Tag Archives: Musings

Bungalows on the riverside

I love boats

Morning View

The Bungalow

Buffalo soup

Trekkin'

Main street of Muang Ngoi

Down the Nam Ou

Dirt road

Sunset

Leaving :(

Muang Ngoi, Laos

What can I say? I’ve been in Phnom Penh for a week. I started writing this when I was in Battambang, Cambodia, where I rode the bamboo train (and screamed with glee like a tiny child the entire way), biked along the riverside in the rain and smiled so much along the way that my face hurt, rode in the Original Batman Tuk Tuk, was told local legends over beers on a mountain top, and had songs about my home town sung to me in the streets.

It was a quiet, sleepy town, and it gave me time to miss the group of friends that I travelled with through Laos all the way down to Siem Reap, Cambodia. I miss Antman, Daniel, Rob, and Ben. We split up a few weeks ago, but I’m already missing being teased for the way I pronounce the word herbs, too many wine carafes in Luang Prabang, too many draft beers on Pub Street, ziplines and rocket festivals in Vang Vieng, the infamous pizza night, and the perfect day of walking (and walking and walking) to find the waterfall, eating buffalo soup, and swimming in a cave.

Today I leave for a homestay in a small village somewhere in the south of Cambodia, but my heart is still swinging in a hammock overlooking the Nam Ou River and watching the mists swirl around the karst mountains, in the far north of Laos.

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A city by the sea

Calton Hill

Crisps!

Make a wish

The View from Calton Hill

Homemade pancakes!

This is a Respectable House
        Down from Arthur's Seat   The Keep

Cowgate graffiti
Up the hill

Bagel
A look out from Arthur's Seat

Edinburgh, Scotland

There’s a piece of me that feels a little pang inside every time I look at a map and see Scotland. There’s a lot to be said for being in the right place mentally before you take a journey. What that right place is, well, that’s up to you. But for me, I wish I’d taken things a little slower when I first went to Europe. Or had more time there. Or more money. Hahaha, always more money, especially for travel in Europe…but overall, I really don’t regret going. I’m so happy that I did.

I do regret, however, only spending three days in Edinburgh. My evil step-brother, P., and I had a friend studying abroad in Edinburgh, K. She is amazing. And she was the best host ever. She let us stay in her dreamy 6-person flat right near the Cowgate, fed us lentils, drew us maps, took us to the falafel bar, and put up with me doing my laundry in the bathroom that took two days to dry.

It was the first time I’d ever walked on cobblestone streets. The tangible sensation and the realization that I was somewhere older than I’d ever been – far older than my own home and country – is something I will never forget.

And I’ll never forget climbing up to Arthur’s Seat by myself, accidentally taking the long, winding, not-clearly-marked path because I am too dumb to read a very simple map. But it was glorious. As I struggled to reach the proper summit from the next hill over, the sun suddenly burst out from behind the clouds and illuminated my way up to the top. I felt wild, and free, and gloriously alive.

Oh, Edinburgh. When I think of it, when I see Scotland on a map, I think of the exact burst of emotion that welled up in me at that moment. Standing there, seeing this incredibly beautiful city spreading out from me towards the ocean, backlit by a gorgeous sky, made me ask myself some hard questions. That moment was one of the motivating factors that made me decide I wanted to travel extensively. Really, what had I done to deserve such an opportunity? Moments like those are the moments I love to experience, not just in travel, but life in general: ones that cause me to stop and think, “Damn, I am so lucky, so blessed, so happy to be here.”

On reflection, the weekend we spent there was perfect. It introduced me to train travel and made me fall in love with it. It introduced me to a lovely seaside medieval town. And it was full of laughs and good company and conversations. I’ll always remember that weekend fondly. I didn’t want to leave. I still want to move to Edinburgh, however implausible it may be. But I almost don’t want to visit it again. I worry that my first impression was so good, that I’d never want to spoil the magic of my memories of my time there. Perhaps Edinburgh will always remain a treasured memory and a wonderful dream.