Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cambodia and Thailand pictures

After a long time... here are the pictures :).

Cambodia :)

Jose and Link. Awesome travel buddies :)

Yay :)

Yaaay, monkeys :)

Museum in Cambodia.

Relaxing in front of some museum.

Broken statue of Visnu.

Shopping, shopping, shopping, and guess what, more shopping :D

Love them coconuts. WHOA!!!

Mmmm, co co nuts!

The food was so delicious.

More food.

And more food.

And even more food.

Whoa, some more food :).

Love this tree and the roots. It's a famous shot.

Insane roots. I wonder how long they have been growing.

This was the bottom of one side of the root system.

Yay, I climbed me some stairs!

The steps were freaken steep!!

Love the palm trees.

Relaxing, posing...

This was my favorite temple. The one with 100 or 1000 faces, don't remember. But I took a whole bunch of pictures to make a big panoramic view of the area. Will see if it turns out.

It was so beautiful everywhere.

Kids swinging on a vine. Jose gave them some lichee fruit.

And this is the famous Angkor Wat.

It was sooo nice and warm and sunny and hot.

I've got purple pants :).

This was a super cute moment.

Another temple.

Monks coming out form lectures.

This is the vipassana meditation schedule in Thailand.

The people that I met in Thailand at the meditation center.

Had to have a feet shot :).

Little alley in Thailand somewhere.

This is the luggage I had when I went to Cambodia.

This is the luggage I had when I left Cambodia and went to Thailand.

This is the luggage I had when I left Thailand and came back to Korea. Yup... I had to get that last huge bag because I bought one of them triangle pillows.

When I got back, Abby was on me like flees on a dog.

She was nuzzling into my fuzzy sweater.

She was slouching and not moving from her spot at all.


We finally arrived in Bangkok on Jan 23rd in the evening. It was about 5pm when we arrived on Kohsan Road, which is the most popular area with the tourists. It was madness! So many tourists!! Many looked very typical, meaning they wore those native clothes that you end up buying and wearing after being in the country even just for a few days. There was loud music, vendors and restaurants everywhere. We finally found our hotel, got our rooms, took a cold shower and went down to the main lobby to find out if we can get tickets for the next evening and go to Koh Pi Pi (island).

What we didn't expect was for everything to be booked already. It was the Chinese new year and we didn't think of the effects that it would have on our travels. So, in the end, Jose, Link and Colleen, who met up with us in Bangkok at the hotel, decided to wait till the morning to see if they would be able to get the night train for the next day, and I bought a bus and boat ticket for Koh Tao, an island much closer that had plenty of seats available. The bus was in the morning at 5:30am. I was really sad to part ways with the boys because I had such an amazing time with them and I knew it probably wouldn't be so much fun without them. But such is life and one has to part ways at some point.

We stayed up all night and partied. We went looking for some dance clubs and ended up in a place called Sparkle that was empty. Next, we told our tuk tuk driver to take us to an area called something like Ping Poh. The driver didn't understand us right and took us to a Ping Pong bar. You got that right. We started laughing when we go there but decided to go in anyways and see what it was all about. You don't get such an opportunity very often. So we go in. It's full of tourists, mostly men. Some with Thai women and others just with their girlfriends. Anyways, the show was starting.

It was an array of talents, all involving the usage of a womans privates. One lady was putting out candles, another one like a magician, was pulling out bright colored flowers on a string, another one blew darts at balloons. Another one wrote autographs and gave them as souvenirs. And the main attraction, here come the ping pong balls. Beware of where they fly or they might hit you straight in the face. It was a good laugh and everyone applauded.

Then, the lights went really dim and I thought the show was over, so we looked to gather our bags and get going, but all of a sudden, on stage come a fully naked woman and a fully naked man and they proceed to have sex in a variety of positions. All I could do at that point was stare in amazement. It was magnificent, amazing!!! Never had I seen two people on stage getting it on. I really enjoyed Bangkok! The rest of the evening I was still thinking about what I had seen and nothing else that followed could match that experience.

At 5:30am I got the bus and at 2:30 in the afternoon I had arrived at my little island. Unfortunately, it was gray and gloomy and soon it started to rain. Saturday (24th) and Sunday (25th) were spent eating, shopping, getting waxed, talking to interesting people, and hoping for the weather to change and for me to get a chance to sit on the beach.

(present at that time)

Today, Monday the 26th, it was hot, sunny and beautiful. I slept in, had a big breakfast and relaxed with an interesting book I bought from a store here on Koh Tao. I walked along the beach and went down to the end of the island where I finished my waxing, had some way to expensive Indian food and went shopping again. I bought some super comfortable sandals, a black dress and amazingly found a store that had 2 piece swimsuits that fit breasts larger than mosquito bites. I was in luck. I bought the most amazing and sexy swimsuit I have ever owned. When I got back to my bungalow, I set my alarm for 8am so I would get up early and get as much sun as possible before having to get on the boat at 4pm and head back to Bangkok. I wish I could stay longer but the meditation retreat awaits.

(after the event)

The meditation retreat was pretty intense. I did not do as much meditation as was intended, my mind was busy thinking of lots of things.

Everything went well for the first 4 days even thought I could sense all my anger arising to the surface. Hearing the teachings in English and then in Thai, repeatedly saying the same thing didn't help either. So, on the 4th day in the afternoon when we were instructed on the Vipassana meditation I, or lets say my anger, reached the boiling point and I said I had enough. I stormed back to my room, packed my bag and went and told one of the servers that I wanted to go home and who I can talk to about getting that going. Well, I was told to wait until the evening and talk to the teacher. That evening I thought a lot about leaving, what I would do, where I would go, all that. But at one point, the thought pattern changed and I asked myself: Where you gonna go? I'm gonna go get a wax, go to the beach and get a nice tan. OK. You can go and get a wax when you finish the course; you will have time. (This is how the conversation went on in my mind). OK, but I want to get a tan. I won't be able to get a tan in only 2 days in Bangkok. OK. But why do you even need a tan? It's gonna be winter when you go back to Korea. You will be all covered up and no one will see it. So what's the point? Ya, but Ryan will... Ah! And that's where it struck me. Leaving this meditation would be for him, staying would be for me. I thought, why would I give up this great thing here for me when Ryan is not even going to appreciate it if I do that, and even if he does, it's only going to be for a second. This will be for me and will be SO beneficial. So, I said, THAT'S IT! I'M STAYING! That night, I was tossing and turning until about midnight, thinking about this new realization. On the fifth day, meditation went really well until the evening. I had a SUPER TA DA moment where I even envisioned the light bulb appearing to the right of my head. I had finally realized what kind of relationship Ryan and me had.

I had a lot more emotions invested in this relationship, definitely cared more, compromised more and well, I guess it just was not mutual. When I realized all of this, my emotional attachment to him went out like a candle and I was ready to think of myself first, to put myself first, to do things for the benefit of myself. That night, the night of the fifth day, I only slept for 1 hour, the rest was spent thinking about this realization and explaining to myself, as well as planning for my life when I finished with the retreat. Next day, my meditation didn't go so well. I felt no subtle sensations, no flow of vibration, I was disappointed and felt like I was regressing. In the evening, after again much anger, on the 6th day, I wanted to go home again, so I talked to the teacher and she explained to me the technique in a way that I actually understood. I had been doing it wrong. From then on, my meditation was difficult, more sleeping than meditating, less sensations, more blind areas, bit I kept going, with my new found equanimity.

I have thought a lot these 10 days. Thought a lot and about many tings. On the last day when silence was broken and we were listening to the last discourse, my mind wandered again. I thought about what I had learned, not here on this retreat but from my experience with Ryan. I have learned so many things, I cannot even begin to write everything down, but one thing that I think is important, is having learned and realized what I want in a partner, friend, boyfriend, husband, any kind of relationship.

1. Be placed at the top on the importance ladder. The world does not have to revolve around me, but I have to be important, valued and time made for me.

2. He's got to be financially responsible and self sustainable. Got to have a job or some way of earning a living that involves his own abilities.

3. He has to have good judgment and know how to behave, converse and interact appropriately in different social situations, depending on environment, people present, group dynamic, and all those other circumstances.

This I don't think is fantasy or being too demanding. This is what I am offering from myself and I expect no less back in return.

Tomorrow morning at 8:30am I leave here and go back to the busy crazy world. I will have Sunday all day and Monday until 9pm when I fly back to cold Korea to start my life anew. I will have many decisions to make, plans to start in motion, pictures to upload, life to set in order.

Thank you Jose, thank you Link, thank you Ryan, thank you Cambodia, thank you Thailand, thank you Vipassana retreat. Thank you all for helping me grow and learn and become a better person.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sorry for the delay

Here is the rest of the Cambodia trip story.

Last blog entry I finished at where we rented the bikes.

So, after a lazy morning, at around noon we got our rusty bikes and started peddling out. It was absolutely amazing. Vast country side, extremely undeveloped and poor, full of cows, palm trees, dogs and houses on stilts. Last day we had done the small tour with the tuck tuck, so today we were going to go around the big loop. We got to one bend in the road. One way continued around the big loop, the other went along a lonely small road that would take you about 28km to the north to a small but extremely beautiful temple. We chose to go on the big loop. After about 5 minutes, we stopped, decided to turn around and take the 28km road to the little temple up north. It was even more beautiful, and all along the road motorbikes and tuk tuks were slowing down beside us and asking if we wanted to get a ride to the temple. We very politely said no, we were enjoying our bike ride too much.

We stopped here and there, took pictures, some videos, went slowly and just enjoyed the surroundings. At about 4:45pm, exhausted and in pain we got to the temple. We didn't realize the park was closing at 5:20, so we had a little bit of time to speed through the temple before we had to get out. By now the sun had set and it was getting darker. What did we do? We actually stopped and had dinner. I was famished and the only thing that had kept me peddling was the thought of having another amazing Cambodian meal. It truly was the best coconut curry so far tho. By the time we finished, pretty much all the locals had cleared out and gone to their homes and no foreigner nor tuk tuk was in sight.

We started to get a little worried because we now not only had to ride back the 28km back to the bend in the road, but maybe another 10 or 15kms back to our hotel. We asked around for a car, a tuk tuk, anything that would take us home and save us from having to ride all the way back home on our sore asses. There was no ride available... one guy even laughed at us. We started peddling like mad. I had immense determination and kept a pace never before thought possible. The problem now was, it was starting to get dark really fast. Mosquitoes were hitting me left and right as I was zooming down the road. So not only did we have to watch for mosquitoes, but we also had to watch for dogs, locals walking, motor bikes passing us, trucks flying past us, AND we also had to watch out for the frequent pot holes in the road. At one point it got so dark outside that I had to take out my little tiny useless key chain flashlight just to see half a meter in front of my front tire. Our laughter and humor dropped to a survival driven silence. I was hoping a truck would stop and give us a ride back, but truck after truck kept on passing us by. At one point, I wasn't even thinking anymore. I was just concentrating on peddling and watching out for the darker than dark spots on the road that might be pot holes. I thought earlier about maybe asking one of the locals if we could stay at their house for the night, but we had to be back in town for 6am to catch the bus that would take us across the border to Thailand. So staying overnight here was out of question; we had to get back that night.

All of a sudden, I saw red break lights and a truck pulled over and stopped in front of me. I slowed down, stopped and turned around and saw Jose running towards the truck and his arms flailing in the darkness. THANK GOD!!!! Jose flagged them, they saw us and stopped. WOW!!! We were saved. We told them where we were going, they said no problem, loaded our bikes into the back, and since it was a small pick up truck, there was no space in front, so we squeezed in between the bikes and resumed our laughter. For a good hour, maybe even more, the truck was going with at least 50km an hour. It was pitch black and we really could not even imagine how we would have gotten home if these people hadn't stopped and given us a ride. Around 8 or 8:30pm we got back to the hotel. That had been an amazing adventure, nothing like any you would find out of any Lonely Planet guide. We even offered to give those guys some money for the ride but they wouldn't accept it at all. WOW!

Next day we got on the bus and crossed the border. It was pretty uneventful, and unworthy of any mention, except for the part where the boys took out a football and starting tossing it back and forth. They gathered a pretty good crowd. We were on the way to Bangkok now.

Stay tuned for the Thailand story.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cambodia Continued

We got to our hotel and were very nicely surprised to find our room was very nice, spacious, clean, with a big balcony and a nice hot shower. I don't remember if we went out or what, but I reckon we all took turns taking a shower and then went for a walk. Actually, yes, that's what we did because I remember I was very glad to be traveling with two guys. I felt a bit unsafe at the beginning in Cambodia. Maybe because it was the first place we got to, it was dark, and I had two guys that could be there as protection and I did not have to rely on myself as much. In any case, we had a good walk, good sleep, and in the morning took a walk around or probably went to a market and did some shopping. Either way, I got a nice big backpack, some nice clothes, ate some good food and got to walk around and experience the local vibe.

On Tuesday (20th) we took a 6 hour bus ride up to Siam Reap. It was a long ride on very uncomfortable and small seats, riding on a bumpy single lane road. It was interesting looking out the window for a bit, seeing all the little shops, the fields of palm trees, all the dogs that were everywhere... After a while, Jose went downstairs where the toilet was and found there was wide open space there because it was only for the luggage. So, we decided to go down there as well and lay down and enjoy the open space. We were able to sleep and talk and have a much better ride than sitting upstairs.

We got to our hotel in Siam Reap, but because of some mix up in communication, our reservations were canceled. Instead of trying to solve the problem, the owner came and started blaming us and being totally unprofessional. After some time when we saw we were getting nowhere, we asked our driver to take us to another hotel. We found a nice place not too far from there. It was cheap, clean, with aircon and yes, it had a hot shower. We were happy again. Jose wrote him a very civil and lengthy email, and finished it off with a bold: "YOU ASSHOLE". So if you ever go to Siam Reap, don't stay at the Two Dragons Hotel. The rest of the day we spent eating, shopping, walking around, checking our surroundings and planning for the next few days. I got a pedicure and changed my nail color from neon green to a much more pleasant purple. I still have the same color on.

The next day (Wednesday 21), we got a tuk tuk, bargained for a good price and kept him for the day as a guide to our Angkor Wat exploration. We got to see the main temples. They were absolutely fabulous. Spread out over a vast area too. I can't imagine having walked around to see anything. We saw only the small loop of temples, and around 5pm, after 8 hours of walking through temples, taking photos and enjoying the magnificence, we went back home.

Link only got a one day pass, which was probably smarter. Jose and me got the next one after, which was the 3 day pass. We had seen pretty much everything we needed to see and we tried to return our tickets and get some of our money back, but they had already closed for the day. So, not to waste our money, Jose and me decided that next day we'd rent motor bikes and ride around wherever we wanted in the Angkor Wat area, stop whenever we wanted and see other temples. We found out that we could not rent motor bikes because too many foreigners were getting into accidents, so we had to settle fore regular bikes.

Alright, that's it for now.

So here we go...

I don't have all my pictures with me right now, so those will have to come later.

I've kept a little journal about the events and adventures experienced. I only started when I was on the beach in Thailand, so many of the things I write about are in the past, then I write in the present on the beach, then a bit in the future about what I'll do and then after the meditation retreat again talking in the past. It might be confusing, but just try to follow the days and dates.


Saturday Jan 17/09

We (Jose, Link and me) arrived in Phenom Pen. It was hot and we were excited. When we were walking out of the airport, at the exit gate a little old Cambodian man was waiting with a sign that said "Jose Rios" on it. That was our ride. We walked out with him, he went to get the taxi and we waited amazed at the wonderful heat. The guy came back not with a taxi but with a tuk tuk.

We were so excited because it was a real and authentic Asian experience. We loaded our bags, got in and drove off. We were laughing, taking pictures, taking videos and watching the traffic. Immediately I saw how friendly the Cambodians were because ever motor bike that drove past us, all the 2, 3, 4 or even 5 people on it would turn at us, smile and maybe even wave.

Ok, that it' for right now. The mosquitoes are eating me alive right now and I don't feel like having a battle with them.