September was a great month for us this year. It kicked off in Thailand with the arrival of Valerie’s mother Sasa. For those of you who don’t know Sasa (has your head buried in sand?) she’s hilarious and having her with us shed new laughter-packed perspective on some of our favorite Southeast Asian hotspots. Here’s the brief summary…
Bangkok & Chiang Mai
Our time in Bangkok was mostly spent eating and shopping. We explored by foot, tuk tuk, train, bus, riverboat, and taxi – sadly missing out on being fired from canons – hunting through Bangkok’s many bargains. Val and I are diehard street food fanatics and Bangkok’s vendors serve up some of the best sidewalk cuisine in the world. Sasa, lacking the 3 years of antibodies Val and I have accumulated, played it safe but was dazzled by penang, massamun, and green curries. Staying true to her American roots she also garnished most meals with an order of french fries, I stole many when she wasn’t looking.
Chiang Mai offered a nice change of pace from Bangkok. We traded malls for open air street markets and indulged in daily thai massages. The promise of getting Sasa up close and personal with a tiger was a big part of our strategy in luring her to Asia. Tiger Kingdom delivered on this promise and she got to spent almost an hour admiring and petting tigers from cubs up through to full grown adults.
Siem Reap, Angkor Wat
A trip to SE Asia isn’t complete without visiting some amazing temples. Cambodia’s Angkor Wat is the largest, and arguably most impressive, temple complex in Southeast Asia. Our whirlwind tour started with the chaos of the border crossing. Once in the country I promptly fell ill with digestive issues (perhaps I was overconfident in Thailand). Through the magic of self-diagnosis and non-existent prescription drug regulations I was only incapacitated for a day (thank you Tinidazole!) and we were off to the temples . It then poured rain on us, which prompted Sasa into an enthralling rendition of Singing in the Rain, the weather thankfully held out for the next two days. In the evenings we feasted on barbequed pork, chicken, and beef and Sasa managed to set the trip record with 3.5 hours of massage in a single day.
Indonesia: Bali is truly a second home for us always a pleasure. We showed Sasa the many sights and explained the intricate culture as best we could. We enjoyed the Ramayana ballet in Ubud as we sampled local delicacies (suckling pig, roast duck – my mouth waters just thinking about it). Val and I made a last ditch effort to see mola molas (a very large and rare fish) scuba diving in Nusa Lembongan but sadly they were absent. Sandra had much better luck on the beach with a coconut shake in one hand and a book in the other.
The month finished off with a tearful goodbye back in Bangkok, it seemed surreal that a month could go by so fast. The next day we boarded a plane bound for Kathmandu, Nepal to start a new adventure on the Indian sub-continent.