Monthly Recap: Month 8

We are feeling strangely nostalgic for many of the places we have already visited on this trip. It’s not that the places we are exploring now aren’t wonderful, but it is because we feel the year slipping away from us already. Here we are on month 8, much closer to the end of the trip than we are to the beginning. It’s hard for us to imagine coming back to our real lives! But enough about the future, let’s talk about the present (well… past really) and think about our highlights of month 8!

Here are our stats for this month.

Countries visited:  3 (Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos) *Countries slept in: 4 Add Singapore to the prior list.

*Countries looked at: 1 (We watched sunset over Thailand, viewing it across the Mekong River from Vientiane)

Beds Slept In: 12 (This is a little higher than it could be. There were a few places, Phnom Penh and Siem Reip, where we switched hotels in the middle of our stay, and it counts one night back in Phnom Penh before our flight to Laos. *Chairs Slept In:  1 (See above about Singapore airport)

UNESCO Heritage Sights Visited: 3 (Cultural Landscape of the Bali Province, Angkor, Town of Luang Prabang) Total on RTW: 37

We traveled by 3 planes this month.

We traveled 5 long distance buses/minibuses.

Top Moments:

~ We really enjoyed meeting up with an old college friend in Bali at the beginning of the month. It was great to reminisce about some college times as well as talk about future travel! There were many great moments, but one of the highlights was experiencing a birthday party for the temple in the small town we were staying in near Ubud. It was just great to be able to witness this and the evening culminated with Eric dancing onstage!

~ We had heard about the evening aerobics in Phnom Penh, but kept not making it work to go for the first few days we were there. We finally made it on our final night and it was such a wonderful time! It is hard to explain how both peaceful and exhilarating it was to see so many people getting together to exercise. There were people of all ages doing all sorts of activities. Our favorite of which was dancing, of course! We met some really nice people who welcomed us into their evening tradition. It was topped off by a lovely sunset as well. Hard to beat!

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Runners Up for Top Moments:

~ We didn’t know exactly what to expect from Battambang, a town in Cambodia. Most people just hit Siem Riep and Phnom Penh and move on. We had just a little bit more time so headed to Battambang on our way to the temples at Angkor. We stayed a few nights and had a wonderful time in this less bustling, less touristy city. One of our favorite memories from there was to see the Phare Circus. The performers were delightful, both funny and talented. It was a lot of fun!

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~ As most people say, a trip to southeast Asia wouldn’t be complete with a visit to the famous temples at Angkor. We spent 3 days there and saw a lot of amazing temples. We enjoyed several of them, but one of our favorite moments was actually at the tail end of the second day. We had a long hot day on our ebikes, seeing several different temples. We were on our way home while the sun started to set. We rode through one of the famous complexes called Angkor Thom where we glimpsed some of the most famous temples for the first time. We headed out the south gate with the many faces, and had to immediately pause for the glorious sunset over the river/moat. We took some pictures and then continued on the ebikes where we rode past at got our very first glimpse of the most iconic temple of them all, Angkor Wat, before zipping on home. It sounds a bit anticlimactic but it was really one of our favorite times of the visit.

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Items Missing, Broken, Discarded, or Added:

Discarded/Broken:

  1. Della’s sunglasses broke. They had broken twice before and she had managed to repair them with super glue… and then monkey tape. But they finally bit it and died.

Added:

  1. New sunglasses for Della
  2. New sunscreen
  3. New deodorant
  4. New laundry soap
  5. New shoelaces for Eric
  6. New lotion for Della
  7. New multivitamins

Packing Update:

We are currently quite happy with the contents of our bags. After our repacking at home, we are feeling pretty good about what we have. We both are carrying some more cold weather gear which we haven’t used at all since being in Asia, but we still think we might need it for Nepal and it is comforting to know we have it.

Books Read: (Have you read any of these??)

Della has read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (4), 1984 by George Orwell (4), UnWholly by Neal Shusterman (3), Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind (3), No Birds Sing by Jo Bannister (3)

Eric has read The Blind Assassin by Margarat Atwood (3.5), Titus Groan by Mervin Peake (2.5), Gormenghast by Mervin Peake (3), Titus Alone by Mervin Peake (1)

Eric and Della have BOTH read nothing this month.

The rating system is for Della’s mom who is refusing to look at Goodreads. It is 1 to 5, 5 being the highest.

Make sure to catch up on all our monthly recaps: Monthly Recap 1, Monthly Recap 2, Monthly Recap 3,Monthly Recap 4, Monthly Recap 5, Monthly Recap 6, Monthly Recap 7

 

 

 

How to Accidently Dance Onstage with Drag Queens in a Temple in Bali

Step 1: Stay at the wonderful Payogan Homestay with amazingly gracious host Ketut. You can find this place on Airbnb. It is slightly outside the town of Ubud and is within the complex of Ketut and his family’s home. Ketut makes sure that you are comfortable and well cared for! He also is an excellent tour guide for sights surrounding Ubud. Make sure to ask for his special pancakes for breakfast! Payogan Homestay is not to be missed!

Step 2: Accept Ketut’s invitation to visit his village temple’s “birthday” celebration. The Balinese calendar has a 210 day year, so every 210 days, the village celebrates the anniversary of the temple. It is an amazing celebration with big processions, tons of offerings, and great music. The celebration lasts for several nights, with a large “dance show” on Thursday evening.

Step 3: Dress in appropriate clothes for the temple. This consists of a covering your upper arms, wearing a sarong (for both men and women), wrapping a sash around your waist, and donning appropriate headgear (just men).

Step 4: Shyly hang around in the temple for an hour or so waiting for the promised dance performance. Look awkward enough that many of the villagers attempt to make you more comfortable by giving you good seats or letting your sit right next to the orchestra (Gamelan) while performing. Make sure and enjoy seeing your host Ketut perform, but also make sure to wait for the second Gamelan to come in with very elaborate and fancy instruments: they will add a keyboard, bass guitar, a didgeridoo, and a tambourine to the traditional ensemble.

Step 5: Enjoy the Titanic song My Heart Will Go On as people from a neighboring village process out and Payogan villagers get ready to pray.

This dog is waiting too

This dog is waiting too

Step 6: Watch and listen as an entire village gets together to pray and be blessed together.

Step 7: Settle back as the promised dance performance finally begins!

Step 8: Begin to get a little confused as the dance performance seems to be primarily geared toward humor with two little boys inhabiting costumes of a monster and a monkey playing together. Become even more confused as two clearly male, but dressed as female, dancers comes out and dance quite suggestively before doing an apparent comedy show for the audience. Everyone else will laugh a lot… You will laugh because they are laughing, but will understand nothing.

Step 9: Continue to enjoy small snippets of dance and song in addition to the comedy show. Relax as the dancers pick on another foreign couple – asking them a lot of questions.

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Step 10: Panic when the male of the aforementioned couple refuses to come to the stage and as they spot you in the crowd.

Step 11: Think “shucks, I only travel around the world once… YOLO” and approach the stage along with your friend who also thought he was being pointed out, simultaneously.

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Step 12: Watch your friend learn to dance Bali style which means waving jazz hands, wiggling fingers, and standing on one foot.

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Step 13: Stand up to learn and perform your part of the dance, which basically seems to be doing a deep squat (frog style??) and hopping around like a monkey… for a very long time. Try not to pass out as your thighs begin to ache.

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Step 14: Smile as the crowd goes wild! Return to your group of friends and have Ketut congratulate you on a job well done.

There you have it! 14 steps to have one of the most unique cultural experiences of your life =)