Sorry about the delay boys and girls - have been busy busy! I will try and recap as well as I can without leaving out too much as it has been a while. On day one in Ho Chi Minh we went to the Chu Chi Tunnels - they were fascinating! The whole network of tunnels - sometimes three tiers deep that the Chu Chi people used for hiding in and mounting attacks from, in the war. And the entry to some parts were tiny! You can see by the pictures how they guy only just squeezes in it! Other entrances were a bit bigger but not by much. We even got to walk through a portion of the tunnel - and by walk I mean crouch and edge through it (and this portion has been increased to two times the original size to allow visitors to get through them)You could walk through 10, 20 or 30m of the tunnel - and I am not claustrophobic but after 10m I was out of there! Man it gives you the heebie jeebies and it was pitch black, ick! They were also very inventive with their booby traps! Heaps of different covered holes they dug with an array of spikes and poisons in them (usually they used human feces as it infected the wound well and it was easy to come by!) You have to give it to them they were damn clever - and they even had the kids out there fighting! It makes you very appreciative of how we live today phew!
The following day we went to the Mekong Delta. We jumped on a longboat and made our way to one of the islands in the delta to see how some of the cottage industries work. The people here were amaising, they were sitting on the floor sewing leaves together to make traditional roof panels and another room was full of women dribbling a liquid mixture onto hotplates to make the outside of spring rolls and then another was making toffee and cutting it up into small squares and wrapping them and another was popping rice to make rice bars! So fascinating! All these things that factories would always make back home you have people toiling away in the extreme heat ant they are only paid per item so the better they are or the more hours they put in the more they get paid, but it's never very much . We then jumped into smaller three person boats to row up a little canal to go to another place for lunch, that was fairly non descript BUT they did have a python in a cage and they asked if we wanted to hold it and I was like Hell Yes! Haha I have never seen a real snake, and I was saying to the others in the group that all I really wanted to do on the trip was to see a snake in the wild, so here I got to hold a HUGE one - it was soooo cool!! It was so smooth and so heavy!
The next day we went to Phnom Penh and then had the daunting task to go to S21 and the Killing Fields. The S21 prison (Toul Sleng) was fairly traumatizing - there was still dried blood splattered on the walls and there were pictures in each room where the last prisoners were found dead tied to beds. There were also 100's of pictures of all the men women and children that were killed. Really really gross, but at the same time very interesting. Out of everyone that went into there only 6 survived! A couple that were recruited to help the guards and one that sawed his one foot free of the shackles. Shudder…
After that we went off to the killing fields, and it's name is very appropriate. At it's entrance there is a huge memorial stupa will all victims skulls in it who were exhumed from this field (and this was only one of many) Then we went for a walk around the field and were shown all the mass graves, one dedicated to women and children (we were also shown the tree where they bet the children to death in front of their mothers) and another mass grave with Khmer Rouge soldiers in it that were executed after being suspected of double crossing or many other indiscretions.
The day after we flew to Siam Reap and had a nice hotel to stay at with a great pool which we all immediately used as I think we were all as close to melting we had ever been! The next morning we headed off to Ankor Wat and looked around three temples - one of which was used in the Tomb Rader film - this one was really cool with huge trees growing between the stones. It was just so amazing to see such huge structures that have survived so many years (with a bit of help of restorative work). The next morning at 5am we were up to see the sun rise over Angkor Wat - that was a struggle but pretty cool. Then after a breakfast stop were explored the rest of the temple. I didn't realize it was so huge!! It was so cool to see all the engravings and detail work on the huge stones, and the man power they would have needed to get it all in place defies belief really! After A day and a half of sweltering heat and temple hopping most of the group spent the rest of the day by the pool, but I decided even though I was dying a little, that I probably wouldn't be back here any time soon so I decided to squeeze in one more. So four of us hired a car and driver and headed to one an hour and a half out of town, it was fairly off the tourist path so we had hopes it wouldn't be as crowded as the others were. We were greatly rewarded - this place was soo cool! So so cool! We wanted to see one that hadent been restored at all and natural in its decayed state and this place was. And nothing was roped off, ant there were no arrows to tell us which was to go and what not to touch. We had the full run of the place and only a couple of other people were there. We squeezed through narrow gaps and climbed up on roofs that had half tumbled down, just went everywhere, we were all like kids on a super cool playground and we all had huge grins as it was so much fun - we all said we felt like Indiana Jones and we had just discovered this place - it was so photogenic - we all took over 100 photos each, I think one guy got over 300!
The next day was pretty much taken all up with getting back to Bangkok by bus… long and fairly dull! At the boarder they made us wait and wait… b******s, then one of the guards offered us an express service for 100 Baht each ($3 approx) so we all took it - corruption at its greatest huh! But it got us through in front of a whole heap of people so o well, I guess it was 3 dirty dollars well spent!
That night we all went out for our final dinner at the very first place we ate at when we first got to Bangkok, so it was neat how it had come full circle. And after we went out for a couple of drinks - fully intending it to only be one or two….. well several and a beer tower (see photos when I load them! - over 3 liters between three of us) later and we were all smashed and didn't get back to the hotel till around 4.30! haha it was great fun (apart from Paul who slept through his shuttle at 6am and had to get a speedy taxi at 7.30 to get to the airport on time for his flight!)
So that was the end of the South East Asia tour - really fun times and great memories (some of the best were a haze of alcohol!) I met some great people and saw some truly incredible sights! I won't forget any of this in a hurry that's for sure!
Stay tuned for Spain…..