What lies ahead

Documenting my life from Richmond to Shanghai
The life I’m currently living is not one that I ever imagined for myself. If you would have told me 5 years ago what my life would look like today, I wouldn’t have believed you. But while it might not have been what I expected, I know it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be. And I’m not just talking about China. I’m talking about all the things in between.  This year I’ve learned that my plans are not important, and if this life was left up to just me….it would not be a great one. I’m thankful to have God by my side in all my decision making processes because He has opened so many amazing doors that I could have never dreamt up on my own. 
When I was home this summer, I had a fun time looking through old family photos and little keepsakes in a box under my bed. I found some pretty awesome stuff, and some stuff that I can’t believe I held on to for so long (like a Susie Zoo sticker collection for example). Among those things, I also found this paper I wrote awhile ago. (And by paper, I mean paragraph, because that’s long enough in elementary school.)

There are many many things wrong with this paragraph….which is what makes it so great. First of all, I’m pretty sure I didn’t write this when I was 3. I don’t remember being that bad at math growing up, but apparently I was. I actually have no idea when I really wrote this, but I’m assuming I wasn’t in high school yet. 
Unless you know nothing about my current life stage, you will know that nothing in that paper came true. And I’m totally ok with that! If that was my life at 23, I would have missed out on so many other amazing experiences that I’ve been fortunate to have. While yes, I still do want to eventually get married and have a family, I can still have my “happily ever after” without all that right now. I know it would make my Grandma incredibly be happy if I would just get married already, and my mom would be happy with a few grandchildren by now, but that’s not that path I took. The path I am on though is a great one and I haven’t been this happy in awhile. It took me awhile to figure it out, but once you stop waiting for your life to happen, you can finalize realize that it has been happening this entire time and it can be pretty amazing if you let it.  

The life I’m currently living is not one that I ever imagined for myself. If you would have told me 5 years ago what my life would look like today, I wouldn’t have believed you. But while it might not have been what I expected, I know it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be. And I’m not just talking about China. I’m talking about all the things in between.  This year I’ve learned that my plans are not important, and if this life was left up to just me….it would not be a great one. I’m thankful to have God by my side in all my decision making processes because He has opened so many amazing doors that I could have never dreamt up on my own. 

When I was home this summer, I had a fun time looking through old family photos and little keepsakes in a box under my bed. I found some pretty awesome stuff, and some stuff that I can’t believe I held on to for so long (like a Susie Zoo sticker collection for example). Among those things, I also found this paper I wrote awhile ago. (And by paper, I mean paragraph, because that’s long enough in elementary school.)

There are many many things wrong with this paragraph….which is what makes it so great. First of all, I’m pretty sure I didn’t write this when I was 3. I don’t remember being that bad at math growing up, but apparently I was. I actually have no idea when I really wrote this, but I’m assuming I wasn’t in high school yet. 

Unless you know nothing about my current life stage, you will know that nothing in that paper came true. And I’m totally ok with that! If that was my life at 23, I would have missed out on so many other amazing experiences that I’ve been fortunate to have. While yes, I still do want to eventually get married and have a family, I can still have my “happily ever after” without all that right now. I know it would make my Grandma incredibly be happy if I would just get married already, and my mom would be happy with a few grandchildren by now, but that’s not that path I took. The path I am on though is a great one and I haven’t been this happy in awhile. It took me awhile to figure it out, but once you stop waiting for your life to happen, you can finalize realize that it has been happening this entire time and it can be pretty amazing if you let it.  

While I could have kept traveling South East Asia probably for the rest of my life, the thought of coming home was getting me incredibly excited. I’m sure my neighbors on the plane ride back thought I was crazy because I couldn’t stop smiling.  I was obviously stoked to come home and see my friends and family, eat “normal” food, and be as far away from China as possible, but I could have never imagined how great it really was to be home. The reality of my All-American summer far exceeded my expectations. 
For starters, I woke up almost every morning to the view in the picture above. That totally justifies a $1000 plane ride, right? I very openly admitted that I missed the dogs in my life more than most of the humans. But being able to snuggle with a cute, clean puppy every morning was something I missed more than I thought I would. 
Reason #2 I was stoked to be home was because just about everyone I know either got married or had a baby in the year that I was gone. I started my first few weeks home being able to finally meet my bff, Brooke’s, sweet baby boy. She did a great job of having him less than 3 weeks before I made it back to the states. While I’m now going to miss the next (too many) months of his life, I’m glad I at least got to be there for the first few. 

Being away for so long definitely lets you clearly see who your real friends are and how much you love them. There are people in my life that I know will be with me forever, and have proved that year after year. This year though surprised me in some cases. Some friends that I thought would make more of an effort didn’t, and some that I never would have expected stepped up to the plate and made me feel loved all the way across the world. That being said, some of my favorite people to hang with this summer were my old coworkers. While I completely adored them when we worked together, I never thought that they would be the ones that I would stay in contact with the most this year and the ones I would be the most stoked to see in my few months back. I’m so thankful we got to spend the summer drinking wine together and/or going to baseball games around VA. I thought about trying to smush them in my suitcase back to China, but I decided I’ll just value our emails and facetimes instead. 


Summer of Love 2014 was also awesome because I got to spend some quality time with one of my favorite women in the world. My one and only Grandma is probably my main inspiration for traveling the world in the first place. While she seems to be the one that misses me the most when I’m away, I probably wouldn’t be living abroad without her love and motivation. She was very eager to catch up in person to hear about my adventures, but I ended up stealing most of our time together because I wanted to hear her tell me about HER adventures. Not only is she still a live wire at the age of 88, but she has also spent the majority of those years living life to the fullest and traveling all over the world. For example, when she was in her 80’s, she packed up and went to Thailand for 3 weeks with a bunch of her girlfriends. If that’s not motivation to live each day to the fullest, than I don’t know what is. If she can do it, so can I.

I mean just look at her house… You feel like you’re already in Asia without even having to pack. It would have been crazy if I didn’t end up there myself. 

Summer was also awesome because I got to spend more quality dog time with my main squeeze, Sammygirl… 

Hang out with my amazing Sis, Brother-in-law, and dog Nephew, Moose… 

I was also able to spend a lot of time in the OBX. While this is my usual summer past time, I realized this year that this is probably my favorite beach in the entire world…even if it is only 2 hours away from my hometown. There were many times this year that I realized there was no place in the world I would rather be than Southern Shores. While I’ve definitely been to more beautiful beaches in the world, this is the one I love most. 

I mean what’s not to love? You can find some pretty people there….

And see some pretty sunsets…


I never thought that I’d want to live in the OBX year round, but after living in a place like Shanghai for awhile, I can definitely imagine myself living there a little way down the road. 
After the beach it was back to Williamsburg to take full advantage of it’s sites. (And by sites, I mean the Cheese Shop and sno-to-go.) While my “snowball” wasn’t as good as I was remembering, it still hit the spot.  And the deliciousness of Cheese shop obviously goes unsaid. I wish they had frequent flier cards there because I definitely would have racked up a free sandwich or two this summer. 

While I missed a ton of my best friend’s weddings this year, I made it home just in time to see one of my oldest friends get married.

I got to hang out with some of my favorite dudes of all time…

And see my bff, Lauren! She made her way back to VA from Colorado at just the right time. 

My other BFF, Melissa, made her way back from Florida as well! While I like to pretend they both came back home just to see me, you can tell in the pictures above and below that their main focus was probably that adorable kid that they were holding and who they were able to meet for the first time this summer. 

Like I said before, everyone I know either had a baby or got married while I was away. 



(Those are all different people’s babies in the pictures above!!! What on earth?!!) My favorite “baby experience” happened right before I was leaving though. This year my friend, Colleen, told me she was preggers with her second child. Her due date was set for the middle of August, which was well after I was already meant to be in Shanghai. I joked all summer asking her to just push him out a little early. While she would have happily agreed, it was definitely impossible with her baby due date and my due date to be back in China.  I was able to make it to her baby shower and hang out with her family a few times before leaving, so I was happy to have at least that. After we had said our goodbyes, I ended up having some issues with my visa and I was stuck in Virginia for longer than expected. While this was really annoying at first, it ended up being perfect timing in the long run. On my last night in Williamsburg, after finally getting the go ahead on my visa, I got a text from Colleen saying she was in labor in the hospital. I was set to drive up to DC the next morning and fly out the following day, but luckily Colleen lives in Richmond (and delivers babies quickly), so I was able to see her on my way out of town! Holding a less than 12 hour old baby was probably one of the coolest things I did all summer. I couldn’t decide if I should have been incredibly happy about the situation, or actually pissed that I got to meet sweet baby Gannett in the first place. If she didn’t have him until I after I left, I wouldn’t have been able to see how amazing he was. Now that I know he’s wonderful, I’m going to miss him even more. 
After meeting the last of the babies and saying goodbyes to my family in Williamsburg and friends in Richmond, I was off to DC for my last two days of America life. I tried to soak up as much quality time with both my sister and Target as possible. (I probably went to Target 30 times since I was home. Don’t ever take Target for granted people!)
While the whole thought of moving back to Shanghai for year number two seemed much easier than the initial move last year, saying goodbye to the people you love never gets easy. By the end of summer, I was really ready to move back to China and start my life there again, but at the same time, I didn’t want to leave the states. I wasn’t nervous to leave, but my last day in town was a little overwhelming. I got some bad news from a friend that I love and the thought of leaving him was heartbreaking. Living overseas has been a life changing, amazing experience. There are definitely hard times though when you miss out on things back “home” and can’t be there for the people that mean the most to you…or can’t have them be there for you.

After such an amazing summer, right before I left, it hit me that I was crazy to be leaving such an amazing life here. While my brother in law tried to persuade me of this all summer, I knew there was no turning back. My same friend with the bad news reminded me that love can cross oceans and that you don’t need to be physically next to a person to “be there”. I went to Great Falls before my flight, which is a beautiful view near my sister’s house, to get a little clarity and fresh air before leaving. I said a few prayers and set a few intentions for the following year and for the people I was leaving behind. Like I said, saying goodbye is never easy, but  it’s getting easier at least because I know I’m exactly where I need to be. It’s not the place I would have ever imagined myself to be, but I know it’s right and I’m excited to start this next adventure. 
So long story short, THANK YOU to everyone who hung out this summer and filled me with enough love and light to get me through the next year or two across the world. It would not be as exciting without you. 

While I could have kept traveling South East Asia probably for the rest of my life, the thought of coming home was getting me incredibly excited. I’m sure my neighbors on the plane ride back thought I was crazy because I couldn’t stop smiling.  I was obviously stoked to come home and see my friends and family, eat “normal” food, and be as far away from China as possible, but I could have never imagined how great it really was to be home. The reality of my All-American summer far exceeded my expectations.

For starters, I woke up almost every morning to the view in the picture above. That totally justifies a $1000 plane ride, right? I very openly admitted that I missed the dogs in my life more than most of the humans. But being able to snuggle with a cute, clean puppy every morning was something I missed more than I thought I would. 

Reason #2 I was stoked to be home was because just about everyone I know either got married or had a baby in the year that I was gone. I started my first few weeks home being able to finally meet my bff, Brooke’s, sweet baby boy. She did a great job of having him less than 3 weeks before I made it back to the states. While I’m now going to miss the next (too many) months of his life, I’m glad I at least got to be there for the first few. 

Being away for so long definitely lets you clearly see who your real friends are and how much you love them. There are people in my life that I know will be with me forever, and have proved that year after year. This year though surprised me in some cases. Some friends that I thought would make more of an effort didn’t, and some that I never would have expected stepped up to the plate and made me feel loved all the way across the world. That being said, some of my favorite people to hang with this summer were my old coworkers. While I completely adored them when we worked together, I never thought that they would be the ones that I would stay in contact with the most this year and the ones I would be the most stoked to see in my few months back. I’m so thankful we got to spend the summer drinking wine together and/or going to baseball games around VA. I thought about trying to smush them in my suitcase back to China, but I decided I’ll just value our emails and facetimes instead. 

Summer of Love 2014 was also awesome because I got to spend some quality time with one of my favorite women in the world. My one and only Grandma is probably my main inspiration for traveling the world in the first place. While she seems to be the one that misses me the most when I’m away, I probably wouldn’t be living abroad without her love and motivation. She was very eager to catch up in person to hear about my adventures, but I ended up stealing most of our time together because I wanted to hear her tell me about HER adventures. Not only is she still a live wire at the age of 88, but she has also spent the majority of those years living life to the fullest and traveling all over the world. For example, when she was in her 80’s, she packed up and went to Thailand for 3 weeks with a bunch of her girlfriends. If that’s not motivation to live each day to the fullest, than I don’t know what is. If she can do it, so can I.

I mean just look at her house… You feel like you’re already in Asia without even having to pack. It would have been crazy if I didn’t end up there myself. 

Summer was also awesome because I got to spend more quality dog time with my main squeeze, Sammygirl… 

Hang out with my amazing Sis, Brother-in-law, and dog Nephew, Moose… 

I was also able to spend a lot of time in the OBX. While this is my usual summer past time, I realized this year that this is probably my favorite beach in the entire world…even if it is only 2 hours away from my hometown. There were many times this year that I realized there was no place in the world I would rather be than Southern Shores. While I’ve definitely been to more beautiful beaches in the world, this is the one I love most. 

I mean what’s not to love? You can find some pretty people there….

And see some pretty sunsets…

I never thought that I’d want to live in the OBX year round, but after living in a place like Shanghai for awhile, I can definitely imagine myself living there a little way down the road. 

After the beach it was back to Williamsburg to take full advantage of it’s sites. (And by sites, I mean the Cheese Shop and sno-to-go.) While my “snowball” wasn’t as good as I was remembering, it still hit the spot.  And the deliciousness of Cheese shop obviously goes unsaid. I wish they had frequent flier cards there because I definitely would have racked up a free sandwich or two this summer. 

While I missed a ton of my best friend’s weddings this year, I made it home just in time to see one of my oldest friends get married.

I got to hang out with some of my favorite dudes of all time…

And see my bff, Lauren! She made her way back to VA from Colorado at just the right time. 

My other BFF, Melissa, made her way back from Florida as well! While I like to pretend they both came back home just to see me, you can tell in the pictures above and below that their main focus was probably that adorable kid that they were holding and who they were able to meet for the first time this summer. 

Like I said before, everyone I know either had a baby or got married while I was away. 

(Those are all different people’s babies in the pictures above!!! What on earth?!!) My favorite “baby experience” happened right before I was leaving though. This year my friend, Colleen, told me she was preggers with her second child. Her due date was set for the middle of August, which was well after I was already meant to be in Shanghai. I joked all summer asking her to just push him out a little early. While she would have happily agreed, it was definitely impossible with her baby due date and my due date to be back in China.  I was able to make it to her baby shower and hang out with her family a few times before leaving, so I was happy to have at least that. After we had said our goodbyes, I ended up having some issues with my visa and I was stuck in Virginia for longer than expected. While this was really annoying at first, it ended up being perfect timing in the long run. On my last night in Williamsburg, after finally getting the go ahead on my visa, I got a text from Colleen saying she was in labor in the hospital. I was set to drive up to DC the next morning and fly out the following day, but luckily Colleen lives in Richmond (and delivers babies quickly), so I was able to see her on my way out of town! Holding a less than 12 hour old baby was probably one of the coolest things I did all summer. I couldn’t decide if I should have been incredibly happy about the situation, or actually pissed that I got to meet sweet baby Gannett in the first place. If she didn’t have him until I after I left, I wouldn’t have been able to see how amazing he was. Now that I know he’s wonderful, I’m going to miss him even more. 

After meeting the last of the babies and saying goodbyes to my family in Williamsburg and friends in Richmond, I was off to DC for my last two days of America life. I tried to soak up as much quality time with both my sister and Target as possible. (I probably went to Target 30 times since I was home. Don’t ever take Target for granted people!)

While the whole thought of moving back to Shanghai for year number two seemed much easier than the initial move last year, saying goodbye to the people you love never gets easy. By the end of summer, I was really ready to move back to China and start my life there again, but at the same time, I didn’t want to leave the states. I wasn’t nervous to leave, but my last day in town was a little overwhelming. I got some bad news from a friend that I love and the thought of leaving him was heartbreaking. Living overseas has been a life changing, amazing experience. There are definitely hard times though when you miss out on things back “home” and can’t be there for the people that mean the most to you…or can’t have them be there for you.

After such an amazing summer, right before I left, it hit me that I was crazy to be leaving such an amazing life here. While my brother in law tried to persuade me of this all summer, I knew there was no turning back. My same friend with the bad news reminded me that love can cross oceans and that you don’t need to be physically next to a person to “be there”. I went to Great Falls before my flight, which is a beautiful view near my sister’s house, to get a little clarity and fresh air before leaving. I said a few prayers and set a few intentions for the following year and for the people I was leaving behind. Like I said, saying goodbye is never easy, but  it’s getting easier at least because I know I’m exactly where I need to be. It’s not the place I would have ever imagined myself to be, but I know it’s right and I’m excited to start this next adventure. 

So long story short, THANK YOU to everyone who hung out this summer and filled me with enough love and light to get me through the next year or two across the world. It would not be as exciting without you. 

I knew I couldn’t go to Borneo without seeing the rainforest, so my last full day in KK was planned around that. I got picked up by a driver to take the “canopy walk” tour around Borneo. The first stop on the trip was Mt. Kinabalu. We didn’t get to actually hike the mountain, but we were dropped off at an awesome viewpoint to see it’s peak. We got there at the perfect timing because about 10 minutes after we arrived, clouds started rolling in and completely blocked the view of the mountain after I snapped a few photos. If I have any desire to be a mountain climber in another life, I can imagine coming back here to hike Kinabalu. I’m sure it was even more amazing once you got a little closer. 

The real reason I was on the trip though was to see the rainforest, so I happily got back in the car and headed to the final destination. The rainforest wasn’t really what I was expecting, but it was still pretty sweet. 

After hiking for about 20 minutes up the mountain, you reach the canopy walkway. 

I don’t know what I was expecting of the canopy, but whatever those expectations were flew out the window and I was just scared shitless. I didn’t think the walkway would be scary, I just thought it would be awesome. I was definitely wrong. The picture above was the only picture I took while on the walkway because I was too scared to take my hands off the ropes. Only 6 people were allowed on the canopy at a time and that was about 5 too many for my taste. With other people on the same, small, skinny, rickety, wooden plank as you, the whole thing shakes precariously and it’s hard to keep your balance. Even if it was perfectly still, I would have probably been a little scared, but add 5 strangers to the mix, and you don’t know if you’re going to make it out alive. I did though…make it out alive. And I became a better person afterwards. It was definitely awesome, but one of those awesome experiences you only enjoy after it’s over and you’re on solid ground again.  

My flight was scheduled to leave late that night to head back to the states, so after we finished the canopy walk, we headed back to the hotel to pack up all my belongings (and hope they still fit in my backpack.) Before heading to the airport, I stopped at the mall to get a bite to eat. 

Right outside the mall was a rundown building with a bunch of random graffiti. 

While none of it was amazing, I found the perfect stencil on one of the pillars right before it was time to leave. 

Peace out, Asia. It has definitely been real.
America, I. CAN. NOT. WAIT. TO. SEE. YOU!!!!!

I knew I couldn’t go to Borneo without seeing the rainforest, so my last full day in KK was planned around that. I got picked up by a driver to take the “canopy walk” tour around Borneo. The first stop on the trip was Mt. Kinabalu. We didn’t get to actually hike the mountain, but we were dropped off at an awesome viewpoint to see it’s peak. We got there at the perfect timing because about 10 minutes after we arrived, clouds started rolling in and completely blocked the view of the mountain after I snapped a few photos. If I have any desire to be a mountain climber in another life, I can imagine coming back here to hike Kinabalu. I’m sure it was even more amazing once you got a little closer. 

The real reason I was on the trip though was to see the rainforest, so I happily got back in the car and headed to the final destination. The rainforest wasn’t really what I was expecting, but it was still pretty sweet. 

After hiking for about 20 minutes up the mountain, you reach the canopy walkway. 

I don’t know what I was expecting of the canopy, but whatever those expectations were flew out the window and I was just scared shitless. I didn’t think the walkway would be scary, I just thought it would be awesome. I was definitely wrong. The picture above was the only picture I took while on the walkway because I was too scared to take my hands off the ropes. Only 6 people were allowed on the canopy at a time and that was about 5 too many for my taste. With other people on the same, small, skinny, rickety, wooden plank as you, the whole thing shakes precariously and it’s hard to keep your balance. Even if it was perfectly still, I would have probably been a little scared, but add 5 strangers to the mix, and you don’t know if you’re going to make it out alive. I did though…make it out alive. And I became a better person afterwards. It was definitely awesome, but one of those awesome experiences you only enjoy after it’s over and you’re on solid ground again.  

My flight was scheduled to leave late that night to head back to the states, so after we finished the canopy walk, we headed back to the hotel to pack up all my belongings (and hope they still fit in my backpack.) Before heading to the airport, I stopped at the mall to get a bite to eat. 

Right outside the mall was a rundown building with a bunch of random graffiti. 

While none of it was amazing, I found the perfect stencil on one of the pillars right before it was time to leave. 

Peace out, Asia. It has definitely been real.

America, I. CAN. NOT. WAIT. TO. SEE. YOU!!!!!

After the Perhentian Islands, it was off to the final destination of my Asian adventures. Kota Kinabalu was the last stop on my trip before heading home to America. I had heard about the wonders of Borneo for awhile now, but never imagined I would actually go. It’s crazy to look back at my life only a few years ago. I never would have thought I would be where I am today, or have as many experiences under my belt. That being said, I was so stoked to add Borneo on my list of places visited. I’m not sure if I was excited to be here, or just excited to know that this was my last stop before seeing my friends and family again. Either way, I tried to soak up the experience as much as possible before I had to catch my final flight.
KK itself doesn’t have the most amazing beaches. The one pictured above is Tanjung Aru Beach, the main public beach and about the best you’ll get on the island. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was at least expecting the water to be a little clearer. Either way, I set up shop on the beach for the day. I was one of about 3 people on the mile long stretch of beach. I was happy to have some peace and quiet, but quickly realized I wasn’t truly alone. There was a whole colony of tiny crabs all along the beach and they were making this incredible landscape in the sand. While I’ve seen crabs dig holes in the sand before, I’ve never seen anything like this. The tiny little crabs work all day to dig up these holes and scoop out little sand balls all over the place. I’m assuming there were thousands of these crabs doing work, because the entire beach was covered. 

I watched the crabs, read my book, took a nap, and swam for awhile. Because the beach was so empty though, it got a little boring after awhile. I was planning on staying until sunset though because this was supposedly the best view on the island. Unfortunately about an hour before the sunset, a storm started to roll in, so I decided to leave before I got drenched. 

While the beaches on KK itself proved to not be too amazing, you can take a 20 minute speed boat from the jetty port on the island and find yourself in another amazing world. There’s a series of about 5 islands off the coast of KK that you can easily get to. You can hop around each island, or choose one and stay there for the day. I was getting sick of boat rides, so I decided to go to Sapi island and stay there for the day. There wasn’t anything to do on the island besides hang out on the beach, but that’s all I ever want to do anyways, so I was perfectly content. The water here was see through and perfect. 

Once you make it past the first set of painful rocks, the water deepens and you can swim around freely. While I’m sure having an actual mask and snorkel would have helped, I could see the fish perfectly clear from top of the water. 

After a few hours here, the boat came to pick us back up and bring us back to KK. It’s crazy that we were only 20 minutes away and the water and scenery was so different. We had perfect timing though, because right after we docked and I jumped in a cab, it started pouring. Apparently it’s a theme in Malaysia to start raining right before sunset. I headed back to my hotel to wait out the rain and make my final plans for my last day in Malaysia. 

After the Perhentian Islands, it was off to the final destination of my Asian adventures. Kota Kinabalu was the last stop on my trip before heading home to America. I had heard about the wonders of Borneo for awhile now, but never imagined I would actually go. It’s crazy to look back at my life only a few years ago. I never would have thought I would be where I am today, or have as many experiences under my belt. That being said, I was so stoked to add Borneo on my list of places visited. I’m not sure if I was excited to be here, or just excited to know that this was my last stop before seeing my friends and family again. Either way, I tried to soak up the experience as much as possible before I had to catch my final flight.

KK itself doesn’t have the most amazing beaches. The one pictured above is Tanjung Aru Beach, the main public beach and about the best you’ll get on the island. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was at least expecting the water to be a little clearer. Either way, I set up shop on the beach for the day. I was one of about 3 people on the mile long stretch of beach. I was happy to have some peace and quiet, but quickly realized I wasn’t truly alone. There was a whole colony of tiny crabs all along the beach and they were making this incredible landscape in the sand. While I’ve seen crabs dig holes in the sand before, I’ve never seen anything like this. The tiny little crabs work all day to dig up these holes and scoop out little sand balls all over the place. I’m assuming there were thousands of these crabs doing work, because the entire beach was covered. 

I watched the crabs, read my book, took a nap, and swam for awhile. Because the beach was so empty though, it got a little boring after awhile. I was planning on staying until sunset though because this was supposedly the best view on the island. Unfortunately about an hour before the sunset, a storm started to roll in, so I decided to leave before I got drenched. 

While the beaches on KK itself proved to not be too amazing, you can take a 20 minute speed boat from the jetty port on the island and find yourself in another amazing world. There’s a series of about 5 islands off the coast of KK that you can easily get to. You can hop around each island, or choose one and stay there for the day. I was getting sick of boat rides, so I decided to go to Sapi island and stay there for the day. There wasn’t anything to do on the island besides hang out on the beach, but that’s all I ever want to do anyways, so I was perfectly content. The water here was see through and perfect. 

Once you make it past the first set of painful rocks, the water deepens and you can swim around freely. While I’m sure having an actual mask and snorkel would have helped, I could see the fish perfectly clear from top of the water. 

After a few hours here, the boat came to pick us back up and bring us back to KK. It’s crazy that we were only 20 minutes away and the water and scenery was so different. We had perfect timing though, because right after we docked and I jumped in a cab, it started pouring. Apparently it’s a theme in Malaysia to start raining right before sunset. I headed back to my hotel to wait out the rain and make my final plans for my last day in Malaysia. 

After KL, it was off to the Perhentian Islands. When you google “best beaches in the world” (which I do pretty often), this is a place that usually shows up. The islands were a quick plane ride away from KL and well worth the time spent to get here. When you get off the plane, you take about an hour taxi drive to the jetty port. You then get on a large speed boat with a bunch of people and head to your island. I didn’t take a picture to prove it, but the water on the ride to the island was a shade of blue I’ve never seen before. It was absolutely amazing and I started to get really excited. Like I mentioned before, I didn’t really like Kuala Lumpur, so being on the water quickly washed any of those previous anxieties away. When you start getting closer to your island (there were two options), another smaller boat pulls up to the side of the bigger boat in the middle of the ocean. You throw your bag into the boat and try to climb in yourself without tipping the whole thing over. The boat then pulls up right to the shore and you climb out onto the beach and walk to your hotel.

Before I walked too far, I realized that they took me to the wrong island. I actually didn’t even remember which of the two islands I was supposed to be on, but luckily they are both tiny, so everyone knows where everything is. I told them I was staying at the Perhentian Island resort, so they told me to get back in the boat, and they took me 5 minutes away to the correct island. 

The Perhentian Islands are the closest I think I’ll ever get to a deserted island. There is nothing to these small islands besides a few resorts. The resorts themselves are bare bones also. They have electricity, for the most part, and a restaurant, but that’s about all. Luckily I was just there for some R&R and beach time, because those were my only two options. I think the second island might have had some bars to go to, but the one I was staying at had nothing. I was totally ok with it, but I’m glad I wasn’t expecting anything more. There aren’t even ATMS anywhere on either of the islands, so you have to bring everything with you that you need. It now makes sense that the people on the boat with me when we first arrived were carrying bags of groceries with them on the boat. 

The island was beautiful and I’ve never experienced anything like the adventure of being there. Like I said, I felt like I was on a deserted island. The water was crystal clear. There was a ton of coral on the ocean floor and the water was really shallow, so it made swimming a little difficult, but if that’s all I had to complain about, then I’ll shut up. 

The sunsets here were breath taking and life didn’t seem real while I was there. Unfortunately, I was only there for two nights, but I was ok with that. It was so remote, and I was traveling alone, so I was happy to move on to the next location. While the beach was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever been on, having only such a short time there made me really appreciate where I was, knowing that I probably would never be back. 

After KL, it was off to the Perhentian Islands. When you google “best beaches in the world” (which I do pretty often), this is a place that usually shows up. The islands were a quick plane ride away from KL and well worth the time spent to get here. When you get off the plane, you take about an hour taxi drive to the jetty port. You then get on a large speed boat with a bunch of people and head to your island. I didn’t take a picture to prove it, but the water on the ride to the island was a shade of blue I’ve never seen before. It was absolutely amazing and I started to get really excited. Like I mentioned before, I didn’t really like Kuala Lumpur, so being on the water quickly washed any of those previous anxieties away. When you start getting closer to your island (there were two options), another smaller boat pulls up to the side of the bigger boat in the middle of the ocean. You throw your bag into the boat and try to climb in yourself without tipping the whole thing over. The boat then pulls up right to the shore and you climb out onto the beach and walk to your hotel.

Before I walked too far, I realized that they took me to the wrong island. I actually didn’t even remember which of the two islands I was supposed to be on, but luckily they are both tiny, so everyone knows where everything is. I told them I was staying at the Perhentian Island resort, so they told me to get back in the boat, and they took me 5 minutes away to the correct island. 

The Perhentian Islands are the closest I think I’ll ever get to a deserted island. There is nothing to these small islands besides a few resorts. The resorts themselves are bare bones also. They have electricity, for the most part, and a restaurant, but that’s about all. Luckily I was just there for some R&R and beach time, because those were my only two options. I think the second island might have had some bars to go to, but the one I was staying at had nothing. I was totally ok with it, but I’m glad I wasn’t expecting anything more. There aren’t even ATMS anywhere on either of the islands, so you have to bring everything with you that you need. It now makes sense that the people on the boat with me when we first arrived were carrying bags of groceries with them on the boat. 

The island was beautiful and I’ve never experienced anything like the adventure of being there. Like I said, I felt like I was on a deserted island. The water was crystal clear. There was a ton of coral on the ocean floor and the water was really shallow, so it made swimming a little difficult, but if that’s all I had to complain about, then I’ll shut up. 

The sunsets here were breath taking and life didn’t seem real while I was there. Unfortunately, I was only there for two nights, but I was ok with that. It was so remote, and I was traveling alone, so I was happy to move on to the next location. While the beach was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever been on, having only such a short time there made me really appreciate where I was, knowing that I probably would never be back. 

After leaving Cambodia, my next stop was Malaysia. I flew into Kuala Lumpur and stayed for about 48 hours before leaving to other parts of the country. While I won’t rehash all the details, KL was not my favorite place I’ve ever been. I didn’t have the best feeling here and actually felt a little uncomfortable at times. Nothing detrimental happened, but I’ve definitely had better travel experiences. I did cross off the two things on my to-do list while here though. One…see the twin Petronas towers. And two…go to the Batu Caves. 

The caves were about a 20 minute cab ride out of town. While Cambodia’s temples were mostly Buddhist, this site in Malaysia was Hindu. (Most people in Malaysia are Muslim though, so I guess you can get everything here.) The gold shrine at the entrance to the caves is one of Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war. It’s the largest sculpture of this “god” in the world, and I have really never seen anything like it. I don’t think the picture does this place justice. That statue is huge. 

The only thing I knew about these caves before coming here is that there was a huge Hindu sculpture and a shit ton of stairs. I don’t know why I willingly came to this place knowing that I was going to get a workout just to get to the entrance, but it was worth it. Luckily Malaysia wasn’t as hot as Cambodia, so it wasn’t as painful as I was expecting to walk up a few flights of stairs. 272 stairs to be exact, but who’s counting. About half way up the stairs, a man stopped me and pointed towards my necklace. He didn’t speak English, but I could tell he was motioning me to take off my necklace. I did as I was told and didn’t ask any questions. The second I got to the top of the stairs, I realized why he said that. There was a group of kids in front of me all wearing lanyards to show they were a part of a group. Right when they reached the top, a monkey swooped down and grabbed a little girl’s lanyard right from her neck and ran away. I couldn’t help but laugh, but I was also really thankful that it wasn’t my necklace that went missing.
When you get to the top of the stairs, you get to enter the caves and walk around. You had to watch your step while exploring because not only were there monkeys all around , but there were also a ton of birds pooping everywhere. It was also a cave, if you didn’t realize, so there were random droplets of who knows what falling from the ceiling. 

The caves were beautiful though. I couldn’t figure out how to take good pictures here, so what you see is what you get. Just take my word for it that there was much more to this place than what I’m giving you. 

It was a smaller space than expected, but I was happy with what I saw. There were a ton of random Hindu sculptures embedded in the cave walls. 

I held closely to my belongings because I wanted to leave with the same amount of things that I came with. Luckily most of the monkeys were too preoccupied with their food to bother me. There was a worker there that kept the monkeys in check though by screaming at them and batting them away with a stick if they got too close to the visitors. I learned to love that guy, even though we weren’t formally introduced. 

On the walk up, I was so preoccupied with the task of actually making it up the stairs alive that I didn’t even turn around to see the view. Luckily I got to see it before heading back down to the entrance gate. 

Going down the stairs was even harder than the climb up. Not the physical aspect of it, but because all of a sudden there were far more monkeys to bombard than before. (Or maybe I just didn’t notice them as much on the way up.) Luckily, they tended to jump out at the people in front of me, so I missed any actual run ins. It was probably the most stressful part of my trip. But if bombarding monkeys was the most difficult part of my adventure, I think I should be pretty thankful.

While I’m not a fan of monkeys (if you can’t tell), it was hard to think that the image above was not cute. I didn’t want to test the abilities of an overprotective mother monkey, so I used the zoom feature on my camera to take this. I made it down the stairs unscathed, and headed back to the hotel to finish my last night in KL. 

After leaving Cambodia, my next stop was Malaysia. I flew into Kuala Lumpur and stayed for about 48 hours before leaving to other parts of the country. While I won’t rehash all the details, KL was not my favorite place I’ve ever been. I didn’t have the best feeling here and actually felt a little uncomfortable at times. Nothing detrimental happened, but I’ve definitely had better travel experiences. I did cross off the two things on my to-do list while here though. One…see the twin Petronas towers. And two…go to the Batu Caves. 

The caves were about a 20 minute cab ride out of town. While Cambodia’s temples were mostly Buddhist, this site in Malaysia was Hindu. (Most people in Malaysia are Muslim though, so I guess you can get everything here.) The gold shrine at the entrance to the caves is one of Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war. It’s the largest sculpture of this “god” in the world, and I have really never seen anything like it. I don’t think the picture does this place justice. That statue is huge. 

The only thing I knew about these caves before coming here is that there was a huge Hindu sculpture and a shit ton of stairs. I don’t know why I willingly came to this place knowing that I was going to get a workout just to get to the entrance, but it was worth it. Luckily Malaysia wasn’t as hot as Cambodia, so it wasn’t as painful as I was expecting to walk up a few flights of stairs. 272 stairs to be exact, but who’s counting. About half way up the stairs, a man stopped me and pointed towards my necklace. He didn’t speak English, but I could tell he was motioning me to take off my necklace. I did as I was told and didn’t ask any questions. The second I got to the top of the stairs, I realized why he said that. There was a group of kids in front of me all wearing lanyards to show they were a part of a group. Right when they reached the top, a monkey swooped down and grabbed a little girl’s lanyard right from her neck and ran away. I couldn’t help but laugh, but I was also really thankful that it wasn’t my necklace that went missing.

When you get to the top of the stairs, you get to enter the caves and walk around. You had to watch your step while exploring because not only were there monkeys all around , but there were also a ton of birds pooping everywhere. It was also a cave, if you didn’t realize, so there were random droplets of who knows what falling from the ceiling. 

The caves were beautiful though. I couldn’t figure out how to take good pictures here, so what you see is what you get. Just take my word for it that there was much more to this place than what I’m giving you. 

It was a smaller space than expected, but I was happy with what I saw. There were a ton of random Hindu sculptures embedded in the cave walls. 

I held closely to my belongings because I wanted to leave with the same amount of things that I came with. Luckily most of the monkeys were too preoccupied with their food to bother me. There was a worker there that kept the monkeys in check though by screaming at them and batting them away with a stick if they got too close to the visitors. I learned to love that guy, even though we weren’t formally introduced. 

On the walk up, I was so preoccupied with the task of actually making it up the stairs alive that I didn’t even turn around to see the view. Luckily I got to see it before heading back down to the entrance gate. 

Going down the stairs was even harder than the climb up. Not the physical aspect of it, but because all of a sudden there were far more monkeys to bombard than before. (Or maybe I just didn’t notice them as much on the way up.) Luckily, they tended to jump out at the people in front of me, so I missed any actual run ins. It was probably the most stressful part of my trip. But if bombarding monkeys was the most difficult part of my adventure, I think I should be pretty thankful.

While I’m not a fan of monkeys (if you can’t tell), it was hard to think that the image above was not cute. I didn’t want to test the abilities of an overprotective mother monkey, so I used the zoom feature on my camera to take this. I made it down the stairs unscathed, and headed back to the hotel to finish my last night in KL. 

Leaving Cambodia was harder than expected. I forgot how small the airport was, so I got there way too early for my flight. After waiting for about 2 hours, and about 20 minutes before it was time to board, there was a crazy random thunderstorm that delayed our flight. The flight got rescheduled for an hour later due to the storm which was a little annoying, but nothing you can’t get over. After that hour had passed, it still looked like we weren’t anywhere closer to boarding than when I first got there. Turns out that the beautiful lightning I was watching through the windows struck the runway and caused some damage right to the middle of it. We were delayed even longer while we waited for them to repave the damaged area. A few hours and a few chapters in my kindle later, and we were finally clear for take off. I definitely frustrated at this “inconvenience” and time wasted, until I started walking outside toward the plane. The delay let us stick around town long enough to witness the most beautiful sunset. I decided then to not sweat the small stuff, because sometimes the small stuff will lead you to the big stuff that actually matters. 

Leaving Cambodia was harder than expected. I forgot how small the airport was, so I got there way too early for my flight. After waiting for about 2 hours, and about 20 minutes before it was time to board, there was a crazy random thunderstorm that delayed our flight. The flight got rescheduled for an hour later due to the storm which was a little annoying, but nothing you can’t get over. After that hour had passed, it still looked like we weren’t anywhere closer to boarding than when I first got there. Turns out that the beautiful lightning I was watching through the windows struck the runway and caused some damage right to the middle of it. We were delayed even longer while we waited for them to repave the damaged area. A few hours and a few chapters in my kindle later, and we were finally clear for take off. I definitely frustrated at this “inconvenience” and time wasted, until I started walking outside toward the plane. The delay let us stick around town long enough to witness the most beautiful sunset. I decided then to not sweat the small stuff, because sometimes the small stuff will lead you to the big stuff that actually matters. 

The last temple I went to in Cambodia was Phnom Bakheng. I asked Mr. Tuka to pick me up at my hotel and take me some place good to see the sunset my last day in town. He brought me here, and it didn’t disappoint. To get to this temple, you have to hike up a mountain for about 20 minutes. There’s nothing but woods on your way up, until you finally reach the opening at the top. When you get to the opening, you then continue to climb another steep staircase to reach the actual temple. Apparently this is the place to be because I was not alone. I got up there about an hour before sunset, but was happy to get their early to claim a set on the edge of temple. The view was awesome and you could see for miles. I found a little area to sit and read my kindle before the sunset show was scheduled to go off. It was nearing the time of sunset and I started to noticed that most of the crowd had dispersed. While I was thankful that there was more room to breathe, I thought they were all idiots for leaving right before it got good. Little did I know though, that the guards kick you off the temple right at sunset. Right when it’s almost good, you have to leave and hike back down before it gets too dark. While I was happy to not hike in the dark in flip flops in unknown territory, I was a little bummed to miss the peak of the sunset. 

I got over it on my way down though when I saw two monks off in the corner taking selfies. Two things that I never thought would go together, but did. 

While I only saw a tiny portion of Cambodia, it was enough to make me fall in love. I only had time in my schedule to go to Siem Reap (and I didn’t even have time to see everything that place had to offer), but hopefully one day I’ll go back and be able to see more of this amazing country. 

The last temple I went to in Cambodia was Phnom Bakheng. I asked Mr. Tuka to pick me up at my hotel and take me some place good to see the sunset my last day in town. He brought me here, and it didn’t disappoint. To get to this temple, you have to hike up a mountain for about 20 minutes. There’s nothing but woods on your way up, until you finally reach the opening at the top. When you get to the opening, you then continue to climb another steep staircase to reach the actual temple. Apparently this is the place to be because I was not alone. I got up there about an hour before sunset, but was happy to get their early to claim a set on the edge of temple. The view was awesome and you could see for miles. I found a little area to sit and read my kindle before the sunset show was scheduled to go off. It was nearing the time of sunset and I started to noticed that most of the crowd had dispersed. While I was thankful that there was more room to breathe, I thought they were all idiots for leaving right before it got good. Little did I know though, that the guards kick you off the temple right at sunset. Right when it’s almost good, you have to leave and hike back down before it gets too dark. While I was happy to not hike in the dark in flip flops in unknown territory, I was a little bummed to miss the peak of the sunset. 

I got over it on my way down though when I saw two monks off in the corner taking selfies. Two things that I never thought would go together, but did. 

While I only saw a tiny portion of Cambodia, it was enough to make me fall in love. I only had time in my schedule to go to Siem Reap (and I didn’t even have time to see everything that place had to offer), but hopefully one day I’ll go back and be able to see more of this amazing country. 

After I caught the sunrise at Angkor Wat, I headed to the most magical place on earth. (I know I’ve overused that term at this point, but I really mean it for this temple.) Ta Prohm is magical. It made me feel like I was in a different world for a short time. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was the only person there, but it was an amazing experience. Usually when you go to a tourist site anywhere in the world, you’re never alone. Because it was so early and pretty much everyone else was probably still at Angkor Wat or still asleep, there was no one in sight. It was a little eery actually, but I decided to go with it and continue to explore. You follow little passage ways and caverns to make your way through the temple. While they have done some conservation here, they left the temple mostly intact the way they found it, with overgrown trees and nature taking over the complex. 

It was a hard place to photograph, but I’m ok with leaving it’s secrets there. You definitely had to be there to really understand how amazing it was. I’ve never seen the movie, but apparently this was where parts of Tomb Raider was filmed. I guess I should watch it now to see what it looked like in the movie. I thought about them filming while I was there and I can’t imagine a whole film crew being there. While I’m sure it made the movie look cool, I’m sort of surprised they let something so big and potentially hazardous into this area. Hopefully, whoever was making the film, paid a pretty penny towards the conservation efforts here to make up for any sort of damage they might have caused. 



Like usual, I started to get a little lost in the complex after walking around for awhile. Luckily, or not luckily, towards the end, I started to see a few more faces walking around the grounds. While it started to lose a little of it’s mysticism when I realized I wasn’t alone, I was happy to see other people that could lead me to the exit, so I didn’t have to set up shop on the grounds overnight. Although I probably wouldn’t have minded calling this place home for awhile…I might wait for them to install plumbing and ac before I willingly move in. 
Overall, Ta Prohm gets 4 out of 4 stars, and I highly suggest a trip to Cambodia just to experience this wonderland. 

After I caught the sunrise at Angkor Wat, I headed to the most magical place on earth. (I know I’ve overused that term at this point, but I really mean it for this temple.) Ta Prohm is magical. It made me feel like I was in a different world for a short time. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was the only person there, but it was an amazing experience. Usually when you go to a tourist site anywhere in the world, you’re never alone. Because it was so early and pretty much everyone else was probably still at Angkor Wat or still asleep, there was no one in sight. It was a little eery actually, but I decided to go with it and continue to explore. You follow little passage ways and caverns to make your way through the temple. While they have done some conservation here, they left the temple mostly intact the way they found it, with overgrown trees and nature taking over the complex. 

It was a hard place to photograph, but I’m ok with leaving it’s secrets there. You definitely had to be there to really understand how amazing it was. I’ve never seen the movie, but apparently this was where parts of Tomb Raider was filmed. I guess I should watch it now to see what it looked like in the movie. I thought about them filming while I was there and I can’t imagine a whole film crew being there. While I’m sure it made the movie look cool, I’m sort of surprised they let something so big and potentially hazardous into this area. Hopefully, whoever was making the film, paid a pretty penny towards the conservation efforts here to make up for any sort of damage they might have caused. 

Like usual, I started to get a little lost in the complex after walking around for awhile. Luckily, or not luckily, towards the end, I started to see a few more faces walking around the grounds. While it started to lose a little of it’s mysticism when I realized I wasn’t alone, I was happy to see other people that could lead me to the exit, so I didn’t have to set up shop on the grounds overnight. Although I probably wouldn’t have minded calling this place home for awhile…I might wait for them to install plumbing and ac before I willingly move in. 

Overall, Ta Prohm gets 4 out of 4 stars, and I highly suggest a trip to Cambodia just to experience this wonderland. 

Day two of Cambodia led me back to Angkor Wat, but this time at sunrise. While I’m never one to willingly wake up at 4am, it was definitely worth the initial struggle. Mr. Tuka met me again on day two to take me back to the temple grounds. I’m assuming he fell right back to sleep the second he dropped me off. I’m sure he’s seen the sunrise here hundreds of times already, but I can never imagine it getting old. I know I keep using the term, but this place is Magical. I thought it was so the previous day, but being there at sunrise just surpassed that feeling tenfold. Witnessing the sunrise anywhere actually is a pretty amazing experience, but this one is definitely one for the record books. 

Once the sun actually rose, I was about to head back to Mr. Tuka to go to our next stop, but I heard some chanting in the background. I didn’t feel like walking through the temple again, since I had done so just the day before, but I walked toward the music just to see what was happening. It ended up being a ton of female monks going through their morning ritual. 

You can’t really tell through by the looks of my bad photography, but it was a beautiful sight. All the women had candles lit and their eyes closed, saying their mantras or prayers. There have been many times in the past year when I’ve been frustrated not knowing a different language. This was definitely another time that I felt that way and really wish I knew what they were saying. 

After seeing these lovely ladies, I decided to continue to walk around the temple grounds instead of walking back to the parking lot. There was no one in site after a few minutes of walking, until I turned the corner and saw the sight below. 

I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to be taking pictures, but all the monks had their eyes closed, so I thought What the heck?
Again, I’m not sure what their prayers were about, but I decided to say my own to my God before heading back to my driver to see what else Cambodia had to offer. 

Day two of Cambodia led me back to Angkor Wat, but this time at sunrise. While I’m never one to willingly wake up at 4am, it was definitely worth the initial struggle. Mr. Tuka met me again on day two to take me back to the temple grounds. I’m assuming he fell right back to sleep the second he dropped me off. I’m sure he’s seen the sunrise here hundreds of times already, but I can never imagine it getting old. I know I keep using the term, but this place is Magical. I thought it was so the previous day, but being there at sunrise just surpassed that feeling tenfold. Witnessing the sunrise anywhere actually is a pretty amazing experience, but this one is definitely one for the record books. 

Once the sun actually rose, I was about to head back to Mr. Tuka to go to our next stop, but I heard some chanting in the background. I didn’t feel like walking through the temple again, since I had done so just the day before, but I walked toward the music just to see what was happening. It ended up being a ton of female monks going through their morning ritual. 

You can’t really tell through by the looks of my bad photography, but it was a beautiful sight. All the women had candles lit and their eyes closed, saying their mantras or prayers. There have been many times in the past year when I’ve been frustrated not knowing a different language. This was definitely another time that I felt that way and really wish I knew what they were saying. 

After seeing these lovely ladies, I decided to continue to walk around the temple grounds instead of walking back to the parking lot. There was no one in site after a few minutes of walking, until I turned the corner and saw the sight below. 

I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to be taking pictures, but all the monks had their eyes closed, so I thought What the heck?

Again, I’m not sure what their prayers were about, but I decided to say my own to my God before heading back to my driver to see what else Cambodia had to offer. 

The next temple on the agenda was Bayon, or the temple with 1000 faces. 

Once again, this place felt magical and I was honored to be able to be there. This turned out to be one of my favorite spots for the day for many reasons…but mainly because it made me feel like I was a contestant on “Legends of the Hidden Temple”….which was always one of my lifelong goals. If you remember that show, contestants had to crawl through little passageways and find keys and hit the right stone to get to the end of the maze. Travelling through this temple felt exactly like it looked like on tv over 20 years ago. 

Once again, the temple had three teirs that you had to get through. Each tier was a confusing maze with random dark hallways and cubby holes that led to nowhere. It might have been the heat stroke I was about to have, or just my general lack of a sense of direction, but it took me longer than expected to travel through the temple grounds. I wasn’t too worried about it though, because everywhere you turned, there was another awesome carving, or bas-relief of a face. 

I was about to give up and make my way to the exit when I saw the stone doorway in the picture below. It really looked like someone amazing was going to be up there so I took all my last morsels of energy to make it to the top. If you thought I sounded pathetic getting up the first temple of Angkor Wat, then my pathetic-ness at Bayon was off the charts. I don’t think I’ve ever huffed and puffed so much in my life as I did on the way up the stairs in this temple. Luckily, not too many people were visiting there that day, so they didn’t witness my close call with a heart attack. I’m sure I sound incredibly out of shape, but you try to visit Cambodia in April and try to do anything besides swim in an ice bath, and then be the one to judge. 

Unfortunately, the top of this tier was pretty anti-climatic. It was a bunch of nothing up there and I almost cried that there was no secret treasure. There was a little bit of a view, but definitely nothing worth the near death experience. Again, the climb back down was incredibly scary, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right??
After making it down to ground level, I decided I was too exhausted to visit any other sites for the day. At this point, it was the heat of the day, so the only logical thing to do would be to head back to the hotel and lay around the pool until sundown. So that’s exactly what I did. While from the outside the pool looked beautiful and refreshing, when you actually got in, it was pretty much like taking a warm bath. While it was better than sweating at the top of a temple, I quickly realized that there really is no relief from the heat of this country. 

The next temple on the agenda was Bayon, or the temple with 1000 faces. 

Once again, this place felt magical and I was honored to be able to be there. This turned out to be one of my favorite spots for the day for many reasons…but mainly because it made me feel like I was a contestant on “Legends of the Hidden Temple”….which was always one of my lifelong goals. If you remember that show, contestants had to crawl through little passageways and find keys and hit the right stone to get to the end of the maze. Travelling through this temple felt exactly like it looked like on tv over 20 years ago. 

Once again, the temple had three teirs that you had to get through. Each tier was a confusing maze with random dark hallways and cubby holes that led to nowhere. It might have been the heat stroke I was about to have, or just my general lack of a sense of direction, but it took me longer than expected to travel through the temple grounds. I wasn’t too worried about it though, because everywhere you turned, there was another awesome carving, or bas-relief of a face. 

I was about to give up and make my way to the exit when I saw the stone doorway in the picture below. It really looked like someone amazing was going to be up there so I took all my last morsels of energy to make it to the top. If you thought I sounded pathetic getting up the first temple of Angkor Wat, then my pathetic-ness at Bayon was off the charts. I don’t think I’ve ever huffed and puffed so much in my life as I did on the way up the stairs in this temple. Luckily, not too many people were visiting there that day, so they didn’t witness my close call with a heart attack. I’m sure I sound incredibly out of shape, but you try to visit Cambodia in April and try to do anything besides swim in an ice bath, and then be the one to judge. 

Unfortunately, the top of this tier was pretty anti-climatic. It was a bunch of nothing up there and I almost cried that there was no secret treasure. There was a little bit of a view, but definitely nothing worth the near death experience. Again, the climb back down was incredibly scary, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right??

After making it down to ground level, I decided I was too exhausted to visit any other sites for the day. At this point, it was the heat of the day, so the only logical thing to do would be to head back to the hotel and lay around the pool until sundown. So that’s exactly what I did. While from the outside the pool looked beautiful and refreshing, when you actually got in, it was pretty much like taking a warm bath. While it was better than sweating at the top of a temple, I quickly realized that there really is no relief from the heat of this country. 

I quickly found out that Cambodia is one of my favorite places on earth. (I say that for pretty much every country I’ve been too, but this time I mean it.) Cambodia was magical and you got that feeling the second you stepped off the plane. I got there really late at night and got a cab to my hotel. I was planning on staying in cheap hostels throughout my trip, but when looking up accommodations here, I found out you could stay in a normal hotel for $20 a night. Turns out that $20 a night hotel was the equivalent to a 5 star hotel back in the states. While I didn’t take any pictures to prove it, my room was incredibly comfortable. There was a roof top pool, gym, and spa, and there was a ridiculously friendly and professional staff around every corner to greet you and open any doors.  You also get a free buffet breakfast that was surprisingly amazing. They had food to satisfy all different culture’s needs, and got bonus points from this American for having all you can eat heart shaped waffles.
After eating as many waffles and dragon fruit as I could fit, it was off to the famous Angkor Wat for the day. I got the advice, from a SH friend of mine that had visited Cambodia in the winter, to just rent a bike and tour the temples at your leisure. While I was totally planning on taking this sound advice, I decided to ignore it that morning and hire a driver. And by driver, I mean Mr. Tuka, my tuk tuk driver. For a few bucks, he’ll take you to all the temples you like and wait for you outside until you’re finished. Cambodia is the hottest place in the entire world, so the thought of exerting any more energy than sitting in the back of the tuk tuk with the wind blowing through my hair, was more than I could handle. I also didn’t know where I was going and can’t read a map to save my life, so I have happy to have Mr. Tuka lead the way. 

The temple grounds here were amazing. I’m not sure when this place was built, but you could just feel the years worth of history pouring out of every stone. Once again, I felt pretty ignorant to not know more of this country’s history, but being there really got me excited to do more research when I got home. The temple was full of beautiful carvings and ornaments. I usually don’t buy many souvenirs, but I did leave the temple with some rubbings of these carvings. 

Angkor Wat is one of the larger temple compounds around town. The grounds themselves are never ending and there were a ton of different hallways to get lost in. 

I mentioned in a past post that my Asian adventures brought out a fear of heights in myself that I never knew about. I was reminded of that fear again when I made it up to the 3rd tier of this temple. Getting up the stairs was a feat in itself. It wasn’t too scary going up. You just held onto the small metal handrail and tried to not die from heat exhaustion before you made it to the top. I couldn’t really breathe when I finally made it up there (you have to wear long sleeves to be allowed in the upper levels of temples in Cambodia), but the views that you saw made it worth it. That is…until it was time to get down. I’m not sure if the picture below gives you the real sense of how steep this place was. Only about 1/3 of your foot fits on each step, so you have to walk down at an angle. I basically had to walk down backwards so I could hold onto the railing, while dripping massive buckets of sweat, and not freak out from the heights. While I love traveling alone, there have been certain circumstances like this that I wish someone else was there to laugh at how pathetic I was. 

After making it down the third tier of the temple, it was time to make my way back to Mr. Tuka. 

Before I met him in the parking lot, I sat down to drink a coconut to try to rehydrate before round two of sweaty temple excursions. These monkeys apparently know the system well because they were 3 out of many monkeys sitting near the piles of coconuts. They’re patient enough to wait for you to finish your juice before they steal the remnants of the shell. Monkeys are by far not my favorite creatures on this earth, but I was happy to share what I could with the locals. 

I finally made my way back to Mr. Tuka, only to find him sleeping in the tuk tuk. I quietly woke him up and then it was off to the next temple. 

I quickly found out that Cambodia is one of my favorite places on earth. (I say that for pretty much every country I’ve been too, but this time I mean it.) Cambodia was magical and you got that feeling the second you stepped off the plane. I got there really late at night and got a cab to my hotel. I was planning on staying in cheap hostels throughout my trip, but when looking up accommodations here, I found out you could stay in a normal hotel for $20 a night. Turns out that $20 a night hotel was the equivalent to a 5 star hotel back in the states. While I didn’t take any pictures to prove it, my room was incredibly comfortable. There was a roof top pool, gym, and spa, and there was a ridiculously friendly and professional staff around every corner to greet you and open any doors.  You also get a free buffet breakfast that was surprisingly amazing. They had food to satisfy all different culture’s needs, and got bonus points from this American for having all you can eat heart shaped waffles.

After eating as many waffles and dragon fruit as I could fit, it was off to the famous Angkor Wat for the day. I got the advice, from a SH friend of mine that had visited Cambodia in the winter, to just rent a bike and tour the temples at your leisure. While I was totally planning on taking this sound advice, I decided to ignore it that morning and hire a driver. And by driver, I mean Mr. Tuka, my tuk tuk driver. For a few bucks, he’ll take you to all the temples you like and wait for you outside until you’re finished. Cambodia is the hottest place in the entire world, so the thought of exerting any more energy than sitting in the back of the tuk tuk with the wind blowing through my hair, was more than I could handle. I also didn’t know where I was going and can’t read a map to save my life, so I have happy to have Mr. Tuka lead the way. 

The temple grounds here were amazing. I’m not sure when this place was built, but you could just feel the years worth of history pouring out of every stone. Once again, I felt pretty ignorant to not know more of this country’s history, but being there really got me excited to do more research when I got home. The temple was full of beautiful carvings and ornaments. I usually don’t buy many souvenirs, but I did leave the temple with some rubbings of these carvings. 

Angkor Wat is one of the larger temple compounds around town. The grounds themselves are never ending and there were a ton of different hallways to get lost in. 

I mentioned in a past post that my Asian adventures brought out a fear of heights in myself that I never knew about. I was reminded of that fear again when I made it up to the 3rd tier of this temple. Getting up the stairs was a feat in itself. It wasn’t too scary going up. You just held onto the small metal handrail and tried to not die from heat exhaustion before you made it to the top. I couldn’t really breathe when I finally made it up there (you have to wear long sleeves to be allowed in the upper levels of temples in Cambodia), but the views that you saw made it worth it. That is…until it was time to get down. I’m not sure if the picture below gives you the real sense of how steep this place was. Only about 1/3 of your foot fits on each step, so you have to walk down at an angle. I basically had to walk down backwards so I could hold onto the railing, while dripping massive buckets of sweat, and not freak out from the heights. While I love traveling alone, there have been certain circumstances like this that I wish someone else was there to laugh at how pathetic I was. 

After making it down the third tier of the temple, it was time to make my way back to Mr. Tuka. 

Before I met him in the parking lot, I sat down to drink a coconut to try to rehydrate before round two of sweaty temple excursions. These monkeys apparently know the system well because they were 3 out of many monkeys sitting near the piles of coconuts. They’re patient enough to wait for you to finish your juice before they steal the remnants of the shell. Monkeys are by far not my favorite creatures on this earth, but I was happy to share what I could with the locals. 

I finally made my way back to Mr. Tuka, only to find him sleeping in the tuk tuk. I quietly woke him up and then it was off to the next temple.