28.4.14

Cambodia

Take me back to those two amazing weeks I spent exploring parts of beautiful and mysterious Cambodia. Five countries were down and this was one of the best ones.

Take me back to a time I wandered on one of the most amazing beaches I had ever seen. Sun was shining like it was its last day, crystal clear turquoise sea calling me to take a refreshing swim and snow white sand inviting me to lie down and enjoy the heat. I was happy, wondering how it was possible to find this inhabited beach on the other side of jungle. I looked at white sand-colored crabs moving sideways to the sea from their sand holes as quickly as possible.. when one of them run over my leg, reminding me that there's a fine line between dreams and reality.
Take me back to my over night stay in a hammock between two coconut trees on the beach. To those crazy days when I met new absolutely awesome people and travel mates.. and partied with Beyonce look-alike ladyboys. To those extremely long and hot three days in a bus with local people sitting on the bus's floor with their incredibly calm babies when there was no space for anyone else to join. To little children's' gazing when I walked down those narrow alleys of Phnom Penh photographing their normal day routines. Take me back to time when I sat on little red and blue stools on the road eating noodle soup with meat and something else I didn't really ask for. To those shabby roads with blowing sand, chaotic traffic, strained electricity and no internet. Take me back to that road where we got stopped by a police who said it's time to go to the police station while driving a motorbike without helmets.. and getting rid of him by giving him 10 dollars. To those times I had great conversations with prostitutes on streets of Siem Reap. To ancient Angkor Wat, listed to Unesco's World Heritage Site, where we rent bikes and rode to the sunrise at 5am. To those beautiful women and girls with smiling and friendly faces and genuine laughter, much more actually than in any other countries I had been.

And take me back to this extremely beautiful and diverse country where I travelled totally spontaneous with one day considering time with two guys I had just met in Thailand. And it was one of the best decisions on my journey.












26.2.14

Life is a grand festival and I'm living it right now

"Because I don't live in either my past or my future. I'm interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you'll be happy."


That is one thing I have learned while travelling. I usually worry about things too much and I've been learning to let go and really concentrate on the present. I also have grown as a thinking person and understood lots of things that I didn't before.


Living and working in Pai has been both an amazing opportunity and an mind changing experience. When I bought my flight ticket from Singapore to Chiang Mai, I knew that I could have gone to some new place, but I still wanted to go back to this one precious place I felt like home. But what should people really know about Pai ? Always when travellers are asking what has been your favourite place or where should they go next, I tell them to go to Pai. It's not a huge place with loads of shops or nightclubs. But it's full of things to do, after chilling in a hammock next to musicians playing gypsy tunes. I loved every second I spend in Pai in November to December. Now I came back for another three weeks to meet old friends, work in a bar&restaurant and enjoy jamming with talented musicians. Days passed really fast even I ended up doing lots of things beside work and chilling.

 
One of the many attractions in Pai are hot springs, there are natural ones in jungle (20 bath/0,50€) and proper built ones in spas (80-200 bath). I enjoyed both but the feeling bathing in a jungle with locals and beautiful view excited me more. There's canyon, caves, view points at the top of the mountains, beautiful jewellery shops, walking street, chilling live music bars and cafes etc. There's many waterfalls I went with a motorbike to, but also this one with nice five hour hike. It was a cold sunday night when we sat on a bonfire as usually, jamming, while my friend got an idea to go camping over night at this one waterfall far away in the mountains. Me and people from our hostel were excited about the crazy idea and already started to make lists what to take with. I had no expectations, but as soon as I was hiking this jungle path with my backpack full of useful equipments I realised this night was going to be magical. After five hours wading through rivers and getting wet, letting the sun to dry us we continued that path mix of rocks, plants, river, insects and huge trees above us. Still three more hours of hiking till we would get there. 



Finally we came to this beautiful waterfall, not at the photos above, i was too amazed to even take my tablet out of my bag. We went for a swim and I got an stupid but at the time very clever idea to climb to the top. Well, I got there easily, but after looking down my friends were turned out to be little ants on the ground. It was the moment when I realised I am sometimes too crazy and forgetting to think before. So so slippery and long way down but I did it. I was happy again and had a great laugh. So the night came to our little camping area. I had a hammock like couple of others and around campfire there were 11 sleeping bags on the ground. Amazing and tripping night, I haven't had that much fun dancing in the shadows and staring at the full moon with all the colours of a rainbow. We sang together and played all night long with jungle drum and guitar. 



What I'm really going to miss is the atmosphere. In Pai it's magical. I had my little Pai family at the first time, but I got a new one this time as well. Everyone who I have met in Pai have liked it. I'm glad I get to know to so many new people among my old friends. I worked for awhile in a restaurant to save money and it was situated at a perfect place (photo above), couldn't ask for more. Someone might think I'm crazy when I say this, but I could totally live in Pai for longer time like an half year. I feel like home there and I'm going back after couple of weeks  anyway ;) It's so hard to stay away !

Take care guys, hope you are living in the present. Remember to sing, enjoy little things, laugh, try meditation, write, make art, do what you know the best, and respect nature and people around you. Stay openminded and happy. Hugs.


10.2.14

Am I still in Southeast Asia ?

I have to admit something to everyone. Singapore was really cool. I kind of fell in love with its beautiful, organized, safe, modern, clean and fancy atmosphere which was so different from other southeast Asian countries. Skyscrapers, western business men and women walking on the streets, well working underground system and of course more expensive accommodation, food and transportation made Singapore feel like I was totally somewhere else than in southeast Asia. Everyone spoke English and polices were looking after bad behaving citicents. I really had some problems with this country's strict rules about littering, eating or drinking in MRT, the bubble gum rule and crossing streets with red traffic lights. I'm so used to eat or drink while I'm traveling in a bus or train so this rule was quite hard to remember. I also have to admit that I ate one lollipop by mistake waiting the MRT to come, ran across the road with red traffic lights and dropped maybe something by accident. Anyway the most important thing here is that the police didn't see me and give 500-1000 Singapore dollars fine which is half amount in euros. 

Singapore has lots of things to see and places to spend your money for. Somehow I managed to do everything free, I went to a teather where they played live music twice in a day so I listened young musicians playing jazz and Chinese traditional music played with Chinese instruments. I found my way to the rooftop where I watched the lightning show which is shown every night from Marina Sands Bay.

 The city lights were amazing at night. 


It was so easy to stay 6 days in Singapore, I stayed in a nice and tidy hostel 10 minutes MRT ride away from the central city and Marina Bay, with all inexpensive local food stalls. I totally fell in love with the food there. You could choose from lots of different meats, fish, vegetables and noodles the one you liked and they gave you rice with that and everything cost like 1 euro. But when I went to business area in the city the food was almost five times more expensive. At the first day I already made friends with my neighbours who owned this awesome restaurant and as soon as I went to eat there more than two times they gave me discount. Perfect place I thought.


Then what comes to shopping I have to admit I did some in Singapore's long shopping street where's so many stores and malls that you will go crazy. One day shopping was good for me, I found some stuff what I really needed. The prices though weren't even close to Thailand's and I ended up spending much more I had spent before in this trip in couple of days. 


Singapore is so close to Malaysia but the biggest difference is that there's not that much Muslims or Indians and more Chinese and western people. What really was following some kind of secret law was that everyone wore really fancy clothes. Lots of young people were fashionistas and women were really wearing very high high heels. And I did something I hadn't done in ages; wore makeup and got fancy too.



24.1.14

Opposites attract in Malaysia

What can I say, at the first time I had no expectations or much knowledge about a country before I crossed the border and found my little bed in a dorm room in Georgetown in the island of Penang. Malaysia wasn't on my to do list when I was planning my trip, but now I can't be more happier for my expired Thai visa and therefore the force to go to another country. 

I found Georgetown really cultural and interesting. Its streets were full of art, graffitis and little art galleries and museums. It had mosques, Hindu temples, Chinese temples and many more outstanding sightseens.




With amazing luck we ended up there just in time for big Hindu festivals, Thaipusam.
 It was more than I even had time to expect and I saw something the previous day of it what I never had been seen before; A holy man perforated three young men's cheeks with a stick and back with twenty hooks after which they begun a spiritual journey to the mountains as part of the next day's Thaipusam. One of the participants were a woman and she got a stick through her tongue too instead of back hooks. I was photographing and filming this and it turned quite difficult to watch at some points. The thing is that those participants have so much faith that they don't feel the pain as I would if someone put twenty hooks hanging from my back for couple of days. The strength of religion is fascinating. I don't belong in any (a bit of Buddhism) but it's interesting. At the next day we took a one hour bus to the area where Thaipusam were organized and I was amazed by the beauty of hundreds of sarees in different colours on Indian women. India is my next years top one destination but there I felt properly walking on a street in India instead of Malaysia. Indian dancing music were playing loud and I noticed just men were those who danced and women were standing a safe step away. I was wearing a long dress and part of sari draped over my shoulder and a bindi on my forehead like everyone else there. I'm glad my hair is black because I think me and my friends were the only western people there and when one of us were blonde she got lots of looks and words from the Indian men. Thaipusam was about praying, dancing and praying when dancing. Big pictures of Hindu gods and lots of food stalls and Indian clothes, music, jewellery and fun time.



In Malaysia I ate the best food so far since November. I'm so into Indian food that I ate it everyday.. twice, for one week. I don't really know anything better at the moment. Being so bored with Thai food with my gluten and lactose allergies (fried rice and rice noodle soup) Malaysian and Indian food were totally refreshing change. A lot more to choose from.

What I saw and learned were that Malaysia is mixed with Malaysians, Chinese and Indians. Muslims, Taoism and Hinduism. And four different local languages. Malaysia has a cities with skyscrapers, and jungle with over ten meters long trees and mountains. Don't forget Borneo, a part of an big jungle island that belogns to Malaysia. In this country opposites really attract. When I took the four hours bus journey from Georgetown to Cameron highlands I saw the same scenery as in north Thailand. Mountains and green bamboo tree forest. I started immediately feel like home. My journey started over 2 months ago from little villages in north Thailand and it's still a fresh memory in my head. Being a girl who cut bamboo trees with a jungle knife and drank water from them and built huts from leaves and little pieces of cut bamboo makes me feel proud of myself and the experience I had. I feel I may go back, at least I have seven weeks to go still.




Cameron highlands were located on beautiful green mountains and had big tea plantations and lots of to see as bee farm with fresh honey, rose and cactus houses, butterfly farm and many straberry farms. This town were perfect for trekking and discovering the hidden jungle spots and a rare one meter long flower blooming only this time in year.

I spent three nights on mountains and after that I escaped the coldness to the big capital, Kuala Lumpur. Everything were so huge, builings weren't just normal sized, they looked like kilometer long. The city got me excited but in couple of days a little bit stressed. It wasn't so safe and walking alone wasn't a good idea. Lots of men yelling after you while you walk and calling you names and to come to their shops which made walking without getting a bit annoyed impossible. Sometimes they were quite rude and trying to touch which I hate so much even I was properly dressed in long dress and scarf in muslim country. But immediately when I was walking with two guy friends nobody said a word. Thank god I had a great company.

I had a chance to visit Batu Caves during three days stay in the capital. Definately a local cultural site to be seen. But be prepared to climb all the steps, as there are nearly 275 steps in all to get to the top. The cave itself is quite big with Hindu temple inside, a lot of monkeys and their babies which tourists are keen to take photos of. We visited Batu caves just few days after Thaipusam (it is organized in every big city) so it was looking still like after festivals. You could see dead chicken and trash on the ground which weren't yet cleaned away. After those 275 steps back down we ended up strolling we ended up strolling all the little street stalls and I bought a locket with a picture of my favorite Hindu god Ganesha. I'm even thinking of getting a tattoo of it one day.


One week went so fast, as always when you are traveling and I have to say that Malaysia was totally worth of visit for a week. It has multiple attractions to see and things to do. I wish I could go to Borneo one day as well. I'm leaving Malaysia with a a big smile and already miss my favourite local Indian street food place in KL.


Of course the must visit sightseen in KL were the Petronas Towers. They are so majestic but so is the oil company who owns them. Malaysia is so much more developed than Thailand or Vietnam. It's more expensive but there's cheap transportation. Drinking is really expensive but I still don't have to worry about that. Keeping myself away from alcohol has been so nice and easy without hangovers plus saving so much money hih.
Im going to miss this country and its contraries maybe a little bit. Or the food ??!