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Bucketbath films presents...

Laos, Cambodia, India and Nepal

sunny 88 °F

We haven't had the most reliable internet for the last month and a half. These videos are long overdue: starting with our most recent trek in Nepal and working through India, Cambodia and Laos.

Micah and I arrive back in NYC at the end of this week. We're currently in Delhi again and fly back to NYC, via Milan, Italy in 2 days. We're both experiencing bittersweet feelings about returning home. While we can't wait to see friends and family, returning to "normal" life is going to take quite a bit of adjusting after 7.5 months of a nomadic, backpacker lifestyle. I'm having anxiety about having to wear something other than my Chacos and hiking boots on my feet and having a full wardrobe again!

I'm sure a wrap up post is on it's way from each of us. Until then, enjoy the movie previews!

See you all soon!

Joanie

Our most recent trek through the Himalayas in Nepal

"Incredible" India is their national slogan. They sure don't disappoint.

Our Angkor Wat experience

This one goes waaaay back to Laos!

Posted by bucketbath 18:04 Archived in India Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises mountains beaches trees animals snow boats hiking temple travel india vacation mountain trekking elephant cambodia friends holiday angkor life safari himalayas funny relaxation trip asia eating photography tourism relax pictures movies rupees hindu stupa spiritual videos relief vang vieng sandcastle incredible vientiene micah amristar slapstick dharmsala pilgramage rubin bucketbath Comments (3)

"Incredible India"

India living up to it's national slogan

sunny 85 °F

I have to admit, I haven't been very good at bathing in this bucket lately. Our last few weeks in India were emotionally draining as India's in-your-face culture, sights, colors, smells and sounds can be taxing on the senses. The national slogan of "Incredible India" certainly doesn't disappoint. Unfortunately, it's "incredible-ness" resulted in me moping around miserable and on the constant verge of a breakdown. Poor Micah has endured a lot lately!

We have since moved on to Nepal, but India did produce some amazing experiences. Dharamsala, home to the Dali Llama, and Rishikesh, where The Beatles wrote a majority of their "White" album, were spiritual playgrounds. I was in all my glory with fresh mountain air, yoga classes and an Ayurveda cooking and nutrition course.

We visited the magnificent, Golden Sikh temple in Amritsar and experienced eating shoulder to shoulder on the floor with 1,000's of Indians and their families on pilgrimage. The temple provides free meals, 24/7 with a volunteer run kitchen and feeds over 80,000 people a day. Everyone is encouraged to jump in and lend a helping hand washing dishes, peeling potatoes and serving chai. A short taxi ride out of Amritsar to the Indian / Pakistan border allowed us to witness to the spectacle that occurs nightly when the border closes. It's equipped with thousands of spectators sitting in grand stands, a dance party, flag waving, cheering and a showdown by the plume wearing, boot stomping guards on both sides. It felt like a sporting event.

About 2 of our weeks in India were spent traveling through the desert cities, and ancient sandcastle-like forts of Rajasthan. The highlight for me was a 2 day camel safari. To the dismay of our bums, we rode camels for 5 hours each day, breaking mid-afternoon to enjoy chai, chipati and dal cooked over a fire. All the while, our camels munched happily on the trees providing our shade. In the evening, we watched a beautiful sunset, with another chai in hand, over giant sand dunes before turning in for the night to the sounds of our camels chewing, belching and pooping. I made the ironic comparison of it seeming like we were sleeping in a planetarium. There were more stars than I imagined the universe to even hold. We awoke with our blankets surrounded by a complex highway system of footprints that was build by visiting Dung beetles over night. (I hope I kept my mouth closed while I was sleeping.)

Our next stop was the awe inspiring Taj Mahal. India showed us many of the negative effects that tourism can produce and it was most noticeable here. It has created an annoying scene of relentless rickshaw drivers, a two tier pricing system and souvenir sellers. Do people even buy snow globes anymore?! The Taj Mahal was beautiful but this is where dear India started to weigh on me.

My full emotional breakdown occurred in the holy city of Varanasi. The city is a pilgrimage site for Hindus. People come here to die and be cremated at the burning ghats along the polluted Ganga River. Every 20 minutes, another ornately wrapped, deceased body is carried through the people, cow and motorbike crowded streets on it's journey to the burning ghat. Personally, the atmosphere was very unsettling as death is something that is celebrated and not mourned in the Indian culture. It's very different from what we know. Our guesthouse was within 50 yards of the largest cremation ghat that burns 24/7 with multiple fires. I found myself feeling sick, temperamental, emotionally drained and overwhelmed. I tend to be the person in the room that becomes upset when I sense someone is unhappy. I think my body is too tuned into energy to be able to cope with the death, overcrowding and nightly celebration of singing and prayers that occurs in Varanasi. In addition to this, tourism has yet again reared it's ugly head with in your face touts, unofficial guides, boat drivers, drug sellers and children begging you to take their picture in exchange for Rupees. It was all too much and I spent a majority of the time jailed up in our windowless room.

After Varanasi, I couldn't escape India quickly enough. A 12hr government bus ride from India landed us in the quiet, small town of Lumbini, Nepal which archeologists have declared as the birthplace of Buddha. We've since called the more energetic city of Kathmandu our home as we've settled here for Passover. The Chabad House here holds the biggest Passover Seder in the world.

It's hard to believe we only have about 2 weeks of our trip remaining! This weekend we'll be heading north to start 7-days trekking through the Himalayas. I'm hoping to keep my remaining toenails in tact-I lost my 3rd one a few weeks ago with a shrug.

Now that my emotional state is on the mend, I'll try to be a more consistent bucket-bathing blogger! I've got new videos and photos to post as soon as we have faster internet.

Much love from Nepal

Posted by bucketbath 09:42 Archived in India Tagged children desert culture temple india fort bus the trekking river golden safari buddha varanasi fire ganga bath llama cooking camel nepal dali tourism motorbikes mahal taj dal experience yoga rajasthan kathmandu pokhara volunteer ghat journey stars cows beatles rupees sikh hindu cremation spiritual rishikesh bucket nutrition dharamsala souvenir ayurveda rickshaw chai lumbini sandcastle beetles incredible passover dung senses planetarium amristar emotional pilgramage chipati touts beggers governement chabbad seder toenails Comments (4)

Running for Ruin

A Run Through Mrauk U's Dusty Villages and 16th Century Temples

Monks, draped in saffron robes, with razor-shaved heads illumined liquid gold by the late afternoon’s honeydew beams, collected evening alms amidst clouds of woody, pungent smoke wafting from the village’s cooking fires.

Here in Mrauk U, a small town in western Myanmar, monks are as woven into the city’s fabric as the 16th century temples scattered amidst its rice fields and thatch-hut villages.

Arriving here requires patience and perseverance; and five days: a 15-hour overnight bus through jolting, roller-coaster mountain roads from Yangon to Thaunggok. An 11-hour high-speed ferry from Thaunggok to Sittwe - a fishing town on the Gulf of Bengal - after waiting 2 days for the ferry’s departure. Then a 5-hour slow ferry up the Kaladan River from Sittwe to Mrauk U, past parched fields of rice and breast-shaped mounds of rice straw capped with gleaming chrome nipples, that required a day’s wait to catch.

After disembarking from the jetty in Mrauk U, sorting out accommodations and a quick walk through the town, I needed a fix. So I threw on my running gear and headed out. Not before penning the path - on a hand drawn map given to tourists – of my planned run.

I ran south, feeling the energy build, my pace uncontrollable in sprinting fits, loping over bumpy, rocky roads. Groups of children in their green and white uniforms shouted “hello” as I raced by.

Villagers stood on the sides of the dirt road, betel-stained lips and teeth, some smoking long, green Burmese cigars, loitering, talking. Most stopped to stare as I passed, smiling: “minglah bah (hello)” and “tata (good bye)”.

I continued straight, looking for my turn but unsure where, so I pulled out the map and asked a villager, “Where is Laymyethna Paya (temple)?” But the map, only in English combined with my jumbled pronunciation, proved useless. The reply: a confused stare.

I cut right at the next intersection and continued, watching the afternoon’s shadows thicken like mascara on a lover’s eyelash.

Young girls smiled and darted their eyes away as I passed. Elderly monks walked by, barefoot and supported by canes, their faces carved with years of hardship yet buoyed by meditation’s peace.

Past stilted, low-slung huts with thatched roofs rustling in the breeze. At times I could see inside, a man or child sitting quietly.

Past the Dukkanthein Paya, an imposing, fortress-like temple built in 1571 and whose labyrinthine interior walls are carved with images of Buddha and farmers, merchants, athletes, from 16th century Mrauk U.

Nearby, young monks, shirtless and ribbed with sweat, lifted logs and sifted sand as they repaired the gravel road leading to their monastery.

Who would of thought: a meditative road crew?

Map in hand, I kept running, having no idea where the road led, but knew where I wanted to be. Like all travel: you’re never truly lost if you have a destination in mind.

Then I arrived at the Sakyamanaung Paya, whose 280-foot spire erupts from its octagonal base into the now, oceanic blue sky. I asked a young woman, standing in the temple’s shadow where was Shwetaung Paya, a golden temple perched high on a hill overlooking Mrauk U.

I followed her directions, unsure if I understood, down a narrow rocky dirt path, a bamboo fence on my right, on my left, a steep hill spilled into jungle. Three young monks played stick ball in the middle of the path and I hopped out of their way to avoid getting smacked. Ahead, the path dead-ended into a sunbaked field skirted by a dusty paved road.

Left or right?

Back to the map, now rumpled from sweat. I went left, past women with faces painted white, balancing mounds of cauliflower on their heads, passing men on bikes wearing lungees (a male skirt), toward the temple, but not the one I needed.

I was going the wrong way.

So I turned around, the waning sun blindingly ahead until I reached a road I’d explored earlier in the day. I wasn’t ready to finish running so continued straight, up crumbling stone steps and through the ruins of a 15th century palace, its floors overgrown with grass and dimpled from incomplete excavations.

Up ahead my guesthouse loomed so I turned left, passing loitering trishaw (bicycle taxi) and motorbike drivers arguing, smoking, spitting. Through a street with clouds of smoke and dust mangling the air, over two arched, rickety bridges made of salvaged 4x8s.

Cutting right at the next intersection, smiles and young children yelling “bye bye,” the only English words they seem to know here. Right through the heart of Mrauk U, its bustling thoroughfare with merchants, jewelers (who also serve as the town banks), mechanics, beer gardens (they love their beer in Myanmar). Past the town market, over a bridge whose span covers a dead, trash-strewn river.

A bit further and I was finished, panting outside my guest house with the sun quickly fading, tired and sweaty, from blazing through Mrauk U’s dusty streets.

Check out the run stats here!

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And don't forget to pre-book your authentic Thai massage for April!

$30/ 30min, $50/1hr, $75/1.5hrs

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Posted by bucketbath 07:27 Archived in Myanmar Tagged temple ruins u myanmar stupa running sweat jogging mrauk paya Comments (2)

Cambodian Hoedown

A video from Angkor Wat

And don't forget to pre-book your authentic Thai massage for April!

$30/ 30min, $50/1hr, $75/1.5hrs

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Posted by bucketbath 06:43 Archived in Cambodia Tagged people trees temple travel ruins cambodia thailand indian new map fun burma angkor ta wat funny roots trip thai myanmar reap pictures siem silly massage bucket moving brochure prong lara croft jones rambo slapstick Comments (4)

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