Vegan Girl

18 July 2014 
Ubud Bali 

Dear Vegan Girl,

We started chatting when you sat next to me in a cute little cafe in Ubud.  You told me you are visiting from Colorado, USA for two weeks in search of matching your actions with your spirituality…and finding ways to balance a ‘sustainable lifestyle’.  I applaud you for taking a step outside of the USA to broaden and to expand your viewpoint.  You told me you have done a lot of traveling for your 27 years and that Europe is good for holidays, yet poor in spiritual harvesting.  I really like that phrase you used:  Spiritual Harvesting.  I like things that can be cultivated.

You were very proud about the way you bumped up your vegetarian lifestyle to vegan. I like how our conversation proceeded.  It really provided valuable insight into you and your choices.  You were so beautiful in spirit and honesty, I would not speak my other thoughts, yet here, I am going to showcase what they were.  I truly think you, Vegan Girl are true to yourself and your actions (almost) meet your own expectations.  Thank you.

S:  Why are you Vegan?

Vegan Girl (VG):  (pause) I love animals.

S:  How long have you been vegan?

VG:  I was vegetarian for 4 years, and now it has been almost 2 years since I have been fully vegan.  No animal anything–not even honey!  I buy products that are not made of leather or animal products for my bags, shoes, belts and all that stuff.

(My thoughts not spoken:  Well, what about that petroleum plastic bag you are carrying?  …looks so disposable)

S:  So, you do zero animal products?   That is amazing!

VG:  Yup…I do not eat or wear any animals!  Nothing with faces!

(awkward silence)

S:  Are you enjoying your time in Bali then?  There are a lot of like minded people here practicing good healthy living practices.

VG:  Oh yes!  I love it here!  The people are great, the choices for eating are easy to manage and organic…. and the shopping is amazing!  I just got this new dress yesterday.  It’s 100% silk and it was so cheap!

(My thoughts not spoken:  Um Vegan Girl….do you know that they have to BOIL live silk worms and MURDER them for the process of making silk?  Factories that make dresses like the one you are wearing are sweat shops, who knows, maybe even children are working in these factories just so you can have a ‘cheap silk dress’?)

S:  Wow.  The colors in the dress really suit you.

VG: The silk is so soft! I also want to also get some silk pants.  I have seen a few people walking around in them and I would love a pair or two!!

(Pucci—just keep your pie hole shut)

wishing you the best vegan girl #ignoranceisbliss, 



July 15th, 2012; Siem Reap, Cambodia

Dear Jamene,

So, after nearly a decade, I returned to Cambodia.  I visited Phnom Pehn and Siem Reap and well…let’s just say:  CAMBODIA IS A DIFFERENT COUNTRY SINCE I LAST VISITED!

–> Before:  Cambodia was freshly defective from the war terror of just a few years before (war ended in 1998). Siem Reap was a dusty little town with desperate people everywhere, needing something… conversations were about the horrors of their family losses with the Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge regime, and people were processing the tragedies of that era.

I was there as a ‘happy tourist’ in a guestroom without air conditioning, but a mosquito net.  I was bouncing around the temples by the back of a motorcycle.  There were no stairs for the temples, if I wanted to get to the top of the temple; I had to climb the stairs—the same ones the people had climbed centuries ago.

Dengue fever was rampant near the temples, and Doctors without Borders ardently telling me to leave the area due to the high rates of infection.  There was one restaurant for ‘tourists’ the Red Piano (the one where Angelina Jolie has visited just months before I got there).  Basically, as a tourist I was scared shitless about the active situations from all sides.

–> Today:  Siem Reap has paved roads, neon signs and  “Pub Street”.  About 1,000 different restaurants and guesthouses with A/C, pools and manicured gardens—hospitals and clinics, teeth whitening and laser hair removal.  Banks & ATMs.  COLD BEER.  Night markets, and the internet…smiling, hard working and gracious people….talk about moving forward.

The people, still healing, more focused on the pride that is Siem Reap & their country, less on the tragedies of Pol Pot and the communism curtain…Angkor Wat an icon to share with the world.  The temples have new staircases and signs marking which on they are, and areas now closed off so that tourists can no longer climb the walls and fragile staircases that people used centuries ago.

I traveled through the templed city by a motorcycle Tuk-Tuk (these are so cool!), and was able to even buy cold drinks and use flush toilets near the temples.  Progress.  Evolution is inevitable, and though ‘they’ say you can never ‘go back’ I am so glad I did…



Bagan, Myanmar

July 4th, 2012; Bagan, Myanmar

Dear Khun Pedro,

Wow!  When I was wandering, and roving around the temple area of Bagan—cruising through 9-12th Century structures, I thought of you and how much you would totally dig this place. Pre 1975 earthquake, they charted over 5,000 temples, now just over 2,000 remain standing.  Whereas Angkor Wat temple area is made to host an entire community or two over the span of many miles, Bagan temples were family built and spread over 20 square kms, hence the reason there are so darn many!

Inside many of the temples were mural paintings, many 800 years old & each temple had only one painter.  The temple paintings reflected stories of the 547 Buddha lives he had before reaching Nirvana.  There was a LOT to look at!  The temples I really grooved on had paintings of the Buddha’s footprint overhead, on the ceiling of the temples.  Even though there are over 7 Billion people on earth, I spent very little time with other tourists with the temples.  Off the big tourist path and hello my own private Idaho…You’re going left?  Great, I’ll go right…

An older temple guard (nearly 65 years old), small in stature (nearly 5 ft tall) found me laying down in a temple gazing up at a set of lovely blue Buddha footprints, and he grabbed me by the shirt literally laughing and dragging me out of the temple…he was OVERly excited to take out his key ring and push me into temples, which were not open to the public.  He showed me so many cool nooks and crannies special to each temple—his English was fantastic and he was very proud of his knowledge.  He loved his $50/month job as the eyes and ears of his 20 allotted temples. The guard Mr. Mozin like you, understands all the nuances and details of history, and unlike you, Mr. Mozin could not read or write.  His knowledge base was profound, and his temple stories verbose.  Mr. Mozin, took me around for 2 hours, showing me about 9 temples with those master keys.  He showed me ancient untranslatable script, and paintings that monks have taken from the walls and now use as the image for the protection tattoos they bear.

Peter, my most knowledgeable history fact man, you would so dig it here…whereas most tourists spend only one-or-two days here, I took six.