Welcome back to another instalment of Tara and Brent do Asia, or get done by Asia, either way. So its been a month or so since the last blog update, which is becoming the trend for this blog, but never the less, ill do my best to fill you in with out drawing it out too much.
Our last month or so has revolved predominantly around lazing around on beaches, drinking cheap beer, hanging out, basically a very non stressful/physical existence. We begin back on the central coast of Vietnam in the beautiful little town of Hoi An, where after visiting for a couple of days we hopped on a 12 hour bus due south to the beach side concrete jungle of Nha Trang. A very Gold Coast'esq city, we stayed right across the road from the main beach which was quite nice, but never anticipated to stick around long. We also hired our first motorbike for Vietnam here, I was reluctant to tackle the chaotic Vietnamese traffic while riding on the RHS of the road, but all worked out well for us, we cruised around the city checking out some sights then went for a great ride along the coast to grab some lunch.
As the Chinese New Year - or Tet as its called in Vietnam - approached, prices went up and buses stopped running, as well as shops closing their doors, it was a pain in the ass! But we managed to organise ourselves, we headed to Mui Ne next, another beachside town, huge for kiteboarding, but fairly average for the budget traveller. We spent our 2nd new years here with a few blokes and a girl from Europe, which resulted in us zipping around the town on the back of their motorbikes from about 11pm to 2am with giant dragon balloons tied onto the back of the bikes chasing the evenings festivities, which included a weird karaoke type stage show, followed by us getting interviewed by the local tv channel, a really awesome fireworks show, a traffic jam of about 1 million and 50 motorbikes and a visit to a local pagoda to pay our hommages to the man - Buddha!
A few days later saw us in Saigon - Ho Chi Minh City, essentially the 2nd biggest city in Vietnam, we arrived at the perfect time as approx 6 million out of 8 million locals had left the city for the Tet to travel back to their home villages, so we were left with a relatively quiet relaxed city. This basically ment that most places were either closed, or things were more expensive, ie a tour to the Cu Chi tunnels was an extra $2. And that particular tour was possibly the worst I have ever heard of, it's a bad start when the driver and guide don't know how to get to the destination and the bus is frequently pulling over to ask for directions and subsequently turned around 5 times and takes an extra 2 hours to arrive, I think the A team were on vacation for the new year holiday, and the stand in B team weren't up to it, Regardless we made it, walked around, watched a racist video, hid in a tunnel, walked through another tunnel and then got lost on the way home…. The War remnants museum was a really emotionally draining experience, a lot of raw images from the war and its aftermath, it was easy to see why the Vietnamese resent the Americans so harshly. Afterwards we went to Gloria Jeans for a bucket sized ice coffee…
The following days saw us heading south into the thick mist of 6 million motorbikes heading back to Saigon, where we found ourselves floating around the Mekong river, taking in the sights of locals living their day to day on the water. We visited a coconut candy making place, paddled down some narrow cannels amongst the mud and palms, ate some tropical fruit on unicorn island - didn't see any unicorns - drank tiny cups of tea with a lady boy and listened to a local band play and sing, which was as awkward as it was interesting. We had dinner with our mates Jake and Nicky that evening where Aussie burgers were on the menu…mmmmmm! The next day we were back on the river again, inspecting the floating markets, rice factories and playing with a giant ugly fish in a fish tank. After lunch with our new mates we were on another bus, arriving that evening in Rach Gia, where first thing the next morning we got the last tickets for the boat ride to Phu Quoc island, our home for the next 10 days.
Phu Quoc was really nice, apparently the Phuket of 30 years ago, it is fairly untouched with basic roads and infrastructure. We spent our first night sleeping on a 3rd story balcony under the stars, which was quite unnerving as it dumped down rain late in the afternoon, and that saw a soaking wet me run from in the ocean to our slippery tiled balcony home and slip on my ass right in front of the guesthouse owner, but the main thing was I got our mattress to safety before it got too wet, the next morning we moved into our pink bungalow. So in between laying on our hammock, laying on the beach, swimming or eating, we went snorkelling and fishing around a collection of small islands off the southern tip of Phu Quoc, and we spent a couple of days tearing up the either red dirt roads or the small sections of bitumen that could almost pass off for a road around the island. Our mission around the northern rim of the island saw us get 2 flat tyres within 10 minutes of each other, the first time cost us $4.50 to get a bloke to replace the tube quick and easy, the second time proved more difficult, with confusion coming from the 2 Australians trying to tell the small Vietnamese family about the previous puncture, everyone speaking to each other in English and Vietnamese respectively, which resulted in a game of charades and ended in laughter and a new tube for $5.
We said ta ta to Vietnam on Feb 8th, and welcome to Cambodia, where there is just as many cars and motorbikes, but it seems that they have really mastered the art of abusing the likes of a 100cc scooter by either loading outrageous amounts of items onto the bike, or just strapping on a heavy laden steel trailer. Our first stop, Sihanoukville, where we resided at the lovely bar at a guesthouse called Moonlight Rock on Otres beach. The bar provide an endless supply of ice cold Cambodia Lager, a lot of music related conversation and some awesome tunes. After 3 days at Otres, we were on Koh Russei - Bamboo Island, where we lived in a beautiful little bungalow right on the water for 5 days. We had a great time relaxing on the island, or hanging out with our new mates. I had my birthday on the island, which I was lucky enough to share with Harry from Melbourne, and our night consisted of many funny antics around the campfire, including our mate Reg - the modern day Carl Pilkington from 'An Idiot Abroad' - charming the German, Armin, with his harmonica, hard to explain, but hilarious all the same.
We said our goodbyes to our new mates, and headed north on the 16th Feb, destination Phnom Penh, Cambodias capital, home of devastating genocide and the eerie killing fields from the darkest hour in Cambodias history, the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot Regime. We learnt a lot about this time, and cant believe that such a thing could happen, the piles of human bones and piles of human skulls brought it all home. A procession of guitar jams and sing-alongs with our mate Ben finally got to me and I brought a kids size/ travel friendly guitar, which I am terrible at playing, but am enjoying the progression.
We departed PP, bus bound for the North East, Battambang. Our bus ride wasn't without its problems though, with the steering giving way on the highway the driver was turning right and the bus was turning left, seeing us off the road and subsequently the only 2 passengers covered in glass. Our bus arrived 3 hours late, but at least we made it because Battambang was a great place, the 2nd largest city in Cambodia, but with a really chilled out sleepy vibe. We hired a tuk tuk for the day, and our driver Lexie took us all over the country side. We rode on the local bamboo train, which consists of wheels, a platform, a 7hp engine and a very run down set of train tracks. We visited some temples, a winery, a visual arts display and went to an awesome circus - which revolved around 8 Cambodian blokes doing crazy backflips and showing off their chiselled bodies.
So that gets us right up to speed, right now we are sitting on the bus to Siem Reap, listening to Hendrix in my ears and trying not to smash my face into the computer when we go over the bumps. Here we will be for the next few days exploring Angkor Wat, and whatever else the city has to offer. I will try and get the next instalment of the blog up before too long, so it isn't so drawn out. A big hello to everyone back home and to those still on the road, we are looking forward to getting home in a couple of months and catching up. Don't be shy, leave me a comment on the blog, I am interested to see who is having a read. Much love to you all, over and out for now. xxx
So, once again I have been very very lazy, in that it was a week since I wrote that last section on the bus.
We had a great time in Siem Reap, we bumped into our English mates Ben and Reg when we arrived and ended up staying with them at the Red Lodge, where we spent our time playing guitar and playing with the resident puppies and kittens.
We had a big day of exploring the amazing temples of Angkor Wat and surrounds, where we caught an amazing sunrise, and re-enacted scenes from the movie Tomb Raider. The boys and I followed up a 11 hour day of templing, with a massive night of drinking, needless to say we didn't go back to the temples for 2 days.
Siem Reap seemed to be the place to be, as we bumped into 5 more of our mates from Bamboo Island, the 4 Melbournians and the Frenchman. The Frenchman, Thomas, had the effortless charm of a man without boundaries, always finding himself in situations where the women would outnumber him. The dreamboat would often present the women in company with a rose, or swoon them with his charismatic va va voom………. Hahaha
We continued on from Siem Reap, but not before purchasing a new guitar and a bundle of $2 t-shirts and singlets. Before long Tara, Ben, Reg and myself were back on a 7 hour bus ride, which broke down out in the middle of the whops and saw us arrive 2 hours late in a town on the banks of the Mekong River called Kratie. We went out on a boat here and saw the endangered Irrawaddy fresh water dolphin playing around in the water.
3 days ago we were in a town in NE Cambodia called Ban Lung, where the 4 of us went out for the day, swimming in 2 magnificent waterfalls, and an ex volcanic Crater lake. Today we find ourselves laying around in a restaurant that overhangs the Mekong river, sitting in the shade, reading books, chilling out etc. We are now in Laos, where we crossed the border yesterday, and are staying on the almost tropical Island of Don Det, which is a part of the 4 Thousand Islands. Tara has just spotted a fish in the water where I think we will have a dip shortly, and im about to tuck into an orange fruit shake.
We have booked up a few flights, including our return airfare, so we fly from Nth Thailand to KL, KL to Borneo, Borneo to Philippines, Philippines to Home, back on the 3rd of May. Looking forward to seeing everyone, but just as excited to see the next few countries on the cards. So here we are, stay tuned to the next instalment, and we look forward to hearing from you. Much Love xx
So Laos average internet situation and our free time have restrained the Blog once again, its now 10th March, and since the last update from Don Det we took an 11hr bus to central Laos - which broke down….- to Tha Kheak, where we hired motorbikes and went riding for 3 days to a place called Kong Lor, where we took a boat through a 7.5km long cave that went through the middle of an enormous limestone mountain, followed up by swimming in a beautiful clear lake and jumping off some rocks, it was goooood times! After 400km on the bikes, we were back on another bus, which broke down…. 8 hrs later it was 2 am and we were trying to find accommodation in Vientiane, Laos capital city. With not a whole lot to offer, we only stayed 2 nights, and took the bumpy dusty road up into the hills to where we are now, Vang Vieng, the home of tubing, drunken messes and shifty cops. We have a nice big bungalow up on stilts along side the river, where we are currently hanging around on our hammocks. We have been travelling with Ben and Reg now for a couple of weeks, soon enough we will be in Chiang Mai and on a plane bound for Malaysia/Borneo.
Stay tuned for the next edition of the amazing adventures of us in Asia. Peace out for now!