Friday, April 13, 2007

Heather's Most Memorable Experiences

One friend asked us to write about whether we still felt taking six months off was a good decision, knowing it could negatively impact our careers, finances, etc. My answer: It was one of the best decisions we have ever made. It was a dream come true to spend six months together exploring other countries, learning about other cultures and gaining new perspectives about our lives and what is meaningful to each of us. It also affected us in ways we did not expect. We both feel more aware of environmental problems facing our planet and we decided to change our eating habits to become mostly vegetarians (eat fish or chicken once a week). We also made the big decision to try and have a baby!

My advice, to quote Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.”

My most memorable experiences (in no particular order):

1. Spending time with Bob’s Kids in Bodhgaya, India and visiting the Kiran Center. Their smiles and warmth moved me to tears and laughter.
2. Trekking in Nepal surrounded by the magnificent snow covered Himalayan Mountains on the Annapurna Circuit.
3. Staying at a Zen Buddhist Monastery in the alpine mountains of Mt. Koya, Japan.
4. Hiking in Jiuzhaigou National Park while visiting the Tibetan villages and temples in China.
5. Falling in love with all the elephants in Chitwan National Park, Nepal – the breeding center, bathing elephants, watching wild elephants, and even seeing elephants walking by me when sitting at an internet café.
6. Sleeping overnight in a tower in a wild animal refuge, seeing rhinos and wild peacocks and listening in silence to all the jungle wild things come to life in the darkness. (Chitwan National Park, Nepal)
7. The amazing beauty of the Taj Mahal.
8. The exotic desert oasis of Pushkar, India – wild langur monkeys roaming everywhere, florescent colored turbans, camels, and a holy lake surrounded by white temples and ghats.
9. Two candlelit romantic nights in Bangkok – dinner at the Oriental Hotel overlooking the river and drinks on the top of the State Tower.
10. Three day cruise on the Mekong River, Laos – visiting ancient ruins, villages, school children, waterfalls and watching billowy clouds drift overhead as we sailed.
11. The self indulgence of having a custom made suit in Hoi-an, Vietnam.
12. Our five day Milford Trek in New Zealand with soaring glaciers; fiords and pristine rivers.
13. Scuba diving with sharks, turtles, colorful fish and vibrant coral gardens in Moorea.
14. Palm reading by Ketut Liyer in Ubud, Bali.
15. Meditating with chanting monks in a temple in Luang Prabang, Laos.


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