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Cambodia Run-Cation: Day 3

Monday (7th Dec)

Before the year comes to a close, here’s day 3 of the Cambodia run-cation! Never too late to complete a post!


Monday was our last full day in Cambodia. We did not want to waste a minute of it and so, we seized the day (literally). We went all out by signing up for a 10 hour tour of Angkor Wat. WHAT?!

Special thanks to Agnes and Sue for all the arrangements. I didn’t know what I signed up for. All of us just paid and we were guaranteed a full tour of Angkor Wat.


 

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We were up by 8am. Had our breakfast (with loads of coffee) at the hotel and boarded the mini bus that was waiting for us.

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These guys. Hilarious.

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The journey was filled with laughter, loud chatter and one too many “wefies”.

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We stopped at the ticket booth to purchase our tickets and had our photo printed on those tickets! Pretty cool! We had to use our passes to enter the temples.IMG_0720

First Stop: Bayon Temple (within Angkor Thom)

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We were given about 1 hour to walk around Bayon Temple and to take as many pictures as we please.FullSizeRender(2)

I had to use the bathroom before entering the temple so the rest went ahead. I was left to explore Bayon Temple on my own!

IMG_0732 IMG_0647Bayon Temple was not very big with rubble marking its rather square perimeter. There were huge chunks of stones everywhere and one must be careful not to slip. The stones had been weathered and some of them were covered in moss.IMG_0653

I entered through the side where there was no one in sight. After climbing up some steep stairs, going through tight doors and dark alleys, I came to a quiet opening in the middle of the temple. It was so fun, I think I had an Indiana Jones moment.IMG_0654

Took a few self-timed shots!FullSizeRender(1)

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Peek-A-BOO!  FullSizeRender_2(1)IMG_0657

Second Stop: Ta Prohm

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After 1 hour, we met up, boarded the mini bus and headed to our second stop!

It was quite a distance away. But it was okay because that meant we could cool off a little longer in the air conditioned mini bus!FullSizeRender_1

Ta Prohm was where Tomb Raider was filmed! It was huge, much bigger than Bayon Temple. It also had a lot more character to it.IMG_0800

From the main gate to the temple, it was a good 5 minute walk with thick trees lining the wide sandy path.IMG_0664 IMG_0674 FullSizeRender FullSizeRender_3 FullSizeRender_2 FullSizeRender(3)

Obligatory JUMP SHOT before leaving the place!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetHad to cool off with JUICE! Mango + Watermelon + Dragon Fruit

Third Stop: LUNCH!

It wasn’t a lot of walking but I was tired after just visiting 2 temples. I was probably feeling the fatigue from the race the day before. Plus, the sun was scorching hot! But thankfully, the air was dry. So, you don’t feel icky and sticky like in KL.

Being tourists, the mini bus dropped us off at a touristy restaurant that served touristy food for touristy prices!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI had the same thing, BEEF LOKLAK! SO GOOD!

Fourth Stop: Angkor Wat

IMG_0797This was the REAL DEAL! What I had been wanting to see (Okay, not really. I didn’t know what to expect)!

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IT. WAS. MASSIVE!

I stood in awe at the foot of the temple. It took me a moment to soak in my surroundings and to try to grasps whatever I saw before my eyes.

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At my finger tips.IMG_0717IMG_0716The entrance.IMG_0723The picture-perfect-spot where you can capture all 5 peaks and the reflection of the temple on the water.

It was an even longer walk from the main gate to the temple. And this time, the path was not lined with thick trees that covered everything in gloomy shadows. We were directly under the afternoon sun with its rays piercing through our skin. IT WAS HOT! I was feeling a little exhausted but I was excited to explore the place.

IMG_0803#SoMUCHCULTURE! 

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Climbing up the steep flight of stairs to reach the highest point of the temple. You had to be in long pants to enter!

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The view from up there was breath taking!

We spent a good 2 hours at Angkor Wat! It was so big, we needed every minute of the 2 hours to explore the place. By then, everyone was really feeling the heat. We went across the road for ice cold coconut water and beer (not for me)! SO REFRESHING!

Fifth Stop: Bakheng Temple

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It was about 3:45pm and we had one last stop at Bakheng Temple to watch the sunset.

The rest decided to call it a day and ditched the tour by riding Tuk Tuks back to the hotel! I was tempted to hop on the Tuk Tuk to head back to the hotel but decided against it. I didn’t come all the way here to walk this much only to give up at the end! IMG_0790

THE TOUR MUST GO ON! #moumantai ! So, the 3 of us (Agnes, Amanda and myself) stayed back for the rest of the tour.IMG_0786

The thing about Bakheng Temple is that there is a limit of 300 people. So even though the sunset was not until about 5:45pm, we had to go a little earlier to avoid the queue.

It was a 10-15 minute hike up to Bakheng Temple. We entered at around 4:15pm. We had loads of time to kill. Thankfully, we had our powerbanks and 4G connection!

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We waited until 5:45-6pm for the sunset. It was nice, nothing special but the view from up there was amazing!

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When we came down from the temple, there were about 100 people queuing to get in! PHEW!

It was a long day. We hopped on the mini bus and headed back to our hotel.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWithout much rest, we had to get ready to head out for dinner! Had to stop for juice for one dollarrrrrrr!

FullSizeRender(4)Authentic Mexican dinner courtesy of Tom, Dick and Harry.IMG_0805

Full body massage to end the day (FINALLY!).


So, that’s day 3 and also the end of my Cambodia run-cation! It was my first overseas run-cation and it was an AWESOME one! So many good memories and I had a lot of fun with the MMT gang. Once again, special thanks to the crew of Tom, Dick and Harry.

Thank you for topping off the year 2015 with a fan-fricken-tastic run-cation. It was a BLAST! Great ending to a good year. Love ya’ll.

Looking forward to 2016! 🙂

xoxo

Cambodia Run-cation: Day 1

Looks like it is one run after another!

PBIM was nowhere as exciting or as fun compared to Cambodia! I’ll leave the PBIM post for another day (or maybe not).IMG_0751

I went for my first overseas run-cation to Cambodia with the Tom, Dick and Harry (TDH/Mou Man Tai/MMT) gang! It was SO fun. The people I travelled with made all the difference. There was never a dull moment with them.


Day 1 – Saturday (5th December)

By the time I knew about this run-cation, everyone had already booked their flights. MAS was full so I had to travel alone via Air Asia. My flight was at an ungodly hour (6:50am). I was up by 4am and my parents drove me all the way to KLIA2 because I wouldn’t have made it in time if I travelled via the KLIA express.

After checking in and with the long walk to the gate, it was time to board the plane. I did not have much time to walk around or catch a cup of coffee.

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Siem Reap Airport

The plane ride was smooth and I managed to take a short nap. Two hours later, I was in Cambodia! I had 4 hours to kill before the rest of the MMT gang arrived! I was feeling hungry and very thirsty. I only had 1 green apple and 350ml of water since the time I got up. I walked around the airport, in hopes to find some food. The airport was rather new and THERE WAS NOTHING and I mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! No food, no water, not even a water dispenser!

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I was tired and I didn’t dare to venture out of the airport on my own. So, I found a cosy corner and spent half of my time sleeping and the other half reading.

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We have Colin, Kimmie, Bruce, FC, Ben, Angie, Chris, LiHowe, Sue, Jessen, Jef, Jane, Agnes, Amanda and yours truly!

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Cheathata Hotel! Not Cheat-at-a Hotel. 😉 It was new, clean, comfortable, big AND very central!

The MMT gang finally arrived at 12:30pm!

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We took the shuttle bus to the hotel and checked in. After settling in, planning, chatting, photo taking, gobbling of hotel fruits and walking around, we finally sat down in Sokkhah Restaurant to have some local food. I had my first bite of food (proper meal) at 3:30pm!

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Never too early for some 1 DOLLAR drinks!

 

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Found this cart selling COFFEE!

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Got my CAFFEINE FIX for 1.50usd! YUM!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I had beef lok lak for lunch! There wasn’t a distinct taste to it but it was very nice and very tender! We also had mango sticky rice and some yam dessert with ice cream and sago. So good! Their dishes have a lot of Thai influence with a twist of their own interpretation. Not very unique but different!

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Jose came with his family and joined us for food! He was aiming for a sub-2 at the Half Marathon happening the next day!

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Hello Aggy!

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The hotel shuttle came to pick us up from the restaurant and we went to Aspara hotel to collect our race kits!

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Pub street! Where you’d want to be if you’re a drinker. 😉

I was sick since Wednesday and I was still recovering. I felt a lot better but I had a lingering cough and flu with phlegm. The hot air coupled with the waterless 4 hour wait at the airport made it worse. By dinner time, I was feeling a bit rundown.

IMG_0558Carbo loading for the Half Marathon!

We had pizza, pasta and burgers for dinner at around 8:30pm. After dinner, we bought some drinks and bottled water before calling it a night at around 11-12pm. We had to be up by 4am for the run!

So that is Day 1 of the Cambodia run-cation.

Next up: RUN day!

The Grand Canyon: Part III: Of Running in the Cold and the Sunset

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After our breakfast at Bright Angel Lodge, we took a drive to the much talked about El Tovar Hotel, located right at the rim. Known for having its own unique charm, it is considered the crown jewel of Historic National Park Lodges. This world class hotel calls for premium prices. I took a tour around the lobby and helped myself to their washroom (Haaaaa!).

Outside, one part of an area overlooking the rim was cordoned off by police and park rangers. There were a few patrol cars and an ambulance. My dad, being as Asian as ever, went over to find out what the commotion was all about. Apparently, a man fell off the side of the rim and he didn’t survive the fall. Tragic. Note to self: no more jump shots at the edge of the canyon.

As if I wasn’t exhausted from the mini sunrise workout (to stay warm), I was pumped to put in my canyon run! I had planned this before coming to the US and even though I was a little bit tired, I wasn’t going to miss RUNNING IN THE GRAND CANYON!

Before this, I didn’t have any experience running under freezing temps (below 5 degrees C). I was too busy mapping out my canyon rim trail along Mather point that it didn’t cross my mind to look up on anything about running in the cold.

Well, I guess some of the greatest lessons we learn in life are from our mistakes (if we bother learning from them).

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My dad drove out in his car and met me at several points along the trail that I had mapped out just to make sure that I was safe and of course… to take pictures. Best Dad in the WORLD!

Since I made these mistakes, you can benefit by not making them!

Here are some pointers when you’re out running in the cold (my personal experience):

Go Light:

I hate the cold. Okay, maybe hate is a strong word but let’s just say I’m meant to be living in the tropics, definitely not acclimatised to the cold.

Naturally, I piled on layers of clothing because I didn’t want to return looking like a popsicle. I had 3 layers on top including my jacket and 2 layers down.

When I stepped out of the room, I gave myself a pat on the back for putting on so many layers. It was FREEZING! 15 minutes into my run and I changed my mind. My body temperature was rising and well, it was getting a little bit hot in there. Also, the weight from layering wore me down quite a bit.

Conclusion: Think minimalist!

Warm Up Before Heading Out:

The mistake I made was not warming up before heading out. I was feeling chilly which led me to pile on layers of clothes.

What I should have done was: warm up inside the room to get my muscles moving and blood flowing to distribute the heat before jumping out into the cold. 100 jumping jacks should do the trick.

Don’t Rush:

If you’ve just started running in the cold (like me), speed is not your friend, mileage is.

Focus on maintaining your weekly mileage rather than challenging yourself with speed work. If you insist on increasing your speed, make sure your muscles are warmed up before doing so as it is easier to tear a muscle when it’s tight and cold.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate:

There is virtually no moisture in the air when it is cold. I felt the pinch and dryness even just after 5 minutes of running. It was so dry, I could barely breathe.

Bring a small bottle of water along and take mini sips every 10 minutes. You certainly do not want to dry your lungs and throat out. They could crack and bleed.

Shine Bright Like A Diamond:

Well, not really but you know the drill. When it is cold, daylight is usually limited. This point is highlighted when running in the Grand Canyon as there are no street lamps along the roads (to preserve the canyon in its Au Naturel state).

Wear reflective gear, bring a torchlight or put on a headlamp. Other runners/joggers and also drivers should be able to spot you from miles away.

Know your limits:

Above all, always pay extra attention to your body and know your limits, especially if you’re running under unpredictable weather conditions and on unfamiliar ground. Make sure you have eaten enough as more energy is needed to maintain your core temperate when it is freezing cold outside.

After your run, make sure you enter a well heated place or change out of your clothes as soon as possible. You wouldn’t want to catch a chill when your body temperature starts to drop.

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Done and dusted.

At about 6-ish pm, we headed to Mather point to catch the sunset.

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The Parents.

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Sunset faces. Haaaaaaaaa!

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The moon!

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When the light fades…

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The sun is down, time to run!

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I guess this marks the end of my Grand Canyon experience! Too awesome. Wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It was… PERFECT!

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
consider all the works thy hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
thy power throughout the universe displayed:

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God; to thee,
How great thou art, how great thou art!

 

The Grand Canyon: Part II: Sunrise

The alarm buzzed at 4.30am. It was way too early for me or any other normal human being for that matter. It was -10 degrees C outside and the bed seemed like the strongest magnet. The only thing that managed to pull me out of bed was that image of the sun rising before the Canyon. And I knew that I had to see it with my own eyes.

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We left our lodge at 5.15am. We had already decided the night before to head to Hopi Point, one of the two best places to catch the sunrise (the other is Yaki point). Even though we had a car, we had to use their shuttle services as cars were only allowed up to a certain point.

The problem was that while we knew the shuttle bus comes every 15 minutes, we didn’t know how long it would take to get to Hopi Point. So, we had to catch the earliest bus in order to get there before 6.46am (time of sunrise).

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We wasted quite a bit of time looking for the bus stop (there was nobody around, perhaps it was too early).

Finally, after quite a bit of walking, I saw a flickering light in the distance, about 1KM away. I jumped and started running towards it, before fully processing what I had seen. As I approached the light, true enough, it was the bus! I started sprinting because it was already close to 6am. I didn’t come all the way to miss the sunrise. When I made it to the door of the bus, it closed before me but I managed to wave frantically at the driver (my parents thanked me for my legs -Haha!). He was a nice man who was very welcoming. My family was not even within sight at that time but he waited patiently. Luckily, there was only one other couple on the bus. I wouldn’t want a bus load of death stares (for holding them up) that early in the morning.

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The bus ride lasted 10 minutes. We got off at Hopi Point. It was pitched black and there was no one in sight. The lady at the lobby was right about how you would see 12 people during sunrise and 1,200 people during sunset.

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Waiting impatiently.

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The Canyon’s depth, only one can imagine.

The wind was howling and there was no windshield. The thought of having to wait exactly 36 minutes for the sun to rise sent chills down my spine, literally. The bitter, bone-piercing cold was almost unbearable. I couldn’t feel my fingers or my toes.

I killed time and kept warm by doing multiple sets of jump squats, jump lunges and mini sprints up and down along the canyon edge. It worked though, for awhile.

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Thankfully at 6.46am sharp, the sun peeked over the horizon.

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I watched as the fiery ball of flame rose slowly, lighting up the dull morning sky. *Cue The Lion King’s theme song* BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

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With each passing minute, the colours of the Canyon wall changed from rocky-brown to a harmonious combination of red, yellow and orange. The sight of the Canyon grew more vivid as streaks of light continued to illuminate every corner of the Canyon wall.

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Sunrise jumpshot!

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It was so beautiful. I was so taken by the sunrise that the cold didn’t bother me anymore. We waited a little longer for the sun to climb higher into the sky. As the grey sky began to fade, the blue sky took over slowly, glazed with hues of red and orange.

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Excuse me while I run to keep warm.

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After shivering in the cold for over an hour, we were famished. We fueled up at Bright Angel Lodge before driving back to Yavapai Lodge.

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Buttermilk pancakes!

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Protein!

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And more protein!

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Somewhere along Bright Angel Trail.

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The stance.

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The jump! Truly the BEST birthday gift that nature had to offer. Everything else from here would be “MEHHHHHHHHH!”. This should make everyone’s bucket list.

With every sunrise comes a SUNSET

NEXT UP!

…..wait for it….

The Grand Canyon: Part I: Getting there and Yavapai Lodge

After partying up in Vegas, we left to seek the great outdoors – the Grand Canyon.

There are only 3 different ways to see the Grand Canyon:

  1. By helicopter.
  2. By tour bus.
  3. Drive. (Self)

The helicopter ride is an expensive but quick way to see the Grand Canyon. It only takes a few hours of your day, but you do miss the sunrise and the sunset. However, you get to see the Grand Canyon with a bird’s-eye view.

Unless you’re pressed for time, I wouldn’t recommend the bus ride from Las Vegas. Going to and fro would take a total of 12 hours and again, you miss both the sunrise and the sunset.

So, we decided to drive and spend 3 days there to fully soak in the beauty of the Grand Canyon.

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We set out on our journey immediately after checking out of the Bellagio, Las Vegas – to make sure we arrived before night fall.

After six tiring, butt-aching hours, we finally made it to Yavapai Lodge. We only made two stops in-between: one for coffee at Starbucks and the other for my birthday lunch.

FYI: If you ever plan to drive and stay at the Grand Canyon, the park fee (for driving your car in) is 25USD, valid for 7 days.

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Birthday meal at Cracker Barrel.

10009280_10152352063201388_393042486_nFarm fresh southern food.

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Oh, we also stopped for this jump shot with a view.

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Yavapai Lodge is located along one of the many lookout points along the south rim. It is walking distance (0.5 miles) from the lodge to the canyon edge. It is the largest lodge at the canyon with over 198 rooms scattered within the area (rooms are single or double storey buildings) and within convenient walking distance from other village services (the grocer, Chase Bank, the Canyon Village Marketplace and the post office).

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They are slightly more expensive (about 200 ++ USD a night) but we had a forest view which was definitely worth it.

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Our room was 10 minutes (on foot) from the main building which housed the reception, canteen and the gift shop.

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Our ride and our crib.

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I love the room, so homey and warm. It was very decent with two triple sheeted queen sized beds, heater (A MUST!), tv and a refrigerator.

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Toilets are the first thing I check whenever staying out. They have to be clean.

After checking in, we managed to catch the last meal at the Canyon Café (closes at 8pm). If you are feeling hungry after 8pm, you can drive to Bright Angel Lodge which is about 5 minutes away to catch a quick meal. They close at 10pm.

We collected some maps and got some handy tips from the lady at the lobby.

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It was below 10 degrees C outside and the temperature continued to drop throughout the night. We had a very comforting chicken dinner before heading to bed early.

Next post: The Sunrise and Sunset!