the day we rode an elephant.

in cambodia we rode an elephant on july 23 in angkor.
mucho excitement
he steers with his feet
we were both smiling this big the entire elephant ride
she was such a good elephant. we took about three photos with her like this and each time she would hold still and let us touch her trunk.

our elephant ride was about 25 minutes. we rode from the south gate of angkor to angkor thom. lifelong goal of mine, checked off my list.

our ear to ear grins made up for the highly unenthused elephant driver dude.

if i ever move to cambodia or southeast asia, i'll get me an elephant because it would definitely be my preferred mode of transportation. even though getting everywhere may take about twice as long...
but i just know my elephant and i would be best friends because we like a lot of the same things like bananas, coconuts, walking and hanging out in the dirt.


a day in the life in cambodia

siem reap, cambodia, july 22-23
i've got a lovely bunch of coconuts
we are adorable when we eat lunch in cambodia
dr. fish foot "massage"
"no piranha"
beautiful cambodian temples everywhere
tuk tuk time
mangosteens. the white part is the fruit.

we arrived in siem reap early and were able to check into our hotel at about 8:30am. that was so so nice since most hotels make you wait until about 2pm. our hotel was the angkor pearl hotel, which has gotten this prestigious trip advisor award because it's so awesome. it was really great, clean, great service and not to mention, a really good deal. there is also a food market close which keeps ben and i happy.

we went shopping and ate food and did some more of those things. by lunchtime we decided we loved cambodia.

we got a fish foot massage thingy where the fish eat the dead skin off your feet. it's a definite must to get the full southeast asian experience (since it's not specific to cambodia). it really tickles at first but then it's kind of awesome. and just sort of funny? and then your feet are so nice and smooth afterwards. especially nice if you've been backpacking asia for a few weeks.

ate at touich restaurant. it's #1 on trip advisor for restaurants in siem reap. the restaurant owner will pick you up, for free, from your hotel (and take you back) because the restaurant is kind of out of the way. it's a beautiful little restaurant with amazing food. we only paid $18 for the both of us for dinner, but we would have paid three times as much if we had to. everything about the restaurant is lovely. the people are so nice and all their food reflects how great they are.

things to remember:
saw a can of v8 at the market. it was almost $2 but i bought it because i needed some vegetables. best v8 ever.
found some mangosteens at the market and ate them. was so excited thanks to recommendation from megan. it's like a kiwi, banana, citrus fruit. love it.
i think cambodian (the language) looks really pretty.
i want to go back to cambodia. i feel like it's under appreciated and is often a side trip/footnote to many tourists' trips to thailand. but i really loved it.


cambodia. angkor temples.

siem reap, cambodia, july 22-23
at about 5:45am
angkor wat at sunrise
angkor wat
angkor wat
angkor wat
an old royal palace
see that "wall"? we climbed those stairs
ta prohm
ta prohm
ta prohm
ta prohm
our tuk-tuk driver. cutest man ever.

angkor (pronounced on-cor) wat and its surrounding temples are what draw many tourists to cambodia.

you can get a free pick up from the airport to your hotel if you book the same tuk-tuk driver to take you around the angkor temples (which is highly recommended).
can you imagine this cute man, greeting us at the airport with a little sign for ben's name and a huge smile?

because of that, we instantly loved cambodia.

on our second day, we left our hotel at 5am so we could make it to angkor wat for sunrise.
tickets to the angkor temples are $20 for a day pass. the pass is super legit... meaning your photo is on it and people check it at most temples.
we watched the sunrise and then toured many of the temples. we were go go go besides a little lunch until 2pm. we were so tired.

...to remember:
we climbed up many of the temples. it was definitely a work out. all the stairs are so steep and sometimes a little narrow for my taste.
it is so incredible to see the temples and to climb them and to study the details. a little surreal and overwhelming, really.
the temples are over 1,000 years old.
ben and i like ta prohm the most with the trees growing in everywhere. but bayon and angkor wat are close seconds.
we bought postcards from a little boy. he kept saying, "but they only one dollar" and his cute little accent made my dollar leap out of my pocket.
cambodians use u.s. dollars. really. the only time you get cambodian riel back in change is in place of coins. u.s. dollar bills are used by everyone.
fried banana, coconut cream at lunch. so. good.
foot massage afterward was so worth it.


kuala lumpur - the city of shopping malls

kuala lumpur, malaysia, july 21
kl tower
some malls. some treats at malls.
in the park
park near the towers
petronas towers
petronas towers at night
mocktails at the sky bar (traders hotel)

what to do to in kl? you shop, walk around and go to the sky bar to see the petronas towers. kl is famous for its malls and shopping- so we browsed in hermes, harrods and tiffany.

kl- many people call kuala lumpur, kl. it's much easier. and it's the cool thing to do.
petronas towers- tallest twin towers in the world (used to be tallest building, now third tallest :) i love how the towers sort of glow.
entrapment- that rad movie with sean connery and catherine zeta-jones was filmed in kl at the towers. wink.
harry potter- petronas always makes me think of harry potter. expecto petronum. conjuring a petronus.
shopping malls- so many. so big. so many designer shops. so many people shopping.
sky bar has an excellent view of the petronas towers. we didn't have a reservation, so it only took asking to move our seats about five times before we got to sit on the cushy pillows by the window. if you're persistent (and annoying) you will prosper.
we rode the monorail.


around the island of bali

bali, indonesia, july 17-20
tanan ayun temple
at the temple (the baskets of flowers and things are hindu offerings)
monkey forest
at monkey forest
monkey forest
at the 700 year old temple at monkey forest
rice terraces
i love me some rice
so beautiful to me
we made a little friend (who then tried to sell us postcards)

temples everywhere in bali.
rice fields everywhere, too. in that last photo, the thick green grass looking stuff is the rice, ready for harvest. the grains of rice are in those stalks somewhere.
the monkey forest is just that, a monkey forest sanctuary. don't worry, we didn't touch any of the monkeys and few approached us. it was really neat to see so many monkeys at once. i especially like to see monkeys groom each other because... humans do it too, just not as obviously.

things to remember:
food is cheap because it's local (this was my discovery). rice, seafood, fruits, vegis. maybe this is why i am so drawn to living on a tropical island. i want to grow all my own food.
someday i will grow my own rice.
laundry. we had 6 kilos (about 13 pounds) of laundry done-washed, pressed and folded- for about $3.50. i felt like i was on that ikea commercial when that lady leaves the store really fast before people catch her- because she got such a good deal. it's almost criminal how cheap.
laundry shops on every corner
massage on every corner. "you want massage?" we may or may not have gotten $5, 1 hour, full body massages.
circle ks and mini marts on almost every corner.
exit tax in indonesia is almost as much as the visa on arrival. boo.
indonesian rupiah is about 8,400 to $1. we felt like millionaires at the atm. (because we were. in rupiah.)


on the balinese coast

bali, indonesia, july 17-20
seminyak beach
kuta beach
my cute surfer dude
ben is a boy who belongs on the beach
my balancing act
near tanah lot temple
1. tanah lot temple 2. us 3. it was sunny 4. another beautiful temple

temples at sunset

this is us in bali. bali is beautiful. bali is busy. bali is full of australians. ben said, "so this is what australia is like."

we stayed in kuta, where many tourists stay, or rather, australians. kuta beach was nice but we were really glad we went to seminyak beach as well, a short cab ride away. it was nicer, cleaner and not as busy as kuta. (thanks for the advice, sarah, and other nice friends.)

ben took surfing lessons and got a henna tattoo that is a hindu symbol for "welcome"

loved the people. and the food was good, but to be honest, we didn't experience a lot of it due to a slight bout of bali belly. don't worry, we're cool now.

indonesia is predominately muslim, but bali is more hindu. never knew this until now.

admittedly, i was strongly disillusioned with how unauthentic and tourist-ridden some parts of bali are. it was disappointing, but that is what tourism does to a place so beautiful, sometimes. that's why it was nice to see more than one aspect of bali.

i've also heard from people how mad some locals get because tourists expect everything to be so cheap. we heard a lot of,
"thanks for nothing"
"you are crazy people"

we did like being the few americans in a sea of australians, though. people got excited when we said we were from the usa. also because everyone here loves president obama. hehe.

really happy we came to bali. it's not everyday you are a short plane ride from an amazing tropical island.

and somehow, whenever i visit a tropical island... i end up wanting to live there...