Cesca's big adventure
Long time no update......been pretty busy and computers here can sometimes be so painfully slow that it puts me off updating. Anyway, this is what happened in south east asia. Arrived in Bangkok on 14th May where I met up with Gemma (who was looking well after her trekking in Nepal). Saw a few of the sights of Bangkok - floating market, Wat Po (where an old man read my palm, naturally telling me I was going to be very wealthy when I reach my 40's and 50's!!! - he obviously knew nothing of my capacity for spending). Took an overnight train to Chiang Mai where I visited more temples (Doi SuThep for sunset), went walking in the hills and saw the Karen Hill Tribe women hard at work weaving scarves (needless to say I bought one) and saw the Thai Boxing (pretty violent and won't be doing that again). Then headed towards Chiang Khong and stayed along the banks of the mighty Mekong River. Then it was down the Mekong traveling by boat for two days to sample some 'Beer Laos'. Stopped at the Pak Ou caves along the Mekong to see hundreds of ancient Buddha's hidden in the caves' temple -Tham Ting. Laos, its people and, importantly, its markets were all very good. Up early morning in Luang Prabang to give alms to the monks and found some stunning jewellry in the markets in Vientiene - fitted in around visiting temples and a Buddha Park (where I entered 'Hell's Mouth' - a huge sculpture with rooms in the inside chamber containing sculpted scenes of hell !!). Had a really nice homestay in the village of Hin Boun and enjoyed hours of games with the village children. Arrived in Vietnam after much ado at the border (officials struggled to identify a Polish passport, that of one of my travelling companions, and I'm sure were on the verge of deciding she and Poland were not real) and on the eve of a storm and no electricity. However, Vietnam turned out to be pretty good. Learnt a lot about the Vietnam war from museums and books I read, spent a night on a boat in Halong Bay amid its hundreds of little islands rising out of the water (the weather was pretty grey here and so it looked a little 'pirates of the Caribbean' and I felt I ought to be on a pirate ship), also managed to spend some time in Hanoi, Hue, HoiAn and Saigon. Visited the Citadel and perfume river in Hue, where I also spent a fantastic day on the back of a motorbike touring the town and venturing briefly into the countryside. The delights of HoiAn were clothes, clothes and then some more (and all of them tailor made - needless to say I have a new work wardrobe waiting for me when I get home, which I may well need given my travelling weight gain due to much good food!). In Saigon I visited the CuChi tunnels (where I managed to scramble through a sixty metre tunnel), and the war museum. From here it was onto Cambodia (much as I loved Laos, I really fell in love with Cambodia and its people - maybe it had something to with the little boy Dieng who I met at Angkor Wat). Drank Angkor beer and continued to darken in the sun! First stop was Phnom Penh where I visited S-21 (the former Khmer Rouge prison) and the infamous Killing Fields. I was very shocked at the scenes of incredible torture and at the presence of human remains and clothes still lying visible in the ground where we walked. After Phnom Penh I headed towards Siem Reap, where again I met up with Gemma just after her birthday. Spent a few days visiting the temples of Bayon with its many sculptures of faces hanging high on temple pillars, Ta Phrom (the 'Tomb Raider' temple) spectacularly torn apart by huge tree roots which now mingle with the bricks of the temple to make it a photographers paradise, and Angkor Wat at sunrise and early morning. Went in a hot air balloon on a line and saw Angkor Wat from the air, and also visited the small land mine museum doing good works to deactivate landmines planted by the Khmer Rouge (here a courageous young man showed us round teaching us about landmines and shared the story of how he lost his leg, and lost his two younger siblings in a landmine explosion). Spent a last evening in Cambodia playing with children high up in the Bakong temple till the sun began to set. Then it was back to Bangkok to catch my flight to Kathmandu.....