Friday, August 25, 2006


I used to keep a regular blog and this recent trip has inspired me to continue. I think when I get back home I might start up again, maybe I'll just change this one around.

Another inspiriation came yesterday, as I was looking for things to buy for people. I passed through a street where shops were dedicated to oil painting. These shops sold replicas and originals and the painters were quite talented. I used to paint quite a bit but I haven't in a long time. When I get home I might pick up some oil paints and brushes and start up again. Maybe I'll post some in the general blog I might start up. :)

An eight hour stop over in Korea

I met up with Kheang at the airport and we exchanged stories of what we've been up to. It sounds like he had a lot of fun in Cambodia, that is after he recovered from the night of hard partying. He said it was really hard for him to leave. I can imagine, I found it hard to leave and I'm not even from there.

I didn't realize that we had such a long stop over in Korea, eight hours! We've been killing time in and around the airport for the last few hours. It's pretty ironic coming here, to a brand new ultra modern air port, from ruined temples and jungles of Cambodia and Vietnam. This airport is quite interesting in design. I can't decide if I like it or hate it. It's brand new, I think they finished it in 2004 and it looks like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel. It looks more neat from the outside, but I wasn't able to upload those as I moved them over to my mp3 player as soon as I got a chance. The guards here don't like people taking photos of the airport and we had to be pretty discreet. I'd hate to have my camera confiscated, but more so I'd hate to lose any of my photos. ;)

I'm quite tired, I didn't get a lot of sleep on the flight to Korea. Mostly due to the interactive screens that they have on the back of each seat on these new planes. You can choose the movies, games or music you want to play or go on the internet. I tried to cram two movies into the flight, which was just over four hours. I fell asleep during the first one and watched most of the second one. They were pretty cheesy.

We don't have much longer to go for our next flight. Kheang is passed out on a nearby bench and I'm playing on the internet. Our next stop over is in Seattle and I'm hoping we'll have the same sort of interactive seats on that plane. It might be better for me not to, as I'm not able to resist the free movies and I won't get any sleep. I might need that sleep to get passed the U.S. customs security. They give me a hard time as is, and with all the sun I got in Cambodia and with the longer beard, I might not be allowed through to Calgary. :)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Last Pagoda Run

This morning I set out to see a little more of Ho Chi Minh City, and having a whole bunch of Viet Nam money in my wallet I decided to take a cyclo tour. The cyclo driver that offered me a ride, talked about the regular tour which included war museums and couple of pagodas. I wasn't too keen on seeing museums, but I wanted to see as many pagodas as possible and my cyclo driver was okay with that.

He took me from pagoda to pagoda and I quickly discovered that people here really pack into pagodas on Fridays. It was pretty crazy, having to push through the crowds and wait to get photos with as few people as possible. A lot of people go and light incense and say a few prayers for good luck and more money. It's all about the money, after Buddha I think money is the most sacred thing. In the photo incense can be seen smoking from the table and also from the roofs. They hang spiral incense up on the roofs and it really smokes up the place. It was pretty hard to breath in some of these pagodas.

The cyclo was a great way to see some of the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. We passed through a few street markets and my cyclo driver gave me tips on where to buy cheap fruits and clothing. We passed by a place that sold pets too. I can get a monkey for a pet for pretty cheap here. I'd love a pet monkey, though I don't think I could get it across the border. :)

As my tour of the city ended, my cyclo driver asked for a little extra money for being so helpful. You always have to be skeptical of people here if they offer you more than you ask for. Originally he quoted me 50,000 dong per hour, which works out to about a $1.75 USD, at the end of a 4 hour trip he wanted 350,000 dong. I offered him a 150,000 and after much debate we settled at 250,000. He was a nice guy, but I think I gave him too much, as far as pricing goes here.

I got a brief email from Kheang and we're meeting up tonight to fly back to Canada.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Second day in the Mekong Delta

Today was quite fun. The boats you see to the left are the ones we used to get through the floating market. Unfortunately we got there just as it was slowing down, and didn't get to see it for what it really is. Still it was fun and I've got a number of photos from it that I'll save for when I come back.

The people that shared this tour with me were great. There were a lot of Italians and Germans on this one and it's fun to share stories from people from different countries. I've given a few of them my website and a link to the Calgary Outdoor Club, should they ever want to visit Calgary and go for a hike.

The city that we were staying in had a lot of different food to offer. I mentioned in my last post that I tried snake, so here's a photo of me playing with my food. I also tried eel for lunch today, I can't say I liked it, it was pretty plain. I wanted frog legs, but they would only serve the whole frog and I didn't feel up for that. With one day to go, maybe I'll save frog legs for another trip. :)

Listening to other people's stories of their trip through Viet Nam, I think we've been pretty lucky, with the timing and the weather, to see all that we saw. We've been going at it at a pretty quick pace and taking lots of photos along the way. I think I'm close to, if not over 3,000 photos. I really hope my mp3 player doesn't break, that's where they're all stored.

It's hard to believe that it's all coming to an end; it's been so fun. I've been thinking of what other countries I can visit next. We've made some friends along the way here and maybe I'll go visit them. Maybe that's something to think about later.

Tomorrow is my last day in Viet Nam. I'm back in Ho Chi Minh City and I'm thinking I'll go around the city, maybe visit the market and take some more photos. I also have a whole bunch of Dong (Vietnamese currency) in my wallet and I'd like to use it up before we leave. If anyone wants anything, now is your last chance. If you'd like something send me an email or put your request in the comments below. Otherwise I'll be spending a whole lot money on myself, and that would just be terrible. :)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mekong Delta

Just finished my first day in the Mekong Delta. I'm part of a tour so the experience isn't as good as it would be without all the tourists. Still, it's fun.

I'm on my own now so I've been making friends with the tourists. I made a friend with a French Vietnamese girl who took me around the town that we're staying in tonight. She speaks fluent Vietnamese and it's nice to have her help.

We went to a restaurant where I tried fried snake meat with onion. It was delicious! Afterwards we got some fruits that I haven't tried before and we ate those while deciding what to do. I thought I'd find an internet cafe and do an update.

I haven't taken too many photos here, but that ought to change tomorrow. We're going to a floating market, a market on the river. That should be interesting.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Almost time to come back

It's almost time to come back, and I can't say I'm looking foward to it. I've been enjoying the travel life style. I've made a few resolutions for myself that I hope to put in effect when I come back.

Tomorrow I'm catching a bus to the Mekong Delta and I'll be there for two days. If anybody would like anything from Viet Nam, let me know in the comments and I'll see about getting it before we leave. I haven't done any shopping, aside from a couple of shirts. I figured the quick dry shirts I brought, though they dry quickly don't retain freshness for too long. Cotton is the way to go in that department.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Exploring the surrounding area

We rented motorcycles today to go to a near by village. The traffic here is worse than in Viet Nam. For those that haven't read about my traffic comments in Viet Nam, plainly put there are no rules - you just go with the flow. There are a lot more cars here, making that more difficult.

We had no idea where the village was, and we would constantly stop to ask for directions. It's lucky for me that Kheang speaks Cambodian. Still we managed to miss our turn by about eight kilometers. There's little accuracy here for distance. Depending on who you ask a place could be anywhere from three to ten kilometers away. Their estimates can be pretty funny. The best is to ask for landmarks. We were told our turn was three "wats" (temples) down. There we caught a ferry over to the island on which the village was located. Going through the village we encountered monks collecting alms. I took their picture and was going to contribute some money but they took off pretty quickly as they were running late for dinner.

The entire village is dedicated to weaving, and they're quite eager to take you to their shop. This lady in the picture met us on the ferry and insisted that we see her shop, even though we told her five times that we weren't going to buy anything. Still she said she had to at least get us to come over. She had lots of nice scarfs, one that's hanging around my neck, but I had no use for it. She suggested I get one for my girlfriend. I told her when I get a girlfriend I'll make sure to bring her to Cambodia for some silk scarfs and blankets. I asked her if I could get a photo with her as to let my friends know who to go to if they need anything silk.

We spent some time looking around the village and interacting with the locals. The best was a mob of children, at first quite shy, who were intrigued by our digital cameras. They had a blast looking at photos of themselves after we (Kheang for the most part) had taken them.

We headed back to Phnom Penh and I got a flat tire. That was an experience. Going over a long bridge my motorcycle started to wobble and I looked back to see the back tire completely flat. Kheang suggested that we back track and look for a place to repair it. As coincidence would have it, there was a place to repair flat tires just where we started to cross the bridge. Thirty minutes and four patched holes later, we were back on our way.

A street named after Yugoslavia?

Back in Phnom Penh, in front of our hotel there is a map of the city. Looking at it I noticed a street called "Josep Broz Tito Yougoslavie." The spelling was a little off, but it's obvious what it's named after. I thought it was funny and asked a nearby tuk tuk driver how long it's been called that. He said as long as he can remember. Apparently Yugoslavia used to have a big embassy here, and helped out the government. I don't think there's any embassy here now. We walked down to the street just for kicks. I thought it would be just like all the other streets, dirty and unmaintained, but surprisingly it was one of the nicer streets in Phnom Penh.