The wonders of Angkor

Today I want to tell you about our trip to the temples of Angkor. You will have to bear with me for this, as there are many photos from this three-day immersion into the history and religious architecture of ancient Cambodia. Marta and Daniel, whom we met while trekking in Laos, were our companions for this part of the trip.

We started with the sunrise, in front of the temple of Angkor Wat, and slowly, walked (or better said, tuk-tuk-ed) our way through the other temples of what is said to be the largest religious complex of the world.

(For readers who are not familiar with the south-east Asian means of transportation: a tuk-tuk is a three-wheeled motorbike to which a cabin with seats for 3 or 4 people is attached. Each country has, of course, its own variations on it. In Cambodia, you can fit up to 4 people in a tuk-tuk and it is the most convenient way of visiting the temples – as no motorbikes are rented in Siem Reap, the base-city for the Angkor Wat exploration.)

And when in need of a break, what other better way than to find a hammock, ask for a fresh coconut and some smoothies and just doze away? A hammock station – a must-have in every house, as our friends Marta and Daniel put it.  With fresh strength, we get up for another round of these amazing temples.

On our last day we rented bicycles and we wandered around the Cambodian countryside, along rice fields, palm trees and small villages. A must – if you want to have a feeling of the real Cambodia. And one of my favorite days in this country.

On our last night in Siem Reap, we tried the (apparently) famous Angkor What? Bar. Good company, a bucket or two (or three) of Mekong-Whiskey-and-Coke, and there you have the recipee for a perfect night out! Topped with people dancing under the pouring rain…

Well, this was to be a first taste of our next destination, Ko Phangan, the Thai island where we are to spend our Christmas and New Year’s Eve: laid back, celebrating, meeting old and dear friends from Romania, on the seaside and into the sunshine. No more looking for accommodation and changing city every third or forth day – this is to be our holiday!

Hoi An, my favorite city in Asia!

Just as Saint Paul de Vence is the city I love the most on the Cote d’Azur, for me, Hoi An is absolutely the most beautiful city in Asia (well, at least so far… ).

And this is the way I discovered Hoi An: mysterious, lighted by one thousand colorful lamps, quiet, warm, still wet after the rain.

The next days I discovered more of this wonderfully peaceful city, with its light, with the market next to the river, with one million clothes shops selling silk and cotton and everything in between, with the mysterious food stalls in front of which you would never be quite so sure whether you’re buying something sweet or salty, with the beautiful yellow colonial houses and the traditional dark wood houses, with its people, its palm trees, its light. It made me want to linger on the streets, breathe in the beauty and the colors, watch the sun playing on a wall or a wooden carving, refusing with a smile all the offers of making clothes at the shop around the corner, feeling the smell of the sea in the air or just enjoying my Asian coffee in the afternoon sunlight.

And on the last page of Hoi An’s story there is the cafe in which we waited, over a cup of green Vietnamese tea, the train towards Ho Chi Minh City (some time ago called Saigon). The street lights, the old sewing machines turned into tables, the little “antiques” hanged around us made me feel like we were continuing to be in this fairytale land we stepped into when arriving in Hoi An. Just that the cafe, as any reliable passage gateway, was already bringing into the realm we were about to leave some hints of the world laying outside the gate: bits and pieces of old computers, old telephones, flashlights, signs of busy city life, signs of future technology.

Into the waters of Halong Bay

An Unesco World Heritage site and one of the best known places in Vietnam, Halong Bay felt, the first day we were there, as if it were a kind of “tourist camp”. Everywhere you were looking, you would see a cruise boat bringing to the bay its own little group of curious tourists and the cave we visited that day, though impressively large and quite beautiful, seemed to be crossed by a living river of tourists moving slowly into the same direction. Very different was the second day, when we were guided towards the more secluded area of Lan Ha Bay. Here, we kayaked our way into bays where you would enter through corridors carved into the mountain rock or even through smaller caves, in which you would have to be careful not to let you kayak get stuck, we spotted monkeys chasing each another through the trees, we enjoyed the silence of the mountains surrounding us…

You will find below some pictures from the first day, with the “tourist camp” cave, the evening cooking lesson – rolling spring rolls, and the beautiful people we shared the boat with. On the second day, I could not bring my camera in the kayak, so I cannot really show you the most spectacular part of it, but you will understand how much we enjoyed the whole experience from the smiles on our faces.

And I made up my mind: I absolutely love being on a boat!

The Light Journal

A collection of light-full moments and photos from my trip around the world

.. well, not really around the word :)

In March 2013 I decided to quit my job as a lawyer for an international law firm in Bucharest and start a journey that would begin in Paris and end.. not exactly sure where. It is true, I would like to spend spring in western Europe visiting friends, summer on the island of Lesbos in Greece, at the Osho Afroz Meditation Centre, and autumn and winter in India, Thailand and, maybe, China. But more, I don’t know now and I don’t want to know. I decided that during this trip I would not make choices by planning and organizing (which is how I managed “important things” my whole life), but rather by letting life choose for me, by letting each moment of my trip show me what to do next.

I believe that each moment of our lives has a maximum potential – a manifestation that would bring that moment to the best, most beautiful and graceful version of itself. And I believe that our life is about understanding such potential and bringing it into existence. And when this happens, life shines through, light shines through places, people, trees, coffee cups, hearts, smiles. I am sure you know what I am speaking about.

And this is what I would like to capture in the pages of this blog: the light that shines through in those moments of grace.