Angkor (say) Wat?

I promise that is the last time I will ever use the Angkor (say) Wat pun (maybe). Robbo had to leave the country (again) so I went ahead and left to – for a girls weekend in Siem Reap. I met up with a few ex-Perth expats, and one Perthian, for the weekend of the Angkor Wat Half-Marathon/ 10k run.  Girl’s trips are good for the soul, especially when they’re with girls as good as mine. I’m lucky (and tired) for this great weekend opportunity. It couldn’t be perfecter.

First things first we decided to sleep in, well get up just in time to eat the hotel’s breakfast buffet and then go back to sleep again. Then after being exhausted from some market shopping we laid by the pool for a few hours waiting for dinner time. After the much needed R&R we hopped on a tuk-tuk for temple day. We managed to sweat on a lot of amazing looking old temples – obviously not as much sweat as was put into building them eleventy billion years ago – but it was still impressive.

The next morning was race day. We didn’t have to leave until 5 am which means I got to sleep in until 4:15! Woo-hoo!! We joined to throng of tuk-tuks carrying runners tying up shoes and wiping sleep from their eyes. Thankfully we got there in time to wait in line at the port-a-loos long enough to make friends (other expats living in other SouthEast asian countries). I’ve never been at such a gorgeous race starting line – complete with the sun rising over Angkor Wat. This is the only race I’ve run in which almost everyone, including myself, kept stopping to take pictures. I mean come on, we literally got to run through the grounds of Angkor Wat! When we were done we loaded up on fresh coconut water (who needs it from the can) and our tuk-tuk driver found us in the crowd to take us home. We relaxed with the pool, massages and mexican food – the way it should be.

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Sunrise over Angkor Wat

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Ready, ready to run!

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One of many tuk-tuk rides

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Chilling, relaxin, acting all cool.

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Hon Ba Island and Mieu Ba

Remember when we went on the run to the Jesus Statue and has this view:

This View Here

This View Here

About two times per month it’s actually possible to walk to this island, the tide goes out and shows a strip of rocks. On Hon Ba island it is Mieu Ba (which means the “Lady Temple”). The temple was built in 1781 and to worship the Water Dragon Holy Lady. We were alerted to the tide being out recently so we quickly jumped down to the beach and started out walk. The walk was short and on slippery rocks. Thankfully I was smart and wore proper trainers while all of the Vietnamese wore flip flops and then I slipped and fell on the rocks and caused some pretty gnarly bruised hands and shins. The island was small and there was little to explore but it was pretty and provided new views of Vung Tau from what we are used to seeing. if you are keen to make the walk the tide is usually out around the beginning and the middle of the month. Make sure you make it out there in the early evening (4-5ish) so you don’t get stuck out the island when the tide comes back in!

Look - there's an island here!

Look – there’s an island here!

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The final steps!

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Hands post falling on slippery rocks

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View of Jesus Statue from the island

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Posing on the rocks

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Mieu Ba – the Lady Temple

We Run to Jesus – Literally

On top of a small mountain, 3km away from our house, there is a Giant Jesus (that’s what the Lonely Planet guidebook calls the statue). In fact the statue is called Christ of Vũng Tàu. The statue is 36 meters high (6 meters taller than the famous Brazilian) and has a wingspan of 18.3 meters. On Saturdays we like to bypass the gym and go on a nice run outside and running along the coast to Jesus seems like a good idea. The only issue is that you need to wear more appropriate clothes than running attire to go up to the statue so we packed some clothes in a backpack to throw on over our clothes. We set out on our run and as usual it was hot and humid. By the time we got to the base of the stairs to throw on our clothes we were pretty sweaty but we were ready to take the 900 steps up to the top.

As we were walking up the sweating continued, through my dress. I garnered more than a few stares and the jury’s still out if it was due to my appearance of a sweaty mess or a Westerner. As we got closer everyone else was starting to look quite sweaty too so we began to fit in. Once to the statue we decided to go up into the statue. The statue was definitely built for the average sized Vietnamese person, not the over-sized American person. We managed to squeeze up to the top and were rewarded with a beautiful view from his outstretched arms.

The view of Jesus from our house

The view of Jesus from our house

View from the base of the over 900 steps

View from the base of the over 900 steps

My awesome sweaty-ness

My awesome sweaty-ness

12 Apostles on the way up

12 Apostles on the way up

Moses and the Commandments

Moses and the Commandments

The final steps, almost there!

The final steps, almost there!

Windows within the statue, people were excited that I stopped to take a picture

Windows within the statue, people were excited that I stopped to take a picture

Jesus Christ of Vung Tau

Jesus Christ of Vung Tau

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A Beautiful Day For A Bush Walk

We’ve been going non-stop lately with Robbo’s racking up the frequent flyer miles and with having out of town guests (which I’ll write more about later!).  Saturday arrived and we found ourselves having a bit of downtime so we took full advantage of the bright shiny thing in the sky that had been hidden by rain recently and went on a hike.

Since I was preparing the hike details it was a morning scramble to locate maps, details and directions but we eventually made it to the Kitty Gorge walk in Serpentine Falls.  The hike is 14km return trip and once we finally figured out how to read the map it was only about 17kms.  It really was a gorgeous hike taking in the flora, waterfalls and other hikers taking selfies.

The Serpentine Falls themselves were a nice treat and I was able to feed a young Irish boy pretending to be a kangaroo some of my Honey Soy Chicken chips.  He also wanted some of my lollies but by then his horrified mother realized he was begging food from a stranger and summoned her children away for a picnic.  ( I should add that I was happy to share my food with him because it’s not every day you come across an Irish roo).

We made it back to our car about 5 hours after we started and then hobbled around for the rest of the evening remembering that hiking hurts more than just regular running.  All in all it was a perfect Perth day.

I kept pulling this map picture up many, many times on the hike

I kept pulling this map picture up many, many times on the hike

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No four leafers

No four leafers

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HIking selfie!

HIking selfie!

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I have not disappeared … I swear

Holla’ folks.  I just wanted to check-in and mention that I’m still alive and that I’m not ignoring my blogging “duties”.  We’ve been back in the good ol’ U.S. of A. and haven’t made the time to write.  This is partially because the first 5 days were spent in a jet-lagged/ time difference/ allergy assault on my body and I could only be seen wandering in and out of the Bagel Bin in a state of delirium.  I was however well fed.  In the meantime:

  • my family celebrated Thanksgiving (we attempted all of the other holidays that I’ll be absent for but we couldn’t figure out a good Christmas Carol that ended in “Trick or Treat”)
  • visited many quilting shops (yes, I’m 700 years old and a pioneer – I have never hid this fact ever on my blog)
  • ran a 1/2 Marathon with my pops and “Arolyn” (which I’ll write an entry about at a later date as I had the foresight to bring my camera along for the fun)
  • Rob had just enough time to get over the jet lag/ time difference before jetting back to Perth (thus leaving me alone in the US with the credit card …)
  • bought more quilting fabric (because it’s 1/2 the price than in AUS)
  • played a vicious game of hide and seek with four cheating rugrats
  • went to Chuck-e-cheese with aforementioned rugrats (pictures and post of this fun event also are later to come)
  • saw a mini-van veer off the road and into the front of a tractor store (it. was. awesome)
  • went to Wal*mart (come on, it’s what you do in Kirskville)
  • has been reminded how much camo is worn in the US (when not participating in activities that actually require camo)
I still have a week left of US fun … so wish me luck!
Oh yes, due to the 30 hours of travel I have another Book Review … In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin … I’m such a history dork that I once again was enthralled by the author of Devil in the White City and his research and insight of the Dodd family and the macabre changes going on around them from 1933-1938 in Berlin. I was also reminded that criticism is always easier with the hindsight vantage.
Year of Wonders – Sad. But I guess Monty Python corners the market on comedy when it comes to the plaque. I like the story in general and the main character (Anna). I really wanted to like the ending and was able to look past the Rector’s incredibly disappointing character accrediting my strong dislike to good authoring – but the rest of the ending just seemed so out of place it was hard to end with a feeling of closure. It was almost as though the epilogue of this and another book were accidentally switched at birth … or the printing press. 

I’ve Converted

Fine, I’ve done it – it’s official – I’ve converted to the Imperial System.  I think part of my hesitation to do so had to do with the misconception that it had to do with Star Wars – another thing I also don’t understand.

Here’s why … with most things in my life it had to do with running.

Rob and I ran our first Aussie 10k this weekend.  For the first time I attended a race and wasn’t surrounded with a bunch of people trying to figure out how many miles were in a 10k/ 5k.  There also weren’t mile markers – which is just confusing to mark a 10k race for a distance of 6.2 miles – it ends at a nice and even 10 – no extras.  This proves to be fantastic for people who are slightly OCD.

Another benefit was that it looks like you’re running faster! (yes, I realise that the km is a shorter distance – but I am a fan of falsely inflating my self confidence.  It is also why I have thoroughly enjoyed weighing myself in Kilos.  At 2.2 kilos per pound I “appear” to weigh less – and I can’t figure out the lb conversion due to my missing head calculator so it makes me a happy person!) Don’t question my theories – they work just fine.

Although I had some slight hesitation I looked around and figured to heck with it, when in Rome, and switched my Garmin from Miles to Kilometers.

Book Review: “The Postmistress”.  There were a lot of good reviews in the book cover and the back of the book.  It was a decent read I guess.

How T-Shirt Becomes a Quilt

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Pre-move is a fantastic time to play “Hoarders” and donate a bunch of stuff to charity give ex-stuff to friends or throw it out.  One thing I’ve accumulated over the years (although it’s not many years given that I’m only 21)  are race tee-shirts.  A benefit of signing up for races is a committment to physical fitness that with the $30 – $110 fee they give you a FREE oversized heavy cotton tee shirt with a fantastic race logo and a barrage of sponsors plastered on the back.  Over time these have accumulated to a monumental stack of shirts that I never wear given the amount of money I’ve blown invested on technical running gear.  Since we are trying to reduce the amount of stuff we have I decided I (my mom and I) should make a quilt out of my old shirts.

She is a fantastic quilter.  Really, she is, it isn’t just something I tell myself to rationalize why my childhood bedroom no longer has a single memory of me living in it and instead resembles a fabric store.  And if you read this post <yup, this post here> you’ll remember that she was the driving force behind large quantities of jalepeno jelly.  She provided all of the direction and we started working.  (For the record, my sister’s account of this project may tend to minimize my role in the quilt creation and that the burden was shouldered by my mother.  This in fact is incorrect and she’s a giant liar-liar pants on fire).  We began cutting/ ironing shirts and watched Secretariat well into the night … (well, my mom kept working, I went to bed because I was sleepy)

The next day included selecting fabrics, organizing the squares into an agreeable pattern (think “color sodoku”), and pieced it all together.  I provided moral support and watched HGTV while my mom took the sewing lead … My mom continued to work on the quilt on Sunday after church while I assisted my sister with making dinner (once again she may have a different account of my actual level of assistance – but the important thing is that dinner was made).  After many, many hours I now have a fantastic new quilt to take on to Perth with us instead of a giant rubbermaid bin of old tee shirts sitting in storage.

Book Review: The Weird Sisters.  Delightfully wonderful, fantastically written.  Even better if you have a sister or are a fellow bibliophile.