See what we’re up to now

•August 28, 2016 • Leave a Comment

8 years later and we’re still doing our share of traveling, only this time it’s in Minnesota with our two amazing kids. Interested in traveling around Minnesota or surrounding area?

Check out our new site at sKIDaddlers.net.

Spend less time researching where to go and more time creating amazing memories.

Our Honeymoon Adventure Highlighted Videos

•January 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Asian Finale

•November 20, 2008 • Leave a Comment

For our grand Asian finale we headed back to our home base of Thailand and finally visited those world renowned beaches.  We spent 10 days soaking in the sun in Ao Nang, Ko Phi Phi, and Railay.  We had lots of time for hiking, swimming, snorkeling, boating, sun bathing.  It was incredibly beautiful with its jutting limestone, yellow sand, turquoise warm ocean waters, and cheap beachside massages… definitely the right way to finish our honeymoon adventure. 

 

What can we say about our trip? Well, we’ve had good days and frustrating days, hot days and hotter days.  We’ve experienced many amazing and not so amazing things.  We’ve had fun, made mistakes, had successes, and struggles.  We’ve learned about the world, ourselves and each other.  And to think, it all began with a crazy idea we had while on the beaches of Crystal Lake in Burnsville, MN, daydreaming about how incredible it would be to live, just him and I, in a tropical paradise on the other side of the world.  To anyone thinking of teaching abroad I say go for it; it won’t be what you’re expecting but it will be so much more. 

 

Thank you for sharing our trip with us.  We look forward to visiting with all of you again once we return.

 

 

The End 

 

Note: we will be spending a few weeks in Hawaii with my sister and her husband, Michelle and Lucas.  Blog to be updated sporadically. 

Phnom Penh and some Khmer Rouge history

•November 15, 2008 • 2 Comments

Our second and final stop in Cambodia was to visit the capital, Phnom Penh. Besides being the capital, Phnom Penh is known for housing the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.  Originally, the museum was a high school.  However, in 1975 the Khmer Rouge regime, headed by Pol Pot, turned the school into a security prison.  The building was enclosed in electrified barbed wire fence, and the rooms were converted into prison cells, interrogation rooms, and torture chambers. Out of an estimated 17,000 people imprisoned at Tuol Sleng, there were only seven known survivors.  I’ll spare the details of treatment and torture, but suffice it to say it was beyond horrific.  It was a truly somber afternoon.

 

Below is some background on the Khmer Regime and Pol Pot.  This info was pulled from Wikipedia:

The Khmer Rouge is remembered mainly for the many deaths of an estimated 1.5 million people or 1/5 of the country’s total population (estimates range from 850,000 to two million) under its regime, through execution, torture, starvation and forced labor. Following their leader Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge imposed an extreme form of social engineering on Cambodian society—a radical form of agrarian communism where the whole population had to work in collective farms or forced labor projects. In terms of the number of people killed as a proportion of the population (est. 7.5 million people, as of 1975), it was one of the most lethal regimes of the 20th century.

Khmer Rouge wanted to eliminate anyone suspected of “involvement in free-market activities”. Suspected capitalists encompassed professionals and almost everyone with an education, many urban dwellers, and people with connections to foreign governments. Khmer Rouge believed parents were tainted with capitalism. Consequently, children were separated from parents and brainwashed to socialism as well as taught torture methods with animals. Children were a “dictatorial instrument of the party” and were given leadership in torture and executions.

After four years of rule, the Khmer Rouge regime was removed from power in 1979 as a result of an invasion by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and was replaced by moderate, pro-Vietnamese Communists. It survived into the 1990s as a resistance movement operating in western Cambodia from bases in Thailand. In 1996, following a peace agreement, their leader Pol Pot formally dissolved the organization. Pol Pot died on 15 April, 1998, having never been put on trial.

Angkor Wats and the First Encounter

•November 9, 2008 • 1 Comment

Siem Reap is the city that houses the renowned man-made wonder of the world, the Angkor Wat.  The Angkor Wat is actually part of a larger grouping of wats (temples) lying within a 400 square kilometer area.  Collectively they’re called the Angkor Wats, though it is only the largest one that is actually named Angkor.  These wats date back to the year 802AD.   

 

We hired a tuk-tuk driver for the day to take us around to all the temples.  We started at 7am when the temperature had already reached about 90 degrees.  It was a scorcher, no doubt.  The wats were enormous, old, gray stone structures.  Some had faces built into them, some had shrines, some had silk cotton trees encroaching between stones.  They were magnificent. 

 

We noticed three monks following the same path throughout the wats as Vince and I.  We tried to inconspicuously take a picture of them.  (What better picture can you take in the Angkor then one that has monks in it?)  As it turns out, they were trying to do the same thing. Later on in day they stopped us and asked if we would take pictures with them, first the three of them together with us, and then each of them individually with us. 

 

Later that evening, we visited our last temple of the day.  It sat on top of a hill and provided a view of the Angkor Wat, as well as much of the city.  We were looking out at Angkor Wat when we were approached by a few small children that were entranced at seeing foreigners.  They sat down quietly next to us, and then said “hello”. “Hello,” we replied, “Sawas dei.”  They laughed at our Khmer (language of Cambodia).  One little boy was enthralled with a cheap Chinese fan I had.  I started fanning him and he got so excited. He was so cute. I gave him the fan as a gift. He said, “thank you”.  He began fanning me so I said, “ah kuhn (thank you),” back to him. The children laughed again at my pronunciation.  More children came.  Soon their parents and even grandparents joined in curiosity. One of them, a young man, was able to speak decent English.  He lived in Siem Reap, but we learned that the rest of the group was farmers from a province 400km away.  The young man’s sister had invited them to visit the city.  The families said they would visit as long as the sister would be able to support their trip, since they had no money.  She did, and they were all staying at her house; all 30 of them.   The group was composed of several families and about 10 monks. They had never been to a city and never seen a foreigner.  The children asked us lots of questions (translated through the young man).  The father of the family eventually worked his way over and began to speak, (translated through the young man).   He said how happy he was to meet us.  He was glad we were visiting his country. He was very proud of his country.  He survived the Pol Pot period.  He told us that it wasn’t until he was our age that he realized there existed people who were not Khmer.  He was in awe by farangs lighter skin and features.  Eventually one of the grandmothers jumped in telling us how beautiful we were and how much she liked our nose. They all agreed. They like our noses. J  

 

As the sun was beginning to set Vince and I said goodbye to our friends.  Rain clouds were nearing, we ran out of water and were so thirsty. It was time to make the hike down.  Our friends said they were ready to go, too, so we all walked down together.  They led us, along with the whole troop of them, down a “shortcut”, a.k.a. the elephant trail. It was steep. It was narrow. It was slippery.  It was getting dark.  But if the elephants and the older women could do it (with bare feet), then I sure as hell could, too.  Everyone was so happy, and said on several occasions how happy they were to be walking down with Americans.  Probably because they thought it was funny to see us struggling down the elephant trail while they gracefully strode down with ease.

 

At the bottom we said our goodbyes. All the older ladies wanted to touch us and tell us again how beautiful we were, and good luck. To the children we waved and shouted good byes. To the man who spoke English and the father we gave handshakes, and expressed great appreciation at meeting one another. They all piled into the back of a truck, and rode off.  Just then the thunderstorm came pouring in. 

 

Cambodia

•November 4, 2008 • Leave a Comment

We took a 12 hour bus ride from Saigon through the border and over to Cambodia.  It is probably exactly what you envision.. as in a dirty, dusty, littered, non-modern country; and still it is so amazing.  The streets are lined with food vendors, roaming cattle and beggars.  The beggars are mainly old women, children, or disfigured people from the wars, or its mine-filled aftermath.  The children sell Cambodian history books, or simply beg for money.  Giving them money perpetuates the problem, but not giving simply breaks your heart. We saw on several occasions young children crying on the streets.  The main streets are built in concrete. However, all side streets are still dirt, making the entire city dust-filled.  The cost of living is comparable to Vietnam (about twice as much as Thailand), which was shocking.  The tuk-tuk drivers frequently offered marijuana to Vince (when I wasn’t around).  Vince asked one of them if it was legal, given how open the business seemed. They said they pay off the police and so the police don’t bother them. Talk about corruption.  The people are significantly more passive than in Vietnam, which was a welcomed relief.  When we said, “no thank you,” they said, “no problem.” The overall vibe of the country seems to be genuine happiness or genuinely exhausted from unending poverty. Many are scarred from the Pol Pot Regime.  There are significantly more younger people than elders, again due to the Pol Pot Regime.  Everyone just wants to get past that period of history.  Some resent the Vietnamese and Thais for taking their land.  In fact, one person we met, who was a restaurant soldier/ Cambodian soldier, said the Cambodians plan to strike on Bangkok in a next few years.  He seemed very serious about, though we considered it absolutely absurd. Overall though, the smile in their eyes and their easygoing culture makes them some of our most beloved people.

 

Saigon – Final Vietnam Stop

•November 1, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Our final stop in Vietnam was to Ho Chi Minh. Actually, though it was recently changed to Ho Chi Minh, everyone still refers to it as Saigon. After talking to fellow backpackers we were expecting the city to be as crazy as Hanoi. However, it was significantly better. Ho Chi Minh is the equivalent of Thailand’s Bangkok. It is a city in which people live and work, and in which tourists and expatriates play. The food is international, and we actually spent two of our two dinners at a little Italian place. (This is a big deal, because I never like to visit the same restaurant abroad twice). We spent our days wandering the streets and visiting markets. It was pleasant to not be targeted for sellers’ assaults.

(Dong) Millionaire’s at last………………….