A Travellerspoint blog

April 2008


Mui Ne - Yah the beach again!!

sunny 38 °C
View OE on Gaz n Shaz's travel map.

Off to the beach for some lazy days and Tantrix.

We hired a scooter for the first time and head off north to see some sights. There is plenty to see and had a great time exploring on our own. What views from the bike.


We went to the local bar for a few drinks that night but met up with a few people we met in Saigon so a few quiets turned into a few buckets of gin and tonic and rum and redbull.


When the bar closed, in typical Gaz and Shaz style we weren’t ready for bed. A local girl invited us to have a drink with her and her friends. So there we were drinking rice wine (its just called wine, really its spirit) on the street eating green mango and chilli with some locals. Had a great time! Had way to much rice wine - what a surprise. But this time it was out of good manners as it is rude to decline something when offered it - our mothers taught us well.

Third day in Mui Ne is freedom day, a holiday in Viet Nam. We are very hung over but have promised to meet our new Vietnamese friend for breakfast - and actually follow through - our first Vietnamese friend. She wanted us to stay with her and celebrate all day but we have booked to move onwards to Dalat - just as well as we are never drinking rice wine again.

Posted by Gaz n Shaz 00:26 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)


Saigon/ HCMC

sunny 33 °C
View OE on Gaz n Shaz's travel map.

We arrive in Saigon and what a change of pace! The traffic is amazing - there are as many motorbikes in Saigon as there are people in NZ!!


Our small tour pack is still not very interested in going off by ourselves and since we have 3 Irish in our mix we head to the pub and had a awesome night! Spent double what we usually spend in a day but what a good time :) So predictably (if we ever learned our lesson) we were not well for our first full day in Saigon and we up for about 4 hours in total. Groooan back to bed - Damn the Irish!!

Third day in Saigon and we are finally up to see some sights starting with the Cu Chi tunnels. Was pretty nervous about going down into them but we did it! Very big achievement! We only went 5 meters in but that was 5 meters plenty. It was pretty tight even though they have been widened for us western fatties we had just learned that they made sections of the tunnels purposely small so that any American solders got down there they would be stuck!!


For lunch we could only find some Vietnamese fast food so we gave it a whirl. It was pretty tasty and you could even upgrade your burger with a side of spaghetti bolognaise :)

Back to the war history museum. A great museum – but also very sad. Agent orange and landmines have caused havoc in Vietnam. This was the most shocking as they are still paying for a war that has been over for 30 years. Some of the exhibitions make us feel a little ill…..

Decide we need to chill out on the beach for a bit and recover. Between this Museum and S21 in Phnom Penh we are forming a very bleak outlook of people.

Posted by Gaz n Shaz 00:03 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)


Mekong Delta

sunny 35 °C

Good bye Cambodia. Up early and on a bus to get to a bus which 1.5hrs after we left the guesthouse went back past it (very productive – we are not at all bitter about the waste of valuable sleeping time – or sarcastic) that eventually took us to a boat. Mission today is to make it to Chau doc in the Mekong in Viet nam. Praying the border crossing goes a little better than the last one:) It nice travelling by boat for a change. Before we know it we at the border, it could not have been easier! On the Viet nam side we just sat in a café and the guide did everything for us – for no extra $$! Our guide on the Vietnam side was quite a character. She gave us some local fruit to try and a Vietnamese lesson. She talked us into joining a 3 day tour though the Mekong to Saigon with the rest of the boat: 3 Irish and 2 poms. Our first impressions of Vietnam are good ones - the people of the Mekong are very friendly and wave as we go by in the boat.


Day 2 of our Mekong tour. Up early again to our disgust! We head off see a fish farm and a little tribal village that weave sarongs. Interesting but all over by 9am.


Then things start getting a little weird. Our guide that we were suppose to have for the whole trip says things have changed and we are no longer going with her and sends us off with another lady. The new guide takes us back to catch a bus, then too say goodbye. We now are on a tour with no guide. A van comes and picks us up to take us to a bus (seeing a trend?). Our bus turns out to be a local bus and now instead of a guide we have a very angry Vietnamese man with a small man complex. After giving our tickets, and getting yelled at a bit in Vietnamese we are off. The small man continues to yell through the whole trip but now it is mostly at people on the side of the road. A bit odd really. He fancied himself as pretty tough and liked showing Gaz his muscles: it made an already very uncomfortable bus trip worse. Was a bit like seeing the one person play good cop and then bad cop. Before we all know it the bus stops at a petrol station and we are ordered off by little guy and our bags taken out. This uncomfortable bus now seems like a haven. No one speaks English – seriously our Vietnamese was more fluent since we had hello and thank-you, neither of which were helpful or got us anywhere. We have no idea where we are (even what town), the bus driver refused to give our ticket (proof of next day tour) back. Our bus then took off in a great hurry. Its looking like we got scammed. We have pre paid a hotel and the tour the next day and we are stuck at a petrol station, somewhere, with no tickets and to top it off no idea of where we were supposed to be staying. Adding to our suspicion was the ‘hotline’ phone number for the tour company was disconnected. We eventually work out we are in the right town, Can Tho. Some moto drivers keep saying the will give free ride to a hotel but the language barrier was big! We eventually have no choice but to go with the motos. We are relieved to find they take us to a hotel that was expecting us and the tour goes on……The beer in the lobby may just of been the best we have ever tasted – I think our adventure would make a good ‘hard earned thurst’ advert. We were a pretty tight tour group before our dramas but now we aren’t keen to break off at all and go everywhere together – hunting as a pack.

Day three and we have a tour of floating markets and a cruise around the Mekong. The boat trip was great! So much to see and was very entertaining! The kids are so cute they all come out and eagerly wave- you have never seen such earnest waving. Great to see how the people live along the Mekong. Really they do all their living right on the river – we see people bathing, washing their clothes and dishes and even cleaning vegetables (while knowing that EVERYTHING that you don’t want in your water is going into it – we see toilets set up right on the banks).


After the river markets we dock at a rice paper making business. It’s a pretty clever system – they have animal hide stretched out over a vat of boiling water and they pour over rice powder and water mix, steam it and another rolls it off the vat using a bamboo bat and dry it on bamboo sheets.


Tour of the Mekong has come to an end and we are off to Saigon/ HCMC.

Posted by Gaz n Shaz 22:27 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)


Off to the beach - Sihanoukville

semi-overcast 32 °C

We have had enough of the cities - the heat, dirty feet and crowds, so have headed south to the beach. Ahhhh the beach. Though the sea is as warm as bath water it is much cooler and oh so relaxing. We spent the first couple of days catching up on school work (for shaz) and exploring and beer drinking (for gaz). We had heard mixed reports of the area but are really enjoying it. The view from our bungalow is lovely and the food amazing! Gaz has finally gotten his seafood - and is doing a good job of playing catch-up.

We finally thought we should see some more of the region instead of sticking within 5min walking distance from our bunglows so set off to the largest island - Bamboo Island - beautifully remote yet there is still beer available. Lovely day laying in the sun but got a little burnt (sorry Mums it appears we havent learnt our lessons).


Another day was spent lying on another beach on the main land. Very interesting Moto (scooter) ride over there. Our driver was very safety conscious as was wearing a helmet yet on the bumpest road (we use this word in the loosest terms) known to man (yes even worse than the boarder crossing) he pulled out his cell phone for a chat. But the beach was amazing and not nearly as many people or litter. Shaz even splurged on a $3 pedicure. Very interesting experience as one girl doing the painting while another 4/5 watch and comment. Cambodians give a new meaning to personal space.


We have spent a lovely 5 nights at the beach but now have to head back to the Capital for a couple of days doing the tourist/history thing. Unfortunately it is too early in our trip to lose our way and stay here for the rest of the holiday.

Posted by Gaz n Shaz 00:57 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)


The Temples of Angkor

sunny 38 °C
View OE on Gaz n Shaz's travel map.

Up early to go on our temple tour – First stop is Angkor Thom – Bayon. I don’t know why I had expected it to be quiet- but it wasn’t there were people everywhere – kind of felt similar to going to a theme park. Bayon was amazing though – so many serene faces (54 towers and 216 faces) and the detail of all the carvings was amazing. We wondered how many carvers must have been involved in the project – if you could complete one face it was probably a great life achievement. I can’t believe they still let people climb all over them and touch everything – great to see everything up close but kind of feels wrong to be walking over structures that are sooo old. Older than anything we have ever seen before so we are struggling to grasp it. This would have to be the highlight of our day.


Onto Baphuon, which was mostly closed off to tourists as they are doing conservation work. There are heaps of children everywhere selling (postcards, books, bracelets, musical instruments, fans). They follow you trying to convience you to buy and then they do this heartbreaking little groan – why you no buy? We are going to have to toughen up or we will have even bigger packs than we already have.


Then over to Phimeanakas with its ridiculously steep steps. Luckily there is a wooden ladder/stairway that has been added so we can get up – still very steep and scary for Shaz. The temperature is 38oC!!!


Over to walk along the Terrace of the Elephants and it is amazing to think that elephants actually used to walk along here with soldiers on their backs high enough to keep away from the tigers!! We chill out for a bit on the side under a tree and watch all the activity – so many motos, buses and cars go driving by taking tourists back and forth. Little markets and stalls are set up along the road its all go and sooo hot. The wall is covered with carvings of elephants and soldiers on everything from snakes to crabs!


That is the end of Angkor Thom – we are very impressed!! Onto a temple called Ta Keo where the steps were even steeper than at Phimeanakas! And there were a few tourists who had managed to get up but were struggling to get down again as the width of the steps is about 20cm. Between the heat and the steps we decided to sit in the shade and just admire it from ground level.

Next is Ta Prohm (jungle temple). What an amazing site – huge trees growing on and through the ruins. Gaz is pretty excited that Angelina Jolie had walked in this very spot (Tomb Raider movie was shot here) – I think he thinks that means he has basically meet her :)


Last stop Angkor Wat – we have timed this well as due to the midday heat not many others are dumb enough to be here and are all in town having lunch – don’t know how as it is way to hot to eat. As it is the Cambodian new years there are heaps of locals visiting the Wat which is pretty cool. They seem to laugh at us a lot – we cant figure out why so laugh and smile with them…. Quite a maze of a building it must of taken some serious planning. This is the newest (constructed mid 12th century) of the Wats but it is still amazing the amount of detail – every wall, roof, piller is carved I can’t imagine how much work is involved. While we are at the top of Angkor Wat (well as far up as we are allowed to go) the loudest thunder we have ever heard rolls in. Really sounds like someone has offended the gods - we hope it wasnt us! We start our way down and the rain starts as we get to the West Gate and onto our Tuk Tuk. But this didn’t mean we were safe from the rain – the skys open up and it bucketed down and we were saturated in seconds – loved every second of it – we were finally cooling down.


Very tired from our tour so sign up for a hour long foot massage – heaven!

Posted by Gaz n Shaz 22:21 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 6) Page [1] 2 » Next