With Flores it was love at first sight, truly. My short flight from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo offered views of volcanic islands surrounded by perfectly clear turquoise waters, and by the time I landed on a runway practically built on top of the sea, I was all in. Our main motivation for the visit was to stop by neighboring Komodo Island National Park to say hi to the dragons, but one of my best friend’s best friends, Anna, who manages a dive shop in the area insisted that diving was a must, and she couldn’t have been more right.
What a whirlwind 2017 has been! I’ve been on the move constantly, living out of my backpack while balancing work or play in a different country every couple of weeks. It’s been a blast, but after three months of non-stop motion I’m finding myself a bit weary. As a remedy, I flew into Laos and immediately made my way to Nong Khiaw, a sleepy riverside town that perfectly matched my mood. After my first day this entire year spent alone, I finally got some much needed introvert recharge time, spending a lazy afternoon watching the Ou River meander past from a hammock on my hotel balcony. After a 10 hour long nights sleep, I finally feel rested enough to attempt to turn these half finished thoughts into some sort of a post.
After a busy month shuffling between different gigs at an animal sanctuary in Cambodia, back to Tioman and finally up to northern Malaysia to the tea plantations of the Cameron Highland (Malaysia’s equivalent of the Pacific Northwest), Gary and I hopped on a flight to Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam, the motorbike capital of the world. In that spirit, we set out to buy our own, crossing our fingers that it would carry us all the way north to Hanoi.
Things I will miss:
The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing familiar is taken for granted. -Bill Bryson
i thank You God for most this amazing day: for the leaping green spirits of trees and a blue dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes -e. e. cummings
After paddling and Hari Raya I felt pretty unmotivated to plan any further travels, a first for me. At the last minute I set off for Kuala Lumpur winging it, with the idea of visiting two UNESCO World Heritage sites, Penang and Melaka.
My malay vacay, which is fun to say (hehe), kicked off with a little magic. Just as I was heading to bed there was an urgent knock on my door informing me that there was a nest of baby turtles hatching. I rushed next door to the Juara Turtle Project just in time to help transplant the hatchling hawksbills, and to watch them scramble towards the sea. There really is no cuter animal than a baby turtle, and as I walked back home shooting stars whizzed across the night sky. I couldn’t help but smile, little me on a little island floating in the South China Sea.
Rock steady baby, that’s what I feel nowwww. Well hello, dear family and friends that still have any interest in reading this. Can you believe I’ve been writing on this blog for 7 years? Here is a brief summary of what I’ve been doing: After two weeks cruising the classic tourist circuit around Cambodia, I spent a month working for Little Planet, an outdoor education company based in Tioman Island, Malaysia. A month flew by, spent mainly introducing groups of international private school students from Singapore to jungle trekking, kayaking, snorkeling and star gazing, as well as a detour to the wild jungles of Endau Rompin for a three day canoe trip and a field trip to Bali, where I learned how to mud wrestle men twice my size. A painful 22 hour flight later I was back in California in my happy place working another quick season for Naturalists at Large, and after flitting around California for two months I hopped back on a plane to return to Malaysia for the summer. And here I am, writing during a two week vacation, after a jam-packed June.
After 27 hours of initial transit from San Diego and with three new countries under my belt in under a week, I write this on a bus in Cambodia, on my way from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. Thanks to jet lag I’ve been awake every night from 3-6am, so you’ll have to give me a pass as I attempt to record my first impressions from the trip so far, especially since this is my first timing blogging using my phone.