Saturday, July 26, 2008


I made it out of Vietnam! And now am in Bangkok, Thailand.  Our unexpected journey to Hanoi turned out to be pretty cool.  We went on a three day cruise of Halong Bay which is about three hours away from Hanoi. We stayed on a “junk boat” which is basically a boat with about 8 cabins, a dining level and a top sunning level.  It was not posh by any means but the whole adventure cost us $45.  The tour company was super disorganized but the breath taking views made up for it!!

We then traveled by plane back to Bangkok, Thailand (of course Vietnam airlines did not want to let me on the plane yet again)  (upon arrival in Thailand they barely glanced at my passport and gave me a visa till the end of August, go figure).  Bangkok looks super clean and calm compared to Vietnam and is somewhat of a culture shock, not sure what it will be like coming back to the states!  Here we treated ourselves to a nice hotel roomwith a rooftop pool.  Last night we did some shopping and went out to watch a Thai cover band.  Today I lounged by the pool and went to the spa for a pedicure, massage and haircut with a price tag of $28 USD

Monday, July 21, 2008

Vietnam Forever

We left our surfing village and journeyed into the mountains to a city called Dalat!!! it was beautiful looked like a french village (not that i've been there but i've seen pictures) complete with an eiffle tower.

There it was very cold at night 60 degrees everyone was wearing jeans and winter coats and wool hats (but still flip flops)!!!  There we took at motorcycle tour with four college students from Dalat and two girls from england who are traveling for six months.  we went to a silk factory where I bought a shirt for $6, a flower garden, a coffee plantation, elephant water falls (named for the kids who commited suicide and then the elephants found their bodies and brought them back to their villages) had traditional lunch and went to this crazy mansion that no words can describe. 

The next day we bought tickets to go to Lao through Vietnam airlines and then went out for a western dinner with our new english friends.  it was good to gossip about sex and the city and politics with someone other than jen!

The day after that we journeyed back to HCMC so we could catch a plane on the 20th we had a dinner of pizza that was yummy and went to bed.  On the 20th we shopped for last minute Vietnam stuff and went to the airport.  There our connecting flight was delayed but a represenative put us on business class so we could get there on time!!  That was when our luck ran out.  When we got to Hanoi they wouldn't let me through because my passport expires in December (I know some of you told me)  we then were stuck in Vietnam Hanoi. 

We found a great hotel with air and tv and hot water!!!!  Today I went to the American Embassy and they said they couldn't help me god bless the USA then we went to the Thai emabassy to see if they would let me in!! it was a holiday and they are not open for two days!! then we went to Vietnam airlines to get a new flight.  We saw some water puppetry and live music.  tomorrow we are off to a cruise in Halong Bay for two nights!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Good Morning Vietnam

From the temples of Siem Reap we traveled to the capital of Cambodia which is Phnom Penh.  There we visited the national museum which was an open air museum with many pieces of artwork from the history of Cambodia.  Then we went on to the National Palace where the Prince of Cambodia lives.  It was very very pretty and amazing.  There were a ton of Buddhist monks there that I thought were giving Jen and I the “eye” where we were inside the Palace some motioned to us what I thought was can I take their picture, but what it turns out is they wanted to take a picture with us!!  I guess all Buddhist boys are expected to join the monkdom for three months and these were teenagers from small towns in for their monkdom and aren’t used to seeing Westerners!!

In Phnom Penh they have a mode of transportation called a cyclo which looks like a baby carriage with a bike on the back that they use as taxi service.  We watched a movie about the reign of the Khemer Rouge and the genocide that happened in Cambodia in the late 70s.  The poverty is very very bad in Camodia and there are street children everywhere selling water, books or food.  People live in housing on the first floor which look like storefronts but they have no indoor plumbing. 

We then took a bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon).  The transformation over the border was amazing.  Vietnam appears to be a much richer country with their poor hidden very well. We spent two nights there.  We saw the former capital which was built in the 60s so you can picture the architecture!  They talked about the Vietnam conflict called by them the war with America.  They displayed the “fall of Saigon” which they call the freedom of south Vietnam.  We then went to the war museum which probably was the most depressing thing I have seen.  It was way worse than Auswitz because the entire time you feel an incredible sense of guilt for being an American.  At the end they had a book for people to write their thoughts and there was some deeply emotional reflections and people’s reactions were angry. 

We then moved onto Mui Ne a beach town 4 hours north of HCMC.  It is the most peaceful place I have been.  We are staying in a beachfront bungalow that is beautiful for $25.  I took a two day kite surfing lesson and let’s say it is a lot harder than it looks!!  I’ve seen three jellyfish the size of a school desk it’s crazy!! Tomorrow we are on to Dalat which is a French village in the hills!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Temples and a Dingo

We left Bangkok and traveled by bus to the Cambodian border.  We hired a woman tuk tuk driver who drove us to the Cambodian embassy to get visas we took our shoes off and applied for an application.  Then back on the tuk tuk to the the border.  There we walked across to Cambodia.  Wow what a difference it was like the wild west two huge casinos among a ton of shacks and unpaved mossive pot hole roads.  We were put into a bus and taken to a "bus stop"where there were a bunch of other tourists there we met an Aussie couple and asked them to share a cab to Siem Reip.  We hired a driver in a Camry and headed off down the craziest road even for 3 1/2 hours. 

We then arrived in the outskirts of Siem Reip.  A tuk tuk driver offered us a "free ride"to town and showed us around to guests houses which were a little bit sketchy we finally paid him some money and decided to go it alone looking for a guest house.  After looking at more we hailed another tuk tuk and asked him to drive us around most of theguest houses were full.  We went to the Green Garden and the dude showed us a "dorm room"  Which was really an elevated chicken hut for only $1.  Finally we found a decent guest house and hit the hay thankfully not real hay!  Then next morning we woke up and headed for the temples. 

Amazing Amazing Amazing  for as far as the eye can see ruined temples set in the jungle.  You felt like Indiana Jones climbing all over them and running around exploring them.  There are people who live in the woods surrounding the temples and the children try to sell you all kinds of stuff it is heart breaking  and now I understand why Jolie brought home her first baby!!!  Today we had lunch of stir fry noodles, veggies and "chicken" but due to the high amount of wild dogs around the temples and the texture I'm pretty sure it wasn't chicken!

Siem Reip is a bizarre tourist town.  The local life is right next to the tourists with people living their day to day life right next to guest houses..  There are schools and people running small businesses the poverty is devestating but we try to give our business to the people through eating, buying goods and laundry.   The people are friendly and polite
We have spent two days exploring the temples on foot and by bike it is awesome. 

Tomorrow we are headed to the capital of Cambodia

Friday, July 4, 2008

In Search of The BEACH and maybe Leo

We left Bangkok at 11 pm and rode a night train to a town called Surat Tani
 from there we were herded onto a bus that took us to a peir then we got a
 ferry. by this point it is 11am the next day!!  the ferry was surrounded by
 beautiful islands and blue blue water. after an hour we reached a peir and
 were dropped off. from there it went sour we thought we could get a better
 deal so we turned down a ride in a pick up truck and ended up abandoned on
 the side of a road on an island. we finaly found a dad and son to drive us
 around the other side of the island in the back of their pick up truck about
 an hour later.

 we arrived at Chawang Beach to a Bungalow that you could see through the
 flow and had many "friends" hanging out in the bathroom, but by then we were
 so tired and sweaty we didn't care.  we showered up and went out to
 investigate the beach. it was beautiful!  we then dragged ourselves to
dinner at a very beautiful botique  hotel (our dinner cost as much as our
"bungalow")  Jen said we are moving tomorrow I can't handle our crummy
bungalow  (it looks about the same as my place at camp hazen YMCA)

The next day we walked down the beach asking for prices at other hotels when
 we got to the place we ate dinner we figured what the hell we might as well
ask!  it was three times the price of our hut but we figured we have jobs
thanks CPS we packed up our stuff and went to the pimpin hotel!  it had hot
 water a shower bigger than our old hut and AC plus a kick ass clean bed and
a sofa.  plus awesome beach chairs and a pool.  we decided to spend the next
 four days there laying on the beach, getting massages and pedicures and then
walking down the beach to dinner and lounging on beach chairs eating el
fresco style every evening.  Thai beaches rock.

last night we went back to the mainland and took the night train to Bangkok
 and now are on Koh San Road chillin till tomorrow we have a bus to the
 border and then on to Cambodia and the Temples of Ankor Wat.