Halong Bay

It is one of Vietnam’s most treasured sites.  Halong Bay.  The bay includes more than 1500 islands and islets with sky scrapping limestone pillars.

We had planned on meeting Jeremy, Seb’s cousin, and his friend Romain in Vietnam and taking a cruise through Halong Bay.

To make a long story short it was a pain in the butt to schedule a boat in Halong Bay City.  Most of the tours are scheduled in Hanoi.  Our hotel, Sunlight Hotel, arranged for us to go to the dock and talk to an agent.  It was a confusing process but we were willing to pay a little more to make sure that we had a nice boat.  We should have used a website for Halong Bay.

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Riding with the locals

From Nihm Bihn we took the locals bus/van up to Halong Bay.  What an adventure!!!!

It was a 4 hour ride with spectacular views and jaw dropping bus behaviors.

Here are some of the things I noticed while on the adventure.

The van doesn’t stop.  There is someone who stands at the sliding door yelling out the van’s destination.  If someone on the street appears to want to go that way the van slows down.  The person is then pushed or pulled into the van all while we are still moving.  The best was when a mother approached the van with her young child and the bus yeller picked the child up like a sack of potatoes and put him into the van and then grabbed his mom.  Crazy.

Some people throw things on to the van, like bags of rice, and those bags are given to someone miles away.  I am not sure how they know who to give it to or if they have to pay for this transportation service.

On our flight from Hanoi to Hoi An we saw a man carrying a HUGE bag of garlic coves onto the airplane as his check in bag.  Very funny.

Its normal for people to fall asleep on strangers.

Nihm Bihn River Tour

After spending a day in Hanoi we decided to head to Nihm Bihn before meeting up with Jeremy in Halong Bay.

It was about a 3-4 hour van ride from Hanoi to Nihm Bihn.  We stayed at Thuy Anh Hotel which was recommended by lonely planet.  The town of Nihm Bihn itself had little to offer.

We searched for a restaurant and ended up in sports bar.  They didn’t speak any English but understood that we wanted food.  They brought us two plates with french fries, some salad, and meat.  Hummm… Vietnamese meat.  Earlier that day we had seen dog skinned and being sold for food.  Yes, they eat dog in Vietnam.

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2 Cities, 4 Doctors, 3 Different Diagnosis

Since being in Vietnam Sebastien has had some funky thing growing on his hands and feet.  They look like bumps filled with yellow puss.  Really gross!


After a week in Hoi An we became increasingly concerned.  Each day there seemed to be more clusters of bumps and all the local people told us to go see their Dr.   So in between fittings we went to the local hospital, Pacific Care.

We asked to see a dermatologist and within 20 minutes saw a Dr.   The Dr. spoke little English and giggled at us but diagnosed it as dermatitis, which is basically a skin rash due to an allergic reaction to your environment.  He prescribed some lotion and some pills and said that we should see improvements within a day.   Visit- $30  Medication- $4.

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A Few Pictures From Halong Bay

I’m sure Tina will write a proper post about our experience in Halong Bay so I won’t tell anything about it. I just want to share a few pix I took with my iPhone.

This is snake alcohol. A cobra was inserted in a jar of unknown alcohol.

Picture taken from the boat. A beautiful sight.

I can’t remember the name of this cave but it was beautiful.

Tina enjoying the boat life.

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.  Read 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.  Read More