Jonathan arrives!!-Jonathan entry
Trip Start Aug 21, 2005
58Trip End Jun 08, 2006
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We have made it safely and sucessfully to Vietnam. It was quite a bus trip with little a/c for the trip from Phnom Penh, but we survived... barely. The roads weren't exactly, lets say, smooth. And our seats were right over the rear wheels making our ride more like a roller coaster (we literally left our seats a few times). Anyway, I'll do my best to recap Cambodia and then give a quick update on our newest leg, Vietnam.
For those of you who don't know, I (Jonathan) left on Oct. 31st from LAX and flew for over 24 hours. I think the final count was 26 hours, but I'm not 100% sure. My flights were as follows: LA to Taiwan to Bangkok to Siem Reap (Cambodia).
so, that's how my trip started. cambodia is a tropical paradise... if you like hot/humid weather, dirt roads w/pot holes, mosquitos, hagglers/beggers, and not much relief. it has to be the poorest country i've ever visited to date and it is the ONLY Kingdom i've ever visited. they have a very long and difficult history and kc and i were able to explore it. we spent about 2 weeks here. it was a challenging start, even having contacts in phnom penh. we toured around siem reap for 5 days. not a whole to do except see the Angor Wat Temples via moto, tuk-tuk, car, or bus. we opted for a local tuk-tuk driver to be our guide and transport. the 2 main things to do while visiting the vast temples is to catch a sunrise and sunset at Angor Wat itself. of course, in trying to achieve the 2 things to do... it rained. we got rained out of 2 sunsets and 1 sunrise. oh well. besides riding in a tuk-tuk for 5 hours at a time, we ate some great food for good prices. thanks to all who provided some suggestions. our favorite in siem reap was the fresh pineapple you could buy on the street. kc's favorite food of choice: massages. if she had to decide between food and a massage, well she would choose a massage. we did sign up for 2 massages while there. the 1st at our hotel, it wasn't the best, in fact it was a little disappointing. the poor massage girls were sweating up a storm and we kept asking for them to press harder. the next massage was khmer style. they did a lot more pressure points w/much more force, to the point of pain at times. both didn't leave me feeling any better or relaxed. oh well. you win some you lose some. after 5 days we decided to book a bus to phnom penh. a mere 6 hours by bus, again w/little a/c. they do show movies, just not in english. and for some odd reason they show karoke videos, but no one sings... odd. we basically drained our i-pod batteries, slept, and i tried to make sense of the foreign movies
phnom penh i thought would be a lot more modern than siem reap (siem reap was mostly dirt roads and quite primative). unfortunately, phnom was not much more modernized. there were still plenty of pot holed dirt roads and TONS of more people. we rode motodups (motobikes) everywhere. there are not many cars. and there are no traffic laws. just go & don't hit someone else. if you do, just keep going. it is crazy!!! everything is dirt cheap. anything and everything can be bought at the major markets which are outdoor and run by the locals from 10 years old to 70 years old, men and women. they open at 5 or 6 am (sunrise) and close at 5pm sharp. we found out that the khmer people get a different price than "westerners". and you have to bargain for everything. it's a cultural thing. basically take the price they give you and cut in half. even for moto rides. quite an experience. everything you buy has a negotiation. it's exhausting. kc did a superb job, though. the family she stayed with gave her some good direction and we even went shopping with some local khmer people which REALLY helped us out in getting good deals. i am very thankful kc was there to help get us by, everywhere.
after a few challenging days in the big city, i was ready for the beach. sinhanoukville!! it was about a 5 hr bus ride south. beautiful white sand beaches, clear/warm carribean-esque water, tropical meals/fruit/desserts. very relaxing and a welcome change from the touristy siem reap and crowded streets of phnom. we stayed in a little bungalow a few blocks from the beach, at late breakfasts (pineapple shakes!!), early dinners, took in a sunset, read our books, took naps, went for a swim, worked on our tans, and ate at a place called the snake house (you actually eat w/snakes and other creepy animals)
we spent a few more days in phnom and then headed to vietnam. another long, bumpy, hot bus ride. once at the border we had to wait about 60 mins to get checked thru and pay $1.00 to cross (we already paid $30.00 for the visas). they checked our documents a minimum of 4x, but never checked our backpacks. from there another 2 hour bus ride to ho chi minh city. we had reservations at hotel, but didn't know where the place - we only had an email address and no physical address. and we did not get dropped off at the bus stop, just some random street. we didn't know which one. we walked around, both sweating and delirious from our ride, hoping a tourist agency would know where it was at. they let us use their internet to find the address. ironically, we walked outside and they pointed us in the right direction... it was right next door. God does have a sense of humor. since we were dripping w/sweat and exhausted we opted for a room w/ a/c. it was well worth it.
ho chi minh city is much more modernized than cambodia and we will touring around the next few days. we visited their vietnam war museum today - it had quite the one sided story to tell. very hard to read it all. we could only hope most of the visitors have an open mind to what they saw and read about the US and their allies
i'll try and keep the updates more brief. it's been awhile since i've written. also, our website is now updated w/pix from cambodia. hope you enjoy. we would post more, but it takes FOREVER to upload them. hope everyone is well. keep in touch. until next time...