Cambodia

On Getting Comfortable With People Really, Really Fast

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At home, the bulk of my close friends are people I’ve known for years. A few are from high school. One is from diapers–we were next door neighbors when we were a mere couple of months old. A big chunk come from college. We met thanks to proximity; we all lived in the same dorm freshman year. I didn’t have to search far and wide for these people. They were living down the hall or right upstairs and we basically couldn’t avoid each other if we wanted to. Not like we wanted to! I’m so lucky we were all placed in Prado Hall at UC Irvine nearly 13 years ago (13!). We’ve remained a tight crew to this day which is good because outside of arts-themed dormitories, I’m not great at meeting new people.

I can let loose around my friends. They get me and my odd sense of humor and accept that the words “This reminds me of an episode of Frasier/Seinfeld/30 Rockwill come out of my mouth at some point during any given conversation. But I’m still an introverted introvert when it comes to meeting new people. I’m not one to extend my hand first and introduce myself at a party where I don’t know anyone. I can be extremely shy depending on the situation. This has not been the case at all since I started traveling.

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Surprise! I’m in Bangkok.

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Maybe you’re not surprised because you never really know where I am. However, 12 hours before I boarded a van out of Cambodia, I had no idea I’d be in Thailand so soon.

I spent a full week in Siem Reap. When Ann and Lucy broke up their visit by going to Battambang for a few days, I stayed behind to have some quiet time. I cooled down in the guesthouse pool, walked around some markets, and finally finished up the August issue of Wine Spectator I brought from home. Even though I missed my friends while they were away, it was nice not talking to anyone for a little while. But on Day 2 of self-imposed isolation, my brain got bored and wouldn’t shut up.

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Farewell, Flip Flops

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Me and my flip flops in happier times at Halong Bay.

My travel partners can tell you that I do not lose things. They know this because whenever I misplace something as insignificant as my powder compact or a tube of moisturizer, I proclaim: “I don’t lose things!” Then I find the missing object five minutes later.

I am neat. I am tidy. I am careful. I can tell you about all the things I’ve lost in my life because it so rarely happens. I still wonder what happened to the navy windbreaker that went AWOL in 3rd grade.

I’m proud to say that after more than 50 days on the road, I haven’t lost anything. But something went missing today, and it wasn’t my fault–my black flip flops were stolen.

I’m staying at a friendly guesthouse in Siem Reap where you must leave your shoes outside the building. I left them on the rack last night after returning from the rooftop pub. I don’t know what the size 8 hooligan saw in my $2 black Old Navy flip flops which at this point were covered in mud, but apparently it was enough to thoughtlessly snatch them.

They really weren’t much to look at. But they were easy. They were foamy and comfy enough. They reminded me of college. It’s not worth embracing vanity while backpacking. I’ve embraced no make-up, baggy pants, and my flip flops instead. Now they’re gone. What the hell am I supposed to wear in the shower now?

Enjoy my crappy shoes, jerkface. Wherever you are. Every time you flip or flop, imagine me flipping you something else entirely.

The Angkor Workout

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What if I told you that you could get in top shape for only the cost of a $20 day pass (and the negotiable rate of a tuk tuk driver) at one of the world’s most stunning historical attractions?

Set your alarm for 4:30am, prepare yourself for a beautiful sunrise at the eighth wonder of the world, and get ready to feel the burn!

WARM UP YOUR BODY PRE-WORKOUT by raising your arms above your head over and over again in an attempt to get one photo without hundreds of other tourists in it. Stretching is an important component in beginning any exercise routine!

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The masses lined up to capture the sunrise.

IMPROVE AGILITY by constantly being in the way of other peoples’ picture taking no matter where you stand. Carelessly photobombing the girl who needs the perfect shot of herself jumping in front of a temple or forming a heart with her hands won’t help you lose those love handles–repeatedly ducking out of everyone else’s future Facebook profile pictures will.

TONE YOUR GLUTES AND THIGHS as you climb the hundreds of steep, slender steps to the tops of ancient structures wearing inadequate footwear.

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WORK IN SOME CARDIO when you are unable to locate your tuk tuk driver and walk around in circles looking for Mr. Tiger.

SWEAT THE POUNDS OFF because you wore long pants and a long sleeved shirt in 90 degree heat. You were under the impression that it common knowledge to cover up as a sign of respect at the sacred temple complex. Marvel at the tourists who wore short shorts and tank tops that featured poetic text like “Love? I Prefer Vodka.” You may be uncomfortable, but following the rules means you’ll be dropping weight in no time.

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If you can’t make it to Cambodia, no problem! The Angkor Workout can easily adapt to the conditions of numerous other locations. Try it for yourself at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Machu Picchu in the Cusco region of Peru; the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France; and more!

The Angkor Workout: because your body is a temple, too.

Fantasy Island?

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Anything That Can Koh Rong Will Koh Rong

While my travel buddy Ann dealt with an actual fever, I battled island fever. Koh Rong is my first proper island. I love beaches so I figured I’d love this place and indeed, I fell hard and fast. It’s difficult not to. See?

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This was the first time I’ve swam in such crystal clear waters surrounded by palm trees and funky bungalows. The locals are friendly and there are even friendlier cats and dogs everywhere. I was so smitten that I pretty much immediately inquired about an open waitressing job at one of the funky bungalow’s restaurants. I was offered the gig. Could I sign on for at least a month here? What could possibly Koh Rong?

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