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March, 2010:

Elephant Crossing hotel review in Vang Vieng

I don’t usually write about the places we stay but I was determined to do so about the  Elephant Crossing Hotel.  This was a hotel that Sebastien had found on line which looked nice.  Before arriving in Vang Vieng he booked three nights at $50 a night.

After seeing what other hotels had to offer I felt ripped off and cheated by Elephant Crossing.  Yes, it is a nice hotel but for $50 it was WAY over priced.  On top of that we were given a room with two beds when we had requested one bed AND we were told we would have to change rooms the last night.  When I was checking out I also over heard another guest being told they had to change rooms as well.  The hotel is also outside the town center which was  inconvenient for me when I was walking back at night.   A positive was that it was right on the river and did provide amazing views but only for the rooms that faced the river.  Our second rooms had not view and had ugly decor.

After three days at this hotel I moved to one that was closer to town.  It was clean, had just as an amazing view, and was $10.  Yes, $10…

Several other people I had meet stayed in nice hotels that were between $10-25 and were also very nice.

Life in Vang Vieng Laos

Anyone traveling through Southeast Asia will undoubtedly hear about Vang Vieng. The stories start off with a lot of enthusiasm and end with loud laughs.  The most common after thought is, “you got to go tubing in Vang Vieng”.

I second this after spending a week there.  Once in Lao,  Sebastien had decided to head back to Cambodia and did so as soon after meet up with Scottie and Chantal.  This was the same couple we had meet in Phi Phi.  Since we had meet them we were planning to meet up in VV so it was disappointing that Sebastien was going to ditch the experience.  However, I was not and for the next 5 days had a ridiciouly ridiculously fun time in this small Lao town.

Here are some of the reasons why Vang Vieng is so much fun.

The town is small and there are a plethora of friendly fellow travelers.  It is easy to find cheap accommodations (I paid $10) that includes a clean room, AC, hot shower, and amazing views of the river and mountains.  The streets are filled with smiling friendly locals all willing to hand you their child to play with.  Little children playing with each other in the street and coming up to grabbing your leg and smile up at you.  Street vendors selling amazing baggette sandwiches for pennies.  And of course there is the tubing.  (more…)

Wats Enchanting of Siem Reap

We have been in Siem Reap for over a week.  We have spent three days visiting the temples (wats) and two days visiting a village called Treak and the rainbow orphanage.   We also attended a few meditation classes and a yoga class.

There are many temples and even the small ones are enchanting.  Here are the top temples we enjoyed the most:

The Roluos Group (late 9th century C.E.) – Bankong , Preah Ko, and Lolei

Temples of Angkor- (10th- 13th century C.E)- Angkor Thorm, Angkor Wat (saw this one for sunrise- amazing), Bayon, Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider-Lara Croft), Banteay Kdei, and watched the sunset at Phnom Bakheng.

Here are some pictures of our past week.

The Lao Down

It has been one day since landing in Laung Prabang and I appreciate this town already.  It’s old, mystical, green, mountainous, dirty (with age), yummy, beautiful, and historic.  There are so many beautiful things to  do and buy here.  However, my ATM doesn’t seem to work at any of the machines.  Which is a problem.

Today, Sebastien wanted to take it easy so I went off and explored by myself.  I walked up the big hill where there are a plethora of gold Buddha statues and a cave which encloses, what the Lao’s believe, is the buddha’s foot step.

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Lasting memories from Phnom Penh

It is hard to put into words our experience in Phnom Penh.  We were there for only two days but moved by its history.  In those two days we visited S-21, the killing fields, shot guns, and practiced yoga at NataRaj yoga.

There was a devastating genocide which occurred only 30 years ago.  Over 2 million Khmer people were killed.  Many were tortured at S-21 for 3- 6 months only to be inhumanly killed and thrown into mass graves.  Mothers, infants, brothers, sisters, fathers, whole families were killed.  The trauma can still be seen on the faces of Cambodians today.  (more…)

A Spiritual Moment on Ko Samui

Sebastien and I returned to Ko Samui on February 28th.  I wanted to see two things before we left for Cambodia on March 1st.  The Big Buddha and the Mummufied Monk.

Once we settled in to our hotel (different night differnet bed) we got some lunch and hired a taxi for a day to take us to both sites.  It cost us 1,100 baht ($35) for about a 3 hour tour.

Our first stop was to see the Big Buddha.  I am not sure that I have words for our experience there.  The highlight was being blessed by a monk who gave us bracelets to wear.  Being in the presence of this being nearly brought tears and profound joy to both Sebastien and I.

The second stop was to see the mummified monk.  I had read that this monk actually died in meditation and so his body was preserved in the sitting position.  This is not the case.  At the age of 50 the man became a monk and created his own meditative practice.  He did not die in a sitting position but because he dedicated himself fully to a meditative lifestyle (after the age of 50) his fellow monks decided to honor him after death and put him into this position.  Though the tourist pamphlets will tell you that he died in this position.

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The monk who blessed us.

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Big Buddha

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Mummified Monk

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Our blessed bracellets.