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Zunmod Hike



It’s hard to accurately describe the vastness of the Momgolian steppe and the feelings of isolation that arise when you hike out into them. It’s amazing.

Observations on Two Months of Travel

Tomorrow we leave Mongolia. That leaves less a month and four more countries before we finally head back to the States. It’s been a long road home and has made me all the more ready to get there. But I have learned a lot along the way.

Observations from the last two months:

  1. Travel more slowly
    We decided to do a whirlwind tour of eleven countries in 14 weeks, knowing full well that it’s likely the only time this will happen. Now, eleven weeks in I can say it is too fast for us.
  2. Good planning can prevent a lot of heartache
    I’m a planner. I can’t just “wing it,” hopping around the world and hoping things work out. But I did a lot of research before we left and it has helped prevent a lot of heartache. When we couldn’t get on the train from Agra, we took a bus instead. I know how much a cab fare to the airport costs, so when a taxi driver takes us on a joy ride, I can call him out on it.
  3. Humans really are amazing
    We have met some incredible people over the course of this trip. People who have welcomed us into our homes or made sure we were taken care of. We’ve also seen incredible and terrible things of which humans are capable, but also the resiliency that people have. We are pretty incredible.
  4. The world has changed
    A lot has changed since I went to Ethiopia thirty months ago. I’m constantly surprised by cell phones mostly, but also the internet. I’m not entirely sure if it’s just that the world has changed, or if it’s that I’m finally noticing things I hadn’t before.
  5. The value of money
    When you live on a very limited budget for 27 months, it can be hard to spend money again. This trip has been in good in that it’s slowly eased me into the idea that everything costs money. Potatoes are never going to cost 25 cents a kilo (2.2 lbs) again, hotels will never be $10 for a private room with hot shower and free wifi and don’t get me started on clothes. That everything seems expensive now just something I have to accept. It’s definitely a process throughout this trip (“That’s $15!! For one entree!”) and I am sure it will continue to be a process over the coming months.
  6. Travel is good for relationships
    Ryan and I have learned so much more about each other after two months on the road than we might have at home. Full-time travel is different from both our life in Ethiopia and will be different from our life in the States. It’s made me more excited than ever to share my life with him!

Preah Khan, Angkor

Preah Khan was my favorite of the Angkor temples. Not because it was the most beautiful in a classic sense, but because it was beautiful in it’s ruin. Time and the jungle had taken Preah Khan and reduced the grand temple complex into mostly rubble, but many beautiful carvings and statues remained.

Preah Khan was originally a Buddhist temple that was converted into a Hindu temple when Hinduism had a resurgence during the Khmer reign. The states and carvings of Buddha were altered to resemble Hindu gods.

This was also the temple that felt the most “India Jones”-ish to me, where you could escape the crowds and feel like you were exploring somewhere new.

Preah Khan 8 Lora KathleenPreah Khan Lora Kathleen Preah Khan 2 Lora Kathleen Preah Khan Buddha Lora Kathleen Preah Khan 4 Lora Kathleen Preah Khan 5 Lora Kathleen Preah Khan 6 Lora Kathleen Preah Khan 7 Lora Kathleen

Ta Prohm, Angkor

Ta Prohm is one of the more famous temples of Angkor after it’s role in the Laura Croft: Tomb Raider movie. You know, the temple with the massive tree overtaking the ruins?

We visited while the temple complex was under restoration and much of it closed off, including the most iconic shot, but it was still easy to spend some time there wandering among the collapsing ruins covered in trees.

Ta Prohm 3 Lora Kathleen Ta Prohm 2 Lora Kathleen Ta Prohm 4 Lora Kathleen Ta Prohm 5 Lora Kathleen Ta Prohm 6 Lora Kathleen Ta Prohm 7 Lora KathleenTa Prohm Lora Kathleen

The Time We Got Scammed in India

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The REAL Brown Bread Bakery sign (via TripAdvisor)

We are eight weeks into our trip (!!) and in about a week we’ll be finished with the Southeast Asia portion. SE Asia is infamous for the scams targeting tourists and, thankfully aside from a few rouge taxis, we have managed to avoid all but one.

That one is the knockoff-bakery-cum-fake-charity in Varanasi, India.

Brown Bread Bakery is a real restaurant in Varanasi (the first organic bakery and restaurant) that supports a real life charity called Learn for Life, proving education for impoverished children to help break the cycle of poverty. Read more about Brown Bread and Learn for Life here: http://bakerybreadbrown.blogspot.com/

Unfortunately, Ryan and I stumbled into a fake version. They have the similar signs and are a mere 10 meters down the road from each other. The fake Brown Bread has the same menu (although many items are “unavailable” since they aren’t actually a bakery) and will even take “donations” meant for Learn for Life, but pocket them instead! This fake restaurant is owned by the unscrupulous ex-business partners of the REAL Brown Bread who are just using the name of a good restaurant and charity to make more money for themselves.

I hope Karma takes notice.

We spent less than $10 at the fake Brown Bread, but it was still heartbreaking when we walked out to the real one and to find out the situation. The real Brown Bread has a rooftop seating area, four floors total, and a shop area on the ground floor selling muesli and other organic wares.

We didn’t do our research and have felt pretty down about it, but lesson learned.