Cambodian Charm

Being single and financially independent in your 20s has some really fun perks.  It would take a really long post to name every single perk but just to say, one of my favorites is that you get to travel alone or with friends and have really memorable fun.  In a sense your travels allow you to explore who you really are. Call it self research or meditation next time you’re justifying why you travel.

It was a first for me and my friends to travel to Cambodia.  We planned it out to fall exactly on one of the national holidays so we could have a nice holiday without worrying about taking leaves.  Sharing with you a story, one of the most memorable nights we had in Cambodia was one when me and my friends went to a hippie outdoor market.  There were delicious food, nice bands playing, and people dancing anywhere they wanted to.  At some point we decided to try some space cake, thinking it couldn’t possibly be strong… three of us shared one small slice of cake and by the end of the night we were swaying to the drumming sound in our heads.  I can still remember how the ride back to our hotel went when we had to pass by miles of pitch-black dark fields in a tuktuk, and we couldn’t control ourselves from laughing.  We were completely gone. It was one of those nights I will never forget.

Scroll down below to see some of the photos from our trip:

Buddhist Monks Cambodia Travel photography floor patternAnd yes, we did the shameless “meditating in front of a temple” pose.Phnom Penh Cambodia capital Asian marketplace Market Cambodian food Fruits common in Southeast Asia Budda shrine Southeast Asian young students Cambodia Palace Ethnic music friends Above: how can you not have fun when you’re with awesome friends; Below: an attempt to show off my flexibilityself beach life by the sea Asian food Sihanoukville Sihanoukville Cambodia Asian pickled snacks yellow Cambodia Sunset

A Little Taste of Thailand

When people say Thailand, my initial thought is to travel to the beaches that it’s most famous for.  Perhaps it was largely due to Leonardo de Caprio’s blockbuster hit “The Beach” more than a decade ago.  I’ve been to Thailand many times before, and I still recall on my first visit when I was about 12, that my family and I went to this beautiful resort for meditation.  It was extra special because the whole place was built on a stilt house on top of a river, which at night was very relaxing because you could feel the little waves crashing underneath as you sleep.  In the daytime we would eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and sometimes the monks would pass by in a boat really early in the morning and you could give them some food.  It was a lovely memory.

Since then, I’ve been back to Bangkok but it hasn’t been the same.  It feels like I’ve come to an extremely busy junction where I have to look right and left four times before crossing the street.

Anyway, my most recent trip was with my mom and friends from college, it was a half and half trip.  The first half was spent with my mom relaxing in Chiangmai and catching the lantern festival, where we lost each other in the crowd and ended up panicking trying to look for each other.  In the end she released two lanterns and I none… although I was really looking forward to releasing my first lantern there.  The second half of the trip was with a bunch of friends from college. I think there were 8 of us at the time, and it was super fun because we roamed around the streets of Bangkok and rode elephants and stayed in shady hostels, you know the whole thing where you just have clean fun while you’re still young.

Scroll down below to see those memories from that fun trip.

Lemongrass tea Thai herbs silk making herbs Elephant making Clay ceramics Pottery making silk factorySky full of starsLantern festivalChiangmai lantern festivalChiangmai lanternThai SpaThai interiorsLush greenThai massagePink sunriseairport sunriseThai childrenBuddhist templePad thaiGrand Palace ThailandThai embellishmentGrand Palace Bangkokmake portraitsTrain thailandTemple groundsBuddhismSukhothai BangkokThai foodDamnoen Saduakthailandthai riverboat ridevendorfloating market bangkoktop view floating marketthai travelFloating market

More than a Midnight in Paris

Paris was everything as I imagined it to be.  My first time to visit was in November 2013, and all the photos in this post was from that visit.  So many things have happened since that time, and now I feel that if I go back it would probably feel so different.  It’s hard to imagine that one day Europe will cease to exist as a continent, if we are to believe war and prophecies of the EU falling apart, as well as Baba Vanga’s prophecies of Europe being Muslim occupied in a few years time.

Instead of thinking about the dim future, I would like to remember Europe with its old charm.  The music that plays in the streets, the pastries, beignets, coffee cups, stranger’s smiles, that general lightness in the air.

I was so excited on my first visit to Paris, I wanted to see so many things and I remember there was even a Paris Photo exhibit at the Grand Palais exactly at the same time when I was visiting.  Although at that time I was more excited to just be in the city with my then boyfriend than really any architecture or art in Paris itself, we still managed to see so many things and I’ve grown to appreciate them more after some time.

Traveling is amazing that way, sometimes you don’t see the beauty of something until much after, like when you accidentally see those old pictures and remember what it felt like during that trip.

Grand PalaisGrand Palais ParisPhoto ExhibitParis PhotoParis Photo exhibitSacre CoeurSacré-Cœur BasilicaFrench streetArc de TriompheChamps-ÉlyséesParis skylineEiffel TowercarouselParis landscapeNation station parisstreet fashionflower marketParisian buildingParis street signcultural dancersyellow flowerEiffel tower and notre dameFrench flagcute bicyclelittle girl chasing pigeonsvandalismLe ConsulatMagical ParisLouvre museumLouvreLouvre ParisPont des ArtsPont des Arts ParisLove lock bridge ParisColorful ParisMontmartreSeine RiverRomantic Parisjardin du luxembourgjardin du luxembourg ParisInvalidesCannons of Les InvalideTour EiffelVersaillesPalace ParisPalace of VersaillesSun God emblemVersailles ParisVersailles mirror hallFrench historyBlack and white tiled floorPalace VersaillesAutumn gardengrand palacehuge gardenscultpuresAutumnCornerAutumn leavestwo swansserene lakeflock of sheepsheep

Best of the French Wine Regions

Dalai Lama quote

“There is no one who is born under an unlucky star, there are only people who don’t know how to read the sky” – the Dalai Lama.

This travel post may be a bit late but I thought it would be unfair not to share because of the story behind it.  I wasn’t always traveling and I didn’t have that much passion for traveling until the first time I stepped into Europe.  It wasn’t so much the destination, I think.  It was the mere fact that this was the first place I traveled more than 15 hours by plane to, ON MY OWN.  It scared the hell out of me of course.

I guess I can be called a late bloomer, I started traveling long haul alone only when I was 23. And I can still remember how my flight went like it just happened yesterday.  I was traveling on a semi-mutilated passport which I freely blame to the poor quality of passports being issued in my country.  I knew I could get into trouble and I was praying non-stop to reach Europe.  And while on a stopover in Moscow on my way to Paris, the immigration officer told me this was illegal! I must have looked so pitiful that in the end they just let me through, and I reached my destination without any more questions.

French food

From Paris I took an RER train to reach Dijon, the capital city of the Burgundy region in the Eastern part of France.  You may have heard of one of their most famous products – the dijon mustard.  It was a beautiful time when I went, even though it was late November and the weather was starting to get cold.  I saw everything through rose tinted glasses, La Vie en Rose, since it was my first time to fall in love and be in Europe.

Dijon tower

My boyfriend at that time who was a local in Dijon, took me around everywhere.  I thought everything was wonderful, except for the part where my French was limited to “ça va bien, et toi?”  But aside from my vocabulary, everything else felt magical in my newbie eyes.  Don’t get me wrong, I had traveled to different parts of the world before, but just not on my own.  So this was the first time I felt traveling independently.

Like many European cities, Dijon had a lot of history and retained it’s historic charm.  Many of the houses in the city center kept the old facade, as you can see in the photos here.

Dijon skylineFrench streetMusée des Beaux-ArtsArtist at workDijon travelFrench architecture

I had the chance to experience how local life was, we made meals at home, and even tried making macarons.  Even though the macarons didn’t end up looking as good as was in the shops, it was still pretty delicious.

homesnoopyfailed macaronsdijon museumschurchcatholic churchtravel photographyDijon FranceAu Clos Napoléonescargotmushroomsfresh market

Bourgogne was not too far from Dijon, so we set aside a day where we drove out into the countryside. There we were greeted with beautiful vineyards and vast greenery.  Sad to say I have very strong “Asian genes” when it comes to drinking alcohol – what people know as a form of allergy to drinking in that your liver can’t filter down the alcohol as well as other people.  I turn extremely red with a few sips! So I’m not a big wine drinker, but if you are, Bourgogne would be a delightful stop.

BourgogneFrench countrysideBeaujolaiswine regionvineyardsBourgogne vineyardsburgundy

I would recommend if you’re planning to travel to these regions, to get a local guide or host so you’ll be able to enjoy your trip more. Remember, a lot of things you’ll see won’t be translated, and having someone local to tour you around just makes the experience more enjoyable.