What I’ll remember most about our four months traveling through the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
- The surprising amount of liquid in a fresh coconut.
- The complex dance of traffic without streetlights.
- The lingering pungent smell and taste of durian.
- Eating ripe mangoes on a boat with my hands, juice running down my arms, and washing off by diving into the ocean.
- Finally feeling confident crossing the street and watching the motorbikes part around me like Moses and the Red Sea.
- Watching the big red coin of a sun dip behind mountains and palm trees.
- The crushing humidity, and more so, when the humidity breaks and Asia feels like a warm summer night back home.
- Riding a motorbike on every street, road, and dirt path on a tiny island in the Gulf of Thailand, and eventually, crashing it and the fading purple-to green-to yellow bruise shaped like a fried chicken leg.
- The usefulness of 7-Elevens in Thailand. Step up your game, America.
- The pineapples, the mangos, the mangosteens, the dragon fruit, the lychees, rambutans, and longans, the pomelos, the tamarind, the jackfruit, the coconuts, the bananas. The fruit, the fruit, the fruit.
- Monks on buses, on boats, on Bangkok’s sky train, on planes, everywhere pops of orange.
- The fireflies pulsing in trees on the banks of a river in Cambodia.
- Avocado shakes: sweet, creamy, perfect.
- The specific, distinctive smell of Southeast Asia: charred meat, the sour sweetness of rotting garbage, orange dust rising off of dirt roads, salty sweat, overripe fruit, citrus, smoky incense, raw meat, sewage, fresh basil and other spices.
- People five to a motorbike.
- Spidery banca boats, graceful longtail boats, all surprisingly loud.
- Reveling in the luxury of sidewalks after two weeks in the congested maze of Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
- Lounging on a beach, cocktail in hand, watching the sunset over the Gulf of Thailand on my birthday.