A Travellerspoint blog

Day 82-84: Bangkok, Thailand...Last Entry :(

semi-overcast 33 °C

So after 9,000km, 26 buses, 5 planes, 2 trains, and too many tuk tuks rides to count we're back in Bangkok once again. And one final bus ride with a driver who secretly thought he was a rally car driver with road rage.

Ohhhh Koh Sanh Road...home sweet home. It's really nice having familiarity, same hotel, same resturants, same shopping stalls, same people (well they all look the same...close enough).

Randomly, the end of the trip was discussed here and there, what we'd do when we got back and how we would feel about it. It was always a distant thought though, and now it's here....reality that is. Even writing about it, it all feels so sureal, it was an amazing journey and we are so fortunate to be able to stop our lives and do something like this. So here we are, two days till my flight (Diana is staying two more weeks) and we're shopping like its going out of style. I bought an extra duffle bag to hold the extra items intending on Diana and I both using it, and after the first day I've already filled it myself. Diana laughed...

We've taken in as many massages as humanly possible, tonight we're going to the spa for our third time, excessive....I think not. Never again in our lives will we get such an amazing massage for 6 bucks. So we're living it up, with drinks in hand!

It's a little weird having three months of someone else driving you around, making your meals, cleaning your room, doing your laundry, carrying your bags (well at times) and suggesting where you should go. It was pretty nice for the first while but it gets old fast, I promise you :) I'm sooo excited to drive and make my own food, and do my own laundry....all MY way!

Besides seeing close family and friends when I get home I'm excited about the little things....feeling carpet on my toes, salad dressing (they use mayonase), Starbucks coffee....ooohhh smelling coffee brewing!!! and blizzards! But I'll also miss the curry dishes, the fresh fruit shakes, cheap clothes...sunglasses...bathing suits, tuk tuk rides and the friendly people....Khon Kah!

See you all in Canada...very soon. Thanks again for being such avid readers and sharing this journey with us!

Posted by thai 2011 16:28 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Day 75-78: Siem Reep, Cambodia

sunny 40 °C

I must say, there is nothing better than getting off a long bus ride and seeing someone hold up your name on a card to drive you to your next hotel. Normally it's not that easy, but we're near the end of a very long journey and easy is how we roll now. The hotel we stayed at had some unexpected bonuses, being in Cambodia we weren't expecting the four seasons or anything, just clean place to lay our heads. But we got a POOL! a really nice one, hot water too, a washroom in the room and a TV. BONUS!!!! for the low price of $16 a night. Steal of a deal!

During our stay here, we had our very own tuk tuk driver named James. It was really great having him show us the sites, where to eat and shop as well. He'd arrive at 9am each morning and off we'd go to the temples. Ankor Wat was among the five temples we saw during our stay. The stone work on the temples is incredible and we're in awe of how these structures were created thousands of years ago, hulling huge pieces of stone over 30km to the sites. Trees and severe weather have erroded the temples to the point where roofs are caved in and entire structures are now rubble. For the most part all the temples remain in very good shape considering how long ago they were built.

Our tuk tuk driver would drop us off at each temple entrance, explain briefly the layout or the importance of this temple and then simply wait for our return. When we'd seen enough we'd eat and when we were tired he'd take us back to our hotel for a swim. So relaxing. Today we got a little lost in temple (I can't stress enough how huge these places are covering 10's of acres for just one temple. Anyways, we went in one entrance, spent our time looking around taking turns and ducking through the little doors and over the walkways and soon we were exiting a different entrance. I should also mention that at each entrance there is a swarm of children and women wanting to sell you anything and everything from postcards, to books, to fans, you name it, all for $1. And if you stop walking...you're toast, they've surrounded you and there's nothing you can do about it. So once Diana and I realized we were at the wrong entrance when our tuk tuk driver was no where to be seen we picked a direction walking along side the high temple walls. Turns out we chose the wrong way....so typical :) We had to hire another tuk tuk driver to take us to our tuk tuk driver....really embarrassing. Our driver laughed for ages about it.

Last night we went to a buffet and cultural proformance watching the Cambodian dancers. It was beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The food was amazing too, a great way to taste a variety of cambodian specialties. Both Diana and I found the desserts to be rather interesting though and completely understand why they're not regularily appart of their diet. :) (those dishes could turn anyone off of desserts) :) We ended the evening with a trip to the night market for some shopping and a foot massage where they served us jasmine tea. Perfect day.

Today we witnessed the most impressive thunder and lightening storm I have ever seen/heard. We were safe in our hotel and once the power went off we grabbed our headlamps and headed downstairs to watch. Very impressive. Tomorrow we're off for our final bus ride to Bangkok. 10hours of fun filled, non-stop heart-wrenching excitment to be followed by a cocktail and a massage on Koh San Road, Bangkok.

Posted by thai 2011 07:29 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Day 72-74: Phenom Phen, Cambodia

sunny 37 °C

Here for a good time, not a long time. We've thoroughly enjoyed our week in Cambodia, first arriving at the country's capital Phenom Phen where we spent a few days touring the city. Then a few days at Siem Riep. Our drive from Saigon to Phenom Phen was really pleasant, the country side ranged from lush areas of tropical palms to stretches of dessert land. The homes also ranged drastically in price from gorgeous colonial style achitecture to scrapes of metal and wood. Cows graising the fields and children playing happily along the side of the road. It was a bit of a bumpy ride but more or less the whole road was paved which surprised me.

We spent some time at the S-21 prison which is now made into a museum. Words can't describe the horribly tragic events that occured killing thousands of people during the Khmer Rouge Regime, but we thought it was an important part of their culture, learning their story, since it happened only 30 years prior.

We enjoyed our time walking the streets, looking through markets and eating at our favorite resturant "Oh My Buddha." They had this chicken vegetable curry that we ate for every single meal we had in that town it was so amazing. The dish itself was simple but the flavours exploded in your mouth, with just enough spice to remind you you're still in South East Asia!

Posted by thai 2011 07:28 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Day 69-71: Saigon, Vietnam

sunny 36 °C

"We're having a heat wave.....a tropical heat wave...."

The Heat is ON! Oh miss Saigon Miss Saigon. Another great city with so much to see. We arrive earlly in the morning at 6am after only a 10hr night bus with no glitches thank-goodness and settle into a horrid hotel room. Because of our exhaustion we didn't realize how dreadful the place was until we woke up at noon from our nap. The place smelt of fumes, which may or may not have added to our deep and dream-less sleep. Needless to say we packed our backs and got out of there fast. This really old woman had my passport and a death glare on for both of us since we arrived...and smiling did not help our case. After a few moments of discussion with a translator to help we attempted to explain our reason for leaving saying it wasn't safe. We gave her 20,000 dong for her time and smiled. lol I think she put a curse on us. ;)

With clear heads and rested bodies we found our place for the night...down a back alley. Lol I know that sounds bad to those who have never traveled to Asia before but honestly, most of our hotels are down back alleys. All streets and spaces are used and they're not dark and creepy....like in the movies :)

We always try our best to see the main attractions of each town or city we travel to and have been trying our hardest to avoid tours. The last tour we went on I fell asleep and wanted to leave after we saw the first temple....and don't judge, I promise you would have fallen asleep too! Long trips inbetween stops, poor english with broken grammer meaning you have no idea what you're seeing, tours running late, not showing up on time, risky food and loud Americans...HA. Anyways, we ended up on another agonizing tour where near the end everyone was so tired we skipped the last stop. On our tour of the city we saw the palace aka their parliment buildings, Notterdam (Cathedral) and drum roll please......the post office! What a day I tell yah. The parliment building was really neat though showing the bunkers and pictures of the parliment being invaded by multiples of tanks from the Northern Communists. We just spent way too long there and then the rest of the day dragged on from there. But we saw it!

The following day...guess what we did....another tour....ha ha. This one was pretty cool if you weed out the boring bits. We went to the war tunnels. Over 250km of tunnels created underground in the jungle for ten's of thousands to live for years. The traps made by the Vietnamese in the jumgle to injure or kill the American soldiers were inventive and terrifyingly gruesome. I can't imagine the excrusiating pain one would feel from running along and falling through a trap on the jungle floor onto foot tall daggars....toast!

Even though the actual tunnels that the people lived in were small (so small you're on your elbows inching along....down 3 levels) tunnels were made for the tourists to fit our size. They weren't that big though. Diana and I both ventured through the 150m of these tight dark spaces. After crawling down a steep set of clay made stars we entered the tunnel and within moments our bodies were covered in a layer of sweat, it was so hot down there. Slowly we crawled forwards, laughing periodically to make light of the situation...not being able to stand or go back was a little more than daunting. We took pictures and video to show how dark and small the space was that we were in and were more than happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Showered and Safe back in our hotel...we packed our bags for tomorrow's early journey to our fifth and final country: Cambodia!

Posted by thai 2011 05:16 Archived in Vietnam Comments (2)

Day 65: VinPearl, Nha Trang

sunny 31 °C

Who would have thought that a day at an amusement park would required substantial amounts of pain-killers. Not as a result of the screeming children, but from the rides themselves! Diana and I spent the day at Vinpearl amusement park, located on a small island just off the coast of Nha Trang easily accessed by a 15min gondola ride. It wasn't exactly Disneyland but for Vietnam the place did pretty well.

Interestingly enough, only a few rides in Vinpearl would run at the same time, then after a half-hour another set of rides would start and so on. Diana and I assume its either because there's only so much power available at one time to the island or its the slow season and they're conserving energy. Whatever the case may be, it was a little annoying having to wait, but in all fairness the lines were very short.

It was a gorgeous day and we spent most of our time at the waterpark. Little did we know....this is where our need for pain medication begins. The waterslides we unknowingly tortured ourselves on would not be legal anywhere else but here. Lets start with the Tsunami, the names themselves should have given us all the warning we needed, and why we didn't watch someone go down first, I have no idea.

Anyways, so there we are, smiles and all unknowingly about to embark on 15 secs of complete terror resulting in agonising neck pain. The slide was so steep you couldn't even see the bottom from the drop off over 20 feet above....again that should have been a warning :) Getting on our two-person tube we slowly inched forward to nothingness. And then, before we knew it we dropped so fast our necks snapped back and we were quickly racing up the opposite side. (this slide resembles a half-pipe in a skateboard park...but steeper!) and foolishly I did this one handed so I could get video of it. Ha ....oh I got video all right and I can't wait for you to see it! We didn't do that ride again but enjoyed watching others...so evil.

Continuing on....because we apparently paid for this experience and wanted to get our full money's worth, we tried the waterslide called 'Space Ball.' Sounds harmless, just a tunneled slide that ends in a cyclone shaped container that spits you out the bottom into a waterpool. So we're at the top and the guy is instructing us in very few words how we should lay. In my head I'm like 'well of course you lay like that' (legs crossed arms, behind head...to increase momentum) but that was NOT why we were instructed to lay like that and we soon found out why. So you're sliding along quiet pleasantly, its dark, but not too dark, pretty fun actually. Until the gentle turns stop and the vertical decent begins picking up some serious speed. And just when you've reached the highest speed possible you're slammed into the cyclone, where if you're not holding your head properly the G-force causes it to bang the bottom of the slide...HARD just before you fall into the waterpool. To top it off I did this one twice because I pressed the wrong button on my camera missing out on the video the first time. In doing so, the slide ripped an nice hole in my bikini bottoms....ha (good thing it was only my $10 special)

From there the rides were reletively tame and we had a ton of laughs. We spent the afternoon relaxing on the beach and the evening watching a watershow with lights and music, it was pretty impressive. It was a long, fun-filled day, and tomorrow we'll be relaxing on the beach because of it.

Posted by thai 2011 05:33 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Day 60: Hoi An

sunny 23 °C

Each town we've visited in Vietnam keeps getting better and better with less congested streets, good food and even better shopping. We were told Hoi An is the place to get tailored items made and we so did just that. It was like being in the movie, "Pretty Woman" we flipped through tons of magazines pointing to our favorite clothes and then the fabrics were layed out for us to choose. After measuring us from head to toe we were told to come back 5 hours later, where our items were already completed. Two blazers and a dress, lined and all for next to nothing in cost. All done without patterns, only the picture we pointed to. We were completely impressed and the items fit us perfectly so we bought more....a lot more and now our bags are stuffed to the max with our personalized items.

On the evening we planned to leave town, having booked our places on the night bus (or so we thought!) we were told to get off the bus because we actually weren't booked after all and the bus was full. Our bags were packed, food was made for our trip and the hotel was all booked up and we had no ride to the next town...12 hrs away. And to top it off we were being accused that this situation was our fault...what a blunder. My Father's temper came out a little bit in that moment and we found ourselves on the next night bus shortly after. :)

We are currently in Nah Trang and the beach is amazing with huge crashing waves....we're staying on the shore this time though. Tomorrow we're off to Vinpearl which is Vietnam's version of our Disneyland. Its gonna cost us about a 1,000,000 Dong, but in all reality its only $50 :) So totally worth it.


Posted by thai 2011 05:38 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Day 57: Halong Bay, Vietnam

overcast 18 °C

Throughout our trip across South East Asia, Halong Bay was mentioned time and time again from every traveler who had gone there, so we knew it was a must see. We decided on a 2 day 1 night excusion avoiding a quick visit and a 3hr drive there and back.

Halong Bay features more than 3000 awesome limestone karsts and islands of various sizes. Our first day was more or less foggy so we weren't able to see the vastness of the bay until the following day. It was magnificent, making the entire trip worth it.

Our boat was really nice, comfortably sleeping 14 in private rooms with a dinning room and a sundeck up above. We didn't have the greatest weather, infact we should have brought more clothes. It was a drastic change from the hot beach weather we had bacome accusomed to, to rainy costal weather.

Our tour guide was more than difficult to understand and loved to talk so it was very easy to zone out except for the word 'regulations' everything was a 'regulations' . For some odd reason you need your passport with you when on these waters because of the 'regulations' if not, you can't go. Unfortunately this did happen to a few people, and they were sent home. To say the least, the tour company was lacking greatly in organization, and neglected to tell everyone to bring their passports. Diana and I do so just out of second nature.

On the tour, we saw a spectacular limestone cave that went into multiple caverns with stalagmites, stalagetites and pools of water. The place looked very magestic with the ceiling 10's of metres high and so large you could fit multiple houses in them. I'm intrigued to see more caves like this one, hopefully in the states. We also saw a floating village, equipted with a school and all.

The group of people we met on the boat made the trip entirely. We drank and played cards all night long while the boat slowly spun us in circles around our anchor....very weird feeling. I have to say it was very eery knowing that not to long ago a boat of the same style had sank in that bay. All was well with us, just a few mice surrying inbetween the walls...quite a dreadful sound.

Following the trip we had very little time to gather our belongings for our 14hr night bus escapade to Hue. At that point we could only hope for the best and try and get it over as quickly as possible. The experience was heart-stopping. Our seats were beds, but they didn't fully recline and they were narrow for a little asian body, but that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was all the swerving and sudden slamming on the breaks in the black of night that were terrifying. On a good note, I'm here writting this blog about it so we survived....a sleepless night.

Until next time...

Posted by thai 2011 18:50 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Day 54-56: Hanoi, Vietnam

overcast 20 °C

Goooood Morning Vietnammmmm!

Having very little sleep ourselves, we backed our bags for what felt like the billionth time and set out for the Bangkok international airport at 350am for our flight to Hanoi. To our suprise Koh San Road was still partying like its 1999, if we didn't know any better, it looking like dinner time...at least we knew we weren't the only ones who would be lacking sleep the following day.

Waaaayyyy back in our journey I can remember barreling down the streets of bangkok in a taxi, holding my breath and clenching my arms tight to my chest wondering if this was it for me. HA that was NOTHING compared to Hanoi! All I could do was laugh...it was that bad. Thankfully our driver was alright...and by alright I mean he still managed to hit a guy on a scooter (ever so lightly of course) and bad mouth another motorist for driving in the wrong lane. We asked what he said....he said "I asked him if he wanted to die"...how does one respond to that?!?!?!...anyways, that was the last cab we took in that city and thus far.

We were taken to a guesthouse in the old city that was dirt cheap, the gentleman at the front desk asked us if we wanted to see the room and of course we always say yes. (When things only cost $16 you have to wonder what you're getting) Turns out we were getting 80 stairs!!! 80 steep, narrow, winding stairs to the very top...the only room available of course. By the time we made it to the top, out of breath and exhausted we had no choice but to say yes to the room. I said "We'll take it if you bring up our bags"..."Deal" he said. Inspite of the stairs, It was a really nice place.

We really did make an effort to see the town the following day...I was in need of some serious retail therapy and was told of a shopping mall not to far off. After breakfast we set out, Diana looking for a tailor to make a fitted jacket, and me for the mall. Now if that wasn't the most stressful pedestrian experience one could ever have! Sidewalks aren't used for walking...no they're used to extend shops and resturants and parking their scooters on. So Diana and I had to walk in the street with the excessive amount of scooters and other modes of transportation. Deep breaths...and even though there are a few signal lights...that doesn't mean anything...and the horn is their best friend. Beep beep beep beeeeppp beeepppp. Any reason to honk and they'll do it.

After a while on the streets of Hanoi, Diana and I started playing a game of 'Who can spot the most random item carried on a bicycle?' There was everything from Plastic bags filled with water and gold fish to full trees with blossoms, what a sight.

Eventually we found the mall....oh my it was a caotic version of Winners to say the least. I'm not sure why the Vietnamese do it, but they like to buy so much stock they could fill 5 stores and then they jam it into a tiny little space and make you dig. Diana and I looked at each other and both said "I'm not ready for this"...so we left and hunkered down in our safe haven. It wasn't until the next day when we started our tour that we saw the Dolce & Gabana and Gucci stores....Grrrrr.

Tomorrow is our two day one night tour to Halong Bay!

Posted by thai 2011 05:33 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Day 51-53: Bangkok...home base!

35 °C

We love you long time :)

We're back and totally relaxed, we needed a few days to get our mojo in order. Turns out travelling is not for the faint of heart and should not be taken lightly. So after our 3 week beach tour seeing 10 islands and a million beaches we have now settled back at our home base: Bangkok! Our last destination to Ko Tao Island, I didn't even touch the ocean water, thats how over the beaches I was. Plus we had a chlorinated infinity pool over looking the ocean so I felt close enough that I didn't have to jump in :) I know it sounds crazy but day after day of intense heat ....ok i'm not saying any more I know you're all dealing with -10 back home so I'll keep quiet and say "We had a wonderful time and we have glowing tans to prove it" :)

After a 12 hour journey to Bangkok we arrive on Koh San Road, the infamous back-packer central. There's a street party every night with tons of shopping, food vendors, great music, foot massages and delicious beverages... Its every girl's dream....a one stop shop!
We treated ourselves and got our hair done yesterday. I was turning into a ragg'n muffin (as my mom would say) and needed some serious hair attention. I was desperate enough to go to a woman that knew very little english. When she asked what colour I wanted I pointed to my ends and said "same same" and she returned wearing a mask and orange rubber garden gloves....diana and I burst out laughing! Oh no what did I get myself into....my hair felt like it was on fire and I wasn't sure if it was going to all fall out but it turned out in the end, and for $30 bucks for a cut and colour I can't complain. ;)

We had a great time shopping, there are so many great dresses and bathing suits...once we got a little tired we had an hour long foot massage...I know rough hey....And continued our shopping. Haggeling with them is so fun, and they love it too. I was desperately trying to find a shirt with the writting, "I heart bangkok" on it and when I finally did and asked "how much" the guy said 100baht which is like 3 bucks...basically nothing. Anyways, I said "well what if I buy two" ...he says "200baht" I say "thats not a deal" so I tried haggeling and he wouldn't budge so we walked away and he said "ok see you later, when you come back...still 100baht for one and 200 baht for 2" ....I came back and bought the shirt later....he laughed.

I treated myself...or so I thought I was treating myself to some eyelash extensions. I was born with the blond, barely there lashes and thought it would be fun to have thick full lashes for a short while. Ha I guess the saying "beauty is pain" really is true. First my own lashes weren't dark enough so they tinted them, that stung like a beast! they tape up your eyes, upper and lower and put all this goupe on them, you have no idea whats going on cause you have to keep your eyes closed, heaven forbid if you open them....loss of vision I suppose...lol. k thats not really that funny but I can say that now cause I still have mine. Anyways, the for the lashes. she says "you want medium"..."umm ok" ..."yes medium good for you"...."ok" So an hour later, after attaching each individual lash to an extension, ripping the tape off my lower lashes so my eyes wouldn't be glued shut, tears streaming down my faces from whatever did get in my eyes...I was finally able to see the finished product.....LADY GAGA....ahhhhh I look like a drag queen. "These are a little long" I said...."no no they are beautiful" two min later I showed Diana, who burst out laughing...so funny. I've since trimmed them and they're growing on me. (Did I mention they last 6 weeks)

We're off to some gardens today where we'll get in a cultural preformance of some sort. Should be good. and finally Vietnam tomorrow!

Posted by thai 2011 21:26 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Day: 48-50 Krabi & Koh Phi Phi

50 °C

Hello Everyone!

Its amazing how the beaches keep getting better and better. Yesterday we did an island tour to 4 small Islands: Poda Island, Chicken Island, Top Island and Railay beach (can't remember the name of the island). Huge pillars of limestone jut out from the water like icebergs. The sands are whiter than we've ever seen and the water is crystal clear. In the last blog I mentioned the jelly fish and how we kept getting stung by the microscopic sealife. Well this time, the jelly fish were the size of soccer balls, looking like huge balls of pink cotton candy. And this was the place we were snorkeling in..."ok...jump in" eek. These are the ones that could hospitalize you if you got stung. After a few daring people jumped in, Diana and I joined them. I was furiously looking around for the squishy balls of death while trying to pretend like I was enjoying all the pretty fish when something bit my back. Of course I squealed through my snorkel and whipped around expecting to see a giant pink ball behind me...but it was just a lil fishie :)

I've never been so dark in all my life with all these beach days. Diana and I are slapping on the sunscreen like its going outta style but still I keep getting darker. I've also never felt sun like this before, I hate to say it but its kinda like torture...lol I'm so dark, I'm darker than the Thai people who ironically buy creams with bleach in them to whiten their skin.

We're now on the island of Phi Phi Don , the only Phi Phi island that is inhabited. Its an impressive lil island that is completly commercialized. The brick pathways lead you on a maze through the village filled with young people. There's ATM's on every corner and even a 7-11. There is a variety of food to accomadate every ethenticity. Last night we went to a pub where I had the best beer battered fish and chips I've had since England! with a pitcher of strawberry daquiri MMm for less than $8. There are even book stores here, Diana said she's never been so excited to see a book store in her entire life as she was when she saw it here. We're running a lil low on our reading material since we're reading like its going outta style, a book every few days.... But then we found this place, all the books are used and all of them are best sellers, so we eached picked out two :)

Today we're off on another tour. Thailand really likes their tours...."oh good price, deal for you" ha its not so shop around. We learned our lesson from the last tour we payed 500baht and they told us "same price for thai people, good deal for you" and found out others were paying 350. boo. Realistically its only a 3$ difference. 500baht is like 15 bucks so still cheap but knowing that you were ripped off is no fun.

Anyways, back to today's tour...we're heading to the famous "beach" from the movie "the beach" with Leonardo Dicaprio :) so exciting. we're also going to shark point where hopefully we'll swim with some more "vegetarian" sharks :) my Mom said she thought we would have posted a picture from the shark I saw.....ha. When I saw that shark ...and remember I've never seen a shark in my LIFE....my first thought was NOT to get a picture....ha ha. So THIS time, yes I will try...just for you Momma! "Just stay still lil fishie....say cheezzzz" :)

We are having a wonderful time on our journey and continue to have lots of laughs with each other. The other night at dinner I said to Diana "So tell me something new...." We both laughed

Ok off for another painful beach day....wish us luck! ;)
Therese & Diana

Posted by thai 2011 19:12 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

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