Former resident travels to Asia

photo submitted
Among Molly Brown's stops in southeast Asia was one at Chiang Mai, ane elephant park in Thailand.

Molly Brown, middle daughter of Merlyn and Cathy Brown of Bridgewater, who lives in Seattle, Washington, completed a trip to southeast Asia March 15. She planned her trip last summer and informed her parents of the countries she would visit. She did not travel with a tour group but went alone. Al Baldago, Fontanelle, was a good reference person for me as she made her way through countries which he was familiar with. Molly went in the winter time because it is too hot to travel there in the summertime.

Molly left Seattle Jan. 4. The first country on her list was Thailand. It is a beautiful country where tourists are very welcome. Molly met many people from all over the world who were vacationing there. Most of the visitors are from France, Germany, the UK and, yes, many, many Australians. She stayed in the capital, Bangkok, for only a few days since she prefers the smaller villages in the countryside. It is a busy typical big city with hustle and bustle. After living in several large American cities, she was comfortble navigating this large city in addition to the other large cities she would encounter on her trip. Her first stop was at Chiang Mai — an elephant park where the elephants were very tame and comfortable with people. Molly said only one baby elephant became agitated when the camp dog got in their compound and began chasing her.

Jan. 14 she went to the furthermost northern part of Thailand and stayed at a B/B that was recommended by friends. It was located in a jungle and mountainous region — Chai Rai. No Wi-Fi there, so no communication for two days. The first morning she was there, the B/B host took them on a half day hike. Everyone was very hungry afterwards. They wondered what they would eat for lunch. He had some food in his back pocket, but disappeared into the jungle. He combined his rice and other food with greens from the jungle, making a delicious meal. Molly was amazed at how resourceful he had been. She also enjoyed campfires at night there where all the people from around the world exchanged ideas. 

Before leaving Thailand around Jan. 22, she moved back to the southern-most area (Andaman Coast, Similian Islands) and went diving. The region is well known for the good diving spots the country provides.

She then traveled to Cambodia, arriving in the capital, Phnom Penh. The country of Cambodia is as beautiful as Thailand. In Cambodia, the architecture was more French since the country had been occupied by the French. She noted that the people are working hard to improve their country (like the people in Rwanda after 1994) since the Khmer Rouge  regime from 1975-1979 (Pol Pot) when 1.7 million people were killed. Molly went to the northern part of Cambodia to the town of Siem Reap to visit the ancient ruins of the Temple of Angkor Wat. While in Cambodia, she stayed with a family for several days. It was called a “home stay.” The dad in charge had been a former tour guide. One day she saw that “snake soup” was on the menu. I don’t know if she sampled it or not!

Molly said she ate fresh, organic fruits, vegetable, fish and rice very day. She said it was easy on one’s stomach as the food had no additives and sugar which we eat here every day.

To get around, she flew between large cities. Locals would take tourists to the stations to meet further transportation. She took trains and buses for short distances.

While in Cambodia, she took a ride in a tail boat. The two boys running the business told her they were ages 14 and 12. After the ride, Molly discovered that the youngest boy (really only around age 10) did the driving of the boat. She was hoping that the older boy would do the driving. No life jackets.

Her next stop was Vietnam. By Feb. 12, she was in the middle of Vietnam. Molly had visited Vietnam briefly in March of 2013 when she was employed by a tour group going to Asia and Africa. At that time, she was there only about 24 hours. Molly  posted a picture of the hotel where she had stayed three years ago. She ended up staying in the same hotel this trip. In northern Vietnam, she went kayaking. Molly says that the people living in southeast Asia call the Vietnam War the “American War.” Molly started out in the southern part in Ho Chi Minh City and ended up in Hanoi.

Her last stop was Bali. Molly’s goal was to dive and surf. The first day her surfing didn’t go badly. The second day, she was in way over her head (no pun intended), and, the third day, she just sat on the beach and watched the others. But Molly did enjoy diving off the coasts, especially the west coast where there is little tourist traffic. There was a video post on  Facebook showing her diving next to a big turtle. She traveled to three islands called the Gili Islands off of mainland Bali for diving. She visited the city of Ubud on the mainland where there is art to be seen. She also visited the Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. When asked if she had any close calls, she said only once and not with humans. While trying to take a picture of monkeys in this sanctuary, they became aggressive and she had to run fast.

She flew from Denpasa (the capital of Bali) to Kuala Lumpur (capital of Malaysia) and then to Taipei, Taiwan. She arrived back in the U.S. March 15.

Molly graduated from Bridgewater-Fontanelle High School in 1993, earned a bachelor of arts degree in Journalism/English from the University of Iowa in 1997, and earned a master of arts degree in Journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in 2005.

Molly caught the “bug” for travel when she won the REC trip after her junior year in high school to Washington, D.C. Since that time, she has traveled to Ireland (1997), and spent six months in London, England, working through an exchange program (1997-1998), and visited Scotland while there. She has visited Jamaica, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. She has visited Honduras and Mexico to dive. On her around-the-world tour in March and April of 2013, her tour visited Vietnam, Japan, Bali, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Rwanda, Senegal and Portugal. Her favorite country was Rwanda. 

Molly has lived in Des Moines, Las Vegas, Chicago, New York City and now Seattle.


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