Highlights of our third year living, traveling and working in Asia

In 2014 we celebrated our third year of adventures in Asia. Three years of living, traveling and working in a part of the world that we have fallen in love with the more we get to know it. This year we worked for four months, unexpectedly traveled for seven months, and spent the end of the year in California with our families and friends.

Here’s a look back at our highlights from 2014.

We started off our year living and working in Shanghai, where we’d been since September of 2013. We lived in the Xuhui district and were loving our big city lifestyle. Stevo got into the stand-up comedy scene at Kung Fu Comedy, getting up on stage 4-5 times per week at shows and open mics. I had a great group of girlfriends who I spent a lot of time with trying out great restaurants, going to jazz clubs, and getting our dance on at ladies nights. Stevo and I were also doing a lot of yoga at a fantastic studio just two metro stops from our house.

Mother and daughter looking for eligible suitors at the Shanghai's marriage market in People's Square.

Mother and daughter looking for eligible suitors at Shanghai’s marriage market in People’s Square.

We had a two week break from work in February for the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival. We were ready to leave chilly Shanghai winter behind and breath some clean air. We visited our sophisticated Scandinavian friends who live in Singapore, and squeezed in a few days in Malaysia as well.

Humps ahead near a mosque in Singapore.

Humps ahead near the Sultan mosque in Singapore.

Though our trip was short we packed in the fun, sampling delicious food and culture in the ethnically diverse neighborhoods, enjoying the beautiful botanical gardens, and relaxing on the beaches on Sentosa island. We also went to Laneway Festival, an Australian music festival featuring James Blake, Haim, Savages, Chvrches, and many other great bands.

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The Marina Bay Sands hotel, and the Super trees (to the right) made a gorgeous backdrop for the festival.

After six days in the Lion City we made our way north to Melaka, Malaysia, a charming city with a long and fascinating history, and giant river lizards! Then we spent a few days in Kuala Lumpur visiting the Islamic Arts Museum, exploring China town, and getting our fill of delicious Malaysian cuisine.

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Soaking in the sun and blue sky at the iconic Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

A huge highlight of our year was Stevo ramping up his comedy career in Asia. Through contacts he made throughout our travels he got to do stand-up in every single country we visited, and he even got paid for a few gigs! Getting to watch comedy in so many different countries provided such interesting insight into various local issues, like race, class, religion, and language.

My funny hubby, about to regrettably eat a durian cream filled puff in Melaka :D

My funny hubby, about to regrettably eat a durian cream filled puff in Melaka, Malaysia.

We flew back into Shanghai on Chinese New Year night with a view out the airplane window of thousands of fireworks going off below us, like bombs exploding in a war zone. It was an incredible sight to see! Reentering the cold, polluted concrete jungle of Shanghai was such a contrast to the lush greens and tropical heat of South East Asia, and we began to wonder what we were doing mentally exhausting ourselves in a work environment we didn’t enjoy. We were elementary school teachers in the International Department of a boarding school on the outskirts of the city, and it was not at all what we had hoped for when we took the job. There’s more to it than that, and you can read more about that rough period here.

I loved my students, but the school we worked for was another story...

I loved my students, but the school we worked for was another story…

We ended up leaving our jobs, and though not at all ideal, it was a decision we still look back on as the right thing to do for us at that time. We bought cheap flights to Thailand. Within four days we packed our travel backpacks, sold and donated everything that wouldn’t fit, threw an impromptu goodbye party, and got on a plane.

Saying goodbye to our awesome friends in Shanghai.

Saying goodbye to our awesome friends in Shanghai.

On the way to Thailand we had a layover in Cambodia. When we arrived in Phnom Penh we looked at each other and both had the same thought. “Let’s see if we can just stay here.” It turned out to be no problem. A couple of days later we were on Otres Beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

Reading up in the tree house at Everythang guest house on Otres Beach.

Reading up in the tree house at Everythang guest house on Otres Beach.

We spent three weeks on Otres Beach and one week on Koh Rong Samloen, a gorgeous island you should absolutely check out sooner than later. That month was pure paradise, swimming in the ocean, exploring the city and countryside by motorbike, stand up paddle boarding, snorkeling, kayaking, doing yoga, watching amazing lightning storms (it was rainy season), eating fresh seafood and making new friends. Stevo also got PADI SCUBA certified through Coral Garden Dive Resort on Koh Rong Samloem. We spent more time together than we had the whole time we lived in Shanghai, and reconnecting was one of the best parts about being on the road again.

Stunning sunsets were just one of our favorite parts about living at the beach.

Stunning sunsets were just one of our favorite parts about living at the beach.

Next we headed out to the countryside in Kampong Speu province to volunteer as teachers at Assistance to Poor Children’s Agency (APCA), a Cambodian run orphanage where I’ve volunteered since 2009, and Stevo and I have volunteered at together since 2012.

Our friend Chorrvy, the accountant at APCA, was also getting married while we were there, and she asked us to be in her wedding. It was an absolute highlight of our trip to experience a Cambodian wedding in the countryside, be a part of the ceremonies and rituals, as well as changing outfits five times throughout the day!

Our pink pants outfits, my personal fave!

Our pink pants outfits, my personal fave! Do you like my sweet combover and eyebrows?

After leaving APCA we headed north to Siem Reap where we explored the temples of Angkor.

Chillin' at Bayon Temple in Siem Reap.

Chillin’ at Bayon Temple in Siem Reap.

Next we crossed overland into Thailand. When we got into Bangkok we ate at our favorite fried chicken restaurant in the world, perused the weekend market, and stuffed our faces with street food.

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Just one of thousands of vibrant stalls at the weekend market in Bangkok.

We took a train up north to enjoy the slower pace of life in Chiang Mai, though we didn’t do much resting. We visited temples, explored the city and mountains by motorbike, wandered the markets, took a cooking class, and had a two-hour, not very relaxing Thai massage.

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Learning to make Thai food in Chiang Mai.

We spent a few days in Sukhothai, one of the former Thai capitals full of gorgeous old ruins and huge Buddha statues. The ancient city also boasted some phenomenal street food.

The strong, pungent flavors of Thailand in tiny bundles on a stick.

The strong, pungent flavors of Thailand in tiny bundles on a stick at a street market in Sukhothai.

The day before we flew to Myanmar we celebrated our first wedding anniversary. We made it special and splashed out on a gorgeous room in a resort in Bangkok, and stuffed ourselves silly ordering endless dishes of amazing Thai cuisine.

Our 1 year wedding anniversary dinner in Bangkok.

Our 1 year wedding anniversary dinner in Bangkok.

Myanmar, aka Burma, was everything I’d ever dreamed of and more. We spent 28 days, the maximum our visas allowed, and it just wasn’t enough! Some of my favorite experiences were visiting with a 90 year old nun at a monastery in Hsipaw, riding over the Gokteik viaduct by train, a three day trek to Inle Lake, wine tasting at Inle Lake, meeting the Mustache Brothers and their family in Mandalay, visiting with Fern at the Shan Palace in Hsipaw, motorbiking around Hpa-an and attending a funeral/cremation service, getting blessed by the 94-year old monk who conceived the biggest reclining Buddha statue in the world, seeing the temples of Bagan at sunrise, being invited to dinner by a group of over 100 pilgrims, and surfing at Settse beach.

I met this 90 year old nun as she was walking along the road in the early morning collecting alms. I gave her a donation and requested to take her photo. She asked me for a copy of it, and that's how I was invited into her monastery.

I met this 90 year old nun as she was walking along the road in the early morning collecting alms. I gave her a donation and requested to take her photo. She asked me for a copy of it, and that’s how I was invited into her monastery.

Every person we met in Myanmar had a story to tell, mainly of government oppression, themselves or family members spending time in prison for government perceived dissent, but more of triumph and hard work, believing that they can and will create a better Burma for the future. The people we met were by far the best part about the country, and I can’t say enough good things about our time there.

Meeting Lu Maw, Lu Saw and their remarkable family was such a privilege. The third Mustache Brother, Par Par Lay, and Lu Saw both served six and seven year prison sentences for jokes they made criticizing the government during a performance at Aung San Suu Kyi's home in 1996. Lu Maw and Lu Saw continue their family's Anyient comedy legacy at their home, mainly performing for tourists and still exposing truths about government injustices and advocating for a peaceful Burma.

Meeting Moustache Brothers Lu Maw, Lu Zaw and their remarkable family was such a privilege. The third Moustache Brother, Par Par Lay, and Lu Zaw both served six and seven year prison sentences for jokes they made criticizing the government during a performance at Aung San Suu Kyi’s home in 1996. Par Par Lay died in 2013 and Lu Maw and Lu Zaw continue their family’s Anyient comedy legacy at their home, performing for tourists and still exposing truths about government injustices and advocating for a fair and peaceful Burma.

Finding that it was significantly cheaper to fly through Malaysia than directly from Myanmar to India, we decided to do a quick trip back to Kuala Lumpur. We couchsurfed with an Iranian couple who are both working on their PHDs at Malaysian universities. They brought us around town to their favorite spots and took us to the Batu Caves where we got to see a Ganesh festival ceremony and got attacked by crazy monkeys. We watched the gorgeous evening light show together at the Petronas towers, and we explored little India and China town together. They were the most hospitable and fun people to hang out with and we had an instant connection with them. One of the best parts about traveling is getting to know people from different backgrounds and cultures, not only in the country we’re in, but from around the world.

Stevo with Parveen and Medhi outside the Batu Caves.

Stevo with our awesome couch surfing hosts outside the Batu Caves.

India was the longest stretch of our journey. With ten weeks ahead of us there was lots we wanted to do, and even more we didn’t know we wanted to do. We started off our time there in Bangalore where my sister was living. One of the most special parts of our time there was getting to meet her boyfriend and his family who live in Pune. We had the privilege of staying in their home for over a week and celebrating the Ganesh Festival with them. Different areas in India place more importance on different Hindu gods, and in Maharashtra where Pune is, Ganesh is their most important god, so it was the place to be for the Ganpati festival.

Getting to meet my sister's boyfriend and his family was one of the most special parts of our time in India. They generously gifted us with Indian clothes when we arrived. I have to say, sari's are complicated! I have a new found respect for women who wear them daily.

Getting to meet my sister’s boyfriend and his family was one of the most special parts of our time in India. They generously gifted us with Indian clothes when we arrived. I have to say, sari’s are complicated! I have a new found respect for women who wear them daily.

Once again, it was the people we met along the way who made our trip so excellent. We couchsurfed twice in Mumbai, with a newlywed couple who were in an arranged marriage, and with two young men who work in the film and fashion industry. We even met strangers along the way who invited us into their homes for tea, meals, or even to stay with them. We happily obliged, which made for some of our best experiences on the trip!

Mugging with our awesome hosts, Amol, Satya and Lipi in front of the historical Gateway of India in Mumbai.

Mugging with our awesome hosts in front of the historical Gateway of India in Mumbai.

We spent a couple of weeks making our way down the coast from Malvan, a small fishing village, through northern and southern Goa. Continuing down the west coast we spent a couple of days in Gokarna, one of the seven important pilgrimage centers in India. I fell in love with the town’s eclectic mix of people, stunning beaches, and variety of temples on every corner.

At Gokarna we also learned that cows CAN walk down stairs. Myth busted!

At Gokarna we also learned that cows CAN walk down stairs. Myth busted!

We met up with my sister and her boyfriend again in northern Kerala at their friend’s gorgeous farm house where we enjoyed the tranquility of life outside the cities, ate delectable home cooked meals, and took long walks searching for the family’s pregnant cow who always seemed to go missing during feeding time.

Nandu the cow.

Meet Nandu, the illusive pregnant cow.

After Kerala we made a trip to Mysore to see the breathtaking Mysore Palace and get almost scammed by some tricky natural oil salesmen. Then we took an overnight train to Hampi, another site with ancient ruins and spectacular boulders. I’m learning I have a thing for ancient ruins.

Cheesin' in front of an ancient temple.

Cheesin’ in front of an ancient temple in Hampi.

In the end we did move on to Rajasthan, and were so happy we did! India is such a diverse country, and Rajasthan was vastly different from everywhere else we’d been. With towering centuries old forts, architecturally magnificent havelis, desert landscapes, and a cuisine unique to anywhere else, we quickly fell in love.

A centuries old Havelli in Jaisalmer.

A centuries old haveli in Jaisalmer.

We spent three weeks traveling between cities in Rajasthan by bus and train. We started off in Udaipur, staying in one of the most beautiful family run guest houses we’ve been in to date. Then we went to Jaisalmer where we stayed inside the Jaisalmer Fort, one of the only remaining “living forts” in the world. People have been living inside the fort for hundreds of years, and there are families who have lived in the same haveli going back 18+ generations.

The Jaisalmer Fort rising out of the desert behind us.

The Jaisalmer Fort rising up out of the desert like a giant sand castle.

Another reason we wanted to visit Jaisalmer was to go on a camel safari. We opted for a two day, one night trip, which turned out to be the perfect amount for us. Camel riding is tough on the rear! It was an unforgettable experience.

Do you like our camel safari get-ups? It was hot out there!

Do you like our camel safari get-ups? It was hot out there!

We gave our buns a few days to rest in Jodhpur, home to an imposingly large fort on a mesa, still privately owned by the king there. We also went to the blue city of Bundi where there is an unrestored fort overrun by monkeys, said to be the inspiration for Kipling’s The Jungle Book. 

This monkey runs the block!

This mama monkey runs the block!

One of my favorite parts of our trip was the eight days we spent in Pushkar during the annual Camel Fair. Pushkar is another holy city in India and the Camel Fair coincided with an annual Hindu pilgrimage. Tens of thousands of people from all over India descended upon the city to pray at the lake and Brahma temple, and to attend the fair. Our time there was a sensational blur of color, smells, food, people and livestock unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.

Hundreds of young women from local high schools performed a choreographed dance at the fair.

Hundreds of young women from local high schools performed a choreographed dance during the fair.

At the end of our trip we spent a couple of days in Agra to see the Taj Mahal, then made our way to Delhi where we stayed in the Muslim quarter and ate three consecutive meals at Karim’s. I’m drooling just thinking about their food.

Iconic India.

Iconic India.

We had a wedding to attend and family we wanted to catch up with back in our home state, California. In mid November we flew to Los Angeles. Within the same week we visited the Taj I went to a bachelorette party and learned to pole dance. Sometimes life is funny that way…

Pole dancing is a surprisingly difficult art form!

Pole dancing is a surprisingly difficult art form! So is looking at the camera…

It was so wonderful to spend the holidays with our families and friends. We got to share Thanksgiving and Christmas with them, which we hadn’t done in four years. We had a packed house for Christmas with relatives coming in from out of state, our friend from China who lives in LA now came down, and my sister’s boyfriend flew in from India, and his sister and three more Indian friends joined us as well. The best part about Christmas was when my sister and her boyfriend simultaneously proposed to one another in front of everyone. They both had made rings for one another, and it wasn’t even planned!

My little bro and I made a fruit turkey for Thanksgiving!

My little bro and I made a fruit turkey for Thanksgiving!

On New Years Eve Stevo and I made dinner together and spent the night reflecting on what a wild year it was. It turned out nothing like we’d planned, leaving our jobs in China early and tacking on an additional three months of travel we hadn’t budgeted for, plus spending the holidays with our families and friends in America for the first time in four years. Figuring things out together, the highs and the lows, was what made it so awesome. We can’t wait for what’s in store in 2015!

Hopefully to more amazing sunsets like this one!

Hopefully more amazing sunsets like this one!

What were your highlights of 2014? Did your year turn out as planned?

 

Things We Really Love About Our New Home: Yangzhou

So, we’ve been living in Yangzhou, China for about two months now. Our bad for the lack of update on our whereabouts. To be honest though, it’s totally not our fault.

I’m gonna go ahead and blame China on this one.

Ever since Xi JinPing, or Mr. Xi as we like to call him (since Xi is pronounced ‘She’ in Chinese. It’s less funny I now realize since I had to explain it), was elected as the new Chairman of China in November, the internet here has sucked. So hard.

You may recall that back when we lived in Mudanjiang up in northern China we had a VPN so that we could get around the Great Firewall of China and get on Facebook, Youtube, this here blog, and read news sites that didn’t block out most articles with the word “China” in them. Well, when we purchased that same VPN here back in December it didn’t work.

We talked to our new expat friends here, and their VPNs didn’t work either. The new government officials decided that their first order of business was to increase the censorship and decrease the fun, seriously cracking down on VPN providers and blocking VPNs. So on good days we would get about 10 minutes of real internet before the Chinese fun-suckers would find our connections and destroy them.

The good news is that Skype still works, so the lack of Facebook has really just helped us waste less time and increased actual talk time with our families and friends, which to be honest I’ve really liked.

Another good thing about it is, we’ve barely had any time to be online anyways. Yangzhou is awesome! It’s waaaay bigger than Mudanjiang was-5 million people live here compared to just 2 million there. But this is still a relatively small city for China, which means it’s very Chinese. AND one things I love about it is it feels and looks very Chinese. Yangzhou is famous for art and old poets and beautiful gardens, and there is a ton of old Chinese style architecture. Granted, a lot of the buildings are newer and built in the old Chinese style, but either way they look beautiful.

Most Yangzhou people ride bicycles or electric bicycles, and we quickly joined them and got our own bicycles.

While it still feels Chinese here, it also has a lot of western amenities we can appreciate. There are at least a half dozen sushi restaurants we’ve come across, loads of international restaurants, buffets galore, and the most amazing restaurant I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of- Japanese Teppanyaki, which is basically an all you can eat Bennihanas, that also includes unlimited sushi. For $25/person.

So far, Yangzhou is working out big time.

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Older people really know how to relax and have a good time with their bros in Yangzhou.

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We’ve made an adorable baby friend at a Chinese/Muslim restaurant we frequently dine at near work. Their dumpling soup is scrumptious!

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Hot pot is just as extravagant an affair here as it was in northeastern China.

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There are lots of beautiful parks around town, and they are always busy with people strolling, flying kites, and playing cards (aka gambling).

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Life in Yangzhou is good :D

 

 

 

Friday Photo #1

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Leading up to when we got married in July 2013, a lot of people asked us what we were doing for our honeymoon. Honestly, it was very much an afterthought for us. We had been living abroad together for nearly two years at the time. We lived frugally and made frequent travel our priority.

If a honeymoon was meant to be a monumental, forever remembered and cherished trip, well, we kind of felt like we were already doing that, but, like, all the time. We decided not to let the expectation of a big, expensive honeymoon weigh on our minds or wallets.

We opted for a quick trip from China, where we’d been living and working, to Sihanoukville, Cambodia to laze on Otres beach before flying home for our wedding. It was, if we had to qualify it with a name, a pre-wedding honeymoon. Really we just wanted to relax and gear up for all of the exciting wedding events ahead of us.

For us, it was perfect.

36 Things to do at Otres Beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sihanoukville Province is located 185 kilometers (115 miles) southwest of Phnom Penh on the Gulf of Thailand. It is known for it’s white sandy beaches, clear blue waters, and beautiful islands that line the coast. We first came to Sihanoukville in June 2013 and stayed at Otres Beach on the recommendation of a friend. For us, it was quiet, uncrowded paradise and we vowed to go back. In May of 2014 we did and stayed for nearly a month, enjoying all the Otres area has to offer. Here are 36  of our recommendations on what to do here, including prices (listed in USD) as of May 2014.

Map of Cambodia

Map from Circle of Asia.

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Magnificent Melaka, Malaysia

This year for our Chinese New Year break from our jobs in Shanghai we took a ten day trip to Singapore and Malaysia. We wanted to go to a Malaysian island called Tioman during our trip, but our plans were thwarted by monsoon rains in the east of the country. Undeterred, as we were, quite frankly, much too sunburned to be hanging out on an island anyways after our white butts spent all day outside frying at Laneway Festival in Singapore(!!!), we booked tickets to a place called Melaka. Melaka is a city about half way between Singapore and Kuala Lumpor, where we needed to end up to fly back to China. From the map we saw it looked to be on the coast, leading us to hope we might still get some beaching and snorkeling in. That didn’t actually end  up happening either. However, this impromptu detour ended up being my favorite place on our trip! Here’s why:

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Indian food! Served on banana leaves. Need I say more?

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Motorbike Trip Around Otres Beach in Cambodia

Stevo and I had been enjoying our little slice of heaven, the laid back, beautiful beach at Otres 1 in Sihanoukville, Cambodia for about two weeks. We spent most of our days swimming, snorkeling, stand up paddle boarding, going on boat trips, doing yoga, eating great Khmer and western dishes, meeting locals and fellow travelers, reading, writing and enjoying our new found freedom on the road. There was plenty to do to fill our days just in the mile or so stretch of beach in front of our guesthouse.

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Restaurants and bungalows sit just a few meters from the water along Otres Beach.

One afternoon we decided to rent a motorbike and explore the area a bit further. Stevo handed over his passport and $3 to the nice man in the shop, and the motorbike was ours for the afternoon.

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It’s so easy to rent a motorbike!

The one helmet the rental place had was too small for Stevo and a bit too big for me. Our heads are comically different sizes. It’s illegal not to wear a helmet in Cambodia, but in the countryside it’s usually okay, and if you get stopped by a police officer the fine is only 5000 riel ($1.25), so we figured we’d just go for it.

Ya, our heads are different sizes. Don't worry about it...

Yeah, our heads are different sizes. Love conquers all!

We rode through Otres 1 past the Long Beach, an aptly named expansive bare stretch of beach mainly used by locals on the weekends and during holidays.

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Pretty nice public beach, eh? (We’ve been hanging out with Canadians ;)

We continued on to Otres 2, less crowded than Otres 1 with nicer, slightly pricier guest houses and bungalows. There wasn’t a lot of action going on there, except for two construction sites where it looked like three story tall hotels were being built.

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Nobody around but this noisy goose at Otres 2.

The amazing thing about the Otres area was all of the vacant lots. There were dozens of plots of land for sale right across the street from the beach. Many had been sold since we were there for our first time in June 2013. We’re sure that this place won’t stay the same for long with it’s quiet atmosphere and simple, inexpensive beach bungalows. The room we stayed in on the water was just $8/night!

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Dozens of empty lots for sale right across from the Long Beach.

We rode back along the Long Beach until we came to a red dirt road where we turned right, away from the water. We rode past homes on stilts, rice paddies, cows, water buffalo, geese, chickens, dogs, pigs, and then suddenly, horses!

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Water buffalo swimming just off the road.

We stopped off to check it out. It turned out to be Liberty Ranch, opened by a French woman in 2012. Her company offers one, two or three hour horse riding tours along the beach, through the countryside and across a river. It looked like a fun thing to do for an afternoon!

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They also have ponies for riders 3 and up. Must be 85kg or less to ride the horses.

We continued on to the end of the road and made a right toward Wat Otres. Young monks gathered out front smiled and waved us in toward the temple.

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We love the colors of Cambodia!

We parked the moto and walked around. I always love the strong smell of incense and bright colors of Cambodian temples.

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Stevo: “Guess what they’re building?” Jen: “What?” Stevo: “Exactly.”                                    We love Wat puns :p

As we were leaving we saw an older monk blessing a group of people in front of a building, chanting and dumping water over their heads from a plastic pail. They were all soaked and smiling.

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Maybe someday we’ll act like mature adults…this was not that day.

We followed a road that was under construction that led pretty steeply up a hill. At a flat area Stevo stopped and I hopped on to try riding the moto. We’ve talked about taking a long motorbike trip, and one of my goals during this trip is to become confident riding on my own. I did pretty well!

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The back of Jen’s shirt says: “If you can read this, the b*tch fell off.”

We rode around some bridge construction half way up the hill and stopped. We climbed up some boulders to get a better view. There was countryside below us, and the Gulf of Thailand and islands in the distance. So beautiful.

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I can see my house from here.

As we rode further up the hill, the views just kept getting better. At the top there was more construction of what looked like a future hotel, shaped like a ship.

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You can see the ship’s prow on the left.

There was a friendly Cambodian family and some workers tending to the landscaping, and a baby sitting on a pile of rocks.

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“Wat are you doing, baby?” PUN

From that vantage point we could look out over the whole city, the countryside, villages and downtown Sihanoukville. The sun was dropping lower in the sky, casting a bright golden light over the entire scene. I stood in front of Stevo and he wrapped his arms around me as we looked out. Exploring and experiencing moments like that are what I treasure most about our travels together. I breathed in a big sigh of contentment and joy. At those times I know we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be.

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We coasted back down the long hill, waving to people making their commute home going either up or down.

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Realizing our moto was almost out of juice we stopped at the first “gas station” we saw with the tell tale signs of one liter liquor bottles full of yellow liquid. When we pulled up we saw a young woman there who works at our guesthouse. It turned out to be her home! 5000 riel got us a full liter and filled half the tank.

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Let’s set this party on fire.

We rode back the way we came, then made a right past the Long Beach and through Otres 1. We passed some shacks and graffiti covered walls, then were out on the open road. Instead of turning towards town, we zigged down a road up another hill.

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Swan Skeptic-By  Anonymous

At the top and around a bend were huge homes and condos for sale. The prices were from $8,000-$30,000. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop and look as the sun was quickly going down. A few minutes later we turned back toward Otres 1. We wanted to avoid riding in the dark and watch the sunset from the beach.

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We made it back just in time.

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There’s lots to explore in the Otres area, and I’m sure we only scratched the surface. But getting out of the well trodden areas and seeing more of the countryside, meeting friendly Cambodians and seeing beautiful views made for a lovely afternoon.

Have you ever rented a motorbike? What was your experience like? 

After leaving Cambodia and APCA at the end of 2012, we headed back to China with new jobs in a new city. This time we ventured much further south from our prior home in Mudanjiang to a city called Yangzhou, located in the Jiangsu province. Once we were living in this more geographically desirable locale, we wasted no time in taking trips to nearby cities including Suzhou and Shanghai. We even got down to Hong Kong in early January.
Here’s a short video to show some of our travel and living highlights.

Some Backlogged Jevo Adventures. China from December 2012 to February 2013.

Cambodia, Scenic and Up-close

Close-up of a monk's robe out to dry in the mid day heat.

Close-up of a monk’s robe out to dry in the mid day heat.

Hundreds of people gather at Angkor Wat to watch the magnificent sunrise.

Hundreds of people gather at Angkor Wat to watch the magnificent sunrise.

Like I said, it is magnificent.

Like I said, it is magnificent.

Never forget it. Sticker posted outside a beautiful abandoned building in Phnom Penh.

Never forget it. Sticker posted outside a beautiful abandoned building in Phnom Penh.

Some Cambodian street art.

Some Cambodian street art.

Sunset silhouette of recently deceased King Sihanouk's stupa construction.

Sunset silhouette of recently deceased King Sihanouk’s stupa construction.

Sunset silhouette of the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

Sunset silhouette of the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

Beautiful bowls on a ledge at a temple in Phnom Penh.

Beautiful bowls on a ledge at a temple in Phnom Penh.

President Obama came to Phnom Penh while we were there to discuss Democracy, corruption and Cambodia's future at the 2012 ASEAN conference.

President Obama came to Phnom Penh while we were there to discuss Democracy, corruption and Cambodia’s future at the 2012 ASEAN conference.

Five stupas housing the remains of former Cambodian kings seen from the top of Oudong Mountain in Kampong Speu Province.

Five stupas housing the remains of former Cambodian kings seen from the top of Oudong Mountain in Kampong Speu Province.

A view of one stupa.

A view of one stupa.

An up close look

An up close look

Monkeys on Oudong Mountain in Kampong Speu Province.

Monkeys on Oudong Mountain in Kampong Speu Province.

A temple overgrown with trees dating back as far as the temples of Angkor. Battdung Mountain, Kampong Speu Province.

A temple overgrown with trees dating back as far as the temples of Angkor. Battdung Mountain, Kampong Speu Province.

A headless warrior statue at the top of Battdung Mountain, Kampong Speu Province

A headless warrior statue at the top of Battdung Mountain, Kampong Speu Province

Monk's robe out to dry outside the temples on top of Battdung Mountain in Kampong Speu Province. Photo taken by Tina Ryder, my beautiful mother

Monk’s robe out to dry outside the temples on top of Battdung Mountain in Kampong Speu Province. Photo taken by Tina Ryder, my beautiful mother

Shadows of Garudas playing on the temple walls in Kampong Speu Province

Shadows of Garudas playing on the temple walls in Kampong Speu Province

A small temple in Kampong Speu Province where one monk has lived since he was 7 years old. He is now in his 90s.

A small temple in Kampong Speu Province where one monk has lived since he was 7 years old. He is now in his 90s.

My brother, Scott, and some of the older boys at APCA hanging out on the mushroom building in progress.

My brother, Scott, and some of the older boys at APCA hanging out on the mushroom building in progress.

Sunset in Kep

Sunset in Kep

It just kept getting better.

It just kept getting better.

And better.

And better.

A little end of the day dip at Kep Beach.

A little end of the day dip at Kep Beach.

Peppercorns up close and on the vine at a pepper plantation in Kampot Province.

Peppercorns up close and on the vine at a pepper plantation in Kampot Province.

The view from our $20/night room at the Kimly Lodge in Kep Cambodia. We can highly recommend you stay here if you are ever in Kep.

The view from our $20/night room at the Kimly Lodge in Kep Cambodia. We can highly recommend you stay here if you are ever in Kep.

Inside the Central Market in Phnom Penh.

Inside the Central Market in Phnom Penh.

Bright seed pods attached to reeds in Kampong Speu Province

Bright seed pods attached to reeds in Kampong Speu Province

An up close look at the rice fields in late November. In Kampong Speu Province.

An up close look at the rice fields in late November. In Kampong Speu Province.

Lotus reflections in Kampong Speu Province

Lotus reflections in Kampong Speu Province

Foreground: Lotus field. Background: Palm trees. The Cambodian countryside is stunning. In Kampong Speu Province.

Foreground: Lotus field. Background: Palm trees. The Cambodian countryside is stunning. In Kampong Speu Province.

The best time to check out the lotus fields is very early morning, when they are just opening to greet the sun. In Kampong Speu Province.

The best time to check out the lotus fields is very early morning, when they are just opening to greet the sun. In Kampong Speu Province.

Some APCA kids playing in the rice paddies across the street from the center. It's an alright front yard to explore.

Some APCA kids playing in the rice paddies across the street from the center. It’s an alright front yard to explore.