Thursday, March 4, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
We decided that it was just too crap to stay in town, so we went to hang our wet stuff up & crawl into the covers to warm up & we read for hours. Then we booked our trip out for the following morning to go straight to Halong Bay for 2 days & 1 night on a boat. We were waiting at 6am, breakfast was 2 bottles of water & a box of crackers & then we got picked up by a red sports car, transferred into a local bus & were the only tourists on it. It was quite the journey & we really had no idea where we were going or what was happening. Several hours later we got transferred to a taxi that brought us to a restaurant where we were to wait for a tour group to meet us. We asked a couple of times & finally a guy came & walked us down to the docks. Then we waited for another couple hours for them to get it all organized. While we waited we met a girl from Switzerland. Nice girl, had a crappy few days & was feeling really bitter about Vietnam in general. So the conversation was a bit of a downer -- and everyone on the bus commented on it when she left us to stay on Cat Ba Island for the night. We got on the boat & had lunch, then we went to some caves & wandered thru those. And it dumped on us again & we changed our clothes because we were soaked thru. After that we anchored for the night, had dinner & there were kayaks & swimming. It was about 5pm & raining & chilly. But we decided "what the hell!!!" we were there, so we went swimming. We thought at least that way we would be out of the wind. A Parissian named Theo, and an American from Nevada, named Addie came with us & we had a lot of fun. Two aussie blokes - Matt & Guy from Adelaide stayed in & played cards with a Dutch couple, Lues (Luce) & Eric. When we got back out of the water & all dried off we joined the group in the main area & had some conversation, some beers & then...KAREOKE!!! Really Theo was the only one with the balls to go to it without a few beers under his belt, but by the end of the night we were all singing...badly most of us - but it was a lot of fun. The next morning we got up & ready & had a pitiful breakfast, stopped to check out a floating village & some caves, but most of us stayed on board because it was really chilly out. We played cards & they brought us back to the dock & we had lunch. Then we caught a bus into Hanoi & said our goodbyes. It was kinda lousy weather (but most of our time in Vietnam was that way) but the view of the bay was still incredible & we had loads of fun.
We got our room squared away in Hanoi & then went out to find some food. Success came quickly & the meal was incredible. Then we tried to find our way back (not an easy feat - Hanoi is a maze!) and wandered thru a night market & we both found hoodies that would suit our purposes & were warm & comfy!! It was bliss...2 weeks of being cold & we finally found something warm! We went back to our hotel, booked a bus out to Laos for the next afternoon. We decided to risk the crazy bus ride even though the horror stories abound - because a flight was just more than we were willing to spend.
Got up in the morning & packed up. Stored our bags & went for breakfast - another amazing meal. Then we went for a wander, I got a new book to read, we ran into Theo, Lues & Eric, so funny..and we made our way back to our hotel to meet the 5pm bus. We followed a moto to another travel place with a few people in front of it & were told to wait for our mini bus. We started chatting with the two people there, English gal, Teresa & her South African boyfriend Terrence. Over 2 hours later we were finally squared away & on a big bus heading for Laos. It was about 7:15pm. We stopped fairly often & at about 3am we stopped dead. They set up a couple hammocks hung from the bars along the roof of the bus (in the middle of the aisle) and there were a couple of Vietnamese guys that slept there. We were there until about 6:30am, when the border opened. Of course in all that time we didn't know where we were or why we were stopped. LOL Craziness. We had also, on one of our stops, loaded up like crazy with random stuff & so when we did go thru the border they took forever looking over our bus. It was uneventful, but took about 2 hours. Then we were on our way. A quick stop for some breakfast...and we arrived in Vientienne at around 5pm. What a journey - but nowhere near as bad as some people have had it. And we made new friends! Spent the next couple hours wandering around a seemingly dead town..that had no available rooms...trying to find a place to rest our heads! Finally we found one & after we were all showered up - the 4 of us went out for some dinner & beer on the beach at around 9pm. Just ace! We were back at the hotel at around 11 & we all just went straight to bed & crashed out.
The next day we all woke up at around 11:30am. I had been up earlier, but was trying to sleep because I had barely slept on the bus. Crystal & I brought our laundry to a place, got some breakfast, asked about the options & what to see in Laos to try & decided how best to spend our time here. It has a great feeling...definitely want to come back..and Vientienne isn't even the most loved city! It's just the capital! We took it pretty easy, walked to find out where the post office was & saw the Arc de Triumphe that they have here. It's unfinished, but massive & kinda cool because it's got lotus flowers & buddhas & very asian things on something I have only seen in Europe. Pretty cool. But it was night so the pictures were crap. We went out for dinner on the beach again, and met up with our mates on the way back. We bought some beers & settled in at the hotel on the balcony for an evening of getting to know one another, drinking some Beer Laos & listening to Crystal's Iphone. it was awesome & we talked & drank until 3am...then one of the other patrons came out & yelled at us, and we realized it was ridiculously late & hit the bed.
Today...we woke up at around the same time. We had made plans last night for our days today...some of that was changed because of our late awakening. But we still went to breakfast/brunch this amazing place we had found...avocado...YUM!!! Then we rented bicycles, gathered up a bunch of stuff we wanted to send home, rode to the post office - shipped it off (much cheaper than my parcel from England!), went to see the Arc de Triumphe in the day, rode 3km out to Wat Sok Pluang (?) except we missed the road & it took a little longer. But we found it & we went to the traditional Laos sauna & massage. It was so awesome! Climbed up into a tree hut, got naked & wrapped in a sheet thingy, went into this hut that you couldn't see 3 inches in front of you there was so much steam...and it was so hot (and hot outside too LOL) And we sweat & breathed & loved it. It was an herbal sauna so there was basil & oregano & a bunch of other herbs in the air too. Reminded me of the raindrop massage that Pure Oasis had. It was stellar. We had 12 minutes of sauna, came out to cool down, had some tea. Met 2 french Canadians, Anthony & Sabrina from Montreal. Got to talking & they were really cool, his cousins own a bakery & ice cream parlour in Port Moody - so we are going to check it out when we get home. Then we hopped back in the sauna for a bit more. Cooled off afterwards, more tea, changed into a dry sheet, then got an hour long Laos massage. Similar to a Thai massage, but a little less rough, yet more joint popping & cracking. It was great...and then we rode back into town. Dropped off the bikes, ate some dinner, picked up our laundry...and now we're headed back to the room. If all has gone according to plan, our new friends bought us bus tickets & tomorrow morning we all head to Vang Vieng to get our tubing on!
We are having plenty of ideas about how to spend our last month...nothing concrete yet - so I guess you will be informed as it happens!!!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
So the riverbed place was a place called Kbal Sprean. It's a long tuk-tuk ride & a 2km hike up a hill, and some boulders - to a place they carved religious icons into the stone in the bank. Pretty incredible.The waterfall itself was a bit lame & we didn't see anywhere to swim (as was advertised),but the carvings & the place were cool. We stopped at another temple on our way back. Also very famous - and well worth it because the carvings were more intricate & deep than any of the other temples we saw. We were planning to head back to town, but instead we went to the Floating Village just outside of Siem Reap & we took a boat down the Mekong river past all the floating homes & schools & the police department all the way out to Tongle Sap, which is the famous huge lake in Cambodia. And then back. We bought some school supplies & donated to the school. Then back to our hotel. It made for a long day, a lot of back & forth in the tuk tuk. Which isn't so bad for us on our cushioned seats - but Boi our tuk-tuk driver had the hitch digging into his back for all those hours!
That evening was our last in Siem Reap and we went for dinner & then on a shopping spree. Which was mostly successful & on which we met this great Cambodian fellow who is making his own purses & wallets out of Krama- which is the traditional Cambodian scarf that they use for a million things. They are very cool & we each bought one, but we also had a very interesting 20minute conversation with him! Very cool end to our time in Siem Reap.
Then we hopped a bus in the morning & headed for Phnom Pen. The bus was pretty good. Air-con & all that. But we did blow a tyre out- conveniently right in front of a tyre shop! Which of course made a few people who are big on conspiracy theories throw about a few ideas. We just chilled out, I kept reading, it was fixed within 20 minutes & we were on our way. We stopped once for food, and saw our first crickets & spiders all fried up & spiced up. Haven't tried any yet. Just saw them. lol Then we actually arrived in Phnom Pen a bit early. Hopped into a Tuk Tuk & ended up at Okay Guesthouse. And it's been OK so far! lol After we moved in, we looked into the Lonely Planet guide for a restaurant that gives back. We ended up walking to Friends, which is a place that teaches former street kids how to do many things, one of which is the service industry & working in the restaurant. It was great. I had a traditional Khmer fish dish & a glass of orange & beetroot juice! Pretty good. After that Crystal had noticed a place that had showings of traditional Cambodian dances, music & shadow puppet shows, so we grabbed a tuk tuk & made our way out there. Our driver was hopelessly lost, but there are many nice Cambodians about, so he just kept asking directions until we got there. It was a really great show, we saw many dances & heard some awesome music. An awesome start to Phnom Pen & a great night out. We did find that it's definitely a bigger city, and we don't feel as safe at night here if we get off the beaten track at all. So tuk tuks & motos are key. But our second day had us feeling better about it, but not in love with Phnom Pen. I think the thing about Cambodia is that they have been thru so much. They are so much more desperate in their poverty & it makes both Crystal & I eager to help out & do something about it. I hope that if I come back here it is with an NPO, Unicef, or something like that where I can feel like I'm really helping to make a difference in their lives.
Anyway, yesterday we wandered around a fair bit. Wandered down a street with some cool shops, slowly, and we had slept in pretty good. So we missed the day markets, spent a bit of time in one of the big western style shopping malls & then ended up at the night market. Pretty crazy, there was a band & a whole lot of people. We got some food & sat down on these big mats with everyone. Had babies staring at us & their parents thinking it was hilarious, and this great woman named Alice beside us. She was born in Cambodia, but has been living in California for nearly 30 years. After the real estate market crashed, her real estate career was a mess, so she decided to go for simple instead & she came back here & is teaching. She was really great to talk to, being the she has been in North America for so long & yet she has Cambodia in her blood. After our evening there we went back to our room & mellowed out.
Today we got up a bit earlier & grabbed some breakfast & went to the Russian Market, pretty cool, but really hot & tight. Then to the Orussey Market, which was insane & strange, but also kinda like a wholesale place, not much for Khmer things, just everyday stuff that they need to buy. And finally the Central market, and by then we were hot & marketed out. And it was the same, not so much Khmer handmade stuff..so we weren't as interested. We took Motos all day back and forth - which are what it sounds like. A motorbike with the two of us & a driver on it. They are cheaper than the tuk tuks & it was another experience to add to the list! :) We went in search of a specific place & at the address we had, it was not there. So who knows. Ended up at a place we knew & liked. Went for a wander for some Chuppa Chups (because I am more than a little obsessed with the mango ones) and I was let down. Then back to our room, I read, Crystal read & napped. We had a snack & now this! I felt it was probably time for an update as tomorrow we are on a bus at 8:30am to Vietnam! I think we'll be travelling up the country, seeing what there is to see for about 15 days - and then Laos!!!!
Hope everyone is super!
Monday, January 4, 2010
Yesterday we left our hotel in Bangkok at about 6:50am and took a lengthy bus ride to the border, then got the visa
thing sorted & then did some nutty trekking to the border. It wasn't that long, but when it's 30 degrees, humid & you have a 40lb pack on, it feels like miles. Went
thru the Thai border, and walked to the Cambodia health check where a camera checked our body temperature &
then to the border. Then onto a bus, 4 hrs to a roadside diner thingy
& ate dinner, and arrived in Siem Reap at 7:30pm. Went to the
guesthouse I had booked, but got screwed...they hadn't saved a room for
me. So our tuk-tuk driver took us to a hotel called Sydney Angkor Hotel. It's pretty good.
Hung out in our room. Did some laundry, had a shower,watched a movie.
I got a sunburn on the ferry from Ko Phangan - Surat Thani on our way
back to Bangkok...and now my forehead is peeling & it is SICK! So
I'm wearing a hat. lol I feel like a leper!
Today we slept in. got up & Crystal reorganized her bag & i
read the Mekong Lonely Planet guide. (there is a large portion of southeast asia that surrounds the Mekong river, Cambodia, Northern Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, part of China make up the Mekong Region) Then we went into town to get some
eats. Had a pumpkin dish that was so damn good. Do you understand
how AMAZING the food in these countries is?!??! it's ridiculous. I love
it. I just want to eat all the time! Then we wandered around to see
the town a bit, found some shops, checked it out to see what is
different here & in Thailand. Then found some eco-friendly places
& a quilt shop (Thought of you Auntie Fay!) (www.mekong-quilts.org), a shop that uses recycled materials (www.friends-international.org) & a couple
more that get disabled or women in rough spots to make things & the
Non profit organizations helping them sell the goods. Very cool. Lots
of stuff we would like to get because they are amazing & because it
helps out. It's just hard when we still have so much time left to
travel & carry around our packs. That's the crappy thing about
these long adventures! After that we headed back to our hotel & stopped off at the Friends Without a Border (www.fwab.org) centre, it's an amazing NPO that specializes in pediatric care throughout cambodia. We went in & read all about it, watched the informational video, donated some money & learned a lot.
Feels like a pretty full day & it's only dinner time. We're planning to go to a place called Red Piano, where they have some fun music & the hecklers from the muppets are a key part of the marketing scheme - and that worked for Crystal! :) Then we are going to wander the night market & check it all out! Tomorrow we are planning to go & check out the temples at Angkor Wat & Angkor Thom. also, we might stop by the Friends Without a Border to see if we are able to give blood...not sure if we can or not, but if they will allow us we would like to help in whatever ways we can. And the day after another special spot where there are carvings in the riverbed & a waterfall to swim in. I can't remember the name of it right now though.
Later alligators! Thanks for your comments! I love when you comment!
Saturday, January 2, 2010
On the 29th we spent a fair amount of money! The one thing that I wanted to do while we were here was to buy a hammock. And we saw an ad for this Mr. Moon and his Hammock place. It was on the way to Haad Rin and we wanted to check Haad Rin out pre-Full Moon Party anyway. So we got up & ready & started to walk. It is 11km to Haad Rin from our hotel. We walked about 5 or 6 to Mr. Moon's and then we hung out with him trying all the different hammocks. I wanted to buy from him because they are made by a Thai tribe to make money for the tribe. Plus they were really great & came in loads of colours, which I haven't found other places. Crystal got a sitting hammock & I got an Family Size one, so that once it's set up I dont' have to lie in it alone . :) hahaha But the silly thing was that we then had to carry them around all day! We stopped for lunch nearby Mr. Moon's and then we walked another 3 or so kms. But by then it was about 1:30pm and hella hot, and the road went up a mountain, so we were dripping with sweat and decided to hop into the next taxi that drove by. Haad Rin was a lot more upscale touristy, everything was more expensive & people weren't willing to barter. It is just a tiny little place that is party central all the time. But loads of dive shops, so Crystal found one that she liked the vibe of & booked her dive for the next day out to Sail Rock, which is supposed to have some of the best diving in Thailand. After a little shopping, we hightailed it back to Thongsala (via taxi) to get some cheap grub and have a quiet night thinking about all the money that was gone. After that it was bed time because Crystal had an early morning!
Got up at 6:30 & Crystal got ready. I roused myself enough to braid her hair & to eat some brekky with her, and then she left for the day & I sacked out for another couple hours. When I finally got up at 9ish I got ready & hit the beach for a serious tanning day. I was there for about 4 hours. Then I went to eat so I didn't pass out, and dropped off my laundry to be washed. After I ate, I headed back to the beach & that is where Crystal found me when she returned from her day! Her say was great, I was a bit sad I had to miss out, but I wasn't willing to pay to get my certification at this time & you had to be certified. But she met some cool people, got some confidence in her diving & saw some really cool things. Almost everything that the brochure said she might see, she did!! I was tired from laying baking in the sun & she was tired from her 2 dives. So we went to have some dinner, looked in a couple of shops for items we were debating & decided yes, no, or it was already gone. While we were eating dinner, well right after I finished, a gecko wandered by on the ceiling above us & pooped on me. Kinda like a little hamster pellet - a bit smaller than that, but it was like a little gecko bullet! So now I am wondering if it is good luck, like when a bird craps on your head - or if he just didn't like me! :) Then we had dessert, and then we found about about getting out to Haad Rin for New Years the following evening & crashed out in bed
New Years Eve we went into town to search for some cheap clothes to wear to the Full Moon Party b/c if you get the glow in the dark paint on you then you can't get it off the clothing. I bought some shorts & Crystal bought a tank. We found a couple more things & then hit the beach for a couple hours. I went & picked up my laundry. Then we lay in the room for a bit, we were a little reddish. And then dinner time. Then we went to 7/11 to get Red Bull & Beer to start off our evening. Hung out on the beach drinking our beer & watching a fireshow & then went to jump in the taxi. The Full Moon Party was EFFING AWESOME! It was funny, I was telling Crystal how we would probably get attention from drinking the beer because in most other countries chicks don't drink beer & one of the first people to talk to us once we hit the beach was a guy who said, "Are you Canadian? Girls who drink beer are awesome". It was funny. When we got to Haad Rin we bought some body paint & some wrist bands, paid our way onto the beach, grabbed another beer & walked the length of the beach to check it out. Went up to this bar/hostel built into a mountainside, went pee. Crystal nearly got taken out by a drunk 40+ man who was stumbling about (10pm and already couldn't walk!), a guy walking behind me moved his hands up & down my waist & told me that I had a beautiful shape. There was a guy who had "Kiss Me Full Moon 2010" or something on his back so I kissed his cheek for a photo op & then he told me to that I was the first & last who would do it. I just laughed & walked away. We went down to the beach to paint each other up. We were worried it was going to be insanely busy, but we were loving it. Not too crowded at all. Crystal got "Canadian Girls Love Aussies" on her arms & I got "I heart Thailand". And then an aussie bloke came up to us & wanted some paint, then intro'd us to his friends (we are pretty sure their names were Travis, Scott, Chris, Jay & Cat). And we spent the rest of the night hanging out with them. Drinking buckets, eating food at the buffet, sending off wish lanterns, getting hit by a stray firework, Crystal & Travis built a sand castle. Scott & Chris were both fun & chatty. They had hats on & we got a few photos of Crystal & I wearing them. All 3 of the guys did pretty well handling what a mouthpiece I can be. I don't think I offended anyone ;) We danced a bit, talked a bit...it was pretty good times. All in all - for two girls who were worried they wouldn't make it thru the night or even enjoy it - it was amazing. The beach wasn't as crowded as we were worried it might be, everyone was in really great spirits, I didn't get tired at all. Crystal had fun, even tho she didn't even want to go at the beginning of the night. We lost two of the guys at the end of the night, but walked Travis back to his ferry. Then we caught the taxi home. Crystal lost a flip flop again, but had found one that was the same size as hers on the beach. On the way back I realized that I had lost our room key. So we waited in the restaurant/lounge area with some other people at the hotel. One guy & I tried to break into our room, but had no luck. Then I went to go & check something & my thongs were gone! Someone had jacked them..and they were fully on their last legs, so I was choked. So he went with me looking on everyone's decks/porches to see if I could find them - but no luck there either. Waited until 8:30am or so when the ladies showed up for work & got let into our room. Crystal passed out, I had a shower and at 8:44am I closed my eyes. Slept for about 4.5 hrs & then tackled the day. LOL We feel fully that we are machines hahaha
New Years Day we got up & ready. Went to get some food into our bellies. Feeling a little boozy & a lot tired we went to get pedicures. $5 pedicures. A little dodgy, a lot different, but our toes are pretty & it was a couple of hours laying around in air-con being pampered! Then I walked into town barefoot. All I had were my new Keen's & they have toe protection & I didn't want to wreck my toes. So I bought some havaianas & was having a pretty good night! Stopped at the food market & loaded up for dinner, and we walked back to our room. Spent a bit of time online & then had an early night because we were leaving the next morning to go to Bangkok. As we were falling asleep I was hearing noises!! It was some kind of rodent. I think a rat, but Crystal thinks mouse for her piece of mind. But it was nibbling on the top of her pringles can...so I think rat. But when I turned the light on it scared it. I started jumping on the beds & moving them around, but couldn't find a rat, a hole or anything. So we but all the food up high & tried to sleep. We heard it a couple more times, but slept a bit. The next morning, up & ready & packed & I opened the door...someone had stolen Crystal's mismatched thongs & my new ones! We found one of Crystal's and another one that she fit. So she wore those & I wore me Keen's. So we've decided the thongs are coming indoors with us, too bad about customs! I don't want to buy anymore!
Then we got the taxi to the pier where it was a complete gong show. Loaded onto the ferry. Got to sit outside on the deck. Sore butt & pretty major sunburn. Yuck! And then 4 hours later we pulled into Surat Thani. Waited there for a couple of hours, ate some of the buffet & chilled out until the bus came. Loaded onto the bus & from 6pm - 3:30am we were on the bus. We had one stop along the way to pee & stretch & eat, that was around 10pm. It was good. Met a couple of really cool Irish guys, Collum & Paddy. They are headed the same direction as us, so we might see them again here in Bangkok, or later in Siem Reap. Either way they gave us a hook up with a guy they did the trekking with up in Chang Mai, so that was awesome. Crystal got about 4 hrs of sleep on the bus, I didn't get any. I was feeling pretty rugged when we rolled up into town & piled into a taxi. Took the taxi to our hotel, who of course said "um, check in isn't until 10am". We said "that's ok, we'll sleep on your couch". So after about half an hour he located a room & we went up. I washed my face & applied aloe because I was a bit sore & then we crawled into bed. It was about 4:30am & we got up today at 9am because we had things to do before heading out tomorrow to Cambodia!
So now we're back in Bangkok, running errands & getting things we need. Bought new thongs & are catching everyone up online :) Photos to come soon on Facebook for sure, and hopefully some on here for those of you who don't check Facebook --- B!!!
Love you all!