People / Travel

Kickin’ Back Goes Global

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I’ve always been a relatively active person, but I must admit, that my inner slug rejoices and I’m a wee bit jealous every time I see someone kicked back takin’ it easy.

For decades, doctors have recommended relaxation for stress relief and improvements in overall health. But in America somehow the message frequently goes unheeded. So here’s our salute to all the folks we’ve encountered in our travels who reminded us that a little R&R is no bad thing.

The ruins at the Angkor Wat Complex in Cambodia are spectacular, but the stifling heat and humidity can make long days a chore. The Ta Prom Palace in Angkor was our favorite ruin, but for this zonked-out construction worker, a picturesque window was nothing more than a convenient place for a mid-day snooze.


And this tuk-tuk driver transformed a short siesta into a power nap with an ingeniously rigged hammock.

Angkor Thom Mahout

This Angkor Thom mahout had the perfect idea – an elephant recliner in the shade. With its passenger-basket backrest, soft-shoulder seat, and bristly-skull footstool, it made a comfy spot to await the next fare.

Bangkok News Reader

For foreign visitors, there are few places more exotic than Bangkok’s Grand Palace. But for this employee, a bit of a rest in a cool spot, and catching up on the local news was far more appealing.


Traditionally in Laos, boys are expected to spend a period (usually 3 months) living as Buddhist monks. This rite of passage brings great merit to their families and improves the karma of deceased relatives. In our travels throughout Southeast Asia, these boys were a common sight. Some were serious, but most were just being boys – playing soccer, roughhousing in the temple garden, and fiddling with their cell phones. Or like these mini-monks in Luang Prabang, just goofin’ off.

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You certainly can’t tell from the restful pose of this gent, but he was relaxing about 20 feet from Nicosia’s Green Line – a United Nations Buffer Zone between the Greek and Turkish sides of Cyprus. Tensions have eased somewhat between the two countries … but guards stand at the border, and a thorough bag search awaits anyone crossing.


And this couple wins the Big Lebowski prize. If there was ever a picture of “deeply casual” this is it. A bench in the sun, on a cool day in Wellington, New Zealand was the backdrop for this photo. The Dude-style hat, twisted and tilted to keep the sun out of his eyes absolutely makes the look. Unknowingly he raised kickin’ back to an artform.

With our recent move and a total kitchen renovation going full tilt, our R&R has diminished to nil, but with some luck, maybe you’ll find some kickin’ back time today.

Happy Trails,
James & Terri

P.S. And as Terri pointed out, have you noticed that most of these people are guys. Umm.

25 thoughts on “Kickin’ Back Goes Global

  1. That hammock in the tuk-tuk is genius!

    I was thinking about why they’re mostly men… as much as I want to say “haha men are lazy!” 😉 I wonder if it’s actually because women are less likely to feel safe (nearly) asleep alone in public?

    • Zoe, I hadn’t thought about it, but I think that your comment about safety is probably spot on. Which is too bad really, because there’s nothing better than an impromptu nap. ~James

    • Tom, once in India Terri and I took an elephant ride – in the basket – luckily not on the head. From that experience I can say that they’re taller than they look and half way through the ride I wanted to stop and tighten the straps. So sorry to hear about your recent medical scrape, and I hope all is going well now. ~James

  2. Another ingredient to a good piece of R&R seems to be sun – and escaping from it. There’s sun on the deck right now, so even though I am not a guy, I think I’ll go find a spot under the umbrella and relax! Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. I may the queen of taking it easy, of just being. It’s such a difficult thing for us Westerners to “do”, but by trying to figure out how to make it a way of living, beginning by carving out some time each + every day, I have purged that guilt from my life. 😉 Wishing you both some moments of peace + relaxation soon in the midst of your renos!

    • Just being – an interesting choice of words Liz. My meditation training would call it being in the moment, but it means the same thing. Before my training when I heard about this concept, I said to myself: “What hooey – I’m always in the moment!” But I learned very quickly that it’s much harder than I thought, and there were huge blocks of time when I was absolutely NOT in the moment. BTW, The Queen of Taking it Easy sounds like a good post title. ~James

    • Napping is a luxury in the US Laura. Everyone should travel to Latin America, Spain, and parts of the Med to see how wonderful a siesta really is. The day and pace slows to a crawl, and later, everyone emerges renewed. ~James

  4. I am a big believer in taking some time for R & R! It truly is the key to reducing stress and simply enjoying this wonderful life. Love the photographs along with the message of this post. It’s true, we seem to feel guilty when we take time for ourselves (at least I do sometimes). It is ingrained in our heads that we must be productive and motivated all of the time. Produce, work, produce, you get the idea. At least this is my perspective from an American point of view. I cannot speak for other countries. But I have met those from other parts of the world where R & R is welcomed and encouraged.

    • Ingrained is the perfect word Amy. We can probably hold the good ol’ Puritan work ethic responsible for this devotion to labor in the North America. And you’re right that it varies widely from culture to culture. I’ve always admired the Australians and their concept of “walkabout” as well as many European countries with their shorter work weeks and longer vacations. We only have ourselves to blame. ~James

    • Thanks for the comment Julie and for dropping by the blog. Ahhh – the inner voice that drives people. It’s interesting how this voice changes from culture to culture. In the west, and particularly in the US, most people (me included) were taught from an early age that hard work is a good thing and an end in itself. It’s made us a very successful country, but as you know, it’s caused lots of problems as well; and feeling guilty about relaxing is one of them. ~James

  5. Full kitchen renos? Oh dear that is a very long way from kicking back in my experience. Perhaps channeling some of these fabulous poses around the world will prove helpful. I am always amazed at the creativity you two have in coming up with ideas for posts. I’m sitting on our couch on an unusually blazing hot day in Calgary ‘kickin back’. Now where is my elephant? 🙂

    • You’re too right about the kitchen reno Sue. It’s finished now (95% anyway), and as always, it was a trial. Our kitchen is very small, so consequently, when anything had to be done, the appliances had to be moved. At one point we had our new dishwasher, range, and fridge in the living room, as well as the old fridge. It turned out great, and no doubt you’ll see a post or three on the project. ~James

      • I look forward to it James! Dave and i have now downsized but we did a major house reno including the kitchen in our previous home. We moved a toaster oven and microwave to the basement and set up camp. Oh it was all fun and reminiscent of our early days for the first 6 weeks. It was week 11 and 12 that were less than happy. 🙂

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