Goodbye Cambodia, Hello Himalayas



Enjoying scallion stuffed rice patties.  This certainly satisfied my undying love for anything in the onion family.


Rob is considering a new profession as a tuk tuk driver 🤨😆


Bye Cambodia!


Flight to Nepal delayed, darn 😕

Today, Friday July 20th, finds us having lunch and “playing office” in Malaysia’s Kuala Lampur airport while we wait for our flight to Nepal.  After spending a really great week at Blue Indigo yoga retreat in Siem Reap, Cambodia we began to ask ourselves, “what next?”   I was beginning to yearn to be immersed in nature again since we had spent so much time in the cities and towns of Cambodia – Phnom Penh to Kep and Kampot and ending in the north in Siem Reap.  During our 3 weeks here we traveled more as tourists as opposed to feeling like locals in Indonesia. Still, we had a really nice time with the different experience as we took buffalo cart rides, endless tuk tuks, enjoyed the influence of the country’s very tasty international cuisine, marveled at the splendor of Angkor Wat and met some incredibly special people along the way.  Rob and I both gained a tremendous amount from our 7 nights and days strengthening our yoga practice spiritually and physically. I really connected with the philosophy and gained a lot of insight in those few days that has made me eager to learn more.  Over a French dinner we rewarded ourselves with the day we checked out of the retreat, Rob even asked me if I may want to pursue a teacher training sometime soon.  As our life unfolds together, anything is possible.  


We didn’t take many photos during the week of our retreat except for the day we we went to a local pagoda where we practiced yoga and participated in a Buddhist blessing ceremony.



Before leaving by we spent a marvelous 12 hour day visiting the temples of the Angkor complex. As we visited temple after temple, it became easy to see the unique variations of each. The level of detail that was used to carve the bas reliefs and construct these structures is truly special. Our favorites were Bantey Srei and Bayon. I wanted to find a quiet spot in either to meditate in, but there are just way too many people visiting, even in the low season. Neither of us have any desire to experience how crowded it would be during high season.  


We woke up at 4:30 to get to Angkor Wat and see the sunrise over it. This picture evidences that our “sunrise luck” isn’t nonexistent. 2 volcanoes and now Angkor Wat means we are 3 for 3 on sunrise fails!


The rain couldn’t keep us away though 😄



This temple is where the Tomb Raider movie was filmed. Trees have overtaken the structure and it is a magnificent example of nature’s strength and will.





Bayon, happy face temple, has over 200 smiling faces watching over you


Bantey Srei is a much smaller temple and carved with the most intricate detail.  All by women and it is unbelievably stunning.  I could have spent all day looking over the detailed work.



Kim, our tuk tuk driver for the day shares his touching story with us of how he rose from poverty in the village by learning English as a monk.  Leaving the monastery, he saved his money as a tuk tuk driver and began a school to teach English to over 80 kids from villages.  Big heart, this guy!

We are both very excited to land in Kathmandu, Nepal tonight where we will begin our preparations for a 3 week trek along the Annapurna circuit. This is a dream come true for me. In April, as we sat on the front porch of Kenawa and contemplated what we may do when we left the island at the end of the month, I told Rob I would love to hike the Annapurna, but that monsoon season didn’t end until October and there was no way that we would still be on this part of the world then. Boy, was I wrong on 2 points!  First, we learned that the Annapurna is in a rain shadow and doesn’t experience rain like the rest of the country during monsoon season.  Even better, July is the shoulder season and will have far less people which is a huge plus for us. Traveling Cambodia during the low season turned out be a major benefit for us – cheaper accommodations and far less people to deal with. Second, we are planning to be in this part of the world until at least October now. At the end of August, after completing our Himalayan trek during which Rob will celebrate his birthday and we will enjoy our 3 year wedding anniversary, we will head back to Malaysia and actually leave the airport this time!  Meeting a new friend in Pangkor, we will get an in-depth crash course in his boat and sailing as we embark on a 4-5 week voyage across the sea where we will return to Lombok, Indonesia. Rob has far more experience with sail boats than I do so I will be absorbing a lot very quickly as we help safely bring Chris’s 54ft boat across international waters. It will just be the 3 of us.   


Feeling in great spirits after our retreat, we tuk tuked to our hotel…


…where we had the cutest surprise on the bed!


Enjoying the low season rates we scored a hotel with a great pool for less than $20.




Great smile 🙂


We are both looking forward to being back in Indonesia.  While Cambodia was great we didn’t develope anywhere near the same level of affection and attachment to this country as we did our beloved Indonesia.  One of our amazing yoga teachers had just spent 6 weeks in Indonesia before coming to Cambodia.  The 3 of us shared stories and lamented about what we missed about the country.  Many conversations ended with, “it always comes back to Indonesia.”  Including us this October…even if it is a twisted route across Asia.

Oh, just a few more ☺️



A hop across the bay for 3 lazy days on Koh Tohnsáy (Rabbit Island)


En route to the 🐇


The many ways Rob enjoys a hammock




Hammocks thoroughly enjoyed by myself as well 😁

Tuesday morning we succeeded in getting our sleepy butts up in time for the early boat to Rabbit Island. This was made slightly more difficult by the “Havana head” we shared from the previous night. Having met Morgan, the Frenchman running the bar by the hotel we stayed in, the previous evening, he was very generous with our Cuba Libre (Havana rum, coke and lime) pours while we got to know Evan and Jessah. Even offered us a shot of tequila while the World Cup game was playing. Clearly, someone we can get along with…and we didn’t realize quite how much we had to drink until we woke up the following morning.  Our game plan before leaving was to check out the island scene, lay in hammocks, listen to the waves, play cards, listen to the new Florence and the Machine album I downloaded!, read and relax.  The accommodations on the island range from $5-$7 so the price point is right on target to stay as long as we like!  If you need constant electricity and luxury, this is not the place for you. The island doesn’t have many people or structures on it so they use a generator for about 4 hours each evening which is plenty of time to charge your phone and and have light to eat by. We brought our headlights and batteries to read by when the power goes out about 10 each evening. Our bungalow is on the water where I enjoyed many afternoons reading and napping in the hammock on the front porch while Rob napped inside.


Pulling up to Koh Tohnsáy



Never more than 20 steps from the waves


As soon as we arrived on the island I changed into this outfit and wore it the entire time…showered once, and threw it right back on. There is no need to overdo it here 😋

There are plenty of hammocks and lounge chairs on the beach that kiss high tide each day.  We have had the perfect mix of sunny, hazy and black skies here. It hasn’t been very warm with the breeze rolling off the ocean as well as the howling winds that accompany the rain each day. I love gray days at the beach. The waves and sounds of the wind are louder. Hearing the constant hum of the waves for three days has been soothing and helped us both sleep better.  Our travels in Asia have not been characterized by good sleep.  Between the heat, sounds of chickens, roosters, calls to prayer, local music at all hours and more it’s often impossible to get a really good nights sleep.  Rob informed me over our second  breakfast of barbecued red snapper, rice and chili sauce (well, maybe afternoon…we didn’t wake up until after 11) that he wants to stay at least another night or 2.  Why would I object?! With good food, cheap beer, and a bungalow that costs the same as a meal for us both (a big snapper that we shared was $6) there didn’t appear any reason to plan our next step too hastily. 


This is the cutest and most welcome roommate we have had in a while. I just want to snuggle with him! He is easily over a foot head to tail.  At one point we had 3 at once! I love these little guys…💓





Breakfast and dinner on the beach


Beachside bungalows!


We stayed 3 nights in the island before the leaving for Kampot. Arriving back on the mainland I immediately missed the cool breeze constantly blowing off the water on Koh Tohnsáy.  Back to the land of hot and sticky. Kampot is on the river with a backdrop of mountains and palm trees. We decided to stay here 2 nights before heading to Siem Reap where we are going to transition into a different vibe. We both want to soak into a week long meditation and yoga retreat, centering ourselves and learning new skills we can integrate into our daily lives.

This morning I had a strong desire to leave Asia.  I think it’s  a combination of having got sick for 2 days from something I ate recently, experiencing intense neck and shoulder pain for the past 5 days that I can’t get rid of and adjusting to Cambodia. Honestly, it’s weird that my initial thought was that I want to leave Asia because more and more I am losing the desire to go “home.”  Not that we really have a home anymore or place that is ours to return to. My moment of disillusionment passed after a couple of hours and my desire to stay in SE Asia remains. I miss Indonesia – the wild, crazy nature of life there that makes you shake your head in wonder, the taste of sambal, the smell of sate and even the “Hello misters.”  That country feels like home now.  The longer we are gone the more I want to return there. Will we ever come back to the States…?

Phnom Penh, the taste of cricket and a dive into the history of this country welcome us as we begin our travels through Cambodia 🇰🇭



…we were all smiles and excited as we got our first glimpse of Phnom Penh


Boarding our flight to Phnom Penh

Lacy: Tuesday night we ate our last meal in Indonesia as we enjoyed dinner and 2 towers of Bintang in Kuta before walking ourselves to the airport. It felt a bit odd to walk right into the airport as opposed to driving, but then again this wasn’t the first time we have done that in Indonesia and odd is our new normal. Arriving in Malaysia at 2am we stretched out on some terminal chairs and slept for a few hours before passengers began to pile in around 6am eager for their upcoming journeys. As our flight didn’t leave until 10am we enjoyed a breakfast of rice and chicken in the Malaysian airport. We are both so used to eating rice all the time now that it doesn’t really phase us to consume it at 8am. By 1pm we were getting our Cambodian visas, new SIM cards for our phones and grinning ear to ear as we embarked on our first tuk tuk ride together! Before even leaving Indonesia we decided that a tuk tuk ride seemed the most appropriate way to begin our travels in Cambodia. Oozing excitement, we began to soak in our new surroundings and come to a few early conclusions.


Cruising down the Mekong river our first evening in Phnom Penh gave us another view of the city



We both love the juxtaposition of traditional temples and the Royal Palace displayed against the modern architecture


Rob needs very few things to be happy.  A boat and a beer is a winning combination for him

Another noted contrast is the shanty river town that sits on the banks of the Mekong directly in front of a swanky high rise hotel and residence:



View of Royal Palace, that we later tour, from the river

I don’t think we realized how good we had it in Indonesia with the language using the same alphabet as English. Being able to read the local language and recognize words as we traveled, even if we weren’t sure how to pronounce them correctly, really helped us navigate through the country.  Our ride through the Phnom Penh made it pretty clear that our deciding to come to Cambodia with a days notice didn’t give us much time to prepare a few phrases, key words or knowledge of the language. I say “we” but the language part of traveling usually falls to me while Rob handles other parts he excels at. We actually find ourselves starting to speak Indonesian to Cambodians and having to stop ourselves.  We continue to use between each other though!  Speaking English, and not having some of the local language to throw in every once in a while, at a minimum, in a foreign country takes away the experience so I’ll be brushing up on Khmer. The traffic here is still just as crazy and plentiful. The combination of older rickshaws, modern tuk tuks, motorcycles, scooters, buses, minibuses, cars, bicycles and pedestrians make for a wild and crazy scene. We already witnessed a car backing out of a spot on the sidewalk and barely missing a motorcycle. The guy on the bike dumped it to avoid an accident and flying off went the 2 girls on the back. Everyone seemed fine on the bike and not 1 person stopped to see if they were ok, including the driver of the car.  That’s just what happens apparently. Not unlike Indonesia at all.  Because the of  the abundance of tuk tuks we immediately noticed that there are not motorcycles piled with chairs, chickens and bags of rice whizzing by.  Don’t worry – families of 5 are still piled on the bikes. While there is still street food here it seems to have less of a presence than Indonesia and in our few days here we are still trying to get our bearings. The food here in the carts is different and without really understanding the language and what we are eating we have been a little apprehensive. We did dive into a street cart once and it was great, but we are still weary given sir of the Jen things normally served that we don’t want to find ourselves eating…insects, rats, eels, buffalo intensities (2 of the 4 I already willingly tried but don’t need a repeat performance of).  Buddhist temples and statues are everywhere as well as monks clad in orange and red robes.


Just to give you an idea of what the alphabet looks like – it’s the line under Singapore.  I chose to include this sign  because I thought it added something by advertising “fresh frog porridge!”

After our first 45 minute crash course as we cruised along in our tuk tuk we arrived at our hotel where we enjoyed a shower and rest before a sunset boat ride on the Mekong river nearby.  The boat was a great way to get another view do the city and relax after traveling.   $17 gets you a pretty decent place here. Hot shower, bottled water for drinking (no, you still can’t drink the water here), daily maid service and even a tv (I think there was a tv in maybe 1 place the entire time we were in Indonesia).  After three months it was nice to find and scroll through the 3 English channels hoping to find something that seemed mildly interesting.  The one thing we both miss is the included breakfast that was standard for every hotel or hostel in Indo.  Wasn’t fancy – usually toast and eggs and coffee, but always so appreciated.  I joked with Rob in Ubud as we laid in bed one morning and I was just beginning to wake up that sometimes the most “stressful” part of my morning is making sure I don’t oversleep and miss our free meal!  The people here are so friendly and kind.  On our first day we already had 4 new local friends whom we shared dinner, drinks and laughs with for 4 hours.

I love the style of this local bamboo bicycle and helmet:



The weather is noticeably warm here. Stepping out of the Phnom Penh airport reminded me of walking out of the Jakarta airport for our very first impression of Indonesia over 3 months ago.  Hot and sticky! Nothing we haven’t encountered already, but it’s still warm and we have both found ourselves getting a little overheated the past couple days and needing to sit down and cool off. Currently I am sitting on the pier behind our hotel in Kep, a sleepy little beach town 4 hours from Phnom Penh that we took a bus to this morning. The sun is setting, the waves lapping and breeze blowing and it feels refreshing after a hot day. It’s quiet here in the off season as the rain is beginning for monsoon season. We have experienced very little so far, but the one day we got a glimpse was like seeing a flash flood. Just solidified our decision not to rent a motorcycle for 3 weeks here, but rather on an as needed basis.  When we arrived in town this afternoon we picked one up for $5 and I LOVED being on the back again with Rob. Having our freedom to cruise and explore around is great. I’m intrigued by Cambodia’s recent tragic history with the genocide in the 70s which is actually why I rallied to come here when we were uncertain as to what country to explore next. Having a quarter of your population gruesomely disappear only 40 years is not that long ago and seeing a country recover from that and how it has it impacted the development and morality is something I want to experience. We both do and are right now.

Rob’s first impressions and highlights:



The electrical wiring in the city has us floored. These tangled messes are everywhere!


Rob and Giz walking through the city while more tangled electrical wire hangs low


The French influences in Phnom Penh are about equal to the Dutch influences we saw in Indonesia. Bread, real bread, being one of the best and welcoming to me. Classic French cooking techniques make some of the local dishes a lot more than just street food. Amok is already my favorite by far. It is a light coconut curry with lemon grass and banana leaf infusions that features fresh white fish poached in the hot creamy broth or, here in Kep Province on the coast, lump crabmeat is the center of attention. All it needs is white rice and a cold beer to be my new death row meal.


The Central Market in Phnom Penh has everything from earrings to underwear.  You can have a dress made while you get your nails done and buy toothpaste all before grabbing lunch and a bouquet of flowers



Street food

The S21 – Genocide Museum is located right in Phnom Penh proper. In the 4 year reign of the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979, 25% of all Cambodians were killed by the Pol Pot regime. Outside of the main city, the Killing Fields were where much of this was carried out away from outsider scrutiny, but within the heart of the city a secret location housed the torture rooms for so many of the country’s intellectuals, artists, scientists and politicians. A small High School was converted to house up to 1000 prisoners at a time while they were “processed” methodically with unrelenting torture through their confessions and to their deaths. Lacy and I spent about 3 somber hours listening to the history, recordings, looking through 100s of photographs and walking through the buildings of the atrocities that occurred only 40 years ago. Much of it was still kept exactly as it was found. It definitely gives you pause and helps you understand how the country has struggled to recover ever since. Since this happened in SE Asia, which is much more physically and mentally removed from America and Europe, it has only been in the last 15 or so years that investment in education, infrastructure and commerce has begun to be felt by the people. Children and young adults are forming the future of the country and still only go to school 1/2 days because they are needed to work in the family businesses. It’s the one place in the world that I’ve come to understand why someone cooking at a lunch cart or working in a small shop can often be a very young teenager. The population gap here is obvious with the very old and very young citizenry. As we have traveled south out of P. P. I’ve also had a hard time driving by any High School without seeing S-21 in the shadows of the buildings. These schools all fundamentally look the same down to the type of cement blocks used to build them in the exact same size, shape and formation of 3, Four-story buildings laid out in a C shape creating a central courtyard. I truly hope that my traveler’s dollars help the recovery in the right way so we will try to spend them correctly and generously without harm.

While in P. P. we also checked out the Cambodian National History Museum. It was mainly filled with sculpture from several Buddhist Renaissance periods around 500, 700 and 1000 AD that corresponded with strong Kings and Buddhist leaders that inspired / ordered massive Temple building projects. I’m hoping it was a good primer for our Temple treks and explorations to come in the next several weeks.



History museum


Royal Palace


Escaping a flash afternoon monsoon wasn’t really on our to-do list when we arrived in P. P. We weren’t too far from our hotel when we stopped under a big leafy tree for a quick rain shower to pass. It decided not to pass and we ducked for cover in a very small local restaurant. The type of place that uses much more sidewalk than interior space for everything from seating to the charcoal grill. After standing under the awning for a moment or two, we joined a table and were asked if we would like to share a beer. The guys there were on a 1 Day leave from their Military Academy. The rain grew stronger and began to move everyone further and further under cover. The beers were good and cold. The conversation was spirited and warm. We were offered to share in their dinner as well but we just participated in a few tastes. Lacy was the braver of our duo and learned to peel off the wings of a giant cricket before eating the Twix sized fried bug in 2 bites. We both used large amounts of beverage to wash down the whole grilled baby frogs but declined the Snicker bar sized cockroaches that the rest of the guys expertly de-winged and downed. The rain at this point had been pouring for 2 hours and the street was quickly becoming a river. Even more of the restaurant and patrons retracted into a cozier space as we watched brave motorbike drivers try to use the highest point in the center of the road to barely swim past. The water at the edges was at least a foot deep and churning right to left toward the larger streets and into the Mekong river. The deluge didn’t seem to slow the beers, conversation or laughs at all. After about 3 hours, the rain stopped as quickly as it started, the street cleared, tables moved back onto the sidewalk and we hugged our new friends goodbye for now.


New friends and great times in Phnom Penh


I ate one of the little guys.  I like how the local Cambodian beer is pull tab and the inside says thank you.  Thank you for my first insect eating experience.  Honestly, they don’t taste bad.