September 17, 2012

Back to life after traveling through Southeast Asia

I am back in Canada and back to "reality" after seven weeks away. It was a month and a half of self-discovery, reflection, crazy experiences, exciting places, wonderful people, new friends and of course, fun, like any vacation. In total, I visited nine countries, which is more than a country a week. A little bit crazy? Probably.

To recap I visited Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, England and Scotland. I know, two of these places aren't like the others. The itinerary was six week in Southeast Asia and then I met up with my parents in the U.K and we stayed for two weeks touring around and having much needed family catch-up time with my English relatives.

I had quite a few adventures while I was gone. I'll be recapping the food in various posts obviously, but here are a few highlights:

Tasting and even cooking delicious food (to be continued...)



Kayaking on Halong Bay:
Also, cruising on the Mekong River and enjoying some relaxing time by, and on, the water.


Getting up close to wildlife:
The Singapore Zoo and Night Safari is a neat outing to get up close and personal with more than 300 species of wildlife.


Trying to cross the road in Vietnam and riding tuk tuks:
Crossing the street was an adventure sometimes with scooters, buses and cars zooming past. No one seems to ever stop moving. Riding tuk-tuks was also a rather wind-swept ride.


Learning to surf:
I tried anyway. After an hour group lesson I managed to get halfway up on the board and almost caught some waves. I would love to do it again though. Actually, I would love to go to Bali again and do exactly what is depicted in the second photo...lounging and watching the world go by.


"One night in Bangkok:"
Bangkok is a crazy and wonderful place, especially the Khao San Road area (infamous Backpacker area) and as one of our tour guides said, "ready for random and exciting? Welcome to Asia!"


Getting blessed by a Buddhist monk and seeing a monk processional
One of the mornings in Laos we woke up at sunrise to watch the Buddhist monks walk through the town. We filled their baskets with sticky rice and said Hello to them. The offerings from the townspeople and tourists are their only source of food for the day. In another temple, we were blessed by a monk who tied a white string around our wrists for good luck.


Riding an elephant:
One of the neatest experiences was riding an elephant in Laos. We got taken on a ride through the jungle, then took photos with them and fed them bananas. They are lovely and calm creatures.


Zip-lining through the jungle
"I will face my fears, move in the right direction!" That direction happened to be zooming forward from high platforms in the jungle.



Exploring ancient ruins and UNESCO World Heritage sites:
I can check off some more sites on my list of world wonders and heritage sites that I have seen: Angkor Wat, Luang Prabang, Hoi An, My Son Sanctuary to name a few.


Seeing some sobering history:
One of the more emotional days of the trip was visiting the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum in Cambodia. As much as travel is about having fun and relaxation, it's also about seeing and respecting other cultures. Sometimes those cultures have tumultuous pasts, so it was chilling to see the heartbreaking history of Cambodia.


Reflection:
I kept a journal for some of my journey and often thought about why we travel and what it means.


There were times I felt uncomfortable for being in certain places. Sometimes I felt like who am I to go there and take pictures and buy their souvenirs? There were some places that already seemed exploited enough for tourists that I felt wrong contributing to it even more. But then tourism may keep some of the people happy and healthy. Who knows?

I thought a lot about why I was going to these places and what my role was there. Overall, the trip was eye-opening, inspiring, exciting and challenging at times. I learned a lot about other cultures and experienced some amazing things. Now it's time to plan my next adventure, whenever and wherever that is.

3 comments:

  1. Loved loved loved Laos. So unspoiled (well it was 3 years ago) and such friendly people. And the food!!! Welcome home!

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  2. Looks like you had an amazing adventure! Wonderful pictures!

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  3. The food was definitely a highlight! All of the places were so beautiful and so much history too

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