October 5, 2011
Another adventure is about to take flight in my life, and I hope you all are as excited about the unknown as I. Since my last post I've graduated college, grown out my hair, broke off a relationship, cut off afore mentioned long hair, and purchased a one-way ticket to Australia.
It's time to get comfortable being uncomfortable again, and what better way to do that then a solo trip through the great Australian unknown. Bike touring, guiding, YMCA jobs, harvest jobs: anything goes this time around!
Stay tuned (but not too closely) for the musings of an American in Australia. The journey starts in -14 days.
December 13, 2009
November 23, 2009
Seriously though, L.P. had a great national museum and an interesting night market (interesting for the first 20 min.) but other than that it could have been any downtown streets in the US with Lao signs. It was crawling with tourists- clean, on holiday tourists- not many dirt-bag back packers like us.
Which brought us north, thank god, and we are back in the middle of no where. Funny, how I love being nowhere so much more than a certain place. Tomorrow we leave on a 3day/2 night trek through the LamNamta National forest for a night in a Hmong village and remote camp. Should be nice given it's only us and two guys we met on the bus.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, I hope that you all enjoy stuffing your face for me. I will be eating rice soup for the next few nights, so remember some extra cranberry sauce for me.
November 21, 2009
November 13, 2009
Northern Vietnam is just as full of people trying to sell shit and car exhuast as the Southern half, but at least here the heat isn't attempting to kill us.
Gordy and I made it to the capitol city on Tuesday morning after the sleeper bus ride from hell- for those over five feet tall and who enjoy not slamming their heads against metal bars to sleep that is. The city was full of guesthouses, and those guesthouses were already filled with travelers at 8 a.m. from the previous day. We had the lovely pleasure of lugging our packs around for two and a half hours trying to find a decent room for under $8 but finally we just said "f-it" and took a crappy little place for 9 bucks a night. It made sense because we splurged on our Ha Long Bay tour trip (going for the priceier 2days/1night to sleep on an all inclusive traditional junk boat), that left on Thursday.
Ha Long Bay was incredible, and we spared no expense without guilt and called it our Christmas Present to each other. Totally worth every penny, being able to Kayak and climb in such a gorgeous place. Unfortunatly though, that's what most people say and we saw at least 25 other big boats around us for most of the trip. Oh well, I got to see stars on the South China sea and jump off a junk boat into Ha Long Bay. Who cares if Japanese tourists took picutres of me while kayaking? I always wanted to be in a random family album...
We are getting the heck out of Vietnam this weekend if all goes planned, and into Laos via the Tra Trang/ Xoi Hang border crossing. Tomorrow holds the lovely gift of a 16 hour local bus ride to Dien Bien Phu. I just pray that this one might not include me sitting with chickens under my seat, although it was a great comic relief after the first few hours from Rach Gia.
PS i know it's a short post, but gordy and i are both are feeling a bit crappy after the amount of free food we ate the last few days on our boat trip. i never knew it was possible to feel ones stomach actually stretch with real food after eating noodle soup for a month, but by god it is. And is it painful. I think gordy might be going into some ridiculous kind of food shock, but then again he did eat an entire plate of french fries and three Choco-Pies within five minutes. oh well, good-night.
November 8, 2009
Gordy and I left Nha Trang- finally- after two days of being holed up in the room. The roads were still flooded, but somehow our over-night 12 hour bus ride arrived in Hoi An the morning of the fifth only four hours later then expected.
Hoi An is really a jewel of a city. The town itself was made into a World Heritage Site due to its French colonial and Japanese architechture. So, not only are moto-bikes and cars not allowed in majority of the city center (YES!!), it has retained many of its original foot bridges for over 500 years. The traditional Hoi An color of bright yellow is painted on majority of the buildings, and gives the entier place a cheery atmosphere. Which is very nice, given that most the the tourists coming to Hoi An end up haggaling in the other half of what makes Hoi An such a famous city- the tailor shops. \
We arrived at around 9 am, and wasted no time heading into the city to find a decent tailor. I had one goal- a green wool winter coat. It wasn't easy to find, but after a few shops I found a young girl who not only had the color I wanted but also spoke great english. After almost an hour of comparing fabrics, styles, and just talking in general we figured out exactly what I wanted- and its beautiful! That first day I was measured, and Gordy debated about getting a jacket for a while. He choose to sleep on the idea, because our packs are full to begin with and carrying around a heavy winter jacket in Southeast asia for another month really isn't a wonderful sounding idea.
The two of us ate at a great place near our hotel called the Laugh Cafe. We stumbled upon it by chance, and I am so glad we did because it turned out to be a place that not only served great food, but also is helping out the local community in a big way. Laugh Cafe is a vocational training resturant that trains youth from the country side in hospitality services and english, so that they can then move into cities and earn decent wages for thier families. When we walked up to check out the menu, a smiling older australian gentlemen gestured to a menu and had us sit down. Turns out, this man who then served us and chatted us up about local areas of interest was Dr. Peter Braun, who founed Make A Difference Indochina Inc. about five years ago. After a few beers, we learned that between working at the childrens hospital in Siem Reap, Cambodia and the Laugh Cafe in Hoi An, Peter flys around raising money for the foundation and working with other non-profit orginizations. The Laugh Cafe was a place that Gordy and I spent multiple meals at, and the beer is definalty the coldest in Hoi An we found. I highly reccomend that anyone traveling in Vietnam check out this great spot, and also checkout the website at http://www.umad.org/
The next day, we rented bicycles and rode out to the beach before our final fittings at the tailors. The ride was beautiful, and it felt nice to get some real exersice for a bit. It's amazing how nice it is to move around the city on anything other then two feet after a month of walking around cities carrying packs. We swam and hung out, then were drenched when an afternoon storm came in. After it passed we rode back, got our tailor made winter coats and my lovely little blue dress, ate a traditional Hoi An dinner and went to the hotel. Unfortuantly, we discovered at 10pm that Gordy's coat has an unfinished seam in the back (aka a frigging hole in the coat that wasn't sewn in the first place!). While I tried my darndest, there was no way to get a hold of the shop before we left at 8 am the next morning. Arggg.
Getting into Hue was a great bus ride- it was our first time in the Vietnam highlands and the misty mountains really are breath taking. We found a hotel, walked around and down to the river, and just relaxed for the evening. Today we took a motorbike out of town to the Minh Mang and Khai Dinh tombs, down river from town around 12 kilometers. On our way out of town a small Vietnamese woman rode up along side up and started chatting- while navigating Vietnamese traffic around 30 km an hour. She showed us a few shortcuts to the temples, and after we were done invited us to her home for tea! It was incredible, talking to a native and haveing her show us photos of her home before the river flooded years ago, her wedding day pictures, and alot of snapshots from when her kids were growing up. It doesn't matter what culture or country you're in, mothers still think thier kids are the greatest. : )
We leave tomorrow night for Hanoi, and are probably going to spend the day in the walled city across the river. Gordy and I had a little spill on the motorbike on our way to the tombs, so we both are looking forward to sleeping in. Nothing serious, but enough for us to justify being lazy for a day.
November 4, 2009
Typhoon Miriane hit central Vietnam Monday night. Gordy and I left Saigon on sunday for the beach hot-spot of Nha Trang- known for cheap drinks and great snorkeling. We arrived after 10 hours on a sleeper bus- which is completely worth the extra $2- to find that the storm had reached category 1 and would drop rainfall in the area for a solid week. Huzzah for that horridly pink bikini I bought in Saigon; it definatly got wet but not from the ocean.
We've been holed up in two different spots in Nha Trang: our cheap room that magically has the discovery channel and a local bar called Cheers! that has two Saigon beers for 20,000 Dong. It really is the bar where everyone knows your name-especially after two days of sittig at the same table. I taught Gordy to play Cribbage on the eve of the storm,and we have spent countless hours waiting for the rain to clear playing.
Before the storm hit,after stocking up on cheap bread and cookies, we went down to the water to watch the swells. The sheer power of the coming storm was incredible,and I watched a huge tanker in the bay slowly fight it's way across the water.
The rain has cleared for now,and we are taking a bus up to Hoi An tonight at 6. It arrives tweleve hours later, so maybe we could see some nice weather farther north on the coast. Gordy says its wishful thinking, but I still have hopes for my tacky-ass Bikini.
August 14, 2009
The average American walks 5,210 steps in her day: 1,901,650 a year. How many of my less then two millions steps this year retraced the same path that I created last year? The next few months I have set aside to make footprints in areas never touched by my toes. It is time to take my small dotted line around the map of the world, far outside it’s comfort zone, and gain some blisters along the way.