COUNTRY 20: Kingdom of Cambodia and Angkor Wat (and So Much More!) With Kids 

“Don’t  take the straight path or the winding path. Take the path your ancestors have taken.” – Khmer Proverb 

The proverb made us think  and ponder about the ambiance all throughout the country when  we visited. What we felt as family is that the country has been  living out the glory of their ancestors,  mainly from Angkor Wat legacy.  From flag symbol to beer labels, Angkor Wat is very prominent in all the places we’ve visited in the country.

 

Is that a good or bad thing? Well, we think it depends. Do they improve of what was  and capitalize on growing at  the  rate what it  was like during “ancestors” period, then yes. However, if there’s no significant growth and  milestones since the  past,  and  the present got stuck with the thinking of the  ‘great old days” then, it’s definitely a NO for us. This is  coming from our family, who are strong advocates of goal setting based on own family ideals – it takes courage. 

CROSSING THAILAND CAMBODIA-BORDER

Straight from our family adventures in Amazing Thailand, we walked to the Kingdom of Cambodia by foot. Ain’t that cool? Crossing the borders by walking, yes definitely.
Good

Crossing Thailand- Cambodia Border with these kids happy exploring feet
Walking from one country to another – yes, this deserves a family groupie photo ❤️

SIEM REAP

Exploring this vibrant city Siem Reap means visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Angkor Wat and  discussing at length the  wonders of one of the largest  temple of the world.

Our October visit to Angkor Wat  may be the  best weather to go. It was hot and definitely humid. With   kids, hyper and cranky at  the same time, serious discussion about different belief system in ancient culture mixed with the region’s histories of empire was very challenging! There were a  lot of whining and a  lot of playing,too! Add in a lot of tourists.

The mere wide area of the temple already fascinated us  and our  youngest reactions to temple, terrorised us. Her view of temple at five years old is not favorable,  although quite amusing for the rest of the  family members.

Angkor Wat With Kids in October
The best view of Angkor Wat With Kids Playing and Running Around
Don’t forget to be blessed by Buddhist Monk inside the Angkor Wat
Standing On The Very Center of Temple
Angkor Wat With Kids is Quite Educational and Great Fun… Really!
From A Hindu Temple to A Buddhist Temple – Can you Explain that to this Muslim/ Christian Family Please?! Oh, we get it!

 

OVERNIGHT BUS WITH KIDS FROM SIEM REAP TO SIHANOUKVILLE

Although, we love tropical weather over desert weather, we really  rather be at the beach or any body  of water when in  a tropical country like our dear country home.

From Siem Reap to Sihanoukville, we took an overnight bus thinking we’ll save a night   in a hotel plus save time to be able to explore more of the  Kingdom of Cambodia. Did we?  Oh yes, we did! We do NOT recommend it to family with kids, though. It’s not safe,not to mention, not convenient nor hygienic. The bus has not  toilet. There are pit stops every few hours of bus speeding recklessly in the night, passengers coming  and going at every busy stop. It was pretty stressful for us parents, while the kids sleep beside  each other with dirty blankets. We needed to use the blankets as  the bus air conditioning was on full blast.

Yeah, the things we subject ourselves into when we travel with kids. This is definitely under the list of “why did we do that?” category of our travel “Remember when?!” conversations.

Cambodia Backpacker Style – Waiting for the Overnight Bus

Our Overnight Bus – Oh Dear Lord, Not Again For Kids!
Siem Reap to Sihanoukville Overnight Bus

 

SIHANOUKVILLE

The beach stay in Sihanoukville is almost worth  the bus ride. The beach is fantastic, although the water is more on the  lukewarm side than refreshing.

The Gulf of Thailand Beach Sunset
Nothing Like The Sea to Take a Break from Temples

 

KOH RUNG ISLAND 

Somehow, we don’t often hear Cambodia and beach in the same sentence together. Yet Koh  Rung Island, the second biggest island in Cambodia is said to be one of the best in SouthEast Asia. So, off we went.

What do we think of the Koh Rung? It’s a good beach island, yes. The  best? We’ve seen better in Philippines, of course. We were  also expecting the same convenience we had during our  Maldives trip so a little bit disappointed when we learned that there’s no electricity in the island during certain period of the day. We also got a tree house  with no air conditioning with little to non facilities. Koh Rung is a little still developing island, based on our opinion.

Overall, the beach is fantastic and one of a  kind. Beachlovers would definitely be awed if they do visit.

 

This island is fantastic! Fine white sand and fine gold sand in the same shore! Plus treehouse stay is fabulous
Fine Gold Sand Beach adjacent to Fine White Sand Beach – Kao Rung!

 

Life is awesome by the beach
Life is the beach ❤️

PHNOM PENH

We explored this quite crowded city in two days. As a worldschooling family, we spent a great deal  in the Angkor Wat  museum and Royal Palace. As usual, the kids enjoyed running around  and parents wishing that they are learning something.

😃

Royal Palace

 

The Kingdom of Cambodia  is a fascinating country with resources that are diverse, culture that is rich in history and legacy. The people definitely are one of the nicest in the world. We wouldn’t mind going  back to Cambodia with kids if they do request!

 

Have your family  been to Cambodia? Explored temples or beaches? Do tell. 

 

All Forms of Travel Are Remarkable! 

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart!”

Holiday travel is definitely not weekend travel. 

Weekend travel is, of course, not long term travel. 

Travelers are different from tourists are different from travel nomads.

Traveling on a budget has different challenges compared to bucket list traveling.

One is not better than the other.

Traveling alone is way different than traveling with friends or with loved one and is way different than traveling with family! 

Traveling with young kids is different than traveling with bigger kids! 

Every journey gets different results, every single time, different impact all the time! 

That’s why let’s just all travel and enjoy to our hearts’ satisfaction. 

There should be no comparison nor judgement, but more of inspirational stories from one another! 

After all, we are all travelers in this so called awesome life! 😍✈️✈️

Happy travels all! 

Keep on Traveling, Take Who’s Willing ❤️💚💙💞

COUNTRY 19 – Oh Thailand! You are Really Amazing! #AmazingThailand Indeed! 

We’ve been traveling for the past two months and it’s really very difficult to go back to our “normal” including blogging! But hey-o! It’s New Year and we intend to make 2017 way better than 2016, which is saying a lot because 2016’s filled with lots of travelling and great vibes! 2017 is still new, so here’s our family wishing you and the rest of the world health, prosperity, happy feet, mind, energy and soul for 2017!!

“Let’s be more amazing than last year!” – Turknoys
 

Here goes the blog about Thailand! 😘
“A good person can make another person good; it means that goodness will elicit goodness in society; other person is also be good.” -King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 1927-2016



When it comes to family travel, seeing a new country or a new place all at the same time, brings a lot of emotions! Yet we realized, when we traveled to Thailand, a land both of the Turknoy parents have visited, separately almost a decade ago, that it brings more emotions, add in the nostalgia and fascination how much the country have changed since we last visited. There’s a little bit of biased when traveling as we wanted desperately for kids to see Thailand as we saw the country when we were younger. That was interesting feeling!
 
We visited three cities in the country and we can’t get enough! We explored several temples in Bangkok, mesmerized by Chiang Mai festivals (which were in our bucket list for quite some time) and were fascinated by Chiang Rai!

For this adventure, the best travel moments are the cheapest ones! We took the sleeper’s train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, went family biking around in a very scenic rural park, and lots of street food market – really a lot! (This will be part 2 of the blog.😘) 

Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand’s capital city has the longest name of any city in the world (it’s in the Guinness Book of World Records – you can look it up – Kroong Tep or Bangkok!)

Our first stop – The Golden Buddha statue, Guinness World Record of the most expensive (or highest valued) sacred artifact!
Wat Traimit!
There’s also the Unicorn Café which we wanted to go because of our fascination with #UnicornVibes . Although a little bit underwhelmed by the café, we still managed to enjoy the uniqueness of the place in the city!

Unicorn Cafe food and drinks
Unicorn Crepe 😜
Playing Unicorns
Unicorn Burger

We also had a quick chat with a relative who has been working in the city for quite some time and loved it there! We loved it there and we only scratched the surface of an amazing country!

Asiatique Riverfront with Cousin, lovely beautiful Bangkok Night
And more favorite part of the city – their Science Museum! Very underrated, we’d say! We’ve been to a lot of Science Museum, including Scandinavian countries’ museum and the Bangkok Science Museum ranks high for us to top!
 

You just cant make this up! ❤️❤️

 


Chiang Mai, Thailand
 

Festival of Lights – We Love King

Loi Krathong could be translated as “to float a basket”, and comes from the tradition of making krathong or buoyant, decorated baskets, which are then floated on a river. The festival takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai Lunar Calendar; hence, the exact date of the festival changes every year. The festival usually falls November. When we visited Chiang Mai, it was November 18-20 . It was a bit toned down because of the year of mourning of the King of Thailand but it was still very fascinating for all family members.

Loi Krathong
Lighting our family’s best intentions !

The festival may originate from an ancient ritual paying respect to the water spirits. Each one of us made us wish as we send out a krathong to the Ping River. We also sent out all bad thoughts we have wishing for all the great things yet to come for the world.

 

Yi Peng or Floating Lanterns Festival coincides with Loi Krathong. Floating Lanterns are launched into the air where they gracefully float through the sky – oh such blissful sight! The festival is meant as a time to make merit. Our family sent out two lanterns to give thanks for all the blessings and to make a wish! We also watched the major parade, it was all meant to honor the greatness of the Thai King reign, solemn and beautiful parade.

  

Floating Lantern Festival
our second night during the Yi Peng Festival 2016
Parade Finale!

Three memorable nights , two festivals! Our hearts are overwhelming with happiness and optimism enough to last us for a long time! We believe we should celebrate life like this all the time. Less commercial, more looking forward and giving thanks to life’s energy!

During the days of the festival, we managed to squeeze in a day trip to the Long Neck Tribe where life is simple, faith in tribe is strong! When we see places and people like this, we are always reminded that life is always simpler than how we made them to be. 

Long Neck Tribe
Long Neck Tribe

 


Chiang Rai, Thailand
White Temple is a very contemporary designed temple! Not an ordinary temple and worth the visit, 3-5 hours ride from Chiang Mai. 

White Temple!

One of the most memorable activities we’ve done as family was our family biking  around Singha Park – beyond words! The majestic view, the stunning landscape, the kids laughters for two hours, the parents panting and struggling to bike up the slopes! Ohhh what memories!

Biking Around Singha Park Majestic Views @Chiang Rai

 

One very interesting and profound Thailand experience: 

All throughout the country, the Thai people are all in mourning, showing their grief and loss of the King of Thailand, the longest reigning monarch, by wearing black or non-bright colored outfits for a year. We also wore black or white when we can even when attending festivals. The loyalty towards a leader and a country is very evident among the Thai it’s humbling and overwhelming! This is when a lot of leaders are being scrutinized all over the world. Maybe we should obey more than we are complaining as a world’s citizen. Maybe we should act like Thais every now and then.. Maybe the world would be in a better, more unified state. Maybe that’ll work. 
 
The Land of Smiles, Amazing Thailand, we want more! (there’s Part 2 of our Thailand blog.) 

Qatar 1: Singing Sand Dunes of Qatar

“What makes the desert so beautiful,” said the Little Prince, “is that it hides a well.”
 

“They’re sleeping in there or else they are yawning. Only the children are pressing their noses against the windowpanes.” “Only the children know what they are looking for.” “All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.” “What makes the desert beautiful,’ said the little prince, ‘is that somewhere it hides a well…” (Quotes from The Little Prince)

Our family didn’t love traveling instantly. It was a slow courting process for the parents and kids to love exploring. We used to be conformist to any society’s standards. Got married, checked! Got kids, checked! Put the kids in the best school we could possible afford, checked! Went to church and mosque religiously, checked!

Life became routine and predictable. We are very grateful. That is one value our family will always have – being grateful to whatever circumstances and predictability life hands to us. Yet, we can’t help but hear the silent questions of our hearts and minds.

“AND THEN WHAT?!”

 
What happens when a family wants something more? What happens when every family member questions all society’s standards? We are in our journey and we don’t have the answers just yet but this we are very sure of: When you start questioning the validity and existence of one norm, such as education and traditional family lifestyle, there is no turning back. We just had to question all norms and the “why” we do the things we do day in and day out, like robots, like zombies, like programmed applications in a matrix.
 
That is why we like hanging out in the desert. The Singing Sand Dunes of Qatar close to Al Kharara is our favorite place in Qatar, whatever the weather! Yes, even in the middle of summer when the temperature is scorching 55++ degree- Celsius!

Sand dunes in the winter

 
Sand dunes in the summer!

There is something about the beauty of the sand dunes, dependent to the blowing of the wind, yet standing firm and proud to its desert background while humming its sand dune songs!

We may be an ordinary expat family in Qatar, yet we have our ambitions and goals as family. We go where the wind blows, especially with the unpredictable world economy nowadays, yet to stand firm and proud to our family’s quests and questioning while we hum our family quests song unique from all the songs of other family!
 

Sand dunes are better explored bare foot!

The Singing Sand Dunes of Qatar is a must-see for all Qatar residents, visitors and tourists! During winter, this is the perfect place of hanging out with friends for a BBQ and bon fire, sand duning, sand tobogganing, climbing cardio exercises and a lot more activities! It’s a great hang out for kids.
no filter !
 
Great playground for kids with free play-all-you can sand dunes! Our family has seen the sunrise and sunset from the Singing Sand Dunes of Qatar, both spectacular nature wonder at work.
 
Most of the time, what we actually question in life has no right and wrong answers. Those who claim, they have it all figured out and they know the right answers are all wrong. And we are mostly sure, they didn’t watch the sun rises or setting from the sand dunes or desert!
 

Sunset, Sun Dunes, Desert and a lot of Life’s Questions

Maybe life should never have answers. Maybe deserts contain hidden wells, yet again maybe none.
 
Does it matter really? When we can survive life without water?

different lovely shades of brown
 
 

COUNTRY 15: BAHRAIN: Shortest Plane Ride, Middle East’s First Indoor Amusement Water Park and World’s First Sustainable Skyscraper with Wind Turbines

 


وش ليش بالبحر و اهواله او رزق الله على السيف


Translation: Why endure the sea and its dangers while God’s blessings are on the shore.


Bahraini Proverb
 

The design inspiration behind the twin towers of the Bahrain World Trade Center makes it the first building of its type in the world. A modern interpretation of traditional Arabian towers, where the shapenot the structure harnesses the onshore winds of the Arabian Gulf, the towers’ architecture provides a source of energy for the bundling, renewable and cost effective.

Bahrain World Trade Center’s unique architecture, wind energy powered- high rise building! Effective way to teach kids about alternative energy in an oil rich country
The visit to Bahrain is long overdue for our family. After spending ten years living in the Middle East, it is just appropriate to see and visit the neighbor country and city and see their environment and day-to-day lives amidst the “similarities.” 

It is our family’s strong belief that no two countries’ cultures are exactly the same and visiting countries, no matter, how close they are geographically proves to us then and again our belief about the every country’s uniqueness.

Our family appreciates Bahrain’s friendly and polite culture. Everyone seems to have high respect towards one another. The places we’ve visited in the country are well-established with high quality services like City Centre Manama, Bahrain World Trade Center and Manama Souq. All these places seemed to be the happy to-be places in the country. All, even our walk along the King Faisal Highway in the middle of the afternoon, something we rarely do on the streets of Doha.
 

Lots of water fun indoors at @ Wahoo!!! The Middle East’s first temperature-controlled, indoor-outdoor waterpark👍👍

Fancy Indoor Skydiving anyone? There at the building behind!
Bahrain is the first country in the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf to discover oil way back in 1932. It feels that the country has developed its culture fully with the equal laws for all residents in the country, the tax (yes, that coming from an almost tax-free country is a surprise for us!) and the room for state-of-the-art technology innovations like indoor water park inside the City Centre Mall and The Bahrain World Trade Centre, a skyscraper with wind turbines in which a percentage of energy of the structure is powered by wind energy harnessed by the turbines.
 

It is also a huge adjustment to use decimals in currency. 1 Bahraini Dinar is equivalent almost to 10.1 Qatari Riyal. The mind conditioning to spend less because it’s expensive is a little hard to get used to. Doing math later on, the prices are almost the same. The mind just played a trick on the currency conversions when multiplied by 10!
 

Life is all about innovation, which is why we endure the sea and its dangers (referring to that Bahraini proverb) yet we should never fail to enjoy God’s blessings on the shores! Enjoying Bahrain for almost two full days, we saw how the locals and residents have capitalized on the country’s gifts being a desert and an island. We have felt the country’s sense of pride from within.

 
Do we recommend a weekend in Bahrain? Yes, we do. Not only it’s a great family getaway from Doha (or any other country in the GCC) but also to appreciate that there is another world out there in a desert island like Bahrain!

And hey, if not for the country, it’s really way too cool experiencing the shortest plane ride ever. 15 minutes! Barely after the pilot has spoken to the passengers about taking off, he’s there at it again, briefing the passengers about the landing and the destination country conditions! The huge disadvantage though, we waited the same time at the airport as we would on any normal flight to another country.

But hey again, there is nothing we love more than kicking off the weekend, right after office hours staying at the airport lounge with the family members complete! Because our favorite thing to do is go together where we’ve never been before!

Manama Souq

COUNTRY 13 – NORWAY: 2,407-KM-Away from the North Pole!

 It’s our 13th Country to explore as family and we are so amazed with Norway. We haven’t done much in Norway but one full day of winter at Narvik, enjoying the closest point our family was the closest (so far) from the North Pole with lots of snow. It seems that not having a complete family photo is a great reason to go back. And we really intend to go back. We have our hearts set on this quest! 

a taste of Narvik keeps us wanting more of Norway

a taste of Narvik keeps us wanting more of Norway

The fun of exploring never ends. Once we step on new territory, there will always be some new feat to conquer, new bucketlist to tick off.

We intend to explore of Norway and now aim closer to North Pole! Oh my, let the dreaming continues! Dreaming knows no bounds, only the limits that we set for ourselves.
 

the closest we have for a family picture, our youngest is indoor enjoying the warmth and view
our youngest in Narvik enjoying indoor view of Narvik and below freezing temperature

“A tied dog does not jump farther than his cord. ” – Norwegeian Proverb

“Bunden hund bykser ikkje lenger enn bandet rekk”

COUNTRY 5 – Germany, Castles of the Fairy Tale King, UNESCO Churches, German Sausages and Solo Travel

“Rund is die Welt, drum Brüder laßt uns reisen.” (The world is round, so let’s travel, brothers!)

Germany will always be that another world to explore for our family which we will consider very special to our hearts. This country is our first travel for almost free, no plane tickets, no guides, a lots of German sausages with pretzels and cheese as a meal. 

That experience of waking up in a different country as a complete stranger is awesome! Well, not really a complete stranger, since we are family traveling. It’s even better. The kids looking up to us to see how we behave when everything else is new and strange, how we adapt to new challenges and environment spontaneously. The thought that those scenes will fill up their memory banks of us is scary, challenging and great fun.
 

Several months after our family adventure to the country, this country is also the first solo travel of our eldest kid explorer. She went to two cities of Germany with the Doha Youth Choir having their performance in Berlin and Hamburg. She had a great time exploring the cities despite being shy and awkward with the people with her. How different would she have reacted if she hasn’t been in the country before, we won’t really know. It wasn’t easier for the parents to be apart with her. We suppose, exploring together or not, it will always difficult for the mother hen to part with the chicks, so to speak. 

 
How our first Turknoy enjoyed her Germany travel is her story to tell, if or when she wants it to be told. We, as family, had a blast in the Bavaria region. Our visit to the country is definitely a spur-of-the-moment decision for all of us. Two months after our first Europe trip, we were first so hung up with the beauty of Europe. It’s really hard to get over Europe once you’ve been there. So, our family didn’t even attempt to let the memory of Europe fade before we get on the next plane.

We spent our miles getting tickets to Munich and our first goal is to explore Bavaria! Following our Disneyland Paris trip, we wanted to check out the inspiration of the castle, the Schloss Neuschwanstein. The real castle is way more fabulous, of course! The architecture, the landscape around it. Truly, a magnificent infrastructure from the 19th century!

This started our non-fascination towards Disneyland and other commercialized Disney adventures. We all realized as a family that the world is too beautiful and too diverse to focus our travel goals toward making the greatest businessman in the world, richer!

We visited the Fairy Tale Castle of Neuschwanstein and supposedly enjoyed the breathtaking view from the Marienbridge to the castle, but the foggy weather didn’t allow us to enjoy the view.

This is our reality of the view of Neuschwanstein Castle from the Marienbrücke Bridge, a family photo to treasure still

This is our expectation of the view of Neuschwanstein Castle from the Marienbrücke Bridge ❤️❤️

Here then we realized that being in an awesome and surreal place is always better than in pictures. I know it’s ironic but spending the day in and around the his castle in a foggy weather is indeed more amazing than in photos. Either than or we should bring a better camera than our smart phones. (We have yet to learn this bit of lesson as we still go explore countries armed only with our iPhones!)

One fun fact we learned during this trip is that King Ludwig II has the same birthday as our only Turknoy son. Known as the Real Fairy Tale King, we got interested in getting to know King Ludwig II as it may give us a glimpse of the future personality of our boy.

Not to be outdone, the Linderholf Castle is our favorite castle really. More so than the Neuschwanstein Castle. Here we really appreciated the weirdness and uniqueness of King Luwig II. It’s amazing how much we can tell about someone based on how he lived his last months or moments of his life. There’s that honesty and bluntlesss that they can’t really hide.

With our points of view about life and how to live about it, Kind Ludwig II will always have a place in our family discussions.

Our top favorite family photos in Germany @Linderholf Castle of King Ludwig Ii
And hoops, the Bavarian cheese farm with lots of sausage platters with fresh baked bread. Plus that 360-view of the mountain is one for our books as well. Yeah, lots of memories to cherish as family!

We explored the Church of Wieskirch built in the 17th century, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage and we enjoyed staring at the biggest and most beautiful bamboo organ inside the church. The same enjoyment we experienced when we went inside the St. Peter’s Church in Marienplatz and climb the gazillion steps (exaggeration, of course, but it was a long and challenging climb with three kids in tow!) to enjoy the view of Munich.
Last and definitely the least (in setting the good example for the kids), the beer! Oh my the beer! It was not Octoberfest but the overflowing fresh beer early morning is a memory the parents will cherish.
                                                               

Someday, we wish to go back to Germany. There are lots of reasons to go back. Months or years of exploring the country may not be enough. The art, the culture, the food, the history, the local’s friendly yet formal attitude, the future possibilities. Hopefully, one of the kids will consider this as a country to live in. For now, we move on exploring.

Marienplatz at München