I would like to share some pictures of the residents of Tibet since they are very much a part of the whole experience. I will let you enjoy these and then give you my personal account in another blog.
Chumree-uhp soo-uh or hello in Khmer, the official language of Cambodia. Please note that I titled this Siem Reap and not Angkor Wat. That’s because I learned that while Angkor Wat is the most well known temple within the Angkor Archaelogical Park, there are hundreds of others surrounding Siem Reap so I couldn’t just focus on one.
We started our day at 5:00AM to be on site to watch the sunrise. It had rained all night but cleared in the morning. No great photos to share now so I will wait for the one from our professional photographer.
These monks were enjoying some relaxation in front of this 12th century “temple-mountain” built by King Suryavarman II as a spiritual home for the Hindu god Vishnu. Our group made the hike all the way up to “heaven” to see the celestial dancers below.
Our next stop was the Ta Prohm, lovingly referred to by the locals as the “jungle” temple. I actually liked this one the best because it was still in a true state of disrepair. It added an air of mystery to see the fallen pieces of stone, the ancient trees growing out of the rock and listening to the jungle like sounds from the birds above. I think the below photo is the most representative of this temple which was the location for the movie, Tomb Raiders.
After a quick lunch back at the hotel, I was off for a boat ride to see the floating village of Chong Kneas on Tonle Sap Lake. This is a village of 1,313 families who are all Vietnamese refugees who make their living by exporting the fish caught from the lake to Vietnam and Thailand. They either smoke it, salt it or make a fish paste since they have no refrigeration. They get their electricity from car batteries. Below are pictures of a typical house, one of the nicer ones; the Catholic Church and the grocery store.
After a very full day we were treated to a classical Cambodian dance performance by Aspara Dancers, an example of the progress Cambodia has made in the last 40 years after the Khmer Rouge years when 90% of the dancers were killed. I must say that our guides who had grown up during this horrific time were very willing to talk about it. My guide’s family sent him to the monastery where he became a monk for 8 years. As it turns out you can go in and out of the monastery as you like.
I leave you with this last picture and will reassure you that I have not found a new career although I seem to be the right height and have always wanted to wear a crown!
There’s no moss under our feet…off to China and Tibet.
Good Day Mate from Australia…
I must first share a picture from the plane as we flew from Samoa to Cairns. This puts into perspective that I am flying around the world and able to look down from above. What a beautiful view of some of the magnificence our world has to offer us.
So a dream has been realized… to snorkel on The Great Barrier Reef. Despite a forecast of rain we woke up to a beautiful sunny day. Actually everyone of our destinations has had rain predicted and it hasn’t rained yet. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that this remains for the next half of the trip.
After an hour and a half smooth boat ride, we arrived at the reef we were to explore. The GBR is not a single reef but a group of more than 2,800 entities and is nearly the size of Montana. What we see today of these magnificent structures has been produced by a slow process played out over a million years since the reefs only grow half an inch a year.
We stopped at a pontoon where we all took a submersible to view the beauty below. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing composed of around 300-400 species of hard reef coral polyps and over 2,000 species of fish. New ones are being identified each year.
We then went on to the main event of snorkeling. Little did I know that I would be dressing up as a frogman. It’s hard for me to share the below picture but the heck with vanity. If you read my earlier blog you know that I am in search of awe and because I did not have an underwater camera you will just have to believe me when I say that I found it snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.
We ended the day with a stop at the Wildlife Habitat. The first photo is a Cassowary. They are hard working conservationists who, by spreading seeds, help to retain the diversity of the rainforest.
All in all, it was a most successful day in paradise.
I will now admit to you that after 11 days at an amazingly fast pace we are all craving some down time. However, that’s not going to happen until we all get home at which time I know we will look back and be grateful that we were on this expedition of incredible sites and experiences combined with the ultimate in luxury features.
Till the next post go for the experience,
We’re excited to share that while Mary Jo jets around the world, her adventure was featured today, Friday, November 6 in the Cape Cod Times. You can read the article here.
— The Team at Northside Travel
Lorana ( hello in Rapa Nui) from Easter Island
Now I must be perfectly frank and say that Easter Island has never been on my list of must see destinations. It floats around in my mind but never seems to land on my list. Now I know I was so wrong. It is a fascinating and eerily beautiful island. With only 3,000 inhabitants, the landscape is a prominent feature and a reason to visit in itself. I was never able to get a photo of some of the 4,000 cocoa brown wild horses so please imagine them in the picture below that was taken from a bus but hopefully will give you an idea. I will have to suggest a photo stop for their next visitors.
Now let’s talk about the major reason why so many tourists visit the island…the moai statues of volcanic stone.
The statues are considered standardized representations of important personalities who were deified after death. Eye cavities, inlaid with white coral and a dark stone disk as a pupil and topknots , were added after the monument was erected always facing inland.
It is thought that the statues began their life in the Rano Raraku quarry that is the home to an estimated 400 stautes in all stages of completion. There are many conflicting theories as to how the statues were moved to their homes. One of them is that they walked! We had a beautiful sunny day for our visit after a forecast of rain. Gratefully, we have been very lucky not to have had any rain yet.
The highlight of our moai experience was a visit to Tonariki, the iconic site of the famous 15 reconstructed statues. Why were these any different? It was the fact that we had a lecture from the field director of the actual project; one example of the quality of our National Geographic Expedition. Claudio gave us the real story of how they recreated these 15 statues from what they lovingly referred to as “The Mess” . I think they put the pieces of “Humpty Dumpty” back together again quite succesfully!
I am now off to Samoa and will arrive after a 9 hour flight. For as much as I was concerned about the number of hours we would be on the plane, it is actually a welcome break from the daily pace at a destination. It gives me time to reflect on the past destination, read the destination information for our next experience while also giving me some well needed R&R. I am a traveler who likes some down time to be sure my memories will get into my memory bank. One reason to travel is to fill the memory bank for future withdrawals.
All is running smoothly thanks to the efforts of our Expedition staff. Being in the business I am very aware of the little elves who are working at night! We are all struggling with the organizational part of the trip. Who has my passport? What should I pack in my small suitcase for overnights? What pocket did I place my money in? Speaking of money, National Geographic gives us the equivalent of $10USD in the local currency of each destination. If we don’t use it all, we give it back to be donated to a local charity. I am keeping some of it for a future show and tell for my grandsons! They also give us a gift in our hotel room upon arrival. How special is that?
This is being written on the plane to Samoa and will be sent upon arrival at our hotel and access to wifi.
Go for the experience,