Archive for February, 2010

Cambodia

Never did I think I’d be traveling in Cambodia… but here I am sitting in a hot internet cafe on a dusty street in Siem Reap.

Sticky.  That’s how I describe this place.  It is not Rainy Season at the moment and so the weather remains hot and sticky.  My body is constantly covered in a layer of slimy sweat.

Why did I come here?

That’s easy.  I wanted to see Angkor Wat.

Angkor WatAngkor Wat Tree

The border crossing was awful, the relentless calls for ‘tuk tuk’ are annoying, the scorching sun burns my white pasty skin, and the sad little children playing in the dirt just break your heart, but none of this mattered once I caught a glimpse of these amazing temples.

Angkor means ‘Holy City’ and Wat means ‘temple’… so Angkor Wat is the City of Temples.  It is an ancient capital city that was populated between the 9th and 12th centuries AD.  More than a million people lived in and around this city.

Everyone can feel the abundance of power this place holds.

Watching the Earth trying to reclaim its land is my favorite site to see around these ancient temples.  Trees grow right through brick and stone, shoving dirt, moving walls, making way for their roots.  I saw temples like this in Mexico too.

It is awe inspiring.

Nature Always Wins In The End

There are many temples in the Siem Reap area.  We rented bicycles one day and did a 27km loop that took us to 6 different ancient temple sites.  We also hired a tuk tuk driver one day to take us out to the Roluos Group of temples because they were too far away to bike in this heat.

People can buy 1, 3 or 7 day passes to the Angkor area.  It is a bit like getting a visa for a different country.  They take your picture and it is only good for a certain amount of time.  Once you have your pass, you are admitted into any of the temples as many times as  you want.

I recommend seeing the sunset while sitting in front of Angkor Wat.  This temple is the only temple, in this area, that faces West.  So if you’re sitting in front, you’ll be facing the beautiful orange, pink and purple sunset.  Watching the sun go down over a jungle, with only a few temple buildings and palm trees in the skyline, gave me the most serene sense of being I have had in a long time.

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Krabi, Thailand

For me, the best part of traveling is tasting the local cuisine.

I love Thai food.

Coming to Thailand was always on my list of ‘Must Go’ places because of the food.  In the States I would enjoy the occasional curry, and even made a few myself from pre-made curry paste packages.  Never did I imagine all the different flavors found here.  Honestly, I’d have to say that it’s a Flavor Explosion with every meal.  Two times a day I eat some sort of curry: Green, Red, Yellow or Massaman.  Before coming to Thailand I would have said that Green was my favorite, now it’s most definitely Massaman.

I can’t only brag about the curries, because most of the Thai food is equally as wonderful.

My Favorite Thai Foods:

  1. Massaman Curry – “Muslim Man” Curry is originally from Persia, but the Thai people have been perfecting (at least I’m guessing because it tastes soo darn good) this recipe for a long time now.  It is made with peanuts and potatoes.  That sounds weird, I know, but trust me it’s amazing.  This curry is usually eaten with chicken or beef, chicken being my favorite.
  2. Rice baked in a Pineapple – This is usually served with shrimp.  The rice and a few other veggies are baked right in a hollowed out pineapple.  I love pineapple even more when it’s warm.  This is a real treat for me.
  3. Thai Spring Rolls – I specify Thai spring rolls because they are made with rice paper, where Vietnamese Spring rolls are made with flour.  Usually they are vegetarian, but they can be ordered with any kind of meat you prefer.  I’ve only eaten the vegetarian ones, and they’re fabulous.  Plus, spring rolls are served with an orange sweet chili sauce.  It’s similar to the Duck sauce you get at Chinese restaurants back home.
  4. Fried Rice with Chicken – I’ve had this a few times and it’s different everywhere I go.  The fried rice is very different from the typical fried rice varieties I ate in the States.  This dish is the most simple of my favorites.  It’s a good choice because you can add your own spice and sauce to suit your mood of that particular meal.  In Thailand, there are usually four condiments on the table at all times: sugar (in case you like your food sweet or it’s too spicy for your liking), crushed red peppers (for even more kick), vinegar/soy mixture (don’t know the name but it’s used instead of salt), and a clear spicy sauce with chili bits (this one is super hot!).
Massaman Curry

Massaman Curry

Pineapple Fried Rice

Pineapple Fried Rice

Spring Rolls

Thai Spring Rolls

P3051845

Chicken Fried Rice

Condiments

This is what's on every table.

Trip Update

Panorama - Maya Bay - The Beach
Phi Phi Islands

  • “The Beach” – this is where the Leonardo Dicaprio movie was filmed in ’99
  • More snorkeling with views of coral and fish in a rainbow of colors
  • This place was too touristy and too expensive.  I enjoyed the sights, but we left right after our snorkel trip

View from Our Balcony at Ko Lanta
Koh Lanta

  • Less people
  • Stayed on the West side of the island on Long Beach
  • Super cheap food and shopping
  • Rented motorbike – a bit scary for me, but had a blast
  • Cooking Class!!!  – learned how to make my very own Massaman curry paste (I’ll have to do an entire blog on this later.)
  • Night Carnival – found some shirts that actually fit me, Seth ate giant bugs (ewwww) and I got some cotton candy
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Adventure Thailand

Where to begin?

After our exhausting travel out of Korea, life has become extremely pleasant.   Landing in Bangkok, Thailand instantly brought a smile to my face. 

I haven’t stopped smiling.    :mrgreen:

Thai food has always been a favorite of mine, but I didn’t know exactly how good it should be.  I have no words for how scrumptious this food tastes.  Green, yellow, and massaman curries have become my breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I don’t miss kimchi at all… yet. 

So far, my adventure includes:

  1. getting a haircut (I got 4 inches cut off!! Seth basically shaved his head.)
  2. oil massage (Seth got Thai massage)
  3. listening to live music
  4. floating market
  5. petting tigers (quite scary actually)
  6. overnight train ride
  7. swimming in clear-green waters
  8. lounging & reading on the beach
  9. snorkeling (1st time to do this)
  10. kayaking in the ocean
  11. witnessing a Thai ocean sunset
  12. boat ride around various islands
  13. seeing stars!!!  (can’t see stars in Korea)
  14. napping (which is something I never do)
  15. all the yummy curry I could ever want

 

 PAD THAi BANGKOK Panang Curry Thai green curry with prawns

Hopefully soon I’ll get to a place that I can upload my pictures.  These things can be more appreciated with a picture to illustrate my ramblings.

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Leaving Korea

Things you should know when leaving Korea after a year of teaching…

I did alot of research about leaving Korea and things that needed to be taken care of or completed before making the final plane voyage out of Kimchistan.  Most of what I found was conflicting information or outdated.

I can tell you that the date on your Alien Registration Card (ARC) is very important.

We were told that we had a week or so after our final working day to leave Korea without a penalty.  This is wrong!  You must be at the airport by midnight of the ending date on your ARC.  This date will vary from your actual Visa dates, but they will go by the date on your ARC.  Things I read online were that the dates aren’t important and that it is up to the airport staff as to whether you pay a fine or if they let you pass through.  Most things I read told me not to worry, told me to leave whenever.

If your current employer in Korea does not renew your ARC, then you are overstaying your visa even if it’s only by 1 day.  Our employer told us that things would be fine.  He either lied or didn’t know.  I suspect that he did know, but wanted us to continue working that final day.

At the airport, it took us almost three hours to go through security because of the stupid one day over on our ARC.  We were shuffled to various offices, filled out various documents, and received a nasty stamp in our passport that says we overstayed our visa.  They were going to make us pay $150 each, but they would have had to hold the plane for us to have enough time to give them money.  So, instead of holding the plane they made us run to our terminal.  We actually had to RUN through the airport to make our flight.  It was awful.  We were the last people on the plane and everyone was upset with us.

Keep in mind that we each had a carry on bag, laptop bag AND guitar case!  Seth had his original acoustic and I had his newly acquired Korean Bass guitar.

All of this just made me happy that I was leaving Korea.  I was no longer sad.

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