After the hustle and bustle of India, Cambodia has overall been a welcome change of pace. We started out navigating through the hoards of tourists visiting Angkor Wat, which despite the crowds was absolutely amazing. We opted for the 3 day pass so we could take our time visiting the many temples. Even then we couldn’t possible take it all in. We did get to the main temples, including my favorite Ta Prohm, and discovered that there really is something to the “temple fatigue,” everyone talks about. I’d like to believe the kids appreciated some of the sights, but admittedly, they preferred the pool at our hotel in Siem Reap. What can you do? On the upside they are much more confident in their swimming abilities.
After Siem Reap, we chose to slow it down a bit in the, oh-so-chill seaside town of Kep. More pool time for the kids = more relaxing time for the parents. We missed Kep Beach altogether but did visit the bustling crab market and spent a morning bushwhacking through Kep National Forest with some lovely Aussies we met along the trail. We even stumbled across a wonderful cafe, Kep Coffee, owned by former Seattleites. Neat!
We are currently back in Phnom Pehn enjoying the hospitality and company of Kishore’s cousin and her husband for a few days while we figure out the next chapter of our journey. Before we leave, we will be visiting the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the latter likely without kids.
Below are some images from our time in Cambodia thus far.
-Happy New Year from all of us!
Scenes from Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples
…keeping up with my blog while we were in Nepal. We are into week 3 of our month long tour in India. We have already toured the golden deserts, palace forts and temples of Rajasthan, walked and swam on the beaches of Mararikulum and boated the backwaters of Kerala. We’ve watched traditional Kathakali dance and martial arts performances in Fort Cochi and explored the tea and spice plantations outside of Thekkady. Not to mention, sampling the local delicacies along the way. Whew! Makes me tired just thinking of it all. It has been amazing and exhausting, chaotic and tranquil.
It is Christmas Eve as I write this from our shabby hotel room in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. It is the first day we are without activities and the kids are happily watching a English dubbed Jackie Chan movie, set in all places, India.
I am so overwhelmed with post processing, I’ll just share a smattering of images from our trip so far. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
Love from India!
Kerala Kathakali Cultural Center – Fort Cochin
Fisherman at Marari Beach
Sights along the Kerala Backwaters from a houseboat
Our family adopted a tradition from some dear friends a few years back entitled Roses and Thorns. Before tucking in for the night, we all join together to reflect on our favorite and least favorite events from the day. In all the chaos of daily life, it has become an enjoyable respite and a way for us to all connect and reflect as a family. Before we embarked on our big trip, it was also a means to tease out what the kids were up to while at school or other various activities. Now that we are together 24/7, it is a time to check in to see how we are all doing and reminisce about our adventures big or small. I started to log these roses and thorns in a notebook to keep a diary of our trip. Yesterday, was the first time, my daughter really couldn’t think of a thorn. Yes!
We have now been in Nepal for just over a month. Aside from our trek out of the valley, we have stayed entirely in Kathmandu. The hustle and bustle of the city can at times be over stimulating, with the pollution, traffic and constant noise, but I have to admit I love it. I think this is the first time that I have not let the negatives get to me and just embraced it all. We have been going on short excursions to temples, stupas, and walks into the old section of the city. In just a mere 15 minute jaunt across the Basmati foot bridge from my in-law’s house in Chhauni, we can be in Jhhonchen (Old Freak Street), Asan, Durbar Square or New Road. This old section of Kathmandu is so full of life and color and hustle it is a joy to take it all in. Below are a some images from the last few weeks. Thank you for following us on our journey!
Schools out and the local kids enjoy some street side pani puri
All the fish you can find in Asan
Hot roasted peanuts!
You never know when you might stumble upon a wedding procession in the middle of the day.
Wedding procession through Chhauni
He’s got the beat.
Bring it on home!
Young girl at Pashupati
Sadhu at Pashupati
Architecture museum in Patan
Views from old Newar building
Temple sights from Patan
Let there be light
Lighting the candles at the Bagalamukhi Temple in Patan
Mother and son making offerings to the deity of the temple, Patan
How much is that doggie in the doorway?
One of a few screen prints on old buildings in Patan
As we were leaving the Muktinath temple on our way back to the village of Kagbeni, my daughter reached the entrance gate and said, “We already are where we are.” Certainly, she meant that we had returned back to where we started but I was so charmed by this statement. It has become a mantra in a way. Each time we reached a place we had been before, I found myself saying it. We are where we are and we keep coming back. A metaphor of sorts.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I went on the Annapurna trek exactly 20 years ago. We did it in reverse this time, flying into Jomsom and walking back to Ghasa. It was my goal to make it up to Muktinath since we were unable to reach there the last time due to the all too common traveler’s sickness. It was wonderful to be back here with our children despite some of the challenges with the road. Development in the area has certainly had a negative impact for trekkers, but we were able to find alternative trails that avoided the dusty and often times dangerous road.
Rather than bore you dear readers, with a full trip report, I offer these visuals. I did spend some extra time to caption the images if you are so inclined.
S.T.A.L (short take off and landing) flight from Pokhara to Jomsom
Flying through the mountains you feel as if you could reach out and touch them.
Thumbs up from the pilot is what you want to see
Runway in sight
Starting out from Jomsom
Village of Thini
View from Thini
Shepherd on the Kaligundagi River Basin
On the road to Muktinath
Walking past abandoned barrels of tar used for paving the road.
It doesn’t take long to realize that your kids will be bored wherever you are. Yep, they are officially bored out of their minds. I can’t say I blame them, we have been holed up in this house for a good portion of the week. Kishore and I are feeling a bit restless ourselves. Our few attempts at outings have been lackluster at best and/or hindered by major traffic jams or our daughter’s complaints of stomach pain. I do believe her pain was legitimate, at least initially, but I am coming to realize it is now an attempt to avoid having to go on walks.
While there are a multitude of cultural activities and attractions in Kathmandu, getting to them is definitely a challenge where we are staying. Traffic jams can be mind numbing and walking in the city center (which we did one day) was a bit of a shit show. The kids (and I) were legitimately scared they were going to be hit by a truck or motorcycle. Luckily traffic moves at such a snail’s pace that any accident would likely not be life threatening.
So while we prepare for our trek, we are finding ways to combat the boredom, mostly by eating. On the bright side, the kids are keeping up with their school work, playing with the dogs and recently started making their own music videos. Helena has a bit of an affinity for Taylor Swift (lord help me) and sits in front of the vanity lip-syncing her favorite songs. Its a riot.
Less than a week into our stay in Nepal, we are all working through jet lag and various bodily ailments. Evanan, who has always had a high histamine response, is swollen with infected mosquito bites. Our resident thumb sucker, Helena has mild travelers diarrhea and I still can’t kick my chest congestion that started before we got on the plane and seems to be exacerbated by the poor air quality in Kathmandu. All said, we are laying low at my father-in-law’s place for a few more days.
In our downtime, we are making plans to go on the Jomsom trek in the Annapurna’s next week with our family friends from Seattle. The last time Kishore and I went on this trek was exactly 20 years ago. Regrettably, I became ill during the last few days of the trek and had to take a night donkey (something that can be arranged) to the nearest exit point in Jomsom where we were able to take a flight out the next morning. This time around we’ll be doing the trek in reverse, flying into Jomsom from Pokhara and then trekking back down, at least that is the plan for now. It may be a bit ambitious for the kids but we will take it slow and with all the tea houses along the route we should have options if things go awry. I do hope that a few of us will be able to make it to Muktinath which we missed the last time around.
So much has changed over the last 20 years. There is now a road all the way from Pokhara to Muktinath where there was once only trails. You can book accommodations at various teahouses prior to going on your trek, which is also new to us. There is a mandate that went into effect several years ago that all foreign tourist must have a guide while trekking. I’m not entirely sure how that will all work out, I guess we shall see.
Below are just a few snapshots of our surroundings in Chhauni during this downtime.