Memories

As I get ready to leave Guam this year in August, I am feeling nostalgic about places I have lived and visited.

I have been so lucky so have had such cool adventures. I thought I would tell you about some of my favorites.

I grew up in Arizona. People think that it’s all desert, and some of it is. However, a lot of Arizona is also forest. It’s a very diverse state.

Jenifer DeLemont
Me with Oak Creek Canyon Behind Me

 

Jenifer DeLemont
On My Way to Graduation

 

Jenifer DeLemont, JD DeLemont, Jenifer with one n
In Flagstaff with a fern

 

Jenifer DeLemont, JD DeLemont
At Havasu Falls inside The Grand Canyon

Then, there was South Korea. I loved it there so much! I got to experience seasons for the first time. I also got to teach cute kids and make lots of friends that I still keep in touch with.

I also learned to read and write Hangul, which is the Korean written language. My spoken Korean is not as good as my Spanish, but I did my best.

South Korea is an amazing country. If anyone is thinking of visiting: I recommend it!

Jenifer DeLemont, JD DeLemont
In Busan in front of the Aquarium

 

Jenifer DeLemont, JD DeLemont
At EverLand, and Amusement Park in South Korea
Jenifer DeLemont at The Folk Villiage
At the Folk Village in Suwon, South Korea
Jenifer DeLemont
At the Cherry Blossom Festival in Seoul

I also went to Japan and spent some time there. I really liked the Shinto cemeteries, which have clapping sticks to keep the dead company.

I went to a Cherry Blossom Festival, enjoyed the night life, had tea at a traditional tea house, and in general just enjoyed Tokyo. It was a beautiful place to visit, and I hope to go back some day.

Jenifer DeLemont
Uneo Park in Tokyo
Jenifer DeLemont in Japan
In front of a Pagoda in Japan
Jenifer DeLemont
In front of a stone lantern
Jenifer DeLemont
A Shinto Cemetery I visted

France was amazing as well. The food was so good! I know it’s a cliche to say that the food was the best part, but it really was impressive.

I went for Christmas, so I got to see Paris all decked out for the holiday. It was cold, but thankfully there was no snow. I get cold so easily since I am from the desert…

Jenifer DeLemont
Standing in front of the Eiffel Tower
Jenifer DeLemont
In front of Notre Dame
Jenifer DeLemont
Amazing Cheesecake in Paris
Jenifer DeLemont
In front of the Louvre

I also went to England to visit my cousin Stacy. It was really lovely.

Being an American, I guess I think of the U.K. as where most of our culture came from. It certainly has a certain amount of familiarity to it.

The British Museum was a lot of fun, and I tried my first fish and chips after! I also saw all the London Landmarks.

Jenifer DeLemont
Big Ben and the London Eye

 

Jenifer DeLemont in London
At the British Museum with my cousin Stacy

 

Jenifer DeLemont
Me with Big Ben

 

westminster abbey
In front of Westminster Abbey

As for Thailand, I always wanted to go there, because I worked at a Thai restaurant in High School and they made it sound so amazing. I have to say, after 20 years of wanting to see it, I was not disappointed! I got to meet elephants, swim in the ocean, and check out several temples.

I only spent a month backpacking around in Thailand, and it left barely long enough. Definitely plan a long trip if you go!

Jenifer DeLemont
On a waterfall hike outside Chang Mai
Jenifer DeLemont
An orchid stall at the flower market in Bangkok.
Jenifer DeLemont
On the island of Koh Samui.
Jenifer DeLemont
Meeting elephants!

Australia is fabulous! I really fell in love with the land and the people.

I went to visit my friends Melissa and Shari, but I had always wanted to see the country as well. I felt drawn to it because most of Australia is as dry as Arizona. They could also easily rival each other in terms of dangerous animals.

I highly recommend visiting Australia.

Jenifer DeLemont
The Blue Mountains

 

Jenifer DeLemont
Hiking in the Blue Mountains

 

Jenifer DeLemont
A blue grouper in the ocean in Sydney.

 

Jenifer DeLemont
Watson’s Bay in Sydney

 

Jenifer DeLemont
The opera house

 

Jenifer DeLemont
In the rain forest in Kuranda

 

Jenifer DeLemont
On the Great Barrier Reef

I lived in Oregon after South Korea and before Guam.

It is where my family still lives. My mom is in Gresham, which is right outside Portland. And, my aunt is in Hood River. We have our family reunions in Seaside.

I love the Pacific Northwest. Even though I didn’t grow up there, having my family live there makes it feel like home.

Jenifer DeLemont
At the Shakespeare Garden in Portland

 

Jenifer DeLemont
At the Japanese Gardens in Portland

 

Jenifer DeLemont
At the lava flats in Oregon

 

Jenifer DeLemont
At the Oregon Coast Aquarium

Guam has been fabulous.

At first it was a little hard to move to an island. Islands are so small, and it’s a challenge to find anything on island (food and clothes, for example.) Sometimes all the stores are just out of everything. And no one delivers to Guam!

However, I really came to love the reefs here and the whole underwater world. It’s been so much fun, and Rich has liked his job here on the USS Emory S. Land.

Jenifer DeLemont
Rich and I at Umatac Bay

 

Jenifer DeLemont
Just me scuba diving
Jenifer DeLemont
Hiking to waterfalls in the jungle

 

Jenifer DeLemont
A bite of dragon fruit, which grows here on Guam

 

Jenifer DeLemont
Tumon Bay where I live

And now we are off to Oahu. I have visited several times, since we need to go through Oahu to get anywhere from Guam. So far, I have really enjoyed it. I am terrified about buying a house there and finding a job. But, I know I’ll be able to do it.

Jenifer DeLemont
Me with a turtle in Oahu

 

Bangkok Medical Museum

baby skeletons

Some very dear friends Chris and Laura were living in Thailand while I was there, and so I went into the downtown area of Bangkok to spend some time with them.

babies in jars

Chris writes a travel blog that focuses on weird things around the world, and so he decided to take me to the Medical Museum.

people slices

It’s not really about medicine. It’s more of an anatomy museum. Instead of the usual diagrams and pictures, they have actual skeletons and actual bodies.

adult skeletons

I am not usually one to be interested in babies in jars, so I was a little uncomfortable with the whole thing (if I am being honest.) However, some of the exhibits were interesting.

with bodies

For me, I think I preferred Body Worlds in the US because the plasticized tissue was less degraded and easier to see than the slices of bodies in jars of formaldehyde.

However, I am sure it’s an educational museum for the kids who go a field trips there.

20130314_154227

Driving an Elephant

20130306_100355
When I was in Chang Mai, I ran into some German tourists at my hostel who had planned a day learning to ride elephants.

They had done their research to make sure that the company they went through treated the elephants well, and it sounded like fun, so I went along.

20130306_100507

To steer, you sit on the elephants neck and nudge their shoulder blades in the direction you want to go.

I had one of those moments when I got on where I thought: “How on Earth did I end up sitting on an elephant?”

We all have moments where we have to stop and think about where we are in the world and be surprised, right?

 

20130306_103042

I bought some bananas and so did the others, and the elephants would reach back and try to take them.

So, you give them one banana at a time when they are hungry. It’s definitely more fun than putting gas in a car.

20130306_104323

 

Afterwards, we got to play with the elephants. There was a baby, which belonged to the elephant I had been riding.

It was a lot of fun to see the baby playing around and having a good time with everyone.

20130306_105529

And of course, they sold photos (because they always do.) I bought one of me taking this couple for a ride in the basket on top of my elephant.

It was a great experience. I had fun, and the elephants seemed to have fun too. They are very playful.

Temples in Thailand

buddha_with_nipples
Of course when you are in Thailand, it’s important to go see temples and soak up the different culture.

Some of the temples didn’t allow women, but I went to all the ones that did.

big-buddha-bangkok

Thailand is a majority Buddhist county, and unlike South Korea, they really enjoy their gold.

There are golden Buddhas everywhere. Some of them are just painted that color, but others are real gold.

gold_buddha

With the gold Buddhas, you can buy sheets of gold leaf. It helps to support the temple, and you get to press the gold right onto the Buddha.

The photo (above) is of one such Buddha, covered in real gold.

20130308_132937

I sat down to talk to some monks at a “Monk Chat.” They couldn’t talk directly to me, so they spoke through a man who was willing to rely my questions.

Mostly, I asked about why they became monks. The answers varied, but for the most part, they had families who were poor and they needed a place to live.

Everyone tries to follow the teachings of the Buddha, but they seemed to convey the thought that becoming a monk is about finding a place in the world when you need one. They also take and care for sick people if their families can’t.

20130305_123956

 

Much like in a Muslim church, it is important to be covered. When I went looking at temples, I brought a shawl with me to make sure my body was covered.

They do offer shawls at some of the temples that you can use, but I brought my own because I have sensitive skin.

20130305_182157

 

The architecture is really beautiful and unique. Of course Thailand is perfectly modern and they have modern buildings which are just plain towers.

However, with temples they try to use the traditional architecture. The detail is amazing!

20130307_113126

This is one of the temples that women weren’t allowed in (above) so I don’t know what was inside.

I thought about trying to peer in, but unfortunately it seemed disrespectful so I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

temple_1

Even the neighborhood shrines are really neat. I had a tuk-tuk driver who took me around for a day, and he brought me to his local neighborhood shrine to offer a prayer for a good day.

Of course I donated to the temple, as is expected. I thought it was nice that he would think of bringing tourists there as a way to help improve his neighborhood.

prayer

This is the prayer the monk offered me in thanks for my contribution. He also gave me some incense to light for the Buddha in the temple.

20130311_145720

Each house in the nicer neighborhoods has a little miniature house in front of it.

Many are made to look like the homes they are in front of, and they are meant to be a place for spirits to stop and rest.

Offerings of food, flowers, and alcohol are often left inside.

Jenifer DeLemont in Thailand

I even visited some of the ancient temples that they are trying to restore, in order to preserve Thailand’s history.

You can see the yellow railings around it, because it’s not open to the public during restoration. But it was still cool to have a look.


20130307_112716

This is a sign detailing the money being put into the project, and the history of different depictions of Buddha through time.

20130311_145922

Behind most temples is a smaller and less grand building where the monks live. This is a dormitory.

Koh Samui Island

lita and me

A friend asked me to meet her on Koh Samui, which is an island off the southern part of Thailand.

the water

I flew to the coast, and then took a boat the rest of the way. It was a nice journey, and I saw a lot of wonderful things along the way.

the loft sign

When I got there, I checked into my hotel. I hadn’t seen any pictures when I booked it, so I was surprised to find that it had a spider theme. Some might find that unsettling, but it just made me laugh.

another loft sign

Nazialita came to join me, and the two of us spent some time riding motorcycles around the island, renting jetskis, and generally trying to see the place.

jetskis are fun

We also spent plenty of time just being lazy on the beach.

beach wave shot

And of course, we ate a lot of amazing food.

island food

Island food is a little different than the food on the mainland. They cook a lot more pigs on spits and BBQ a lot more.

bbq pig

This seems to be a thing on all of the islands in Southeast Asia, so I have just accepted it.

20130317_143007

It was a really pretty island, and since we were mostly there to relax, it fit the bill. There are other islands if you want to eat mushrooms and go to a full moon party or if you are really into scuba diving.

food on koh samui

However, Koh Samui is really just a place to kick back and relax, and that was exactly what Nazialita wanted, so that is what we did.

coconut trees used to seem exotic

I recommend it if you aren’t planing on doing too much adventuring and you just want to chill at the beach and look up at coconut trees while people walk by selling cocktails or offering to give you a massage.

in front of my hotel

Food in Thailand

20130305_181330

I think my favorite part of traveling is eating. I love food!

This is larb, which is ground meat with spices. It’s eaten by scooping the meat up with the lettuce.

I have always loved Thai food, so getting to eat food all around Thailand was amazing!

20130306_183456

This is Tom Ka Gai, which is a coconut soup with chicken and spices.

When I was young, I worked at  Thai restaurant in Phoenix and I always used to have a nice, spicy bowl of Tom Ka Gai when I was sick.

It’s like my version of chicken noodle soup.

20130305_113807

This may be one of my favorite things in the world.

This dessert is made by cooking rice in coconut milk and sugar, and then topping it with mango.

In English, it is called sticky rice and mango, and it’s awesome!

20130305_142705

Most people think of Pho as Vietnamese, but in all of Southeast Asia, it is popular.

I stopped in a little stall while I was out looking at temples, and I was so impressed.

It was just noodles and chicken with some broth, but it was perfect.

20130315_180300

Of course I ate Pad Thai too!

I know Pad Thai is what most people think of when they think of Thai food, and that is because it’s amazing.

It’s just a simple noodle dish, but it’s the sauce that makes it great! Sweet and spicy at the same time.

I ate a lot of less attractive-looking Pad Thais from street vendors, and those were good too. But it was hard to get a picture while holing the paper cone they put it in, so you get a picture of the one I had at a restaurant.

20130308_192656

Meat and rice is simple, but delicious. This was at a little stand by my hotel.

I know I should be more excited to tell you about the many temples and hikes, but food is really one of my favorite things.

Bangkok Flower Market

close up of orchids

One of the places I loved the most in all of Thailand was the Bangkok Flower Market.

flower shop two

A tuk-tuk driver suggested it to me, and as I have always loved plants, I went to check it out.

20130312_072059

Basically, it’s just a part of town next to the floating market where they have stalls selling fruits and flowers.

flower market zoomed out so you can see

That might not sound exciting to you (and if so I do understand) but I love plants and flowers so much!

20130312_070813

The flowers are grown all over the country, and they are sold here to become wreaths and bouquets.

20130312_072151

Most of them will become offerings to Buddha in a temple somewhere, but some are also for gifts and occasions.

20130312_071536

Giving flowers, offering flowers, and having flowers around is a big part of Thai culture because it is a tropical country with good soil.

20130312_072722

Even just walking around the streets I came upon amazing flowers all the time that stopped me in my tracks and made me take a picture.

20130312_073653

So, this is my gratuitous post in tribute of the amazing flowers of Thailand.

tropical fruit

Please enjoy my bad cell phone pictures of some of the most beautiful flowers and fruit that I have ever seen.

more fruit for sale

I promise that if I ever go back, I will at least buy a mediocre camera first so I can take less blurry pictures.

pile of dragon fruit

Of course, if you did have a nice camera, would you want to take it on vacation?

Probably not…

So bad pictures it is!

elephant gets flower offerings