Secrets of Cambodia

Mary with New Friends at OuMalay Guesthouse, SiemReap22Secrets of Cambodia

I extended my visa for another month, as I just couldn’t see myself crossing the border into Thailand. That’s the closest border to me so it would be easiest to get to – but I will be bussing to Bangkok for my flight to Burma later this month.

Burma. It is a place like no other place. Happy I’m going.

Have heard it’s challenging to find a guesthouse to stay at but if it’s a problem I will throw myself on the mercy of a temple and ask to stay with the monks and nuns. Surely they can relax the rules for me.

It’s a simple life here in Siem Reap. I have a richer life in some ways in Cambodia than I did in Northern Thailand – renting a small house in the mountains with a large view of the sun setting over clouds, hot springs, and waterfalls. My own 5 star view.

Angkor Wat, Sunset

Angkor Wat, Sunset

Here in Siem Reap, down the street from the 8th wonder of the world, Angkor Wat, I feel the mystical vibrations emanating from one of the holiest places on earth.

My jaw dropped when I saw this.

My jaw dropped when I saw this.

My favorite temple in Angkor Wat is Ta Prohm. Yes it was featured in the Tomb Raiders but its been here 800 years longer than when Angelina Jolie discovered it

My favorite temple in Angkor Wat is Ta Prohm. Yes it was featured in the Tomb Raiders but its been here 800 years longer than when Angelina Jolie discovered it

And I am paying $200 per month for my own room with bathroom.

No kitchen. But Ou Malay Guesthouse (with no sign) lets me put my fruit in their fridge. And I go to cafes and restaurants to do wifi and commune with my work. Yes it would be easier to have wifi at home but you know its been fun to get up and leave every morning – wifi is available all over Siem Reap – all you need to do is sit down and order a glass of carrot beet juice or a coffee or something.

The only thing is the music.

Today at the Blue Pumpkin where I was eating my dark chocolate one scoop of ice cream nestled on a sugar cone the music was on my nerves as it was Thai folk music and I dislike that kind of noise. It is a repetitive soap opera style of clanging banjos and primitive stringed instruments. I can’t hear my own voice in all that din.

At least I get electricity.

I can plug my computer into the wall here! Grateful for that. My appreciation for Power; the kind that comes from an electrical outlet has soared since leaving California.

Another thing:

Last week I was looking to get my hair trimmed and I went to a beauty salon and it was $15 to do a 5-minute job. That sounded too USA for me – nope.

So I went to a neighborhood salon where there was no English spoken and guess what, it was only$2 for a hair trim so I gave her a dollar tip and she did a fine job – and that was a good wage – it literally took 10 minutes.

Check out my Youtube videos on Cambodia here

And I will not pay $4.50 for a tiny jar of Skippy peanut butter either. Just because us foreigners like the stuff they jack it up in price –  I will buy pure peanuts and be happy with that. Besides the jars are always dusty.

Walk into any wat and usually you can chat up the monks

Walk into any wat and usually you can chat up the monks

Her family had the coldest juiciest coconuts in town. Every day I would visit them and they split open the coconut and stuck a straw in it for me - sublime.

Her family had the coldest juiciest coconuts in town. Every day I would visit them and they split open the coconut and stuck a straw in it for me – sublime.

Honoring the King's Death

Honoring the King’s Death in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

I met this little girl at Orchid Bungalows where I stayed for 6 days on Otres Beach

I met this little girl at Orchid Bungalows where I stayed for 6 days on the beach

Clean and serene - go here instead of Sihanoukville but don't tell anyone so we can keep it special

Clean and serene – go here instead of Sihanoukville but don’t tell anyone so we can keep it special: Otres Beach

Currently my favorite thing to eat is:

Fresh Pommelo  – it’s a gigantic grapefruit grown here in Southeast Asia — I eat it every day. Dazzlingly delicious. I’m eating it right now.

My diet has changed living here – it’s heaps of apples, bananas, dragon fruit, mangoes and mostly pommelo. I ate catfish barbecued from a street side stand and it was scrumptious but I need to do my pommelo run now.

So… come to Cambodia and discover her secrets:

The coast is not that developed outside of Sihanoukville. Otres Beach is the gem in the crown of the Southern Coast.

Kampot is small-town wonderful with its pepper crab, sunset river views, and friendliness. You can jump right in the river – it feels clean and silky.

Here are my picks for you:

Cozyna Hotel in Phnom Penh on the riverside.

Daughters of Cambodia – massage/mani/pedi for women only, lunch, wifi, AC and crafts for the rest of humanity. It’s a non-profit helping girls steer clear of human trafficking – support them.

Kampot – many nice places to eat – best prices on lodging and great value in Cambodia.

Otres Beach – Papa Pippo’s Guesthouse on the best part of the beach – authentic Italian food because real Italians run it – I met Papa Pippo himself and he is pure Italy – check it out.

Siem Reap: Rosy’s Guesthouse, Ou Malay Guesthouse – Check Out the Family I Stayed With Here, Peace Café

Eat at: Central Cafe on Pub street – Café Mie (see my video) – super good fresh fusion Cambodian/European food. A Cambodian chef owns and runs it – young whippersnapper who is enthusiastic and European trained – go there now.

Enjoying the moment – it’s a practice.  Gotta go get that pommelo now.

Big Blast of Light and laugher coming your way from Southeast Asia.

Angkor Wat soaking up the Love and Beauty

The Truth About Cambodia

Christmas Eve I biked over to Ta Prohm before the hordes of people arrived in Angkor Wat. No problem at 5:30AM – the place was filled with birds cawing and the sun rising in tree boughs over my head.

I’ve been in Cambodia for 7 weeks now and traveled all over this captivating country.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

You can’t rent a motorbike in Siem Reap – so the only option is a bike. Tuktuk drivers will ask 9,000 times a day if you need a ride. With a bike under me they don’t ask anymore. Yay.

You can rent motorbikes outside of Siem Reap in other towns of Cambodia for about $5 a day.

There are no buses in the towns. Taxis cost almost the same as USA – my rule of thumb is if it costs the same price as the USA I don’t need it. I’m in Asia to pay Asian prices – not to pay USA prices. And that goes double for buying Skippy peanut butter. It costs $5 for a tiny jar of it. Please! I’d finish that in one sitting.

Guesthouses sell standard to luxury long distance bus tickets and you’ll get the same price as going to the station to buy it. Usually you can get some honest advice too. Language can be a problem so ask the ex-pats who have guesthouses to tell you how to get somewhere.

They know; they live here.

Angkor Wat. I was surprised by the hordes of tourists but hey I’m a tourist too. And I picked probably the most crowded week of the year to get my 3-day pass.

On the days I visited; all of humanity was there.

Angkor Wat attracts tons of tourists to see the sun rise over the temples

Angkor Wat attracts tons of tourists to see the sun rise over the temples

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But!

I had one of the best times in my life – how?

Get up early! Yes, at 4AM. I rode my bike in the dark with a headlamp you might want to employ a tuktuk driver. They show up where you are staying and take you over to the temples. I hired one once for the sunset at Angkor Wat but the other days I biked. More fun and slower.

So there I was riding the black velvet road on my way to Ta Prohm temple the one with the trees growing out of it.

I was the only one there!

Christmas Eve at the temples at 6AM - mystical moment of bliss

Christmas Eve at the temples at 6AM – mystical moment of bliss

It was dark and not lit up so I was glad to have my flashlight. Two other girls appeared; I called out to them, hey guys where’s the main temple here? Two North Americans, who also were enthusiastic to get up early, joined me and we shot photos, chatted, and had a blast.

Then we wandered off doing our own photo shoots before the hordes arrived. It was mystical to see the golden light dawn in the towering treetops over my head. I felt happy and full of shine.

Me and my yoga matt reflecting in the magical temple vibe

Me and my yoga matt reflecting in the magical temple vibe

It wasn’t that way at the sunrise at Angkor Wat with 12,000 people. Ok I exaggerate maybe it was just two thousand people but again I got there early. And bring a yoga matt to sit on so you’ll have more breathing space. The sun rises over Angkor Wat and the reflection in the lotus pond is divine and otherworldly. One of the most exquisite things I’ve ever seen in my life. Don’t miss it.

Discover delicious and astonishing photography of Angkor Wat that I shot this month click here for the app in the iTunes store

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Captivating Cambodia, Issue 2 of Vagabond Magazine is in the iTunes store now for your iPad, check it out…be inspired to get that plane ticket and go discover the world.

As Yoon Leem from Korea said, after reading Vagabond, “Mary is the adventure guru, what are you waiting for, get your ticket and follow her!”

Intricate carvings of women adorning the ancient walls left me breathless. And I could get right next to them and see all the detail. Top level of Angkor Wat.

Intricate carvings of women adorning the ancient walls left me breathless. And I could get right next to them and see all the detail. Top level of Angkor Wat.

Sunset is also a wonderful time to see the temples. You can cuddle up with your pillow and wait for the end of the day.

The yoga mat is also good for having picnics far from the madding crowds. You can find shady areas to sit and munch and look carefully at a temple view or lotus pond.

Elephant Terrace at Angkor Thom

Elephant Terrace at Angkor Thom

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This divine pond was radiating the love energy - I almost died and went to a new realm just seeing it. Early morning is best as the blossoms open invitingly to the sky.

This pond was radiating the love energy – I almost died and went to a new realm just seeing it. Early morning is best as the blossoms open invitingly to the sky.

Don’t miss the lotus pond- this is the biggest one I’ve ever seen in my life. Bigger than the Paul Gauguin garden in Tahiti.

Discover the amazing photography that Cambodia inspired here

More facts:

You will eat healthy here. You’ll find farmers markets filled with fresh fruit to make your innards happy. Here’s my breakfast, dragon fruit and bananas.

breakfastinsiemreap

Cambodia has wifi in most coffee shops and restaurants now – yahoo – that makes me happy. We’ll see what happens in Burma if I can still stay connected.

The roads are not always smooth, for example the road between Sihanoukville and Kep/Kampot. You could rent a motorbike but you’d still have the craters, crevices, and dust clouds. I needed a massage after that spine-crushing ride over potholed roads. I’ll be going back to Thailand soon overland so we’ll see how that goes crossing the border from Cambodia. It should be easier than doing it the other way as every one wants to see Angkor Wat and I’ve all ready seen it and am leaving. Perhaps there is less tout activity on the Thai side too.

Kampot, Kep, and Otres Beach don’t have strong Internet connection – probably OK in Sihanoukville if you can stomach the litter and touts. Go to Otres beach instead – it is about 6 kilometers south of the big Sihanoukville area. Quieter and prettier too. Or one of the islands, which I did not get to.

I loved Kampot – fresh seafood comes in from Kep and it has a small town feel that is friendly and non-touristy.

Kep – fun for an outing but maybe don’t ride your motorbike there like I did. Traffic on the dusty skinny road to get from Kampot to Kep is scary. Tourist vans and drivers who have just discovered motor vehicles are not all that interested in staying on their side of the road or giving much leeway to bikers. Glad I arrived with all my skin intact.

Yes I wore my helmet – always do.

Phnom Penh – I didn’t hear anything about it until I stayed there 10 days. Many great restaurants, cheap high quality places to stay, and good markets if that’s your thing – check out the veggie and fish market – real stinky but fascinating for 5 minutes if you can stand the stench.

Read,

I’d Like a Stench-Free Room, Please

in Vagabond

click here: http://tinyurl.com/byg76kx

My recommendations for Phnom Penh:
Cozyna Hotel on the riverside
$18 per room AC + wifi in double room. Good bed, super clean.
Daughters of Cambodia: for eating, massages, wifi, handmade items
Blue Pumpkin for breakfast/good coffee/real yogurt/on the riverfront
Markets galore, Central Market within walking distance to the hotel

Russian Market is a short tuk tuk ride away

Massages everywhere for cheap $5 to $9
Visit the kings palace –
He had just died so we couldn’t go inside it.

There are 2 cons:
The insane traffic, which will not stop for you
Pedestrians don’t have the right of way
I think I’m still alive because they don’t want to kill tourists
It would be bad for business.
And tuktuk drivers who sleep in their cabs then wake up and ask you if you want a ride 200 times a day. Go back to bed!

Anyway I notice I have not left this country and extended my visa for another month. Glad of it; otherwise I would have been traveling on Christmas Eve instead of being at Angkor Wat dancing around

my favorite temple Ta Prohm. What fun!

angkortreemaydance

Cambodians are super friendly and want to learn English and try out their English on you. But be sure you speak so slowly so there are no misunderstandings in communication.

Their smiles are genuine – I’m tripping out on the love I feel here.
No matter what I do at my guesthouse the Cambodian family who owns the joint is treating me like royalty. I think I’m the only white honky there. They don’t know much English and I know far less Cambodian but we try to understand each other; the unspoken love is radiating out from them.

marywithnewfriendsCambodia

Don’t miss this country – it gets under your skin and you don’t want to leave! I’m still here and it’s been 7 weeks.

Thats when you know you are in the right place. When you can’t imagine leaving it.

The Astonishing Ingram Family

 

Following After Trek

I met the Ingrams at my favorite restaurant in Pai, Thailand. I marveled at how happy the family was with two young sons eating lunch together, before I said anything. Then we started talking and I was astounded by their courage and heart-breaking story.

You can’t miss this book, by Jarrett Ingram, whenever I find a book that I simply can’t stop reading I have to tell everyone and Following After Trek is it!

Don’t miss it as this book will make you laugh and cry and give you wisdom on living life fully and totally from your heart. Jarrett’s experience of losing his son, Trek, their third child is told in vivid detail and I felt spiritually recharged and revitalized after reading his story based on the true life facts.

I have never met anyone like the Ingram Family. Overcoming their hardship; they are shining their love out to the world and we are fortunate to bask in their wisdom and grace.

Reading this book is like being with the Ingrams and experiencing their remarkable spirits.

Get the book here on Amazon, hard copy and for Kindle, and on Jarrett’s site.

www.jarrettingram.com

link for book on amazon-

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0985595833

Read Chelsea’s blog Our Sonny Life on their epic journey.

www.oursonnylife.com

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Remarkable Man Empowers Girls in Nepal

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I am astonished by what Wolf Price is doing in Nepal – after visiting (7 times in 7 Years) and teaching in this tiny, poor, and gorgeous country squeezed between China and India he decided to help the girls of this country get free with education, scholarships and computers. He has used his own money to do this and recently forged an alliance with American Apparel of the USA. Wolf and AA designed a beautiful t-shirt and 100% of the profit from the sales goes to girls in Nepal who are eager for education and will not be being forced into servitude or marriage having babies at 13 years of age. See Wolf’s movie  he made about the girls in Nepal here.

Kindly read Wolf’s letter here encouraging our generosity and kindness for the girls:

Dear Friends,
 
I first comprehended mortality at five. Overwhelmed, I sat down on a rolled up rug and cried. At first I was sad my parents would die, then I imagined the disabled and disadvantaged people of the world- my sympathy for that group outweighed the pain of mortality for my parents and myself- As I sat there in extreme turmoil, I vowed to alleviate as much suffering as possible in my lifetime and stood up in triumph with new found energy to do something significant for humanity in my lifetime-  That was 20 years ago.


I’m proud to announce I’ve finally created something that can bring widespread social impact to the world. After 12 months of intensive development I have reached the most critical stage in my life’s goal mentioned above. The Beyond the Four Walls Endowment Fund- to rapidly bring life changing education to 1000’s of gifted teen women in Nepal whose burning ambition is for educational and humanitarian revolution. “Within The Four Walls” documentary has partnered with an Executive Producer: Rainstorm Entertainment, based in Beverly Hills.
Beyond the Four Walls officially launched 2 weeks ago American Apparel Shirt 100%proceeds to Beyond The Four Walls endowment fund
My end goal is to grant $20,000,000 (1 million t-shirts sales) to the most talented and at risk women in Nepal, to demonstrate the global force they can represent if educated.

The next 3 months are unique and critical. I have to seek public support one last time for administrative and other development costs. Now is the time to have the highest possible impact from a charitable investment.

B4W is designed to be sustainable, measure impact, operate on low overhead, and transfer management to top participants within 3 years.

Please take a 10 minutes to help create a miracle this holiday season- at the end of 2012 or in the infancy of 2013.
This is the last time I’ll need to ask for personal tax deductible donations. I’m working carefully with veteran grant writers and philanthropists to be eligible for a multimillion dollar grants
for my 3 year global budget in 3-6 months.

Aside from direct contributions, thanks to our fundraising partnership with the American Apparel,
if we sell 1,500 Beyond the Four Walls shirts the 3 month start up budget will be covered. ($30k).

Watch this message from Prathi 2010– 18 years old, who was married and pregnant with her second child less than 2 years after this message was recorded.
This project is entirely dedicated to her and the millions of literate young women like her in developing world with no money for education being silenced from arranged marriage every year.Robert E. Levin, the award winning innovator and author of the best selling 1st biography of Bill Clinton, has become my executive advisor to accelerate talented and disadvantaged girls in Nepal.

57% of women in Nepal are married before the age of 18 (UNICEF). In rural Nepal, as many as 69.7% of girls marry before the age of 15.

 
“I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century”
“We see women and girls across the world who are oppressed and violated and demeaned and degraded and denied so much of what they are entitled to as our fellow human beings.”
-Hillary Clinton
I’m asking for your help to help to strategically spread the word during the final days of 2012. 2013 is going to be a successful year but we are still in a stage where $500 (minimum tax deductible amount) will make a significant long term impact.If you want this cause to be successful, consider forwarding this message or compose your own version. Otherwise the easiest way to help is to buy the official shirt of the movement- 100% of proceeds will be used for educating girls in Nepal. 2012 was the year of Malala Yousafzai, and therefore the perfect year to contribute to empowering literate young women in developing countries and breathe life into her generations rapidly disappearing relevance once married. The world will be a better place if we help this historic generation of women- the first to be educated in their families.
Official SHIRT: http://store.americanapparel.net/product/?productId=2011spf
Donation Page: http://www.beyondthefourwalls.org/p/donate.html    
New 2min intro video: http://youtu.be/pf9Xe4HdxAY
new web site: http://www.beyondthefourwalls.org

The time of the most marriages is January/February, I am determined to be in Nepal by January, to start sponsoring as much education as possible (with t-shirt funds) to rapidly strengthen my proof and infrastructure for major grants and high profile partnerships in 2013 and beyond.

Thank you- attention and action from this message is monumental for the cause.

Attached is an image of the shirt and a letter from Sarada, the original B4W student, who I’ve personally sponsored fee’s for computer school since March 2012.
Happy Holidays and conclusion to an amazing 2012.

Thank You,
Wolf Price

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Heavenly Seduction is a Must Read Book

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Cherokee Billie wrote this astonishing book after living each page of it and you will not be able to put it down once you start. It is riveting. I started this book at 9PM and could not stop reading until 2AM. I was inspired after reading it as I realized how we are seduced into bizarre influences by advertising and religion. Reading about how the author was in love with a cult member and joined the group was fascinating: her struggles, emotions, and evolution are all here and how she got the strength to let it all go and walk her own path.

We all want to be loved. And I know you’ll be inspired to be the love you want after reading this book – if you read one book this month – discover Heavenly Seduction. You’ll be thrilled you did.

Read Cherokee Billie’s Book

And on Amazon also

CherokeeBillie.com check out her site, she has a powerful Youtube channel and information on psychic readings, connections and healings are here. I have been listening to her meditation and stress relief recording free every night on her Youtube channel and it always puts me to sleep. Sweet Dreams.