Settling into Siem Reap

 

img_0961
Rob: This begins our second month-long visit to Cambodia in the last 2 years. It remains a swirling blend of warm smiles, spicy food, cheap cold beer, very dusty dirt roads, loud noises of all kinds at all hours, trash clogged canals, beautiful jungle flora, sunshine, hazy sunsets, Buddhist traditions, friendly people and fellow travelers who can empathize with this country’s past and patiently participate in the growth and resurgence of its future. You do need to be braced for impact when you land here, but know not to be deterred from the experiences and culture that awaits after you acclimate.

Excited on the plane ride to Shanghai

Settling into the hotel our first morning. The pool is a nice option during the hot days here in Siem Reap

On our first day I was able to indulge in my favorite Cambodian delicacy. It’s only a slightly special dish here because of its common everyday ingredients, but to me it is a craving I can’t get in other places of the world. Fish Amok!! It is freshwater fish (and/or freshwater eel sometimes) poached in a rich but light coconut lemongrass curry broth with vegetables, chilis and served in a banana leaf bowl with rice. I did a happy dance in my chair when it arrived and was not disappointed. It was true to my favorite variation of the dish. Amok changes a little from area to area in the country, but the basics are always the same. A few cold Angkor beers washed it down. This one hit the spot. I was almost too full afterwards to enjoy an $8 hour long massage. Almost. 🙂 Lacy had a very tasty and very spicy sauté of Morning Glory Shoots in a garlicky broth with a handful of red chilis. Much, much hotter than my Amok. She had her first “tears of spice and joy” meal and I loved watching her sweat, smile and love every steaming and blistering bite.

Amok and spicy morning glories. Yum!

Just a few 🌶🌶 😉

Lacy: Fortunately the beginning of our travels passed quickly as we each spread out in our own row and slept during most our 14 hour flight from LA to Shanghai. With the news of coronoavirus and the possible halting of flights between the US and China we are thankful that we were even able to get on our flight. The first leg was followed by a miserable layover in a freezing Shanghai airport. We were both shivering for the majority of the 12 hour interlude and couldn’t wait to board our second plane to Siem Reap. I slept hard, like a corpse, for the five hour flight. Exiting the plane into the warm tropical air was a blessing!!

Giz enjoys the pool 

It’s been a week since we left Taos, New Mexico and made a small road trip of traveling westward to California to ultimately travel East. Having each never seen the Grand Canyon in Arizona we angled our way there first followed by a motorcycle auction in Las Vegas. Nope, no purchases. These bikes were just for the pleasure of our eyes as the price tags were a little steep for our pockets. We both still hold a fondness for Taos in our hearts, a place unlike any other that we have visited here or abroad. Connecting to its high desert and high alpine vistas, Native American culture, hippie vibe and intensely local community we have no doubt we will return. But as we look back we also look forward. Not really sure where the next three months will ultimately take us, we revel in the unknown! One of the best lessons of our last three years of travel and discovery is that we love living in the gray space. Having just a vague idea of where we may travel to after completing my three week yoga course in Siem Reap, Cambodia gives us the the great gift of feeling that the world is completely open to us. It’s true, we both feel a deep connection to Asia, but we certainly aren’t limiting ourselves to just this part of the world….it’s just that we always find it hard to leave.

We were quickly reminded that hammocks are a huge part of life here in Cambodia.  You see people resting during the heat of the day in a hammock EVERYWHERE.  Tuk tuks are no exception.  The driver for the hotel is enjoying a siesta in this photo.

Our arrival to Cambodia began with a midnight tuk tuk ride to our hotel where we were welcomed with intoxicating smell of night blooming jasmine and the sound chirping geckos. I was pleasantly reminded of my love for starlings when they emerged in flocks darting above the pool at sunset the following evening. The flower and fauna in this part of the world are simply wonderful!

It felt great to be back on a motorbike together riding around in Asia 

And so are the affordable pedicures, manicures and massages! A week into our travels I am 4 massages and a pedicure in for less than $45. Yes, there will be more. I get a 2 1/2 hour lunch break in my 6:30am – 8:30pm daily schedule of yoga training during which I have, more than once, indulged in a bit of pampering. It also helps that I have become friendly with the owner of the massage place across the street that is open until midnight. Last time I visited he gave me a huge bunch of bananas to take with me. The fruit here is amazing and I am eating so much of it as it is included with all three of the daily meals that are provided with the training. Dragonfruit, papaya, mango, pineapple and other fruits I have never even seen that are all so ripe and sweet. I’m eating 200% more fruit on a daily basis than I normally do, but also no meat as the meals served during the course are vegan. Still eating dairy every once in a while as ice cream on a hot day is sooooo refreshing. Rob is trying out enough of the local barbecued meats and beers for the both of us! I get to live vicariously through him as he details how juicy his pork belly skewers are or how cold and refreshing the beer is that he washed it down with. Who could blame him?! With .50 cent beers endlessly advertised it’s hard to pass up! And yet he still makes it to the gym. Go Rob! During this first week of training we managed to quickly sneak out for 2 meals together and spend a little time together. Otherwise, I bring him a coffee in bed (just like being at home…wherever that is these days) as he is waking up and I am off to my second class of the day at 9am. We occasionally see each other during the day in between my classes and his outings and always have a little time to catch up with one another before I fall asleep nice and early to prepare for another day.

We both think these mobile mini-bars are a total crack up. With each blaring its own music, decked out in lights and setting stools out in front they attract the attention of passersby.

The course itself has been exactly what I was looking for in terms of learning more about the physical and theoretical aspects of yoga. There are seven other students in my class of all ages and backgrounds, from all over the world. It’s a very nice group and I’m so appreciative to share this experience with them.  I’m certainly feeling physically stronger each day as we engage in the physical practice of yoga, or asanas, for anywhere from 3.5 -6 hours per day.

Everyone from class, students and teachers, enjoyed a delicious Indian meal together Sunday night to conclude our free day 

It was very nice to have Sunday off and be able to sleep in until 10 and then spend the day with Rob. Feeling like a traveler again, we rented a motorcycle and took off to the countryside where Rob showed me some of the sites he has been exploring on his own. We visited the floating villages of Tonle Sap lake and the ancient temple of Phnom Krom. To cool off from the near 100 degree weather we returned to a series of huts overlooking a lotus pond that Rob had previously visited. For .50 cents each we were able to take delightful nap in a hammock and enjoy the view. This is probably my favorite place so far for this visit to Siem Reap.

Taking a nap in a hammock overlooking a lotus pond is a fabulous way to relax on your day off.

I am probably 30 seconds from snoozing in this photo

Asia 2020 is nearly here!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1189d

Rio Grande Gorge

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_119cc

Winter beauty in Taos, New Mexico

mVLENX%kS+6VJSVN+HQ7Bg_thumb_1189bWhew…I haven’t written in a long time.  We left off in Malaysia after a much needed relaxing vacation once we finished touring the North Indian Himalayas on a Royal Enfield and arrived back to the US on July 4th (a little strange, right?!)  It’s been a wild ride ever since.  Within six months we took a Northwest road trip visiting Yellowstone and Glacier Parks, moved to Taos, New Mexico and opened a bed and breakfast.   All that and we still managed to fit in a couple weeks to return to the Sierras in Northern California where we revisited our steps from the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017.   Visiting the place where I nearly died nearly three years ago was an exercise in immense gratitude.  To think of everything we have accomplished, places we have traveled, personal growth we have made, friendships forged and future goals set in that time was humbling.  It has been a fantastic journey and we wouldn’t change a thing…OK, maybe a few things.  But those are the parts we leave off the blog 🙂

HOrtUlKvToCYloU3FXs2Aw_thumb_11a67

The Great Giz loves a snowshoe adventure

IMG_0531.JPG

img_4399

Snowshoe fun!

After six months in Taos we fell even more in love with this area.  High desert landscape at 7,000 ft. so close to the High Alpine environment of Taos Ski Valley at 9,500 ft.  The laid back hippie vibe of this town is right up our alley.  After going through a successful opening of a local Bed and Breakfast we learned that not only do we enjoy hosting guests, cooking for them and creating personal connections, we are actually pretty good at it too!  Much of this experience was information gathering for opening our own place down the road and we learned a tremendous amount.  After our upcoming 3 month travels in Asia end in April we will be relocating to Colorado to try our hands at a larger property.  We are both really excited to work with great owners in a beautiful area and grow our industry knowledge.  Preparing breakfast and elaborate four course dinners for guests is the first time that Rob has used his prestigious Ritz Paris Escoffier culinary degree for anyone other than friends and family.  The compliments and reviews we have received on his food and our hospitality have been overwhelming and reinforced that this is the path for us going forward.  We love working together.

5KkYkF%yShG4DlPX4KanYg_thumb_11668

Presenting Chef Rob

img_0792

I have to take a moment to brag a little on Rob and show some of his delicious food!

img_0592

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scallop & lobster macaroon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Poached artichokes in a bernaise sauce

fullsizeoutput_9d0d.jpeg

Rob’s signature breakfast – Huevos Rancheros with his homemade red sauce that I simply cannot get enough of!

One of the absolute best parts of being in one location for the last 6 months was that I allowed myself to indulge in a long time desire of growing my yoga practice.  Continuing on this trend, we are beginning our travels in our beloved Asia this year back in Cambodia where I have enrolled in a three week yoga teacher training course.  I specifically wanted to return to Siem Reap to study with the same teacher Rob and I had the honor of learning with in 2018.  While I am immersing myself in yoga Rob gets to eat his way through the country on a motorcycle, explore and share all his wonderful finds with me!  Win-win!

In an effort to branch out a little more this year we opened an Instagram account too!  Our flight is creeping up fast and the 29th will be here before you know it.

Thanks for following along and being part of our travel community!

Much love – Rob and Lacy

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_11816

California living

TL4fErhgQzyDZf1PUhvOBw_thumb_11821.jpg

The return to Sierras filled me with gratitude and joy.  I am still brought to tears by the overwhelming beauty of this area.  Glad to be back here alive and unscathed.

img_0888

Preparing for Cambodia