I Love Santa Monica

Santa Monica is one of my favorite places in the world that I’ve been. Yes it is extremely touristy in some places, but it’s so beautiful, fun, exciting, and relaxing to be there. I make sure to go by at least once if not all the time every visit I take to Los Angeles.

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I really enjoying walking along Ocean Avenue (singing that Yellowcard song in my head) and taking in the environment around me. Ocean Avenue is popular for people exercising and walking their dogs, there are often street performers, and it’s great for people watching all the tourists and different kinds of people who come to see the famous pier. It’s peaceful even with so much going on because the beach and ocean are below you and with the sun and breeze, it just feels amazing.

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From Ocean Avenue, you can walk down some stairs along the cliffs and take a bridge over the Pacific Coast Highway to the beach or keep making your way down the road until you hit the Pier.

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The famous pier has so much energy, I just love to be there. In the summer it’s crazy crowded, which can be good or bad depending on how you feel, but in the winter or off season, there are far less people. Regardless, it’s so much fun to walk around and look at all the chaos going on with tourists, performers, and locals. If you’re a Forrest Gump fan you can visit Bubba Gump Fishing Co. and grab lunch or just some souvenirs from their shop. There are stores, coffee places, food stands, restaurants, and even a trapeze lesson area! Lots of people come to fish off the end of the pier.

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You can sign up for tours around the area, rent bikes to bike along the beach, play arcade games, and ride the ferris wheel. It is beautiful to be so close to the water, and if you’re really lucky, you can even see dolphins in the water! I’ve seen packs of dolphins swim by and they’re so beautiful.

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If you need a break from all the excitement of the pier, you can take the stairs down to the beach and find a more private area to relax. In the summer on my beach days, I like to find a spot relatively far from the pier and there are usually very few people around, but you can see the pier so it still feels close.

I highly recommend a visit!

A New Experience

I often feel like Los Angeles is my second home because I’ve always gone so often and know enough people there to give me such a special connection to the city. I think it’s necessary to try new things and sometimes break that comfort barrier whether you are home or not. The third day of my visit became extra cool because I did something I’ve definitely never done before.

My good friend Rob surprised me by taking us to a local shooting range and informed me that I was going to learn to shoot a gun!

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I am a real suburban girl with zero experience in this department. Embarrassing as it is, I hadn’t seen a gun in person besides on an officer or solider until about two years ago when traveling in Dallas. I had never really expected to do be near a gun before so I was very excited and nervous. I learned enough safety information to feel somewhat confident that even I couldn’t mess this up, but when I had the gun in my hand, I kind of freaked out a little.

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But I did it! And as it turns out, it’s amazing fun! I ended up having a complete blast (pun intended) and I am so happy I got to have that kind of experience and try something new, even if Rob kind of had to drag me out there. I certainly found out what I’m made of and it felt good.

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It’s always awesome to go out of your comfort zone, especially when traveling, but it’s also important to be safe about whatever it is you want to do. I would have never done this without someone who knows what they’re doing and could teach me properly, and also someone I trust.

Who knows, maybe I’ve found a new hobby 😉

The 91st Birthday Party

The next day I spent in California was my grandma’s 91st birthday – the whole reason we were visiting. We started off the day by eating breakfast at a lovely bakery called Emil’s and picked up the cake we had ordered. We spent some time with my grandparents and celebrated a little before heading to the Bel Air Bar and Grill where the party took place. The restaurant is great for a smaller event because they have an upstairs section that overlooks the nearby mountains and freeway, but has enough soundproofing to prevent noise pollution from the traffic.

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The event wasn’t just for the birthday, but also to celebrate my grandma’s sister who just published a memoir about her experiences and survival during the Holocaust.

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About 20 guests came for the event so both my grandma and great-aunt were thrilled to see family and old friends. My grandma used to throw lavish events and is known for her parties. Because that generation is getting older, it’s always special to have everyone together since that won’t always be an option.

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The food at the party was perfect with a four-course meal. We started with hors d’oeuvres of mini crab cakes and vegetable spring rolls that were so delicious. Then they sat everyone down and brought out either yummy pear salads or tortilla soup. IMG_1364

People had a choice of the main meal with chicken, filet mignon, pasta, or salmon. Then dessert was either sorbet or a warm brownie with ice cream. Have I made you hungry yet? Because don’t forget there was also the beautiful cake from Emil’s! Overall it was a wonderful lunch party and so much fun.

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I know some may find this hard to believe, but even after such a huge meal, we still had to get dinner later that night. We found this small Japanese restaurant on San Vicente called Takao. It definitely hit the spot and the people running the place were super nice. After dinner with my parents, we spent the evening with my grandparents and talked about the party and how happy my grandma was about her birthday.

An Afternoon in Malibu, An Evening in Westwood

On our second day in Los Angeles, we started off the morning by ordering a cake from a small bakery called Emil’s for my grandmothers birthday party. The bakery tempted me with plenty of sweets that were hard to resist.

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Then we took a drive to Malibu along the Pacific Coast Highway – a beautiful way to see the incredible scenery the area has to offer. It felt good to be that close to the ocean again, even if traffic sucked. We drove to Pepperdine University to pick up an old friend from Buffalo and drove to this wonderful restaurant called Geoffrey’s. I love to go there because you can enjoy amazing food and sit right on the edge of a mountain and view the ocean – how can you go wrong with that? They have awesome seafood selections if you’re into that:

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And I just happened to have the best hot chocolate too!

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Views from Malibu can look this good:

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If you’re lucky while sitting at the restaurant, you can see whales in the ocean, although it’s not every day or anything. On the other hand, pelicans fly by regularly and are beautiful! With a relaxing environment, we were able to take our time and catch up. It’s really the kind of place you could spend all day and not even think twice about it.

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We dropped off our friend back at Pepperdine and drove through the campus. The university is spread out through a section of mountain, and the campus is really pretty. I went to a university with very little focus on natural environment – you can count the number of trees there and it was very square and structured – so seeing a university blending into the mountains with flowers and trees everywhere made me happy! The drive back to the hotel was nice with a mix of the PCH and Sunset Boulevard. Once back there, I promptly fell asleep – oops!

I woke up in time to get ready for dinner with my family. Food is always an important part of traveling, especially when in big cities that have more options and usually better quality meals available. That night we had dinner at a friend of mine’s restaurant, La Bruschetta, and of course it was excellent. I’m nuts about Italian food – a pasta addict, so it’s always one of my favorite places to go when  I visit. It was so nice to spend some time with my uncle and grandparents and simultaneously catch up with the everyone at the restaurant.

We weren’t able to stay out too late because the next day was going to be a busy one with my grandma’s birthday celebration. I got to bed relatively early, but was woken up multiple times by a woman in the room next door screaming on the phone at all hours of the night. I’m not the heaviest sleeper so it was frustrating, but the next day I switched rooms to a much quieter area of the hotel and ended up with a way nicer room (balcony with a view included)! Sometimes things work out even better than you could have planned.

Bumps Along The Road To California

Late last night I made it to Los Angeles, but it was a long journey to get here. I woke up to messages from United that my first flight was very delayed, and it only got more delayed. After too much time spent on the phone with a representative, we found a way to get here the same day but through Delta instead and through Atlanta, which is a little out of the way from Buffalo. There was a United flight leaving earlier through Chicago, so we went to the airport to try and get on that flight, but it was complete chaos! The line in front of the desk was almost to the door (rare for Buffalo’s airport mid-day) and there was no one helping the premier/first class line. After waiting a while and watching the two overwhelmed girls help the regular line over and over and over, I finally asked someone towards the front of our line how long they’d been there and what’s going on. She said she’d been in line for over half an hour simply waiting for the sticker to be placed on her bag as a first class customer. Another guy said he’d been there close to an hour waiting. First class/premier members are supposed to always be taken care of first, so this was ridiculous. After waiting almost half an hour and repeatedly asking for assistance, the representative kept saying someone was on their way and never came over to help or take care of the premier lane – only helped the regular – which defeats the purpose of having that lane. After waiting so long for help, another first class customer actually missed her flight and left. Finally this obnoxious older white male came over and started causing a huge scene. “Hello first class comes first! I’ve been high status with this airline over 10 years, you need to come to this lane!” The girls working were completely overwhelmed, panicked, and stressed – one even said it was her first day! This was not a good first day and they obviously didn’t really know what they were doing, especially when people started getting close to rioting. I respect anyone who can handle this kind of job because it is so fast paced and intense and people don’t treat them well for how hard they work. Once the guy started making a scene, the girls came over and quickly started helping the premier line. It was a crazy start to the day, and at this point, we had missed the flight we had hoped to get on and had to make our way to the Delta desk instead.

The Delta check-in area was so much more relaxed and pleasant with enough representatives working who actually knew what they were doing and could handle the intensity of the job and still remain kind and polite. They even had a bowl of caddies for customers! It was a total 180 change from the United check-in area. Once we got our new tickets and seats confirmed, we went through security. It’s nice to all have the TSA pre-check approved and get through quickly. We had time for a really good early dinner at the Anchor Bar (famous for making the first chicken wings ever – another thing Buffalo is known for besides the snow). And we found our gate. We were at the airport close to 4 hours before getting on the plane. The flight to Atlanta went smoothly and our time there was relatively fast – although I did have time for ice cream 🙂

Although it was bumpy, the flight to Los Angeles went really well. I was just happy to be on a flight where I wasn’t super sick after the last trip! Once we arrived, we had to wait a significant amount of time (nearly 40 minutes) for the rental car place’s shuttle to come around and take us there. We had to wait in line a long time for something that should be an easy fix, and then talk to a representative for almost 20 minutes arguing about something because she didn’t understand what we were asking and needing. Eventually she figured out what we meant and felt very embarrassed for how long it had taken for something so quick and easy. By the time we got our car it was after 1am – which was 4am in our bodies due to the time change. We didn’t get to our hotel until close to 2am. It was an exhausting day full of lines, waiting, and arguing. I love to travel, but these kinds of experiences give it a bad reputation and make it that much harder.

Now that I am here, I am so happy to be here! The weather couldn’t be better – sunny and high 80s in temperature. I spent the morning with a great friend, visited my grandparents, and spent the afternoon by the pool. That is what makes traveling worth it!!

Flying Back to America

The flight from South Korea to San Francisco was the hardest flight I’ve ever taken (and I’ve been on quite a few!). I had been feeling unwell for a few days, but nothing that crazy or unusual. After about 2-3 hours on the plane, I started feeling my face get really hot and itchy, but I didn’t think much of it. When I went into the bathroom though, I saw my face looked blotchy, red, puffy and hives were forming. I went back to my seat and realized I had no Benadryl or antihistamine, so I found a flight attendant and asked if they had any. He said he would look around and come to my seat and let me know – he seemed newer and slightly less experienced than others on board.

I went back to my seat and tried to relax, but that became difficult as I felt myself getting much worse. I could feel a fever coming on strong and my face getting worse, but the scariest part was slowly feeling my tongue start to swell. I’ve had allergic reactions before, but never over the Pacific Ocean! By the time the flight attendant came over, anxiety had come over me and I felt significantly worse/ When he realized I was crying he quickly said, “umm let me go find someone else to come over,” because he was not equipped to deal with a crying sick girl. An older woman flight attendant came over and asked what was going on and told me to come with her to the back of the plane. We went towards the kitchen area and before I knew it, I was surrounded by 7 flight attendants who were all trying to figure out what to do with me and how to handle the situation. After feeling my forehead and realizing I had a fever, they gave me ice and water to try and cool me down.

They made an announcement asking for a doctor on board and one man came forward, but because he was Korean they needed to find a translator as well. The main flight attendant arrived to figure out what was going on and help the situation. They found a medical kit, but needed confirmation from someone on ground before being able to open it and give me any medicine. The main attendant called a landline in America and explained what was going on and described my symptoms, asked me lots of questions, and asked the doctor questions. The doctor found a syringe in the kit that wash’t clearly labelled and wanted to use it on me because he believed it was the right thing based on how it looked. I was shaking my head and getting more anxious, especially because I’m also allergic to many medicines. Without proof of being a licensed doctor, they couldn’t let him actually treat me, and I was a little relieved to be honest. The attendant and whoever was on the phone had to map out an emergency landing route just in case I got word or my throat closed up or something! This did not help me relax. Then he tells me the closest landing option is only 3.5 hours away in Alaska! Which only made me feel that much worse.

The other flight attendants did what they could to help – gave me more water and a snack, handed me cups full of ice to put on my face and suck on, and most importantly they just talked to me and comforted me. It’s that much scarier to be in this situation alone, so having people genuinely care and take the time to show you makes all the difference in the world. In the end, they gave me some pill, a slightly stronger version of Benadryl and took me back to my seat so I could try to sleep. I struggled for a long time to fall asleep and felt truly uncomfortable and awful, but I did fall asleep eventually. The flight attendants came over to my seat throughout the flight to check on me, brought me extra drinks, and even waited for me outside the bathroom in case something happened or I needed assistance – how amazing are they?! I feel so grateful for how they treated me and cared for me. United Airlines has really wonderful people working for them.

As the flight approached the last hour, the woman who had originally taken me back to the kitchen came over and let me know that because they had to call that landline, protocol insisted that I would have to be checked out before entering the airport. As if this wasn’t embarrassing enough (I’m easily embarrassed) – no one else would be able to get off the plane either until it was sure I was okay. As landing announcement were made (fasten seatbelt, final time to collect garbage, weather is good, we should be on the ground soon) they also announced that everyone would have to remain seating once we landed until further notice because of an emergency. This was announced multiple times. People were stressed and not pleased because we were already late as it was, and then after we hit the ground, we were more delayed waiting for an aircraft to leave our gate.

Once the main door was opened, two women in fancy suits from the CDC came on board and walked to my seat with a flight attendant, helped me gather all of my things, and took me off the plane. They asked me lots of questions and checked how I was doing, but luckily I was feeling much much better! They asked if I wanted to see paramedics, but I felt okay enough to keep going and was embarrassed as it was with such a fuss being made. They let me go, I went through customs (before everyone else because I got off the plane first!) and I went to my next gate. I just wanted to get back to Los Angeles and lie down on a real bed.

The rest of my trip went smoothly even though I didn’t feel great. I made it safely to LA and felt better pretty quickly after some real rest, a shower, and non-airport/plane meals. I never figured out what caused the reaction, but hopefully it won’t happen again. Moral of the story – pack Benadryl!

My Day In South Korea

I was lucky enough to get the free upgrade from Cambodia to South Korea (perks of frequent flying) with Asiana airlines. Their business class was exceptional – huge comfortable seats that practically laid all the way down, big pillows and soft blankets (better and more legit than the normal airplane pillows/blankets), and a whole kit of things to help with getting through the flight (slippers, eye mask, ear plugs, etc). Not to mention the delicious meal! I am probably less of a fan of airplane food than the average flyer so for me to say it was a good meal is saying something. The flight attendants were also incredibly kind, considerate, and helpful. I still wasn’t feeling my best self on this flight and because we left after midnight I slept through most of it.

I was excited to finally arrive. Although I had an 11 hour layover, I felt stressed trying to rush to customs once we landed a little delayed because I only had half an hour to get through customs on the other side of the airport and find a desk in the main entrance of the airport. Because I had such a long layover, I found a free tour of Seoul that the Incheon International Airport offers to passengers of other citizenships who have lengthy layovers. I power-walked through the airport, to the train for the other terminal, through a quick customs line, and found the tour desk. It’s always intimidating to travel alone, especially with how sick I was feeling, so it felt good to meet an older mother and daughter (about ten years older than my mother and me) who were from America and kind of adopted me for the day. This is one of those acts of kindness that I’m sure they thought nothing of and haven’t thought about since but truly meant so much to me.

We all boarded a big tour bus which luckily had huge winter coats waiting for each of us – it was freezing out compared to Cambodia! I had not been looking forward to the reminder of winter, but had lugged around hiking sneakers the entire trip for the purpose of this afternoon in Seoul so my feet wouldn’t freeze. I was happy I had them even though they were annoying to drag around the past few weeks – many people on the tour had only sandals along. The airport is enough of a ways away from the city that I had time to get a power nap in before we stopped anywhere, but I missed some information (oops!)

Our first stop was Gyeongbokgung – a royal palace from the Joseon Dynasty. It was built in 1395 and is one of the largest palaces from that dynasty. The palace had been destroyed by a fire in the late 1500s during the Imjin War and then was abandoned for two centuries until eventually it got restored. The palace was again destroyed during the early 20th century, but has gradually been getting restored since. The architecture is beautiful and the history behind it makes it that much more interesting.

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Here’s the inside of one of the buildings:P1010142

The modern city is so close:P1010143

After looking at the palace, we drove to the Jogyesa Temple – the main temple of Korean Buddhism since 1936. The temple was originally built in 1395. We weren’t allowed to enter because people were praying inside, but we could look through the windows and see how beautiful it looked indoors.

The details of the building are truly amazing:P1010154

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After visiting the temple, we drove to Cheonggyecheon, an 11km long modern street in downtown Seoul. This site was originally the location of a major stream that was later covered over with infrastructure and a highway. In the early 2000’s, the then Seoul-mayor decided to remove the highway, change the buildings, and restore the stream – a project costing about $900 million. Today the area is very popular for both local people and tourists and has gained approval of many despite past criticism over the huge renewal project.

The street is covered in small shops and buildings now:IMG_0873

We all had lunch in a small restaurant. I had a bowl of rice with various vegetables mixed on top with eggs and hot sauce. It was difficult to eat because of my queasy stomach, but I ate what I could. After lunch we had some time to explore the shopping street.

I got to see how a Korean dessert is made from a special honey and corn starch:

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The dessert was really yummy!P1010163

We got back on the bus after having time to explore the area on our own. I couldn’t help but fall asleep on the ride back to the airport because I was exhausted from little sleep the past few nights, feeling sick, and having walked around Seoul for a few hours – but I wasn’t the only one sleeping on the bus. The tour guide made an announcement as we approached the airport because almost everyone had fallen asleep.

I had been nervous to have such a long layover by myself in a different country, but after going on the tour, I only had about 5 hours to wait. I found my way to security, which ended up being an extremely long process. Unfortunately the security line was poorly organized with not enough people working and small areas for people to sort their bags/take out laptops/take off jackets/ etc. There were a few hundred people in line when I walked over and it took almost two hours to get through! Because the line was so long, people who had to catch flights kept cutting the line, only making it take that much longer for people who went through the whole thing to get on with it. At times it seemed I was moving backwards more than forwards.

Once I made it through security, I found an Asiana club (another perk of frequent flying) and hung out in there for a couple of hours. The club is great because they have tons of free food, cleaner bathrooms than other parts of the airport, comfortable sitting areas, outlets for charging electronics, free and fast wifi, and even showers for people who want to freshen up.

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I was able to video chat with my dad and feel connected to home – always important after a long trip – and catch up on the internet for everything I had missed lately. I ate croissants and pretzels, which tasted extra good. Hours ended up flying by! Before I knew it, the time to go to the gate had arrived.

I took the train over to the other terminal, looked around in some shops, found my gate, and waited for boarding. In that moment, I didn’t know how difficult the flight back to America would be and what a scary adventure was waiting for me!

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Last Day in Cambodia

My last day in Cambodia was a tough challenge because we had to make our way back to Phnom Penh. We went to the bus station in Siem Reap and waited for vans to take us to a location big enough for the actual buses to wait for people because the station in the main part of the city doesn’t have streets around it big enough to support the chaos of multiple buses. Once we found our bus, we got our seats and were happy to find it comfortable considering we were going to be on it for almost ten hours. This bus ride was harder for me than the last because I still wasn’t feeling so well, better than the night before, but definitely still sick – never good for a day on a bus. It was relaxing though and felt like a final goodbye to drive through the country and see everything one last time.

On the bus we met a nice guy from Holland who was traveling alone around Southeast Asia and had just come from Thailand. He talked with us a bit and identified with us more than others on the bus because we were really the only other westerners on the bus. When we stopped for a lunch break, we all ate together. I stuck with plain white rice for this meal to keep my stomach at ease. We stopped again a few hours later at the same place we had on our way to Siem Reap – it always feels good to return to familiar places. Though after that stop, the ride seemed to drag on and on as we got more delayed with traffic. I don’t usually mind traffic too much, but after feeling sick on the bus for close to ten hours, I was more than ready to get back on land and have some time to hang out before going to the airport.

Eventually we made it to the station in Phnom Penh and it felt good to be back there too. We took a tuktuk to our hotel – Emily bargained hard with the driver for a low price. We went back to the hotel where we had stayed our other nights in Phnom Penh because although I was going to be leaving, Emily and her friend Alice would stay there that night. The three of us decided to walk to dinner at a cafe we had gone previously. The walk was stressful because a lot of traffic surrounded us in the darkness and crossing roads in those circumstances creates a challenge. The scariest part of the trip happened during this walk when the three of us crossed a less busy road and suddenly a motorbike swerved in front of Emily and me, almost hitting us, and then Alice screamed behind us. My first thought was that she had been hit by the motorbike driver and I turned around nervous to find out what had happened. The driver hadn’t hit her, but he had tried to steal her iPad right out from her hand – the iPad that also held her passport. He had grabbed it, but luckily in the struggle dropped it, causing it to land on the ground in front of her. Unfortunately, the screen did crack some, but nonetheless it wasn’t stolen. Phnom Penh has such an infamous problem with theft, so you have to be careful. Alice said she walked around with her iPad out instead of a purse because she thought not having a purse could make her a less easy target, but maybe not.

We made it to the cafe and had a quick dinner. I barely ate anything because I felt incredibly sick at this point. I was ready to go to bed and sleep it off, but I wasn’t going to be seeing a bed for a long time. We went back to the hotel and I packed up everything one last time as we hung out and joked about things on Facebook that people posted. Emily got us a tuktuk to take me to the airport – the ride felt significantly longer than I had remembered going from the airport to the hotel the night I arrived. We found my airline and I checked in, I was happy to have the premier line because of my status. Emily and I said our goodbyes and hugged before I went to security. We were both sad I was leaving because the trip had been so fantastic for both of us. Because of my status with Star Alliance, I was also able to go into the Asiana lounge, making the airport visit much more enjoyable. I took a nap in there (by accident) because my flight kept getting more and more delayed. Though, eventually some time after midnight I made my way to the gate and was greeted by an airline representative who asked if I was me, I said yes, and he handed me a first class ticket! I love free upgrades!! The more you travel, the more perks you can get from traveling.

Floating Villages

We woke up and put on our new dresses that we purchased at the market the night before ($4 a dress or less) and had breakfast at the hotel. Our tuktuk driver – the one who laughed every time Emily spoke to him in Khmer – picked us up and drove us about half an hour away to the docks where boats exist to take people to view the floating villages.

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We bought our tickets and found a boat – we got the whole big boat to ourselves, and you know I love boats.

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We rode out down a smaller river that opened up to the floating villages and there were houseboats everywhere around us. Unfortunately, our guide on this boat was not the greatest guide in the world, but it worked out because Emily could amaze me with all the facts she knew about the area. Like that during wet season the water is literally a story higher – like over 12 feet.

Houses near the river need to be on stilts like this because of the flooding during wet season:P1010124

Emily also told me how it’s one of the only rivers in the world that actually switches directions every season. People can live in house boats without having to pay any kind of property tax, which is why many people choose to do it. The people who live in the village follow the water, move with it. People have come from many countries to live here, not just Cambodia. They have full communities living on boats – schools, shops, markets. It’s amazing to think about. Schools are divided into Khmer schools, Vietnamese schools, and Islamic schools.

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Weaving our way through all these houseboats, we rode to one of the markets and hopped off the boat. We were greeted by a large hole in the boat that opened up to huge crocodiles! There was a bottom to the area so the crocodiles couldn’t escape into the water.

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There was another one of these areas full of large fish. We looked in the market and I picked a few more gifts for my friends and family – looking at all the items was awesome. The saleswoman in the market tried to overcharge us hard. Emily overheard her and her manager discussing how much to charge us. Emily translated “this is only worth $8, but charge them $20” – so having a friend who speaks the language totally came in handy everywhere we went.

We left the market boat and stopped at one of the floating Vietnamese schools. Emily and I got off and expored – there were several small classrooms, a kitchen area, and three boats connecting to create this school.

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It is always interesting to see how students learn in another country – and even how different this was from the school in Emily’s village. There were few staff present actually watching the kids.

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Can you imagine having American students learning in this environment – leaping from one boat to another, surrounded by fast moving and deep water – without supervision? It wouldn’t fly with anyone in America, but it’s a different world over here and children are treated more like adults with different expectations.

After riding through more of the villages, we made our way back to the big dock, hopped off the boat, and found our driver.

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He took us back into Siem Reap and dropped us off for some lunch. We went to this cool pizza place that is owned and run by a guy originally from Boston. I’m always amazed by people who can leave their whole world behind and start a business in a completely different part of the world and be successful at it. It’s more impressive to me than most career choices. After this, we decided to walk around town and the markets some more. We picked up our professional photos from the previous day and bought our bus tickets for the next day, going back to Phnom Penh. I wanted to buy some artwork in the markets, this is always a process because the options are just endless beautiful creations. How can you decide? After looking for a long time and with Emily’s help, I decided on three of different sizes that had great colors and images. As a painter myself, I really respect and appreciate other people’s artwork. I didn’t bargain too hard for these because I know how hard they are to create.

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Then we did our favorite thing in the market – another fish foot massage! We were tired and hot, so we just sat there with our feet in the cold water, fish all around our feet and legs (this water went up to our knees) and let the fish do their thing for an hour and a half. I wish we had these in America because I would go so often.

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My legs have never been so smooth 😉P1010133

It was a relaxing way to spend our last afternoon in Siem Reap. After our long experience with the fish, we dried our legs off and walked to find dinner. We ate at the same cafe we had gone to the night before and showed Emily’s friends who work there all the photos we had done the day before. They thought it was awesome to look at and kept coming back over to see the photos. We ended up staying there talking, eating, hanging out, enjoying ourselves until the cafe closed then just headed back over to the market area. Emily wanted to find birthday gifts for her students, but wasn’t able to find what she was looking for so we found a driver and took a tuktuk back to the hotel for some rest because the next day was going to be long and nuts – my last day in Cambodia. Unfortunately, I ended up getting pretty sick that night and sleep wasn’t exactly an option.