My family (hubby and two kids) and I moved to Thailand last year for me to teach second grade in Bangkok. We come from California, where we owned an outdoor retail shop from which we guided backpacking and snowshoe trips, and also kayak trips in California's awesome Sierra Nevada mountains and the Pacific Ocean. We find it hard to get outdoors here, but little by little we are finding new places to go all the time. My goal right now is to get us out of Bangkok and into natural places with increasing frequency over the next year.
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This is rural Cambodia. My family and I went here this weekend to visit kids at an orphanage that a fellow teacher started up 5 years ago. There is a actually a site right in Bangkok, Thailand, near where we live that helps children of Cambodian and Burmese constructions workers, and we visited the local centers in Cambodia itself. It was just an hour or so flight from Bangkok, and really the countryside wasn't that much different from the parts of rural Thailand that I've been to, but there is so much more poverty in Cambodia. Cambodia is a third world country, while Bangkok is considered a first world city in a second world country, and boy could I tell the difference! I had a lot to think about, especially after just having read Renee's recent thoughtful post about Walking Each Other Home.
Like many north Americans, I have had an obsession with Tiny Houses during the last 5 or so years. I thought they'd be a fabulous way to downsize. I can picture hubby and I in one after the kids are grown, maybe in Idaho. After moving to southeast Asia, I realized many people live in them not by choice. I have seen all sorts of creative "tiny homes" in Bangkok and outside of Bangkok. Living in a packing crate isn't new, apparently, but decorating them so they star in magazines back in the states is. In the tiny homes I see here, there may or may not be furniture in them, and there may or may not be running water or electricity available. In THESE tiny houses - there are actually two here - there is no electricity nor running water. But they haven't rigged it with solar, nor do they have any fancy rain catchment system. They definitely didn't order home decor from Amazon. They live here in rural Cambodia in total poverty, walking their three cattle around to feed, tending to rice paddies around them. I love how the house in the back has some accent paint color. Maybe I will copy it some day in my own tiny house! Wish I could have gotten closer, but a lady was out with her daughter and some cattle, so I felt awkward doing that.
You don't need to go too far outside of Bangkok to see the lushness of central Thailand. This was the setting for our family end-of-summer trip to an awesome water park. The outdoor adventurer in me struggles with living in a large city (14 million people!) in a developing country with mildewy concrete buildings everywhere. Any chance I have to get out, my eyes feast on the green. It's nice when the man-made places, like the waterpark, maintain the natural environment around them rather than just build eyesore after eyesore leaving a mess in its wake. Next to this waterpark is also a winery and grape juice farm - next time we'll plan to tour it!
Cowpens, South Carolina, site of a crucial battle in the American Revolutionary War. The Battle of Cowpens was a very important victory for Americans in their fight for independence from Great Britain. It was the beginning of the end for the British in this war.
The area isa national park, and the visitor center had a very well-done film that taught all about the battle and its significance in US history. Not normally a history buff, I did enjoy this visit and the trail through the battle sites, which were pasture lands at the time.
Rhode Island was a destination for us because my hubby has family there. Here are my hubby, our teenage son and his cousin (same age) clamming at the Town Beach in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. They hauled a lot of clams that day, along with my father-in-law and brother-in-law, and they cooked 'em up. I didn't partake because I am allergic to shellfish.
(If you've followed the posts, between the last locale - Badlands, South Dakota - and here, we hit Wisconsin Dells for waterpark action and Indiana Dunes on shore of Lake Michigan, ((where we encountered poor weather and had miserable camping in the heat and mosquitos!)) also Poconos Mountains, Pennsylvania.)
Badlands National Park was incredible! We camped out at a free, primitive camping area called Sage creek. We saw bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and the amazing layered rock formations that Badlands is famous for. The weather was beautiful, with some dry lightning storms that cleared up and allowed for a view of thousands/millions of stars in the heavens. The hikes we did were awesome - I highly recommend a trip here to South Dakota.