Best five things of the fifth month

Whew! A whirlwind of activities, many in the air! May has whirled by.

The month kicked off with Kat’s birthday party at CC’s. Hiking, magicians, unicycles and bush stew.

Next came Cindy, Jerry and Melissa’s birthday’s celebrated with a luscious dinner, hosted by Dad. We went to Iconic. Go there! It’s amazing!!

Flying to Nevada was another highlight. Charlie Mike is in prime shape, I got to see my burner friends along the way and flying is always one of my joys in life. Thank you Scott.

Baja!!!! One of my happiest places. CC and I grilled lots of fresh fish, walked and ran on the beach and best of all, hung out in La Paz with Ana, Emma and Pavel. My Mexican family. We found lots of sunshine, blue water and white sand.

As a grand finale to the month, we took three airplanes to the Grand Canyon, (another of my happiest places). The next day we flew to Amboy California on Route 66. What fun with airplanes!!!

There’s much more to come in June! I’ll report back soon.

Surprising CC

After landing in LAX, (bleary-eyed and seriously jet lagged!!) I picked up a rental car and headed south east.

It was about 10am in my body, so four hours of driving was easy.

Traffic in LA was no issue at 11pm. Though, the grocery store I stopped at had a fifteen-minute checkout line at midnight!

CC had no idea I was going to show up at the STOL competition he had entered. Outlaw STOL is only about 2 hours flying for him and he likes to compete there. I thought it would be so fun to surprise him….which is always a risky proposition. Especially with CC. He was unsure if he would be going until the very last minute, mostly due to repairs on his 170B.

The morning of the event, I am at a gym in Yuma AZ, working out, and then taking a shower, before meeting up with CC. He texts me “Turning back, issues with oil pressure”. Darn. It’s another 4 + hour drive for me to reach his place in Nevada, and I am really hoping he is able to make it. Though, I am willing to drive there for the surprise. My flight doesn’t leave until Monday morning, so I have options.

I next receive a text, “Back in the air”, need fuel. Whew! He’s coming. But wait! Not so fast……next he’s taken off from the fuel stop, but “not happy with the oil pressure, so flying the river in case I need to land”.

Fast forward: he buzzes the runway and then I hear nothing. I get a text “Just landed at Yuma” (I am at Somerton Airport). I’m thinking, ugh, ok, so I will drive over to Yuma. He must have had oil pressure issues.

I start the car and drive toward the Somerton airport exit….and CC taxis by the car. He’s here. Now I get to surprise him! Big Gulp.

He arrives at his parking spot, shuts down the plane, and gets out. I’m out of my rental car walking toward his plane. I can see that he sees me, but not sure if he knows it’s me yet. (He later tells me that he couldn’t get his head around what he was seeing.)

Then I wave with both hands. Now he realizes it’s me. He is delightfully surprised and cannot believe I am here. He had no idea.

Perfect! Joy! I’m so so glad I did this!!

He won the competition and we had a great, great time! I volunteered as a line judge for the competition, which was super cool!

It was a long three months to not spend time together, and now that I’m back, it feels like I was never gone.

Reflections from my trip

Experiencing life on the road, across countries and cultures, out of my familiar life and surroundings, is the best teacher of all. Mostly, it has been teaching me about myself, and trust me, I have been paying attention. A few musings, just for fun, sprinkled with some favorite photos.

A visitor on the Pai River

I really love hot weather. It has been about 100 degrees for the past six weeks. I’m going to freeze in Seattle!!

Visiting northern Laos and Thailand would have been better prior to Feb 28 to miss the smoke. I had no idea…..

Cities make for hard (and mostly worth it) travel.

Chiang Mai night market

This 62 year old brain learns slower and slower as the years roll by. It’s hard to accept that. Massage training (rote memorization) was a struggle, but I hung in there and got my certificate. In the end I really enjoyed the entire experience-the easy and the hard.

Refundable reservations are the only way to go! I either have a refundable resie or just contact the establishment immediately prior to arrival. There is always just walking in the door (which is easy in low season). It worked great and gave me tons of flexibility.

Google Fi, Google Maps and What’s App rock. Technology makes world travel SO much easier!!

Attending another culture’s major holiday is fun, festive and energizing. Even when people are throwing buckets (not joking) of water on you!

People are amazing everywhere. Not a new lesson, but travel reinforces this truth every day.

Brandon. American teaching English in Oman. We took the photo because I’m the first pilot he has ever met.

I’m so proud of, and impressed by Sam and Melissa and Green Climbers Home. It is a true joy to be a part of such a special place.

A few additional quick thoughts.

I have been catching myself worrying about stuff and it helps nothing. I’m trying to stop.

I have re-engaged with my love of reading and have been zooming through book after book. Thank you Seattle Public Library.

I don’t miss watching TV (or Netflix etc). At all. Zero.

Riding a motorcycle is scary. And so so fun.

It warms me to sit here in my last guesthouse, my last moments in SE Asia, and look back on this trip. What a wonderful ride it has been.

Pai in the rear view mirror

I fell in love with Pai. ❤️

When I met Tanner, a Canadian driving the Mae Hong Son loop the opposite direction of mine, he said “Pai has something for everyone”. He was SO right!

I hiked and ran trails, swam in two waterfalls, visited the “white Buddha”, found a favorite food vendor, swam in the Pai river during several lunch breaks while in massage school, walked the walking street, went to the day and night markets, visited a couple of national parks…..the list goes on. I really loved it!!

Some Pai souvenir’s

It has the perfect vibe of funky, fun, active and yes, there is something there for everyone.

Plus, the drive from Pai to Chiang Mai is a blast!! There are 762 curves to master. (And remember, this is driving on the left!!) I’m pretty stoked it was so fun, flowy and easy!!

Pai loves the hippies, its curves and everything in between. It’s a great place to spend time, as much as you can.

I miss it already.

Happy New Year!!

That’s right! It’s New Year here in SE Asia. In Thailand, it’s called Songkran. What a celebration!!

I have been doused with bucket upon bucket of water while walking and/or riding my motorbike through town (and outside of town!) Pai is reveling in soaking each other, including the cops and the tourists!

Parade’s, fireworks and music. All day and all night for three days. It’s easy to enjoy the energy!!

Meanwhile, I’m staying well outside of the fray in a luscious “resort” on the Pai River, complete with a beautiful swimming pool.

I completed my Thai massage training yesterday, and now I’m savoring my last two days of leisure before pointing my motorbike toward home on Sunday. I’m ready.

The Thailand Loop

The rave reviews about The Mae Hong Son motorcycle loop in Thailand being one of the best in the world is not overstated.

I have visited the tip top of Thailand, swam under waterfalls and in Rivers. Climbed stairs to beautiful temples to watch the sunset, trail run through several parks, rode winding, fun, fast roads, and I’m not done yet!!

It is tropical, lush, clean, the roads are beautiful and uncrowded, and it’s just so easy!

My route has been a little “off the usual path” (not surprised, are you?) after meeting other motorbikes heading the opposite way on “the loop”. The beta has been so helpful and allowed me to see even more beautiful places.

I ventured out of Mae Hong Son town, to visit a Namtok Mae Surin National Park. Wow!! There were cabins right on the Pai River, so cute and cozy, and not one person there. I had the place to myself. I went for a couple of swims, (and so did my phone…) and sat on a rock reading my book.

This morning, I ran trails on the edge of this same park and found beautiful swings all along my way!

After running, I drove a few hours to reach Pai. A cute, heavily touristed spot where I’m going to explore the area tomorrow and then start my massage class on Monday.

My time here is ticking away. My brain is staring to turn toward home. I feel fortunate to have so much to look forward to upon arriving back in the US of A.

Escaping the cities

I’m back on a motorbike and back in the mountains. Ahhhhh!!

Traveling in cities takes a toll. I did Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and then Chiang Mai in succession. Enough city-ing for me on this roll through SE Asia.

Chiang Mai is, well, Chiang Meh. The temples are cool, the Saturday and Sunday night markets were enormous, but aside from that…..there are hotels, massage studios, restaurants, 7-11’s, pot shops and tattoo studios. Kind of a yawn.

Until yesterday. I signed up for a full day cooking class at Thai farm cooking school held at an organic farm. Yes!!!! Jackpot!! It was SO fun! And delicious!! We stopped at a market to check out local ingredients and then drove an hour-ish out to the farm.

Ratha was fabulous! Fun, knowledgeable, and energetic. She kept us incredibly busy from 8am to 4 pm without a break!! We chopped, stir fried, boiled and ate.

Invite me over, I’ll make you Thai dinner!!

The day was a joy. There were nine of us in all. Lorenzo from Italy, I think, will visit Green Climbers Home next week. Several of us were Americans along with a family of 5 from Israel. The other solo female traveler, (Kate) just became an airline pilot and had spent several weeks riding a motorcycle through Vietnam. My sista!

After class, I picked up my spiffy motorbike for an early morning launch. I had a tattoo appt far out of town. The tattoo is great, and even better is the route I am now following to the highest peak in Thailand.

Tomorrow I get to spend the entire day in this luscious, tropical, national park: Doi Inthanan. Thailand’s highest peak is central, (2565m/8425ft) and has waterfalls, native villages, hiking trails and I will soon find out what else!

Faces of Laos and Cambodia

Random people I met, and, sometimes, did not get to meet. Makes me smile to see these special moments along my journey.

Phnom Penh

The surprise of Phnom Penh is the big, modern, busy city. Wow, I have been in slow motion, so this city is a bit overwhelming for me.

I’m staying on the 23rd floor of a high rise apartment building, a world away from my last guesthouse on Don Det, Laos.

for the Cambodian people.

Yesterday was informative, sad and hard. And so important. I toured the Choeung Ek killing fields and Security Prison 21. It’s the horrifying story of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge and how this one crazy man, in 3 years killed over 2 million of his own people. This was all happening during the time I was in high school.

The prison was where they interrogated men, women, and children. The killing fields are where they took them to finish them off and dump their bodies. I just couldn’t photograph all of the skulls (which they had on display, including explanations of how they were killed). It was devastating for the Cambodian people, both those who died and for those who survived.

There were survivors of the prison promoting their books at both locations. Amazing what the human spirit can endure. And how cruel humans can be.

Other than walking through the city, I spent the rest of my time at the pool on the roof of my apartment building, which is so nice. Especially with the temperature around 38/99 degrees.

Bankers walk to lunch
Motor bike with cargo
Roof top pool

I’m ready to leave the city for my next stop: Chiang Mai Thailand. I’m taking a cooking class, riding a motorcycle, and certifying in Thai Massage.

My final weeks are going to fly by.

They all do!!

Cambodia first impressions

My trip from Laos to Cambodia was smooth. The difference between the two countries’vibe was palpable.

Cambodia is so much easier! Most people speak English, they use the US dollar as their currency, and people are so friendly, helpful and kind.

People in Laos were not unkind, I think just more reserved. People in Cambodia so far have been warmer, and have humor. They’re fun and funny!

Siem Reap is a beautiful, modern and clean city. While here, I have joined a couple of group tours, and dropped in on an Exercise class at “Ankor Fitness” that kicked my butt.

“Floating Village” houses Kampong Phluk. (It’s the dry season now, so not floating now.)
Kampong Phluk spirit house
Sunset on (lake) Tonle Sap

The highlight of Siem Reap was sunrise at Ankor Wat. We left the hotel at 4:30am to experience the daily show. I signed up for a group mountain bike tour, which, ended up, being just me and my guide.

My trip to Cambodia was an after thought. I feel so lucky to have stumbled onto this amazing place in the world. I’m not seeing much of the country on this trip, and I know, for certain, I will be back!