Gratitude. Things I'm Grateful For #12

Final grateful post of my Southeast Asia adventures - at least this time around. Bittersweet. 

1. Our Own Private Island

I love beaches. I love tranquility. And I love being away from crowds. However, I'm not an accomplished camper. This was Antonio's choice, to run away Robinson Crusoe style, to an island with an ever-changing population of roughly 200 including tourists, a green mango plantation, a couple of guesthouses, and no running water or electricity. Although it wasn't the tropical "paradise" I had in mind from my childhood days watching The Blue Lagoon, it was certainly just what the doctor ordered - 7 days break from internet; the main worries of the day consisting of taking a swim and eating 3 square meals, and the opportunity to experience almost uninterrupted nature, before man (or in this case Chinese businessmen) gets its greedy hands on it. Stay abreast to the outcome of Koh Ta Kiev island's future on Crusoe Island's Facebook page

7 nights with Crusoe Island. Our personal tent and "living space" for $5 a night. 

Our temporary front yard and laundry area, where I put to use our biodegradable Spanish olive oil soap - ¡olé! 

2. The Power and Presence of Plants

Growing up I had a very close friend named Lily. I always thought it was so cool that she was called something so exotic and uncommon (even though I hardly knew where to look for wild growing lilies), and rather dull that I was stuck with Lauren - there were always at least three of us in each class. At the Siem Reap market I came across a beautiful bouquet of water lilies, I was reminded of the past, and at the same time the beauty in the present. Nature can be so moving.

Later on we stumbled upon a very unusual species of carnivorous plants. I was amazed, they were gorgeous, bright and feminine, not anything like the Venus flytraps I general associate with that description. However, they were indeed meat eaters, insect eaters, their coral red petals glittered with a sticky glue-like substance, inviting all whom dared to touch, including me.

Fuchsia water lilies on display in Siem Reap's central market, Cambodia. 

Man-eaters or vegans? 

3. This Guy

With the help of our guide Dani Jump with Bees Unlimited, I gathered the courage to ask this man for his photograph. He was selling fresh palm tree nectar (the same juice that is later transformed into palm sugar), which he collected by hand from the palm and served in portable wood cups. I didn't take proper advantage of the lighting, the shadow hides some of his features, but all the same I love the look in his eyes; features that I hadn't see in Burma or Vietnam, an air of kindness, shyness, modesty, as well as a veil of mystery.

4. Wonders of the World

Can we really be that awesome? That ingenious? Is humanity able to think-up, create, build, and pay homage to the living earth and gods in the form of enormous stone structures? Yes. Time and time again, viewing "Wonders of the World" helps me believe in and respect the greatness of mankind. Let's hope that we are also capable of keeping these sites as reverently as they sat in peace in the jungle for thousands of years before the crowds came.

"Tomb Raider" temple, Ta Prohm, nature claiming its territory after great civilizations had long left. Angkor, Cambodia. 

Angkor Wat in black & white at 3pm. Cambodia, January 2013.  

5. Being a Hippie

Both of my parents were teenagers or in their early twenties during the 1960s in suburban Maryland and Virginia. While neither of them were hippies, my dad was a jock and my mom was a preppy, I think something about the culture of the time - certainly the music - and the idea that running off to far away places in the name of war was a bad thing, was solidified in my upbringing. In turn, I've grown up to be a pretty liberal being. I'm so grateful for my ability to adapt quickly to situations, sleep on hard surfaces (even though I've yet to master the tactic on a bus), and grow my hair out (desperately in need of a haircut as you can see). I'm happy being a "hippie," whatever the translation really means, and hope I stay one for quite some time.

Raggegy hair and a happy girl. Peace, love and ancient temples. Angkor Archaeological Park, Cambodia. 


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