Last week I got home from an incredible ten-day trip to Morocco. My husband and I went for our sixth anniversary and had an unforgettable time.
We started out in Fez, a gorgeous ancient city that was also at the time hosting the annual Fez Festival of World Sacred Music.
We drove over the Middle Atlas Mountains, where we visited a cedar forest and met some wild but friendly Barbary Apes.
Then we drove down to the Sahara. We did the obligatory camel riding, but we also visited some towns along the border of the desert and camped out under the stars near the biggest dunes in the world.
We got up before dawn to catch the sunrise over the dunes. Totally worth it!
Then we drove back up to Marrakech and spent one very frenetic day seeing all the sights.
After a brief hiatus, I'm back with the last installment of the Southeast Asia series. The last stop on my trip was Thailand. I spent ten days in Chiang Mai and a week in Koh Tao. I had some major adventures along the way, including tigers and suba diving! I also spent a magical five days at a meditation retreat run by the International Buddhism Center at the temple of Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai.
This is me with a tiger!
Coming on the heels of the historic marriage equality victory in United States v. Windsor, this year's Pride March was absolutely incredible. Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that overturned DOMA, was one of the Grand Marshalls of the parade, and the outpouring of love for her was astounding. She and her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, spoke at the press conference that opened the march. What incredibly brave women! As it was two years ago when New York legalized gay marriage on the eve of the Pride March, this year's event was a celebration of a movement that has made incredible progress in such a short time. It's hard to believe that Lawrence v. Texas was only ten years ago! In fact, United States v. Windsor was announced on the ten-year anniversary of Lawrence. I am truly humbled to have been present for this moment in history.
Luang Prabang, Laos is a magical little city. Because it was colonized by the French, the city is a mix of ancient Lao temples and charming French bakeries. It is small, safe, and a wonderfully relaxing place to be after the frenetic pace of life in Hanoi.
One of the most beautiful aspects about Luang Prabang is the huge population of Buddhist monks who live there. The city has something like thirty temples within one square mile, and all of them house schools for young monks. Every morning at dawn, the monks go out on the streets of the town for the alms ceremony, where the townspeople give them food. It was an incredibly beautiful ceremony. I also loved hearing the chanting from the temples every evening, and stopped by several times to listen.
The city is set on the peninsula between the Mekong and Khan rivers. We took a boat ride on the famous Mekong River, and also saw local fishermen bringing in their catches at sunset.
But by far the best part of being in Luang Prabang was the incredible people. One of the best nights was when I went to the city's night market and photographed all the vendors in their stalls. It was family time, and everyone seemed to be having so much fun.
Basically, this is how I felt for the week we spent in Luang Prabang: