Secrets of Myanmar

Falling in love with Burma made my heart fly. It’s still working its magic on me even though I’m now in Kathmandu, Nepal. I cannot forget it and I’m happy to share it with you too.

I just finished my latest issue of Vagabond on Myanmar and its overflowing with:

What No One Tells You About Burma, Meditating and Motorbiking in Myanmar, 169 photograph, Photography Advice for shooting on your own world adventures or your backyard and tips I learned in the 29 days I was visiting this Astonishing Country. Here’s the cover. Check it Out!

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The best things about Burma: the friendly people. They help you find your destination while on the city bus, are over the top excited to be in pictures with you and chat about your life. Astounding level of consideration and tenderness! They know you are a tourist and therefore don’t know much about anything in Burma.

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And the spirituality is everywhere. People are not caught up in only achieving. They are meditating, praying, and being kind. That’s my kind of religion –  not really a religion, but a way of life. See the video here to get inside Shwedagon Pagoda!

Yangon, the finest and most ethereal temple I have ever seen in my life.

Yangon, the finest and most ethereal temple I have ever seen in my life.

Shwedagon Pagoda is my favorite place to go in Yangon. Being there at sunset was divine, the candles were glowing and I was blessed to see two full moons there. This is not Photoshop – this is the real deal.Full Moon at Shwedagon, YangonAnd Eating! I asked a local in Bagan where do you go to eat?

This is what I got, vegetable curry with rice for $2.

All these plates are for me. Can you believe it? And they weren’t done bringing out the food, more arrived that I could not identify  but if you want to see it all on video go here

Go to Nu War restaurant in Bagan for real Myanmar food. At non-tourist prices.

Go to Nu War restaurant in Bagan for real Myanmar food. At non-tourist prices.

Bagan is mystical – you can’t believe how many temples there are – this one made me veer off the road while I was biking and go see its gorgeous-ness up close.

Sunset in the temples.

Sunset in the temples.

One thing about Mandalay is the great food. I went to a local place that opens at 5AM for the real people who work and live here. And you’ll pay the same price as them – its about 50 US cents for a bowl of rice, egg, and chicken which the restaurant routinely ran out of but here is the place and the cute kids who are the waiters. And it had great Burmese tea. Stay at the Nylon Hotel and ask about the local place three blocks away that opens at 5AM – I don’t know the name of it. They had no sign.

Tea and Noodles in Mandalay

Delicious Food, Adorable Waiters, and 1950s prices

Delicious Food, Adorable Waiters, and 1950s prices

Mandalay Morning Market

And the Mandalay morning market is not to be missed! It is churning with color and vibrancy. The girl above is making a fish dish similar to that traditional seafood dish in Thailand. I didn’t taste it as I am a bit cautious when it comes to seafood especially when its raw. I don’t need to throw up now so I usually steer clear just to be safe.

Give me an apple and I’m happy.

More Photographs here

Banana at the Mandalay MarketI love bananas so I got excited seeing this. Its the perfect food except that it does not travel well. My bananas end up getting crushed on the bus and I don’t have any yogurt or a  blender so I can’t make a smoothie. The other most perfect food.

Girl at Mandalay Market This girl was at the Mandalay Market selling her coconuts – my third favorite food. You can drink ’em, chew ’em and decorate your house with the palm leaves. Whats not to like?

Don't miss Kandawgyi Botanical Park in Pyinoolwin - you'll think you died and went to heaven!

Don’t miss Kandawgyi Botanical Park in Pyinoolwin – you’ll think you died and went to heaven!

If you want Jaw-Drop Gorgeous head straight to Pyinoolwin 2 hours from dusty chaotic Mandalay and luxuriate in Orchid Heaven — Kandawgyi Botanical Garden is now one of my most favorite places on earth. Check it out here in the video.

The cool weather, fresh yogurt, and slow pace in this hill station made me relax and stop moving. Suddenly all I had to do was walk around smiling at people, drinking tea, and chatting with locals. I did not see anyone rushing in the 4 days I was there.

Wish I could have stayed longer but you only get a 28 day tourist visa in this luscious country – you can’t see it all so get a business visa, which is a 70-day pass for Burma, if you can get it.

Its easier to get visas in Cambodia, that’s where I got my Myanmar tourist visa. There were no lines –  its a small office in Phnom Penh and it took only 5 days to get.

I over stayed one day in Burma (fine is $3 per day) as I could not tear myself away. You pay the fine at the airport when it is discovered by the officials they don’t even ask you why they just want their 3 bucks.

My last night I was at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon – I did not want to leave but my visa was up. Going higher up in the mountains to Kalaw and the oceanside towns will be my next trip there. My advice is to go now, discover its untrammeled beauty, and let me know what secrets you find out.

Check out Vagabond Travel Photography Mag here

monksatmarketSee my photography store and more Photographs from Myanmar and the 29 other countries I have visited in the last 7 years – indulge yourself and go for a ride – you may be buying a plane ticket soon!

Kindly, Mary

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My Life as a Child

MaryAge4

I wondered when I would leave home to explore the world but I was only four years old.

I had to wait until I was at least nine.

So I just kept riding my orange push-pedal fire engine around the block knowing that one day I would fly free.

For fun, I would walk downtown to the city library and get lost in the stalls reading books and smelling the rarified air of literature. There was adventure in those books. Wild wonderful global explorations that called to my heart.

I’d be exploring when I got taller. But for now I could read the book, Mary Poppins and how she floated from cloud-to-cloud and visited worlds I could only imagine.

Someday I would discover the world just like her.

Arrive when and where I wanted to then float off to a new place.

I brought home armloads of books and was determined to read every book I found interesting. I started reading before kindergarden because I wanted to discover the worlds beyond my own boundaries of Canandaigua, an Upstate, New York, Finger Lakes town.

Canandaigua was bursting with colonial houses and wide front porches, full attics and large basements. It was the land of snowflakes freshly falling on every Christmas morning guaranteed. Sleigh rides, snowball fights, and building forts in the heaps of snow.

It was a good place to grow up.

But it was so cold my face froze one winter and I had a large patch of red on my cheeks when I drank alcohol for years. After I moved to the tropics my face returned to normal.

My cheeks had thawed.

I knew I wanted to be an artist but kept it to myself in my medically inclined professional family.

My bestfriend Cherie and I hatched a plan to run away on a motorcycle with one suitcase bungeed to the back – off we would go in to the rarefied air of world exploration.

Today I bungeed my rolling suitcase to the back step of a red truck – a pickup-like affair transporting people in Thailand to their destination for cheap – 50 cents a ride. They did not charge me the inflated tourist price so I gave him more than a 100% tip after he helped me move my luggage in the pouring rain off the truck.

The drivers never do that – I’ve been in Thailand 6 times and that is just not done.

So I have arrived!

I just realized right this minute that my deepest dream I held in my heart as a child has come true.

If you want to see my gallery of photography click here

Me with my sisters - I am on the lower right showcasing the black poodle on my new dress

Me with my sisters – I am on the lower right showcasing the black poodle on my new dress

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Burma is Breathtaking

Burma is Breathtaking.

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Burma is Breathtaking

Discover Vagabond Travel Photography Magazine for your iPad - Stunning Photography, Travel Advice on your next Journey and Inspiration http://tinyurl.com/byg76kx

Discover Vagabond Travel Photography Magazine for your iPad – Stunning Photography, Travel Advice on your next Journey and Inspiration
http://tinyurl.com/byg76kx

First: You fall in love with the people here. They want to help you.

All you have to do is look lost and someone will come to your aid.

This does not work in many countries but it works here in Yangon.

My latest thing to do is get on a city bus going in my general direction with a note written in Burmese where I want to go.

And I will get there. How?

This morning three people offered to guide me.  I did the same route yesterday so I didn’t need help but I did bask in their good will.

The bus looked like it was going to crumble into dust particles but I didn’t think it was polite to photograph it with all the passengers sitting on the peeling seats.

Check out my Youtube channel to Discover Videos from all over the Globe - 176,879 downloads

Check out my Youtube channel to Discover Videos from all over the Globe – 176,879 downloads

So here I am in a swank coffee Garden Bistro looking out over the magnificent gardens of Kandawgyi Lake.

My favorite place to do wifi and drink coffee in Yangon. Ultimate reality. Garden Bistro, with Signature Restaurant next to Kandawgki Lake

My favorite place to do wifi and drink coffee in Yangon. Ultimate reality. Garden Bistro, with Signature Restaurant next to Kandawgyi Lake

I walked around the lake last night and even when it got dark I felt safe — there is almost no crime here – this may be because if you get caught you get executed but I think this may be changing.

I haven’t gotten a creepy feeling yet — oh wait…

I did get sketched out last night when I went to look at a room to rent. It was stinky and decorated with mold, low ceilings, and felt dirty for $22. It didn’t come with a smile so I bailed. I knew I would have nightmares in that room.

The owner looked bored/pissed off that I was showing up to book a room. There’s a scarcity of rooms available in town as it is the high season and they didn’t build enough hotels to accommadate all the people interested in coming to Burma now that restrictions have been lifted. It was not actually closed to outsiders for the last 20 years it was just more irritating to get a visa as I have met many people here in Asia who did get in – and they are foreigners like me. You had to wait longer and there were less tourists – sounds great to me.

Side note: it only cost $70 to fly one-way from Bangkok here. Now the doors to Burma are wide open and people are scrambling to start up hotels and guesthouses for us.

Transportation here varies:

Taxi, motorcycle, walking, decrepit bus, and my favorite; bicycle rickshaw:

See the Gallery of Worldwide Photography for Your Own Projects here: http://bartnikowski.smugmug.com

See my Gallery of Worldwide Photography for Your Own Projects here:
http://bartnikowski.smugmug.com

Coming soon the actual video of the above  photo – i have to wait to get to a country where it doesn’t take 3 hours to upload a 3-minute video.

So back to Kindness and More Miracles: in the taxi on the way to my guesthouse from the airport I was so excited to be here I was hanging out the car window waving and smiling and taking photographs to all of Yangon and I didn’t notice my passport falling out of my camera bag. It was dark when we to the guesthouse thru the insane traffic (not many traffic lights so things get clogged up fast) and i didn’t lsiten to the tiny voice inside me that said – check the car again — my mind said oh i have evruthing – –

Stop Listen to the Body!

So I noticed it was gone after I checked in and started to panic. I must have left it at the airport – so back I go to the airport in another over-priced taxi but on the way I realized – no it fell out int he first taxi and a peace settled over me – I would get it back.

5 minutes later the phone rang in the car — my passport had been delivered back to my geusthouse.

Meet the kind people who helped me here

Travel Advice: never get in a taxi with a person who feels creepy. I knew when I looked at this man that I could trust him.

He was kind and he had heaps of friends: while he drove me into town he said hello to other drivers and chatted with them in the choked with traffic roadways – smiling the whole time.

This country is full of love and kindness. Except for maybe the military who control everthing but even that is thawing. Aung San Sui Kyi is having meetings with her former captors who kept her on house arrest. The louts.

AungsansuikyiBVote22

The military like to say she was free to go and that is true but they would have never let her back in Burma if she went to see her family in England. This is what can happen to large spirits. The Burmese love her. And the authorities find this annoying.

Fact: she was forced into house arrest after winning the people’s vote to put her in power 20 years ago. That’s when the barbed wire was installed around her home and her family in England forbidden to visit. Heinous. But she may be in command in a few years when they have another election. Sure hope so.

So I’ve been in Yangon for 5 days now and am finding new things to look at and people to talk with every day.

Check out more photos from Machu Picchu to the rooftop of the world in Nepal: http://bartnikowski.smugmug.com

Check out more photos from Machu Picchu to the rooftop of the world in Nepal: http://bartnikowski.smugmug.com

I am experiencing a tidal wave of goodwill towards me.

Barack Obama visited Myanmar, and the Burmese are now fond of us USA folk so come here now before anything screws that up. Their faces light up when I tell them I’m from USA — where else in the world are you gonna get that?

I am literally bowled over. People are asking to have their photograph taken with me – like the one above. I’m being called Madame and I finally like it: I feel like a quasi celebrity.

My favorite thing Obama has done is to come to Burma and make friends here. Never mind that he shouldn’t have kissed Aung San Sui Kyi as no one shows affection like that here except for teenagers in the park making out under their umbrellas to hide the fact that they are kissing. Cute.

The only challenge so far has been eating that prawn salad last night which resulted in getting the runs today but even that is not deterring me – I still took the local bus lurching over the road in downtown Yangon for about 3 miles.

And since I’m only paying $8 a night for a room with fan only and rather thin walls I can live it up at this posh place that charges $3 for a glass of juice and $4 for a caffe latte. And has a great view over the gardens.

The neighborhood is topnotch – a big public garden is steps away from my guesthouse where I plan to do yoga in the morning – Sule Pagoda is next door – see photo below – a golden tower of holiness that glows all day and tons of fascinating street life – you don’t even have to go anywhere but outside to see things you have never seen before:

Unusual Fruits, slinky skirts on all women, men in longyis, crumbling colonial architecture next to modern buildings, and poverty but not so horribly bad. Not as bad as Cambodia.

The best things so far:

Making friends with the Burmese staff and helping them with their English. See facebook page: Mary Bartnikowski – be my friend and I will be yours.

Seeing Shwe Dagon Temple in Yangon and feeling the astounding vibrancy penetrate my soul.

Check out: Photography from two trips around this planet earth here: http://bartnikowski.smugmug.com

Check out: Photography from two trips around this planet earth here: http://bartnikowski.smugmug.com

Moving to the Sule Pagoda neighborhood and being astonished by the rhythm of Yangon (some people call it Rangoon.) The food is delcious, the people are kind, there is no crime, and even though the streets aren’t clean I’ll take kindness over cleanliness any day.

I go to sleep to this view and I wake up to it too. Teashops, kind people, and fruit - thats all I need. http://bartnikowski.com

I go to sleep to this view. Teashops, kind people, and fruit – thats all I need. http://bartnikowski.com

Check out: http://bartnikowski.smugmug.com for more Astonishing Photography

Check out: http://bartnikowski.smugmug.com for more Astonishing Photography

The delicious food! Many times I am not sure what it is but it sure tastes good.

I’ll have more food photos and video — See my latest videos  here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/zestyzippy?feature=mhee

And my next issue of Vagabond Magazine will be out by mid-March, Check it out!   http://tinyurl.com/byg76kx

Write me, I’ll write you back.

Next Stop Nepal!

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Secrets of Cambodia

Mary with New Friends at OuMalay Guesthouse, SiemReap22Secrets of Cambodia

I extended my visa for another month, as I just couldn’t see myself crossing the border into Thailand. That’s the closest border to me so it would be easiest to get to – but I will be bussing to Bangkok for my flight to Burma later this month.

Burma. It is a place like no other place. Happy I’m going.

Have heard it’s challenging to find a guesthouse to stay at but if it’s a problem I will throw myself on the mercy of a temple and ask to stay with the monks and nuns. Surely they can relax the rules for me.

It’s a simple life here in Siem Reap. I have a richer life in some ways in Cambodia than I did in Northern Thailand – renting a small house in the mountains with a large view of the sun setting over clouds, hot springs, and waterfalls. My own 5 star view.

Angkor Wat, Sunset

Angkor Wat, Sunset

Here in Siem Reap, down the street from the 8th wonder of the world, Angkor Wat, I feel the mystical vibrations emanating from one of the holiest places on earth.

My jaw dropped when I saw this.

My jaw dropped when I saw this.

My favorite temple in Angkor Wat is Ta Prohm. Yes it was featured in the Tomb Raiders but its been here 800 years longer than when Angelina Jolie discovered it

My favorite temple in Angkor Wat is Ta Prohm. Yes it was featured in the Tomb Raiders but its been here 800 years longer than when Angelina Jolie discovered it

And I am paying $200 per month for my own room with bathroom.

No kitchen. But Ou Malay Guesthouse (with no sign) lets me put my fruit in their fridge. And I go to cafes and restaurants to do wifi and commune with my work. Yes it would be easier to have wifi at home but you know its been fun to get up and leave every morning – wifi is available all over Siem Reap – all you need to do is sit down and order a glass of carrot beet juice or a coffee or something.

The only thing is the music.

Today at the Blue Pumpkin where I was eating my dark chocolate one scoop of ice cream nestled on a sugar cone the music was on my nerves as it was Thai folk music and I dislike that kind of noise. It is a repetitive soap opera style of clanging banjos and primitive stringed instruments. I can’t hear my own voice in all that din.

At least I get electricity.

I can plug my computer into the wall here! Grateful for that. My appreciation for Power; the kind that comes from an electrical outlet has soared since leaving California.

Another thing:

Last week I was looking to get my hair trimmed and I went to a beauty salon and it was $15 to do a 5-minute job. That sounded too USA for me – nope.

So I went to a neighborhood salon where there was no English spoken and guess what, it was only$2 for a hair trim so I gave her a dollar tip and she did a fine job – and that was a good wage – it literally took 10 minutes.

Check out my Youtube videos on Cambodia here

And I will not pay $4.50 for a tiny jar of Skippy peanut butter either. Just because us foreigners like the stuff they jack it up in price –  I will buy pure peanuts and be happy with that. Besides the jars are always dusty.

Walk into any wat and usually you can chat up the monks

Walk into any wat and usually you can chat up the monks

Her family had the coldest juiciest coconuts in town. Every day I would visit them and they split open the coconut and stuck a straw in it for me - sublime.

Her family had the coldest juiciest coconuts in town. Every day I would visit them and they split open the coconut and stuck a straw in it for me – sublime.

Honoring the King's Death

Honoring the King’s Death in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

I met this little girl at Orchid Bungalows where I stayed for 6 days on Otres Beach

I met this little girl at Orchid Bungalows where I stayed for 6 days on the beach

Clean and serene - go here instead of Sihanoukville but don't tell anyone so we can keep it special

Clean and serene – go here instead of Sihanoukville but don’t tell anyone so we can keep it special: Otres Beach

Currently my favorite thing to eat is:

Fresh Pommelo  – it’s a gigantic grapefruit grown here in Southeast Asia — I eat it every day. Dazzlingly delicious. I’m eating it right now.

My diet has changed living here – it’s heaps of apples, bananas, dragon fruit, mangoes and mostly pommelo. I ate catfish barbecued from a street side stand and it was scrumptious but I need to do my pommelo run now.

So… come to Cambodia and discover her secrets:

The coast is not that developed outside of Sihanoukville. Otres Beach is the gem in the crown of the Southern Coast.

Kampot is small-town wonderful with its pepper crab, sunset river views, and friendliness. You can jump right in the river – it feels clean and silky.

Here are my picks for you:

Cozyna Hotel in Phnom Penh on the riverside.

Daughters of Cambodia – massage/mani/pedi for women only, lunch, wifi, AC and crafts for the rest of humanity. It’s a non-profit helping girls steer clear of human trafficking – support them.

Kampot – many nice places to eat – best prices on lodging and great value in Cambodia.

Otres Beach – Papa Pippo’s Guesthouse on the best part of the beach – authentic Italian food because real Italians run it – I met Papa Pippo himself and he is pure Italy – check it out.

Siem Reap: Rosy’s Guesthouse, Ou Malay Guesthouse – Check Out the Family I Stayed With Here, Peace Café

Eat at: Central Cafe on Pub street – Café Mie (see my video) – super good fresh fusion Cambodian/European food. A Cambodian chef owns and runs it – young whippersnapper who is enthusiastic and European trained – go there now.

Enjoying the moment – it’s a practice.  Gotta go get that pommelo now.

Big Blast of Light and laugher coming your way from Southeast Asia.

Angkor Wat soaking up the Love and Beauty

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The Truth About Cambodia

Christmas Eve I biked over to Ta Prohm before the hordes of people arrived. No problem at 5:30AM - a flock of mystical-sounding birds cawing and the sun rising over my head in the enormous silk-cotton and fig trees.

Christmas Eve I biked over to Ta Prohm before the hordes of people arrived in Angkor Wat. No problem at 5:30AM – the place was filled with birds cawing and the sun rising in the tree boughs over my head.

I’ve been in Cambodia for 7 weeks now and traveled all over this captivating country.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

You can’t rent a motorbike in Siem Reap – so the only option is a bike. Tuktuk drivers will ask 9,000 times a day if you need a ride. With a bike under me they don’t ask anymore. Yay.

You can rent motorbikes outside of Siem Reap in other towns of Cambodia for about $5 a day.

There are no buses in the towns. Taxis cost almost the same as USA – my rule of thumb is if it costs the same price as the USA I don’t need it. I’m in Asia to pay Asian prices – not to pay USA prices. And that goes double for buying Skippy peanut butter. It costs $5 for a tiny jar of it. Please! I’d finish that in one sitting.

Guesthouses sell standard to luxury long distance bus tickets and you’ll get the same price as going to the station to buy it. Usually you can get some honest advice too. Language can be a problem so ask the ex-pats who have guesthouses to tell you how to get somewhere.

They know; they live here.

Angkor Wat. I was surprised by the hordes of tourists but hey I’m a tourist too. And I picked probably the most crowded week of the year to get my 3-day pass.

On the days I visited; all of humanity was there.

Angkor Wat attracts tons of tourists to see the sun rise over the temples

Angkor Wat attracts tons of tourists to see the sun rise over the temples

DCIM109GOPRO

But!

I had one of the best times in my life – how?

Get up early! Yes, at 4AM. I rode my bike in the dark with a headlamp you might want to employ a tuktuk driver. They show up where you are staying and take you over to the temples. I hired one once for the sunset at Angkor Wat but the other days I biked. More fun and slower.

So there I was riding the black velvet road on my way to Ta Prohm temple the one with the trees growing out of it.

I was the only one there!

Christmas Eve at the temples at 6AM - mystical moment of bliss

Christmas Eve at the temples at 6AM – mystical moment of bliss

It was dark and not lit up so I was glad to have my flashlight. Two other girls appeared; I called out to them, hey guys where’s the main temple here? Two North Americans, who also were enthusiastic to get up early, joined me and we shot photos, chatted, and had a blast.

Then we wandered off doing our own photo shoots before the hordes arrived. It was mystical to see the golden light dawn in the towering treetops over my head. I felt happy and full of shine.

Me and my yoga matt reflecting in the magical temple vibe

Me and my yoga matt reflecting in the magical temple vibe

It wasn’t that way at the sunrise at Angkor Wat with 12,000 people. Ok I exaggerate maybe it was just two thousand people but again I got there early. And bring a yoga matt to sit on so you’ll have more breathing space. The sun rises over Angkor Wat and the reflection in the lotus pond is divine and otherworldly. One of the most exquisite things I’ve ever seen in my life. Don’t miss it.

Discover delicious and astonishing photography of Angkor Wat that I shot this month click here for the app in the iTunes store

vagabondissue2

Captivating Cambodia, Issue 2 of Vagabond Magazine is in the iTunes store now for your iPad, check it out…be inspired to get that plane ticket and go discover the world.

As Yoon Leem from Korea said, after reading Vagabond, “Mary is the adventure guru, what are you waiting for, get your ticket and follow her!”

Intricate carvings of women adorning the ancient walls left me breathless. And I could get right next to them and see all the detail. Top level of Angkor Wat.

Intricate carvings of women adorning the ancient walls left me breathless. And I could get right next to them and see all the detail. Top level of Angkor Wat.

Sunset is also a wonderful time to see the temples. You can cuddle up with your pillow and wait for the end of the day.

The yoga mat is also good for having picnics far from the madding crowds. You can find shady areas to sit and munch and look carefully at a temple view or lotus pond.

Elephant Terrace at Angkor Thom

Elephant Terrace at Angkor Thom

DCIM109GOPRO

This divine pond was radiating the love energy - I almost died and went to a new realm just seeing it. Early morning is best as the blossoms open invitingly to the sky.

This pond was radiating the love energy – I almost died and went to a new realm just seeing it. Early morning is best as the blossoms open invitingly to the sky.

Don’t miss the lotus pond- this is the biggest one I’ve ever seen in my life. Bigger than the Paul Gauguin garden in Tahiti.

Discover the amazing photography that Cambodia inspired here

More facts:

You will eat healthy here. You’ll find farmers markets filled with fresh fruit to make your innards happy. Here’s my breakfast, dragon fruit and bananas.

breakfastinsiemreap

Cambodia has wifi in most coffee shops and restaurants now – yahoo – that makes me happy. We’ll see what happens in Burma if I can still stay connected.

The roads are not always smooth, for example the road between Sihanoukville and Kep/Kampot. You could rent a motorbike but you’d still have the craters, crevices, and dust clouds. I needed a massage after that spine-crushing ride over potholed roads. I’ll be going back to Thailand soon overland so we’ll see how that goes crossing the border from Cambodia. It should be easier than doing it the other way as every one wants to see Angkor Wat and I’ve all ready seen it and am leaving. Perhaps there is less tout activity on the Thai side too.

Kampot, Kep, and Otres Beach don’t have strong Internet connection – probably OK in Sihanoukville if you can stomach the litter and touts. Go to Otres beach instead – it is about 6 kilometers south of the big Sihanoukville area. Quieter and prettier too. Or one of the islands, which I did not get to.

I loved Kampot – fresh seafood comes in from Kep and it has a small town feel that is friendly and non-touristy.

Kep – fun for an outing but maybe don’t ride your motorbike there like I did. Traffic on the dusty skinny road to get from Kampot to Kep is scary. Tourist vans and drivers who have just discovered motor vehicles are not all that interested in staying on their side of the road or giving much leeway to bikers. Glad I arrived with all my skin intact.

Yes I wore my helmet – always do.

Phnom Penh – I didn’t hear anything about it until I stayed there 10 days. Many great restaurants, cheap high quality places to stay, and good markets if that’s your thing – check out the veggie and fish market – real stinky but fascinating for 5 minutes if you can stand the stench.

Read,

I’d Like a Stench-Free Room, Please

in Vagabond

click here: http://tinyurl.com/byg76kx

My recommendations for Phnom Penh:
Cozyna Hotel on the riverside
$18 per room AC + wifi in double room. Good bed, super clean.
Daughters of Cambodia: for eating, massages, wifi, handmade items
Blue Pumpkin for breakfast/good coffee/real yogurt/on the riverfront
Markets galore, Central Market within walking distance to the hotel

Russian Market is a short tuk tuk ride away

Massages everywhere for cheap $5 to $9
Visit the kings palace –
He had just died so we couldn’t go inside it.

There are 2 cons:
The insane traffic, which will not stop for you
Pedestrians don’t have the right of way
I think I’m still alive because they don’t want to kill tourists
It would be bad for business.
And tuktuk drivers who sleep in their cabs then wake up and ask you if you want a ride 200 times a day. Go back to bed!

Anyway I notice I have not left this country and extended my visa for another month. Glad of it; otherwise I would have been traveling on Christmas Eve instead of being at Angkor Wat dancing around

my favorite temple Ta Prohm. What fun!

angkortreemaydance

Cambodians are super friendly and want to learn English and try out their English on you. But be sure you speak so slowly so there are no misunderstandings in communication.

Their smiles are genuine – I’m tripping out on the love I feel here.
No matter what I do at my guesthouse the Cambodian family who owns the joint is treating me like royalty. I think I’m the only white honky there. They don’t know much English and I know far less Cambodian but we try to understand each other; the unspoken love is radiating out from them.

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Don’t miss this country – it gets under your skin and you don’t want to leave! I’m still here and it’s been 7 weeks.

Thats when you know you are in the right place. When you can’t imagine leaving it.

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The Astonishing Ingram Family

 

Following After Trek

I met the Ingrams at my favorite restaurant in Pai, Thailand. I marveled at how happy the family was with two young sons eating lunch together, before I said anything. Then we started talking and I was astounded by their courage and heart-breaking story.

You can’t miss this book, by Jarrett Ingram, whenever I find a book that I simply can’t stop reading I have to tell everyone and Following After Trek is it!

Don’t miss it as this book will make you laugh and cry and give you wisdom on living life fully and totally from your heart. Jarrett’s experience of losing his son, Trek, their third child is told in vivid detail and I felt spiritually recharged and revitalized after reading his story based on the true life facts.

I have never met anyone like the Ingram Family. Overcoming their hardship; they are shining their love out to the world and we are fortunate to bask in their wisdom and grace.

Reading this book is like being with the Ingrams and experiencing their remarkable spirits.

Get the book here on Amazon, hard copy and for Kindle, and on Jarrett’s site.

http://www.jarrettingram.com

link for book on amazon-

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0985595833

Read Chelsea’s blog Our Sonny Life on their epic journey.

http://www.oursonnylife.com

chelseatrekjarrettfamilychelseajarrettkids22

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