Monday, May 01, 2006

The End is Nigh

The beach in Southern Cambodia was really nice and a good end to our traveling. We went on a day trip to go snorkeling but found that the coral and water off the shores of Cambodia are not as spectacular as in Thailand. But the water was warm and it was great to float in the salty blue one last time before heading home. We basically relaxed most for our stay on Serendipity beach, it was definitely mellow.

Cloud Nine Guesthouse is where we stayed, we had a nice bungalow with a good view also.

The really nice beach where we spent our day trip

Nice clouds, ok I'm going to be really geeky now...Those are cumulus with some virtical development going on the bottom and you can spot the alto stratus on the top right

It was sad to see the small children who go from one end of the beach to the other hoping to sell bracelets and other things. They do this all day long, they don't go to school. It is also hard saying "no" to the countless beggars, some missing limbs. It is estimated that 600 people a month die or are wounded by land mines in Cambodia. After all that this country has gone through fairly recently it is sad that the killing just wont end. In Pol Pots Khmer Rouge regime starting in 1975 an estimated 1.5-2 million people were executed or died from starvation and forced labor. All because they may have worn glasses, were educated or professionals, affiliated with former governments or were of certain religions or ethnicities. These people threatened Pol Pots twisted ideas for a strictly agrarian society. These people died for no reason at all. And just now Cambodia is picking up the pieces, what a strong people.

I have done a lot of reflecting and have found that I can only look fondly on our travels and adventures, that I enjoyed every moment. I feel so fortunate to have been able to experience so much. I can't believe that wonderful time of my life traveling in SE Asia has reluctantly come to an end. But I do not resent coming home, I look forward to seeing all the wonderful people I love...

there is no telling how much I have learned but here are a few things that stand out in my mind:

Life is unfair

That $1 is 40 Thai Baht is 4 Malaysian Ringgit is 10,000 Lao Kip is 4000 Cambodian Riel

That I have grown to hate, Thai, Cambodian, Lao pop music!

Most people here work harder than I ever will

That one grain of rice is hours of hard labor

That the people who deserve the most credit are usually the ones who get the least of all

A smile really can get you far

That children can be robbed of their childhoods

That life can mean something very different than what I am used to

That even in terrible conditions, people can be content and laugh

That I don't like spicy Thai food, and yes I have tried and tried

That we need so very little and that we waste so very much

That four hours in an air-con bus is a very different experience than four hours in a non air-con bus packed to the brim

That my endurance can span to levels that I never thought possible

safety in places like this is something still to be learned

People don't have to agree to get along

That a good book can affect my mood, as well as a bad one

And those are just a few things, some I knew of before but to experience that they are true is completely different.

All in all its been great and I can't wait to get out traveling again. I can envision Indonesia and Africa, but also I want to spend a year or so in Mexico. Then Central and South America I definitely want to see. But then there is also Europe and India. Lets not forget that Dan wants to go to Greenland...burrr. There is just so much to see, but we have our lives to live out yet ...

Alright so here is one last sunset, ahhh so pretty.

Traveling Book Worm

Well as it stands I have read 25 and a half books whilst journeying.

In case you don't believe me or you just want to read a good book,I have compiled a list from "My Favorites" at the top to "Don't bother in my opinion" at the bottom.

My favorites:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coleho
This book is the epitome of a great novel in my opinion. Everyone should follow their dreams and find just exactly what it is that is their destiny.

I have forgotten most of the movie but the book is enchanting. I fell in love with these characters and the simplicity and underlying complexity of the plot.

Jitterbug Perfume by none other than Tom Robbins
There are few novelists that can successfully evoke so much joy of reading for me. This book is no exception. I loved it to bits.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Authur Golden
Ahh so beautifully written, and convincing too. Wonderful.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This fantastic tale is brought to life with an incredible believability that I loved to read. It made me not just cry but bawl.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquise
It took me a long time to decide how much I liked this book so seeped in mystic unreality and the realistic tragedies that is life. I know that it is really good because even months later, I keep thinking about it.

Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime by Mark Haddon
What a beautifully written book, I was moved.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
Yossarian lives! What a great book! I loved the style and truth it encompasses.

Kafka on the Shore by Japanese author Haruki Murakami
This is one of the more weird books I have ever read, yeah maybe the most weird. From talking cats to an Oedipus complex, a parallel universe in a lost forest to a painting on the wall, you want a roller coaster? Pick up this book.

Lonely Planet... On the Edge : Adventurous Escapades from Around the World Edited by Cecil Kuhne
This book is a bunch of edited short stories about travelers and their adventures and it was amazing to read what some have got to experience (or endure) from locations all around the world.

Sex Slaves : The Trafficking of Women in Asia by Louise Brown
Non-Fiction. This book is heart wrenching and was very difficult to read. There are literally hundreds of thousands of women being forced into prostitution in Asia in a trade and society of never-ending double standards. It is hard to believe how some of these women have the strength and will to survive.

Victim of the Aurora by Thomas Keneally
A wonderful juxtaposition of being in such sun and heat and imagining the never-ending darkness and biting chill of Antarctic wintertime, really well written.

The Spartan by Valerio Massimo Manfredi
A very well-written book about life for the Spartans and the wars that they fought in, it had a bit of everything, I really liked it.

The Divinci Code by Dan Brown
We had to see what all the fuss was about and although I liked some of the theories brought forth, I am not fond of a thriller-suspense.

Caves, Coffins and Chaos by John Spies
The owner of Cave Lodge in Northern Thailand has some amazing stories

The Happy Prince And Other Stories by Oscar Wilde
This set of fairy tales is really nice to read, some though are rather dark but I liked them as a whole, he is such a good story-teller.

Incas: The Puma's Shadow by AB Daniel
Takes place in 16th Century Peru and it was an interesting book but the cliche main character falls in love with invading conqueror annoyed me. This is the first book of a three part series.

Ann Frank the Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition
This edition includes previously unpublished material and was heart wrenching. So personal. What an atrocity.

The Don't bother section starts here:

High Society by Ben Elton
Some interesting theories to the positives of legalization of drugs but the melodramatics of the story didn't do it for me.

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
This book disappointed me with its boring nature. A pretty complete story about a poor servant girl but not overly interesting.

Eleven Minutes By Paulo Coleho
Although I loved the Alchemist, this book failed for me. I think that the author was trying to be revolutionary about sex and it just didn't work.

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
What a great and sexy movie, what a bad and long book! The book and movie have little in common but the characters names, but this is probably good since the book sucked and dragged on.

Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan.
A good idea for a story gone totally and horrendously wrong.

The Dubliners by James Joyce (I read half and this only counts because it is a series of short stories)
From the likes of it Dubliners lived very boring lives.

Sisterhood: The untold story by Joash Moo
I wanted to gain some sort of understanding of what life is like for a Transvestite but got only jumbled and un-insightful stories here.


Right now I am half way through Dr Jeckel and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
and am liking it, I always thought that it was written in the perspective of Dr. Jeckel though.

I have loved being able to read whatever I have wanted and both Dan and I have always had a book with us. I think that it really added to our trip. Sometimes when I think of a specific area we have traveled, I think of what I was reading at the time.