21 Apr Cambodia & Myanmar
I’m sorry I’ve been so behind on my blogging. I’ve had many incredible adventures the past two months but, with a combination of limited wifi and a whirlwind romance, my blog has taken a back seat. Like, third row seating in a mini van back-seat. Thank you for all of your Instagram likes and comments, I will be catching up on blogs in the coming weeks! May is a slow travel month for me so I plan to catch up on sleep, and write.
First let’s all take a moment to be extremely grateful to the US and Europe for awesome wifi! I’ll never take fast wifi and Netflix streaming for granted ever again!
Secondly, let’s talk about love. Every person I’ve met on my travels has met someone special, either a romantic fling on an exotic beach, or something more. I was lucky and I got the second option. It’s said that when you meet someone when you’re traveling you meet them at your most true self, you’re away from family and friends, the stresses of life, you are relaxed and you have an open mind to accept and learn about someone new.
Two months ago I met the most incredible man on that dumpy island in Panama I wrote about. The only non-dumpy thing about it was him. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him, and his eyes, they were like steel blue beams piercing my skin. I honestly thought he was actually the hottest man I’d ever seen in real life, I almost asked excuse me are you a magazine advert, can I touch you to see if you’re a real human? Luckily, he thought I was hot too, phew!
We sat next to each other, our bodies lightly grazing each other, at the hostel restaurant where I was staying and we both said that was the electricity that lit our fire. Being an outgoing American and a solo traveler, I usually start conversations, and I’m so glad I evoked discussion when I asked where he was from. He and his friend were from Munich, my old home. I instantly felt connected to him. I spent 2.5 years living in Munich and part of my heart has always been there. Boulder, Colorado is my home, but Munich, Germany is my second home. Sparks flew and we spent as much time as we could together in Panama, at the beach, at some dumpy bars, and watched the sunrise together on the morning of his flight back home. After he left, I felt at ease, excited but peaceful because I knew I would see him again, that something brought us together and we would be together again.
I toured South America with him in my pocket, every moment I shared with him on Whatsapp, FaceTime, Instagram. We were electronically inseparable, whining when I had poor wifi, which was often. He still has a normal life – you know like a job and a home – so as soon as he got the time off of work he bought a ticket to Cambodia to meet me, the homeless nomad. Everyday we longed and talked about our reunion in Asia. I was so excited to see him I even bought a pair of heels, breaking my two-pairs-of-shoes rule! I also bought more makeup, breaking another rule to be makeupless for a year. Whatever, he met me with a bare face and a saggy sports bra so he at least deserved lipstick and
blue black eyeliner.
We long fell in love with each other before our reunion. But finally, after an agonizing seven weeks apart, we met at the Bangkok airport and it was like a dream. We both had overnight flights arriving at the same time in the morning. My flight landed early so I finished immigration and collected my luggage and waited nervously for him. I started seeing the red passports of his country trickling through and my senses heightened. I saw him walk through immigration in his jeans, white t-shirt and smart glasses. This vision is forever seared into my memory, the beauty of him in this moment is something I’ll remember for a lifetime. My heart skipped several beats as I tried to stand in the heels I wasn’t accustomed to wearing. I walked toward him and we embraced each other for so long. To finally be together again, to physically be together. The world stopped.
We just held each other without moving for several minutes. My whole body was shaking with excitement and adrenaline, but he was steady as he had been since the day we met. In this moment I felt whole, completed, calm, and utterly relieved. To see this one person again was the single most beautiful moment of my whole life. I wanted to stay there in that moment forever, I breathed him in as deeply as I could, I closed my eyes and let my feelings pour into him. I felt like I could pass away because my life had been completed; I would’ve died that day with no regrets, no stone unturned. The love I so greatly desired was with me, all encompassing, fulfilling and beaming like a blinding ray of sun between our hearts.
We had a connecting flight to Cambodia so we waited a few hours in Bangkok together. Neither of us hungry or thirsty, only completely fulfilled with each other’s presence. The airport had these huge chaise lounges and we laid on them facing each other, our bodies shaped like a heart listening to our songs – teenage Whitney made us a playlist, only it was on Spotify, not a CD. We didn’t need to speak much, only relish in the beautiful time in each other’s presence we so desperately craved since we last parted. I often cry when I’m happy, so tears slid down my face as I smiled and held his hand. He stared at me and one single tear slid from his left eye. To have your feelings completely felt and reciprocated by another is an indescribable feeling. My whole mind was clouded with him, I couldn’t see or feel anything around us, only him. I waited 29 years for this moment.
We continued on to Cambodia and saw so many things, we spoiled ourselves with a suite at the park Hyatt (thanks to the points guy), and we saw Angkor Wat the next afternoon. The main attraction was a little hectic but we found a small temple with a long bridge. We sat on the bridge, our feet dangling over the swampland as dragon flies hummed around us. We looked into the abyss of empty land in front of us and sat in awe of each other. That was more special than the grand temple itself.
Later that night after an afternoon in the blistering heat we got ready and I put my makeup and his favorite outfit of mine on. Our hotel had these large swings that were also tables, that night after we ate dinner, we laid in the swing talking about everything. We talked until the exhaustion of jet lag set in.
During our trip we spent so much time just looking at and admiring the other. We flew to Sihanoukville to see the beaches of Cambodia in the clear waters of the gulf of Thailand. We took a boat tour to the islands where we met a family and they asked if we were engaged, we both laughed and he told our story. It was so sweet to hear his perspective, he said that if I didn’t need surgery earlier this year we would’ve never met. Almost grateful that I had to go home for an operation to change my route to cross paths with him. They listened intently, and the older ones and gave us advice. It was flattering to see that the light in us was visible even to strangers. To know that we could inspire others with what we had was honoring.
We layed on the beach in Sihanoukville, we found a favorite restaurant, we slept in, we took on chaotic Phnom Penh in 106 degree heat. We fell in love with Cambodia as we fell further in love with each other.
He made me feel like a woman and young again, at the dawn of 30 I felt so young, vital, and gorgeous. He loved me, he loved my body, he loved my soul. My body, slightly less alluring than 10 years ago, he still found beauty in every part of it. My heart jumped every time he whispered I love you in my ear, even more when it was in his language. I hadn’t felt like this is so many years I couldn’t help but tell him I loved him every chance I got, that I appreciated him, that I was thankful for him.
We moved onto Myanmar and explored a country only recently opened to tourism. Somewhere between Bangladesh and Thailand, it sits quietly, waiting for tourism to explode.
We arrived during their New Year which is celebrated as a water festival. We walked through the streets and every person took the opportunity to drench the silly foreigners with coifed hair wearing tennis shoes. We laughed as we ran from kids chasing us with buckets of water. My makeup smeared all over my face, we smiled at how idiotic we were to ‘get ready’ before leaving the hotel.
I had read Yangon didn’t have much to offer but the Shwedagon Pagoda was the most peaceful place either of us had ever been. Despite the 100 degree heat we felt comfortable sitting on the warm marble stones and inhaling the smell of incense and peace the air brought us. I meditated for the first time in a long time, I let everything I felt into the universe. After a long evening at the golden pagoda we had dinner on the rooftop of our hotel facing the shrine. We fell more into each other that night.
Off to Bagan, an abandoned city near Mandalay, over 4,000 pagodas dot a vast, dry area of mostly uninhabited land. We were curious to see if we could see the pagodas from the air, we started spotting them with glee, there’s one! There’s one! Omg another one!
We got our taxi to our hotel and we just stared out the window, the dusty roads and dry trees gently hiding each crumbling brick temple. We checked into the most serene hotel, it was so early we had time to see some of Bagan, eat breakfast, and take a 4 hour nap. We got up to watch the sunset at a tall pagoda.
We climbed to the top with shoeless feet on hot bricks to sit and watch the sun set behind a thousand pagodas. In even in the searing heat, I couldn’t get my body close enough to his.
The next day we rented a motorbike for a whopping $6 for the day and cruised all of old and new Bagan. I held onto him from behind as he navigated both the barren dirt roads and tricky unorganized street traffic. To feel so close to him as we discovered this forgotten city was a dream. The whole trip was a dream and I loved him more than I knew it was possible to love another human. I learned that I have it in me to love deeper and more sincerely than I knew possible. Years of singledom and heartbreak had left my heart terse and cold to men, but with him I bloomed like a flower and loved him freely with every cell in my body.
Prior to this, I only truly loved one person as a teenager, a French romance that lasted only one tumultuous year, but stole my heart for the next ten. About a year ago I got final closure from him after nearly a decade of silence. When I fell fully in love in Cambodia, I was finally able to let that love rest in the past and be fully renewed with a love stronger and more beautiful than I ever imagined. Every beat of my heart had a new purpose, every moment with him making every aspect of life exciting to live.
Throughout or days together we lost track of time and days, we hardly used our phones, rarely turned the tv on, it was only us. When I looked at him I prayed I’d get to spend every day of the rest of my life with him. We made grand plans for the future, for a life together. We promised to value and appreciate this beautiful gift of love and fate that was so carefully given to us. We promised to support and respect each other and to do everything to never let this light in us leave.
The peak of my personal happiness occurred in these days. I felt alive as I never have before, vibrant, and excited to spend each new day with him.
When I looked at him I couldn’t see anyone else, it was like everything and everyone around us faded into the background and all I could see was the blue in his eyes, the sharpness of his jaw, and straight white teeth that hid under his lips. I saw his strong hands as they held mine, I saw the strength of his body when he carried our luggage. He was like the other half, he was like the missing piece. I saw the kindness in his heart as he talked to everyone with respect and politeness. I saw his grace as he said thank you.
I felt like I lived a thousand days with him. I opened up my heart to him fully and without fear for the first time in ten years. On this trip I learned to love myself enough to let someone else love me too. My favorite quote of all time is from the Moulin Rouge The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return. I realized this with him.
On our last day we flew back to Bangkok where we stayed at the quiet Le Meridian. This hotel was outside of the city, away from the noise, and it was sparsely occupied. We were upgraded to a stunning suite. We spent our last day in love together in this beautiful hotel, enjoying the spa, the views, the pool, the food. That day I felt like my forever had started.
He packed a final time that night to take his midnight flight back home, I couldn’t watch him pack because it hurt to see him getting ready to leave and to know I wouldn’t get to sleep next to him that night, and possibly never again. I walked him to his car that would take him away. We waved until he was out of sight. If I knew what was going to happen next, I would have never let him without me.
I was fulfilled but also a little relieved to have a night in a beautiful hotel with a breath from the intensity of the past two weeks. I fell asleep clutching his shirt.
I left for Nepal in the morning. By my connecting flight in Malaysia I felt it, I felt something was wrong, my intuition being my greatest strength. We both talked about how we are on the same wave length, thinking the same thoughts, often moving to do the same things at the same moment, our minds in sync. We talked briefly when I arrived late in the evening in Kathmandu. I went to sleep knowing something in him broke.
The next morning I asked and he said he didn’t know why but he couldn’t explain why or how things changed. All I could imagine were his feelings wrapped like a spool of blue thread that started to unravel as his flight flew across the globe, running out and floating into space when he landed at home. Whatever happened I knew was out his and our control, I knew he cared for me like a glass doll and would never hurt me purposefully. We had a brief, teary call of confusion with no answers. My forever turned into my never.
With one phone call, my full heart shattered, it fell out of my chest, into my stomach, and bled out of my body onto the ground. I lost my heart, I could no longer feel it beating, and I wept rivers of tears down my face, my neck, and onto the bed in small puddles of sadness. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t leave my room, I closed the blinds and put my black eye mask on. I wept for three days straight, only rousing occasionally to drink water and being relieved from tears through sleep. The greatest love I’d ever known had become the greatest heartbreak I’d ever known. I allowed myself these days to absorb the shock of sudden grief and loss. I had experienced extreme grief once before so I knew I had to go through it and not around it. Amongst my endless tears I prayed that our love would return in time, I prayed that both of us be carried through the pain because I knew he was suffering just as I was. Nothing of his heart was black, nothing of this was in his control.
I don’t know what’s in store for us now, but no matter what happens, I’ll be so deeply and forever grateful to have found someone who could love me with the same intensity as I could love them. We treasured each other, we were kind, gentle, respectful, and caring. We were wrapped together in a cocoon of love and security so beautiful that we knew it was a rare and precious gift. No matter the outcome of us, I’ll hold him and every moment we had so closely forever in my heart. It was truly a miracle, in this world so clouded with war and hate, to experience such unadulterated, pure bliss. This time in my life renewed my wavering faith in both love and in God.
Maybe with patience, gentleness, and kindness our love can find its way back to us. In him I saw the purest heart and spirit, when I looked at him it was like the brightness of him came through his skin. In me he saw the most beautiful woman in the world, and an adventurous spirit that would never bore him.
All encompassing, all surrounding, all gracious.
You’re like a dream come true, It was just like a movie, it was just like a song – Adele