Sunday, November 16, 2014

A [Birthday] Year in Review, Part 2/Springtime in Southeast Asia

It took a bit of time, but I eventually acclimated to my new job in the Maldives. Thanks to the daily reminders of the things I love about working in this environment, the transition to work here went smoother than my first go round in this country. Of course, how bad could it really be when you have things like psychedelic sunsets,

And radiant blue lagoons to look at every day?


Not to mention, teaching and practicing yoga in an environment of unparalleled beauty,

(My daily commute.)

And the newly built staff bar named "Rat Bar" opened on the island, providing a beachfront haven to meet up with friends and knock back a few cold ones after a long day of work.

(Rat Bar is a literal name. When you see a rat, you drink.)

All these things helped me slip seamlessly into Springtime, and before long, it was time for my partner, Sanoon, and I to pack our backpacks and hit the road once again.

(And by "hit the road," I mean strap on a life jacket and take a speed boat to the airport.)


Between the two of us, Sanoon and I have visited quite a few countries in Southeast Asia, so it was easy to narrow down our list to a handful of must-see-never-before-been-to places. Topping our list was Laos. 

Landlocked Laos is often overlooked by tourists in favor of its more well-known neighbors, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. However, popular amongst the backpacker circuit that I'd dipped in and out of over the last two years, I'd heard overwhelmingly positive reviews of the country for it's old-fashioned charms, laid-back pace and friendly people, making it a high-ranking destination on my travel bucket list. Sanoon and I decided to check out Luang Prabang, the UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled in a valley between green mountains and the Mekong and Nam Kahn Rivers.

After a quick detour to fill up on green curry in Bangkok,

(The temptation of Thai Green Curry is far greater to Sanoon than taking a straight shot to Laos)

we landed in the lovely valley of Luang Prabang.

Sanoon and I made our way over to our guesthouse just in time to watch the sunset and soak up the peacefulness of the Nam Kahn River.

With only one week in Luang Prabang, we spent the majority of it exploring the many beautiful and unique parts of the region. We observed Laotian life on country roads,

Marveled at the refreshing crystal waters of the Kuang Si Waterfall,

(You know I love a good waterfall jumpshot.)

Watched bears dominate a play ground,

Meandered up and down side streets admiring the charming French-Indochinese architecture,

Took a river boat up the Mekong to see life along the river,

 Visited a Whiskey Village and didn't drink anything,

(Laos Whiskey with a hint of rotten cobras, scorpions and tiger testicles is not my jam.)

Climbed a sh*t ton of dragon stairs to look at thousands of forgotten and damaged Buddha statues in the Pak Ou Caves,

Made new friends,

Wandered into beautiful temples,

And climbed even more dragon stairs to the top of Mount Phousie, 

 where we came across a big ass foot print,

More Buddha statues,

And the best view of the city.

We were literally on top of the world.

As the sun set over the Mekong on our final night in Luang Prabang, Sanoon and I agreed that Laos went above and beyond our expectations. The beauty and serenity of the natural and architectural landscape coupled with the kind and untouched Laotians made Luang Prabang feel like an unspoiled gem in Southeast Asia.

Although sad to say good bye to Laos, Sanoon and I were excited to prolong our vacation a few more days and return to the familiar streets Bangkok before heading back to the Maldives. Aside from a great Ashtanga workshop I took every morning, Sanoon and I rapidly got swept up in the hustle and bustle of city life and did all the typical things tourists do in Bangkok.

Like voyeuristically gawk at Soi Cowboy,

(Group consensus- GROSS.)
Stumble upon Comic Con,

Hang out in malls where you can buy and eat anything and everything,

Eat our weight in king coconuts and mangos,

Get my hair did [and take a shameless selfie of it],

(It took 3 Thai ladies to straighten this mop, only to have it frizz out the minute I walked into the sweltering city heat. Money well spent...)

And take a radioactive tuk-tuk to a night out on the town
Where Sanoon entertained my request to eat Mexican food [and wear sombreros],

Before heading to an al fresco bar.

Before we knew it, our vacation came to a close. Sanoon and I had strong reactions about returning to island life...

 But one look at our remaining savings and we agreed it was time to go back to work.

However with a view like this, I could think of worse places to return.