Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Still shocked, stunned and amazed at our travel experiences!

It is amusing to think about the things that have shocked, stunned and amazed us during our travels and how our mindsets have adopted, altered, and refused some of our observations.  Here are a few examples. 

Motorcycles, Mopeds and Scooters
Watching a family of five load onto a two-wheeled vehicle is crazy, right?  Well watching that same family of five race through traffic, where traffic laws are mere suggestions, with no helmets and a newborn baby… is LUDICRIOUS!  And to think there was once a time, way back in Europe, when we thought helmet-clad drivers, passing between lanes of traffic on motorcycles was dangerous.  Thank goodness we are now in ‘Tuk-tuk Land’ and there is no need to keep an eye out for crazy motorized cycles.  Never mind… the tuk-tuks are actually pulled by motorcycles.  I had kind of forgotten that because, well... the drivers wear actual helmets and pass through the streets (read – not on the sidewalks) without beeping constantly! At first glance you would never know that these vehicles were - once upon a time - a motorcycle.  You know the kinds with two wheels, mirrors, a seat, and a gas tank. Why not just use, I don’t know, maybe a 2L pop bottle or plastic jug for a gas tank and a wooden plank for a seat? Who knew these things were un-necessary upgrades when purchasing a motorcycle!?    
* side note* The transporting of entire extended families and various oversized loads by motorcycle, has always and will continue to shock, stun and amaze us. 

Gassing up for the journey!
This guy was a pet-store on wheels - selling fish from his motorcycle. 

We couldn't believe when this guy pulled away from the curve with his little dogs on the
back!  We watched him drive for quite sometime and the dogs balanced as he wove in and out of traffic - CRAZY!
Creepy Crawlies, Critters and Other Non-Human Beings
I’ve had encounters with mice over the years, not fun, but I managed to come out unscathed every time.  Snakes, spiders and ‘komodo dragons’ – been there done that too, but…rats… well that was not pretty, and ‘the’ rat nearly won.  Since then, I have preferred to keep my distance, and it hasn’t really been that difficult…until recently!  I’m not really the scaredy-cat, squealing and jumping on the chair type, but I do get the wiggles and goose bumps at the sight of a rat.  Or at least I used to.  Last night I watched one scurry along beside us for a little too long – really, anytime is too long, but not a goose bump in sight.  I never thought I would grow accustomed to seeing rats out and about.  Then again, I’ve never considered eating bugs before either, but it is quite the rage in Cambodia!  They actually set up traps to catch crickets.  Just fry them up, add a little lemongrass and chili and you are set – delicious right!?!!  Yeah…I didn’t actually try them, I was too busy trying to get rid of my goose bumps.  They eat fertilized eggs here too, the crunchier the better, and… cue goose bumps!

Nap time
On a motorcycle, shop floors, in hammocks hung in tuk-tuks, on park benches, on market tables, and in hotel lobbies – everywhere you go day or night someone is sleeping!  I just don’t get it, how come everyone is so darn sleepy?  Okay, I get the tuk-tuk hammock sleepers having a mid-day nap – those guys are up at 4:30am to drive crazy tourists around Angkor Wat, and will be awake to take them home from the night market at 11:00 pm too.  No problem, pull out a hammock and have a snooze while we wander around ancient ruins, by all means, I get that!  The hotel lobby-sleeping-guys?!? So I have figured out that they are the night watchmen, but the fact that pillows, sheets, mattresses and pajamas are all optional is a little shocking.  Twice we have had to wake up these guys when checking out early in the morning – crazy! But the fellows sleeping on their motorcycles on the sidewalk, or the shopkeepers sawing logs in their open shops, I just don’t get it.  Somehow waking someone up to ask the price of a fridge magnent, just seems wrong.
Fine Dining
The combination of a tiny bit of ‘food’ and ‘space’ equals restaurant.  I think my favourite is the sidewalk restaurant.  Set up a couple of mini tables and stools (and I mean really mini, particularly in Vietnam), a gas burner, charcoal BBQ or gas powered deep fryer and bingo – instant restaurant!  You could have the restaurant on a trolly, motorcycle or backpack too, although these do not usually come with the mini stools and tables.  I never really thought I would frequent a ‘restaurant’ of this sort, I think I was kind of a restaurant ‘snob’ – well not anymore folks!  We have had some of our favourite meals and snacks from hawkers and street vendors, and it is so much fun to experience life on the street sidewalk.  Is it fresh you ask?  Absolutely!  We still think it is funny that after we have ordered our meals someone heads out on a motorcycle and returns minutes later with the ingredients to prepare it.

This restaurant set up and packed everything away everyday and was on the side street right outside our home stay.  We passed on the boiled duck and chicken ready to serve here - ewwww!
These burners are ceramic and are a way for the travelling restaurants to keep things hot without fuel.
Yep, it is a restaurant on the move!

A poor example of the restaurant with mini chairs - Can't believe I don't have a good picture to illustrate this
- they were EVERYWHERE in Vietnam!

Smiley, Happy, People
People in South East Asia smile, they smile a lot – great big genuine eye crinkling smiles - I love it.  The people are happy and friendly and I can’t help but join them in a grin from ear to ear when chatting with them.  Even the once dreaded haggling over a purchase is enjoyable, when everyone is smiling. I love joking around about how much a tuk-tuk to Canada will cost or how I always seem to be the first sale of the day, ‘opening’ the shopkeepers business and bringing ‘good-luck’! Even when I am not interested in looking at another trinket, the shopkeeper is always smiling.  “Maybe tomorrow, lady…I give you good price – you remember me lady.” I find myself smiling a lot more often now too, I can tell because I keep getting them back, and how amazing is that!?!

Yes, I made a purchase! It is Ganesha, whose new home will by my classroom.  Ganesha is widely revered to as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom.  According to Wikipedia, Ganesha is also known as the patron of letters and learning during writing sessions! 
The little girl greeting customers at the dumpling restaurant
Culture, History and Architecture

The words shocking, stunning, and amazing don’t actually do justice to describe some of the cultural and historical experiences we have had on our journey.  The temples in Cambodia took our breaths away and believe me, we have seen many, many temples during our travels.  Learning about the history of some of the countries we have visited has also shocked and stunned us.  The horror, the courage, the strength and the loss that some of these cultures have endured is almost unbearable to imagine at times.  We have endeavoured to experience both the beauty and the not-so-beautiful components of the countries we have visited, and still are enjoying every minute of our travels.  I suppose I am a little shocked at that too.  I figured I’d be anxious to return home at the end of our year away, but I kind a luv this travelling thing.  What seemed like such a long time to be away from home at the beginning of our adventure, has turned out to be such a brief but beautiful time in our lives – and to be honest, I don’t really want it to end.  I saw a t-shirt slogan that said “Don’t be sad that it’s over, but glad that it happened”, so that is how I will be, no matter how shocked, stunned and amazed I am in two weeks.  

Angkor Wat
Our beautiful Meg
Our beautiful Ally
Bayan Temple - one of our favourites!
Couldn't miss this photo opportunity!
Ta Prohm Temple, where Tomb Raider was filmed starring Angelina Jolie. 
The trees were just amazing.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE your post. Very excited to actually hear about your adventures and not just read.:) We miss you so much.. The Robitaille Family would love a copy of the picture of you sitting in the photo frames. xoxox Counting down the days till we can book a visit with you at the lake house


Hi, we love to read your comments. It may take awhile for us to publish them so don't worry if they don't appear right away. Thanks for taking the time to read about our adventures!