Sunday, 27 May 2012

Reflecting on 365+ days of wandering. Part Four....

Monday 28th May, 2012; 12:49
Location: Voyage Traveler's Lounge Cafe, Melaka Malaysia
Why: Reflecting on 365+ days of wandering Malaysia edition.

Adele's Set Fire to the Rain is blasting on my headphones so loud that I think she is literally inside me. My heart shivers to the sound of her melancholic voice in this song. As I stare into space the song is coming to an end and I'm getting ready to hit repeat.

It is another hot day in Melaka as I contemplate what to say about my beloved Malaysia. This was the one country I least expected to fall in love with so furiously. Initially, I was only going to whiz through here two weeks max. On the recommendation from a fellow traveler I hung out with in Laos (bonjour Jon!), I made my way to Melaka and that was it. Since then, I have written many posts on Melaka - feel free to peruse those articles and you will see just how much I love this place. It will be a total of six months by the time I leave this country.

Here are some highlights so far....

Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Cameron Highlands and Taman Negara Highlights:
Couch surfing at JC's in KL and the generosity of her family made me feel like part of the family. The Petronas Towers. Jalan Jalan GH and all the amazing travelers I met there. Ninjaaaaaaaa Destructionnnnnnn! Being smitten with the British/French boy at 'our' cafe. Saying goodbye to Him when he left for Singapore - this wasn't a highlight but I was affected by his departure. So much so that I impulsively went and got a bad haircut because I was sad he left. The Melaka River. Laksa!!! Hitching a ride back from Pular Besar with the Melakan Refugees and Cecilia. Playing Shithead. CNY 2012 in Chinatown. The young German and the finger licking incident. Boh Tea Plantation. Riding in the back of the 4WD with my Melakan Refugees. Lemmon's googliness while being a gentleman with me. The young Swede, mmmm.

View of the Petronas Towers from JC's car:

View of the Petronas Towers from JC's uncle's penthouse. Spectacular:

CNY of the Dragon, Chinatown's entrance in Melaka:

The Melaka River is like the Venice of SE Asia:

Playing Ninjaaaaaa Destructionnnnnnn!!!!!!!

Cecilia and the Melakan Refugees going to Pular Besar:

Results of The Melakan Refugees' adventures up in the Cameron Highlands:

Chilling out at the Boh Tea Plantation and taking in the stah-nning view:

Mis-adventures with my Lemmon in Taman Negara. He managed not to jump my bones the entire time we were traveling together, haha! Certainly a thumbs up Lemmon!

As I live out my days here until the end of August, daily life in Melaka is as good as it gets though I am itching to go for a further wander. I may head to Pulau Tioman and Penang. A visa run will get me to Singapore for a few days in July. Oooh there's also the Philippines I've been mulling over....

Until I decide where to wander, I am content eating laksa, doin my draw-rings and meeting new travelers at Jalan Jalan GH. The latest being the hot, young Swede. Oh my oh my. The hottest guys come through Melaka. Maybe that's why I love this place so much.....

Friday, 25 May 2012

Reflecting on 365+ days of wandering. Part Three...

Friday 25th May, 2012; 15:33
Location: Voyage Traveller's Lodge Cafe, Melaka Malaysia
Why: Reflecting on 365+ days of wandering Indonesia and Cambodia edition.

While I was hanging out with relatives in Vietnam, I got word from two friends who were going to be in my neck of the woods. I jumped at the opportunity to meet up with an old friend from Toronto (Austin) and one of my lovelies from Vancouver (Andrea)

First up was an impromptu country hop from Vietnam to Indonesia for a three week wander. This would become my first flight in months as I'd been traveling overland up until this point. One flight turned into four flights within a four week period as I worked out plans to meet up with Andrea in Cambodia after my adventures with Austin in Indonesia.

And so, part three....

Jakarta, Bandung, Bali and Gili Trawangan Highlights:
Hunny Hostel's hospitality in both Jakarta and Bandung. The most delicious eggs florentine since leaving Canada. Meeting Anna and Wing at Hunny Hostel Bandung. Making the very local and daunting journey to the sulfuric crater. Flying Air Mushroom at Magda's house in Ubud. Tons of yoga. Living in the coziest house with an artist behind Monkey Forest Road. Driving my Scoopy everywhere. Fun times with couch surfers. Quality time with the young British/French lad that I was so smitten with. Seeing the most breathtaking rice terraces in the world. Cracking coconuts! Cecilia and Roman's visit. Lazy beach days on Gili T with my Austin.

Sometimes, a Canadian girl just craves a good eggs florentine, ya know? Poached medium of course:

Speaking of eggs, getting engulfed in the rotten egg smelling sulfuric crater on a day trip with Anna and Wing. Photo courtesy Anna Z:

Monkey sitings, a daily occurrence while driving through Monkey Forest to get to my house in Nyuh Kuning. Can you spot the real ones from the fake ones?

So in love with my Scoopy and miss her everyday since I left Indonesia...:

Jaw dropping rice terraces:

My amazing house in Ubud. Wishing that gorgeous young lad stayed in this room longer:

Siem Reap and Phnom Penh Highlights:
Andrea Cameron. The temples of Angkor blowing my brains. Getting blessed by a monk at Angkor Wat. Our driver Mr. Sith. Seeing Andrea squeal with delight during our fish spa. The young girl who sold me 10 postcards for $1 by pestering me for two minutes before saying "You buy from me, I give you alone time". Sold! S21 and the killing fields humbling me to the very core of my soul and having an amazing crying session afterwards.

Davie Pocstar + Andrea Cameron + Siem Reap = Much-Needed-Friend-From-Home Visit:

At Wat Ta Prohm, where that scene in Tomb Raider was filmed. It truly was ah-maze-balls:

Our driver Mr. Sith was faithfully at our disposal:

Walking the grounds of the killing fields and feeling my heart break again and again, especially at signs like this:

Visiting S21 Prison left me emotionally exhausted on Halloween Day:

My first visit to Indonesia left me returning for a second visit where I found that lovely house to live in for 2 months. Ubud Bali will forever have a special place in my heart.

Cambodia, Cambodia. How I wish I'd stayed longer. This was one of my shortest visits but has probably left the most lasting impression.

Malaysia will be part four. Wait for it.....

Monday, 21 May 2012

Reflecting on 365+ days of wandering. Part Two.

Tuesday 21st May, 2012; 11:44
Where: Jalan Jalan 2 Guesthouse, Melaka Malaysia
Why: Reflecting on 365+ days of wandering in Laos and Vietnam edition.

Hmmm, back at JJ2, feels like dejavu. The fans keep turning on and off, making me hot and cool **waves fists in air**

Okay Part Two...

Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng Highlights:
The slow boat to Laos - my first boat journey in SE Asia - the slowest two day ride of my life while recovering from food poisoning in Pai. Shmoking Thai weed while playing Cheat with my LP Crew. Midnight bowling. Elephant training. Hooka Pipes. Utopia Lounge. My Aussi Cycling Monk and movie dates with him at L'Etranger Lounge. Hand weaving my very own silk scarf. Milking goats. Loathing the tubing in VV. Getting my netbook stolen in VV. Dealing with the police in VV. Almost dying while climbing a really jagged karst in VV. Unsuccessfully trying to negotiate a better deal on a new netbook in Vientiane. Dodgy 14hr bus ride from Vientiane to Hanoi.

Packed like sardines on the two day slow boat to Luang Prabang:

Gearing up for my famous gutter balls:

Scoring a private two day elephant Mahout training course with my two elephants:

Three days spent spinning, dyeing and weaving my very own ikat patterned Lao silk scarf with the best staff ever:

 Milky milky, come to Davie:

 Climbing and descending a very dangerously jagged karst without any safety equipment:

And surviving to tell the tale back at the Organic Farm where we were volunteering. Me, Lily and Christian:

Hanoi, Hue and Hoi An Highlights:
Eating mind blowing pho. Mind blowing Halong Bay. Almost losing my shorts several times while speed tubing at Halong Bay. Wandering for hours inside Hue's citadel. Salivating at the miles of cannabis plants en route to the DMZ tour. Random kids playing Monopoly Viet style in Hoi An. Culinary orgasm at the Morning Glory Cooking School. Chilling out at the two beaches while reading a fantastic book. Enough lanterns to light up all of SE Asia.

I could have eaten this 3 times a day:

My visual take of Halong Bay from Castaway Island:

Standing on the bridge that divides North and South Vietnam:

The random cutest kids playing Monopoly on a street in Hoi An:

By far the biggest highlight in Hoi An - Morning Glory Cooking School:

Life's tough with a good book and a tiny bikini. Don't hate:

Wanting so badly to buy every lantern:

Jungle Beach, Saigon, Dong Nai and The Mekong Delta:
Beach bliss. Epic communal dinners. Day trip to find a dried up waterfall and catching an amazing view of Jungle Beach Resort. Saigon traffic. Delicious avocado shakes. Cafe sua da! Banh Mi!! Cu Chi Tunnel with my Saigon Crew. Saigon Backpackers' Hostel has the BEST wallpaper. Just the sheer propaganda at any tourist sight in Saigon. Seeing my birthplace. Meeting family for the first time. Being fed like a queen and putting on some unwanted weight (!). My relatives thinking I'm 23 and cousins calling me A Jeh (big sister) - that was strange. Being gawked at while going for a run in my home village. Seeing my beloved A-Mah for the last time, she passed away 5 months later ): Meeting up with Dad and Ryo and running amuck in Saigon with in-laws. Epic food poisoning round 2. Pepper harvest season. Rowing a boat on the Mekong. Wading through the flood. Sleeping on a floating hotel. So so so much more I could list.

Endless beach days at Jungle Beach paradiseland:

The very private and idyllic Jungle Beach Resort:

The manic traffic in Saigon:

I was born in this house in a bed on a dirt floor. Humble beginnings:

Eating all the time, even when I wasn't hungry:

And epic family dinners:

Spending quality time with my A-Poh (Granny):

Loving my Teva water shoes as I wade though the floods on the Mekong Delta:

In retrospect, I would have loved to stay in Laos longer but my Vietnam visa dictated my departure. Laos is such a wild and beautiful country. Lao PDR. Lao People Don't Rush.

Vietnam. How do I wrap her up in one sentence? I can't. She is the place where I was born. Even if I'm not Vietnamese, this country is such a part of me now. Having spent almost 3 months here, I cannot wait to return to the motherland. I cannot wait to return to A-Mah's grave. I weep for her every night but know that she is with me always.

Stay tuned for Indonesia and Cambodia. Coming soon to a Wanderin' the Globe blog near you.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Reflecting on 365+ days of wandering. Part One.

Sunday 20th May, 2012; 17:43
Location: Jalan Jalan 2 Guesthouse, Melaka Malaysia
Why: Reflecting on 365+ days of wandering in Ireland and Thailand edition.

As my 36th birthday came and went (17th May), so too did the one year anniversary of my travels. Feels like just yesterday I was celebrating with a pint of Guinness in Galway with Jen, Hale and friends; toasting my 35th. Time has literally flown by this past year in my epic personal journey of seeing and tasting the world. And I've only sampled a morsel of this international cuisine.

I'm addicted to this lifestyle. And so, I've decided to keep going. Some of you may have already caught wind of this. Please feel free to join me! I'm still looking to hire a Professional Full Time Co-Traveler! You won't get paid of course, unless we come up with a brilliant money making scheme. Now accepting applications.

A lot of people I've met along the way have finished and/are going to be wrapping up their travels. There's a bitter-sweetness that I'm still out here doing this. All the best to those heading home, from my Amazing Anna to my sweet, sweet Nicholas. I will see you guys again one day soon.

How do I sum up all that has happened in the twelve months I've been traveling?

I can't.

So perhaps I will break it down by country (two per post) just some of the many highlights:

Galway and Dublin Highlights:
Hanging out with Jen and Hale. Meeting their friends. Afternoon runs along the Galway coast with the wind on my back. Cliffs of Moher. Bicycling and sitting on the cliffs at the Aran Islands. Stumbling on a djembe session. Seeing Dublin's public bicycle system.

Feeling really small and insignificant at the Cliffs of Moher:

Cycling to the edge of the Aran Islands. I'm half expecting a Hobbit to show up any minute...
Sitting on the edge of the world, contemplating how lucky I am. Don Aonghasa Fort at Aran Islands:

One of the happiest moments for me in Galway. Randomly participating in a djembe session!

Impressed with Dublin's public bicycling system:

Now that Jen and Hale have a new addition, all the more reason to go back to Ireland!

Bangkok, Ayutthaya and Koh Tao Highlights:
Meeting up with relatives, some for the very first time. Sitting in on my very first Buddhist evening chanting and recording it. Sadly, the video went with the stolen netbook along with all my photos of Bangkok, Ayutthaya and Koh Tao. Finding some of Space Invader's work in the Khao San Road area. Reclining Buddha - it's HUGE! Eating mangosteen for the first time. Being chased back to my guesthouse by rabid dogs in Ayutthaya and nearly shitting my knickers at it. Yoga and island life on Koh Tao. The hot young blonde German name Andreas. Diving!!

Chiang Mai and Pai:
Chiang Mai was worthy of a three-peat. Adventures in Muay Thai training and meditation. Eating, living and breathing TEFL training. Getting soaked in Songkran. Dating The Cute Dutch guy. TEFL mini reunions. The Egg Lady. Tips Best Fresh Smoothies. The Tea Tree tribe. The Wooden Bar. Sunday Walking Street. Tattoo sessions at Dejavu Studio. Drunken night on Soi 7. I could go on and on.
Pai included jaunts on the motorbike to waterfalls and the countryside. Also, my first hospital stint with my travel mate, Lyndsay. Priceless night. Hmmm, I guess this wouldn't be a highlight but, definitely memorable.

Getting all wrapped up in Muay Thai with my new pixie hair cut:

Countless hours drinking, studying and drawing at Lan Cafe, aka The Wooden Bar:

The Cute Dutch Guy at The Tea Tree:

The BEST smoothies in Southeast Asia:

Hippie Pai street art at it's finest:

I spent a total of 3 months in Thailand and feel like I've barely seen it. In the same breath, I am overwhelmed at all the things I've done here. And if all works out, there will be a full TEFL reunion next February. *wink wink*

Meanwhile, 3 weeks in Galway/Dublin was enough for me to want more of Ireland. And I can't wait to see J&H's little man Wade when I do return.

So that's the gist of the first two countries I wandered into. Come back for more on Laos and Vietnam in the next day or two. But now, it's time to hunt for some Chinese vegetarian delights tonight.