Is it the last message of the blog? I don't know, but for sure it’s really the end of the trip: after 1 year traveling, we needed a little rest and we ‘ve just spent 10 days in the French Alps to relax… But now we are back to new realities: Nina and the kids are already back in Sofia, with new challenges: find a job for Nina (and not in Kazahkstan, please), and find a school for the kids.
It’s the end of the trip but we are not sad it’s already finished. We’re so happy for all what we have done, seen, all the people we have met during the last year; we’re also happy for our future life in Sofia, a little closer to you (not all of you , it’s true), about our new job, the house we want to build ; It was a long year, not too long but certainly our longuest year; so many things happened. The kids of Manompana, the goats of Laos, the mountain of Yunnan, we’ll always have a little room in our mind and in our heart for all these memories … A new life is now waiting for us but we are already talking about a future world trip…
“What a great chance for the kids to travel around the world”, we heard that a couple of times on our way, when we met “westerners”. But it was also a great chance for us to see other countries, discover other landscapes, meet different people, being astonished by the generosity of the Chinese people, by the smile of the people of Myanmar, by the kids of Madagascar… It was also a great chance for us to travel with such kids like Sashko and Mira, to be amazed by their physical capabilities in the mountain, in the cold, in the rain, in the heat, without food or so little water, to see the world with their eyes, to approach the local people in an easier and softer way…
Thanks for all of you, for your message, for your support, for reading us. You are all invited to come and visit us ; please prepare a lot of time because you’ll have to listen to all our stories, to read our 1200 pages of travelbook and to watch our 5000 photos…
a few words from Sashko
I liked very much the whole trip, but there were small things also, that were not nice. In the bike trip the fire cooked dinners were very nice, the biking also. It’s good, because I succeeded to do records of my life: 52 km/hour, 115 km/day for few days in a row!
Manompana was the best. We played a lot with the kids and the bungalow
+ the breakfast were one of the best in the trip. In the Elephant
Nature Park I learnt a lot of things – how people torture the poor
animals, put them on the streets and circuses…The goats in the organic
farm were very cute and I saw how mothers gave birth to the baby goats!
China was also one of the best part of the trip. Wu Wei Si was great!
The food, martial arts, nice room, morning walks, everyday praying. The
9 hours walks learnt me to walk faster so in the Alps (where I saw
small, quiet villages) I was always in front! In Nosy Be, I was sad
when our luggage was stolen. Also I was sad when I understood how
people can behave badly with the elephants.
I changed,because of a lot
of things. I am less scared now from the high gorges in China. As you
know now I also walk faster and longer. I like not only McDonalds but
also pat si you. I’ll not be upset if I don’t use a computer for 3
months, or 6… My future plan is to create an eco club with my friends –
5 people maximum. We will do a lot of eco things like collecting
garbage, planting trees. The club will be in our garden, connected with
my room in the land that we bought.
My best part of the trip was the bike trip. I liked Elephant Nature Park, Wu Wei Si (the temple), organic farm, Manompana, all bike trip and Thai food. I did not like stealing people, not so much Madagascar food, home work and all the rubbish in China. I was sad for the elephants on the streets of Bangkok or all Asia. I was scared of for our luggage and who will win the world cup of football (fyi, European Cup). I like animals. I want to have a new house, a fish and dog. I am very happy we did this trip. I was missing all my family and friends and Bulgaria, European food. Future plan – to make many, many, many trips!!!
and from Nina
Damien stayed at Lyon, I and the kids, we are traveling to Sofia – the world trip is over… Both leaving and coming back make me equally happy. I only feel strange that we four will not be together all day long.
I don’t think I changed a lot after the trip (except for the age but anyway one year more is not so much when you are so young…). Now I just feel impressed how big the world is and this makes me dreaming of crossing other places for which I only heard or read. Also now I don’t care if the kids are dirty or with shabby clothes (eh, for the clothes I didn’t care so much before as well…)! I love and argue with the kids in the same way as before the trip but now I am quite impressed how strong they are and how they managed to learn, at an age of 8 and 10, it is better to have less and to receive something with more difficulties in order to appreciate it more.
What I liked most in the
world trip was the bike trip – living all day under the sky, sleeping
in a tent and cooking outside, the swimming and playing in the hot
mineral waters of Hungary, the people in the small villages where we
were passing, looking at us with eyes and smile widely open.
Madagascar I will never forget the kids of Manompana, the swimming in
the green water together with colourful fishes, the rainy green
mountains, the morning walks, the daily portions of rice and fish, the
lively, poor and rich, dirty and colourful Antananarivo.
Asia I will always first remember the snowy, so astonishingly high
mountains of China, our daily 9 hours walks on steep paths up and down,
the old men and women in the villages, dragging us in their small homes
for never ending cups of tea and bowls with rice, our passionate
kung-fu lessons, the surprise in front of the many different green
coloures of the rice fields and the feeling of freedom and such immense
happiness walking through them. I will remember the muddy kiss of an
elephant. I will often dream of the street Thai food – a single
worthwhile purpose of a trip to Thailand. I will be forever enchanted
by my first Asian temples – Angkor. I liked a lot the schools in
Myanmar consisting of open space for windows and doors and many noisy
kids in green-white uniforms, the spacious and empty teak wood
monasteries with their huge golden Buddha statues and curious monks,
the water buffalos and the peanut curry with chapatti.
I didn’t like
Nosy Be in Madagascar but I forgot about it. I didn’t like the piles of
rubbish in Sihanoukville, Cambodia but after tasting a little from the
beach, the water, the biking around the quiet bays and the fresh fish,
I stopped to notice it. I didn’t like the shouting of the Chinese, the
beep-beeping of the drivers, the spitting on the street but only a week
time was needed to accept that as part of a different culture similar
to the kissing in France for example.
I was quite afraid we will all
die in a road accident when we have started the bike trip, I was a
little afraid every time when entering new, unknown country, was very
afraid when Mira broke her front teeth falling from the bike of Damien,
was scared in the evening after our luggage was stolen at Nosy Be when
Damien was still not back home and it was a dark, dark evening, and was
very afraid in the small boat, swinging us in the big waves of the
Indian ocean, I was crying at the narrow rocky path, hanging in the sky
300m above a big river in China. I was missing so much chocolate in
Madagascar and so little in Asia…
I was missing fresh lemon juice while
climbing hill after hill in Myanmar with two empty bottles in the back
pack. I was missing my family and friends every time I was remembering
about them (it was good I was not remembering them so often..). I was
missing the kids of Manompana, especially 2 of them.
I was dreaming
about our future house with garden and about our daily life in Bulgaria
after the trip. Also about our next trip around the world because the
kids started to plan it already.
I was so happy to go back to Europe,
to spend 10 days with the big family of Damien in the Alps – climbing,
walking, trying to talk in French and eating cheese with red wine. Now
I feel so happy, sitting at the Rome airport, waiting for the plain to
Sofia – it’s coming only in 20 min!
I can’t stop thinking I am lucky
to meet someone who can organize and make such roundtheworld trip and I
am lucky to have kids who can be so pleasant.
Myanmar - 08/07/08 - from Sashko
Myanmar is an Asian country close to China, Laos, India, Thailand. Long time ago the country was in British colony. The capital now is Yangon, not exactly - the government changed it to another small city but this is not so popular. When Myanmar was a British colony, the name was changed to Burma. That's why it is not so polite to say 'Burma', even though some people call it like that. Well, in fact the British did a lot of good things, they build beautiful schools, churches, railways and roads. The government of Myanmar is not good at all. The story is long but I will tell you just some main parts. There is a woman which received Nobel prize. She was fighting a lot for peace, on some votes she got 85% but the government didn't let her to have her party in power. She is now in home arrest. It is now military the official government with only a few people (like 5) controlling Myanmar. In fact Myanmar is a very good friend of China which also does not have a good government but better. The two countries trade a lot because Myanmar has a lot of precious stones and other things. The government ONLY take it and sell it for money that go to HIM. The Chinese built a lot of roads but Myanmar government built little roads, very bad. He also built rails but on some parts. Two times a year the train falls from them. The rest of the rails are from the British...
The Atlanta hotel - 10/07/08 - from Sashko
You enter, on your left side is a small restaurant. If you go more straight you will see the reception and the stairs going up. There is also a door in front of you and a garden. You climb up 63 steps, you are on the 4th floor of the 56 years old hotel. There is a room C12 - ours, with 2 small bed and 1 double bad. And then in the garden there is a ... swimming pool! We swam today a few minutes before breakfast. Then a few hours after breakfast. Then another few hours after lunch. And after dinner - jumping and resting in the water in the dark night. First we jumped from 60 cm, then 2m and at the end from 3m high, from the roof of the covered garden.
Myanmar and kids' park - 08/07/08 - from Mira (with the spelling from the Author)
Today we went to a kids' park with many bridges, slides and swings. We played a lot and had much fun. Now Myanmar bay, bay you are so beautiful but badly I have to leave but I am also happy because soon I will see Bulgaria. Well we saw Yangoon, Mandalay, Hsipo, Inle Lake, Kalo, Bagan. And evry thing was beautiful exsept the goverment boooo booooo boooo. I think I will come back. Not only that I am sad but I am also exsited and happy that soon we will be in the supermarket in France baying chocolate, yougurt, butter, pizza, french fries and things like that.
We were quite busy this last morning in Dali and we caught our bus to Kunming in the last minute but we missed then our flight to Bangkok. It was cancelled in fact for whatever reason and we missed our connecting flight to Yangon. We were quite upset and disappointed, inpatient to reach Myanmar - the country of 50 races, 1000 smiles and 1 million pagodas... Kids were not so concern about the travel issue, just happy to stay in China one more night, to sleep in a big hotel and even more happy to travel on business class the next day (they told us that from now on they will always travel on business class).
Arrival in Yangon
With few hours delay we finally arrived in Yangon on the 13th of June in the evening. The first impressions are that it doesn't look touched by the recent cyclone and that we are in another part of Asia. We felt much closer to India. After China it is surprising and fascinating to see the mix of population: Muslims, Indians, Burmese, Buddhist, other people of Myanmar, living all together in the narrow streets around Sule Paya. The faces of the people are different: much darker, the eyes are shining, the hair very black, the women - thin, elegant, beautiful...
People living in Yangon will tell you that they can not recognise their city anymore, that it will never be the same. For us the feeling is different: there is no flooded areas in the city, the roads are cleaned from the cyclone, there were signs of broken trees and damaged fences but you do not notice it at first. Yangon is still very green city. We did not do much for the people affected by the cyclone: as tourists we are not allowed to access in the area hit by the cyclone. We contacted Partners, a French NGO but didn't manage to work for them. We finally met them just before leaving Myanmar and we strongly recommend this NGO to all of you. Please check their web site (www.partenaires-association.org) and if you want to help them financially or on the field please contact them. It is an NGO working on small projects, very attentive and working on long term basis with local people. During our stay in Myanmar we are north of Yangon, far away from the area affected by Nargis.
From Yangon to Inle Lake
On the 14 of June, at 2pm we left our guest house in Yangon and we arrived in Hsipaw only at 7pm, the following day. We experienced different kind of transport: pick up, bus, trishaw, and bus again. Kids were ok and endured the 26hours journey better than us. As Mira said, the travel was long but the good thing was that we stopped for 4 hours so that they could play at the side of the road - it was in fact a long break down. We didn't see so many different places in Myanmar: Hsipaw, Mandalay, Bagan, Kalaw, Inle lake and then back to Yangon. Hsipaw was a nice small village at the foot of the Shan mountains; Mandalay, the old capital, was busy and very lively; Bagan - a huge impressive plain covered with thousands of temples: golden, brick made or built with thousand-year old stones;Yangon - colourful, green and captivating but we preferred most Kalaw and Inle Lake. The cool weather in Kalaw after the heat wave in Bagan, the beautiful scenery on the trek between Kalaw and Inle, and the magic life on the water of Inle lake.
For different reasons the country is empty of tourists. We met the first tourists after 4 days in the country, and the few travellers we met in Mandalay we met again in Bagan and Inle Lake. The events of September 2007, the cyclone, the rainy season starting in June, these are all the reasons why the country is empty of tourists. It is good thing for us. Being alone in Bagan around 4000 pagodas is certainly a different feelings than being surrounded by 500 tourists, cameras in hand, waiting for the sunset on Ananda Paya. But for the local people it is a different story, the reality is a little more bitter and difficult. Once in Mandalay we went back to the guest house by trishaw (taxi bike). The 2 guys biking us to the centre were very nice. The one biking Mira and me was explaining in a very simple and sincere way how difficult it is at the moment: there is no tourists in Myanmar and they hardly earn enough money to eat and to survive. The one biking Sashko and Nina was so skinny and sweating so much. We felt very sad and sorry for them. We had this feeling different times during our stay in Myanmar. Most of the people in the country are poor and it is mostly local people who benefits from the individual travellers and not the government - the government has its pockets full with money mainly from the gas and oil trade but also from the teak, timber, gems exported to China, India, Thailand.
June is the beginning of the rainy season but we didn't suffer so much from the monsoon. The rain is making the rhythm of the day. It is either a light rain which refreshes you and doesn't stop you in your walk, either a strong and heavy rain in the evening or at night. Then it is a good opportunity to stop in a souvenir shop, to have a pastry and a coffee at a street stall, to enter in a Pagoda. It is a good opportunity to stay a little longer, to discuss with a monk, happy to speak with foreigners and to improve his English.
Beautiful People of Myanmar
You can not talk about Myanmar without talking about its people. We saw nice temples, nice scenery, nice places but the real beauty of the country are the people. Kids smiling, people eager to talk with you to know where you are coming from, where you are going, beautiful and delicate women, gracious like ballet dancers, skillful canoe riders, paddling standing on one foot or sitting like Buddha, young monks, shy but in the same time so happy and willing to talk with you in English, villages full with colourful dressed people from the tribes Pa O or Palaung, women with big bamboo baskets on their backs, small kids resting on the backs of huge water buffaloes, kids in green school uniforms, studying noisily in the completely open wooden school and repeating monotonously their lesson...
the photos are published, the text will follow soon ...
we are now in Bangkok, we came back from myanmar yesterday; everything is Ok, even more... we are preparing our come back to the old Europe
The past 20 days we have been travelling quite a lot on the small roads of Yunnan: Zhongdian, Benzilan, Deqing, Felai Si, Yubeng, Cizhong, Nuodeng, Shaxi.
We didnt meet so many tourists on our way but we met so many smiley and nice local people. We were walking quite a lot, sometime in a deep forest, on a dry hill path by Mekong river, on the road by Benzilan, in the snow to reach the sacred waterfall in Yubeng or to achieve the base camp of '91 expedition to Kawa Karpo... We had some very nice walks, sometimes challenging - from Felai Si to Yubeng we were walking down 1800m and then up 1700m in a hot day. Kids are incredibly strong and are walking quite fast, especially when they talk about their secret clubs, future house, animals to have there and they start to forget about the steep path and the strong sun. We still didn't succeed to overpass their physical resistance...
Magic view on Meili snow mountain (Kawa Karpo)
We suffered the heavy rain in the Tiger Leaping Gorge and couldn't appreciate so much the landscape there but we were rewarded a few days later by magic views on Kawa Kapro. This capricious mountain is still untouched and is one of the most famous in China. It is often wrapped in clouds. We were lucky to see the mountain in the bright sky at sunset and sunrise.
From Cizhong to Dimaluo
7 am: The backpacks are ready, we are just waking up the kids. We eat a big breakfast (fried rice with vegetables and eggs) and we go for a long walking day. 10-15 hours of walk? - we do not know exactly but for the first time we have a lot of food with us in case of an overnight up in the mountain. The day before Mr Liu drawed for us a nice and detailed map on a piece of paper to explain to us the way. The map seems ok but we do not know about the distance, difficulties and the time of walking to reach Dimaluo - 2 or 3 days. Mr Liu came with us to the bridge at the end of the village. After it is always up on the right side of the river. We met some people on our way carrying cables on the horses' backs for the future electrical network. When we pronounce the word Dimaluo they start to talk and look at us as if we are going to the moon. But we dint pay too much attention and continue our way up to reach the snow... 14.30h: We stopped for our 4th break of the day - a longer one for lunch and for a little rest before attacking the snow. Until now - no orientation mistakes, we are following the map of Mr Liu. After a short discussion with a cowboy we met on this meadow - he is a little scary and not very talkative but he pointed out the direction of the path to Dimaluo and we continue our way up. 15.30h: We encountered our first difficulties - the path is cut by an avalanche and is covered with snow and damaged trees. After a while we found another path on the other side of the river and we continued our way. We lost the path again and continued in the forest looking for it: the path seemed now to be on the other side of the river. We had to cross a bridge of snow... we were not so confident - the river under the bridge of snow is quite strong and scary - and it was anyway too late for today. We had to walk back to the meadow one hour below to sleep there and to try to reach the path next morning. We arrived there at dusk - it was cold in this valley with noisy and fast river. Damien asked the man if we can sleep in one of the huts and he confirmed by shaking his head. His face stayed cold, without any expression on it, busy with the life of the cows around him. We entered his hut, made from wooden trunks with holes in between. The wind was freely going in and out but in the middle there was a big fire, making the inside cozy and warm. From the ceiling was hanging the dried skin of an animal - wild goat probably. Later the man showed us his dried head - it was like a goat but with small horns and two long teeth going out of his mouth... When we were leaving the man showed us with his hand to come back to him again. He looked sad, we were waving to him while walking away. He was standing alone in front of the hut with his used clothes, his little dog, his cows, his noisy river - so alone and so far from the other noisy and fast world.The cowboy was not more talkative than in the afternoon but he invited us in his hut for a brewage made of yak butter and water, a dinner together and finally he proposed us to sleep there with him. We couldn't refuse - we were at more than 3000m, we had no sleeping bags and we were quite happy to sleep in a not too cold hut. We didn't sleep so well this night. We were sleeping on a few planks of wood, Nina huddled up with the kids and Damien blocked next to the fire. Nina was very cold, a refreshing wind was entering into the hut. Damien woke up a few times with the feeling that the hut was on fire - the man was putting wood in the fire from time to time and it was so hot for a while. We spent the night sometime burning when the fire was activated or freezing when the cold wind was coming again. We were happy when the day was finally rising, It was the end of a strange and a tiring night. By the way kids slept quite well...like usually. We had a breakfast together with the man. He finally explained us that the slope on the other side of the mountain, which we were supposed to pass, was very steep and slippery. The weather was also not so clear and it started to rain. We decided to go back to Cizhong. One hour later we were on the way back to Cizhong. We thanked to our shepherd. He looked scary at first but in fact he was very nice and he looked quite sad when we were leaving. It took us 4 hours of walk downhill to go back to Cizhong. On the way back we had time to chew over our disappointment - we failed but maybe it was more reasonable and safe like that.
Yesterday we went back to Wu Wei Si to say hello to the Master and to the kids of the temple - and to Luling . We had also to confirm that we are still alive. Nina's family called the Bulgarian Embassy in Beijing after the Sichuan earthquake. The local police in Dali was looking for us during 10 days and everybody in Dali seems to be aware of this story.
Tomorrow we are leaving Dali, taking the bus to Kunming, a night flight to Bangkok, and after a night in the transit zone, we will catch the morning flight to Yangon for our last month in Asia. We will be back in Bangkok on 10th of July and we certainly will not have access to Internet in between. We spent more than 2 months in China, it is time now to leave. We did not go to Tibet, to west Sichuan, to Dimaluo... but we visited some beautiful villages. We had very nice time in Yunnan. For sure we will come back to visit again Shitoucheng, Shaxi, Nuodeng, Cizhong, Yubeng...
a few words after 10weeks in China: Discussing with foreigners living here since a few years we got some information about the activities of the Chinese government, their repression in Tibet but also in west Sichuan, with the images passing all day long on TV about the tragedy of the earthquake, about the Olympics in Beijing. We are quite disgusted by the propaganda of the media and the government, about the methods used to create strong nationalism feeling in China. But our everyday life during these 2 months in Yunnan was far away from the hypocrisy of Beijing and the busy life and polluted air of the east coast. terraced rice fields everywhere, everywhere at steep hills, bended people working on them; golden wheat fields in the bottom of mountainous hills; people spitting everywhere - in the bus, on the floor, in the courtyard; high snow capped mountains - quiet and untouched; deep river gorges surrounded by dry, grey, stony, steep hills; cars and buses beep-beeping constantly through their way; smoking people everywhere - in the bus, in Internet cafe, always offering you cigarette; big pots with hot water everywhere; drinking strong tea at any time; women carrying babies on their back; Mao Zedong portraits on the walls of houses in small villages; people coming by horse to the Sunday market; retired people practicing Tai-chi in the park or playing table tennis, or dancing with scarfs and flowers; fried rice and noodle soup; women working at the fields; old men gathering in the temples, eating and drinking together and inviting you strongly...
While staying for 4 days in Shaxi we met a couple - a french man and chinese woman living for 8 years in Beijing.They arrived for 1 morning in Shaxi, and stayed 2 hours, as they knew it is an interesting place. They did a dozen photos of the old main square, read the exhibitions for the restoration of the village and left - content that they put a sign oppposite the name of the place in their itinerary.
With Damien we found a whole universe in the villages and the mountains around - waiting to be discovered... Dark and little grey mornings - the sun hiding below layers of clouds. Light showers from which the stony streets and houses of Shaxi are glittering. The fields around are glittering as well - yellow for the wheat, bright-green for the young rice fields, muddy-brown for these with just turned earth, silver for the once covered with plastic. Women with big hats, colourful clothes and pink boots, bent over the fields, planting the rice in the soft mud. Their silhouettes reflected in the water in which they stand - the colours and contours softened from the grey of the sky above them. Bulls with wet, thick skin turning the earth stubbornly - their owners running and whistling after them. Mountains standing all around - dark green, cut with many red clay paths. Everything looks slow, calm, quiet, infinite.
We were going in the mountains for 10 hours walks just with a bottle of water and there - high, lost between trees and fields - we were always discovering few houses full with animals and people, inviting us for a cup of tea and meal. We had lunch on the floor of the only room of the house. Our hosts, quiet: the man opposite us smoking slowly, his smiling face covered with smoke; the woman, with dark and dry skin from the mountain sun, cooking quietly, also with a smile. The rice was cooked in the fire made on the floor of the room. Hens, dogs and pigs were entering the dark room from time to time, trying to steal from our food. The time spent there for us was like a delicious meal. To live your days outside, always under the sky, filling up your eyes with all the colours of the the life: the colours of the fields, the mountains, the old houses, the people working all day, the beautiful and simple stone graves scattered around the hills - all this makes the life sweeter and sweeter and you want to take more and more from it - like when you cant stop eating the strawberry cream of the strawberry cake as with every spoon it becomes more and more deliciously irresistible...
30th of April till 20th of May 2008
We did not feel the earthquake on the 12th of May. We learnt about it 2 days later, watching some images on TV in the remote village of Shitoucheng. We saw a few houses damaged and we didn’t understand it was such a big tragedy.
Kids alone in the Temple
After Kunming on the 30th of August we headed to Dali. There we left the kids in the Wu Wei Si temple. They wanted to stay one full week alone in the temple. When we first asked the boy teaching Kung fu about the possibility to let the kids alone, he was a little shocked and surprised. But the Master was happy about the idea of having 2 more kids around him and accepted our proposal. Apart from the lost of Nina’s new camera, the kids spent a nice week without problem. Mira is now a master in fighting with stick, Sashko improved his Tai Chi (kung fu was difficult for him due to his broken hand; by the way, don’t worry, everything is fixed now and he is able to do his math and Bulgarian with his right hand again). They enjoyed it a lot and they were quite sorry we came back so quickly after only one week alone. Anyway they plan to come back after few years.
During that time we went alone to the nice and quiet valley of Shaxi. Shaxi is composed of several traditional Bay villages and is said to be the only survived market town on the tea and horse trail (for your knowledge this trail was used for trading between the villages of Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Tibet and SouthWest China). We had very nice time over there, walking east, west, south on the nearby mountains and between the fields. In every village there was always people to invite us for tea, for sharing their meal with us or just to sit in silence together. We were really touched by the generosity of the people there.
After Shaxi we took the kids and went to Lijang – one of the most touristy place of China. Like in Dali – thousands of Chinese tourist (so eager to take pictures with Sashko and Mira) on the main street but we were alone, walking on the small back streets of the old town. We met Dominique over here – a French trekking guide, working in Yunnan since few years. He talked to us about the untouched village of Baoshan-Shitoucheng and it changed our plans. The next day we were on the bus to Shitoucheng. Five hours of bus on an asphalt road, slowly turning into a dirty path, 20 minutes by foot, and we achieve the 100families of the stone village Shitoucheng (the first 40 min of the journey the driver put us in the trunk of the bus to avoid paying the fee, collected by the Chinese government to use the road leading to a tourist attraction we were not going to... ) Baoshan-Shitoucheng Shitoucheng and the surrounding villages are far away from any big cities and seems to have been spared from any kind of modernisation. Apart from TV and mobile phone, nothing came to disturb the peaceful life of the valley: no cars, no roads, no tourists or so few that tried to be discrete and to leave from their stay here only their footprints in the muddy path. We spent 4 days there. After thousands of tourists in Lijang it was a pleasure to walk alone on the paths around Baoshan-Shitoucheng, crossing only local people going to their fields, walking on a path literally dig in the cliff, half way between the top of the mountain and the Yangzi river, passing through 100m long tunnels made on the rocks at 2800m (built by the army of Gengis Khan in the 13th century? - to be checked).
on the way to Shangri-La
We headed after to the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Due to the nasty weather we couldn't appreciated as much as we wanted. It is supposed to be the dry season and May is one of the best month to visit the area but since we 3 weeks, we have rain almost everyday (we didn't see the rain since last August In Gernmany so we are not really used to it ...). It was raining all the afternoon of the first day of the trek and we got completely wet (especially Damien not having a jacket). We shortened our stay in the gorge and headed north to Zhondian together with our new friends Anne and Assaf - a French-Israeli couple we met on the trek. We visited the city, the impressive Tibetan monastery. We extended our Chinese visa: we have now all our documents and plane tickets until the end of the trip.
We are now at 3300m - kids have never been so high. We are leaving this afternoon to the boarder with Tibet, Myanmar and Sichuan, at the foot of the impressive and untouched Kawa Karpo (6740m).
Promise we will be reasonable with the treks but kids are pushing us to go higher and higher and to walk in the snow.
bye for now - sorry, no picture for today there are ready but we can not put them on the blog...
5h30: 1st gong –you cannot miss it as we are sleeping 10 meters from it Till
6.15h – monotoneous singing of the boys of the temple – during that time we are slowly slowly waking up – our body reminding us of the 5 hours exercises of the past day
6.15h – 6.30h: finally we get up
6.30h – 7.45h: after the prayer the boys of the temple go for a short morning walk and start their exercises. During that time we go for a walk in the forest, trying to catch the sunrise.
7.45h: we quickly run back to the temple to wake up the kids in order to be ready for the 8h breakfast
8.00h: breakfast – after the blessing from the Master everybody is rushing on his bawl of pasta
9.00h – 12.00h: morning session – after 1 hour stretching and warm up we practice our Kung Fu and Thai Chi form
12.30h – 16.00h: afternoon break. It means afternoon nap for the boys of the temple, followed by some study; for Sashko and Mira it means usually travel book and homework activity; for us it means small walk in the forest where Damien is playing guitar, Nina is studying French or we are just hiding from the kids, eating biscuits 16.00h-18.00h: training 2nd session
19.00h-21.00h: quiet time before going to bed - Nina and the kids in their room and Damien in the opposite wing of the temple.
We liked it so much in this temple that we stayed 3 weeks instead of the originally planned 1 week... It’s not that we are crazy about Kung Fu or Thai Chi but we liked the place, we liked the people living there. You can feel the spirit and the authority of the Master. And it’s also very pleasant to improve the physical capability of your body, to learn to control it better.
The Taichi and KungFu we are learning in Wu WeiSi are close to the Cheng style, which is not so far from the martial arts of the Shaolin Temple- trust me I checked that point for the experts that you are !!
Sashko managed to break his hand... Not during a Kung Fu fight but bravely: falling down on a stone path inside the Temple... He has one or two small bones cracked on his hand. We were lucky to have in the temple a Canadian doctor from Polish origin to check Sashko and to give instructions for the shape of the plaster. We were double lucky to have a German carpenter working in Korea to make the "plaster" from a piece of wood. We were triple lucky to have some medicinal plant from the Master to remove the inflammation (and we were also lucky to have with us the son of a French doctor to put around the tree-plaster bandage and to fix it well to Sashko's hand).
At the moment we are in Kunming - a medium size chinese city (only 1.1M inhabitants). In order to have the pleisure to be here, we had to travel 40 hours, changing 6 busses（in fatc, for visa reason, we needed to cross the Lao -Chinese boarder in order to stay longer in China and we are here for a few days in order to make our Burmese and Thai visa- nothing really existing. We are also resting and taking some energy for the last part of the trip: the end is approaching little by little but still in front of us is one month of hiking and climbing in the mountains of Yunnan and Sishuan and one month in the mysterious country of Myanmar...
Sorry for the r message;
Finally we managed to get rid of our viruses that were blocking our USB-keys; here are some pictures of Laos and China.
We are on our resting day today; tonight we go back for one more week at Wu Wei Si Temple, to achieve excellence in KungFu. Maybe we'll stay there for a couple of months...
bye for now,
mira, sashko, nina and damien.
Sashko’s story My birthday – 06/04/2008 In the morning, while still in bed, I received 2 cards, chocolate and 1 new bike RAM (in a drawing only – I will receive the real one in Bulgaria). The breakfast in Wu Wei Si temple was made as if for me – with small sweet dumplings. Later, while we were training Kung Fu, everyone was giving me sweets. In the afternoon break, mum and Damien told us, "Lets go for a walk in the forest… together with you", "Oh, aaah, we don't want!", ‘Yes, you will’ – they replied firmly. When we entered in the forest mum said we can play and they, with Damien, will walk a little. With Mira we started to make a trap – we were digging a hole and collecting sticks. After a while mum asked us to go for a walk. Of course I didn't want as I wanted to play but what to do… When I reached Damien, mum and Mira I saw a chocolate cake with 10 candles and many other sweets. Fieuuuuuu – I blew the candles! There was a blue book and a blue pen next to Mira – this was my present from her. In the evening I tried to read the first chapter of the book but I didn't understand it. There was lots of difficult English words –it’s a pity but maybe mum will help me… Mira’s story – 04/04/2008 Today we woke up in the morning and we had to leave the hotel where we arrived yesterday. But exactly that day we saw that there were rabbits and hens in the garden – but in cages. We watched them for a while and after I said to Sashko "Do you want to go and hide somewhere, because otherwise mum and Damien will force us to do our homework" So because of that I brought Sashko to the upper floor and there we were hiding and nobody saw us. After Sashko asked me: "Let’s take mecheto and zaicheto!" But I told him, "I am not sure we took them". I went and looked and looked for them but at the end mum told me we left them in the Wu Wei Si temple...
Sashko’s story My birthday – 06/04/2008
In the morning, while still in bed, I received 2 cards, chocolate and 1 new bike RAM (in a drawing only – I will receive the real one in Bulgaria). The breakfast in Wu Wei Si temple was made as if for me – with small sweet dumplings. Later, while we were training Kung Fu, everyone was giving me sweets. In the afternoon break, mum and Damien told us, "Lets go for a walk in the forest… together with you", "Oh, aaah, we don't want!", ‘Yes, you will’ – they replied firmly. When we entered in the forest mum said we can play and they, with Damien, will walk a little. With Mira we started to make a trap – we were digging a hole and collecting sticks. After a while mum asked us to go for a walk. Of course I didn't want as I wanted to play but what to do… When I reached Damien, mum and Mira I saw a chocolate cake with 10 candles and many other sweets. Fieuuuuuu – I blew the candles! There was a blue book and a blue pen next to Mira – this was my present from her. In the evening I tried to read the first chapter of the book but I didn't understand it. There was lots of difficult English words –it’s a pity but maybe mum will help me…
Mira’s story – 04/04/2008
Today we woke up in the morning and we had to leave the hotel where we arrived yesterday. But exactly that day we saw that there were rabbits and hens in the garden – but in cages. We watched them for a while and after I said to Sashko "Do you want to go and hide somewhere, because otherwise mum and Damien will force us to do our homework" So because of that I brought Sashko to the upper floor and there we were hiding and nobody saw us. After Sashko asked me: "Let’s take mecheto and zaicheto!" But I told him, "I am not sure we took them". I went and looked and looked for them but at the end mum told me we left them in the Wu Wei Si temple...
from 30/03 till 10/04
The first feelings and impressions of China were not so far from the cliche we had for this country: dusty cities, where the booming building industry is turning villages into new big towns, noisy and not so delicate local people: spitting, shouting, pushing… But quickly we started to like the country. China remind us Hungary where we passed by bike last summer: since we started the world trip it is the 2nd place where we really have problems to be understood – forget about English, we have to use our best skills of body language. We stayed 2 days in Dali – a touristy place, invaded on the main street by Chinese tourist. It was time for us to get used to Chinese food, customs. Time also to buy some warm jackets… Dali is at 2000m above sea level, and when we arrived in the morning of the 1st of April, Chinese were wearing coats and long trousers, and we just got out of the bus with our sandals and short trousers.
Wu Wei Si
We just spent one week at Wu Wei Si – a remote temple hidden in the mountain, close to Dali but difficult to find – just follow the smell of the pine trees and it should guide you there. The dream of Nina to learn Kung fu in a Tibetan monastery almost came true. All of us are \ studying Kung fu 5 hour per day. For sure we will not become Kung fu masters but we are stretching hard and doing our best. All of us liked it so much so we will stay there another week to improve our Kung fu style. Don't know about you but here it is a perfect end of spring weather: chilly at night and in the morning, and with bright sun shining all day long.Bye for now, we have to be PUNCTUALLY at 6pm at the temple – in front of our bawl of rice to receive the blessing of the Master before the dinner...
sorry due to technical pb, no picture; we'll post them in a week ...
From 17/03 till 29/03,
We stayed 4 days in Luang Phrabang. It’s a nice town. Even if it is the 2nd majour city of Laos it looks like a big village. We had a very pleasant time there, between the visit of the different temples, the morning walk in the empty streets, our morning coffee in the local market (while the kids were still sleeping), the morning alms (monks are passing in the main streets of the city, collecting food from beleivers and tourists – it is a little touristy but it is very impressive to see such orange wave passing in silence in the empty street). After that we continued our way to Muang Ngoi.
Only connected by boat, it is a quiet, one street village at the foot of the mountain and by the Nam Ou river. There were few tourists but it was still charming and people were very nice (except the woman of our guest house). We planned to spend there 2 days but we stayed one week, walking in the rice fields, trying to cross the jungle and to find our way to the legendary waterfall, trekking in the remote villages, paddling in the river (in fact going upstream – Damien was in the water, pooling the boat while the rest of the team was sitting comfortably inside).
Muang Ngoi - 3 days trekking with Mr Kai
We thought that organised trekking would be lacking of adventure but we were all nicely surprised from the one we did. Mainly thanks to our guide Mr Kai. He is 25. After finishing his study in Vientiane he was home sick for his small poor village and decided to go back to Muang Ngoi. Instead of becoming an English teacher, he is now trekking guide. He lost one hand when he was 12 years old – he found a metal ball in the field and played with it; it was a bomb so it blown out in his hand, taking away his left arm for the rest of his life. Despite his disability he is full with energy and happy to show his country to the others. He brought us to a village in the mountain which is rarely visited by tourists. The day was rainy and we arrived in a foggy, wet afternoon. We found a 50-houses village with orange rivers flowing through the muddy street. The kids of the village, barefoot, were following us – the 2 white kids were certainly unusual attraction for them. We slept in the house of Kai’s friend – on the floor, in a room together with 10 other people. The next day we reached another village. The rain left us and the path through the jungle was pleasant. But it was humid and muddy and we found unpleasant companions – leeches – small, slimy, fast climbing up on our feet. Me and the kids were nervously removing them from our feet, Damien just completely ignored them and later found 5 of them in between his toes… In the evening we had our first shower in the river. It was a generous river, accepting people having shower, doing laudry, peeing, washing there teeth or just playing. It was also used to make the electricity of the village.
After one month in Laos, it was time for us to go up Nord till the Chinese border. It was a long journey from Muang Ngoi to Dali in Yunnan – 2 full days and one night in a bus.
Feelings about Laos
Nice, soft feelings, without fascination. We visited nice places: the organic farm, Luang Phrabang, Muang Ngoi and the surrounding villages. We met nice people in our way – smiling and peacefull Laos people. We planned to come back after China for another month in Laos but we might go to Burma instead. We didn't appreciate Vang Vieng and in general the touristy paths organised for the foreigners.. The roads only with guest houses, the daily trips to a cave or a waterfall. We are a little disappointed by the contact with people – maybe the roads of Laos have been worn out by too many back packers, coming here for cheap travel and other experiences…Anyway we have good memories of the time passed and we will never forget such people like Mr Kai, Mr T…
In the morning we wake up early and we jump from the bed to feed the goats at 7.30am. At 9am it is time to do our homework but of course before that we have breakfast with Vessy and Desmond! Sometimes we do other farm work like weeding, mud house, some other things for the goats… and that’s it!
At 12 o’clock we go to the close local restaurant with 2 tables, where they serve only soup and sticky rice! But soon after, at 1pm, it is time to feed the goats again! In the afternoon me and Mira works again – Bulgarian, math,….. We also have time to swim in the river! After the river we take a shower and if there is still time left, we do a little more homework before dinner…
After leaving the Elephant Natural Park, we spent a few more days in Thailand – not in one of the sunny sandy beaches of the south but in a small remote village of Chiang Mai area: Pang Term.
We spent 3 days there, in the temple of Chinnaworm. Chinaworm is a monk that opens its temple to any traveler willing to spend time together and eventually to find the way to the freedom of mind through meditation. We didn’t achieve it but we had a nice time cooking, helping in the building of a new house (in mud bricks of course; we started to be expert now…) and walking in the peaceful valley.
On 29th of Feb we left the temple at 11 am for 30 hours trip till the Organic farm in Laos, our next stop in Asia. First by foot for the first hour, then by hitch-hick at the back of a pick-up, overnight by bus, by train to the boarder, by tuk-tuk, by sangthaew, by bus again and finally by foot down the road till the farm.
We had pleasant 2 weeks at the farm. Vesi and Des were with us, Nina was expecting her sister since she left Bulgaria. We spent our days working on the farm, biking in the surroundings, swimming in the river, feeding the animals of the farm.
The Organic farm is run by Mr. T, a unique character. He moved from his office in the capital Ventiane 12 years ago and decided to give a new direction to his life. Since then he slowly built up the mulberry organic farm. There, introducing organic methods, he is growing vegetables and essentially mulberry tree – the magic tree from which the leaves are collected to produce mulberry green tea, to feed the goats, to feed the silk worms that produce silk. From the fruits of the tree they are also making wonderful mulberry shakes. Volunteers join the farm to help looking after the animals, building new houses and other tasks in the farm. We were one of them for 2 weeks.
Before 7am, while the kids were still sleeping, we were already at work with Mr Pai (responsible for the goats). He speaks as much English as we speak Lao but we always managed to understand each other and it was a pleasure to work with him – always skipping from one place to the other with a smile on his face. We had to clean the goat sheds, feed the adults goats, milk the females (Nina even tried to milk the man), feed the babies goats (there were 5 baby goats when we arrived and 6 new babies were just born during our stay). Just after that it was time to feed the little baby pigs... and after you have to feed the baby goats at 1pm and then the pigs and then the goats again... In fact we were spending half of the day with animals. Maybe we change into farmers back in Bulgaria… Anyway the kids already planned to have 15 different animal each so .... The rest of the day, each of us was busy in his way: Damien was building a new mud house, Nina and Vessy were working hard in the garden, cleaning the weeds (the first day in fact…; the following were mostly spent at the terrace of the farm drinking mulberry shake), the kids were working hard on travel books and homework and Des was preparing his evening English lessons. All of us tried to teach English to the poor Lao kids...
In the farm we met volunteer coming from all over the world but we had also nice time with Lao people: the kids of the village, the students of the English lessons, the local people working in the farm. Lao people reminds us Cambodian people – very nice, very peaceful and smiling all the time.
We didn’t spent so much time in Vang Vieng, the miserable nearby city, but we enjoyed biking in the beautiful countryside on the dusty stony roads – between the karts formation, the blue-green river…
We are now in Luang Phrabang, the former capital of Laos. Our clothes are still smelling the delicate perfume of the goats and it reminds us the nice time in the farm.
Bye for now... and keep reading!!!
a Sunday at Elephant Nature Park
When we get up in the mornings (6.30am!) and we open the window, a cold and fresh air is rushing inside, full with smells and sounds of elephants, cats, dogs, cows, buffalos, animals’ poo and slow brown river. Me and Mira are freezing a lot, Sashko is dressing up quickly, not paying too much attention to the cold – he stands a lot, Damien is the first who runs out of the bed (in fact he is the one who opens the window and lets the day inside the room), he grabs his camera and runs out to make the first morning pictures.
At breakfast I am looking for a sunny spot to sit in. I am impatient to start the morning tasks in order to get warm. And the time is passing very quickly (as always at breakfast) and we all go in a pile at the terrace to have our morning duties distributed from the coordinators. I am happy that I have to clean the buffalo poo – I like this job and also I will get very quickly warm! I am stepping in the poo mixed with pee – the smell is very strong and makes me dream of my own farm.
Yesterday a movie production team from Hungary came in the park in order to make documentary about it. Today, since the morning started, they started to walk here and there and to shoot. While I am bringing the buckets with water and thinking what a pleasure will be to pour them over the floor of the buffalo place and to brush it after, a man with a camera and a woman with a microphone are meeting me, asking if they can shoot me. Of course they can – I am both shy and happy I will be in a documentary for elephants. They are asking me why I am in the park, what I like to do most here, how I stand without hot shower. I am answering. I want to tell them that I love very much to clean the buffalo poo perhaps because part of the blood of my grandmother is passing through my heart, and my grandmother loved the fields very much and had a big farm. I want but I do not tell that to them – I think they will not understand. I am explaining to them about our bike trip – I am very proud. I am explaining them about the kids and I feel even more proud. Oh, I hope so much they will not cut this episode…
Sunday is a free day so we have awfully a lot of time for us. After I helped for downloading the food for the elephants and I feed Hope (I always feed him with not well hidden hope that he will start to recognize amongst the tens of other tourists and he will start to like me – funny as I see him only 1 hour per day for a period of 2 weeks…) I put myself completely in my free time. Finally I started to check how the kids are doing their lessons… I checked all the 30 pages of Mira’s book for the Nature and I examined her for half of them! It was very pleasant for me – in her Nature book there are very nice pictures which so much reminded me my childhood. I started so much to want it back, the plays in the South Park, the Sunday walks in Vitosha, for the changing of the seasons in Bulgaria, the stealing of flowers and cherries from the neighbors’ gardens… It is strange what can do with the thoughts and the feelings one Nature book for 2nd grade, open in a Sunday afternoon in the middle of an Elephant park in Thailand…
This evening we are so few people – around 15. All the rest has left. I just started to get used to them, to understand them more and they left – I feel a little sad from that. But it is pleasant at the dinner – quiet and calm. We are talking nicely with one retired couple who stayed one more week like us. I would like the dinner to continue longer. Finally I have a Thai massage! The time is perfect – at 8.30pm it is only me and Damien at the terrace for the dinner where they also do Thai massage. Women from the nearby village are coming every evening to do massage and exactly today the one who I like came as well (she liked the kids the very first day when we arrived and she made to them a short massage). While she was doing massage to me she suddenly stopped, remove her bracelet from her hand and put it on mine. I was happy from that.
In the evening, exactly before going to bed, coming back to the room and walking at the bamboo terrace, I saw 4 elephants in the night – they were one after the other, as if they were touching themselves with their trunks and they were chewing something juicy and green – dark figures cut as if from a paper and glued on the light blue moon night…
We just came back from the Elephant Nature Park. We spent 2 weeks over there and we are still dreaming of elephants.
It was very nice at the park. Being woken up by the song of the roosters, followed few minutes later by the barking of the dogs (there were 35 dogs in the park without counting the once from the nearby village), and finally getting up with the elephants “trumpeting”; having nice breakfast in the early chilly morning; cleaning the park from elephant or buffalo poo; helping in the kitchen; unloading the trucks from food for the elephants and preparing their baskets (they eat about 250kg per day); collecting banana trees; making mud bricks; going for a walk with Hope – our favorite elephant; bathing and washing the elephants; watching them pushing each other in the mud (playing like kids in fact); sitting on the terrace in front of the Pink river and writing our travel books in a quiet evening…
We learnt a lot about the elephants and their tragic lives. Elephants are ill-treated all over Thailand. From 100 000 elephants in Thailand a century ago, only less than 3000 are still alive today and the future is not very promising: they are still working hard under stressful and brutal conditions - carrying tourists, working in Zoo, begging in the street. One woman in Thailand has dedicated her live to save the elephants: Lek. She is rescuing ill or injured elephants since 1992. She opened the Elephant Nature Park in 2003 and there are now 35 elephants, living freely and happily there. Max, the old man elephant, 3m tall, who has been pushed by a 15t truck on the roads of Thailand while begging in the streets with his mahout (man looking after elephants). Jokia, who became blind after being shoot in both eyes because she was not obeying to the commands of her mahout; Mae Dow, who lost part of her foot on a land mine… You can still see the scars of their tragic past on their bodies but it is moving and touching to see Mae Perm guiding her blind friend Jokia through the park, to see Mae Dow playing in the mud with the young’s. Please, next time you go on an elephant ride, check more about the treatment of the elephants there …
We met very nice and interesting people at the Park, from all over the world and from all horizon: Chas, a New Zealand guy in his late 50-ty on a 3 months holiday to volunteer as a maintenance guy at the park; Brian and Joe – a nice Canadian couple volunteering in Africa, Europe and now Asia during the free time of their retirement; Jane – an English woman working in Thailand while her just retired husband is sailing around the world; an English couple on the road since 4 years; an Australian couple who just left Melbourne on a one way ticket… It was nice to discuss with all of them and realize that it is possible to change the direction of your life at any time.
We are now spending our last days in Thailand. We will be in Laos on Saturday where we will meet Vesi and Desmond! Mira’s foot is almost ok – only 1 sq cm of skin is missing now but she should be ok before we are back in Europe.
We didn’t manage to see the video but you can check the links below if you want to see us on a Hungarian program – they made a documentary about the park while we were there:
Report in programme called "Aktiv": http://webcast.tv2.hu/dynamic/index.php?m=video&video_id=372452 and in programme called "Magellan": http://webcast.tv2.hu/dynamic/index.php?m=video&video_id=372482
Also, we have a special thought about Manompana and the kids of Manomp'; the east coast of Madagascar has been devastated by a cyclone a few days ago and it passed 20 kms fromm Manompana: nobody died but the village is destroyed...
Bye for now, ciao
Chiang Mai, 10th of Feb 2008
Some fresh news! We didn’t leave last Monday to the Elephant Nature Park as planned, due to some minor incident happened few days before.
Let’s come back on what happened the 1st of Feb, 5 pm: we were biking between the temples of Angkor – Damien in front with Mira on his back seat, followed by Sashko and Nina. We were pushing a little stronger on the pedals to be on time for the sunset at Angkor Wat and hrrrr… - the bike stopped, Mira started to cry. She blocked her left food in the back wheel… We had to wait 24 hour to go to the hospital – it’s advised not to spend time in Cambodian hospital, so we directly went to the hospital at our arrival in Bangkok (Thailand) on 2nd of Feb. Good for us Mira’s foot was not broken, just two or three weeks for healing the wounded area and for the twisted ankle to be cured…
We postponed our stay with the elephants with one week… We spent the week in Chiang Mai so that Mira can be cured and healthy enough to be able to bathe and clean the elephants in the river.
We appreciated a lot the pleasant city, spending mornings in the temples. There are too many temples in Chiang Mai, too many Buddha’s inside, but still impressively attracting. It is impossible to avoid visiting at least 5 per day – they are lying on your way, jumping from every corner and we are always tempted to enter and check them. The only constrains was that we had to carry Mira as she was still not able to walk, so we only visited about 3 temples per day. Luckily for the kids because they started really to complain after the first 2. Thai food is a good reason by itself to come to visit Chiang Mai!
We are not sure if we put on weight but for sure all of us really enjoy Thai food: red, green, yellow curry, pad Thai, stir fried, big or small noodles in a sweet-spicy sauce. We even spent a full day in a cooking class (so be ready to eat Thai food next time we meet).
Monday for sure we are going to the Elephant Nature Park – deep in the jungle, far away from the tourist activities of Chiang Mai.
Sunday, 3rd of February 2008
On the 22nd of January, we arrived in Asia in Phnom Penh, Cambodia…
When we left on the 21st of Jan we expected to sleep in Bangkok the following day but we had some issues at the Thai border – visa on arrival for Bulgarian citizens was not accepted anymore… You need to make Thai visa in an Embassy outside Thailand. Laws are changing our plans also… The same day we had to fly to nearby country to get a visa: Hong Kong, Malaysia or Cambodia. We decided for the last one, quickly bought a guide book and defined our trip in Cambodia in the plane to Phnom Penh.
We stayed 10 days in Cambodia – not enough time to go too deep in the jungle of the North-East part of the country so we stuck to a tourist approach. We stayed few days in the capital, Phnom Penh, we went at the beaches of the South-West near Sihanoukville, stopped on the way in the little town of Kampot and spent our last day in the temples of Angkor.
The first day in Phnom Penh it looked dusty, busy, difficult to cross the street because of the motorbikes, the cars and the garbage on the streets. But little by little we started to like it and we realized it is a nice feeling to watch the streets: the motorbikes, carrying 4-5 people, mixed with bicycle, tuk-tuks (small carriage pulled by motorbike) and few cars. At first we were not captivated by Cambodia but slowly we started to discover the charm of the country and the people. People looked quiet, smiling, curious, sociable, always ready to start to talk with the kids or to watch their drawings in their travel books. Though we managed to see few places we collected lots of pictures and feelings.
We discovered charming beaches so lively in the evening, full with ocean waves, white sand, tourists. We didn’t appreciate so much the streets with lots of trash, the dust in the air, covering the trees and houses. We liked a lot our small restaurant overlooking the ocean at the beach of Sihanoukville, cooking fresh fish and sea food for us every night.
We got amazed by Buddha pagodas, heavy and joyful from the gold cover, piles of ornaments on the roofs and hundreds of Buddha statues inside. We got also amazed by the Buddha monks, dressed in their orange scarves, carrying umbrella to protect from the sun and collecting money or food from every shop they were stopping at.
We surprised Mira for her birthday having a nice breakfast at the beach of Sihanoukville; she was also so happy to swim and play in the ocean for the first time on her birthday.
We liked a lot to wonder in the markets, meeting people selling rice, noodles and bamboo juice.
We discovered also the tragic signs of Cambodia’s history – the last 30 years of war left Cambodia with lots of handicapped people, missing legs or arms, begging in the streets or selling books and crafts on the beaches.
We were impressed by the different temples of Angkor – so huge but so delicately decorated, full with tourists in the middle of the morning and deserted at midday or at sunset, standing impressively at the end of the big road or hidden in the jungle, half covered by trees and vegetation…
We are now in Bangkok. Tonight we’ll take the train to Chiang Mai, impatient to start our week at the Elephant Nature Park…
almost ready for the last 6 months of our World adventures;
- to have more datas about the whole trip, click on http://atworld.canalblog.com
- to follow our Bicycle Trip in Europe, http://atworld1.canalblog.com
- to read our adventure in Mada, http://atworld2.canalblog.com
- to join us in Asia, http://atworld3.canalblog.com