Several months ago, following a summer of tree-planting in Western Canada, Angelina set off for her personal adventure of a lifetime, beginning in Southeast Asia. While many others have taken similar trips, it’s Angelina’s clear and beautiful writing style that sets her experiences apart.
I asked for permission to share some supreme travelogue quotes to give you an idea of what this young woman, traveling alone, has experienced.
I ended up getting into phnom penh at 1 in the morning, Pheakdey (an acquaintance who had spent a year in Ontario) came and rescued me from homelessness on his motorbike. (motorbikes through phnom penh are the best ever. I just hang on side-saddle and am constantly amazed that we’re not getting hit/run over. Pheakdey hardly even stops at all, just honks and keeps going through traffic.)
* * * * *
Today I wandered around town, took a river taxi for 50 cents, ate some fried squid, now i’m about to go out and find dinner. Street food is crazy cheap. I can eat my fill of authentic delicious thai food for under 2$!!!! Having fun, but Bangkok makes me tired with its busy-ness. And i’m shy so far: it’s hard to meet people even in a hostel setting. I’ll get better though!
To close i’ll share with you a few selections from my list of crazy things I’ve seen on motorbikes. I update regularly.1) a dead pig (of course)2) a huge rectangular mirror (the guy holding it could see all the traffic behind him)3) a family of 54) and my personal favorite, an IV drip bag. Seriously. There was a lady on the back holding it up above her head for the passenger in front who needed it. I could hardly believe my eyes. ONLY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA.update on weird things I’ve eaten:-snake-fried tarantula.(never again)
I have been on a train since 1 in the morning! Just crossed the Malasian border, heading to the island of Penang (food capital of Malay!) to meet up for a few days with a friend I met at the building centre. The street vendors there are supposed to be legendary. Like I need to eat more on this trip but you only live once. 🙂
I finally tore myself from my tropical island a few days ago, it was difficult, the sea is alive and breathing, a million shades of blue – and the sunsets! but my time is running out. I can’t lay on a beach and eat seafood and go scuba diving forever. But…i am now a advanced open water diver! I LOVE the ocean. I dove to 30 meters, I dove at night, (when you wave your hands at the bottom, all the phosphorescent plankton glows neon and swirls around! so cool!) and I did a navigation dive which mainly consisted of me being lost underwater and crying into my scuba mask at -25 meters. I did 10 dives in all.Just snorkeling on Koh Tao was the most amazing thing, thousands of crazy looking fish to stare at. My favorite is called the juvenile harlequin sweetlips, which sounds like something you wouldn’t want to name your daughter- but google it! it has polka dots. … Once I swam into a school of little fish so thick I couldn’t see the other side, it felt like those national geographic pictures. but I’m living in it!!!!!Another of my favorite sights was flying fish- while sitting on the edge of the scuba boat, I noticed them flying away from the wake – they can fly SO FAR! I was astounded. At least 30 meters.My days consisted of learning dives and hikes and sea kayaking and snorkeling, my evenings were usually spent on the beach with friends watching the fire twirlers and jumping fiery jump rope. so exotic.* * * * *‘Vagabonding: an uncommon guide to long term travel.’Just finished this one. It was wonderful and very thought provoking. It talked a lot about the value and purpose of travel.Typhoon and other stories – Joseph ConradJust started. 4 short stories about life at sea. It had a sweet cover of a ship tossing on a stormy ocean which was 75% of the reason why I bought it. 😛 also i want to live on a ship someday!
Thinking of you all chilly in canadian weather makes me a bit jealous, i am currently exuding a considerable amount of sweat and laying against my dampish backpack on the floor of the kuala lumpur train station waiting for the overnighter to Singapore. also I can smell my own feet.I’ve had to fast track it through Malaysia, which makes me very sad. I love it here. The culture is so different from Laos/Cambodia/Thailand, as those are all Buddhist countries. Malaysia is mostly Muslim. I woke up in Penang the other morning at sunrise to hear the call to prayer, and the trains here have ‘ladies only’ coaches. There are also apparently some religious police patrolling around to nip any ‘inappropriate behavior’ between couples in the bud. Kindof wish we’d have that in the toronto subways sometimes.Example of the cultures blending and western influences: I walked past a textile store selling dozens of muslim headscarves that was blasting Bryan Adams, of all artists. So funny.And the food is inCREDIBLE! By far my favorite. I love Indian food. waking up for a breakfast of roti chanai -crispy and buttery, dipped in curry sauce, (for 50 cents!!!!) is the best day-starter. you can watch them make it, right in front of you with the most deft, practiced motions. I’m learning to eat with my hands (only the right one!) and usually food is served on a banana leaf. The naan is cooked on the side of a clay charcoal oven.After Penang, I headed to the Cameron Highlands to check out the tea plantations. They were gorgeous – field after field of emerald tea, at crazy angles on the hills. masala tea is my favorite.
I haven’t sent the note above this one yet because I got distracted by Singapore. It’s so modern and the buildings are all artsy and uniquely designed. I am also jealous of the subway system they have here. I climbed up to the Skypark viewpoint the other night at sunset … and it looked so futuristic and alien-city-esque. …I met an English teacher from Alberta last night, she told me that the city was lacking a warm heart, was more showy than livable. … I’m sure there are warm pockets, but I don’t think I’d ever want to live here! I’m vey glad to visit, though.I’m sitting in the Singapore national library with a huge stack of books on Nepal beside me. I feel kindof like i’m cramming for a test. My flight leaves tonight at a 11:30 and I get to Kathmandu at 2pm tomorrow!‘the Himalaya is a case of seeing is believing. Whatever you heard or read is going to fall a long way short of the sheer power of reality. –Michael PalinI’m kind of nervous, can my brain handle all this magnificence and do it proper justice on such short term notice? I hope so. I’ll let you know in real life, cus I’m coming home soon!!Lots of love,AngelinaBooks I’m reading:A Short History of Nearly Everything: Bill BrysonHis writing is so down to earth and I love it so far!!!
i LOVE kathmandu. Its crazy and busy and crowded with narrow streets and much honking, but oh so interesting! And i met the BEST person ever to explore with! ill fill you in.the first night i arrived, pestered non-stop by taxi-guys and people trying to get me to stay at their guesthouses.i ended up wandering hungry in Thamel (backpacker area of kat) with my bag still on my back. all i wanted was some good cheap dahl baat. i asked a nepali lady who was selling coin purses in the streets where to find food, she took me to a little place where I got my fill of rice & lentils and vegetable curry for about a dollar. then she invited me to stay at her place for the night. i thought, why not, it’s about time to follow my whims again, there’s no one else with me to tell me I’m crazy!That’s how I met shita, the cutest little Nepali guide and friend one could ask for. 🙂It was past sundown and on the way, there were people on the street selling vegetables by candlelight, (so nicely dark here at night! outside of thamel, that is) I had no idea where we were going. finally she opened a little door in a sidestreet and beckoned me in. I ducked into a tiny dark hallway and followed her up the stairs (my backpack was scraping the ceiling).at the top, there was another door that opened into her apartment. the room had one window and one big bed, her husband and two little boys were already snuggled in under a bunch of blankets. she made me sit down. I stashed my bag in the corner. It looked massive in the little room and I immediately felt materialistic.her husband got up and made us tea. all the while I’m thinking, so where am I actually going to be sleeping in this situation..? The bed wasnt THAT big. good thing I’m 100% low maintenance cus I ended up sleeping in my clothes at the foot of the bed, literally spooning this woman who i had just met on the streets of Kathmandu. when we woke up, her little boys (5&7) were climbing over my legs and staring at me. uh mom, why is there a white girl in my bed? they were so cute.I guess she kind of adopted me then or something. She and her husband treat me like a daughter, and I’ve spent all my time here so far letting her drag me all over the city, past the tourists and ticket counters, and into the real kathmandu. We stop at little tea places for milk tea and lassi and 10 rupee plates of potato curry.the locals always look at me weird cus im out of place. which is good. I’ve had so few conversations in English since I’ve been here, (therefore I’ve been journaling twice a day..) she knows maybe 20 english words, but it’s been the absolute best thing ever.
And now the present. Out of NOWHERE 2 days ago my dear mom decided to come to do Annapurna with me. I called home (for the first time since ive been gone) in a small fit of loneliness, and told her that if she ever does anything else super crazy in her life this should be the time. the next morning I woke up with an email saying her flight was booked.
Let me just go on a bit about my mother. this woman is the original adventurer. opinionated, spunky, fun — from growing up Amish and riding horse and buggy & being a cow milker extraordinaire in virginia, to summers of flying to northern Ontario to live on a reserve. not to mention marrying my canadian papa and having 5 kids. She understood my wanderlust from the start.
I’m sure she worries a little as I’m gallivanting across the globe to treeplant and travel, but she gets it. and she’s COMING! she’s never been been overseas. I’m so excited for her cus I know she’ll love it, and I’m excited for me, cus now I have someone here who knows me and that I love, that I can share all my discoveries with.I wish I had some poetry for you but it’s late and I’m not going to turn the light on and hunt for my poetry book. I’ll leave you with a realization.I really do love being on my own while i travel. It’s hard sometimes, but it gives me such freedom to follow my own whims, and almost always they lead me to the most beautiful places. And when they do, the victory is all mine. I realize that may be selfish – i’m sure my independent streak will dim with a little time, or I’ll meet more people who have whims like mine. but this is true for now.That being said, I still can’t wait for mom to get here!!!!!! 😀Love you all infinitely,AngelinaPs. I’ve been buying way to many potentially genuine yak wool products.pps. I saw a man with TRIPLE PLAID the other day. Skirt, shirt, AND scarf. best of all he pulled it off brilliantly!!ppps. I had over 10 cups of tea today.
Hello dear friends,I am surrounded by mountains in Jomsom, Nepal: day 10 of the hike. It’s been an overwhelmingly beautiful past week and a half. Around every corner is a new stunning sight (the diversity is unbelievable … from waterfalls to snowy towering peaks to the mustang table lands.) and besides the obvious mountains, all the travel guides forgot to mention how interesting and lively the little villages scattered along the circuit are. walking —– tasting the air, feeling the wind off the mountains, having the freedom to go as slow as you want —– is the only way i know to adequately drink it all in. I would recommend this hike to ALL of you, it is probably the coolest thing i have ever done in my life. and its not even over yet!Along with mom, my good friend Jacob came out of nowhere (actually, china..) to join the hike. such a random menagerie of people, I love it!!! We’ve been going i’d say an average of 15ish k per day. I like to take the walks slower, with longer days, so i can stare in wonderment at more scenery.Two days ago we crossed the Thorung La Pass – 5400m above sea level, and the days leading up to it were so, so cold!!!!! mom & i snuggled up together under as many blankets as we could get from the teahouse owners. i didnt ever want to get out of my clothes, and no hot water….i think i wore the same thing for a few days and nights straight…oh well. all in the family, the mountains didn’t care. 🙂Mom and Jake did wonderfully on the pass, but I got pretty sick: near the top, I actually threw up from altitude sickness. it was scary and exhausting i was very happy to be done when we finally reached Muktinath, over a kilometer below. the Nepali guides said that i had it worse because i had a cold – makes sense, flying right from singapore to nepal!We are hoping to be done the loop before the 30th, and it’s looking very very good!!! we woke up today and started hiking at 6, and got a solid 20 k out of the way by midafternoon. we left muktinath, through the big brown mountians of mustang, and hiked towards the Daulaghiri range (sp..?)(mt, daulaghiri being the worlds 7th highest peak!)…and now the trail is running along the kali gandaki river, which trickles through a huge wide bed of stones that ALL look like what I’d want to add to a rock collection. they have little fossils in them and ultra cool patterns! the river will get narrow and deep tomorrow, i’m sure.there’s still SO much more to see. Annapurna 1 hasn’t even came into view yet! this was a quick message, i could wax poetical on all the sights i’m seeing but i must go eat dinner and explore a little more. i will write more, or TELL you, in person – ill be home in a WEEK! crazy. please come see me when i am home! ill be off again to the west at the end of April.Much much love to you all!Angelinaps. mom tried brushing her teeth the other day with Bengay muscle rub instead of toothpaste….ahhhh hahah! oh mom.