Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Best Moments of Summer 2011

Eating my first delicious banh mi sandwich upon arriving in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was from a roadside vendor and cost 50 cents. The lady took fresh-baked french baguettes, sliced them open, and slathered them with a special mixture of sauces and pickled vegetables. She then quickly fried up a few eggs in a sizzling hot pan before slipping them into the sandwich. The best of roadside food, period.


Swimming in the infinity pool on top of Marina Bay Sands, the iconic 55 floor resort/casino/hotel in Singapore. The view of the cityscape in the light of the setting sun was breathtaking. The cool water contrasted perfectly with the blazing rays of the near-equatorial sun. Fun fact: did you know that in terms of revenue from gambling, Singapore has surpassed Las Vegas? It is number two in the world, only behind Macao. I had no idea.


Witnessing a beautiful wedding in the oldest cathedral in Manila, the San Agustin Cathedral. Here all the guests are turned around to view the procession of the bridal party, and later the bride. Everything, from the music, decor, outfits, as well as the cathedral itself, was breathtaking. We were just touring the building and stumbled across a balcony in the back from which we could view the ceremony. I must have stood by the railing for a good twenty minutes, watching the procession and waiting for the entrance of the bride.


Exploring the Monkey Forest in Ubud, the geographical and cultural heart of Bali, Indonesia. This lush forest was crawling with free roaming monkeys of all ages. There were little babies with their mothers as well as wizened old geezers. They warn you not to get too close to the animals and not to bring in any food, for good reason! These monkeys aren’t trained or domesticated. Despite their cute appearances, they are not afraid to attack you and your possessions!


Walking along Jonker Walk, a winding street full of food vendors, boutique shops, and souvenir places, in the historic center of Malacca, Malaysia. This place was so festive that we had to come back three times! We strolled slowly along the street, stopping and buying cheap night snacks whenever they looked appealing, and browsing all the wares in the cute little shops. The boutiques sold everything from unique clothing to local traditional foods to handmade jewelry. There was also a huge outdoor stage where old people sang Chinese karaoke in front of an eager crowd.


Boat ride in Bangkok, Thailand. The small boat was just big enough for our group of travelers. We rode along the main river, taking in the city, before turning into networks of small canals that led us past neighborhoods of houses standing on sticks and platforms. Bangkok is known as the Venice of Asia, if I recall correctly. The driver took us to temples and pagodas, as well as a wonderful floating market, before dropping us of at our final destination, the Grand Palace..


Watching the sunrise in Desaru, Malaysia. We dragged ourselves out of bed at six in the morning, in the dark, and wandered down to the beach, sleepy eyes trying to locate the first rays of day. Sure enough, the sun appeared, with its blinding rays. After we were sure that the sunrise was indeed over, we promptly settled onto beach chairs and took a nap until midday.


Of course, there are many other moments that I will always treasure, as well as some that I may have sadly forgotten already, but these were a few that stuck out to me. I met so many people, saw so many places, and learned a lot about the world around me, as well as about myself. One thing is for sure: I could not have asked for a better summer.

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