My Own Journey: Check Off the Bucket List

My Limited Travels

In high school, I spent a summer in the U.S.S.R. I took 6 years of Russian and had aspirations of being a high-level translator for the U.S. government, believe it or not! (Alas, my international intentions were never realized, and I ended up being a teacher at the very school where I had attended elementary. So much for traveling very far from home!)

Standing in front of the Church of the Assumption - the oldest church inside the Kremlin. (Like 6 centuries old!)

Standing in front of the Church of the Assumption – the oldest church inside the Kremlin. (Like 6 centuries old!)

Meanwhile my Russian trip roommate went on to be the communications director for Al Gore and traveled to every continent. (Um, did I mention she’s probably the most brilliant person I have ever met?) And while she went on to incredible things, that Russian trip was just about the end of my international travels.

Bucket List

So, since I have considerably less travel time than my old roommate, I’ve compiled a bucket list of places I’d like to see before I die. Mine is not a very long list actually. I’m a pretty satisfied person right here hanging with my husband and son. However, Angkor Wat has always been at the top of my list, so when I was given the chance to travel to Cambodia this December, I jumped at it.

For those of you unfamiliar with Angkor Wat, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the largest religious monument in the world. Originally a Hindu site, then later known for Buddhism, it was lost to the world when abandoned and claimed by the jungle. Rediscovered in modern times and then excavated in the 1980s, you may remember seeing it in the first Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie.

jolie_angkor

Buddhism

Those who know me well wouldn’t describe me as the most religious person. While not a church-goer, I am fascinated with world religions. I have read many a thick book about the major world religions, and if I were to choose to believe in any of them, Buddhism comes closest to the mark. (I like how the Buddha encouraged people to reject anything that didn’t make sense to them.)

I’m a bit obsessed with the teachings of the Dalai Lama and list the Tibetan Book of the Dead as one of my favorite books. And, yeah, I actually have the Gyoto Monks chanting on my iPod. (Really.)

So, while I may not embrace the entire Buddhist Dharma, I do find great satisfaction and peace of mind in meditation, and have worked to extend my practice recently in anticipation of the December trip. (We have a chance to get up early and observe monks in their morning alms. *squee*)

So, do I really think I may discover some incredible truth about my existence? Um, maybe not. But I do hope to find a greater connection with myself and my travel companions as we explore new things halfway around the world.

Sharing My Journey

The very best thing about my upcoming trip of a lifetime is that I am sharing it with my mother and good friend Sandra, whom I taught with for 15 years. I count both ladies as my very best friends and feel blessed they have included me.

My mother had the chance to travel to Greece with my brother – that was his bucket list item. So, now it is my turn. (My mother actually has no bucket list travel item, but rather views the experiences she has with her children as her “to do” list.)

So, while I am leaving my hubby and son behind, I am so looking forward to this personal journey of mine and feel so lucky to be sharing it with the ladies I am.

What to Take?

So, now the point of my post. I need advice from all you experienced travelers out there! We are going to be staying not only in the larger cities but also remote villages. We will start in Thailand before making our way to Laos, Cambodia, and then Vietnam. We are only taking carry-on luggage and will be gone for most of the month. So, what are your best tips for packing and what are some “must haves” while traveling?

Any travel tips to Asia (or anywhere else) would be most appreciated. What is your number one tip for me as I depart in just a few days?

And what about technology? Any “must-use” apps while I’m on the road? Photography tips?

I’d appreciate any and all advice!

 
Top photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc