Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

From The Daily Post.

I dug this up in the very deep photo archives.

I really need to put my photos in an external hard drive.

Anyways this is from hotel window from Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan from 2007. It’s been years since I’ve been there. Thinking about coming back just to enjoy a little more (I only had BARELY two days there :-/). I remembered when I first got to Tokyo, I remember how it was clean, not because there was almost no trash on the floor, but also how the shapes in the urban planing was clean.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

From Daily Post

April 2012

The first picture I took when I was going to South East Asia. First stop, a long layover at Hong Kong.

It’s the picture of the sunrise from the plane and we were about to land within an hour. I remembered that initial feeling of excitment and adventure mixed with refreshing and free — something I haven’t felt in a long time. I remembered the “rules” people told me…

Person A: don’t talk to anyone you don’t know.
Boyfriend’s sister-in-law: (snickers) she’ll have no one to talk to!
Me: you don’t know what you’re talking about!

Why are people who have never traveled before (or even left town for the weekend) giving me advice? When I was in the plane heading for Hong Kong, I thought “thank god I don’t have to listen to their rules being thousands of miles away.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

Love this challenge because I get the opportunity to post my favorite flowers — LOTUS FLOWER!

I confess, I know it’s a photo challenge but I decided to do not just one but two photos!

I love lotuses because I love how something so beautiful and perfect would grow out of mud! Also I love the symbolism of Lotus across different cultures.

Egyptian: Rebirth and Sun

Buddhist: Rebirth, Purification, Enlightenment, Rising above desire and attachment

Hinduism: Prosperity, Divinity, Purity

One who does all work as an offering to the Lord, abandoning attachment to the results, is as untouched by sin (or Karmic reaction) as a lotus leaf is untouched by water. (5.10). Thus Lotus is a symbol of purity and enlightenment amid ignorance (the smutty swamps in which it grows).” (source:  5th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita by Lord)

Compiling my South East Asia entries

It took me a while to get around making entries for every single city I visited but I DID IT!

So to make it more organized here it goes :-)

1) Hong Kong

I

II

III

IV

I wasn’t too crazy about Hong Kong. Wanted to leave early and head to Bangkok–which I did!

2. Bangkok

Ia, Ib

IIa, IIb

III

This city was so much fun! Wish I stayed longer! Didn’t get a chance to go to the floating markets though, a princess died the week of my arrival. Until next time Bangkok (and maybe explore a couple other cities in Thailand too!)

3. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Day one

Angkor Wat: A, B

Day two

Check out photobucket for more pictures!

4) Phnom Penh


I

II

We arrived here on Khmer New Year. Significantly less locals because they all went back to their hometown this time of year.
And this was how I learned avocados don’t grow abundantly in South East Asia.

More Phnom Penh Pics.

5) Sihanoukville


More at photobucket.

6) Chau Doc

Photobucket album

7) Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Photobucket Album

So here is the condensed list folks! Enjoy!

Think I got bitten by the travel bug–ouch!

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — ONLY LESS THAN 24 HOURS FOLKS!

This is the last of the South East Asia series. Coming up is the weekend trip at Anza Borrego.

If you ever been to Paris, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a little reminiscent of Paris. We arrived at 13:00 and I left the following morning at 7:30 because my flight was at 11. Would like to stick around HCMC longer but my boyfriend has never been to Vietnam and I didn’t want to spoil it for him.

Road to Saigon.


Crossing the Delta.


View from my hotel


City Hall


Opera House


Post Office


Interior of Notre Dame


Interior of the Ben Thanh Market.


My last night. In fact, everyone was going separate ways. Some were going back to their home country, some decided to explore Vietnam on their own. Some stuck with the group all the way through Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.


The following morning on the way to the airport. Thought this motorbike picture was funny. You’ll see plenty of motorbikes with families and their dogs like it’s us American families (plus dog) in our mini-van!

For more pictures check-out my photobucket!

ONLY 48 HOURS IN VIETNAM!!

Here I go again still posting pictures from Southeast Asia even though it’s been 3 months. That’s crazy how time went by so fast. I promise I’ll compile a more organized list of the places I went in Southeast Asia.

Even though it’s been 3 months since my SEA trip, I’ll think of posting these as reliving my moments.

I still keep in touch with the people I traveled with on Facebook and I remember one mentioned they were going to the Bahamas with family over the summer before the new school year starts and the other one was going to be in Australia after spendin 3 months volunteering in South Africa.

I was so excited to leave Sihanoukville and we took a van to Chau Doc, Vietnam. If you’re from Vietnam, you probably have heard of Chau Doc — it’s a small town by the delta and it’s a good overnight stop leaving from Cambodia going to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) City. This is my second to last city before heading back home.

We took a van all the way to the Cambodia-Vietnam border and walked across the border. I think it’s an awesome feeling WALKING from one country to another. Sounds dorky, I mean there is no line or a big flashy sign saying “Welcome to (name of country)” but just the idea of WALKING to a country feels adventurous already. Something brag-worthy to tell your friends. So far in my trip, I have walked the Thailand-Cambodia border and the Cambodia-Vietnam border.

Also when crossing the Cambodia-Vietnam border, the scenery just changes. Vietnam was more greener — maybe because it is a coastal country.



On the way

Crossing the Cambodia-Vietnam Border

Town of Chau Doc


The fish market

1 dollar pho (1 dollar = 20,000 dong)

We rented a motorcycle and rode to the top of the mountain and admire the sunset

For more pictures check out my photobucket!

It was just a simple day of relaxing and just slow traveling. The night ended with karaoke :-).

Sihanoukville

It’s been a while since I posted from my Cambodia trip. I’m pretty backlogged. Still got two more cities to cover!

I thought Sihanoukville was very touristy. Thank god, we rented a boat to go island hopping, snorkeling, and feeding the fishes the following day.

The water was like being in a bathtub on a winter day — very hot. I got sunburned after my time in Sihanoukville.

Even though the pictures look like paradise, I didn’t like the people at the hotel and the lady who booked our boat rental — they take your money to the point you feel guilty.

I guess I enjoyed island hopping to get away from people LIKE THEM!

I remembered on our first day in Sihanoukville when my group and I reserved a boat rental, we were told it was going to be 20 dollars per head. So I gave the lady 20 dollars. The next day when we were meeting up to get the boat, the lady said “I think I mis-charged people. I told people it was going to be 15 dollars per head but it was really 20 dollars per head, so I need 5 extra dollars from each of you.” She comes up to me telling me that I only gave her 15 dollars instead of 20 — I told her, I gave her 20 dollars and I got no change.” I did not want to waste my time arguing or making her remember, so I gave her five dollars.

Another moment was the day when we left Sihanoukville. I was in the lobby waiting for the rest of my group and I ordered a cup of coffee which was one dollar. I gave her 20 dollars and she gave me back 19 dollars in change. A few moments later, she comes up to me and tells me that I never paid for my coffee and I told her I did because I gave her a 20 and she gave me change. She told me to go through my wallet because she bets I had a 20 in my wallet. I opened my wallet and counted my change and she still didn’t believe me. Her other coworker was giving me a hard time about it too and said that she got me on video camera. One of the people in my group told the ladies to go and check the video camera and they left and they never came back. I guess they felt silly coming back asking for another dollar. Before I left the hotel, the manager stopped me telling me he was sorry that his employees were giving me a hard time and that I did pay for the coffee.

But sorry Mr. Hotel Manager, but I prefer hearing sorry from your employees personally. They left me a very bad taste in Sihanoukville. They were fuming and giving me dirty looks as I was sitting the lobby waiting for my folks.

A really invaluable advice is when it comes to handling money and you know you already paid them, stand your ground that you did pay. If you’re not sure, then pay. I know it was silly to not pay the girl another dollar but I was pretty fed up with people bullying and guilting me into giving them another dollar.

Anyways, I’m definitely NOT coming back to Sihanoukville. I’ve never disliked a city so much.

Any cities or countries you despise and NEVER want to go back??

Phnom Penh part II

So many pictures of Phnom Penh!

Anyways we went to Toul Sleng to start off and toured around. This use to be a high school and then it turned into a prison during the Khmer Rouge regime. Definitely need a tour guide to make the experience of Toul Sleng come alive. Each and every tour guide has a story to tell during the 70s whether they were working in the countryside and/or losing their family members — everyone has a story to tell.

Afterwards, we went to the Killing Fields. The people I traveled with told me they’ve been to Auschwitz and what they saw in the Killing Fields was much worst than Auschwitz. In Auschwitz, there’s nothing; in the Killing Fields on the ground, you see bones and articles of clothing in under each step you walk on.

Then explored the city center. Some people went to the National Museum. I wanted to go to the Royal Palace. Unfortunately some parts of the Palace were closed. Maybe because it was Khmer New Year that day. During Khmer New Year, locals leave the city and visit their families in the village so Phnom Penh was unusually empty.

Heading to Phnom Penh

No luxury tour bus in this trip — not ever! We took a coach bus (think Greyhound) from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. It’s quite an experience being with locals and Khmer karaoke.

Not exactly what I was expecting. We were looking forward to hopping on the “singing bus” and singing the whole way to Phnom Penh. As you can see here, I can’t read that. My favorite thing about karaoke are the background images telling you the story. The melodramatic acting and story was entertaining by itself!

The coach bus stops midway at some city. During break, we checked out the street food.

To answer someone’s comment on Facebook — yes, the reason why people are so skinny here is because there is no chocolate around the corner.

Anyways, enjoy the Cambodian landscape! FYI, most of the pictures are from the bus so it was kind of hard to take pictures while in motion.

Last night in Siem Reap

Trying to post my vacation pictures on WordPress takes more discipline than I thought. I have to really sit my butt to write a substantial post and add pictures. Today I told myself I couldn’t go and leave the house until I write on my blog. This morning I went outside — went for a run to return a movie at the Red Box kiosk and needed buy milk and bread at the store anyways.

I go home and turn on the laptop and then I make breakfast, cleaned up the bedroom floor (dust and mop), put clothes in the washing machine, ate breakfast while watching the news, put my clothes in the dryer, put my bedsheets and towels in the washing machine, check my e-mail and reply to some e-mails and chat with a friend regarding the New York trip.

I kept telling myself that I couldn’t leave the house until I type a WordPress entry and it was so tempting to go outside and window shop at the mall or bring the laptop to a coffee shop to write but I knew I would probably still browse around until I’m tired and go back home.

So I finally write a WordPress entry and uploaded the pictures and I’ve got some ways to go because there’s so many pictures of Angkor I wanted to share. Then when I press “Publish”, I was a little disappointed how the gallery turned out and I wasn’t sure why the thumbnails looked portrait even though the picture itself was landscape.

I thought maybe I’ll do better the next post so I make another post with a gallery and it’s still funky looking so I needed the change the layout of my blog and it looks so much better.

Why yes, I’m ranting. So two entries later, I did yoga (trying to make it a daily habit whether in the house or in the studio) and decided to pick up some Japanese takeout for dinner and did another entry.

The longest part of doing the entry is uploading the pictures and making sure they all look presentable. There has been times I’ve uploaded multiple pictures and I get FRUSTRATED when one of them doesn’t upload properly.

I guess that’s just me and I’m anal and it takes me a while to write up an entry.

Anyways, here are pictures of my last night in Siem Reap.

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The cultural village
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Lok Lak
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The Tomb Raider cocktail — We had dinner at the Red Piano. This is Angelina Jolie’s cocktail. I love how fresh the lime is!
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It was hard to take a picture of the menu..
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Down the street from the Red Piano restaurant was bar called Temple Bar.

Why did I have Beer Lao in Cambodia you ask? Well I wanted to try beer in different countries. Since I wasn’t going to Laos, I thought I’ll give this beer a try. I find Beer Lao very hoppy and wish I had some spicy Lao food to go with this.
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Showing off the prices at a bar. At night Angkor Beer is 50 cents (and it’s like that at night at most places).

Temple Bar does have a lot of tourists though. I told my roommate about my time in Siem Reap when I came back. He went to Cambodia himself in 2005 and he tells me that it was sleepy town with not much to do. When I told him my version, it blew him away how we went to the bar and stayed up later. Well…looks like there’s been a lot of tourism in Siem Reap since 2005.