“I beg young people to travel. If you don’t have a passport, get one. Take a summer, get a backpack and go to Delhi, go to Saigon, go to Bangkok, go to Kenya. Have your mind blown, eat interesting food, dig some interesting people, have an adventure, be careful. Come back and you’re going to see your country differently, you’re going to see your president differently, no matter who it is. Music, culture, food, water. Your showers will become shorter. You’re going to get a sense of what globalization looks like. It’s not what Tom Friedman writes about, I’m sorry. You’re going to see that global climate change is very real. And that for some people, their day consists of walking twelve miles for four buckets of water. And so there are lessons that you can’t get out of a book that are waiting for you at the other end of that flight. A lot of people — Americans and Europeans — come back and go, “Ohhhh.” And the lightbulb goes on.” -Henry Rollins
In honor of the one year anniversary (!) of the date that I took off to SE Asia, I’ve put together some highlights of my top people/places/things. Ever since being back, the main question people ask me is “So, what was your favorite part?!” Everyone knows this is the most difficult question to answer, so I’ve put together some highlights.
Best experience: Living in the dorm and teaching the Harpswell girls and getting to know them, and the Khmer culture, is something that I’ll always cherish. I’ve never met people so accepting with no judgement. I miss my girls.
Nicest people: Myanmar. The Burmese people are so magically un-jaded from the invasion of tourism, that they are the absolute best people. Now that the floodgates have opened, I doubt this conviviality will last forever, but I sincerely hope that it does.
Best temples: The Temples of Angkor. I still can’t get over how amazing this complex of temples is. I have dreams about Bayon. I wish I were kidding. I seriously had some sort of weird connection to this place. If you ever have the chance, go. And be sure to follow some helpful tips that I put together.
Best sunsets: I could go on all day about sunsets. This is a tie- Bali, Indonesia and Koh Phayam, Thailand. Bali has some of the most ridiculous sunsets that I’ve ever seen. The photo below is completely unedited. However, Koh Phayam had a few fantastic purple sunsets, which are my favorite.
Best food: I still stand by my opinion that Thailand has the best food. Definitely take a cooking class while you’re there!
Most “naturally” beautiful: Laos. In the different cities that I frequented in Laos, there were times that I felt that I could have been in the Swiss alps, in the jungle, a European city, the US southwest, etc. That being said, AVOID at all costs driving in a van with locals who become violently car-sick, it could end up being the worst van ride ever.
Most diversity (both in culture and landscape) in a country: I would say Indonesia for this one. What I mean by this is that every island in the archipelago has such a unique culture. There is SO much to see and do in Indo. Even just in Bali, you can go from top beaches to volcanoes, to rice patties, diving, to surfing, etc.
Best beach: I’m not unique when I say that Whitehaven beach in Queensland, Australia was the most beautiful and the silica sand was amazing.
- ½ cup sliced chicken
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup sliced galangal
- 1 stalk lemongrass, sliced into 3cm long pieces
- ¼ cupsliced onion
- ¼ cup sliced tomatoes
- ½ cup sliced mushrooms
- 1-5 crushed hot chilies
- 2-3 Kaffir lime leaves
- 1 stem chopped spring onion
- 5 cilantro leaves
- 2 tsp. lime juice
- 1 tbsp. fish or soy sauce
- ½ tsp. sugar
- pinch of salt
Bring water and coconut milk to a boil. Add the galangal, lemongrass, and onion- cook until fragrant. Add the chicken, tomatoes, and mushrooms and boil until the chicken is cooked. Season with fish or soy sauce, sugar and salt. Lastly, add the lime juice, kaffir lime leaves, spring onion and chilies. Serve with rice.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” -Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations