20 March 2011

cambodia!

 after one of the longest journeys of my life (36 straight hours of traveling including a 3 hour jaunt into singapore), we arrived in cambodia.
 dr. fish foot massage (tiny fish that eat your dead skin... very ticklish)
 elephants!  my power animal :)
 posing in the angkor ruins
 street kids are everywhere, "hello pretty lady, hello sister, you buy something?  only ten for one dollar!" they are adorable and mischievous and have kept us pretty entertained.  here they are sneaking into angkor thom.
 we got up at 4:30am and made a pilgrimage in the dark to watch the sun rise over angkor wat, one of the seven wonders of the world.
 we also donated blood to the kantha bopha children's hospital, which provides free healthcare to cambodian children who desperately need it.  there is never enough blood as there is an epidemic of dengue fever, which requires a blood transfusion in children.  definitely check out this program.  the health care sector in this country is still reeling after the khmer rouge's genocide, but these hospitals are beginning to change that.
we did a khmer cooking class where we learned how to make things like amok and sticky rice with mango.  absolutely delicious!

it's still too early to really be able to articulate my feelings about cambodia, because i haven't quite processed all of the crazy experiences i've had in the last week.  there's nothing quite like whizzing down a phnom penh street on a tuk tuk while hundreds of motos carrying families up to 6 careen past just inches away, and to turn left you simply merge into oncoming traffic.  walking around the killing fields, seeing human bone and bits of clothing sticking out of the dirt while being in earshot of children playing outside at their school is a horrific paradox.  sharing smile after smile with cambodian people, who are still recovering from losing a quarter of the country's population during a mere four year regime, yet are some of the most smiley people i've ever come across.  we go to thailand tomorrow.  ill post a lot more on new zealand, cambodia, and this entire trip when i'm back home, but for now, i'll try to do some little snippets like this when i can. 

my one khmer word that i learned: arkun, which means thank you.

10 March 2011

a walk through the new zealand clouds

yesterday the four of us took care of business most of the morning and then set off to do the takaka hill walkway
it was a glorious stroll along the tops of ridges.  we would go through tunnels of dense moss covered forests and then come out to fields of limestone carved into intricate, sharp ripples
at times we would literally have our heads in the clouds, as there was a distinct line of clouds running along the spine of the mountaintops.  here the white of the clouds blends into the white background but you get the idea.
it is still such a joy to revel in green after months and months without it
i am really settling into this laid back new zealand lifestyle, but alas, it's off to south east asia on monday.  i am a little nervous, but mostly just buzzing about in ridiculous amounts of excitement.  we got an email from jetstar today telling us that they have changed our flights so that we have a 13 hour layover in singapore, so we're adding another country that we get to visit.  we're going to take a 5 hour tour of downtown and eat some delicious foods.  and jetstar is even giving us a $50 voucher for our inconvenience :)  perfect.

07 March 2011

today! today!


TODAY, I: mountain biked on some truly spectacular New Zealand single track trails, hiked through otherworldly mossy forests, realized I have just a week until I fly to Cambodia, relished in how lucky I am to have the most amazing family, ached for all the friends I haven't seen in far too long, felt my heart bursting with love for my adventurous boyfriend, enjoyed absurdly fresh and scrumptious fish and chips, basked in the fact that I don't have to work for another six months, and wondered how on earth I got to be so lucky.  Shapow!

06 March 2011

ahh new zealand (or: on becoming a barefoot crusty)

I've been in New Zealand a week now.  Every morning is still like a breath of fresh air though, after all the cold, the white/brown/grey palette, the nonexistence of living things, the 60 hours of work a week.  I wake up, snuggle with the boy, watch as the sun comes streaming in through the large open window, and then make some eggs, maybe eat some of the homemade granola my mother just made solely with ingredients from the farmer's market, and then find out what sort of adventure is in store for us.
 The color everywhere is intoxicating after such a lengthy void.  The contrasts between plants and buildings, mountains and clouds, ocean and sky are overwhelming in the best sort of way.
 I even found a swing!
We hiked up a mountain covered in lush jungle to find an enormous cave full of stalactites.  I don't have a good picture of the inside because I got a little freaked out by the immensity - both above and below me.  So I sat in the sunshine and marveled at the formations from above.
 My cutie, all sweaty from his descent below.
The sweetest little cows were grazing near the hike to the cave.  Look at those darling eyes.  I'd like to bring one home with me and hang a wreath of flowers around its cutie neck.
This is Pupu Springs, the clearest, cleanest water in the world (beyond the water below the Ross Ice Shelf - where I was in Antarctica!)  It was gorgeous, just completely clear except for the reflections of the trees around it.

Much more soon...

p.s. a barefoot crusty is what New Zealanders call their hippies.  It's preferred that people enter stores barefoot rather than wearing muddy (or boggy) shoes, so a lot of people take advantage of this and pad around downtown with nothing on their feet.  Kevin and I have tried it out a few times, but I have to say, after walking around the not so clean city streets of Nelson (and having had my little feeties in socks almost all the time for the last seven months), the bottoms of my feet are feeling a little rough.