MY BLOG IS FINALLY WORKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Actual day’s events are up now! Random thought blog is moved to the bottom. 🙂
B E A U T I F U L O L D T E M P L E S
We went to Ta Prohm today, which is one of the things I’ve been looking forward to the most on our trip.
And it DID NOT disappoint.
It didn’t even look real. For me, it was like a storybook coming alive. It was also like Dark Souls (a really beautiful video game Kyle has played) in real life, which doesn’t mean much to most of you but it made it even more incredible. It’s a very popular tourist attraction, and there were a ton of people there, but thanks to my active imagination I just about erased that part from my memory of the day. 🙂
One cool thing that was going on was temple restoration. I’ll have Jennifer elaborate on this (her words will be the text in purple from this point on fyi) because she’ll do a better job than I will. But what I will say is that I’m sure it’s something that irritated a lot of tourists because it made the temple look like a construction site, but Jennifer and I really enjoyed watching the restoration happen.
So first of all, the temple has just random piles of stones all over the place that were obviously part of the temple at one point or another. And the temple has metal braces and poles that are keeping some parts from falling apart. So it’s good that restoration work is happening now!
Since the temples in Angkor are a UNESCO world heritage site, nations from all around the world are sponsoring restoration work. While we watched, workers were hand-chiseling new patterns in sandstone to match the old. Of course there was also a crane and forklift (with some impressive driving going on). It’s hard to imagine how long it took the original workers to build all of it.
And in all the restoration work, historians and archaeologists want people who study the temples in the future to know what parts of the temple are original and what parts were restored. So the current restoration work never gives new stones the same level of finish as the old ones and there are all sorts of standards and rules about how to use as much of the old stonework as possible and how not to speculate on what the temple might have looked like and stick to what they know, etc.
But I wonder what the final goal will be for Ta Phrom because a big part of its allure is the trees growing on top of and in and around the temple and the way the ruins are so picturesque. Already you can see that some of the trees on the temple have died, but their trunks have been preserved. (Also, if anyone knows about cultural differences in appreciating “ruins” I’d love to find out more. Is it a Western thing to think ruins are cool?)
also, when I’m given the chance to “explain” something I may feel like I have to be comprehensive. I realllly didn’t mean to write five paragraphs but now I don’t want to delete them 😛
I am working hard at overcoming my paralyzing fear of butterflies. (in case you don’t already know that about me, I’m being 100% serious. People think I’m joking. I’m not.)
I learned the hard way that she wasn’t joking several years ago when she decided to try going into a butterfly pavilion to face her fears. It wasn’t pretty.
Which has involved photographing them, because they are EVERYWHERE around the temples in Siem Reap. They are unavoidable.
We continued on to explore the inside of Ta Prohm…
I love the picture above because it gives such a good sense of what visiting the temple was like. Grace and I have gotten a lot of pictures with fewer people in them, but don’t let that fool you. This was probably the most crowded temple we’ve visited so far and I found the crowds frustrating at times. I think we were at like 90% humidity too which didn’t help.
It’s almost like the trees are grabbing the temples or melting onto them. It makes me want to look up what sort of trees they are and how they grow. These are almost certainly the coolest trees I’ve ever seen.
hmmmmmm I look like a weird cross between Indiana Jones and Cinderella here.
Haha yes she does. And the butterfly is happy with Jennifer because she will not involuntarily swat it. Also, she will testify that a butterfly CHASED ME at this point in the day.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get footage of Grace running away from the butterfly that was “chasing” her around the temple. I tried not to laugh too hard.
Something pretty cool: the Khmer people, 900 years ago, knew dinosaurs existed. Super cool detail!!
Big trees. VERY big trees.
I’ll have Jennifer recap the day since she’s just now starting to add her own thoughts from the day!
So apparently Grace didn’t remember the adventure we had getting to Ta Phrom. [well, NOW I do. Haha! I just needed something to jog the memory. Life with an ADD brain typically means my thoughts are too loud, rendering my focus skills useless, making me unable to remember things unless I get help. which is why I document my life with lots of photos. but anyway…] We had to get a tuk tuk to take us to Ta Phrom, which shouldn’t be an issue. Most of the time we’re dodging tuk tuk drivers competing for our business right and left.
So, we just went up to one of the drivers doing nothing in a tuk tuk and asked him to go to Ta Phrom (one of the top 3 most popular temples to visit). He didn’t speak much English, so a nearby driver who did helped us & him out. Anyways, after they talked a bit, we got in the tuk tuk – we wanted to support the driver we’d talked to originally.
It became clear very quickly that he didn’t know where the temple is. Grace and I thought that the other driver who spoke English had given him directions (well, he probably had but they must not have stuck). It was good till we got out of town, but pretty soon, he was stopping and asking people running food carts along the side of the road, other tuk tuk drivers, and really anyone around for directions every few minutes. Sometimes they would tell him to turn around and we’d head back the way we’d came till he asked someone else for further directions at the next intersection (and the next one after that . . . you get the idea).
At this point Grace and I had our phones with GPS out so that we knew the way, and I was looking up how to say “left” and “right” in Khmer – but I felt SUPER awkward haha so even when I knew the words I wasn’t doing anything. Mostly I was just thinking that if I were him I’d feel TERRIBLE and nervous and I was nervous for myself about not being able to communicate and also not wanting to get guilted into overpaying because I wasn’t sure how much was appropriate pay for our somewhat circuitous route.
Anyways, we got there eventually, but it was a close call and all three of us were relieved when Grace and I got out of the tuk tuk at Ta Phrom and paid the driver 🙂
And after we got back from Ta Phrom, Grace and I relaxed and read in the hostel, and went out for ice-cream after dinner at a cool place called Blue Pumpkin that wouldn’t look out of place in pdx.
Original blog post back before I could insert the photos….
My blog is having some STRUGGLES.
I’m sorry there’s been nothing for you to see lately. (Adding this parenthetical bit after I finished the blog post: Apparently I’m making the nothingness up to you by writing a novel! also, it’s very all over the place and I didn’t go back and edit stuff very much – this isn’t like my other mostly-well-composed things. so seriously only dive in if you wish and don’t feel bad if you fall asleep.)
okay so here are the technical basics:
- Wifi has not been good enough to post photos. This is just a part of traveling overseas and I did expect it to happen sometimes. In case you hadn’t realized, we’re staying at hostels. We don’t have phone service. Heck, we’re going to be in China for 3 weeks and I’ll be lucky if I can get a VPN and have internet at all!
- When the wifi/wordpress/my computer all seem to agree that they are in the mood to be able to upload photos, the photos inserted are done so incorrectly and I’m left with little meaningless icons. (don’t ask me to explain what I mean)
- When I decide to just TYPE a blog post and stick to words, which is what I have been trying to do the past couple of days, I manage to delete what I’ve written. (Well, it also could be a weird wordpress or computer glitch…either way, material goes *poof*)
Yes, I’m gonna contact WordPress about it, don’t worry.
Anyway… here’s me being super honest: I’m NOT in a good mood. haha.
One paragraph of pathetic whining – you can skip it if you’d like: My stomach has been bothering me for two days now. I had time to write all of this because I currently can’t really get up and do stuff! It’s not food poisoning – I know my body well. My digestive system in general has been confused because I almost never eat animal products, fried foods, or sugar, and I’ve been eating some of all of those things (eating vegetarian has been somewhat easy so far but eggs are everywhere). I am really loving the food, but my privileged* American self misses my constant supply of fresh berries and vegetables. Also, I’m pretty sure I gave myself heartburn from going to sleep right after taking a pill. So there’s that. I also just learned that I am going to be arriving one day too late to attend a wedding I had so hoped I’d be able to witness – and that makes two important weddings I’m missing during my trip. I cried for a while about that whole ordeal and freaked out at Kyle trying to make him magically create money or stop time or control minds… something to alter reality. Yay for tears and forgiveness!
Like I communicated, I am well aware that my problems are quite petty in the grand scheme of things. But there are other things that pile onto these frustrations, and it’s the experience I was waiting to witness: reality.**
I wanted to travel for an extended period of time because there is so much that happens when you’re gone longer than you can grasp. Two weeks is the longest I’ve been away from home, and two weeks is something very tangible: you completely drain yourself of all energy knowing you will be home soon enough to sleep for a couple days and do nothing for a few more. Missing your SO only gets so bad – “I’ll see you NEXT Sunday, enjoy the alone time while ya got it!” And two weeks is short enough that the excitement and the honeymoon period doesn’t have time to wear off. But three months? It extends past the horizon. And it’s terrifying.
The next time I see Kyle, there are little things I’ll have forgotten: how he eats, his different types of laughs, his specific Kyle smell, the shape of each of his fingernails, the locations of the little blemishes on his skin. Those things sound kinda weird, but it’s those little things, those intricacies that only I can know so well, that physically make Kyle who he is to me. From across the pacific ocean I can talk to him, I can read his writing, I can listen to him – all technology I am incredibly thankful for – but I am not hearing the different volumes of his voice in each part of the room; I cannot see the little tiny hairs on his cheekbones; there are no long, coarse, stray black hairs on me that I’ve got to pick off and toss at him playfully. The warmth in the air, the specific presence he has, isn’t there.
And that all has finally hit me: I miss being in that cozy nest with Kyle. I don’t miss Oregon, I don’t miss Portland or Hillsboro or Beaverton, I don’t miss my job (actually I kinda do, I’m just supposed to say that because Americans hate their jobs), not to be harsh but I don’t really miss anybody or anything in general…except Kyle. And for a while I was like, “I don’t get homesick.” But then I realized that that cozy nest with Kyle is home. I haven’t been getting proper sleep for three weeks now and I can feel it. Just ask Jennifer how much rest I’ve wanted lately. She is very very vvveeeeeeeerrryyyyyyy gracious!
Here is where you ask, “why would you want to experience this kind of distance, this controversial challenge?” Maybe because I enjoy the thrill of something so scary, so foreign. Maybe I also want to understand more about relationships and what makes each one so different. But you want to know the two specific reasons?
- I got married young. I am independent person who desired to do lots of things before I got married (actually, I didn’t even WANT to get married most of my life). I lost sight of that part of me a little when I entered into the whirlwind of unexpectedly falling in love with Kyle and being married to him not too long after. You guys, I was TWENTY-ONE when I got married. I know plenty of people who got married young and have wonderful marriages, but I seriously do have my reservations about it now: I really thought I knew who I was 3 years ago. I really did. But I DID NOT. I am such a different person – one I am so much more comfortable with. How Kyle and I have ended up being even more compatible and excited about being married than 3 years ago is a beautiful miracle in my eyes. I am unbelievably thankful.
ANYway… Some people in society would tell me that my desires – to get out and be “single again,” to have more freedom, to travel and explore and learn on my own -mean I should leave the marriage (the book/movie “Eat Pray Love” comes to mind). Other people would tell me that I’m not supposed to want that independence, that marriage and following my husband’s lead is what I’m really designed for (seriously don’t even get me started on why those things are wrong). And other people would tell me that I’d be a lot happier if I were settling down and having kids (okay yeah please don’t get me started on that, either). But which human being makes the final call? Me and Kyle. Together. Equally! Kyle understood from the beginning of our relationship that I’m a bit (okay, more than a bit) of a wild creature and that this trip is the kind of thing that would need to happen sooner or later. Everybody is wired differently, and this is who I am:
- I’ve been dreaming about this trip for 20 years. I was hooked on Mulan when I was in preschool, and ever since then I have been in love with East Asian culture and have wanted to travel here more than anything.
It is surreal to be here. Kyle is excited that I’m here. I’m excited that I’m here. And we are both excited about how my trip is going to further shape who we each are as individuals, how we grow closer in ways only possibly by physical distance, how much freaking fun our relationship will be when I get back, and for the irreplaceable education we both will get from our radically different 3-month experiences.
The challenge is real. And that, my friends, is what brings me joy. 🙂
*I’ve become acutely aware of my privilege in many ways and it’s something I am constantly processing; I’ll talk about that in another post.
**When I say “reality,” you might be thinking I mean culture shock, but I really don’t want to say culture shock because, let me tell you, I have seen some serious culture shock in Western tourists and WOWOWOWOW!!!!!!! do your research before you travel, people.