Health, Fitness & Fashion  --  Travel Around the World

    Out Of The Way And Worth It

    Chapter Five

    As a special treat on my birthday we decided to rent a car for the day and get out of the city.

    I’m so glad we did. We headed to the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, about an hour south from Hua Hin. We had heard about a hike to a cave with a hidden shrine. Sounded fun.

    We drove for about an hour, seeing some beautiful areas, very rural with lots of fields of pineapples.  We arrived at the hike entrance where we paid 200baht each (about 6 dollars- surprisingly expensive) to enter.  There were not many people, but the ones who were there were queueing for the boats that transport visitors around the headland to start the hike to the cave.

    Beginning the descent into the first cavern.

    We chose however to go over the headland, on a very steep and very rocky path. Once over the first mountain we began the straight up hike to the Phraya Nakhon Cave. It was only about 500 meters but it was unrelentingly steep. I’m sure I sweated gallons.

    The passage into the second cavern

    Oh but was it worth it. As you enter the cave you go deep down, first into a large cavern then through a passage way into another cavern. And then there it is. Like something out of a fairytale. A beautiful little shrine, sitting in the sunshine peeking down through the opening above the cave.

    I have had a few experiences in my life where I have tackled a physical challenge, to be so perfectly

    The gorgeous shrine

    rewarded. As I stood in the cave admiring the beauty and relishing the silence with only a handful of people, I thought of all the people back in their

    Ta Da!

    lounge chairs at the pool or on the beach. Those who can’t or won’t attempt a challenge despite the reward on the other side.

    I will strive to always be willing to at least try. The reward is so great.

    Family and Friends

    When I Was Young

    On My 57th Birthday

    When I was young I never worried about money or healthcare.

    When I was young I never heard of sunscreen or moisturizer (except Noxzema)

    When I was young I never thought about my daily BM or bladder control. And I certainly never talked about.

    When I was young a telephone was for making phone calls.

    When I was young I took for granted 20/20 vision and brown hair.

    When I was young I didn’t make funny noises trying to get out of bed in the morning.

    When I was young I didn’t spend energy worrying about my kids. I only worried about myself.

    When I was young I didn’t have skin on my neck and under my arms that flapped like a sheet in the wind.

    When I was young you had to stay in one room to listen to music or watch TV.

    When I was young I was convinced I didn’t snore.

    When I was young there was a  thing called writing letters.

    When I was young I took things for granted.

    When I was young I didn’t have a husband who loved me no matter what.

    Being young is overrated.  Go back? Never !

    Fifty-Seven and Fabulous!



    Health, Fitness & Fashion

    Sparkler in my Forehead

    Eight Weeks of Shingles

    It’s been eight weeks today since I felt that first funny little pain in my forehead. That first little bit of fire under my skin. But it wasn’t until five days later that I knew what was happening and headed to the doctor.

    Shingles had moved in.

    Eight weeks later I’m astonished how long the pain has lingered. Today I can say I am 99% well. But that little stinker shingles is a fighter. There is still some irratation. It’s definitely been harder and longer than I ever could have imagined.

    Because shingles visited me on my face, nose and right eye, I was in particular danger of corneal damage. I did experience for several weeks a halo effect in my right eye when looking at lights. But fortunately that has passed and my vision seems back to normal.

    My shingles made their home primarily on my forehead, right eyebrow and hairline.  I had hair loss in one half of my right eyelashes as well as my right eyebrow.

    For several weeks the itching was intense and felt as if there were bugs under my skin. The pain meds helped. Two months in to a four-month anti- viral treatment, I will continue on this regiment to protect my cornea from reinfection.

    I had not gotten a shingles vaccine. I always thought of shingles as an “old” people’s disease. Funny.

    As soon as I can I will now be vaccinated and I highly recommend you do too. At least if I get it again I will know immediately what it is. I wish I had figured it out sooner and gotten to the doctor. Maybe then the pain would have been less and it would not have lasted so long.

    But here I am, being fabulous in Thailand, and shingles only slowed be down in the very beginning. I’ve kicked my shingles to the curb. Farewell and good riddance.

    And All the Rest

    And Then The Rain

    Chapter Five

    It took us three hours longer than expected to drive from Bangkok to Hua Hin yesterday. Hua Hin is flooded and under water and the roads approaching the city were like rivers. Trying to find an unflooded road to reach our hotel was futile.

    At one point we got out of the cab endeavoring to walk the rest of the way. Then the cabbie talked to a man walking by and he told us another possible, passable road. So we loaded back in the cab and we did, eventually arrive at our condo.

    Like drowned rats.

    We ventured out today, it’s a mess. So we didn’t go far. Taxis and Tuk Tuks are not hardly moving, so it will be a few days until we wander.

    We are here for three weeks, so there is plenty of time, and honestly I enjoyed a quiet day today in the condo. Listening to the rain. Kinda like home.

    The adventure continues.

    Family and Friends

    The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

    Chapter Five – Traveling With My Adult Kids

    It’s been a special treat traveling these past six weeks with my adult kids.

    No matter how old they are – I worry about them. We sent Erik off last week, back to Burkina Faso to complete his Peace Corp commitment. We hope to see him again in August in Portugal.

    Today Arne and I return to Thailand for three more weeks in that magical country, and today we say good bye to our oldest son Dane. Dane will be staying in Siem Reap working at an English school here. I think he will be great at that- and this city is so awesome.

    For three weeks we will be traveling on our own. I think that will be good for us too – I look forward to connecting with Dane again in Vietnam  in February.

    People always say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It’s true as far as travel when it comes to our family. However both my kids find joy in volunteering and helping others less fortunate than they are, even if it means living in difficult environments. I never had that calling. I am proud that they do. I am hopeful all of this will steer them to a fulfilled future. Wherever that may be.

    And All the Rest

    Purging Again

    Chapter Five

    Just a couple days shy of six weeks and we are purging our suitcase. It didn’t take me but a few days into this odyssey to know I had brought too much stuff – even though I felt I had packed so carefully.

    But, I have more than I need, so we shipped a box home today. One dress, two pairs of long pants, two long sleeve shirts two scarfs, one sweater and my down jacket. For Arne it’s one pair of Dockers two long sleeve shirts, one fleece vest, one down vest and a scarf.

    As you can see, most of this is cooler weather gear and we really don’t think we will need it. And it is bulky and heavy. We lightened our load by about ten pounds.

    It was an expensive lesson, because shipping this home wasn’t cheap. But, we are learning along the way.

    And so the purge continues. I’ll be very curious to see what the scale says when I put my bag on it at the airport day after tomorrow. It should make our life a bit easier.

    The learning and fabulous fun continues! Stay tuned!

    Travel Around the World

    Life in Ruins

    Chapter Five Cambodia

    I’ve often thought I should have gotten a degree in  archeology. Or historic anthropology. I love to learn about historic cultures- people and places.

    Although I try not to use the term bucket list, I find in my travel planning I am drawn to a list of places where lost cultures have left behind structural evidence of people and communities and empires we can hardly fathom today.

    Angkor Wat Cambodia is such a place.

    My truly fabulous life has blessed me with the opportunity to visit fantastical and astonishing relics of lost worlds including Machu Picchu, Pompeii, Easter Island, Ephesus, Lalibela, The Acropolis, The Forum, Stonehenge, Rock of Cashel and I’m sure I’ve forgotten something.

    But here is Angkor Wat. Phenomenal.  I am not going to pretend to understand the complicated history of Cambodia; from the amazing Khmer Empire to the bloody Khmer Rouge to today’s Cambodian People’s Republic. But during my short time in this beautiful and friendly country I am going to, with respect, do my best to honor the people and cultures.

    We took three days to explore the gigantic and expansive area known collectively as Angkor Wat.  Although we had hired a personal Tuk Tuk driver, Angkor Wat is so big that over the three days we walked more than 23 miles.  And oh my goodness the stairs. Thousands of stairs.  Angkor Wat is not handicap accessible.  I’m grateful to still be healthy enough to do this activity in my Fabulous Fifties.

    Here is a short introduction from Wikipedia;

    “Stretching over some 400 square kilometres, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire of the 9th to the 15th centuries, including the largest pre-industrial city in the world. The most famous are the Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations .

    Angkor Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. At the same time, it was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to looting, a declining water table, and unsustainable tourism. UNESCO has now set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.”

    Often I struggle as a tourist with my own contribution to the decline and demise of historic and natural sites.  Simply by visiting, as one of thousands, what damage have I done?  Trash is a very visible problem as is wear and tear, traffic and pollution.  The livelihood of thousands of Cambodians depend on the tourists who visit here.  But my conscience tells me more needs to be done to protect this incredible place.

    The Inca Trail and the Serengeti limit the number of daily visitors. Perhaps this is the future for Angkor Wat. But at the expense of jobs and livelihoods.  I don’t know what the answer is.

    I am humbled by the magnitude and beauty of the place. And by the national pride and reverence the Cambodian people have for it. And by the gracious Cambodian people themselves.

    What an honor it has been. Fabulous.