Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baby Aoife

Saturday was a perfect day to meet a new friend. Little Aoife (pronounced eefie) was adorable and definitely a cherished member of the family.

Here are a few favorites of my new friend. Click here for the entire slideshow.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

There and Back Again: Part 4

One of the most surprising things about this journey is how much World War 2 history I learned. I wasn't expecting that to be a topic or focus. But I enjoyed the learning and discussions of its impact on SE Asia and the Philippines specifically. These photos were taken at the US Cemetery in Manila. There are 17,202 graves of servicemen and a memorial of 36,285 servicemen missing in action. Most of these men died in the Philippines and New Guinea. A beautiful and sobering memorial.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

There and Back Again: Part 3

Yesterday was Ancient Cambodia. Today is more Modern Cambodia

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

There and Back Again

Like Tolkein's lovable Bilbo, I have had an adventure. As I try to talk about my travel I feel a little like Bilbo trying to explain to his hobbit hole-loving people that there is a big, rich world out there that I wish you could see, taste, smell, and experience. How do I share the richness of these things?

There were things on my journey that were planned and happened just as expected. But there were also unplanned, colorful, surprising, and life-enriching experiences. I think that these unexpected things are what make each journey unique.

My goal in this blog is not to give you a play by play of my 3 week adventure. I just want to give you a little visual taste. Maybe you will be inspired to have your own adventure. To leave your hobbit-hole for a few days and embrace the unplanned and unexpected things that make an adventure rich, laugh-worthy, and retell-able.

Today's visual travel journal is the Philippines.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


Oh where to begin...
Jenny has been a great tour guide and we were fortunate enough to benefit from her 6 months of knowledge, experience and study. She has definitely jumped in with both feet‎. I am not sure we would have had such a rich experience with out her language skills.

The first day here we were treated to a traditional Khmer breakfast of rice and pork. It was simple but good. Jenny took us to a local market area where you could buy just about anything in the 3 story warehouse building with tiny isles piled high with foods, clothes, dishes, soap, electronics, and many unknown items. After a snack of fruit, some new some recognizable, we took a ferry across the river to walk around in the country side. We waved at the kids shouting hello to us along the road and explored mango and rice fields. After a shower, we went to a restaurant with a group of Jenny's friends to have tarantula. Yes, deep fried tarantula. I ate a leg. It was hairy and the consistency of a stale potato chip.

The next morning we were up early to catch a bus to Siem Reap... the jewel of the Cambodia. 5 hours later we arrived in the afternoon to a very nice guest house. A guest house is more like a budget hotel/hostel/inn. Our late lunch was an amazing burger and fries. Then we took a Tuk Tuk... a covered, open air carriage that fits 4 people facing one another and pulled by a motorcycle - and one of my favorite things about Cambodia... to a temple ruin that is famous for watching the sunset over the jungle. We climbed up and stood on top with several hundred of our friends from around the world. I LOVED being surrounded by at least a dozen languages being spoken at once. (especially hearing and understanding the Japanese tourists :) We lingered at the top and had to be shooed down by the guards as it got dark. Back to town, which by the way, was very much about the tourists and night life. We had a little Mexican food to round out our meals for the day. Then stopped for a foot and back massage next to our guest house. We slept well that night!

Saturday was our big tourist day. We were up early for breakfast and our Tuk Tuk ride to Angkor Wat. One of the 7 ancient wonders of the world (depending on which list you look at). We saw 4 different temple ruins in different states of jungle invasion and restoration. We climbed impossibly steep stairs to the tops. We did have a guide hired for the day. He told us a lot of the religious influences, superstitions, modern and ancient history, and lifestyles of the kings that built the imposing structures. It was a good day and I have a lot of photos to share once I get home. That evening we decided to do the 'fish massage'. We sat on the edge of a large tank that had 2-4 inch fish in it and let them nibble our feet. They are supposedly eating the dead skin off our feet. I am not sure bout that, but it did tickle like nothing you have ever felt! It was a fun way to end our day.

Sunday we slept late and did a little shopping in the market before our 5 hour bus ride home.

Monday we slept in a little before tackling the silk vendors in the market. We had a specific list of fabrics to get and were on a mission. We spent hours sweating in the market haggling with vendors. It was fun and exhausting. Interesting note, the Cambodians accept US dollars and the Cambodian currency interchangeably. At home we had Indian food ... loving the curries here! Then watched The Killing Fields to have some more context for going to the killings fields the next morning.

Tuesday Jenny went to work and we went out side of Phnom Penh to a famous extermination camp. A sobering morning of viewing the evil man can do to other men. One of the most amazing things is that this is modern... only 30 years ago. We went back to Jenny's office, met her co-workers and sat in on their daily prayer time. Then lunch at a cafe called Daughters that trains and helps girls who have been trafficked in sex trade. There are a lot of amazing NGO's here that are working to train, support and give skills to victims. Jenny went back to work and Nate and I went to the royal palace for the afternoon. Jenny met us at FCC, where journalists used to hang out before the Khmer Rouge in the 70's. There we sat high about the city and watched people and the river with our drinks. Then on to traditional Khmer dinner.

Today we will pack and relax a bit before we catch our flight to Manila tonight.

"No, life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath....We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn't it?" Donald Miller

This morning while catching up with the facebook world I read this quote that my aunt posted. It made me stop and think. Think about how I am sitting in an apartment in Cambodia having walked in ancient temples, eaten strange foods, learned so much about a people and their history, seen the evil that can control men, stood in the middle of a incredibly unfamiliar place, but in it all felt as if I were experiencing, seeing and feeling things God had set out for me. I am so glad that I was brave enough to venture out.