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magistramarla
06-19-2012, 09:07 PM
Hi everyone,
My daughter Heather is at it again. This time she's touring Southeast Asia. She left on her own, but will be meeting up with her friend Cory in Bangkok.
He'll travel with her for a while, and when he goes back to NYC, her fiance Eric will join her for the rest of the trip. Once again, he's doing his summer guest professor gig in Berlin. Those kids have an incredible life!

Everyone seemed to enjoy her descriptions of her China trip a while back and her trip to Egypt last winter, so I'm going to let everyone read her descriptions of this trip, too.
ENJOY:

> On Jun 19, 2012 11:34 PM, Heather wrote:
>>
>> Hi all,
>>
>> I'm just checking in from my layover in Taiwan. It's hot here, but
>> interesting. I'll fly out to Bangkok tomorrow. It's already nearing
>> midnight here, but it looks like a lot is open, so I'm going to go
>> explore a bit. I'm safe and happy and so excited to be on my
>> adventure!
>>
>> Much love,
>> Heather


On Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 7:37 AM, Heather wrote:
> Hi all,
>
> I'm writing on my cell phone from my bunk bed here at the World
> Scholars Hostel in Taipei. Of course I woke up more than 2 hours
> before my 8am alarm despite getting to bed around 2:30am. I'm
> jet-lagged, but at least I slept a bit on the plane.
>
> Taiwan is lovely. Taipei is a big city, and it took about an hour of
> highway and then city driving to get here on the bus from the airport.
> The Evergreen bus goes every 20-30 minutes, is comfortable, air
> conditioned, cost $5 and stops just a couple of blocks from this
> hostel. Everything seems to be open late here, so I took a 10 minute
> walk last night to an area that has streets lined with bars and small
> restaurants or food carts. Many were still open when I got there after
> midnight. I stopped at one, and the woman running it showed me how to
> pick up skewers of the food I wanted with tongs and place them in a
> strainer, which she then took from me to cook. I'm still not
> completely sure what I ate, but it was delicious and cost only about
> $2.67. I bought some juice and a can of mildly alcoholic fruit
> flavored drink and ate at my hostel while watching Lara Croft and
> chatting with fellow travelers. There's one guy from Brooklyn named
> Adam Rapp (not the
> playwright!) who designed and markets his own travel shorts. He had
> plenty of good suggestions about ruins to see in Cambodia.
>
> There are little convenience stores on every corner, most of which are
> 7-Elevens. I went looking for deodorant, since unfortunately my
> luggage is checked through to Bangkok and I have only the clothes I'm
> wearing for now, but that seems to be the one thing none of them
> carry. Sigh. At least I got a good shower this morning. I don't have
> my towel either, so I'm drying off as I lie here in bed enjoying the fan.
>
> All in all, life is wonderful, and my adventure has begun well. I'll
> keep you informed as I go. I'm should be flying to Bangkok this
> afternoon, but I hear that a monsoon is approaching, so we'll see. For
> now I'm off to find tea and something delicious for breakfast.
>
> Love,
> Heather

As long as I have good internet access... ;-)

I just found a terrific breakfast at a street cart. The man fried up a potato pancake, chopped it into chunks and served it in a plastic bag to which I added some soy sauce and a pink sauce that was delicious.
That was all just 60 cents too. I got a bottle of iced green tea at a convenience store at which I finally found deodorant. ;-)

One thing I'd meant to note earlier: I love the pedestrian walk signals here, instead of just a white or flashing red man, there are two LED displays at each crossing - one a countdown timer and one an animated green walking man whose speed increases as the timer nears the end. Very cute and informative!

The weather here is actually not bad, so perhaps I've escaped the worst. It was incredibly humid last night, and it looked like it had rained, but not when I went out. This morning it's just cloudy out.
I'll let you know when I get to Bangkok if I have internet access at my hostel. If I don't, you might not hear from me until I reach Yangon, but don't worry. I will write when I can.

Love,
Heather

rob
06-20-2012, 07:40 PM
Thai food=Mmmmmmmmmmm!

Mica
06-20-2012, 08:35 PM
AW that sounds like an amazing trip.

magistramarla
06-20-2012, 10:21 PM
Here's the next installment:

One Night in Bangkok
Wow. Just... wow. I'm here for only a few hours before my early morning flight to Myanmar, but at least I got a taste of this city on the way through. I'm staying at the Urban Age Hostel, and I seem to be in an interesting area. Or perhaps all of Bangkok is like this. I'm not sure.
Getting here was easy. My flight was smooth (in a 747 that simply flew around the incoming monsoon), and I found the trains easy to navigate. People here are so much more orderly than in New York. Everyone waiting for the train queues up at the arrows that are marked on the platform to either side of where the doors will open. People on the train can thus walk straight out to exit before the queues to either side star filing in. Nice! The train was cheap too - around $1.50 for the first one from the airport, and less than a dollar for the second one.
After a quick shower at my hotel, I headed out to a nearby street for dinner, passing of course McDonald's and Sizzler and Starbucks. I was tempted into a Thai restaurant by the whole fried fish out front, though I actually wound up eating a Thai style omelet with crab meat and Laetitia's favorite coconut-based soup with chicken and mushrooms along with a beer. Yum!
I have to get up early, so I headed back toward the hostel, but I noticed a side street along the way that was cut off for automobile traffic and filled with a little market with stalls selling just about everything, so I went to look around. Along the sides of the streets are bars and restaurants and oh so many "sex shows". Everywhere there are tourists eating, drinking and shopping just outside bars with stages full of poles and nearly naked young women half-heartedly dancing next to them. (At 8pm, there's no one yet in the bars to watch them). Men walk up to tourists - men and women - with "menus" of the shows, which all look to me to be exactly alike at a glance. Wow!
Anyway, it seems to be a fascinating city. I'll explore more when I return here to meet Eric. In the meantime, I have an early plane to Myanmar to catch tomorrow, so I'm off to bed early. Until next time!
Love,
Heather

OK, does anyone else have an '80s song stuck in their mind now?

magistramarla
06-24-2012, 10:45 PM
Here is Heather's latest e-mail from Myanmar:

Hi all,

I'm working on a descriptive e-mail, but it's hard to get time and a decent internet connection. This message is just to let you know that all is well here. I love Myanmar and the Burmese people. As one fellow traveler said at lunch today, his face hurts at the end of the day from returning all of the smiles of the people here. They are quick to smile, wave, say hello, help someone, etc. They will overcharge tourists for mementos, but I can't otherwise see these people doing anything bad. They love having photos taken, especially if they then get a chance to see and chuckle over the resulting photo on your camera. They love inviting strangers in their homes, sharing photos of family and teaching tourists like me the language. I've had such wonderful interactions with the people here!

Bagan has been absolutely incredible. I'm sad to be leaving in the morning, but I'm also excited about spending 4 days relaxing at Inle Lake. I am *so* grateful to be here, enjoying the sights, the people, the food. I'm safe, happy and relaxed. I'll work on my descriptive e-mail and hopefully write from Inle Lake.

Love,
Heather

She is having a wonderful time there!

Saysusie
06-26-2012, 11:57 AM
I just love, love reading her descriptions. They are informative, but so sweetly covered by her own impressions and perceptions. I know that you are keeping all of her writings from all of her trips, it would make a wonderful travel guide for others.
Thank you for sharing, as always.

Peace and Blessings
Namaste
Saysusie

magistramarla
06-28-2012, 02:01 PM
Hi Everyone,
I just received a quick update from our traveler:
Hi Mom,
Everything is great! I'm at a winery right now and finally getting some internet access. I'm having a wonderful time though, biking, boating, trekking. I went to a monastery the other day where they'd taught cats to jump through a hoop on command! Yesterday, I biked to hot springs for some relaxation. It's been nonstop fun. I promise to write it all up for you soon.
Love,
Heather

I can't wait to get that full report from her!
Hugs,
Marla

magistramarla
06-28-2012, 02:04 PM
I just love, love reading her descriptions. They are informative, but so sweetly covered by her own impressions and perceptions. I know that you are keeping all of her writings from all of her trips, it would make a wonderful travel guide for others.
Thank you for sharing, as always.

Peace and Blessings
Namaste
Saysusie


SaySusie,
I'm glad that others here enjoy reading about Heather's adventures - that's why I post them.
Both Heather and Eric write so beautifully when they describe their travels. I agree - I think that the two of them should write a travel guide.
Hugs,
Marla

sassyNerd
06-29-2012, 12:04 PM
I just found this thread and it's awesome! I am always glad to find people who just go out there and like to travel (something that I completely enjoy but of course have not been able to do just yet) and keep an open mind to other cultures :). Can't wait to hear more!

magistramarla
07-02-2012, 02:58 PM
Hi Everyone,
Here are a few updates from our world traveler:
Hi all,

I'm about to leave Lake Inle after four fun-filled days. Along with my friends Amy and Adnan, whom I met in Bagan a week ago, I've biked and trekked all over the area surrounding this town north of the lake.
We visited a local winery, soaked in the nearby hot springs, visited and ate with mountain villagers, and had a great time photographing everything. The locals, especially kids *love* to be photographed and then dissolve into peals of laughter when you show them the resulting picture on your camera. It's hilarious! We had young kids jostling to be prominent in each photo at a few stops we've made.

We also spent a day on a boat going around the lake, where we visited people who would demonstrate local crafts, such as paper-making, pottery-making, silversmithing, blacksmithing (which was very impressive when they'd get three men pounding on a hot piece of metal at once in series over and over (boom-boom-boom, boom-boom-boom), and more. We visited markets, pagodas and a floating garden. Our favorite stop was at a monastery where the monks have taught cats to jump through a hoop on command. That was fun to watch!
We've eaten wonderful fish from the lake, and yesterday after trekking all day, a belly-expanding traditional Shan dinner, which was an amazing five-course meal all for less than $10 each. ;-)

I'll miss this tranquil place as I head back to busy Yangon for a day and a half before flying to KL. I really am working on a detailed description, but more is added to my adventures all the time, and I'm having way too much fun to write every day. I apologize for that, but know that I'm having the time of my life!

Love,
Heather
I'm back in busy, dusty, rainy Yangon and already missing the north. I'm excited to be moving on to Malaysia tonight though.
I hope to have better internet access there and in Singapore. It's been a bit difficult to find and extremely slow here in Myanmar. I often have to wait for mornings when fewer people are online. I'm hanging out in a department store this morning getting odd looks and listening to cheesy music just for the free decent wifi. ;-)
Today is a cheap and chill day. I don't want to change anymore money and I'm very nearly out. I have enough for the cab to the airport and a cheap lunch, and that's it. I may take the $1, 3-hour train ride around the city just for kicks. We'll see. More from KL!
Love,
Heather

I am SO regretting being so willing to try street food in Yangon. Eric is usually there with me when I travel to make sure I don't give in to temptation.
My flight to KL was cold, and since earlier flights were so warm, I didn't carry on my jacket and some socks like I usually do. By the end, I was sniffly. I was feeling it a bit yesterday, but then after going up in the Menara KL yesterday, I started feeling worse, both in terms of having a cold and some GI trouble. I went home, took a shower and a nap, and had some of the worst diarrhea. I finally started on a round of Cipro. Sigh.
I'm embarrassed about doing something so stupid. I think I know exactly what got me too. A girl with a street cart of Indian food was serving bowls with samosas cut up and a broth and other ingredients on top. They looked delicious, but I regretted ordering it almost as soon as she handed it to me. I wondered about the cleanliness, and 48 hours later...
Thankfully Corey was delayed by a day and is coming in tomorrow morning instead of this morning. I spent about 24 hours in bed, going out only this morning to get another bottle of water and stop by a pharmacy for cold meds (which are just herbal here). I had a couple packets of Theraflu with me and some cough drops, thankfully, and I'm feeling much better now. I just wandered out for some dinner at a hotel across the street from my hostel - hot seafood soup and oranges and ice cream for dessert along with some hot tea. Perfect!
Anyway, your daughter has learned from her stupidity, and in 12 hours, I'll have Corey here to look after me, followed by expert traveler Eric. I brought enough antibiotics to go on at least 4 rounds, but hopefully this is the one and only bout of TD I'll have on this trip. (Knock on wood!)
Love,
Heather

So, that's the good, the bad and the ugly about her trip so far. Mom here worries and is glad that it is nothing worse than a stomach-ache. I'm glad that she is joining up with her friend soon, and her fiancee a bit later.
Until the next update.....
Hugs,
Marla

magistramarla
07-02-2012, 03:16 PM
I just found this thread and it's awesome! I am always glad to find people who just go out there and like to travel (something that I completely enjoy but of course have not been able to do just yet) and keep an open mind to other cultures :). Can't wait to hear more!

Sassy,
I'm glad that you are enjoying this. Heather and her fiancee Eric travel a lot. I sometimes post her e-mails here, since a lot of folks seem to get a kick out of it. I found a couple of her other trips that I've posted about: http://forum.wehavelupus.com/showthread.php?11168-My-world-traveler-is-at-it-again&highlight=Egypt and http://forum.wehavelupus.com/showthread.php?7656-World-Traveler-at-it-again

I'm sure that I also posted about their trip to China, but I didn't find that thread. We traveled with them to Greece and had a blast.

In case you're wondering, we're not wealthy. Eric is a political science professor at NYU and he travels for his research, and Heather is a neurobiology post-doc there, so she gets a few perks, too. The trip to Santorini was because she presented at a conference.
Jeff and I get to travel for the Air Force sometimes, and my youngest, Meghan is living in Germany because her hubby is stationed there.
Life is good, and our family likes to take advantage of it!

Take a look at my picture albums and you can see the people that I'm discussing.
Enjoy!
Hugs,
Marla

magistramarla
07-12-2012, 10:12 PM
4804Hi Everyone,
Here are the last e-mails that I've received from the world traveler. She's had some fun with her friend and by now she should be traveling with her fiancee.
Eric was busy doing his summer gig as a guest lecturer in Berlin. Now they can settle in to a nice vacation together.

Hi Mom and Dad,
I'm feeling much better now, though I'm still a bit weak and sometimes woozy. Corey got in this morning and is looking after me. We're thinking of leaving KL tomorrow (some of my respiratory problems may be due to the air here) for the beach town of Melaka on the way to Singapore. We'll check out the caves near here before we go though. It should be fun.
We just went through the aquarium after stopping at Starbucks. We're taking it easy today as he adjusts and I recover.

After a lovely couple of days in Melaka, on the coast of Malaysia, Corey and I have reached Singapore. We're settling in for 3 days of eating our way through the city!
Hugs,
Heather

Hi Mom and Dad,

When I next have money to take you on vacation, Singapore has to be on the list. It's so beautiful and clean here. It feels like a city of the future with it's interesting architecture and such. You can drink the water. The food is outstanding! The trains come quickly and get you almost everywhere. More is handicap accessible here than in many US cities. Most people here speak English. It's "Asia in cheat mode"
as Corey says. (You should friend him on Facebook to see his comments from this trip.) We've had a great time and very eaten well. ;-)

I'm heading up to Bangkok now to meet up with Eric. My flight will board very soon. I just wanted to let you know that all is well. I'm happy and healthy and wishing that you could see all of this. You'd love it!

Love,
Heather

I haven't heard from her since Eric joined her - they must be having too much fun!
Until the next e-mail......
Hugs,
Marla

magistramarla
07-17-2012, 10:52 PM
Hi Everyone,
Here's the last e-mail that I received from the world traveler. She's with Eric now, so she's not remembering the rest of us!
She managed to call me from Thailand yesterday. They were getting ready to go on an elephant adventure. They were going to be able to feed, ride and bathe an elephant. I can't wait to see the pictures from that adventure.
(from Heather)
I apologize for not writing recently. I didn't even get postcards sent out from Singapore! I've been enjoying though. Singapore was lovely, and Corey and I very much enjoyed great meals as well as exploring. We went to the Botanical Gardens (where we enjoyed an orchestra concert in the main lawn after exploring) and the Night Safari at the Zoo. We explored museums and the new Gardens on the Bay. It was a great trip!
I headed to Bangkok as Corey headed home, where I relaxed and enjoyed Thai food and explored the Grand Palace. After two days, I met Eric at the airport, and the next day, we took a 7 hour bus ride to Sukhothai. We just got up today ready to explore the ruins here. So far, everything has been lovely. We have a cute little bungalow to ourselves at the Sila Resort. Our dinner in town last night was fantastic - pork wontons and fried banana flowers for appetizers, then fried fish with 8 Thai herbs and eggplant with basil and shrimp as entrees. Yum! Life is great.
Love,
Heather

So, that's the latest news - until I hear from her again.
Hugs,
Marla

magistramarla
07-27-2012, 05:34 PM
Hello everyone at WHL,
I've been busy entertaining some other family members, so I haven't kept up with Heather's travel e-mails.
They have been having a wonderful time, and she has written quite a bit.
Enjoy!

Eric and I are now safely in Luang Prabang, Laos enjoying great food and bars and the chill atmosphere here. Today, we took a long boat ride to see Buddha caves and a little village that makes homemade whiskey.
We loved Thailand too. We explored the temples of Sukhothai and rode and bathed an elephant in Chiang Mai. Also, I've never enjoyed Thai food so much. Wow!
There's much more to say, but we're staying busy. I hope all is well elsewhere in the world. ;-)
Hugs,
Heather

Hi all,
Eric and I are now safely in Cambodia. Yesterday we wandered a bit and explored a temple, stopping for $1.50 mojitos before finding a movie theater showing The Killing Fields. We decided to watch that, since we'll go see the killing fields in person here, so we curled up with a bowl of fresh popcorn and learned a lot. We then went to a restaurant that trains former street youth and is well known for good local food. We ate fried tarantulas as an appetizer and pork and river fish entrees and pumpkin custard dessert. It was a bit late after that, but we checked out the old Foreign Correspondents Club for a drink and to enjoy the view of the river. We loved taking a tuk-tuk ride home. Eric has been particularly fond of tuk-tuks.
So far, Cambodia has been great. Our flight from Vientiane (where we'd spent a day after a quite uncomfortable sleeping bus from Luang Prebang) came in early, and it was incredibly easy to get our visas, pick up luggage and get a tuk-tuk into town. Everything here is cheap, and dollars are just as common as anything else. Our hotel (Cara Hotel) is terrific.
We are happy and healthy and safe. ;-)
Love,
Heather

Phnom Penh has been great (though hot!). We're heading out at noon today for Siem Reap via 6 hour bus. We've had great luck traveling by bus. We had long but comfortable rides in Thailand from Bangkok to Sukhothai and then from Sukhothai to Chiangmai. The only one we didn't like was the sleeping bus in Laos from Luang Prabang to the capital city Vientiane. That one rocked too much, and made us (on the top bunk) a bit worried about falling out of bed. :(
Cambodia is something to see. The people here are remarkably friendly, though we do get a bit tired of the constant tuk-tuk offers. Tuk-tuks are great for travel and cheap, and we've used them a lot, but there are tuk-tuk drivers everywhere!
Two days ago, we took one out to the National Museum, which wasn't great as museums go, but Eric and I loved the old statues of Buddha and Hindu gods and various stellae. We spent a long time wandering through those and soaking up the information. We stopped then for a Cambodian lunch. I had a wonderful noodle dish with chicken and a mango milkshake, and Eric had a banana lassi and their local fish dish, which is served in a banana leaf and topped with coconut sauce. Yum!
We then walked around the Palace, which nice but not too impressive. We did stop and watch the monkeys convince both tourists and staff to feed them. One mischievous monkey climbed into the eaves of a building and raided a pigeon nest. He dropped the first egg but ate the rest, dropping the shells to the ground.
After cleaning ourselves up a bit at the hotel, we went to a fancy riverside restaurant where we shared an appetizer platter, a lobster hotpot soup and a duck dish along with a pitcher of Angkor beer.
Yesterday was emotionally difficult, as we went out to the Killing Fields first. They have that very well set up. After visiting the museum and watching a short film there, we took the audio tour around the grounds, carefully winding our way along the path between the indentations in the ground in which mass graves were dug up and in which bits of bone and the clothes of victims still surface. It's impossible not to cry listening to the stories of those who lost loved ones during Pol Pot's regime, and everyone must have. About one in four Cambodians died in that 4 year period.
After that, we took a tuk-tuk back into town and straight to the Genocide Museum, which is in the former school turned S-21 prison in which people were beaten and tortured before being taken to the Killing Fields. We watched another film there, wandered the grounds and tiny cells and saw one of the very few survivors there touting his book on the experience. I couldn't bring myself to look through that or even chat with him after seeing everything I had. I was already on the edge of tears throughout. It's really something to think about what people can do to other people.
We had skipped all meals that day, and it was nearing 6pm, so we headed out to a French/Cambodian restaurant called Saffron for a delicious dinner and some time to regroup. The entrees there were about $9-10, so we ordered three - duck confit (wow!), seafood with a saffron sauce and black rice, and beef in coconut sauce. I had a fruit shake too, though I can't remember the name of the fruit. It was like lychee and blended with mint. Yum!
We then went to a nearby bar to enjoy the atmosphere and a couple of really good drinks (each about $2.50). It was a relaxing end to an emotionally rough but educational day.
This morning has been full of local color. We went to a wat (temple) that is the seat of Buddhism in Cambodia. There were many monks but no other tourists. Upstairs, we sat in front of the Buddha, and I noticed an elderly monk who seemed much respected, so I went over to chat. He had to call another monk to translate, but I'm so glad that he did! He is the top monk in all of Cambodia and quite venerated. He talked to us for quite a while, telling us about the tragedy of Pol Pot's regime and what wats survived. The wat directly behind this one was particularly old. After he wished us great luck and we gave him our respects, we went next door and walked around the old temple. We chatted with a monk we found playing Angry Birds, who is the personal secretary for two important monks. He's been a monk for 20 years done he was 9 years old. He studied law and taught and will soon return to classes for his masters degree. We love belief systems that encourage education. :)
As we went to leave the temple area, an elderly man motioned that he would let us into the temple, saying "Good Buddha". This one had something to do with eyebrows (eyebrow Buddha), but we could write figure it what that meant. We took off our shoes and followed him into the small stone chapel area. He lit a candle and handed us lit sticks of incense to present as an offering. He then sprinkled water on us in what seemed to be a blessing. He took a group of sticks dipped in the water and tapped some into our hands while chanting, then motioning for us to rub it on our faces. Very interesting!
We then headed to a little riverside restaurant called Karma for breakfast - scrambled eggs, ham, sausage, bacon, beans, grilled tomatoes, potato croquette, and toast with coffee/tea, all for only $5.25.
We're on our way to Siem Reap now, so more later. Sorry for all the detail, buy this is somewhat my journal as well. I hope you enjoy!
Love,
Heather

Hi all,
I hope you don't mind, but I'm trying to write more often and keep up with all of my experiences here. I wasn't always good about that, and I then forget things.
The bus ride to Siem Reap was quite nice. The scenery was gorgeous. We passed such green fields and rice paddies as well as small towns. We stopped in one small town for an early dinner at a rest stop. We had some noodles and a dish of fried fish with pineapple and green pepper.
When we got in, there was a tuk-tuk driver waiting for us, since we had made a reservation at the HI Siem Reap. He took us through the bustling little town, which is full of spas and hotels. You can tell this town thrives on tourism.
After checking in and getting a quick shower, we went in search of dinner. We passed spas and massage parlors as well as shops. As I've seen in several countries, there are"fish spas" even out on the street. You dip your feet into tanks full of small fish that nibble the dead skin away. We got a bit of that naturally at the waterfalls, though I'd be somewhat curious to try the spa treatment. It was pricey in Singapore, but here it's only something like $2 for 30 minutes.
We got to a street full of restaurants, all packed with tourists. We wanted a dish called amok, which I had associated with fish amok in Phnom Penh, but at a restaurant called Amok, I had a sampler that include pork amok, chicken amok, beef amok, shrimp amok and vegetable amok. Eric had a fish dish, and we split some pork spring rolls. It was a very filling dinner.
After that, we went one block over to Pub Street. Wow! It's packed with bars and clubs, again full of tourists (who tend to be young backpackers) and a few young locals. We went to the Temple Club, am impressive club decorated with a local temple theme. There were pool tables and a busy dance floor. We bought a couple rounds of cocktails and enjoyed the music (all popular songs in America) before heading home through the rain to sleep.
Today looks to be beautiful, and after breakfast at our hostel, we plan to bike to the ruins and explore. More on that soon!
Love,
Heather

I wish that my Dad was alive to share all of these stories with his grand-daughter. He was in Vietnam with the DOD for a long time, and he traveled to many of the same places that Heather and Eric are visiting now. I'm so glad that Heather is getting to do this.
Hugs to all,
Marla