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reflections on an asia trip, 20 months later

reflections on an asia trip, 20 months later

Sep 11th, 2007, 10:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 278
reflections on an asia trip, 20 months later

Hello Fodorites,

While making a 2 a.m. cup of roasted green tea, I was reminded of my trip to Asia 20 months ago, a trip that wouldn't have been possible, certainly wouldn't have been the same without the help of the Fodorites, especially Kathie and Bob and the other regulars.

I guess this post is a meditation on why we travel. The trip, a wedding gift paid for by a parent, enhanced our spirits, though one could look at it from another angle, look at it as 13 thousands dollar down the drain.

Yes, my wife and I visited Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos for 29 days. Yes, we stayed in great places. Yes, we ate fiendishly well--(so well that it has spoiled a lot of Asian food for us). Yes, we had a multitude of experiences, a jacuzzi for the senses. But one could argue that we came home with virtually nothing. A trip to Asia, or half of a new car we could drive for years? A trip to Asia or a new roof for the house, a roof that will last for years? But our trip to Asia was like a new roof for our souls.

The question of why we travel seems intimately connected to why we live. Our trip to Asia was an experience of a lifetime, something that continues to live on inside us. I guess it fed the spirit (and it is so much harder to see improvements to the spirit than to the house).

Here are the random memories I still cherish 20 months later, the ones that float to the surface of my mind spontaneously at this instant.

Kyoto: roasted green tea from the machine in our hotel room (Hotel Granvia) will reclining in a robe; approaching the silver temple in a snowstorm; an amazing meal at Wakudan, a sukiyaki lunch in our own private room, a large Chritsmas tree lit in the Kyoto train station, the nightingale floors of an old castle.

Tokyo: the energy of the city, the smaller than US garbage trucks; the mixture of simplicity and elegance visible in so many things; sushi breakfast at the fish market; the most delicious bowl of noodles I've ever had, the Harajuku girls; delcious French food; taking a hot bath at a communal bath place.

Luang Prabang: riding a bike through town with my wife; the laid back atmosphere; the happy energy of the people; stumbling upon a pick-up game of karate volleyball with a wicker ball (I only watched); staying at a place about 2 miles outside of town and swimming in the gorgeous pool; so-ba-dee; renting a boat with a car steerring wheel and a driver and chugging up the Mekong River.

Angor Wat: the most amazing ruins by far I've experienced (way beyond Tikal or Coban); exploring the sublime wreckage of Bang Melea; our guide saying his country was hell and that the US was heaven in his eyes; the suffering that I could almost feel in the air contrasted with the incredible fruit-filled breakfasts at our groovy modern hotel (I am forgetting all the names of places, if interested you can search for my trip report); the poverty of Siem Reap; three or four people to a motor bike; all the giant faces at that one temple built into stone that made me feel like I was hallucinating; hiking up to the river linga; the makeshift orchestras of people missing limbs.

Chiang Mai: a hike through a cloud forrest with a person from the Karen tribe (organized by Sargeant Kai) and emerging from a lush green canopy of trees on a cliff above the cloud line; hiking to various waterfalls, alos in Doi Inanthanon; my wife and I getting Thai massages in our hotel room, side by side, at Yaang Come Village; watching a bootleg version (filmed in a movie theater on a a hand-held video camera) of the movie Munich); my wife raving about her cooking class at ?; the energy at the weekly market.

Bangkok: My wife drinking Sprite out of a plastic bag; the weekend market blowing our mind open fifty ways to Tuesday--scurrying through the narrow corridors loaded up like a pack mule; a massage at that spa that Kathie loves on New Year's Eve; the crazy cab drivers, each one different--some funny crazy, some scary crazy; eating on the river with old friends from college; our last two nights of being pampered at the Peninsula, the tandoori chicken at the Indian restaurant on the top floor of the Hotel Rembrandt; getting stuck in traffic on the way to the airport and being sure we would miss our flight home and screwed irreversibly and then the traffic clearing and everything being fine.

All that lives inside me. All that and more. I don't know when we will get to take a big trip again. I was so intent on going back upon our return, spending more time in Laos, maybe even Burma, but my wife got happily pregnant a couple months after we returned, and we are now blessed with a 10-month old baby, and we have bought a home, so it is harder to travel at this time. I have been to Germany twice for work, and twice a year we visit relatives in California, but it's not the same. Maybe when my daughter is 5 or 10 we can begin to visit faraway parts of the world with her. I am so so glad that my wife and I will always have this trip of a lifetime between us, something that we shared together, that we continue to enjoy in our memories and imaginations.

Dream onward, Fodorites. May your journeys be blessed.

alibi13 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 12:07 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 343
Beautifully written and conveyed. Congratulations on a magical 20 months.
mari808 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 05:03 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 677
You sound like a traveller/adventurer - not a "we have 10 days to see x and y, and possibly even z) sort of person.

They predominate here.

If you have acquired that desire to visit other places then it will never go away. And if you have acquired a preference for travelling slowly - you are onto a winner.

Congrats on the birth of your baby.

And when you do travel again, enjoy. And go about it just as you did before.

Steer clear of those 5 star hotels. (haha), and keep the faith.

All the best.

chimani is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 05:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,682
Thanks for your lovely meditation on travel. My best to the three of you. And when you are ready to travel to Asia again, we'll be here with ideas. Some of us hope to be living (at least part-time) in Bangkok by then.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 05:42 AM
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A beautiful trip, beautifully remembered. Sounds like a wonderful start to your marriage. Asia will still be there when you're ready to travel again, and you can do it more cheaply, if necessary!

Kathie - are you thinking of moving to Bangkok? I haven't been following the Thailand threads.
thursdaysd is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 05:44 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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lovely thoughts and memories....we all have them of asia...
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 05:51 AM
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Posts: 32,682
Thursdays, we are seriously looking at retiring to Bangkok, at least part-time. It's a few years off.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 06:26 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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What a lovely thread to open as I begin reading the Asia forum this morning! Thank you, alibi13. That was beautifully written!
simpsonc510 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 08:31 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Super remembrances. It's exactly those crystal clear images that force us to return to asia. It is warming to see that you enjoyed yourselves so much.

In regards to your return, remember that children are adored in Asia. There have been many posts of western children being fawned over.

Thanks again.
Gpanda is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 12:14 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,138
Well said. You describe my feelings about many of my trips.
Femi is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 03:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
All I can think of while reading this is, "Has it really been 20 months since alibi13 went to Japan?"

It seems like yesterday that you were posting asking if anyone knew about the Hotel Excellent in Ebisu, and then you posted from that hotel and met up w/Mealea (I think you did, right?). I have a good memory for travel, but I really do recall vividly your nice descriptions of Ebisu and the cafes you all ate in, the food you had, etc. while you were posting from the road.

It's been about 17 months since my last trip to Japan, and I still get misty just reading my trip reports, or running across the unopened box of "make it yourself okonomiyaki" that still sits in my pantry.
emd is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 04:34 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 12,867
Very well said...as great memories are forever as compared to material things that are temporary. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Sep 15th, 2007, 10:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 278
It's great to "see" so many Fodor regulars, who were so instrumental in making our trip special with tips and insights.

Kathie, good luck in your eventual re-location to Bangkok.

emd, you have an exceptional memory. Yes, I did meet Melea for tea and stay in Ebisu. That was the perfect neighborhood for us.

happy travels to you all.
alibi13 is offline  
Sep 16th, 2007, 03:43 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 4,282
Lovely post. Alibi-- was it your wife who was in my cooking class in chaing mai?
glorialf is offline  

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