Vietnam

29 10 2012

Sorry for the delay. Once our bus arrived into HCM, Vietnam we checked in our hostel and quickly went to sleep. I started to feel bad on the bus, thinking I was running a fever, and by the time I woke up in the morning, I was fully sick.

The next two days I laid in our room, which eerily resembled a solitary confinement cell at a prison, battling a fever and diarrhea. Meanwhile, Lauren explored the town, got taken for a ride on a motor-taxi (in more ways than one), and toured the Mekong Delta. The only time I left the room was to grab a bowl of Pho, which was delicious, but unfortunately didn’t save the day and make me feel any better.

On Wednesday evening, I finally broke down and visited a doctor as the OTC medications I was taking just weren’t doing the trick. I got some antibiotics and other meds and went to bed. The next morning, we started packing our bags for the long train ride ahead. That afternoon before we boarded the train, we visited the War Remembrance Museum. It was quite intense, and I don’t remember being shown a lot of that information in school in the States….

The train was 14.5 hours to Da Nang. It wasn’t too bad, but since we were on the top-level we couldn’t sit up, so laying down got old after about 5 hours. From there we jumped onto a yellow local bus for approximately an hour and it dropped us off at the bus station just outside of Hoi An. We spent the rest of the day roaming throughout the town. It’s a beautiful area and was a nice break from the rush that is SE Asia. It is very calm, and at dusk the area lights up with lanterns. It’s quite a sight. Saturday we were off on the train again for a little longer than the day before to get up to Hanoi.

Hoi An Riverfront

Awesome alleyways

Sailor’s Delight

Hoi An Nighttime

Overlooking the river

Evening boat ride

The train to Hanoi was much easier. We rode in a soft-sleeper this time (only 4 people in a room) and had plenty of room to sit up. The majority of the night Lauren and I were the only two in the room, which was nice.

There is a typhoon currently in Halong Bay, so we hung out for a day in Hanoi. Tomorrow we are doing a three-day trip to Halong Bay. I’ll update soon afterwards.

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Sunrise at Angkor Wat and the last day exploring

21 10 2012

My alarm went off at 4:15 this morning. We were to meet our tuk tuk driver at 4:30 downstairs to make it in time for a good spot for the Angkor Wat sunrise. Our driver, Mr. Mourn was awesome and we were there early and got an amazing spot. Unfortunately, mother nature didn’t grace us with a beautiful sunrise, more of a gloomy overcast haze. Oh well, prior to realizing our disappointing news, the sky changed through various shades of red.

Oh how I’d love to show you the pictures. For some reason,  my camera randomly deleted all prior photos on my memory card. Thankfully I downloaded it the night before onto my computer, I still have no idea what happened. So sorry, I guess some sunsets just weren’t meant to be.

Afterwards, we jumped into the tuk tuk and headed off to the Bantreay Srey temple. famously known for how well-preserved it is. There were some awesome photos of us at the entrance, however they were lost in the mysterious deletion of photos from earlier as well.

We spent a good amount of time here, roaming around and admiring how intricate all of the engravings were. The rest of the morning we went to a handful of other temples before heading back to the hostel.

It was a solid last day exploring the ruins, but I was a little let down about the photos and the begging seemed to be worse today than any of the others, maybe I was just tired.  Once back, we grabbed a bite to eat and then decided to get a massage. It was my first time and I guess to make it a bit more special we choose a place who only employed people who are blind. Yep, it was an experience, haha. Not sure if it was good or bad by normal standards (because I don’t know what those are), but I guess you can’t beat $5 hour-long massage.

Tomorrow boarding a bus for 12 hours from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam!





Beng Mealea and the Roluos Group

20 10 2012

Lauren and I visited some more awesome temples today. It took a while to get there, but it was well worth it. The first was Beng Mealea, a temple found in the jungle of Cambodia about 60km outside Siem Reap and completely overrun by trees and wildlife. It was super cool. Afterwards, we headed back into town and stopped by to see the Roluos Group of temples. Enjoy the photos, sorry for the lack of description; trying to plan out the next week.

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Angkor Wat, Bayon and More!

19 10 2012

Today was awesome. It started with some delicious pancakes and before we knew it, we were inside a tuk tuk and off to see some temples. Lauren and I visited Angkor Wat and some surrounding temples just outside of Siem Reap for the better part of seven hours.

Some were much cooler than others, and after all was said and done, my personal favorite was Ta Prohm, a temple purposefully left partially unrestored to give it a more jungle feel. There were giant trees, I think someone said fig trees, which grew on top of the ruins.

Tomorrow we will continue to explore some more temples on the outskirts of town, possibly over 60km away. I can’t wait. Here is just of taste of the pictures that I snapped on today’s journey!

 

 

 

 





Phenom Penh, Cambodia

18 10 2012

After staying up all night at the airport, I finally got some shuteye for an hour and a half on the plane to Cambodia. Upon landing, I grabbed a visa and reminded the guard that he shorted me $10 change before heading out the door to explore Phenom Penh.

I haggled a motor-taxi for $2 and off to the hostel I went. Once I arrived, I ate breakfast, dropped my bags off and headed off to the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum along with a fellow hostler, Michelle.

Monument at the Killing Fields

All of the holes are mass graves

Bodies still lie in the pond behind the fields

Killing Tree

Inside the monument

The early part of the day was pretty depressing to say the least. If you don’t know about the genocide which occurred in the 70s, you should brush up on your history whenever you feel you’ve got the gut.

Afterwards, Michelle needed to release the tension and anger from seeing the Killing Fields. Our tuktuk driver led us down a dirt road until turning off into a closed off compound. When the doors closed, the guns came out. You name it, we could fire it. Michelle fired a “lady gun” per the men at the shooting range, an M-16. It was insane, and after about all 10 seconds we were done and off to Security Prison 21, where Cambodians were tortured before being executed.

Security Prison 21

Tuk Tuk

 

Michelle and a M-16 — terrifying

Afterwards, we explored (and as in explored I mean wandered up and down alleys) the area because neither of us focused on the 5 second drive to the restaurant from the hostel. The rest of the evening we all hung out in the hostel and shared a few beers and stories from other travelers.

Full range of emotions, but solid first day in Cambodia. The following day Lauren and I got on a bus to Siem Reap. It was an easy 6 hour ride and we grabbed some grub near Pub Street before calling it a night. Tomorrow we visit Angkor Wat!

Leaving Phenom Penh

Some slight flooding…

Pit Stop

Nothing but beautiful scenery

Sunset in Cambodia

 

 

 

 





Singapore

16 10 2012

I spent the majority of today exploring Singapore. It’s huge, rich, easy to navigate and clean. Everyone speaks English, which is a welcome surprise, and the Western influence is strong. I’m sure that will disappear the second I step foot into Cambodia, but we’ll see.  For right now it was a nice comfort to have before embarking on an adventure that I’m sure will be packed full of confusion.

I started the day roaming around the botanical gardens and then made my way over to the Gardens by the Bay. Shortly after arriving, it began to rain. I snapped some quick pictures and made my way inside an expensive mall for shelter – The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

Stroll through the Botanical Gardens

Pond in the Gardens

Marina Bay Sands

Gardens by the Bay

Singapore Flyer in the background

Downtown

Once the rain subsided, I strolled north into Kampong Glam, the cities Arab district. I explored the section for the better part of an hour, just walking up and down the neighboring streets until I stumbled into Bugis Junction, another notable shopping area.

Kampong Glam

Little India

I  got completely turned around inside of that maze of a shopping mall before discovering a side alley that dropped me off on the outskirts of Little India. Like Kampong Glam, I covered the area relatively quickly, got a few snacks and then started to make my way back to the hostel for a shower and to get ready for what could be a long night ahead spent in an airport; wish me luck!

Cambodia I’ll see you tomorrow!





Goodbye Taiwan

16 10 2012

I don’t think it has truly set in how much I love this country, and how much I’m going to miss it; the people, the endless adventure, the constant surprise that it has indeed become a second home.

There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the right choice, however that doesn’t make it easier telling the kids I’m leaving, realizing I’m not going to cycle those awesome, tiny farm roads any time soon, or saying goodbye, for now at least, to some amazing friends I have made in Taiwan.

I’m going to be traveling SE Asia (Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and hopefully Burma) for two months before heading back to the States for a while and then start the next chapter in my life – whatever that may be.

It’s been a week of goodbyes with Saturday being my last official day teaching. It was quite sad, but I know that staying would only be an attempt to remain comfortable. I will go back to Taiwan, and hopefully sooner rather than later. Goodbye everyone! It was an amazing experience and I’ll miss each and every one of you.

Below are some pictures of my classes and coworkers: