Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sri Lanka: Impossibly Beautiful

I was under a decade old when I was given my very first globe. I distinctly recall playing my favorite past-time one afternoon, spinning the globe and seeing what remote place my finger would land on, when I was introduced to the small island nation in the Indian Ocean: Sri Lanka. I remember picking my mother's brain for information and learning to pronounce this faraway land with an "sh" emphasis - Shri Lanka.

Having not yet developed my insatiable travel curiosity, Sri Lanka was placed into a filing cabinet in the back of my mind and remained a remote place that only existed in books and movies. Never did I imagine that I'd find myself 15 years later in the very place my little finger touched on the globe.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Goodbye Southeast Asia, Hello South Asia

It's been 14 and a half months since I left Southeast Asia. In my final days in Thailand, I've been trying to figure out how to say goodbye to a place that has changed my life.

Steaming hot Hoi Tod (fried mussels with egg)
Ingesting as many meals as my stomach will fit, I'm trying to savor every last bite of Thai food. I'm especially flaunting my broken Thai, because, who knows when I'll be able to communicate in a language other than English again. I'm smiling at every stranger and giggling at all the cultural quirks I've grown fond of. I am remembering the 10 Things I'll Miss About Living in Thailand that I wrote when I left for traveling two months ago. My departure is rapidly approaching and it's hard to believe I am really leaving this place.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Malaysia on my Mind

Ever since I left a month and a half ago, Malaysia has been on my mind in one way or another. Although I wrote about some of my trip in Life As a Solo Traveler, I've been procrastinating writing about what it was that fascinated me the most: the cultural diversity.

Three major ethnic groups make up the country's population: Indian, Chinese and Malay (though it's difficult to pinpoint what constitutes a native Malay as the country has long been a melting pot for many ethnicities). As an foreigner, I was immediately impressed at how seemingly well the different cultures worked, lived and co-existed with one another - at least as it initially appeared to me as an outsider. While the separate cultures are equally as rich and distinct from one another, it's not uncommon to witness the blending of the three groups in cuisine, religion, language and families & friends.
Indian blessing a Chinese lady at a Hindu temple

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Trekking to the Hill Tribes in Laos

Aboard a Bangkok-bound sleeper train, I am smiling -- not only because I'm thrilled to be back in Thailand, but also because of the wonderful memories Laos has left me with.

A highlight of my two weeks too short in Laos was a trek run by the company "White Elephant" based in Luang Prabang. Many tour companies offer a similar wide variety of kayaking, trekking, elephant riding, rock climbing and more outdoor activities accompanied with a visit to a hill tribe village. It was White Elephant that convinced me to join last minute a trip that promised to be an authentic experience to remember.