Meet up with papa

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
Trip End Jun 14, 2008

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sophitel metropole

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, February 22, 2008

Hi peeps

This one will hopefully be short, unless I get side tracked and talk about things like toilets.

We left borneo with sunny skies. Adam and I got sun burned in 10
minutes with sun screen so maybe it was a good thing that it rained
most of our stay there.

After what seemed like the longest day with the most backwards
organized airports, and somewhat frightening airplane delays, we
arrived in Hanoi Vietnam.  We got picked up from the airport by someone
holding a sign with our name on it (first time ever) and then taken to
the hotel where they then checked us in! We just sat there admiring the
fanciness around us.  We met up with my dad (yay!) and ate a wonderful
meal of cheese burgers! It was weirdly ordinary and just plain weird to
meet my dad across the world during our trip that we had together spent
so much time figuring out and putting together. Our trip back home
seemed like a dream that would never happen and then when it did start
happening it was just like living in the moment, doing one thing at a
time, hoping nothing went wrong, and then now meeting up with papa,
seemed to make the fact that we had been traveling for a month and were
still traveling, real!  I'm not explaining it right but we just never
thought about what we were doing and how huge it was until now. And it
was very strange, that feeling.   But so far neither of us have wanted
to go home (probably because we don't have a home or job to go back to)
and if I've ever wanted to be somewhere other than wherever I am, its
usually Japan. Mostly because of the food.

So back to vietnam. The next day we took a short flight to the small
city of Hue. By the way cloudy and rainy, we had to buy ponchos.
 Probably one of the more interesting things about this city is that
there are hardly any cars. Everyone drives a scooter or a bicycle. And
very slowly too. We were in a car and you just don't go above 40 miles
per hour, even on the highway. It takes forever to get anywhere. But it
makes the city interesting and the streets impossible to cross.  We
figured out that you just have to go and hope that people drive around
you. Its rather a frightening experience! And makes your heart rate go
up. Its the same in Hanoi but with cars as well, just to make it more

In hue we boated down the Purfume river and visited the Citadel, some
huge very beautiful tombs, and the oldest temple in Hue where baby
monks come to learn to be monks. Its also where the monk that burned
himself during the vietnam war was from and his car is still there for
show. Some might remember seeing something about it on TV during that

But Hue was a central location for fighting during the war, so we saw
american bunkers scattered about in fish and crop fields and could only
imagine the fighting that happend around the ruins of the great
Citadel.  It was an odd feeling.  And it was misty and rainy, which is
the setting for most Vietnam war movies.

My first thoughts on Hanoi were that the houses and buildings looked
like doll houses. They are tall, like brownstones but narrower so they
look funny and they are colorful and there's intricate looking
balconies and decorations. And when we got there on the first night we
could see into each floor on most of them so they seemed more like
dollhouses. There's definately a french influence, and I think that one
day the city will look more like a clean sophisticated european city
than an asian city.  But now its in transition, but I think that makes
it all the more appealing.  Its the kind of city that could only be
appreciated by those that have lived in a large and busy city, or have
come to understand what makes a large and busy city beautiful. I don't
think that I would have liked Hanoi if I hadent lived in NYC. It's
beautiful, colorful, dirty, slippery, smelly, loud beyond belief(people
just honk their horn for anything and everything!), chaotic, and
lively. People are living and doing everything.  They cook on the
street, clean the greens and chop chicken on the street. Women carry
heavy loads on traditional bamboo pole baskets, with their traditional
straw Coolie hats.  And all the while trying not to get hit by the
scooters. There are no sidewalks because that's where the scooters
park. There's "fast food" cafes where they serve fresh french bread and
pastries. There's touristy shops with cheap stuff like the t-shirts we
got that are XXL but now that adam has tried it on, we think that they
might fit me better. And there s art galleries and antique stores that
sell stuff expensive.

We saw a traditional water puppet show that was really cool. Its
basically what it sound like. Puppets in water, with the puppeteers in
the water in the back behind the pretty curtain controlling the puppets
by an underwater stick.  We visited the temple of literature, which I
think was a school of some sort where people came to learn and take
exams and read and write. Everyone that passed the exam had their name
written on a stone plak that surrounded a pool (that had dead fish in
it. I don't think they were supposed to die).

Our hotels were so very nice and clean with no ants crawling everywhere
you ever left a crumb or smear or sweet food (we had a place like that,
they even managed to stay with us for a plane ride!).

We ate at some strange inventive places and we also ate where the
locals ate. This great noodle and grilled fish place was really tasty
and its been serving only one dish since its beginning many many years
ago. Papa got lots of oil splatter from it on his shirt. But we all
were covered in mud splatter from the street anyway so it didn't matter.

On the way to the Hanoi airport we go through the city, and then over a
bridge that over looks the city, and when we did it was grey and misty.
The buildings, as I said earlier, looked like dollhouses, so kinda
cartoonish. So when looking at the city from that bridge up high, with
all the mist, it looked like a Tim Burton or Disney version of London
during the depressing time of the 14 hundreds. Hopefully that gives
some of you a visial idea of what it looked like.

We arrived in Phuket Thailand and had the dumbest most stubern taxi
driver take us to my dads friends house on the beach.  It took us twice
as long because he wouldn't listen to us but we made it non the less.
 And I think that we were all a little speachless when we walked into
the house/villa/estate. Its probably the fanciest house I have ever
been in. Its like those movies and shows with famous rich people that
have drug parties where women walk around in tiny bikinis and guys
lounge around smoking cigars looking at their butts, well the house is
like that, without the nasty high people.  Its really sheek and fancy
and there's an infinity pool, and people that cook for us, and serve us
food and make our beds. Its really weird and very uncomfortable for us.
But the guy Kai is an excellent cook and he's  really nice and had a
funny under bite which makes him even more likable.

We took a  thai speed boat around various islands off Phuket.  The boat
was long, wooden and painted in bright colors, and it had a 12 cylinder
engine in the back. We traveled through murky waters like rivers,
surrounded by mangrove trees. So at first I wasn't sure if we were
traveling in salt water or not, because it looled like marsh land. But
the salt rivers turned into the ocean gradually and huge mountain
formations emerged from nowhere. I'm sure that everyone has seen photos
of Hulong Bay in vietnam, even if you didn't know what it was, but
that's what this place was like. Large rock mountains errupting from
the water. This place in particular is famous for having part of the
James Bond movie, Goldfinger, filmed on one of the islands. Very
beautiful and it would have been even more so if the sun was shining.
Oh well.

Adam just calculated that we have taken over 3,400 photos.  Sorry we
can't send any of them. We were going to on my computer that my dad
brought here for us to use, but its broken for some reason.

Today we got some sunshine! And mom I swam in the ocean just for you!
But I had to get out quick because the salt and sand was prickling me,
maybe it was jelly fish.

We went to Patong beach last night (some time has past since writing
the above) hoping to see some lady boys (men who want to be women) and
the crazy sights and night life of Thailand. But it wasn't that
exciting and only reminded me of cheap touristy spots in Mexico where
westerners get wasted at Senior Frogs.  We ate at a seafood restaurant
that was quite tasty though. Papa had to make his and Adams drinks
though since they didn't know how to make vodka tonic or gin and tonic.
 I stuck with a coke to keep things simple.

We are now at the airport with a two hour flight delay, I guess these things are bound to happen. This is our 15th flight today.

I hope that everyone is well. We have been getting everyones emails,
and I'm sorry if we haven't been getting back to you all. Its hard to
respond to everyone, that's why we are sending the group thing email.
Keep writing to us, we love hearing from you all and what's happening
at home!

Sorry, this ended up not being very short.
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