Today, I turned 25 in Cambodia. I’m a quarter of a century old, and while I may be doing what some think seems to be a quarter-life-crisis, what I’m really doing is living. And wow, I truly love my life. I thought I would share 25 moments that made my 25th birthday in Cambodia really special.
Stacey and I started our day off at 4:30am. We had to finish packing up all of our things before heading out for sunrise at Angkor Wat. We caught our tuktuk at 5 and sat in front of this temple for almost two hours waiting for the sun to come out. This was before the sun was up, but there was just enough light in the clouds to turn them shades of purple.
The sun finally came up, and when it did, it did it right. I loved the way that the sun peeked out from behind the middle tower of Angkor Wat, and that reflection was just beautiful!
This was the Wooooooo: I’m-25-in-Cambodia moment!
We popped into a tiny restaurant for breakfast. We got this scrumptious pineapple pancake with honey & and a ham omelet. It was delicious and only $2.75 a piece!
Our next stop was at Ta Prohm Temple (or as everyone called it- the Tomb Raider temple). This is one of our top favorite temples. It was a bit of a surprise. We walked around the crumbled exterior to find a truly stunning complex inside!
Stacey & me exploring. We had a lot of fun in this temple and I’m so grateful to spend my birthday with this lovely lady. (Also, happy early birthday to her because tomorrow is her birthday!)
Did I mention that this was a favorite? I love the chundul trees that grow over, around and on top of the temples. It makes it even more magical and spiritual, since I’m a nature-lover. I just adore these trees.
Another moment I had was at the gate to a temple. This group of four children were trying to lift this big block of ice on the back of the kid in the orange’s bike. They had ripped the handles and it was too awkward for two of them to lift and too heavy for one of them, so I walked over and helped them. Stacey sweetly caught a photo of it! They were so cute and all smiles!
The next temple we went to was Banteay Srei. In this temple I had a really beautiful moment. I lit incense & had a moment at this beautiful shrine, afterward this man who was handing out incense shockingly the first that wasn’t asking for money- tied two strings on my wrist- a red (wisdom & achievement) and a yellow (middle-fold path)- and told me that is was a blessing. Stacey followed, and we’ve declared that they’re staying on our wrists until they fall off.
I am so in love with the prayer flags I’ve seen so much of. One of those moments that made my heart skip a beat. I studied eastern religion in college and it has been such an incredibly moving experience to see it in practice.
This was looking back on that moment. I was just so full of joy that I had to look back, and I’m so glad I did- soaking up ever bit of that moment.
Our tuktuk driver took us on a bit of a different route home, taking us through a crazy rush hour! It was really amazing to see all the different people taking their vehicles down this road in a crazy traffic jam. Tuktuks full of monks, scooters with food carts attached, couples on scooters and children on bikes all rode past these buildings and vendors.
FaceTiming with my family. I am not afraid to admit it- I love and miss my family. They are so very important to me and my parents, my brother and my cute little pup all took time to FaceTime me from Missouri – they were goofy and loving as always, making me laugh so hard I cried at the hostel bar! Ha!
Matt, my fiancé, took the time to FaceTime me from Asheville today. He was incredibly sweet, wished me a happy birthday and made me feel special, as always.
I’m very lucky to have a really amazing family that supports and encourages me, so getting to see all of them was so special!
Stacey and I had a super tasty lunch today while we waited to check back into a different room in the hostel. I had Khmer yellow noodles with veggies, tofu & chicken, and Stacey had Pad Khmer – Cambodian Pad Thai. Oh, and of course we made it for happy hour – $1 daiquiries.
We’ve been hitting it pretty hard the last few days. Exploring temples, visiting markets and walking through Siem Reap in the 90-degree weather with extreme humidity. So, as a birthday request I wanted to spend a few hours relaxing and writing. Thanks, Stacey for letting me veg a bit!
Part of the relaxation included time laying in the hammocks on one of the balconies of our hostel. It was so cozy and if we swayed it made the perfect breeze.
After some relaxation time, Stacey and I went down to the hostel bar to take advantage of happy hour. Our favorite drinks were our espresso martinis! YUM!
While sitting at the bar we spent time with friends from the hostel! It was a lot of fun to share travel tips, travel stories & share in the joy of backpacking!
After drinks Stacey, Ren and I went down to the night market to do a little shopping and try some food. During this experience were lots of little experiences. This is my experience with Love Goggles On. Everywhere I looked I saw hearts, which is pretty accurate because I LOVE CAMBODIA!
One new food was this little puffy, sweet bread (similar to a funnel cake) with this green sauce – we were fans!
My cousin, Michael, made a comment on my Instagram that I should commemorate this day by buying something- even if it’s cheesy- just so I can always remember my 25th birthday in Cambodia. I found these beautiful bracelets, and knew they were just what I needed.
The next thing we tried was a dragon fruit shake! It was so yummy and really pretty! The vendor thought it was funny to give us three straws- so we took advantage of it!
I made friends with this man, Oliver, who was telling people about a pub crawl. I told him that today was my birthday- this was the result! Ha!
I have been trying to be more open to foods. I’m a pretty picky eater at home, but I truly try to branch out when I travel. I kept talking about how I wanted to eat a cricket in Cambodia. Tonight I finally saw a woman frying them. I asked if I could taste one, and she was so unbelievably generous. I felt bad as I struggled to pick it up (I have a huge fear of crickets/grasshoppers) then once I had it in my hands, I was shaking a bit as I attempted to count to three, three separate times. Finally I had a crowd of about half a dozen Westerners counting along with me on the last try, and I did it! I ATE A CRICKET! To be honest, it tasted fine, but I couldn’t get over the fact that I was munching on a whole cricket- eyes, legs and all!
The last moment was a little moment of pride for Stacey! Between the two of us, I’m typically the one who gets us back where we need to be. However, tonight Stacey was on it! So we had a group high-five to Stacey finding her way in Siem Reap, Cambodia of all places!
Needless to say, I had a pretty freakin’ sweet birthday! I’m so grateful to Stacey who was so awesome in saying, “It’s your birthday!” and letting me pick what to do! Tomorrow is her birthday and I’m excited for her day- eating 25 things on her 25th birthday! Cheers!
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