Archive for December, 2010

Phnom Penh and Kratie: Temples and Freshwater dolphins



I was ready to leave Vientiane as I just wasn’t feeling it and excited about getting to Cambodia.  Visiting Angkor Wat and the other temples was something I had been waiting for since we planned the trip.  We had arranged a pickup from the airport via our hotel, and the driver who picked us up spoke decent english.  He chatted us up quite a bit, and tried to get us to hire him to drive us around in his private car.  Once we negotiated a decent price and our itinerary of where we wanted to go, we agreed to hire him.

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Vientiane, Laos: To the Buddha Garden

Looking down at the Buddha Garden.

We could have easily spent more time in Luang Prabang, but decided it was best to move on to see more.  Next on our list was Vientiane, Laos’ capital city.  We decided not to go into the far southeast as the logistics of it didn’t fit our schedule.  We would have loved to see the thousand islands in the river, and spent some time in the little island towns, but it was just not in the cards.  I think this is the first time during the trip that our short time remaining had started really becoming a force to be acknowledged.

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Merry Christmas Everyone!

Sitting 'round the Christmas tree.

We just wanted to wish everyone Merry Christmas!! 

Here we are in northern Thailand in Chiang Mai.  I may have gotten a sunburn.  Surprisingly, there are a fair amount of christmas decorations and people with ‘Santa’ hats on.  Ahh, what they do for the tourist dollar.  We are currently staying at a place with 40 some kids that live at the Children’s Shelter.  They either were abandoned or the parents couldn’t afford to raise them.  We got to see them have a Christmas eve party last night, and today we went to watch them dance at a local church, before watching a play all in Thai. 

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Luang Prabang, Laos: Land of Golden Wats.

Our #19th country, Laos!

We had had such a great time in Vietnam, we were sad to leave.  These feelings seemed to have become a common theme in our recent weeks traveling… we were excited to go, but hated to leave.  Next stop, was a country that we were going to skip over, except Kristen Gill told us some of her experiences there, and then we found a way to fit it into our schedule.  I definatly do not regret the decision of stopping into Laos for our 19th country, it was gorgeous terrain and a great vibe from the people.  We headed to Luang Prabang because there were a ton of sights to see there.

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Coffee, Buns, Prisons & Puppets

Workin' the streets in Hanoi

Our last stop in Vietnam was Hanoi. It’s a very large, chaotic city that somehow manages to maintain a little bit of charm. At the heart of the city lies Hoan Kiem Lake. The lake is small; you can walk around it in about 30 minutes, but it’s the heart and soul of the city. At all times of the day you’ll find locals walking around the lake or just sitting quitely on a bench. In the early morning and evenings you’ll find them doing their Tai Chi as they enjoy the peacefulness of the lake. It brings a small town feel to a very bustling area.

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Vietnam: Travel tips

Who's got two thumbs and a Dikpala at his back? This guy right here does.

We loved travelling around in Vietnam, then again we didn’t travel by road for most of our journey, although we did do several day trips.

1) If you are taking a bus anywhere, get a seat on the right hand side (opposite the driver) as you will be shielded from all the honking on the drivers side.  Cars passing the bus in either direction will often honk vigorously as they pass, which can disturb your sleep.  Don’t expect too much sleep while riding in a vehicle as the roads are bumpy, and your head will bounce around alot.

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Bhaya Cruise

The charming boat we stayed on, named the Bhaya.

We did an overnight cruise through Halong Bay, yet another World Heritage Site famous for its thousands of limestone rock formations and islands. I can’t describe the beauty of the area, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Hue: Easy Rider

Random Statue face to grab your attention.

Unfortunately we had to leave Hoi’an after 2 nights to stay on schedule.  We hired a car and driver to drive us up to Hue to visit for a few days.  The trip took some crazy winding roads, and as usual… the driving is crazy.  The right lane on a two lane road seems like it is primarily motor bikes, if there is a break in them (and there usually isn’t) a car will pull into it to let someone pass, otherwise the faster car passes in the oncoming traffic lane.  The car honking is a way to comunicate to one another, as I don’t think the drivers use the review mirrors all that much.

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Rain Rain Go Away, We Want to Enjoy Hoi An On A Sunny Day!

Welcome to Hoi An!

Hoi An is an adorable little town on the East coast about 1/2 way between Saigon and Hanoi, that absolutely oozes quaintness.  It is referred to as the “ancient city” and has been named an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and we love it! The streets are lined with tailor shops waiting to make you clothing, shoes, handbags or anything else your heart desires. A river runs through the center of town and several small sandy-beached islands lie in the outskirts. You could easily spend a week here lazing around and relaxing while waiting for a tailor to complete your new wardrobe. Or, you could do what we did and try to squeeze everything in in just 2 days.

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Greetings from Saigon!

Eric enjoying a ride on the Mekong River

AAAHHH, at last we arrive in Southeast Asia! Tackling 4 major cities in a row in China was a bit much for us, and we are ready for some quiet country-side culture and warm weather! We kick off the last month of our adventure in Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon. The two names are used interchangeably).

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