Sep 242009
The people working-- and LIVING-- in and around Angkor Wat

His tiny form flitted past the hole in the stone wall so fast I thought he might be a forest spirit. But then there he was again: sparkling eyes, tiny body in a grubby orange shirt, barefoot… He disappeared again, and I was ten minutes further into the thick jungle path to the next temple when he materialized right beside me.“Hello lady!” he said with a smile. “This used [...Read More!]

Sep 242009
Mother Love: Angkor Wat, Part 2

Kiss! Kisskisskiss! Kiiiiissss!!

I spent a good two hours of the bus ride from Bangkok to Poipet gazing three seats ahead at the Cambodian mother kissing her sweet baby. Ahh, the flutter of my heart and the patter of that good old biological clock!

The mother would kiss all up and down the baby’s soft, pudgy arm, then go, “Mumumum!” as she nibbled up the tiny caramel-colored fingers. [...Read More!]

Sep 232009
Angkor Wat by Sunrise

At four thirty am, my cellphone alarm exploded me awake in my ridiculous supply attic room (pictured left– no joke).Was a torrential lightning storm going to foil my plans like yesterday morning? There are no windows in my supply attic room, so I padlocked the door and barefooted down to the second floor to peer out the grated balcony. Clear! Dark! This meant ten minutes to throw [...Read More!]

Sep 222009
The Cambodian Child Sex Trade

In Phuket, Thailand, I spent some creepy time chatting with womanizing older German men. They all had twenty-something year old Thai girlfriends already, but they had big other plans.

“Every day vee play Poker together,” said Hans with a leer, “And vee put money in a pot. Vhen we have a full pot, you know vhat we do?” I didn’t know. “Vacation! Cambodia!” he gave a wink. [...Read More!]

Sep 222009
The trap on the Cambodian Border

Part of the reason I stayed so long in Bangkok (besides the wonderful people) was I was terrified to cross the infamous Thailand-Cambodia border at Poipet.I was right to be scared.

“This is NOT the border,” said Thomas. “We asked the tuk-tuk to take us to the Cambodian border and this is NOT the border.”

The man in the suit grew exasperated. “This IS the border, sir. Here– here is [...Read More!]

Sep 192009
Where are the American RTW Travelers???

Because so many of the spectacular temples in Bangkok are along the river, a night boat along the Chao Phraya is a feast for the eyes… and a feast for the belly, too, if you opt for the dinner cruise. Check it out!

As you peruse these pics, let us ponder a major question for a Round the World Traveler: WHERE ARE THE AMERICANS?? A profound cultural difference is laid bare [...Read More!]

Sep 192009
How do I Lub-d? Let me count the ways…

Two commonly heard sassy comments to me of late:

1) “Weren’t you supposed to leave for Cambodia a week ago?”

2) “You’ve been in Bangkok for nine days? NOBODY can tolerate Bangkok for nine days. What’s wrong with you?”

The answer to both of these questions is one Thai word: “Lub-d”. This word means “sleep well.” It also means “The best hostel I have ever stayed in, and may ever [...Read More!]

Sep 192009

Note to my sweet Mother: This article recounts another thing that SEEMS terrifying and dangerous, but is actually a very well-regulated and safe Thai tourist mecca. Don’t be worried!

The woman’s tiny, tan hand holds yours protectively. The dusty walls of Tiger Canyon slope down to where you stand… you, and thirty giant adult tigers.

“You hand him your camera, and we go,” the woman says firmly. “You follow me [...Read More!]

Sep 192009
Elephants, a Leopard Cub, and the River Kwai

My mind is blown by the supreme machine that is the Thai tourist industry. For varying prices between 2000 Baht ($65) and much less, a visitor to Bangkok can construct any permutation of day excursion… and the result will be giddy happiness and 300 new photos on your camera.

Yesterday, my partner in crime and I opted for the following package, graciously coordinated by our Lub-d hostel tour rep: 1) The [...Read More!]

Sep 172009
Bangkok Contrasts

One of the visual “ohh!” elements of traveling through a Developing Country is seeing sleek modernity smack dab next to human decay.

Meandering through Bangkok today, four examples of this juxtaposition burst forth.

1. Insanely modern buildings (and sculptures!) cosied up to shacks and rubble. In the U.S. there are plenty of crumbling buildings, and certainly a shack or five thousand, but in a fancy business district in the U.S. you will rarely see [...Read More!]