I met Gillian McElvogue. She's a brilliant woman from the Shetland Islands in Scotland. We met on a very long, very uncomfortable 9 hour boat ride from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Battambang. Nine hours sitting on a hard wood surface, squished next your neighbor and you either leave the journey as the best of friends or the worst of friends. Lucky for me, Gilly and I hit it off. We had both been traveling solo, and after that boat ride we traveled together through the rest of Cambodia. We covered every inch, journeying from dirty village, to beautiful mountain towns in the jungle, going on treks close to Vietnam, and then snorkeling off the southwest coast of the country. We ate amazing food, endured long - hot - horrendous journeys on buses and vans, slept in shady places and magnificent bungalows, and we laughed. And laughed. We said goodbye after Cambodia, as I made my way to Thailand and she to Malayasia for some diving.
Gilly retired from being a Head School Master (aka principal) in Scotland and is now running an NGO in Sri Lanka, building schools throughout the war-torn country. Before we had met in Cambodia she had spent many months in India, and just so happens to have great friends and contacts in Goa and Rishikesh, my two Indian destinations. She says that I won't need to navigate the cluster-fuck Indian-public-transport because her friends will pick me up and help me to get settled. Also, she will be using her contacts in the Embassy to line up my Sri Lankan visa, which has proven to be quite a confusing and challenging task. Oh Asia, how I love thee!
I talked to Gilly for a fair bit of time this morning (gotta love Skype), and I already felt a comfort come over my heart just hearing her motherly-Scottish accent. As much as I have enjoyed being home, this sadness that has taken over me has just gotta go - and the only way I know how to dispel pain is to travel. I'll be leaving the second week of January, so get your ass to my yoga classes, lets line up dinner parties, and lets have some motherfucking fun before I get away.
|Our first "date" after meeting on the boat. In Battambang. 25cent coconuts. Yes, please.
|Hahaha only use to booze-hounds would find the ONLY vineyard in southeast asia that not only makes wine but also makes whiskey.
|Trekking in the jungle by the Cambodia/Thailand border in the Ratanikiri province. No showers? Big spiders? Freeeeezing cold nights? Bring it on. Best camping experience of my life.
|One Van (for 9ppl): 18 people inside, a goat on top, a motobike on the front and back, a person seated on the drivers lap, 3 large Dutch men next to us with long legs and smelly armpits. NINE HOURS.