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Six years of adventure with pics to prove it.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Filed under: Vietnam — she_travels at 3:06 pm on Monday, February 23, 2009

Phu Quoc is as island off the coast of Cambodia which belongs to Vietnam. I must have a few pics but at the moment I can not find them.  Google can if your interested before I get sorted out. 

The ferry ride over was easy enough, long, maybe 4 hours. I am not sure I would have been nearly so well when I arrived had I not had my noise reduction ears pieces for my MP3 Player. That boat was LOUD! 

I did not see as much of the island as I had wanted, it poured rain the 1st day I was there. The following morning I was SICK. I am still not exactly sure what I had but if felt like,  what people describe as,  a sinus infection. The congestion was only in my head and the pain was far greater than I would have though. It was much like my migraine headaches with the added bit of sinus congestion. I could not look out the window for the stabbing pain in my head, hell moving was a challenge. 

I was so afraid it would not resolve by the time I had to get on a plane,  I forced myself to stay indoors drinking nothing but water for the next two days. At some point it finally occurred to me I had a new version/strength of my migraine medication with me..I popped one of those, went back to bed and by the third morning I was fine. Good thing too I had to get on a ferry back to Rach Gia to spend the night then hop a plane to Bangkok the next morning. 

I will look for pictures of  the island.

Mekong Delta

Filed under: Vietnam — she_travels at 2:33 pm on Monday, February 23, 2009

While in Saigon I started to feel the pressure of getting back to Bangkok on time to catch my flight to Los Angeles. There were several things I wanted to see before leaving this area, one was parts of the Mekong Delta, another was a visit to Phu Quoc island. Because I was running out of time I asked a tour agent to sort it out.  I paid her for the two day Delta tour, two nights in Rach Gia on either end of a three day visit to Phu Quoc, ferry tickets to Phu Quoc and an airline ticket from Rach Gia to Bangkok two days before my flight out. All I had to worry about the next week was finding a place on Phu Quoc to sleep.

Many pics of  the Mekong Delta follow. Water, water every where!

Fishing boats being loaded with ice. See the bricks in the middle if the image, they are on a conveyor belt.

So, many kinds of conveyance!

I love this one!

Floating market. See the pole at the top of  the image, it tells everyone that sell Pineapple.

This pole as many more items on it cause this groups of boats is selling all kinds of things.

Floating bar/beverage.

The boat in the middle is empty, the two on either side are full of sand. The eyes on the boats are to frighten away sea monsters.

At the moment this seems to be the last of the South East Asia pics I have re sized and uploaded. I think I was so overwhelmed by the number of photos I had I got lost. I will look for more.

Saigon, Vietnam

Filed under: Vietnam — she_travels at 1:57 pm on Monday, February 23, 2009

I do not remember how long the VIP bus ride form Mui Ne to Saigon was, I do remember when the driver stopped for gas he did so at a place looking much like an Asian version of a Texaco complete with convenience store. I stepped off the bus with my mouth hanging open wondering where on earth I was.  Thank goodness I was alert enough to see a couple of ladies ducking behind the building.

Around the corner of  the building I saw an open door way, assuming it was the bathroom I walked up the the edge of the stair and was stopped by an attendant who motioned me to remove my shoes and put on the slippers at the door.

I was so taken aback by the process I snapped a picture before leaving.

Mind you, I had been in some very interesting restroom situations in Laos.

The traffic in Bangkok is bad but nothing compared to Saigon. Land of the O Mighty MotorBike.

The morning after I arrived I went out for a walk. I managed to get lost so what may have been a short stroll turned in to four hours of wandering. In some areas I felt as though the locals were confused by my being off the normal tourist path.

Do ya believe the power lines? This was to early in the morning for the masses of people to be about.

Crossing the street in Saigon is a bit of an art form. The motorbikes and cars will yield, but  there are so many of them it’s hard to keep track of them all. Your best bet, pick your time wisely, once you step into the street do not stop, be confident and alert.

I was standing on the sidewalk of a fairly busy intersection accessing the crossing possibilities when I heard a voice to my left,  “Crossing is difficult some times.”  When I looked in the direction of the sound I found an Asia looking guy of about 30 smiling at me. I was surprised cause his English was very good.

I agreed with him. I do not remember most of the conversation on the street  before he said, “Let’s sit and talk, I will buy you a beverage.” I followed him around the corner of the shop we were standing in front of. In the mass of people on the side walk he found a set of child’s chairs and table, there were several sets with people sitting, drinking and talking.

He offered me a chair and asked what I wanted to drink, I said water. A lady at his elbow went to the other end of the tables and came back with two waters. The gentleman paid her.

I took a sip, he started talking. He told  me his name,  “Wayne like John Wayne” He is a chicken farmer from Indonesia here in Saigon visiting his brother’s family. He often does cause he enjoys Saigon.

I told him my name, that I was traveling about South East Asia soaking up the culture.

We chatted about many things and nothing. At one point he said “If you would like to experience a true Vietnamese family you can come home with me. My brother and his wife would be happy to meet you.”  Wayne was very nice, polite and easy to talk with, I said sure.

Wayne  trotted through traffic, hailed a cab and held the door while I slid in to the seat thinking,*”Wonder what this is about.* It did not have the feeling of anything sinister.

When the cab stopped it was in an ally between homes.  The homes were all connected, the foot prints were about  the size of a two car garage and they looked to be four levels. Wayne told me they are built this way because land is so expensive. There is no garden just more buildings lined up behind this one with an ally between.

Wayne opened the door to the house next to the cab. We stepped into an outer area, it was tiled with two motor bikes at one end. Wayne removed his sandals before stepping up a single step into what looked like a living area.

When I slipped out of my crocs I was ashamed at the state of my feet, walking in the dirty city was screaming at me. I mentioned my problem to Wayne, he point to a hose and bucket to my left. Prepared they are.

I was offered a seat on the couch by a woman, Wayne excused himself before going up the stairs. The woman, whose name I do not remember,  sat with me for some time talking of this and that. She offered me a beverage and hopped up to get it when I said “Yes,  water please.”

While she was off I sat quietly having a look about the room. As it felt from the outside, the room was about the size of a two car garage, the tile was white as were the walls. The staircase was in the back right corner. The couch I was sitting on was one of four pieces of furniture in the room. The others were a sideboard looking thing against the wall opposite the two couches which faced each other and a coffee table between. I do not remember a single thing on any of the walls. I do remember alot of empty space.

The woman was back with a plate of bananas, a coke, a bottle of water and a man. The bananas she placed in the middle of the table. She handed me the water and the coke saying “All Americans drink coke”. I smiled and thanked her. Finally, she introduced the man, I no longer remember is name either,  he sat opposite me while she sat next to me.

The gentleman told me of his job, he works for a company which does some thing for casinos. We chatted of the many in a dirty little boarder town of PoiPet, Cambodia. He said he had been there many times with his work. He said only the very rich stay to gamble in those places, that none of them are Cambodian cause it is against Cambodian Law to gamble. He then mentioned he spends an amount of time on docked cruise ships cause they all have casino. When I told him I was headed to an island called Phu Quoc, he said he wold be more than happy to offer me a tour of a ship,  it would be on docked there. I was fairly excited about this having never been on a cruise ship.

There must have been a point where he decided I was relaxed enough to proceed. He told me he and his friends often play blackjack and asked if I had ever played.  I said I understood the premise of the game but had never played. I was far to careful with my money to waste it on gambling. He offered to teach me, but it had to be done in his bedroom.

There still is no sinister feel about the people. The woman was still siting next to me..no one is at all worried.

The gentleman must have seen some thing cross my face cause he said “My religion prohibits me from being in my bedroom with a single woman, she will come with us.”  I did not care to learn to play blackjack but I also was not about to insult these nice people for their hospitality.

Upstairs the three of us went, the gentleman closed the door once she and I had entered. He arranged two chairs on one side of a table at the end of a bed. He sat on the bed and asked us to sit in the chairs.

Once he thought I understood the principals of the game he started talking about how one can cheat. With the help of he and his friends/coworkers you can beat the system.  They have a series of signals between them, the eye the in sky is in on the scam and will not stop you and the dealer aids with a bit of slight of hand..all I had to do was learn the system.

I admit I was a bit curious about how they pull this off, come to find out the dealer actually shows the next card just before he flips it.

The gentleman  went on to say they pick targets, the very wealthy who can stand to loose some cash. He teaches people he believes will not get in to the habit of asking him to help them win. He concluded with saying “If you would like to try, I know someone we can call. She is very wealthy, enjoys the game and  does not get upset when she looses. I will give you a small amount of money , $500, to play with then we will split the winnings.

My brains started screaming!* Holy Crap! $500 dollars? Is this guy nuts? NO, no NO! I will not.* I took a breath, slowing,quietly I said, “I understand yet I am not comfortable. ”

He helped me “Your heart is not happy.”

I agreed, “My mind could do it but my heart says no. Thank you for teaching me, but I just can not.”

He was very nice, he got up. This was my que to do the same as did the woman.

At the door she stopped, he said, “Thank you for coming, I enjoyed talking with you.”

I said “Thank you for having me, I enjoyed our time as well.”

The woman told me she was meeting friends and would call a cab to get us back to town. by the by ~ I never did see Wayne again after he introduced the woman.

The every minute I said no they were done with me. Wacky  huh?

The whole whole experience was so odd I didn’t have any kind of time to sit and think about it til much later. While doing so I decided, Wayne was sent out to find someone they could teach this system to. How he decides is beyond me..but I bet you money it was never about meeting me it was all about how much money they could make if I joined in the scam.

Travel is such fun, ya never know what kind of wacky arse adventure your going to have.

Next up, The Mekong Delta.

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Filed under: Vietnam — she_travels at 5:59 pm on Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mui Ne is on the ocean, most of  the guest houses are as well.

The view from the porch of my room.

I dropped my bag in the room, walked out the door and turned right to walk up the beach.

Sebastian

Organizing the net.

About an a hour later, bringing in the haul.

Bad photo of the catch.

Sorting, I saw honest to goodness seahorses..holy hannah!

The next morning in the dark before sunrise I took a motorbike ride to the Dunes. I was the passenger in the motorbike.

Motorbike guy took me back the way we had come to another area of dunes. When we went by the first time there was not a person or car around, when we came back you had to be very careful not to hit any of the people crossing the road from parking lot to Dunes.

See the gal to the right in a white shirt? She has a rented sled, seems this area is all about the sliding down the dunes in a bit of plastic. I think I prefer snow.

I snapped this from the dunes people were sliding on.

The guy driving the motor bike was not talking to me much,  just stopping where he thought he should I s’pose. The next stop turned out to be a fishing port between the boats in the above image and the tree line.

Had I been less overwhelmed by the masses of people coming and going I would have been paying more attention to what the ox cart was loaded with. See the fish in the woven basket?

Shelling some kind of mussel.

Ice, they were supplying the ships in the harbor.

Sorting squid

The round boat guys were transferring ice out to the ships and bringing the catch back. I was told the ships fish all night and every morning there have this mad, crazy fish market thing going on.

Many motor bikes moving stuff about like this.

Next……

Place called Fairy Creek.

I was told to walk in the water, it was only about ankle deep.

I really enjoyed MuiNe. Sitting on the beach watching a family fish for a good bit of one afternoon was great fun, not to mention sunrise in the sand dunes.

Saigon, here I come.

Da Lat, Part Two

Filed under: Vietnam — she_travels at 9:38 am on Saturday, February 21, 2009

I spent the night with windows closed and no AC with a blanket on me. Yes, it was much cooler in Da Lat.

I joined a tour to see many of the sights about the area.

The land and area around Da Lat is patch worked with the bright greens of  crops and shades of rich brown soil all dotted with the white sheen of green houses.

Flowers, in a green house

The crop closest is young coffee plants.

Coffee

Coffee with pine trees on the ridge.

From Pine tree edge.

+

Next stop…..

A water fall with….

A temple next door.

Praying before a meal.

The balls in the water are silk worm cocoons, the water allows the silk strand to come free. There is a lady standing just out of sight with a spoon she swirls about in the water, when she is happy with the strands on the spoon she taps the spoon to the white upside down cup just below the orange strip. As if by magic the strands of silk travel through the cup up past the blue bit and are spun onto rolls. Pretty cool process.

Next up, fisherman and sand dunes in Mui Ne

Da Lat, Vietnam

Filed under: Vietnam — she_travels at 2:19 am on Saturday, February 21, 2009

This trip was when I started to realize Vietnam is all kinds of diverse in the landscape department.

Not clear cause I was in a bus but the idea here is falt-ish and dry. I had no idea.

Graves.

Then back to the mountains.

I saw the pipe line before I realized  we were going that way.

From some of the way up the mountain.

See the snake of a road we came up?

The next several are from the top of  the hill, the bus stopped at a vista view.

Then there is a bit of town….Just short of 5000 feet elevation.

As I do when I arrive at the chosen guest house I dropped by bag and ventured out into town. I usually choose a direction, make turns in the same direction and end up back where I started. When going out on another day I widen the circle, this way I do not get lost.

Da Lat is constructed on hills with streets which made little or no sense from the ground. I thought I was making a sorta loop when I stopped dead on the side walk wondering not only where I was but,  how the heck do I get back to where I started.  As I stood there  bewildered by the street system I realized I was in worse shape than only being lost, I had no idea my guest house address, heck I didn’t even know the name of the place.

Frozen  on the side walk watching the traffic, coming and going, I wondered what the hell I was going to do. A woman burst out of the shop I was standing in front of  saying, “Are you hungry? You must come eat.”  Sure, ok, I will come eat.

She seated me, handed me a menu, and processed to tell me what I wanted for dinner. “Sure, ok, I will have that.”  I do not remember what it was, I do remember it was yummy, chicken something no doubt.

I was almost finished with my meal when two 20 something gals walked in. They seated themselves at a table next to mine. As they perused the menus someone had left on the table the lady who grabbed me off the street came over to tell them what they wanted for dinner. I overheard it was the same thing I had, once the lady was gone I whispered to the gals the food she was offering was yummy.

They both smiled when one of them, in an Irish accent,  said, “We have been here three nights running, the owner tells us what to eat, we do and it’s very good.” Seems the lady was the owner.

We chatted a bit about travels and upcoming plans.  I mentioned I was a bit lost then attempted to describe the guest house I was staying in. One of them got a silly look on her face while saying, “I think that is where we are staying, if ya want to wait we can take you back.”  I was happy to wait as long as needed.

Out the door and up the street to the right, over a hill down and around poof..my guest house. The Irish gals were staying in the same place.

Whew!! Saved again!

Next up.. a bit more about Da Lat.

Nha Trang

Filed under: Vietnam — she_travels at 11:26 pm on Friday, February 20, 2009

I was all about the guest house room with a sea view.

The beach past the Palms felt huge when I was standing on it. It was empty during the day but the minute the sun started going down it was chock a block full of people. The locals do not like the sun.

While waiting to be picked up for the three island tour I noticed this guy drive up to the guest house across the way. Many of the guest houses here are rooms on the upper levels with the   lowest level being the living space for family/manager or who ever runs the guest house.

The guy drove up on the white motor-bike, the woven bag with orange handles was between his legs holding three of the plastic jugs like the one you see at his feet. He gave the jugs to a lady who took them down the stairs behind him. When she returned she gave him some money and three empty jugs. I decided this guy was just like the milk man but he was delivering gas for the motor bikes, I could smell it.

The three island tour started with a mass of people and chaos in the harbor. I was all about keeping my mouth shut and my eyes on the guy who picked me up at the guest house. While waiting for him to make a choice on what was next I noticed a Carnival Cruise ship was docked. Heck,  I had no idea there was a cruise to this part of the world.

This gondola thing was stretched across the bay to a fun park (still under construction) of some sort on the other side. In the distance you can see the line of buildings before the mountains.

I first saw this from a distance wondering what the heck it was. As we motored closer…

A pirate ship with full sail, man made, cheesy they turned in to an aquarium. Compete with…

Cheesy sea creatures.

Next stop snorkeling off the shore of an island farther out.

Asians snorkeling… funny huh? The three people you see without life jackets are from Australia.  I was on the other side of the boat having a grand time with the corals of all colors, the fishes of every shape imaginable.

Back in the boat we motored to another island, tossed the anchor to have lunch.

The guy on the table is the tour guide, we had finished lunch, once the table was cleared the tour guide guy was all about the Karaoke. You can just see the drums set up behind him with the kitchen crew about to start playing. Karaoke is big arse business in Asia. Most of the people on this boat were from the south of Vietnam, four from China, four from Israel, two from the UK and me (an American).

The singing got a bit loud for me, when the Israelis jumped off the roof of the boat to water, I was in after them, then the Brits jumped over board as well.  The water was far deeper, rougher and the current was a challenge. The Brits and I grabbed the anchor rope for stability, then got to chatting. They were on their honeymoon/Asia tour before moving to Australia to work full time. Very nice people.

When the music stopped I thought they were moving the boat again so I climbed back up the ladder to put my t-shirt and shorts back on. Once settled I realized I was wrong but was not sure what was going on..I didn’t see anyone in the water, I sat back down to wait.

Before the Karaoke had started another boat had anchored next to us. It was part of  the same tour group, they had come to share our band.

I was not sure where the Brits or the tour guy had gone, I stepped to the edge of  the bow of the boat looking. From around the bow of the other boat I heard a voice saying some thing about “The American”. It all registered in a blink, there was something in the brochure about a floating wine bar, I didn’t  pay attention being I don’t drink. The tour guy was in the water with an inner tube around him,  had a bottle in one hand and a rope in the other, there was a second rope attached to his inner tube. I could hear him plain as day now cause he was looking directly at me yelling “Get the Fu**ing American off the boat. Fu**king American off the boat.” He repeated it several times, I think just to hear himself say fu**king American. Half way through the second verse I was stripped down to my suit and dove in to the water.

When I could see around the other side of the second boat  there were people every where in the water with Dixie cups in their hands. All of them had inner tubes around them and the rope from the guide’s tube was attached to all of them. The other rope was attached to a bit of foam then the second boat. The foam had a small well filled with Dixie cups.

There was a shout from the second boat and an inner tube landed in front of me. The guide suggested I put a hand on any one of his ropes, safety issues he said. I was all for it,  the current on this side was stronger than it had been on the other side.

Th guide offered me wine and his name, though I no longer remember it. I had a sip of  the wine, squishing up my face I said “It’s not very good, but the company is.”  The guide started a new chant “Very bad wine, very good company.” He continued to chant this line  intermittently for the remainder of the trip.

The third island on the three island tour was several levels of covered, or not, space along another island. It was a delightful stop for a nap.

All in all it was a great way to spend a day.

Next up, Da Lat,. They say it’s cold , I could not past up the chance to find out.

Hoi An and Cham Island, Vietnam

Filed under: Vietnam — she_travels at 7:15 pm on Friday, February 20, 2009

I spent my day and a half in Hue with a guy (Jimmy) I met on the bus from Laos and a gal (Hang) we befriended on the tour of the Tombs in Hue. He is from America, an art teacher someplace in the south, good company that guy was! She is from Vietnam, a tour guide in Saigon for the wealthy, she was chock a block full of info about the county and culture. Because I had no set plan of any kind  when Hang mentioned she was going south, stopping in Danang for a few hours and then on to Hoi-an to take a tour of an island off  the coast I asked if I could tag along. Ya know me and islands.

When the bus we boarded in Hue stopped for lunch, Hang told me to follow the dirt path behind the building then turn to my left walking toward the water. I found the next three images.

We were heading into that mountain range. Home of  longest tunnel in Vietnam at a length of 3.9 miles, said Hang when we were back in the bus. She also mentioned the mountain range was the dividing line between “the north of Vietnam” where there are four seasons and “the south of Vietnam” where there are two seasons, rainy and dry.

Hang and I walked the streets of Danang for a couple hours.

Hang says there are few gas stations about certainly not in town, this is one way people get gas.

Pics from Hoi-an below.

My obsession with old buildings continues.

Bougainvillea tree anyone?

One of the few images of Hoi-an’s ancient town which came out well. As you can see we were strolling after dark.

Cham island follows. This was my kind of place, clear blue water, green green fields of rice. It is a fishing village first and a tourist stop second.

Cool arse rocks  huh?

Fish drying.

Making sugar cane juice.

Hang and I left Hoi-an on “the sleeping” bus to Nha-Trang.

The seats were not delightful but nice enough for 12 hours all night.

On to Nha-Trang, a room with a view and a truly fun 3 island tour with a half crazy tour guide and a boat full of Asians.

Savannakhet to Hue, Vietnam

Filed under: Photos,Vietnam — she_travels at 9:52 am on Friday, February 20, 2009

I wandered the whole of Savannakhet my second day,  looking for a working ATM. I did not find one, had to tell the guys at the guest house I was out of money and ended up staying another night. They didn’t seem  surprised, this sort of thing may happen fairly often cause  the idea is to withdraw just enough of any one countries cash so ya don’t have the hassle or pay the fees to change if for another countries money.

You can bet I was very pleased the following morning when the closest ATM  was working. More likely than not it was out of money, it may have been a holiday,  the banks were closed as well.

When traveling one needs to be aware of the visa requirements. I had purchased a visa for Thailand before leaving Denver, those people who are staying less than 30 days usually get a stamp in their passport, as long as they bailed out of Thailand before the 30 days is up they are good. By the by – I hear this rule has changed and ya only get 15 days on the stamps now.

Laos is the same, ya gotta go one of  the border crossings offering a stamp.  I think Laos gives ya 15 days on the stamp.

Vietnam is a different animal, ya have to get a visa in your passport before the border crossing. Savannakhet has a Vietnam consulate, easy enough to pop in,  wait the allotted time and poof you are ready to roll.

The bus system also gets in on the deal. They offer an AC bus from Savannakhet to Hue, Vietnam with a stop at the border to get a Laos exit stamp and allow the Vietnam border guys to have a peek at your passport.

Hue, Vietnam from the window of he Guest House.

The next few are from Hue and the many Tombs and Temples about  the area.

There was a festival ending as we arrived, some of  these photos are things they had not taken down as yet. Most of the images following are from the Imperial Citadel in Hue.

I love this image!

See the lady in light purple closer to me? Many Asian ladies are fully dressed, it may partly be about the modesty but mostly is it cause they prefer white skin over the tanned browns we do. Many are afraid of the sun.

Random pics from the river follow.

Feels like there should be more pics of the tombs in Hue. I will zip through my original size images when I get back to Colorado in March. I may find a few more.

Quickly, again

Filed under: Vietnam — she_travels at 4:15 am on Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Delat, Vietnam.

I think I finally found the South East Asia groove. Man, it took me ages to feel good here.

I am loving many things about Vietnam including the amazing mountains, the beautiful corals in the sea and the people.

Here in Delat it is almost cold…very strange after being so very hot for so long.

I am here to see waterfalls and coffee plantations then I hop yet another bus back to the beach just north of Siagon. I will travel south through the Mekong Delta then hop a ferry to see an island off the coast of Cambodia that belongs to Vietnam…they have dive boats, I am going for another snorkel..if I like the place I will stay a while to rest up before heading back to Bangkok and the 32 hours of travel back to the states.

I should be back in Boulder July 2nd.

Pics coming!