Saturday, 26 February 2011


Ho Chi Minh City
We arrived after the smoothest bus journey so far, and it involved a boared crossing aswell, we were stunned. 8 million people, 5 million motorbikes, you can imagine the madness! The first road we crossed took about 5 minutes, and that was at a pedestrian crossing. We quickly learnt that the secret is just go, as long as you dodge the cars the bikes will swerve around you (or so you pray). We did really enjoy our time in HCMC, although hectic it is in a wierd way less chaotic than Phnom Penh, you get hasseled far less.

In the afternoon we visited the Reunification Palace, it was the south vietnamese presidential palace after independance and through the war. The city fell to the North in 1975 when tanks crashed through the gates of the palace. It is like stepping back in time, as it has been left exactly as it was when it was taken. It was really interesting.

On our second day in the city we went to the Cu Chi tunnels. They were built in the war by the Cu Chi guerillas fighting for the north, as a way to try and survive american bombs, large amounts of which were dropped in the area. A section of the tunnels had been made twice the size for toursists, as the original ones were 60 by 80cm. We were able to get a sense of what it must have been like... horrible! We followed on with a trip to the War Remnants Museuem. It was very hard, detailed describtions and pictures of effects of american bombing during the war. It was however, really insightful and an absolute must.

Mekong Delta
We went down into the Mekong Delta region for two days including a one night homestay.  We went on many different types of boats, our favourite was going down one of the cannals in a traditional rowing boat. We visited several islands and cycled around one of them. The paths were really narrow, and most of the time there was water either side, no room for wobbles on the bikes! At the homestay we helped prepare the food, being in the kitchen with the women of the family was really nice. An old lady came in and greated us with such warmth, she was really funny as she kept laughing at our attempts of preparing salad and making spring rolls. It was great to see life go by on and by the water.

We went back to HCMC for one night, before getting the bus north to Dalat.

A small city in the central highlands. The temperature is cooler due to the high altitude. The surrounding country side is stunning, and due to the climate the area is very difffernt to other parts of southern vietnam. Its famous for the strawberries, flowers and artichokes, all of which are not grown elsewhere. The drive from HCMC, involved hairpin turns through the mountains and scary moments passing trucks on very narrow roads, with shear drops to the side. We hired a guide and went on an 18km trek up a mountain and around. The climb up was taxing, but the views as we had lunch on the top, more than made up for it. Just as our noses were returning to normal colour, we have burnt them again. Looking forward to tomorrow, though dreading the leg ache!

The final part of Cambodia

Monkey Island
A great couple of days chilling out. The boat over was rather rough, and even though we have pretty sturdy stomachs, after 2 hours it didn't matter how much we looked at the horizion are stomachs had truely started to go. Luckily we arrived before paper bags were required. We had our own bamboo hut right on the beach, which we thought was idylic until we were visited by the biggest of spiders and a bird that flew in. On the first full day we trekked over the top of the island to the other side where we were tole the beach was even more breath taking. The trek took us up up and up, in very hot weather. Luckily it levelled off at the top through the woods. The descent was practically vertical and we clung to boulders and branches as we wove our way down. At the bottom when we were at our sweatiest and not wanting to see anyone we passed through another resort cafe full of people, we must have looked lush! The trek however was fully worth it! the sea was crystal clear for miles out, and the beach was deserted. the only visitors we had were sandflies that had lunch on us! We had another night back in Sihanoukville after the two nights on the island before heading to kampot.

Kampot is a small town east of Sihanoukville and further inland. We really liked it as the people are really nice, it is chilled out and there are less tourists. On the first day we were there, we hired bikes and cycled to olly's bungalows a belgium run guesthouse where you  can hire out paddle boards for free. We went expecting to cruise down the river on boards you lie on, we were wrong. These you stood. We were like two newborn dears when we first stood up. However, after alot of wobbling and a few falls, we soon got the hang of it. Later we cycled further out into the country side and on our way back, further up stream from the paddle boarding, we hired a traditional canoe. Annoyingly rick couldn't get the hang of it, so to avoid bumping down the river bank, i did the paddling. There was only one paddle, so by the end i did feel like  one armed popeye!

On the second day we went on a tour, just the two of us and a driver to Kep. A quiet seaside resort 40 minutes along the coast from kampot. We got a boat over to Rabbit Island (sadly no rabbits) where we had time to chill out on the beach and have lunch. We then went to a pepper plantation, as the Kampot province is famous for its high quality of pepper (apparently). The best part of the day was the last part. We went to a limestone cave. When we arrived we were surrounded by boys all wanting to be our guide in the cave. We ended up with 5 young boys, all of whom spoke good english. They took us into the mouth of the cave first, for a look around, and pointed out different animals that had formed over the years, some were convincing others you really had to use your imagination for! As we didn't have a torch, we scrambled down and through the cave only by the light from one of their mobile phones. They scaled down the cave with ease leaving rick and I struggling. They were really funny and we had great banter with them (as Sophia would say). They really made the trip!

 The pepper plants
 View from the cave mouth
Our helpers

From Kampot, annoyingly we had to go back to Phnom Penh for a night inorder to get the bus we needed to cross the boarder into Vietnam.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Cambodia part 2

Phnom Penh
Manic!!!!!!!!! motor bikes everywhere, although we did say that Hanoi will probably be worse?! Crossing the road is risking your life! lol! there seen to be no traffic laws or any that are respected! We stayed just two nights, visiting the royal palace and dinning very well.

 Cheeky chap in the park
The Grand Palace

It was a welcome sight to see the sea again! rick has been disappointed that there has been more clouds and cooler temperatures than before, but really its quite nice. We are staying in a cool hostel called monkey republic, and the rooms are small bungalows in the leafy yard. The beach just down from the hostel is quite busy with tourists and touts. As a result we decided to hire a moped to go to a quieter beach further away. The beach was lovely and the sea warm and clear. The down side to hiring mopeds is the traffic police, who insist on stopping all tourists (only) and making up rubbish to try and get money! 3 pull overs later and we were slightly annoyed to say the least! Price of beer even cheaper, 15p! Tomorrow heading to an island 2 hours by boat for a couple of days traffic police free!

 Victory Beach
The driver

Tuesday, 8 February 2011



Many French Colonial buildings remain in Battambang, and we spent the morning walking around looking at some of the best ones. A disused railway, where the time is always 8.02 and some grand houses and shop fronts. The toll for walking alot was two burnt noses, the rudolphs were out in force. The highlight of Battambang was the bamboo train, a bamboo platform attached to steel rollers and powered by a 6hp engine, which runs on a single track out into the countryside. It was quite fast and bumpy which made going over bridges rather worrying. We really enjoyed heading out of the town to see traditional houses.

 The Rail line
 Five tourist trains unload to let a goods train through

Journey to Siem Reap

What the guide book describes as one of the best riverboat trips in the region, turned out to be a literal pain in the ass! A twelve hour boat trip on wooden benches, so long due to the boat being overloaded and the motor breaking several times. The guide book was right for the first 3 maybe 4 hours. Really it wasn't that bad, went through many floating villages which was great to see and the scenery was stunning. Siem Reap came as abit of a surprise, very built up with so many tourists with all amenities built for it. Rick was however thrilled to find beer for only 30p.

The floating houses

Temples of Angkor

Breath taking!!!! The shear size and number of temples is unbelievable. We spent the first of three days visiting Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom by tuk tuk. Not as touristy as we were expecting, which meant walking through wooded areas to find some, was like we were lone explorers. Great places to play hide and seek! We also hung out with the resident group of monkeys at Angkor Wat.

 Angkor Wat

Angkor Thom
The second day we hired bikes and cycled around some of the further afield temples. Truely the best way to see the temples,devoid of too many people. The roads were so quiet!

Bangkok continued...

Day 2
As it is Chinese New Year we decided to walk through China town to see if there was anything going on in celebration. There were lanterns and banners over head, and the streets were lined with stalls. Most of the stalls were food stalls, mostly selling unidentifiable things, well to rick and I. The atmosphere was great, it was truely alive with celebration. We crossed the river in the afternoon to the Temple of Dawn. Our stomachs went as we climbed the very steep steps to the top. It was worth it though for the amazing views across the river.

Day 3
We set off early as today we made the long journey across the border into Cambodia. It was a good job we did set out early as, 2 trains, 2 taxis, 2 tuk tuks, a coach, and a motor bike later we arrived at 9pm. Getting the two of us our large bags the small bag and the driver on the motor bike was for me hilarious, for rick (as he was hanging off the back with no where to put his feet) very scary! lol!

Thursday, 3 February 2011


Long flight which went ok, although our bums might disagree. We successfully navigated our way across the city to our hostel. First impressions of Bangkok... busy, hot and lots of tuk tuks. Our first day has been great despite lots and lots of walking in boiling heat! Took a water taxi up the river to see the Grand Palace, which was stunning. A series of buildings covered in a mosaic of tiles with plenty of statues and mini temples. Got a view over the city from the golden mountain. Finished our first day (rather sweaty) with a street side meal, a new rather bizzare experience, one we are sure we will become accustomed to.  Looking forward to day 2...