Friday, December 23, 2011

Day Fifteen

Something Awesome: Arrived in Hoi An - a beautiful old town famous in Vietnam for it's tailoring. All the buildings in the old town are all mustard coloured and the whole town has a very strangely European feel.
Something Crap: Weather hasnt been too great and we arrived in Danang and got a taxi to Hoi An in the rain.
Something we did: Checked into Phuoc An hotel in Hoi An and had the first hot shower that I've had in a few days. GLORIOUS. Also got lured into a few too many tailor-shops.... results pending... :)
Something random: You can find draught beer here for approx R1.50 (0.20$)
Something we ate: Fried Wonton. A traditional favourite.  Made from rice paper and it comes with vegetables and sauce on top. yum.
Something said:

che: wow. that beer only costs 4000 dong.
blake: no, its 40 000 dong - same like most places.
che: no. it very clearly says 4000 dong.
blake: it can't be. there must be a mistake
che: no. i'm pretty sure it says 4000 dong at that restaurant too. and 3000 dong over there.
blake: that's R1.20.
che: i know.
blake: whoa..........

Day Fourteen

Something Awesome Blake catching the biggest squid on a sunset/night squid fishing tour on a boat off Phu Quoc Island. Sunset as we were heading out the harbour:
Something Crap: I lost my iPhone. yes. yes i did. not being drunkard, irresponsible, careless, useless or forgetful. We were walking to breakfast along the beach and it fell out my pocket. I didn't hear it because it fell in the sand. After realising (3km down the beach, at breakfast) that I no longer had my phone - we backtracked the entire length of the beach asking every single restaurant and hotel if anyone had handed in an iPhone. Vietnam Sea = 1. Che = 0.

Something I did: Lay in the hammock for the rest of the day feeling very sorry for myself and dealing with iPhone depression.
(above: the face of iDepression.)

Something random:
After three and a half years of teaching in Korea, you would think that my miming skills are quite adept. They do, however speak a different dialect of mime in these parts and during my "has-anyone-handed-in-an-iPhone?" mime I was offered several cellphones, two restaurant menus, a hotel manager, headache tablets and a neck massage.

Something we ate: Sea Urchin off the squid fishing boat cruise. Also the squid that Blake caught - stirfried and made into a delicious traditional porridge on the boat.

(above: sea urchin. pic courtesy of Brother.)

I had taken my own (more awesome) picture of this exact meal. but alas, that picture, along with my beloved is now at the bottom of the ocean.

Something said:

Blake: "oh che! look! that place has free wifi! oh. wait. it doesn't matter now does it. lol."

(ps. handy side note to anyone with an iphone - download the find my iPhone app right now if you don't have it already. Perhaps then you might be able to locate it, if it ever decides to jump out your pocket into the sand like a sneaky mountain goat.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day Thirteen

Something Awesome: Early 4am start to the airport to fly to Phu Quoc Island. There's something about waking up early that really makes you feel like you are going on an adventure vacation.
Something Crap: Flying into one of the most beautiful and remote islands I've ever seen. Finding a sea-view beach bungalow with our own private deck and hammocks. Hiring a motorbike and exploring round the gorgeous island, stopping off for a seafood lunch of prawns, calamari and cocktails and heading back in time to catch the sunset from our hammocks. yeah. that was a pretty crap day.
Something we ate: Seafood. delish.
Something Random:The bike helmets they give you make you look like little moleheads.

Something we did: We didn't die the whole day whilst Blake was driving around the island on a motorbike with me clinging on the back. I'm glad about that.
Something said:"do you think we should go this... oh. too late."

Day Twelve

Dam Sen Water Park

Something Awesome: Having a chilled out day in a place described as "quirky Saigon" an entire theme park - Dam Sen Park, with strange and wonderful things including giant ice sculptures, outdoor statues and a huge waterpark.
Something crap: Let's just say.... it's not Disney world.

Something we ate: Fish balls on a stick.

Something random:We got allocated our own "foreigner sun-bath area" far away from everything else with free lockers (whilst the Vietnamese had to pay for lockers in a separate area). We are not sure how we feel about this... but yeah, we'll take the free lockers. lol.

Something we did: Saw giant ice sculptures, went on a mini rollercoaster, got lost in a dark mirrored maze and got freaked out by our own reflections in the haunted house. lol. Also finalised train tickets from Danang to Hanoi and found a local restaurant to sample some Viet-delights. (Pho 24 = awesome).

Something said:
me on putting on the warm puffy jacket before entering the ice-sculpture room:
"Oh fail! I just picked the kid size jacket! this thing doesn't fit me. it doesn't even cover my arms! I'm going to die of frostbite!"
you just picked it because it was pink didnt you?
me: yeah. kinda.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day Eleven

Cu Chi Min Tunnels
Something Awesome: Being one of the few people to squeeze into the Cu Chi Min lookout tunnel and joining the group in the underground tunnels for 40metres (40 metres is enough!) Seeing all the "booby traps" the Viet-Congs made was also pretty awesome. (see below)

    Something crap: Small Spaces. Claustrophobia. extreme heat.
      Something we ate: Sampled Tapioca - which is what the Viet-Cong army ate as their only meal once a day in the war post the American bombing of Cu Chi.
        Something Random: The Cu Chi Min tunnels are incredible. About 250 km long and three different levels all with different functions. The Viet-cong thought of everything when they constructed the complex undergroumd system - right from creating doors which could be closed in the event of Americans pumping gas or water into the tunnels, to making vent holes in the ground to release cooking smoke away from the actual tunnels so as not to give away their location.
          Something we did: Got scammed in the right direction. As we got onto the tour bus to the Cu Chi tunnels our tour guide kept trying to convince us that the traffic on the way back would be "so terrible" and that it was better to pay an extra $12.50 to get a boat ride back. We thought about it long and hard and declined. He then came back with a "good-deal-rate" haha, we declined. We offered him our "good-deal", he declined. He then came with a special reduced "honeymoon-rate" (lol) we declined. Finally when it was time to get back on the bus- we realised that they had changed the buses and ordered a bus half the size for the trip back - so they were forced to put us on the high-speed river boat for free along with the rest of the suckers who had opted off the bat to pay full price. winning.
          We also went to the Golden Dragon water puppet theatre show in the evening after the tunnels. It was really well done with traditional live Vietnamese music and narration and is an internationally acclaimed show.. We spent the entire show trying to figure out how they were controlling the puppets underwater. We are still unsure.
            Something said: "ok. ok. i give you this boat ride for free now! but. if anyone asks, you say you pay the full price! ok?!"

              Saturday, December 17, 2011


              * I don't usually do such "wordy" posts- but if you're interested and you have time (ie a Vietnamese bus trip) to spare then here is some more Asian juice...

              Arrive in Ho Chi Minh airport and begin the process of organizing visa's on arrival. I had already done half the process online which means we only had to submit our forms and application letters, supply two passport pictures and pay the visa fees. Perfect.

              And from then things went ape.

              My passport is full (lucky me) so currently I am traveling with a supplementary temporary passport. The Viets do NOT Like this and they shook their heads at me. A lot. I nodded my head a lot back. I did a bit of sign language and the chicken dance for good measure. They proceeded. We were called to collect our processed visas and they began handing over two passports.
              Sorry, no. These aren't our passports- We're not Brazilian. (not today) *Shuffle shuffle* Hand over the correct passports.

              We walk over to the immigration counters, as you may know-all immigration officials graduate from Assdom and Bitchfest College. (We believe Vietnam to be the headquarters). You hate your job. We get it. Let's move on.

              Handing over our visas to the sunshine immigration champs we discover that the visa people have dated our visa's from 16 Dec 2011 to 16 Jan 2011. This is technically traveling BACK IN TIME. since neither Blake or I had remembered to bring our transistors, this is "quite" the problem. There is a lot of moaning (from the sunshine gang) They fix it.

              You get through immigration and collect your bags and make your way to the counters to book tickets for Phu Quoc. They don't take credit card. Cash only. Ok that's fine. You take your card to the ATM. It fails. You try again. "insufficient funds" that's impossible. You try again. FAIL. You panic. You start sweating. You try again. Fail. You panic more. You sweat more. You try one more time. Fail. You begin mentally calculating how much money you have in cash in your bag and if you can survive. These Asians eat bugs, you are sure you will be fine. You sweat some more. You panic. You consider sampling the cockroach on the ATM in preparation). You call Blake (who, PS, has no money source other than Che). Blake tells you that the card is not drawing because it won't draw as a credit card but only as a savings card. (whatever that means. Che + banking + money + exchange rates + ATM = retarded.) You draw money. You stop sweating. A little.

              You get tickets to Phu Quoc and organize a taxi to the backpackers place. You get scammed by the taxi driver. You reach the backpackers and get the manager's attention away from her Vietnamese soapie long enough to show you a room. "Room" is on the 5th floor. That means 10 flights of stairs. With backpacks. By the time you get up to the room to "have a look" you are too exhausted to bring your backpack back down again. (smart move Vietnam. Smart. Move. ) You take the room.

              You leave your bags and head out into the city to explore. There is TRAFFIC. there is a LOT of traffic. Motorbikes, bicycles, motorbikes, taxis, motorbikes, buses, motorbikes and motorbikes. Crossing the street is complicated. You die.

              You get caught in a torrential downpour. You get soaked. You think it's stopped and then you get soaked again. You laugh about it because, well, you're not quite sure, but at this point it's just funny. You seek refuge in a SUPER local restaurant on the side of the street. Actually you're not even sure if you are actually on the side of the street or not since the motorbikes are driving on the pavement too and it all gets a bit confusing. There isn't a foreigner in sight and there are Asian girls with hair extensions dressed in white skimpy next-to-nothings doing cigarette and beer promotions for the locals. Awesome. You eat.

              You leave the restaurant (which you realise may in fact be a brothel and not a restaurant at all) and make your way back to your hotel. You finally make it back and hike up the ten flights of stairs to your apartment. it's only 9pm but you spend 15 minutes outside your room in the passage because the door is wonky and it only opens on the 24th try. (with extra force).

              The Australians next door are having an argument and the Viets in the passage below are screaming like there's a shoe sale. You try to navigate your room which, considering your two overstuffed backpacks and shoe box sized room is quite an ordeal. It's hot. It's stuffy. There is no space. The lights go out.

              It's a blackout. Yes. The entire block. Central Ho Chi Minh. The Australians have now decided to play some lovely music in the darkness and you try shazam it, but you can't- because you have no wifi's. (THIS ISN'T CAMBODIA YOU KNOW). The Vietnamese shoe-sale is still going on in the passage below. The motorbikes are still raging outside in the blackness. Not only is it pitch black. But there is no aircon. You decide that Ho Chi has decided that 9pm is your bedtime. You need to shower. You have carried a backpack up ten flights of stairs, you have sweated over credit card panics, you have eaten off the side of the street, you have been soaked in torrential downpour. It is hot. It is stuffy. Showering: not negotiable.

              Bearing in mind the stuffed backpack, pokey room, extreme heat and general "pitch-blackness"- showering is " interesting".
              First you try and balance your iPhone on the towel rail to give yourself some extra light. This fails and you end up making an emergency call to China. You balance your clothes in the sink to avoid anything touching the floor because there are definitely diseases lurking there. You realize you have no towel.

              You open the bathroom door to ask your brother to kindly pass you a towel. As you open the bathroom door, You become aware that Brother has in fact opened the room door and is standing in the passage because the room is so fekking hot. You yell for him but not too loudly because you dont want the Australians to come out of their shoe-box into the passage. That would make things pretty awkward.

              You get a towel. You succeed in showering, whilst trying to use iLight without making any more calls to china and keeping everything precious off the disease-floor. You put your sleeping t-shirt (ie first-thing-that-came-out-of-backpack-in-darkness-shirt) on and realize it is soaked. Because, the sink, just like the toilet, is RIGHT under the piddle of the shower. Cool.

              You climb into the concrete slab that is your bed and begin to wonder if the itchings are just in your head or if they are actually ON your head. Nevermind, you probably shouldn't sleep since it's best anyway to keep one eye on the door. You listen as Ho Chi hustles on in the dark. Motorbikes, taxis, Viets screeching, Aussies playing their music. You toss and turn. It's hot. There is no aircon. You feel restless. You'll probably never sleep.
              Finally. Finally after what seems like a million years, you start drifting into a peaceful sleepy state and as you close your weary eyes... OLLEH!!! THE LIGHTS COME ON!!

              You lie in bed and think to yourself that in three and a half years of living in Asia and having visited 10 Asian countries that NOTHING feels more like Asia than this day.

              You turn off the lights, close your eyes and prepare yourself for tomorrow's GOODMORNING VIETNAM!

              Day ten

              leaving cambode

              1. Something Awesome getting ready to enter a new country ;)
              2. Something crap saying goodbye to Cambodia. What a sweet little place. Visit it if you ever get the chance.
              3. Something we ate cappuccino and raisin roll at the airport.

              4. Something random Blake and I uncovering a scam going on in the super coffee shop. Lol. ((Cashier leaves off an item on our bill (raisin roll) and the charges is the full (correct) amount. Then gives us change for the correct amount and pockets the difference out the till. Leaving the till to balance and the customer to pay the correct amount and cashier scores. Ka-Ching. we are shop-owners' kids. We understand this.)) lol
              5. Something we did landed in Ho chi Minh and found a backpackers in the big city.
              6. Something said "um.... No. We're not Brazilian." (see the post above)*

              Unfortunately this stationary picture can't really explain or show you the amount of traffic and motorcycles buzzing through the streets. You better take my word for it.

              At the airport. Blake having to write the numbers on my hand of the amount of money to draw because things get complicated for IndieBerries with so many thousands and millions and zeros of Viet Dong. Lol.

              Friday, December 16, 2011

              Day nine

              the next leg

              1. Something awesome Getting 19 dollars off in a bargaining scheme.
              2. Something crap Having credit card hassles online because Korea has such epic protection safety-nets for their cards.
              3. Something we ate hamburger. It was just that kind of day.

              4. Something random Really going to miss the wifi that's pretty much all over the place in Cambodia
              5. Something we did sat planning the next leg of our trip to Vietnam. Spent almost five hours in the same restaurant looking at all the different options. Also went to the night market in the evening and saw some traditional Aspara dancing and used the last of our rationed dollars and riels to buy more unnecessary holiday trinkets. (currently my backpack won't close. Lol)

              Pineapple juice, iced coffee and lonely planet ;)

              6. Something said
              me waiting in a convenience store to buy water. Approached by random Australian.
              Aussie: hey
              Me: hey
              (long awkward pause)
              Me: So. What happened to your head?
              Aussie: I don't know hey. They found something growing in it and they cut it out.
              Me: oh. Ok. cool? (awkward pause)
              Aussie: yeah but. I'm also covered in dirt. So it could be a lot of things.
              Me: yeah.
              (long pause)
              Me: so are you waiting in the line.
              Aussie: No. It's ok. I'm waiting for juice. ORANGE juice. A lot of it.
              Me: ok.
              (long pause)
              Me: ok... So I can....
              Aussie: yeah yeah no problem.
              Me: ok well goodbye then.
              Aussie: yeah. Right. Bye then.

              Thursday, December 15, 2011

              Day Eight

              Landmine museum, massages, floating village
              1. Something awesome seeing the sunset on the Tonle Sap river whilst swinging on a hammock on a riverboat
              2. Something crap Seeing the poverty of people living in the floating villages
              3. Something we ate fried chicken and cashewnuts
              4. Something randomapologies for the poor pic quality of the vacation pics I've been posting they are all off Blake's (less superior) phone or my (way-cooler) iPhone. I have some cool pics on the big camera and I can't wait to post those when I get home ;)
              5. Something we did Saw the landmine museum (slightly disappointing for the mission it takes to get there), had a massage, went on a tour to the floating villages and had dinner and drinks on a boat on the river.
              6. Something said
              Me reading the sign at the landmine museum: "all landmines in this museum have been declared 100% free of explosives" - well I should freaking well HOPE SO!!
              Blake: well I guess if not, it's gonna be a real short visit.

              Landmine museum.

              (not my usual style of cartoon but a cartoon none-the-less)

              Cambodian coffee is DELISH

              On a boat out on the Tonle Sap:

              Croc farm on the Tonle Sap.

              Tough life, we know.

              Tuesday, December 13, 2011

              Day Seven

              Lazy day

              1. Something Awesome Sun. Pool. Fresh fruit juice. Cambodia. Good book. I think that just about covers Awesome.
              2. Something not awesome /b> Intermittent wifi.
              3. Something we ate Khmer lemongrass chicken with basil leaves, lemongrass and chili. Wow. Delish.

              4. Something we did bargained with a tour guide for more than half an hour over the sake of two dollars. Lol.
              5. Something random Dealing with persistent beggars is an awkward thing. :/
              6. Something said Me as we are leaving our hotel room: Blake, is the door locked?
              Blake: yes dear sibling, it's locked because I'm an amazing awesome genius.
              (long pause)
              Me: blake.
              Blake: yes.
              Me: You're not wearing any shoes.

              Monday, December 12, 2011

              Day Six

              Biking Angkor

              1. Something Awesome Biking out from Siem Reap city to the temples of Angkor and spending the whole day out on a bike, in the sunshine hunting ancient temples.
              2. Something crappy Bum. Bike. Seat. You understand.
              3. Something we ate We made a little picnic nosh-up with crackers and cheese and nuts and some left over spring rolls from the cooking class. We got some iced coffee which comes in a plastic bag-SO delicious and had a picnic overlooking Srah Srang lake. (but seriously the coffee here is amazeballs.)
              4. Something Random Wild tuk-tuk drivers, crazy mororbikes, speeding buses and bikes with screechy-brakes that are 3000 years ancient make rather a nerve-wrecking experience. Ahem... Stationery spinning bikes are "slightly" different to the real thing.
              5. Something we did Saw Ta Prohm, one of the most picturesque temples at Angkor because it has been left largely in the original state in which it was found. It has huge trees which are growing in and around the temple. We also saw Banteay Kdei and Ta Keo.
              6. Something said "This whole bike thing is exactly like the Tour de France. Except in Cambodia. Minus Lance. And also... we might die."

              Sunday, December 11, 2011

              Day Five

              It's a miracle.
              Anyone who has been following this blog will know that I can't cook. Today we decided to do a Cambodian Cooking class... The list for today...
              1. Something awesome not setting fire to anything (people, animals, food) during the cooking course. Not exploding or melting any crockery. And actually producing something quite tasterrific!! (yes I made that word up)
              2. Something not awesome My hands and iPhone now completely yellow from the Asian spices.
              3. Something we ate Chicken Amok in a banana-leaf bowl. Spicy seafood Tom Yum soup, Spring rolls and dipping sauce, Khmer chicken bok-choy and pumpkin custard all of which we made ourselves. High five.
              4. Something we did Did some market shopping and epic food making and also pre-cooking food-market tour to buy ingredients for the class. Super interesting.
              5. Something random From the hours of 2pm to 9pm we counted 38 tuk tuk drivers offering us a tuk-tuk (and between 5pm and 9pm we were in the cooking class. Lol)
              6. Something said on seeing cuttlefish-coated peas "no. Now WHY would you do that? Why take cuttlefish which is something NO-ONE wants and then coat it on peas which is ALSO something NO-ONE wants. Why you gotta go do that?"

              cambodian cooking class- we left happy.

              Day four

              The Temples of Angkor

              1. Something Awesome Seeing the Temples of Angkor. Wow. Incredible.
              2. Something not awesome Having to pay one dollar to swop a twenty dollar bill for another twenty dollar bill because it had the TINIEST tear in it and no one would take it. (also I already typed out this whole post last night and then my phone ate it)
              3. Something we ate

              We opted out of the "touristy" restaurant our tuk tuk driver took us to at Angkor Wat and searched for a local meal-shack where all the tuk tuk drivers were eating. We had fried pineapple and chicken and chicken noodles. It was super legit. And also, soaked in oil. Vom.
              Something we did not eat:

              Yip. That's a table of frogs ready for your pickings. Who knows, maybe we will grow some courage during the week and sample these little critters... But not today.
              4. Something we did Got a three day pass to the Temples of Angkor and hit up a few of the main ones.
              5. Something Random (When I wrote this last night before my phone ate it, we were sitting at a two-for-one-cocktail special hour at a place that serves free popcorn. We like.)
              6. Something said
              Blake on breaking up with a tuk tuk driver:
              "Hey guy, look it's just not working out for us. We just... You know... We want different things in this relationship. It's not you, it's us. We just need some time to figure things out for ourselves. No hard feelings and we do need a lift to the airport, so I hope we can still be friends... "

              Look how happy I can be on vacation. Sweet.