Things I Will and Will Not Miss About Southeast Asia

After making similar lists about South America and Oceania while waiting for my flights to the next destinations, I made this my farewell-to-this-continent tradition. It gave me time to reflect on my experiences in different regions and to appreciate what I had liked and disliked before moving on to the next leg of the journey. The notebook and pen again appeared in my hands as I waited for my flight out of Bangkok to Milan via Jordan and I thought about my time in Southeast Asia.

Everyone should carry some emergency cash, even the monks.

Things I Will Miss About Southeast Asia:

-Seeing monks in robes wandering about town, occasionally doing unexpected things like withdrawing money from ATMs

-The shopping (second-hand bookstores, custom made clothing shops, and pedestrian marketplaces)

-All the food (street food – from chopped fruit in a bag to fried-before-your-eyes Pad Sew; spicy coconut curries; 24 hour pho restaurants; Malaysian roti canai; banana vanilla milkshakes from the Blue Pumpkin in Siem Reap; and oh-so-much more)

-Snorkelling and underwater coral gardens

-Spending time aboard longboats and junkships

-The smell of tea and strawberries in the highlands

Traffic in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Things I Will Not Miss About Southeast Asia:

Trying to cross the road in Vietnam

Miri, Borneo

-Sharing my swim space with reef sharks and sea lice/jellyfish

-The surprising number of bees in the rainforests of Brunei

-Sweating even while in the shower due to the suffocating humidity

-Worrying that every mosquito that bit me after 5pm was giving me malaria

Thoughts on Tourist Towns: Aguas Calientes and Siem Reap

After reading this post by Michael Hodson over at Go See Write, I got to thinking about tourist towns. Some places get on the tourist map thanks to their proximity to major tourist attractions rather than for their own merits. These places then get slammed with criticism for being ‘tourist towns’ that don’t offer any authentic travel experiences.

After visiting Aguas Calientes in Peru, which sits at the base of the mountain under Machu Picchu, and then Siem Reap in Cambodia, just outside of Angkor Wat, I will ignore the gripes about such places and judge them for myself in the future.

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Phnom Penh and The Other Wonder of Cambodia


noun \ˈwən-dər\

1   a : a cause of astonishment or admiration : marvel     b : miracle
2      : the quality of exciting amazed admiration
3   a : rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience      b : a feeling of doubt or uncertainty”

-Definition, Merriam-Webster

I had arrived in Cambodia not knowing what to expect. I had heard both rants and raves from all sorts of people. To be honest, I had expected it to be a lot like Thailand, but with less infrastructure and more Angkor Wat. What I found was an incredibly flat land of deltas, bayous, clay dirt and land mines, with a population full of smiles despite the tragedy of recent history.

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