Where do I begin… In March of 2013, I checked into a hostel at the border town of Foz do Iguacu, Brazil. There in the 4-bed dorm room, I found a book on the shelf of the closet. I picked it up, the title of the book “Sarah’s Key” written by Tatiana de Rosnay. I thought to myself, “Why not give this a read – It’s been ages since you last read a book that’s not a travel guidebook.”
I admit I’m typically a slow reader unless the book intrigues me. This was one of those – I finished the book in 2 days despite the fact that I still found time to visit the Iguazzu falls on the Brazilian side and a local Buddhist Temple. The book tells a story of a Jewish girl who lived in Paris, France. On the 16th of July in 1942, the French police rounded up all the Jews in Paris and sent them to Vélodrome d’Hiver (Vel’ d’Hiv). She had locked her brother inside the secret cupboard in their Parisian apartment to keep him safe, with a promise to return. She became a child of the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup.
No other Holocaust story has struck me like this. I cried painfully as though I was the girl in the story when I finished the book. Even when I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2009, I did not react like this. My heart ached. I felt physical pain. I could not understand why the connection. Continue reading
Ever cross path with an animal or an insect – unexpectedly?! So much so, they startle you and stops you in your tracks??
Be it a spider, ant, frog, dragonfly, chicken, bat, goats.
I don’t mean the animals you see when you go to a zoo or pet store. I mean the animals that you encounter while minding your own business. Like a butterfly that suddenly catches your attention while you are on your daily run. That neighbor’s pet turtle which never leaves their house but suddenly is walking across your path outside.
Well recently, it keeps occurring to me. Animals capture my attention in unexpected locations at unexpected time of day. I jot down the encounters and when I get on the interweb I google them and see what they symbolize as an animal totem. Often times, the meaning as provided are immediate reminders of emotions or thoughts I have been avoiding or unaware of or have not considered. Synchronicity is at play and the Universe makes it hard to ignore. Continue reading
The week prior to my arrival in Crete, I checked daily on multiple hotel / hostel booking sites for accommodation. There was not a single place which met my current budget of 10 to 15€ per night with review ratings of 7.0 or above.
What to do!?! I have never arrived in a new location without reservations for the first night accommodation. I dread wandering from place to place with my luggage in tow, looking for a bed. Many travelers I know does this on a regular basis but I am not one of them.
Whirling Dervish in Turkey
Exactly 2 months from today, I will board an airplane and fly to Istanbul, Turkey. When I land on June 1, 2014 – the beginning of a new chapter will begin in my life. How will it unfold, I am uncertain at this point. From all my travels, I have not found a fully functioning a single crystal ball that can foresee the future!!
All I can do is trust and have faith in the Universe – believe that my path will unfold the way it needs to happen.
Sifting through my receipts and ticket stubs from my 2013 Epic Journey, I came across my movie ticket for “Life of Pi”. This little piece of paper triggered a landslide of memories and emotions…
It was February 5, 2013 – I had just arrived in the city of Valdivia from Puerto Varas in Chile. The last time I was in a town or city with a McDonald’s restaurant was Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 25, 2012. Within that time I had been to Ushuaia, Falklands, South Georgia Islands, Antarctic Peninsula, Ushuaia, El Calafate, El Chalten, Puerto Natales, Navimag, Puerto Montt, Chiloe islands, Puertos Varas, Frutillar and Ralun – they are all local and authentic to their location. However, that is at least 43 days without “city life” experiences, exposure to traditional North American style fast food, shopping malls or a movie on a big screen inside a movie theatre.
On the first day of July in 2013, I ventured on a day trip to Borobudur from Bali, Indonesia. For some unknown reason, I diverted to Prambanan and the city center of Jogjakarta before visiting the UNESCO world heritage site of Borobudur. One would think that if Borobudur is my main reason to travel, that would be my first place to visit. But at the same point, I thought it would be a nice way to end the day with sunset at Borobudur.
Now I am usually pretty good at checking for the weather forecast of the day so I can dress accordingly. Continue reading
Karen Sze – Single Woman hitch hiking in Chile
On my second last day in Puerto Varas, Chile (Feb 2 2013) – I woke up with my mind and heart set on discovering a little known natural hot spring called Termas de Ralún and visiting the Saltos del Petrohue (Petrohue waterfalls). There was a brief mention of the hot spring in my copy of The Rough Guide to Chile. The hot spring is on the northeastern shore of the Petrohue river and borders the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. Any time I hear or read about hot springs and spas – I want to go!! Let alone, this one is completely set within a forest and without any infrastructure.
How cool is that!? A real natural hot spring. Free of charge. No big crowds. A hidden gem!! I was super excited that morning. Continue reading