siem reap it started to rain and david and i found ourselves somehow alone in the innermost tier of the angkor wat.  everyone left with the rain and we had the entire place to ourselves.  i wish i could describe what it felt like to stand there alone in some place so ancient and spectacular, but i can't quite.  i felt stronger than i've ever felt and incredibly small at the same time.  i don't know how that works, but it's one of my favorite memories.  cambodia was a hit, i wish i could've stayed longer.  i'll be back.

May 12, 2013

ha long bay, vietnam :

ha long bay is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.  let that stand so my pictures don't let you down.  i was gushing and gawking at all times.  we drove into the marina, settled on the boat, and went out to the floating village to kayak around the area.  it was so so peaceful. sometimes we wouldn't row and just rested on the water and looked around at the beautiful place we were at and breathed it in.  sitting there made my heart swell with gratitude and a lot of other feelings i can't quite pin.  after we kayaked we went to the beach and hiked to the prettiest lookout on the planet.  the ocean was so still and lovely.  it was surreal to look out at the pale green water and the limestone/jungle islands and accept that i was actually in vietnam standing on a mountain in that beautiful bay.  it was one of those sites that made me admit i never knew god loves us so much.  we came back down from our cloud and swam in the ocean and were outright giddy that we were.
the next morning i looked out my window and said "whhhaaatttt" because it's just unreal to wake up to the sea so near and quiet, like it existed just for you.  that day we went to surprising cave (what a joke) and talked with the new and interesting friends we made from different parts of the world.  i've learned that you can learn something from everyone.  we all come from different walks of life, but that's the point and the root of the beauty.  there's so much people are willing to give the moment you open up to hear them.  i'm overwhelmed that i'm where i am, traveling south east asia and learning from the people here and being let into their world.

May 10, 2013

hanoi, vietnam :

my brother and i landed in hanoi, vietnam after 28 hours of uncomfortable travel with next to no sleep and a whole day ahead of us.  we were definitely tired but so excited that we were in freaking NAM so we got out on the town right away.  that day we walked around the lake (our favorite part of hanoi) in the old quarter, went to the hoalo prison, then to the women's museum.  we wrapped up the day with the water puppet show, which probably would have been way cooler and more appreciated if we weren't so dang tired.
if i’ve ever had culture shock, it was in hanoi.  hanoi is very hectic, dirty, loud, crowded, confusing, colorful, and fast paced.  all the food’s made in front of you and served on the street.  the fruit is unbelievable!  i would seriously consider moving to asia if it meant access to delicious, ripe fruit every morning.  david and i found this little fruit shack where we got smoothies and fresh fruit all the time.   we’ve been in asia for about a week and a half and have had a mango smoothie every. single. day.  they're that good.  lychee's our on-the-go favorite.  in the city the streets are stacked with motorcycles and the roads are packed with them.  there’s no such thing as a cross walk, you just walk into traffic and the cars and scooters dodge you.  it’s great.  the walkways aren't ever clear and there're always groups of people squatting or sitting on little plastic stools eating their food.
the next day we visited the temple of literature, what used to be a university, the first and oldest in all of vietnam actually.  and after wandering about for a while we went to the museum of fine arts, where i almost accidentally knocked down a painting, then out to the museum of ethnology.  we spent ages reading all the signs and studying the way of life and faces of all the different tribes and didn't feel like we got anywhere.  later that night after dinner we got caught in a DOWNPOUR.  it was amazing.  i’ve never seen that much water in the streets.  and people just kept scootering along like it was nothing.
being in asia is a remarkable adventure.  i feel like i'm dreaming all the time.  i'll keep updating and posting more pictures as i explore this corner of the world.  if ever you're in hanoi for a day, go to the outdoor exhibits at the museum of ethnology and spend some time walking by the lake in the old quarter.  and get your mango on.