Flying High Above Angkor

The feeling of flying high above Angkor Wat and other temples is one that I will never forget as long as I live. I can imagine that so much of the landscape has not changed in 1,000 years.

If you come to Siem Riep, please, please do this. I did a 15-minute one with a wonderful pilot with a great name (Annie!), from Helicopters Cambodia.

It's an exhilarating high.

Another temple 

 

La Residence d'Angkor - Cambodia

I had only been married a couple of months when I stayed at this stunning hotel in Siem Riep, Cambodia and I was so sad my husband wasn't with me!

It is just an absolutely gorgeous place in every way - the rooms that cosset you after days of temple trekking and humid, hot air, the peaceful central pool, a relaxing spa, and a second-floor outdoor bar with warm air breezing through at night.

It's about a 15-minute tuk tuk ride to Angkor Wat - the only way to travel in style! And it's removed from the craziness of Siem Riep, which is the size of a small town but feels like a big city.

Still, you can wander along the Siem Riep river for ten minutes and be right on Pub Street (college backpacker heaven along with some hidden gems).

You can wander the other way for a lovely walk in the small Royal Gardens - I had an idea that I would go and read a book in the gardens. But of course I didn't need the book - I went and people-watched - even better.

Or...this might be the most tempting option of all - lay out by that pool, one of the most beautiful ones I've seen in all of the world, and think "I can't believe I'm in Cambodia!"

Side note: I will forever be grateful to this hotel and the general manager for taking care of me when I got super, super sick on my last night before I flew home. This bed looked slightly different after I checked out...and for that, I owe them big time.

My room service bill was something like $85 in apple juice because that's all I could get down! This is the glamorous side of traveling people - When all you want is a McDonald's milkshake, your own bed, and a DVR of shows to catch up on - this is not a bad second place to be.

And one day, I'm going back with Andy.

Beautiful rainbow

Angkor Wat - Was I Actually There?

angkorannie.JPG

Looking back on these photos, I can't believe it was me at Angkor Wat - a place that I (and I'm sure all of us!) have dreamed of visiting since first obsessively reading history and geography books as a kid (was that just me?).

I wrote in much greater detail about my experiences on National Geographic - and the problems facing this temple and all of Siem Riep as its popularity increases every year - but I wanted to share some more personal photos.

angkorsunrise.JPG

I first went at sunrise with a group and guide - and aside from how jawdropping it was to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat, it was a little disappointing.

There were hordes of people. We were on a schedule to get to other temples and so I didn't get enough time. But instead of the tempting nap (because of the crazy early wake-up call to watch sunrise), I returned on my own later that afternoon, taking a tuk-tuk from Siem Riep, and it was everything I wanted it to be.

angkorcrowds.JPG
angkorside.jpg
angkorpool.JPG

No matter what, visiting Siem Riep, Angkor Wat, and the other (even more incredible) temples is a fulfillment of a long held travel dream.

The term life-changing is often overused - was it life-changing? Yes and no. Whenever we see a place, we can't help but be altered. It is impossible to return home unchanged.

And, in the end, I just can't believe I was there. I can't believe this is my work.

angkorwat.JPG

Angkor Wat at sunset

Reflections on a Another Big Adventure

Last big trip of 2013 - Cambodia! Angkor Wat at sunset

Last big trip of 2013 - Cambodia! Angkor Wat at sunset

Looking back, I actually can't believe it was ME that went to all of these places - a whirlwind of new friends, countless airports, amazing hotels, time with family & friends, thousands of miles traveled by car, plane, helicopter, train, and foot, & many pieces written. It is beyond my wildest dreams where my life and job have taken me in the past few years (reflections on 2011 & 2012).

Thank you for giving me YOUR travel tips, following along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and making me feel less lonely when I'm thousands of miles from home.

This year's adventures - in chronological order:

Winter in the Hamptons

Winter in the Hamptons

Breakfast at Hotel Bel-Air in L.A.

Breakfast at Hotel Bel-Air in L.A.

Rocco came with us to D.C., too! 

Rocco came with us to D.C., too! 

Back in the Hamptons

Back in the Hamptons

Brussels was surprisingly awesome

Brussels was surprisingly awesome

Bruges, Belgium - like Disneyland, but still cute

Bruges, Belgium - like Disneyland, but still cute

Loved this B&B, La Vigie, near the town of Spa, Wallonia - Belgium

Loved this B&B, La Vigie, near the town of Spa, Wallonia - Belgium

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

 Tel Aviv - a fast-paced, cool, changing-by-the-minute city

 Tel Aviv - a fast-paced, cool, changing-by-the-minute city

A complicated, beautiful city to explore - Jerusalem.

A complicated, beautiful city to explore - Jerusalem.

Adorable goats at Mizpe Hayamim in the Israel countryside.

Adorable goats at Mizpe Hayamim in the Israel countryside.

Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor

One of many Connecticut weekends

One of many Connecticut weekends

 I loved this exhilirating, gorgeous city - Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 I loved this exhilirating, gorgeous city - Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Emerald Coast of Brazil and Ponta dos Ganchos Resort.

The Emerald Coast of Brazil and Ponta dos Ganchos Resort.

With my dad at the Cliffs of Moher.

With my dad at the Cliffs of Moher.

My entire family rented a house outside Galway for a week.

My entire family rented a house outside Galway for a week.

Wedding in the Catskills.

Wedding in the Catskills.

Back in genteel, lovely Charleston, South Carolina.

Back in genteel, lovely Charleston, South Carolina.

One of my favorite places on the planet, Kiawah Island.

One of my favorite places on the planet, Kiawah Island.

A major highlight - attending the Coronation Festival & concert at Buckingham Palace in London.

A major highlight - attending the Coronation Festival & concert at Buckingham Palace in London.

A couple of days on the Isle of Wight, England.

A couple of days on the Isle of Wight, England.

Eloped and went to Paris for ten days.

Eloped and went to Paris for ten days.

Labor Day - Hiking in my hometown on Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Labor Day - Hiking in my hometown on Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, Arizona.

The start of two weeks in Mexico - Imanta Resort, Punta de Mita.

The start of two weeks in Mexico - Imanta Resort, Punta de Mita.

LOVED joyful Mexico City - and this seafood restaurant, Contramar.

LOVED joyful Mexico City - and this seafood restaurant, Contramar.

I want to go to Cabo every year - at Las Ventanas al Paraiso.

I want to go to Cabo every year - at Las Ventanas al Paraiso.

Oxford made me want to go back to school. 

Oxford made me want to go back to school. 

Barnsley House in the Cotswolds.

Barnsley House in the Cotswolds.

View from St. Paul's Cathedral on a sunny, cold London day.

View from St. Paul's Cathedral on a sunny, cold London day.

Teaching a travel writing workshop at Four Seasons Costa Rica.

Teaching a travel writing workshop at Four Seasons Costa Rica.

Mystical Laos - Southeast Asia

Mystical Laos - Southeast Asia