S: Orly Goes East
BC: This incredible trip has opened my eyes to the sheer vastness, greatness, and diversity of the world we live in. It has helped me to understand that the world east of Europe is larger, more populated, and full of strange and wonderful things beyond the abilities of our wildest dreams. And the very small taste that I just got has only whetted my appetite for so much more. I look forward to one day be able to see the rest of the curiously enormous land of China as well as the compacted culture of Thailand, as this trip has been, beyond a shadow of a doubt, an experience of a lifetime. Unlike any traveling I have done before, I have learned so much, met so many fascinating people, and just overall had a great deal of fun. I am sad to have to re-integrate myself into society now, but at least I have brought back with me this blog, thousands of photos, 2 suitcases of souvenirs, a new-found sense of adventure, and countless priceless memories. And so Orly is back West... for now.
FC: Orly Goes East Featuring excerpts from www.orlygoeseast.tumblr.com
1: Beijing, China June 2011
2: "To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world." - Freya Stark
4: Before I left Canada, many people asked if I was excited about my trip. The answer was of course yes, but I also had this overwhelming feeling that there was so much unknown ahead of me that I didn’t even know what to be excited about. Anytime I have gone on vacation or traveled in the past, I have always known more or less what to expect - the hustle and bustle of large European cities, the serenity of leisurely countryside holidays, the sun and sandy beaches of tropical vacations. But when I left home earlier this week, I had no idea what China would feel like. And now that I am here, I can reaffirm that this was an acceptable assessment. Because this place does not resemble anything I have ever experienced.
7: The food in China terrifies me... Not because I am not willing to try new things, but more because I just can't figure out how.
9: As we approached it by car you could see it up ahead, snaking through the lush green mountains. It was astounding. You hear that it is amazing but you canÂ’t possibly grasp what that means untill you see it for yourself. Once you arrive, you find yourself atop this massive brick structure, about 15 ft wide and at least 3 times as high (don't quote me on that). And it goes on as far as the eye can see. How this was even conceived, let alone constructed over 2000 years ago, blows my mind. Those damn Chinese... so impressive.
11: My final evening in Beijing, I happened upon the Forbidden City just after sunset - an image that will remain etched in my mind forever. The entrance gate was lit up, looking unbelievably majestic against the night sky. Charming Chinese ballads blared through a local’s ghetto blaster as multiple local couples overtook the courtyard and danced the night away beneath the majestic presence of “The Gate of Divine Prowess”. And now as I pack up my bags and head to the airport, I have an overwhelming giddy feeling of satisfaction. While initially reluctant to explore this city on my own, devoid of any co-travelers or tour groups, I now realize that I couldn’t have done this a better way. I forced myself to truly submerge into the culture and way of life. Navigating an Asian city for the first time is nothing short of an incredible challenge for a Westerner, but one I think I accomplished quite successfully and drew invaluable learnings from. The dark, smoggy, chaotic city that I catapulted into last Tuesday night has quickly lifted to expose a beautiful, vibrant and fascinating metropolis. I have thoroughly enjoyed my Beijing experience and look forward to being able to explore much more of China one day.
13: Thailand July 2011
14: Fresh cut flowers, Buddhas, rice, chili peppers, traffic, masseuses, temples and markets -- there is an abundance of all of these amazing things in this country.
17: "When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable." - Clifton Fadiman
19: My personal achievements - I have not yet gotten lost, gotten scammed or gotten sick from food. All three, things that I was forewarned were inevitable.
20: "You need to eat more sun. You too white." - Random Phuket Shopkeeper
21: "There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign." - Robert Louis Stevenson
22: The elephants are smart, strong, mild tempered and LOVE to eat sugar cane and bananas. | The monkeys were phenomenal. They gathered around our kayak as soon as they saw us coming - some even jumped right in! They munched away on our bananas as we snapped hundreds of pics - amazing!!
23: Tigers sleep 18 hours a day, are very soft, and have the same mannerisms as Chloe (only they are slightly more terrifying).
24: This place is raunchy. One strip club after the other, with too many bars to count sandwiched in between, I feel like I have found the Bourbon Street of the the East. But more extreme - like everything seems to be on this side if the world! But regardless, this is still unmistakably Thailand. The curries are delicious, absurdly spicy and dirt cheap, the locals are incredibly gracious, the hotels are gorgeous and beyond affordable, and thank Buddha - there is no shortage of masseuses, because I haven’t had a foot massage in almost 24 hours!! ;)
25: The limestone cliffs jutting out of the water, the soft sand and the crystal blue-green waters are unlike anything I have ever seen.
26: Biking through the back alleys of Bangkok life, snorkelling in crystal clear waters, rock climbing on some of the most famous rocks in the world -- and so much more ...
27: ... this trip has been filled with one Thai adventure after the other!
28: "Railay might forget you, but you will never forget Railay."