One of the true adventures of travel is wondering how the complete unknown will match up with the anticipations and expectations in your mind. As I head out on my incredible journey to SE Asia, I am filled with excitement about the adventures I will find, anxiety about surviving the 20 hours of actual flight time and feeling blessed for the desire to make the world my playground.
While I am heading to Asia for several travel writing and photography assignments, I will also be celebrating my 40th birthday and enriching my life with new discoveries about humanity and myself. My travel companion, David Peters, is uncovering these stones with me and will certainly experience a lot of self-discovery also. You simply CANNOT return from travel the same as person as when you left.
The journey begins in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where local markets and a visit to the famous Cu Chi tunnels fill the agenda. Engaging with locals is how I choose to really get to know a foreign culture and there is no better way to do that then to just be a part of it!
The next stop is Siem Reap, Cambodia. I will hold my breath in anticipation of the sunrise over the Angkor Wat temples that I have only ever seen in photos. A boat trip to Battambang will take us past floating villages to arrive in the remote hills of the Cambodian countryside. The DAY I turn 40 (October 30th) I will be riding a motorbike through mountain villages (not accessible by car) and visiting caves that hide a dark history of the Khmer Rouge Regime.
Next, is Loas, a very primitive country. I am anxious for the trip down the Mekong where we will visit with many villagers and take-in some of the most spectacular natural views in the world. There are tea and coffee plantations that thrive in this natural setting. I plan on grabbing the freshest cup-o-joe I’ve ever had as I head to one of many waterfalls and just appreciate life.
Chiang Mai, Thailand is the next stop where we have a moment to rest before getting on an elephant for a 3-day trek through the jungle in northern Thailand. Along the way, we will visit Karen Tribe villages. We will learn how to cook authentic Thai dishes and perhaps even fish with the locals.
Bangkok is the last stop before heading back to Vietnam. Beyond the incredible shopping, Thai kickboxing tournaments, the nightlife and feeling the mystique of the city, the highlight here is without a doubt the fishing we will do at Bungsamran Lake. Some of the world’s largest freshwater fish are in this lake and I have dreamed of living my own version of River Monsters for a very long time. The Mekong giant catfish, giant Siamese carp and the arapaima top more than 250lbs. in this lake!!!!!! I have packed the aqua shoes for my opportunity to jump in the water (ewwww, I know!) and take a photo with my catch.