What I’ve Learned After 7 Years of Full-time Travel

 

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How did I get here in Chiang Mai, Thailand drinking smoothies every morning being happy and grateful to be alive?

I didn’t listen to people telling me I was nuts. Who said, “You shouldn’t go to that country because you can’t be sure of being safe.”

30 countries later I’m still going strong!

My eyes have been opened so wide it almost hurts to see the world without sunglasses. The light is so brilliant — its hard for me to see that at one time I didn’t have this life.

 You can have it too. I know what you’re thinking. Actually we think too much. And you can think yourself right out of doing anything if you give it too much of your attention.

1. Attention is a gift.

That’s the first thing I learned. Whatever you set your mind on blossoms and takes off.

Works the same with negativity and voices in your head telling you can’t do something. If you listen then you can’t do it. Put your attention on what you want to happen. Act as if it all ready is happening. 

Say you signed up for a Women’s Only coach on a train in India and you get on the train at 2AM and find out your coach is full of only men. You either leave or accept it.

They didn’t listen when I told them to stop smoking and cut the chatter crap so I could sleep but thats another story.

2. Time is not the hours on the clock face.

Time is your life span from birth to dying. What do you want to do with your time?

I want to travel and see the world. Work and play all over the globe.

Take the first baby step and the universe opens up to you. I didn’t believe this either at first but it miraculously happens when you decide to walk towards your Big Dream.

3. Money is attracted to boldness and magic.

Yes you can be a location independent entrepreneur. You can do your job on the road, you can teach English in almost any country on earth and get paid for it, you can have an online business, and you can teach belly dancing. I teach photography all over the world and write books.

And I have a magazine in the itunes store Vagabond Travel Photography Mag. Discover the world and learn how to take Amazing photographs Go see it here.

4. The Unknown is Your Friend

I used to plan too much. “Honey why can’t you meet me in Colombia in February – how come you don’t know when you’ll be there?” I said to my son who has been to 50 countries. I’ve only been to 30, I gotta catch up.

Now I know why, because I’m not planning either.

Less planning is more fun.

5. You never know what is around the next corner or who you’ll  meet today changing your life instantly. Today you might decide you gotta go to Bali to work on your surfing skills. I don’t stay on the board too long so I need practice.

Or I need to photograph Ladakhi people high in the Himalayas and how they live life, or teach yoga to women in Nepal living in mud huts. Or go live in an igloo, ashram, temple, seaside bungalow, or tent.

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And you can do it!

 

Your mind is malleable. It may be more flexible than your body. Get inspired by people who are living the life you want to live and open the ethers in your soul.

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How do you do that?

 

You stay fresh, eat fruits and veggies, relax and be like a kid. Open to everything but if it feels off you walk away.

 

Being Happy Inside my Skin. This may be the title of my next book.

 

And then being so happy and grateful that you can give things, time, love to others.

That’s the secret to success. It’s not money or big achievements and awards.

I’ve done a lot of things I set out to do, but with many more I want to discover, I expand every day and want to leap into the fresh waters of the unknown; I see that time is this — it’s what our spirit loves doing and being. It could be meditation, travel, teaching but whatever it is the message is live today like you will die today. Because we will die. And it could be today so lets live at a higher exalted octave than we ever have before.

1. Be inspired by the birds singing. I hear them right now off my terrace in Thailand. They know how to fly. So can we.

2. Sleep enough – then your skin looks better and you have energy.

3. Move that amazing body of yours – yoga, walking, surfing, swimming, skateboarding just do it. You don’t have to motorbike across 4 lines of roaring traffic praying today like I did. Go walk around a lake with no cars intruding.

4. Take steps towards your dreams. Don’t give up.

Your new mantra: You can do it, you can do it, and you can do it.

Thank you for your enthusiasm, attention, and beauty, I am grateful to all you darling hearts – you have been there for me, and I couldn’t have done it without you.

Love, Dream, Discover,

Mary

8 Things to Do in India

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You won’t be reading about the Taj Mahal here. Now, I’m not saying don’t go. But I’d like to inspire you to have experiences in India you can’t have anywhere else but in India.

India confounds me, trips me up, shakes me to the core, and blasts my preconceived ideas every time I show up here. It’s a good thing. My heart is drawn to the Himalayas and this is where I have spent all of my 4 visits here; for months at a time in the northern most states of Ladakh, Himachel Pradesh and Sikkim.

This is where I am called to go.

Don’t go to India for less than a month like I did on my first trip. You’ll soon see that you need at least 6 months to dive into this vast country. But don’t see it all – pick any one of these 8 things to do and you could easily stay in that place for many weeks as I’ve done and I never felt it was too much time in one location.

You realize how much India affects you after you leave her. Just like an old lover. You realize how good they are after its over. And once that happens you’ll keep coming back for more.

I still haven’t seen the Taj Mahal… it’s on my list but I never seem to get to it.

Here’s what has inspired me to stay in India and discover her secrets. Enjoy the journey, you don’t know where it will lead you but that’s most of the fun!

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 Tikse Monastery in Ladakh

High in the ethers of the Himalayas is this ancient monastery. Just down the street is Hemis monastery, so old that even Jesus visited it. You can stay here at Tikse (near Leh) for about $6 a night and the view is drop dead incredible. You even get a bed. The monks do their morning chanting and you can join them or not. Food at the monastery isn’t bad either. Go and go now, this place has a celestial feeling that flows through your veins. Your feet just might lift off the ground. See my video here.

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Go to the International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Ashram. Its the first week of March every year and has a full line up of amazing teachers from all over the world. I have gone to the festival twice. It changed my life. You’ll enjoy being on the banks of the Ganges River in the holy section of Rishikesh, in Ram Jula. Saints and sages have walked here. You can too.

Go to the Golden Temple in Amritsar,

Dharamsala to see the Dalai Lama and

Sikkim, a Northern state of India filled with forests, on the backside of Mount Everest.

Check it out.

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The Golden Temple in Amritsar will knock your eyes out. Here it is in all her midnight glory. Yes that is really gold leaf!

Go see a teaching of the Dalai Lama. ImageYou will be blessed by his love radiance and we all need that.

See more photography of the Dalai Lama and get it for your own delicious projects.

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The Truth About Meditation in India

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Now that I am immersed in no electricity, no TV, no wifi, and no cheese either I have a different perspective. I cannot dash out and get a rich cup of brewed coffee right now. If I want that I have to walk far into the sunshine on a winding path through rice fields with buffalo plowing the earth. I don’t want it that badly.

I have been staying at the Thosamling Buddhist Institute for Women and I have not left this sacred soil in 10 days. There is no traffic, no tooting horns, no crappy music, and no yelling. It’s Slow Here.

When I am in the USA I am reminded that Results and Speed are what matter. There is no process. We have to achieve and be successful Right Now. But try telling that to these butterfly pupas – they are on their way to being butterflies. They will break out and fly. In their own time.

We forget that.

Before I got my first publishing contract for a book I wrote, Everyday Naked, I wrote for 5 years and didn’t tell anyone about it. I just wrote.

When I wanted to show my writing to someone other than my dog I put together a book proposal and went to a writers retreat where I met my publisher.

Interesting, how a few people reacted when I told them about the book being published. Most people were happy for me but I also heard, “Did you know someone?” or “I didn’t know you wrote” which means I didn’t know so how could you be an author all of a sudden.

Because it wasn’t all of a sudden. They didn’t see me in my room writing every day being in my pupa stage. When it was time to bust out I flew out of my cocoon. But I was in there for 5 years writing every day.

And now after a bazillion years of meditating, (OK it’s been 25 years) I still am learning how to do it. Maybe when you try it you’ll get to a more profound level in less time but I’m only just seeing that some how what I was doing before was daydreaming while meditating and I’m very good at daydreaming.

So I’m still in my pupa stage when it comes to meditation. And mindfulness. But one thing I am learning is to be more gentle with myself, and less goal-minded which is difficult to drop. Why?

Because we are supposed to be PhD’s in everything we attempt and this kind of Western logic takes a while to drop. So the photo of the pupas helps me. Every one of us is a butterfly in the making. We’re all in this together – we’re all pupas. It’s easier for me to see this in Asia where I can happily live without a Mercedes Benz and have a more relaxed attitude about time.

You don’t have to go to the Himalayas to see this but it sure helped me to go without all my comforts to start to see that we are all the same. And that’s why when the Dalai Lama is out teaching in the world he doesn’t just talk to the luminaries like Richard Gere, he talks to the hotel staff, the old people waiting for hours to catch a glimpse of him, and to the babies who don’t even know His Holiness they are just playing outside while their parents wait for him. I’ve seen him do it. And it makes my heart glad.

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I was blessed and grateful to be at the teachings this year in Dharamsala, India and to have a press pass to photograph the Dalai Lama. The best part of being there was that he directly teaches me to be happy being a pupa, not just the butterfly. By his example watching him interact with people he shows how to Go Slow and not be Fast. He seems to forget his bodyguards pressing in protecting him and reaches out to people and holds their hands reminding me to do the same.

Butterfly on Green Leaf

Butterfly on Green Leaf

10 Reasons to Quit Your Job Now

My New Backyard in Belize

10 Reasons to Quit Your Job Now

The Dalai Lama said, “Asians don’t know how to worry.”

He must have noticed that people in the USA are about to have heart attacks from thinking too much.

I have the solution. Quit your job and leave the West behind – spread your wings and fly!

Here’s my list to inspire you:

1.You’ll get younger (not older.) Studies have shown, keep learning

and you won’t age. Those brain cells need revitalizing.

2.Stress kills, quit, and find something you love

3.Go live in another country. It costs less than staying in the USA working.

For example:

My rent per month in 2012 in all the countries I lived in this year:

Belize: $450 for a shack – it was on the Caribbean Sea, folks!

Guatemala: $300 for a lovely house with private terrace overlooking Lake Atitlan utilities included.

Tulum, Mexico: renting a clean basic room on the Yucatan a few kilometers from the sea for $20 per night or if you like rustic, $8 per night for a hostel or camping on the beach, same price. I liked the beach until I got rained out.

Half Moon Bay, California $600 for 2 weeks for a small 2-room house walking distance to the glorious beach.

Bangkok, Thailand: fully loaded hotel room – AC, own bathroom, king-size bed, wifi in room, proper air flow, quiet and all for $21 per night.

Loei, Thailand in Issan. Room in guesthouse: use of kitchen, wifi in room, fan only, kind family, shared spotlessly clean bathroom, $6 per night.

Chiang Mai, Thailand: Guesthouse $12 per night; wifi in room, AC, fridge, good bed, Quiet.

Pai, Thailand Best Deal of the Year: $200 per month (incl. utilities) for my own house in Pai with a breathtaking view of the sunset, quiet, mountains, hot springs, and clouds floating by (no wifi in the house, no AC, I loved it!)

So the high cost is no longer an issue.

$200 US dollars per month folks!

$200 US dollars per month folks!

4. Don’t think about it – just dive in. Luangpo my meditation master and spiritual friend in Loei, Thailand says, “You thinking, thinking, you aren’t in Thailand. Look at heart, look at body.” It’s all about the moment.

Anything you have to think about for too long usually doesn’t work.

5. You discover the wonder inside you by slicing off the past.

There is nothing familiar: no anchors to hold on to — you are free floating.

I’m not saying the past is bad. Just that the Past is Over. The Present is where it’s.

6. What do you live on?

You live on your wits.

You can volunteer and receive room and board

You can give massages, cook, teach yoga/meditation, English, you can do it!

I currently, teach photography, yoga and meditation, write and shoot for Vagabond Magazine, and get hired to shoot photographs.

Set up a business for tourists – guiding, teaching.

Run an Internet business

Do the business you are doing now as a consultant from Asia, Belize, or Fez, Morocco.

Teaching yoga on the Caribbean in Belize

7. “I’ll do it next year”never happens.

Once you do it – you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

Teaching Meditation in Pai, Thailand

8. OK you do have to pay back your bills before doing it. So did I.

Now I have one bill: for my storage unit back in California for my photography/art stuff, china dishes from my Mom, glassware and artifacts.

9. Being free is a choice. Choosing to be happy is also a choice. I choose happiness every day even when I’m feeling bratty.

Santa Cruz, Guatemala terrace of my home overlooking Lake Atitlan

10. Invest in your self. Rather than the stock market or a house.

Give your self the option of re-inventing yourself. Only you can do it – no one else will do it for you.

Dharmasala, india View from my bedroom

Jump in! Don’t think about it. Bathe in the sweet waters of wonder and awe.

Write and tell me what you feel and how you will implement your new plans!

Me, teaching yoga in Belize

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Secrets of Myanmar

Falling in love with Burma made my heart fly. It’s still working its magic on me even though I’m now in Kathmandu, Nepal. I cannot forget it and I’m happy to share it with you too.

I just finished my latest issue of Vagabond on Myanmar and its overflowing with:

What No One Tells You About Burma, Meditating and Motorbiking in Myanmar, 169 photograph, Photography Advice for shooting on your own world adventures or your backyard and tips I learned in the 29 days I was visiting this Astonishing Country. Here’s the cover. Check it Out!

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The best things about Burma: the friendly people. They help you find your destination while on the city bus, are over the top excited to be in pictures with you and chat about your life. Astounding level of consideration and tenderness! They know you are a tourist and therefore don’t know much about anything in Burma.

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And the spirituality is everywhere. People are not caught up in only achieving. They are meditating, praying, and being kind. That’s my kind of religion –  not really a religion, but a way of life. See the video here to get inside Shwedagon Pagoda!

Yangon, the finest and most ethereal temple I have ever seen in my life.

Yangon, the finest and most ethereal temple I have ever seen in my life.

Shwedagon Pagoda is my favorite place to go in Yangon. Being there at sunset was divine, the candles were glowing and I was blessed to see two full moons there. This is not Photoshop – this is the real deal.Full Moon at Shwedagon, YangonAnd Eating! I asked a local in Bagan where do you go to eat?

This is what I got, vegetable curry with rice for $2.

All these plates are for me. Can you believe it? And they weren’t done bringing out the food, more arrived that I could not identify  but if you want to see it all on video go here

Go to Nu War restaurant in Bagan for real Myanmar food. At non-tourist prices.

Go to Nu War restaurant in Bagan for real Myanmar food. At non-tourist prices.

Bagan is mystical – you can’t believe how many temples there are – this one made me veer off the road while I was biking and go see its gorgeous-ness up close.

Sunset in the temples.

Sunset in the temples.

One thing about Mandalay is the great food. I went to a local place that opens at 5AM for the real people who work and live here. And you’ll pay the same price as them – its about 50 US cents for a bowl of rice, egg, and chicken which the restaurant routinely ran out of but here is the place and the cute kids who are the waiters. And it had great Burmese tea. Stay at the Nylon Hotel and ask about the local place three blocks away that opens at 5AM – I don’t know the name of it. They had no sign.

Tea and Noodles in Mandalay

Delicious Food, Adorable Waiters, and 1950s prices

Delicious Food, Adorable Waiters, and 1950s prices

Mandalay Morning Market

And the Mandalay morning market is not to be missed! It is churning with color and vibrancy. The girl above is making a fish dish similar to that traditional seafood dish in Thailand. I didn’t taste it as I am a bit cautious when it comes to seafood especially when its raw. I don’t need to throw up now so I usually steer clear just to be safe.

Give me an apple and I’m happy.

More Photographs here

Banana at the Mandalay MarketI love bananas so I got excited seeing this. Its the perfect food except that it does not travel well. My bananas end up getting crushed on the bus and I don’t have any yogurt or a  blender so I can’t make a smoothie. The other most perfect food.

Girl at Mandalay Market This girl was at the Mandalay Market selling her coconuts – my third favorite food. You can drink ’em, chew ’em and decorate your house with the palm leaves. Whats not to like?

Don't miss Kandawgyi Botanical Park in Pyinoolwin - you'll think you died and went to heaven!

Don’t miss Kandawgyi Botanical Park in Pyinoolwin – you’ll think you died and went to heaven!

If you want Jaw-Drop Gorgeous head straight to Pyinoolwin 2 hours from dusty chaotic Mandalay and luxuriate in Orchid Heaven — Kandawgyi Botanical Garden is now one of my most favorite places on earth. Check it out here in the video.

The cool weather, fresh yogurt, and slow pace in this hill station made me relax and stop moving. Suddenly all I had to do was walk around smiling at people, drinking tea, and chatting with locals. I did not see anyone rushing in the 4 days I was there.

Wish I could have stayed longer but you only get a 28 day tourist visa in this luscious country – you can’t see it all so get a business visa, which is a 70-day pass for Burma, if you can get it.

Its easier to get visas in Cambodia, that’s where I got my Myanmar tourist visa. There were no lines –  its a small office in Phnom Penh and it took only 5 days to get.

I over stayed one day in Burma (fine is $3 per day) as I could not tear myself away. You pay the fine at the airport when it is discovered by the officials they don’t even ask you why they just want their 3 bucks.

My last night I was at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon – I did not want to leave but my visa was up. Going higher up in the mountains to Kalaw and the oceanside towns will be my next trip there. My advice is to go now, discover its untrammeled beauty, and let me know what secrets you find out.

Check out Vagabond Travel Photography Mag here

monksatmarketSee my photography store and more Photographs from Myanmar and the 29 other countries I have visited in the last 7 years – indulge yourself and go for a ride – you may be buying a plane ticket soon!

Kindly, Mary

My Life as a Child

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I wondered when I would leave home to explore the world but I was only four years old.

I had to wait until I was at least nine.

So I just kept riding my orange push-pedal fire engine around the block knowing that one day I would fly free.

For fun, I would walk downtown to the city library and get lost in the stalls reading books and smelling the rarified air of literature. There was adventure in those books. Wild wonderful global explorations that called to my heart.

I’d be exploring when I got taller. But for now I could read the book, Mary Poppins and how she floated from cloud-to-cloud and visited worlds I could only imagine.

Someday I would discover the world just like her.

Arrive when and where I wanted to then float off to a new place.

I brought home armloads of books and was determined to read every book I found interesting. I started reading before kindergarden because I wanted to discover the worlds beyond my own boundaries of Canandaigua, an Upstate, New York, Finger Lakes town.

Canandaigua was bursting with colonial houses and wide front porches, full attics and large basements. It was the land of snowflakes freshly falling on every Christmas morning guaranteed. Sleigh rides, snowball fights, and building forts in the heaps of snow.

It was a good place to grow up.

But it was so cold my face froze one winter and I had a large patch of red on my cheeks when I drank alcohol for years. After I moved to the tropics my face returned to normal.

My cheeks had thawed.

I knew I wanted to be an artist but kept it to myself in my medically inclined professional family.

My bestfriend Cherie and I hatched a plan to run away on a motorcycle with one suitcase bungeed to the back – off we would go in to the rarefied air of world exploration.

Today I bungeed my rolling suitcase to the back step of a red truck – a pickup-like affair transporting people in Thailand to their destination for cheap – 50 cents a ride. They did not charge me the inflated tourist price so I gave him more than a 100% tip after he helped me move my luggage in the pouring rain off the truck.

The drivers never do that – I’ve been in Thailand 6 times and that is just not done.

So I have arrived!

I just realized right this minute that my deepest dream I held in my heart as a child has come true.

If you want to see my gallery of photography click here

Me with my sisters - I am on the lower right showcasing the black poodle on my new dress

Me with my sisters – I am on the lower right showcasing the black poodle on my new dress

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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.