Non-stop Catch-up

Dear sweet heaven. I just looked at the last time I posted. JANUARY??? Well, dammit. That’s too much to catch up on! Can I play my blogging start-over card, please?   No? Okay, how about a super-quick bulleted list catch-up, then a start-over? Ok? Ok. Thanks. (shhh… i’m not even going to edit this… just get it posted already…)

Here’s a list of some of the places I’ve gone, things I’ve done, people I’ve traveled with over the past 2+months:

  • I went to Lazy Beach out on Koh Rong Samloem with SLT1 and A.
  • I traveled solo to Siem Reap, including a trip to Koh Ker and Beng Melea (intentionally avoiding some of the major temples near Angkor Wat as I knew they’d be on the agenda in the near future).
  • I headed back out to Lazy Beach with SLT1, A, and A’s sister, Iron Squid (long story…).
  • Right from there, we went to Tatai for river swimming, SUPing, and jungle trekking.
  • A couple of days later, I flew to JAPAN! to meet up with my sister. I’ve gotta say a bit more about this, though…. But I’ll stay with  a brief list. We hit both Tokyo and Kyoto, and here are just a few of the things I loved about this country:
      • The organized, clean chaos of the big city (such a difference from PP)
      • The beauty of the fabrics
      • The lovely people
      • The greenery around Kyoto
      • The ramen
      • The sushi (fatty tuna=fish butter… mmmm….)
      • The ramen
      • The soba
      • The ramen
      • The udon
      • The okonomiyaki (how had I not even heard of this before?)
      • The sushi
      • The Ghibli Museum
      • The Kabuki-za theater
      • The parks
      • The otaku culture
      • The temples (so different, too!)
      • THE PUBLIC BATHS, especially Kurama Onsen
      • The ramen
    • Seriously, I dream about the ramen. Maybe it was the roasted pork, but daaaaaaaaaamn. Sis says she’s going to open a vending machine ramen counter where she lives. I plan to live in the upstairs apartment (not that I’ve thought about this much – ha!).
    • And even though the ramen was that good, the best part was spending time with my sissypants. Damn, I love that gal…
  • Several days later I welcomed my first visitor from the U.S.! This is an immense journey to make, and A² had some airline issues that made it even more immensely immense. But once he and (eventually) his luggage arrived, we got in some memorable travels:
      • We headed up to Siem Reap and did the temple tour thing, proving to me that I could still be “wowed” by and really enjoy temples (even if I did lose my phone – oops!).
      • We hit some of the touristy things in Phnom Penh that I’ve been putting off, like the Royal Palace and Wat Phnom.
      • We took the train down to Kampot, rented motos to ride up Bokor Mountain, and drove over to Kep for crab and to eventually report a missing moto (another long story – let’s grab a beer sometime and I’ll tell you all about it!).
      • Then we took the bus to Sihanoukville for the night before heading back over to Koh Rong Samloem, this time starting on Sunset Beach. A² spent the days diving to get his open water cert (an impressive undertaking!), and I spent them hiking the trail to hang with SLT1 and A at Saracen Bay and Lazy Beach (equally as productive, right?).
      • Next we took a tiny (FAST, BUMPY) boat ride over to Lazy Beach for a couple more days before heading back to Phnom Penh.
    • While I know this trip wasn’t easy (and certainly not as a first international trip!), I can barely express my gratitude at being able to share this place with someone from another one of my “home”s.

 

Now the last couple of days I’ve just been lazypants. To the extreme. The first day after A² left, I was actually too lazy (and maybe experiencing some travel/visit-ending let-down) to even go to the theatre to watch movies. Yep. Wow.

But now I’m feeling rejuvenated and ready to jump back in to life in Phnom Penh.

And maybe actually process some things rather than just running in to them head-first non-stop…

Borneo to Bangkok

You know how sometimes you get so far behind on something that you just want to scrap the whole thing? Well, this is my attempt to catch up on blogging in one fell swoop. I’ve just been traveling a lot, which has been delightful — just not conducive to keeping up on anything else. I also feel that way about running. And about keeping up on sweeping the gotdamn apartment, for crying out loud.

But here’s another catch-up post… Not much to write, and just a few pics to share…

Directly after KL, I flew solo over to Borneo. When I landed in Sandakan, it was pouring, but I took a taxi downtown to check it out. I did a bit of the walking tour, but then ditched that and went and saw the new Star Wars movie (yes, I realize how ridiculous this is).

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Down by the waterfront, “downtown” Sandakan
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View from the movie theater lobby (and a break in the rain)

I headed over to Sepilok to the lovely Sepilok Jungle Resort for a few days, and checked out the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

After a drenching walk to lunch at the Lake Bistro, I walked in the rain some more toward the Rainforest Discover Center. But as I started walking on the raised boardwalks (adrenaline bump!), it started to clear up a bit, giving some nice views of the rainforest.

As I got further and further in on the trails, I found myself in literally (actually, really, completely, literally) one of my favorite places on earth. Once I got beyond all the boardwalks and wide gravel trails, I walked for hours on the sometimes muddy paths, not seeing another human the entire time. Exactly what my soul needed.

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I’ve got a thing for magnificent trees, and there was one here that made the top 5 list.

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Those hours hiking were perhaps some of my favorite hours in Southeast Asia thus far. Which says a lot.

The next day, I took a bus past the kilometers and kilometers and kilometers of palm oil farms (read up on “The local impacts of palm oil expansion in Malaysia” if you so care, which I maaaaaaay assert that you might want to care) to get to the Kinabantangan River for a boat tour.

I love me a good wildlife tour, so it was no surprise that I absolutely loved this one. The tour guides said we were incredibly lucky to see the things we saw (orangutans, proboscis monkeys, macaques, crocodiles, mangrove snakes, and birds a-plenty — hornbills, bee eaters, herons, and a bat hawk), but doesn’t every guide say that to every group???

This feels like one of those places where I wished I could have spent another few days, just exploring a bit more, getting out into nature a bit more. Fortunately, though, I headed to Bangkok directly after Borneo to visit J, who had moved to Bangkok about six weeks prior. Not too many words to say about Bangkok, other than the food and especially the company were fabulous.

And, while I’m based in Phnom Penh, it seems like I’ve barely spent any time here because, shortly after getting back from Bangkok, I picked up a bit of work but then headed out to Lazy Beach out on Koh Rong Samloem for nearly a week (started as a 3-night stay with SLT1 and her beau, A, but we couldn’t bear to leave!). This, my friends, is the charmed life of Julie.

While we were on the island, A asked me about my journaling. “Do you write about events or about your thoughts about them?” My answer was both, but I find it interesting that this blog has really only contained a non-edited, quickly-scrawled catalogue of events for the past couple of months. Just wait — I’ll undoubtedly post a painfully introspective brain barf in the not too distant future. Promise!