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My life is not an adventure, it’s a JOURNEY

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. Time well needed and well spent. One of the things that I thought about is a phrase that so many people have said to me since I decided to temporarily leave the country. ” Wow, your life is an adventure” or ” You are going on an adventure!”  I honestly cringe when people say that to me. Now I know exactly why…….

“Living life in another country is no walk in the park.” 

When you are visiting another country it’s all fun and games. It’s exploring, relaxing,  and eating good food. It’s all about finding the beauty in a place with a limited amount of time to do it. It’s about making connections with yourself and what’s familiar and unfamiliar to you. Ahhh, now that’s the life! That’s the dream some people must imagine my life to be like. NOPE! Not exactly. It’s a little more intense…..

  • Like walking around hungry for hours because I can’t find a restuarant to eat at that I can actually understand what’s on the menu. Can I have SOME English, pictures, ANYTHING! I’m hungry!

  • Not having a good day? Too bad, the stares don’t stop, the sad attempts to have basic conversations in English don’t stop, the jaw dropping expressions don’t stop, the questions don’t stop!

  • Have banking needs? Good luck getting English assistance and don’t be in a rush to send money home, it’s going to take time. Lots of time.

  • When are my clothes gonna dry?? In southeast Asia, most people don’t have dryers in thier homes. I’m apart of the “most” group, so that means sometimes waiting countless hours and days for clothes to dry in the humidity and in the cold.

  • Mold has completly taken over my life! Moisture is such a big problem due to humidity and climate that you just have to surrender to the Gods!!

  • I don’t remember what life was like without google translate! I use it to talk to people in the stores, read my mail, read street signs, read posters on the street, and the list goes on! It has become a way of life.

  • Grocery shopping is like “Pick and Pray!” Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t.  When in doubt, leave without!

I must admit that the major struggle comes with the language barrier. I have found that even if you know the language there is still a barrier if you are not a native. Some things just simply can’t be translated. Everyone’s experience living abroad is different based on the country you live in and the individual situation.

“THE JOURNEY”

I view life in general as a journey. What I am doing by living abroad is apart of my destiny. It goes far beyond the “adventure” of it all. Sure, I expereince some adventures along the way but there is a method to my madness. An order in which things have happened and will happen. Each step is calculated, considered, and contoured to directly influence myself and others. I want to be responsible for conducting a life that I can be proud of. A life that will inspire those around me. Each day is different, each expereince is motivating, each cycle changes. It’s a series of ups and downs, ins and outs. Through the happy times, the sad times, and the devestating times I find strength. I’m choosing to live life on my own terms. To navigate the path that God has given me, as he leads and guides me along the way. I’m loving every minute of it! I couldn’t always say that, so I’m grateful I can today. This journey, with some adventures, is the best of life as I know it. I stand proud and accept the challenge!

 

I’m here, now what? Things you MUST do when exploring a new city!

So you made it to your destination! You’re tired but excited and you didn’t plan a THING! You have no idea what to see or what to do and until now, you didn’t give that part much thought. Well, I must admit that I’m a planner, so I can’t completely relate. However, I hardly ever plan every detail and I have shown up in a city or two without a plan at all. I may have even shown up in a city I didn’t even know I would be in…..oops!

So listen, I’ve come up with a short list of things you should do when exploring a new place. I love this list mainly because of one reason, it usually allows me to connect with locals and experience daily life. Ok, maybe that’s two but who’s counting! lol Let’s talk about it!

 PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

I learned early on that public transportation was the way to go! During my first couple of trips I spent alot of time and money jumping in taxis. After living in China and traveling in China I learned the hard way to stay out of taxis! I got ripped off several times, stuck in traffic, and just frustrated with trying to help the driver figure out where to go. There are times when they are helpful and you need them. As a rule of thumb I just rely on them as a last resort, not a first option.

Public transportation is a great way to connect with locals and get a different view of the city you are in.  You can explore neighborhoods and maybe even see places that interest you that you where unaware of! I’m a lover of Garrett’s popcorn. During one of my trips to Bangkok I saw a local with a Garrett’s popcorn bag and I lost it! I had no idea they had locations in Bangkok! So I went to him and demanded he tell me where I could buy some! LOL Well, maybe I just asked nicely if he could tell me where I could get some. He was very nice and helpful and that night I sat in my hostel eating my Garrett’s popcorn that I didn’t even know exsited there hours before. All because I rode the skytrain!  By the way, Bangkok’s public transport is great! So get out and see the city from a different view by using public tranportation. It will save you lots of money too! DISCLAIMER: Be careful about riding city buses! Especially if you don’t know the language. Although they are cheap, they are not always easy to navigate. I strongly believe that buses are for the locals! lol I’m all about taking the chance and giving it a try, within reason!

 

LOCAL GROCERY STORES

Going to the local grocery store is a must! It’s usually the first thing I do in a new place or any place for several reasons. One being that I always stock up on water before I get out and about. I never drink the water in a foreign country even if it’s drinkable. I suggest you don’t either. Generally, your body does not have enough time to adjust to possible parasites and toxins in foriegn water. So, what might not make the locals sick, might make you sick. Keep that in mind.

Another reason I like going to the local grocery store is to see what local food or snacks they sell. It gives you a sense of the meals they prepare and I always see something that is interesting! I like to try to figure out what things are and ask questions to the locals I see in the store. I never leave without picking up a local snack to try!

LOCAL COFFEE SHOPS OR LIVE MUSIC VENUES

I love music! Music brings people together on so many levels. I can’t count the conversations I have had with people at music venues around the world. It’s something about music that connects people no matter where you are from. Coffee shops and live music venues are a great way to connect with locals and other travellers. It also helps that I don’t mind picking up the mic and joining in on the fun!

Little Big Ben

DOWNTOWN (THE CITY)

The downtown area is very fun to explore. It’s usually the heart of the area. Most of the time you will find markets, live music, shopping and sights to see! There have been times when I just didn’t feel like doing much exploring, so I decided to just hit the downtown area and I felt fulfilled.

SHOPPING MALLS

I’m not a big shopper. When I visit shopping malls as I travel it is to people watch, look at the fashion selections, and find good places to eat! I might even pick up a souvenir or two. Although I usually get them in the downtown markets! However, its also great to look at different mall structures and get use to local currency.

VISTOR CENTERS

Vistor centers are the way to go!! I was so missing out early on in my travels. When I visited Tokyo I had the best experience at a vistor center. They were very helpful with directions and things to do. They also offered many free things such as; Kimono dressing and Calligraphy writing! I had similar expereinces at other vistor centers around the world. Please don’t miss out on a great way to connect with the community and help make your trip stress-free!

So that’s my list! What did I forget? I would love to hear your suggestions and success stories!

I did it! ……Aoba-Matsuri Festival 2017

After being in Japan for just two short months I attended a festival with my co-teacher. We got word that one of our students would be dancing in the festival and we wanted to support her.  Festive it was! So many people, colors, and rich culture. As I enjoyed watching the people dance and chant I noticed a great number of foreigners were also participating in the festival. So me being the ambitious woman that I am, I had this crazy idea that I would make this one of my goals during my time in Japan.

Fast forward 1 year later. My dream did’nt come true within my first year. My original plan was to only be in Japan for 1 year. Well, that plan changed, and as I prepared to stay another year I immediately got to work on finding out how to dance in this very same festival.

It happened! With the help of my co-worker and the sweet parent of my student myself and my co-teacher were invited to dance with my students group in the Aoba-Matsuri this May! It got even better. Not only did my co-teacher and I participate, but every teacher in my school joined the fun! The more the better!  Here is the proof!! LOL

All smiles before the action began!

We had about 30 min to learn the “sparrow dance.” We had no idea what we were doing but we were excited!

Waiting for the dance to begin.

This precious little girl gave her all in the rehearsal! When it came time to actually do the dance, this is what happened! LOL! She woke up as soon as we finished. All praise to her mother who carried her the entire time and still managed to dance!

We were focused and ready to give it our all! Don’t we look like it?? Good job Michelle and Lindsey!

At this point I decided to give it my all! I was in my zone. All smiles!

The Sendai Sparrow dance was reconstructed by a dance company from a traditional entertainment that had been lost for a long time. The original sparrow dance is derived from the dance improvised by the stonemasons at the feast for the construction of Sendail Castle about 400 years ago.  You can read about the dance here.

Two of my students parents alongside of me helping me to blend in! lol

Moving through the parade to continue our dance to the other side of the crowd!

Yup! We were still trying to figure it out without looking too obvious.

My student in front of me. It was his first time dancing as well!

Before…….

……and After!

We had the best time! It really made the difference to have some many wonderful people to share it with. Mission Accomplished!

This way to Paradise!

After stepping off the plane I immediately felt the warm air hit my face. I suddenly realized I had too many layers of clothes on coming from the cold temps and snow in Japan. I was greeted by beautiful brown faces that I would see so much of throughout the week.  As I looked around, I was already in awe of this island’s beauty. This place was definitely unlike any other place I’ve been to.  Welcome to MAHE ISLAND SEYCHELLES off the east coast of Africa!

 

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

The Republic of Seychelles is a 115 island country in the Indian Ocean. Mahe island is the main island which holds the capital, Victoria. Other popular islands to visit as Parslin, Silhouette Island, La Digue, Curieuse, Felicite, and Fregate. The climate is hot and humid. The hottest months are March and April. The islands are known for their amazing and unique wildlife. Seychelles is home to about 75 endemic plant species. Particullary well-known is the Coco de mer, a species of palm that grows only on the islands of Praslin. Coco de mer produces the world’s heaviest seed and is sometimes called the “love nut” because the shape of its “double” coconut resembles buttocks.

Coca De Mer

IMPRESSIVE VIEWS

This island is by far the most beautiful place I have ever seen. It looks just like every picture I saw before arriving. Jaw dropping mountain backdrops, clear blue waters with beautiful coastlines, and sunny blue skies. It was so easy to get lost in the relaxing sounds of nature and the crashing of the waves. As I sat on the beach I thought about how much God must love his people to create places like this! I had the pleasure of visiting Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue.

Seychelles 2017

Crystal blue waters

 

Moutain view

Mountain view from resort

 

MARKETS

Colorful wet markets, fish markets, and clothing markets filled the area in downtown Victoria. Red snapper was plentiful and bread fruit was popular. The red snapper was delicious!!

Red snapper

 

Seasonings

 

Colorful clothes

Market

Bread Fruit

LITTLE BIG BEN

LittleBig Ben is a cast iron symbolic momument to Queen Victoria and the majestic link Seychelles has with the United Kingdom. Situated in the centre of the Seychelles capital.

Little Big Ben

THE BICENTENNIAL MONUMENT

This monument resembles three pairs of extending wings. It symbolises the African, European, and Asian orgins of the inhabitants of the Seychelles.

Bicentennial monument

WILDLIFE

Seychelles is home to some pretty unique wildlife! My favorite were the tortoises! Could not get enough of them!

Tortoise

GUANGZHOU GARDEN

I was very surprised to see a little bit of China in Seychelles! While visiting the Botanical gardens I recognized a statue that I once visited in Guangzhou, China. It was a small version of the five rams! Pretty cool to see this connection and for me to recognize it immediately!

Five Rams

This was the most relaxing international trip I have taken so far! Seychelles is truly a favorite!

Hindu temple

Botanical gardens

 

 

 

Early morning sunrise while traveling to Praslin and La Digue islands.

My Love Affair with Italy!

In December 2016 through January 2017 I had the great pleasure of visiting Italy! It was honestly not somewhere I had planned to go anytime soon. A friend of mine mentioned wanting to go and we found a flight deal. So, off I went to visit Europe!

THE BREAKDOWN

I want to break down to you very quickly how we set up this trip. Disclaimer: I DO NOT RECOMMEND ANYONE DO THIS!! The reason being is because it was A LOT of moving around in a short period of time. We had 14 days and we chose to cover 7 cities. We purchased a Eurail pass to travel to each city once we got into Europe. Great decision! It was easy and we felt safe. (I will post a recommendations page to those that are interested in visiting.) 7 cities however did’nt happen. We made it to 6; Rome, Siena, Florence, Milan, Verona, and Venice. We had to skip Pisa due to scheduling.  We were flying through these cities!! Most of them we had just 24-48 hours to explore. I would advise at least 2 complete days in each city. It is well worth your time.

FAVORITE AND LEAST FAVORITE

Out of the 6 cities I definetly fell in love with one place and I am already longing to go back! drum rollllllll …..ROME!!!! I don’t think I can find one word to describe Rome. All I can say is PLEASE GO! You can easily spend 2-4 weeks in Rome and not see everything. I found myself in jaw dropping awe at each place we visited. Everything was enormous and grand! The food was spectacular topped off with delicious wines. Cheese, sandwiches, and Gelato OH MY!!

Out of all these beautiful cities there was one I just didn’t feel a connection with……MILAN. I wanted to like Milan but it just didn’t happen. It was like struggling to put on the shoe of a toddler that is having a tantrum. LOL! It just didn’t happen. Milan is beautiful though. I met some amazing people there and had a great time.

FOOD

So I’m sure you can imagine that I was in food heaven! After living in Japan for 9 months at this time it was such a relief to have some Italian food! My favorite were the sandwiches!! The breads you had to choose from were fantastic! The thick slices of mozzerella cheese in between…ooooweee! Then there was delicious wine to top it off with usually for 1 to 2 euros! We must not forget the beloved gelato. Now, it was the end of December into January so it was cold! That still didn’t stop us from early afternoon and late night stops to find the nearest gelato shops. They were everywhere! LONG LIVE GELATO!! I also had some wonderful soups, tortellini, lasanga, spagehetti, and pizza!

ITALY HIGHLIGHTS

The Colosseum

It’s hard to chose one thing to highlight in Rome. I’m going to talk about two things in which I felt the most connection to. The first thing is the Roman Empire and the Colosseum. Before going to Italy, there was one place I was most excited to see. The Colosseum! One of the seven New Wonders of the World! The Colosseum was built in 70AD and saw four centuries of active use. It could hold an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators who came to watch gladiatorial contests, mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, and re-enactments of famous battles and dramas based on classical mythology. The one thing I found the most interesting was that during gladiator fights, most gladiators did not die. Famous gladiators had a huge following and since most fights would end with a vote from the audience, they voted to keep thier favorites alive!

I could not leave without going inside this great amphitheatre. Walking through the halls and being inside was simply breathtaking. Below you see some shots from outside and inside. I also included before pictures so you can see the change over the years.

 

The Roman Empire

The first period in Roman history is known as the Period of Kings and lasted from Rome’s founding until 510BC. The period of the Kings is a great way to describe the construction of the place! Even in it’s ruins, it is still one of the most magnificent places you can experience. That’s just my little opinion! It was so hard to imagine people walking down those grand streets like it was another day in paradise! Such architecture that is still partially standing to this day is just unbelieveable! Below you will see some pictures of the entire Roman Empire and before pictures! WOW!

 

The Pope

I happened to be in Rome on Christmas Day. On Christmas morning, the Pope gives a speech at St. Peter’s square. I went. I was in total disbelief that I had that expereince. It was very humbling to hear him address the people and to see the excitement of people around me. It was a grand affair. A moment I will never forget.

Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi gallery dates back to 1560. It was built to house the administrative and legal offices of Florence. It holds a collection of priceless works, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance. Paintings from Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are housed here as they once gathered at the Uffizi “for beauty, for work, and for recreation.”  Below you will find some pictures of this gallery.

Ty

 

For more pictures, please see the Italy photo gallery!

 

Ty’s Travel Tips

I have to say after a year and a half of being on this journey of international travel I have learned soooo many things!!! I laugh at myself when I look at pictures of me packing to move to China! I had no clue! I have picked up so many tips from websites, friends, and just plain trial and error. I want to share with you some of my must trusted tips that are sure to make your travel life easier. This applies to any travel, domestic, international or your weekend getaway.

PACKING

packing cubes
Packing Cubes

Packing cubes will help organize your packing and organize your whole trip! I have found packing cubes to help me control how much I pack and organize in a way that makes life on the road easy. If you don’t have a front loader backpack, this will help make up for it. If you are traveling with a suitcase, even better! You will make the most out of your space by rolling clothes. Bulky clothing you can consider laying flat. Pack “like” items in a cube together to maximize organization. Packing cubes saved my life!

Results of packing cubes!

Results of packing cubes!

Always keep cash and small bills!!

When traveling it is important that you always take some cash. I would recommend having more cash than credit cards. Many countries are cash driven and it’s just easier to have it. For international travel, research this before you arrive. Remember that ATM’s will give you cash in the local currency from your bank account if you wait until you arrive at your destination. Even then, I would take some cash with me just in case. When you get cash, make sure you break down most of your big bills!!! This is very important. You always want to have exact amounts (or as close to it as you can get) when paying for taxi’s and buying souvenirs. If you don’t it is highly possible for you to get taken advantage of. Be alert, and keep large bills folded on the inside of your cash stash. Smaller bills should be on the outside. Keep money as close to your body as possible. I use a money pouch that I carry around my neck and put inside my clothes.

WHAT TO PACK

deodorant
Crystal Body Deodorant

This is the best thing since sliced bread!! If you are traveling or not, the crystal body deodorant is so convenient and easy to use. No more white residue, no sticky feeling, and no more spending money on deodorant!! I have had one of my crystals for two years now! You simply wet your underarm or you can wet the crystal(if you wet the crystal it will cause it to disintegrate faster) and apply. It works really well because it adjusts to your body to control oder. I like the smaller crystal because it’s so easy to pack. Takes up very little space! Look for this at your nearby natural food stores or even http://amazon.com You won’t regret it!

Compression Socks

compression socks
If you have heard of people getting blood clots on flights you understand why these are important. I must admit, I wasn’t a believer until I experience swollen balloon legs on a flight to the U.S. from China. I didn’t know what was happening to me and it scared the living daylights out of me! I kept popping ibuprofen to reduce the swelling and I didn’t understand why it wasn’t working. I highly recommend compression socks for any flight over four hours. That’s my rule of thumb. It’s also important to be well rested the night before your flight and stay hydrated! Drinking not just water, but drinks that restore electrolytes. If you have a pre existing condition, be sure to consult a doctor before a long flight. It may be necessary to take a baby aspirin the night before and the day of your flight. Compression socks have completely reduced my swelling!!

First aid/Emergency kit

first aid kit
This was a life saver when I was injured this summer in Cambodia. I cannot stress enough that you would rather be safe than sorry. I don’t care how many convenient stores will be around or how you never get hurt. Unexpected things happen all the time. It’s so much easier when you already have a few essentials to help you immediately or to care for a wound throughout your trip. Less you will have to buy when you are on the road! I was so proud of myself for having my first aid kit! Here are a few essentials you should pack in your kit.

  • band aids
  • antiseptic wipes/solution
  • large and small gauze
  • medical tape
  • antibiotic ointment
  • I would suggest small scissors but they took mine in security
  • anti diarrhea tablets or activated charcoal tablets
  • anti-itch cream
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Ibuprofen

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is a must! Comprehensive plans will cover anything from missed flights to lost baggage. Not to mention the health insurance and death benefits. Not something you want to think about when you are planning a vacation but you definitely should! I have been injured on a trip, and I have had a flight cancellation. Both occurred before I started buying travel insurance. I learned my lesson, I will always be prepared.

PLANNING

http://momondo.com

Momondo is a flight search site that checks several carriers websites in order to offer you the best deals. There are soooooo many sites you can use, but I have found this one to give me the best deals. It also allows you to book multi-city flights which I love! Try momondo!!

http://booking.com

I really like booking.com! They usually have a very wide range of options to select from. They supply authentic reviews from customers, and many of their bookings offer free cancellation, no deposits, and no credit card information!! Although I don’t mind these security methods, it’s nice to have an option if you need it. I’ve had great success with them and their customer service is phenomenal!
travel
http://hostelworld.com

When I am booking hostels I use hostelworld.com. It’s very easy to use and they give you a wide variety of hostels to choose from. Deposits are low and for a very small 2.00 fee, you can protect your deposit to use on future bookings! Hostel’s are a great way to travel. You can meet other travelers and get great deals on tours and excursions.

http://travelfish.org and http://lonelyplanet.com

I really like to travel off the beaten path. I have found that these two sites offer great advice for things to see that are not on the most popular list. I call them “hidden jewels” because tourist traffic is low and they turn out to be amazing suggestions! travelfish.com only covers Southeast Asia, and lonelyplanet.com covers the entire world!! Lonely planet offers many deals, links, and suggestions to make your trip easier.
Now, go book your next flight!

Ty

 

 

The unspoken truth about HOMESICKNESS

It’s a hot sunny day in China and I’m preparing to meet up with some friends to do some sightseeing. It’s so exciting living in another country and exploring the jewels of a city that you only learned of a few months prior to arriving. The sounds, the smells, the people, the energy feels incredible! We walk around this oil painting village which is quite charming. Viewing the art and negotiating prices becomes the highlight of the day. Something happens and it changes my whole perception in an instant! We walk around a corner and immediately things felt wrong. I hear barking and clucking. I see animals, long tables, and blood. Then, I see an animal get slaughtered! I take off running and screaming and suddenly what is a normal everyday occurrence for this culture is a trigger for homesickness. Although I’ve lived in this place for at least 8 months at this point, it’s still not home. Those sounds, smells, and people that were just so exciting are not exciting anymore. Matter of fact I’m irritated and annoyed. I notice the stares and a little girl relieving herself on the corner. I’m hungry but I don’t want to eat. I’m thirsty but I know I can’t drink the water. Now I want a burger from Wendy’s. I want to go to my favorite store and shop for jewelry. I want to walk in the store and ask for something I want, anything and be understood in English! I want to go home!!

It’s cloudy here. Not much sun since I arrived. It’s cold but I’m happy because I arrived in Japan right before Cherry Blossom season! As I walk down the street I smile because it’s so clean. It’s so green and beautiful here. Things are very organized. I go for my breakfast and notice that on my tray there is a place for everything thing. I think I’m gonna like it here. As I move into my apartment a few weeks later I really notice how quiet it is. Where is everybody? Why is it so quiet? I walk down the street and no one even makes eye contact with me. I want to say hi to someone, anyone, and it’s like I’m invisible! The people I have had interaction with are nice enough but is it genuine? I realize that there is not much written English around. Nothing looks familiar in the grocery stores. What am I going to eat? I go to McDonald’s often because it’s the only thing I recognize. This city is missing energy. The energy that makes you feel alive. This feeling is different from the homesickness I felt in China. Now I feel homesick and alone.

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Magic in Okinawa!

I must admit I was a little underwhelmed with Okinawa. I found it to be very much like Sendai with the beach. The beaches I visited were “ok” at best. Apparently there were many other beaches but I doubt they would meet my expectations. Nightlife seemed to be suffering outside of the touristy areas. Getting information on the internet was difficult. However, it was a charming place with great weather and you definitely felt the island life as you walked the streets. This is a place you should research extensively before arriving. There are several islands you can visit which are a short flight away from the main island.  Make sure you know what you want to see and do before deciding. We were on Naha, the main island.

The catch! (2)

Let’s getaway!

This was a short getaway for a couple of friends and I. We wanted to enjoy the beach, so for this  purpose, it did not disappoint. We stayed in a comfortable Airbnb that proved to be a good location for the area. We laughed, we ate, and we soaked up some sun!

The story

I have found that during every trip I take something magical happens that reminds me why I love to travel and makes that particular trip memorable. This moment was amazing mainly because it was so unpredictable!  So let me try to put into words this experience and what I felt during this “moment.”

 Beach message (1)

We were heading back to Naha after a fun trip to the aquarium. ( I love aquariums so yes I visit them everywhere I go if there is one!) We desperately wanted to go to the beach before heading back to Naha. We wanted to see as many of the beaches in the surrounding area that we could. Let me back up a little bit. We started our day early and headed out to catch a bus to Motobu where the aquarium was located. About two hours away from Naha. We got in a cab to take us to the bus terminal. During our ride we somehow negotiated a deal with the taxi driver (who spoke little to no English) to take us to Motobu for the day at a significantly cheaper rate than we were prepared to pay for the bus. We were so relieved and grateful. Due to this we had a very comfortable carefree ride for the day. So, as the sun was going down we tried to communicate to the driver which beach we wanted him to take us to. This was no easy task. We almost gave up when we started passing by the beach and asked him to “please stop here!” He kept saying “no shower, no shower!” I guess he didn’t want us pretty brown girls to get sand in his well kept taxi! LOL! What he didn’t know, is that we were more than prepared for our beach stop!

The magical moment

As we walked the beach, talking, laughing, and posing for pictures I noticed a man sitting on the rocks just above where we dumped our things. He had a small cooler with him and some other things I didn’t recognize. He sat there for quite sometime just watching. I wasn’t bothered by him at all but I immediately noticed when he jumped up, grabbed this huge net, and hurried out to the ocean. He seemed to walk on water with his tall rain boots and overalls as he shuffled deeper into the water. I started yelling ” he sees something” as I ran behind him so excited to observe what would happen next. Then, I watched him cast his net into the ocean and he pulled it back with great strength to find a net full of fish!!!! Small sardines I believe. I was so engaged in this moment at I started jumping up and down cheering like my favorite team just scored a touchdown!!  All I could say was “I told you he saw something, I told you!” This was one of the most amazing things I had seen in a long time! My friends were just as amazed as I was. We all ran over to him to get a better look when he brought the fish on the sand. We watched him draw a circle around the net in the sand and pour all the fish out to slowly die. The puzzling thing was that I couldn’t figure out how he saw the fish. I wasn’t convinced at this point that he did but something told me he had to. It was just the way he got up and ran to the water that made me believe. Lesson #1 Sometimes we don’t have all the answers and we can’t figure out the process, but if we just hold on and believe God will allow it to be revealed in due time.

 The catch! (1)

The magic behind the magic

So after the initial catch, the fisherman, in which my friend affectionately named Roy, had found three new fishing partners for the day! We spent the next 30 min or so taking turns learning how to cast his net speaking no English to do so. We actually thought we were going to catch something. What we didn’t know, was that we had not figured out how to see the fish in those waters like fisherman Roy. He knew we wouldn’t catch anything all along, but he continue to patiently show us the process. Lesson #2 Often times we think we know but we’re unaware that we have no idea.

After a little time Roy went at it again! He grabbed the net and began running into the water. Again, we got so excited! Running behind him, jumping up and down and cheering him on! “Go, go Roy!” This was all so exciting and simply amazing! This time he didn’t catch anything but he saw them. He kept smiling and pointing to this place in the water. Finally we saw a large dark circle in the water!! ” That’s it, OMG I can see them!” We stood there amazed at the discovery. But not for long, soon the most magical thing happened. The large circle we were watching began to quickly move towards us and suddenly hundreds of fish surfaced jumping in and out of the water!!! I could not contain myself!! This was truly unbelievable!! “Roy, Roy get the net,  OMG look at all these fish, I can’t believe this!” We shouted. Fisherman Roy got his net and pulled in a HUGE net full of fish! Lesson #3 Sometimes waiting will give you more than you initially imagined.

 

What an incredible process and lesson this experience was for each of us. We all got different things from it. The one thing we definitely agreed on was how magical it was! We left fisherman Roy running into the sunset looking for more fish to catch.  So our trip to Okinawa was complete and what a great way to end it! Remember, just wait for the right moment!

 

Thailand

The final stop on my summer solo trip has been very relaxing. I had a very busy 2 weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia, so I wanted to turn it down a bit in Thailand. It’s low season for most of these countries so I have noticed the number of travelers have gone down drastically since I began in Vietnam. It’s been great! In Bangkok and Chiang Mai I had a whole 6 room dorm to myself! Nothing but peace and quiet! Although my Thailand trip has been a bit more laid back, I did find a few things to get into.

Bangkok

I literally just stopped in Bangkok to pick up a few items that I can’t get in Japan and to catch the train to Chiang Mai! All was great! I only spent 1 full day here, ate some good food, ran my errands, and crashed!! I also wanted to lay low due to the recent bombings. One of which happened very close to Bangkok! All was good and safe.

Chiang Mai

Everyone I met along my journey told me I would love Chiang Mai and they were right! It’s just a charming city full of things to do! You could easily spend a week or more here discovering more and more to do!

Muay Thai 4

Muay Thai Boxing

I really wanted to go see a fight in Bangkok but I decided not to at the last minute. I was so glad I had an opportunity to do so in Chiang Mai! What an exciting experience! There were 7 fights in all. The first 6 fights were younger boxers that even included a girls fight! Pretty impressive! No knock outs but there was a little blood. The last fight was the main fight! Definitely a big difference from the others! This is when the stadium got loud and you saw the locals placing bets. Yelling back and forth at each other throughout the entire fight! So fun to watch! At times, I didn’t know if I wanted to watch the fight or the locals placing bets! Lol It was so fun to see the culture through this event. The rituals they performed before every fight were extremely interesting and cool to see. Great way to spend an evening out in Chiang Mai!

Thai cooking class

This class offered so much information into what we were cooking and what the ingredients were. The teachers took us to the farmer’s market and educated us on what vegetables we would be using in our dishes. Then, we went to the cooking school and walked through their personal garden for a quick test on what we learned! I did ok! Lol! Finally it was time to cook. The teachers walked us through each step of preparing and cooking the dishes. Since it was a small class of two, we got lots of personal attention and even had an opportunity to chat with the locals about Chiang Mai! We ate each course as we prepared it and walked away with so much knowledge and a cookbook to recreate the meals at home!

Night Bazzare

This is what they call the main night market area in Chiang Mai! Lots of shopping and restaurants. You can also find great street food here as well. The energy is great and I even got a chance to hear some local live music!

Ty photo bomb

Zoo/Aquarium

One of the highlights of my trip and the main reason I planned to visit Chiang Mai was to visit one of the elephant camps. I wanted to redeem myself after last year’s awful experience riding the elephants in Bangkok! This time, I wanted to be trained on how to give them commands, feed them, bathe them, and watch them in their natural habitat! Chiang Mai offers a few great programs that do this and I was all set and ready to go!! While I was in Cambodia I suffered a minor injury. I had to make the heartbreaking decision to forfeit my trip to the elephant camp. I cried real tears, I did, but I felt that going to the zoo and aquarium might help me feel a little better. Well. I was able to feed and play with one elephant at the zoo! Although he was in and enclosure and not free roaming, It still put a smile on my face to be close to him. The zoo was nice and so was the aquarium. It was a relaxing visit that made a huge difference!

Time to head home!! Don’t forget to stay tuned for full photo galleries of each country I visited! Thanks for your prayers during my travels. I will also be posting my reflections and funny stories!! Ha!

Cambodia

Cambodia was everything I thought it would be and more! What an amazing hidden treasure. I had the great pleasure of visiting Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. These locations were well worth the visit. I learned so much about Cambodia and the Cambodian people. Here were the highlights of my trip……

Phnom Penh

Killing fields & SR 21(genocide prison)

I knew nothing about this genocide before visiting Cambodia. I wasn’t the only one. I had very good conversations with so many backpackers about their ignorance too. We all engaged in healthy conversations about this horrible act that is virtually unknown to many.

Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot (1975-1979), attempted to form a Communist peasant farming society which resulted in the deaths of 25% of the country’s population. These deaths were caused by starvation, being overworked, and executions.

To be on the same land where some of this took place was just overwhelming. After spending an entire day soaking up all this knowledge I was exhausted. To here the stories and see the evidence was unbelievable. It is just surprising to see how one man can rise up and organize such a massive destruction of a population of people and their country. This was great knowledge for me to gain. I am grateful to have had this experience.

Fresh market

Fresh market

Riverfront

Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia and they have a beautiful riverfront area. The water is not very beautiful, but the area makes up for it. Beautiful palm trees line the river and watching the tuk-tuks go by at night is so relaxing and well worth the visit.

Siem Reap

Siem Reap was my favorite!! Very different city. Lots of greenery and red dirt at the same time. Beautiful parks and rivers made the city part of Siem Reap seem very quaint. I had the awesome opportunity to visit some countryside village areas. I was on cloud 9!!!!! I enjoyed this soooo much! It was so nice to see how the people live, what they did to make money, and even interact with them a little bit. I was able to buy from their markets and learn about their daily lives. What a priceless experience!

Temples of Angkor

Temples of Angkor

Temples of Angkor

This is the reason tourist visit Siem Reap! If you love ruins like I do, this is a place that cannot be missed! It’s just magical and enchanting to walk through these ancient temples. The architecture is unbelievable! The detail, the height, these temples are massive! I thought one day would be more than enough. I was so wrong! With over ten temples to view you can definitely spend two to three days roaming and discovering. I spent two days here and I’m really glad I did. One of the big things to do is see Angkor Wat at sunrise or sunset. My friends and I opted for sunrise so we headed out at 4:30am to catch this must see! Well, it was a bit cloudy so we didn’t see the sunrise we expected. It was however nice to get an early start discovering the temples since we spent 6 hours doing so!  I really enjoyed my time here and I am still soaking up all that I saw. I bought a little tour guide book and gives detailed history about all the temples. I am still reading this book today. One of my favorite temples was the set of the movie Tomb Raider!

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

 

Siem Reap has an exciting nightlife and good food. You can enjoy so much here for very little money. Did you know that in Cambodia you can spend the American Dollar?!! You will be surprised to know that most things cost between $1-$5!! That’s anything from a ride in a tuk-tuk to a t-shirt! I will definitely be back!

Pub street

Pub street

 

I met some of most wonderful people on this leg of my trip! Honestly, I’ve met great people all throughout this trip. We really connected and had fun exploring together. We had the most amazing Tuk-Tuk driver in Siem Reap! Tee Tee made the whole village, countryside trip happen. It makes a huge difference when you meet geniune people you can trust. Until next time friends!

Me and the girls coming back from a long day at the Temples of Angkor

Me and the girls coming back from a long day at the Temples of Angkor

Please stay tuned for a full picture album when I return!! You will be amazed!