Archive for the ‘SE Asia’ Category:

Cambodian English

April 15th, 2007

Cambodians speak better English than Vietnamese and maybe thai, based on my limited experience.  However, their written english is definitely much more entertaining – here’s some examples from water bottles

PURE DRINKING WATER – Water excels as fit for human consumption is Reverse Osmosis Pure Drinking Water Ultraviolet and Ozone System.

MOHACHAI Pure Drinking Water
Is Purified and Disinfected by R.O., Ozone, and UV process qualified for the drinking water in high quality.

Pure water, testing through DEIONNIZED highly isolating substance and germ, keeps in high quality.

In Vietnam

April 9th, 2007

I made it to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. So far we’re just in Saigon, ahem, i mean Ho Chi Minh City (locals still call it Saigon), which is the biggest city in Vietnam (greater metro area about 9 million peeps). Parts of the city are as clean and modern as any american city, but not all parts – its still apparent you’re in SE Asia. It is much nicer than Cambodia, but suprisingly not always more expensive. You can get a nice big bowl of delicious Pho (beef noodle soup) for like 40 cents. And already we found a place that has draft beers for 25 cents .. way cheaper than Cambodia. Moped taxis are also slightly cheaper, but i’m sure i was paying a tourist surcharge for things in Cambodia. Rooms are more ($10 for a nice AC room), and many restaurants charge american prices. I’m not really on a budget, but Shayna is, so finding a good deal is always welcome.

Vietnam's Reunification Palace Our first night we hooked up with Shayna’s friend Kelly, from the states – she’s been living here over a year. She took us around to some eating, drinking and Karaoke spots. We met lots of locals and expats – their are alot of westerners here and they talk about how fast the city is growing and changing. The next day we slept in but the made it to the Royal palace (aka Reunification Palace). It was completed in 1966 but hasn’t been used or modified since 1975, when the war ended and the VC (north vietnam army) took over. It was interesting to be transported back in time to the 70s – the architecture of the place as well as seeing old radio equipment and helicopters and tanks. It was also interesting to learn how the Freedom Army Liberated Saigon from 1975. No civil war here, just the good Vietnamese versus the bad Americans and their Vietnamese sympathizers. After that i had some real tasty beef BBQ – i cooked the marinated beef right at the table. Besides the beef, the place had frog, crocodile, rats, crickets, snakes, and worms. Umm.. yeah.

Tomorrow we’re doing a tour of Mekong River, then the next day we’re leaving Saigon for the Vietnamese beach town of Mui Ne. Then we slowly work our way North (Hoi An, My Son) to Hanoi, Sapa, and Halong Bay, then to Laos after Vietnam.

Cambodia Done

April 9th, 2007

Cambodia was great.  We spent 15 days there, visited 4 cities, saw Anciet Ruins, villagers in the coutryside, the beach, and the busting city of Phenom Penh.  It is cheaper than Thailand, but not everywhere, and if you’re not careful you can pay american prices for things.  The people were really friendly, smiling while waving hello, especially the kids. There were kids everywhere – 40% of the population is under 15.  There was also plenty of expats and a few modern conveniences to remind you of home (yes, i enjoyed the big AC mall by the bus station in PP). There were some sad aspects – people missing limbs (from old land mines) and some general disfigurement, and they did hassle you for money alot, so it was not perfect, but not so much in your face that i had to leave.   I really only got annoyed when i was trying to relax on the beach and they kept coming up.  But at places like Angkor Wat, I was glad to have ones selling a cold drink (it was really hot the whole time in cambodia, april is like their hottest month).  There were lots of organizations trying to help cambodians – orphanages to businesses employing homeless are people who need help in one way or another.  It was good to be able to funnel money through something like that which you could trust, as opposed to a kid on the street, who get exploited by many adults.

To recap the journey, we spent 5 days in Siem Reap, getting 3-day pass to Angkor Wat.  I recommend the 3-day pass, but if you’re not a big fan of ruins, the 1-day pass would suffice.  We then do a boat to Battambang (boat was way more scenic than bus), spent a couple nights there, taking a khmer cooking class and a ride in the countryside, before heading south to the beach.  We spent 4 nights at Sihanoukville (the beach), mostly chilling and eating, then 4 nights in Phnom Penh, where we saw the killing fields and learned more about the horrible Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge.  Even though he lost control of the country in 1979, there was still fighting till 1993.  So it’s only been a little over a decade since cambodians have felt … free.  But the attitude is still live for the present.

My favorite things include the friendliness of the people – they’re always around, either trying to sell you something (usually bad), but good if you need something; obviously the magic of Angkor Wat, the good, cheap food; easy, cheap transportation; our clean beach room and nice sand; our beautiful lakeside place in Phnom Penh, and the monkeys of Wat Phnom.

If you’re going to SE Asia, definitely goto Cambodia.

Three Dollars

April 6th, 2007

Three .. is the magic number .. yes it is, its the magic number.

Greetings from Cambodia – Shayna and I are in Phnom Penh, the capital, and its great. We’ve spent about 2 weeks in Cambodia, first seeing Angkor Wat, then by boat to Battambang, a city most tourists don’t hit, then by bus down to the beaches of Sihanoukville. Our cooking class in Battambang was great, as was the countryside – seeing how most of Cambodians live. But the beach was my favorite – we stayed at a very nice guesthouse 50 meters from the beach, everything we needed was right there – white soft sand, clear ocean waters, cold beverages, Asian and western food, and lots of kids – both annoying by when selling but fun when they played with us. Shayna wrote more on her blog.

So what about 3 dollars? Well, lemme tell ya. Cambodia is cheap. Cheaper than Thailand and prolly anywhere else in the world. Here’s what you can get for 3 bucks:

  • Bus from the beach (Sihanoukville) to Phenom Penh (4 hours, actually $3.50)
  • Hotel room in one of the many lakeside guesthouses in Phnom Penh ($2-$4 a night)
  • Good Asian meal ($2) and a cold beer ($1) anywhere in Cambodia
  • Tuk-Tuk (taxi) to anywhere in any city ($1-$3)
  • 1-hour massage in Phnom Penh.
  • Most any book from street vendors
  • 2 CDs (albums) downloaded to your iPod from Boom Boom Room
  • 2 T-shirts from the Russian market (one Tiger beer, one Angkor beer)
  • many more …

So ya see, not a bad spot to live. Sadly, we leave in 2 days to goto Vietnam. But i hear they have great Pho!

In Cambodia

March 28th, 2007

I made it to Cambodia. My 5th Country on my RTW tour, after Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and Thailand. So far we’ve only checked out western Cambodia, Siam Reap, and Angkor Wat – the largest religous structure in the world. Angkor Wat is actually one of many temples in the region, but also the name of the park housing all the temples. One of the others, Ta Prohm, was used in the filming of Tomb Raider. I definitely like Angkor Wat the best, its columns, hundreds of door frames, carvings, and sheer size – big enough to get lost in. But Ta Prohm was more interesting due to the jungle immediately surrounding it – trees are literally gorwing out and on the walls. At moments the tourists become overwhelming, you can barely walk, and at other moments you might not see any. Shayna was here in 2003 and would see only 30 people in all of Angkor Wat, whereas now you’re lukcy if you see less than 300 at any given time of day.

The town of Siam Reap is quite nice and more modern than expected – 10 years ago it was nothing more than huts and dirt roads, and now has dozens of high-end hotels, plenty more of the cheaper guest houses, western and cambodian bars and restaraunts, 24-hr ATMs, internet, at least 2 free wi-fi cafes (i’m at one called Figo right now), and markets where you can buy everything from mopends to rice, fish, shirts, and jewelry.

After Siam Reap we plan to head to Battambang and then the capital, Phnom Penh. Perhaps a detour to some Cambodian beaches, then its to the land of Vietnam for a month, then Laos, then back to Thailand.

BTW, I updated my Round the World Itinerary to arrive back in the USA at the end of July, instead of end of June.

In Thailand

March 15th, 2007

Sawadee Krap! That’s Hello, in Thailand. I got here a couple nights ago and haven’t done anything. I’m staying with my friend chin, who moved here 3 years ago from SF. He lives south of downtown bangkok (about 9km as bird flies). I’ve just been chillin, catching up with some email, posting some pseudo blogs, uploading a couple pics, etc. I’ve also had the pleasure of eating some home-cooked thai food from his girl, .. oh, sooooo good. We even went out for lunch yesterday and had amazing papaya salad, some chicken/basil dish, some noodle dish with mushrooms, plus sticky rice, all we could eat, for about 25 baht each. 5 peeps. thats like 75 cents each in US. This is cheaper than most meals, but still, one of my best meals on the trip, and it was 75 cents. Damn thailand is cheap.

Now i just check out bangkok till Shayna arrives on tuesday night, the 20th. I can’t wait !!!