Tag Archives: Travel

Three Excuses to Visit a McDonald’s Overseas

There is nothing worse than a traveler that goes to new places and searches endlessly for the comforts of home. When you visit a place, take it all in! The food, the scents, the sights, the customs, the CULTURE.

However, with the great Americanization of the world, it is apparent that McDonald’s is spreading faster than the black plague did, and I have found the only three excuses to visit one when abroad.

1. ICE
Ice is a rarity in many places overseas (especially all over Europe), and after a while of drinks with no ice, it is common to crave some frozen water with our soda. McDonald’s, of course, is ever-flowing with these frozen morsels. So if you need your ice fix, it is OK to visit McDonald’s for a cold one.

I have seen a few McDonald’s overseas that have prime real estate. In Hong Kong I visited one that was on top of a hill and had a wrap around balcony that offered the best view of the city. Who would have thought! (No I still didn’t eat, just enjoyed an iced beverage).
When you fly into Rome, and then arrive at the train station in the city, you will quickly run into Piazza della Republica. A beautiful square with a fountain in the middle, ancient ruins on one side, and a giant old hotel that wraps around half of it. It is a perfect people watching spot, and busy roundabout for traffic of all kinds. And what is conveniently located at the base of the hotel? A Mcdonald’s. But no ordinary McDonald’s, here you can sit out in their covered tables right on the Piazza, and enjoy a freshly pressed espresso in a ceramic cup paired with a delicious croissant for 1 Euro.

Perfect for people watching!


I got hungry! But impressive for McDonald's right?

And lastly, McDonald’s across the world offers a cultural lesson. Yes, I will admit that. While we have burgers and fries because that is the “American Diet,” each McDonald’s around the world offers the common foods of that country (yes, they do also still offer the common burger and fries).

McDonald's Japan


McDonalds Middle East


McDonalds China

Well there you have it. The 3 excuses to visit a McDonald’s overseas.

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Ancient Sticks and Stones and Floating Homes

In Siem Reap, Cambodia we visited what is probably my favorite ancient site I saw on my trip through Asia – The Bayon Temple in the ancient capital city of Angkor Thom.

Ancient City Entrance

The temple was giant and from afar you don’t notice right away what makes it extra spectacular- there are 53 towers with 4 giant Buddha faces on each side of each tower. So the temple is decorated with 212 giant Buddha faces.

Entire 1,000 year old temple, 53 towers with 4 buddha faces on each. Amazing!


A couple of the 53 towers in the temple.

The heads of dancers were stolen from all over the temple to be sold.

I love how it looks as though the sky is opening just at the point of the temple.

We also went back to Ta Prohm, the temple with all the trees where “Tomb Raider” was filmed and had a tribute battle.. of course.

Tomb Raider Tribute.. of course.


Dad wins? Oh mann.

Our tour guide said this was the first time visitors have asked him to take photos of a tribute battle.. who would have thought! Poor guy.

Trees growing from everywhere!


I love how the trees just form and melt into the temple.


Melting Tree

After we finished exploring these ancient marvels, we took a boat to a floating village. Wasn’t sure what to expect, but would have never imagined what I saw! It was an entire huge village all floating on bamboo rafters. There were restaurants, stores, schools, farms, and homes. This is one of many floating villages along this river, 80,000 homes in all.

A village of floating houses and grass.

The grass you see is a plant that grows on the surface of the water, and is extremely thick in parts. We ended up getting stuck in it a few times.

Such thick grass on top of the water! We got stuck several times.


House on bamboo rafters.


Storm coming(house along the bank of the river)!


Pretty peaceful place for a nap!


Laundry Day


Such a beautiful and happy family! They would not stop waving.


There was boat after boat with kids of all ages rowing to school, some had to fight the grass in thick parts too.


Jumping between floating school buildings to get to class.


After school ice cream, a tradition everywhere!


Floating house of nakey boys. The oldest is being modest.


This Face!

When I told the girl on the right that she was beautiful she replied with “Thank you, but my brothers are also very beautiful.” I didn’t expect that response but you can see in her what a beautiful person she is!

Beautiful Family

Another wonderful day of sites that I never could have imagined I would be seeing or even existed.

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Angkor Wat and Chanting Monks

This morning we took a flight from Luang Probang, Laos to Siem Reap, Cambodia. The airports were both so tiny and the flight was only just over an hour so it was an easy trip!

We arrived at our hotel, called the Grand Hotel D’Angkor – the oldest hotel in Siem Reap. I jumped right into the pool and then got changed to go visit Cambodia’s most prized posession- Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is a temple complex built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his personal temple and capital city. It is a world heritage site and the world’s largest religious building.

Outside Angkor Wat

Me at Angkor Wat


Bass Reliefs at Angkor Wat, 1,850 girls throughout the temple.


Buddha inside Angkor Wat


Monk praying at Angkor Wat


Rock formations found throughout.


Oh daddy..

It was also used in “Tomb Raider.” We ran into a film being shot while we were there and when we asked what the film was we got the response of “it is going to be like Tomb Raider, but with Tigers! And Chinese.” Keep an eye out!

Filming of a Chinese movie "like tomb raider but chinese and with TIGERS!"

After we finished walking around Angkor Wat, we went over to a small temple next door. It was around 6 p.m. which is when the monks gather at each temple and chant. They do this twice a day, once before sunrise, and once right before sunset. We sat with the monks before they began their chants, and I was surprised when they began talking to me and looking me in the eyes. I have been under the impression until now that you are not to look a monk in the eyes or talk to one if you are a girl. This is because they have given up the ability to have any type of relation with a woman, so talking to them or looking them in the eyes is seen as tempting them. While it was still clear that I was not to touch any of them or even get too close, it was nice to have a conversation with them.

Their chants were almost hypnotizing. I closed my eyes and took in the humming and words of the ancient words. It was beautiful.

Sunset chant

After we listened and watched the monks chant, we walked back through Angkor Wat in the dark. A slightly eerie but also a spiritual experience. We were the only ones left in the complex because it had closed almost 2 hours prior.

Silhouette of Angkor Wat at night.

Good night!

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Senses on Overdrive

The craziest most surreal experience I have had traveling is without a doubt when I visited India.

The smells, noises, tastes, and sights are all incredibly intense and overwhelming all at once. The only place that you aren’t on overdrive is in your hotel room.. and that can even be trying at times.

My mom and I visited India over Spring Break one year, and only planned the trip about 3 days before we were to leave. I like spontaneity.

We were going for 10 days and visiting about 5 different cities, so lots of driving and flying but there was never a dull moment. I won’t be writing about food this time, they had some amazing dishes ( I grew especially fond to paneer, a cheese found in this area) but after this trip I still have a hard time eating Indian.. we were both horribly sick for months after coming home.

Most of the photos I’m posting speak for themselves so enjoy, and if you ever get a chance to visit India you should but be ready.

Ever wonder where your garments you buy that are "PreWashed" are washed? Here it is.

This girl, who seemed to be about 3 years old was begging by herself on a pier.

Amazing architecture!

No need to go to a dentist office, teeth are pulled on the streets.

Now here is some graphic design!

This last photo needs a little explanation. As you may know, cows are seen as sacred in the Hindu religion. If you own a cow, it is customary each day to release your cow out onto the streets to roam around, and then everyone feeds the cows. This is not only in rural areas, driving around New Delhi is like playing dodge the cow.
Well I had some feed for the cows in a bag that I had hanging from my arm. I was near this cow (or bull?) and he must have smelt my food. He was impatient and decided to charge me and ram his horns into my bag of food. Of course he didn’t have good aim so his horns ended up puncturing my Canon Rebel that was wrapped around my neck (thankfully that was there or it would have been my lungs!) and then the strap wrapped around his horn.
So there I was camera strap around my neck and the hungry cows horns.
Where was my mom? Filming this. Of course she was yelling “Marina Run.” Silly mom.
I grabbed his horn, popped my camera off and stepped back quickly. I did go back for a picture, every good story needs a picture right?

The Cow that Attacked Me

Overall it was an amazing trip, and I’m finally feeling like I could go back again!

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