Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mekong Delta Mama Blues

Immediately after arriving in Vietnam at the Siagon airport Peter and I knew Vietnam was going to be a difficult leg of our adventure. While at the Visa station they gave us an incorrect currency exchange, from yen to dollars. So Peter was already in a bad mood, then we tried to pull cash out of our bank account containing most of our money to use on this trip, and it didn't work. Come to find out our bank card had expired 1 month before our trip (the one thing we forgot to check). This made for a very interesting trip. Finally, while trying to catch a taxi we found out that Vietnam is a very aggressive and sassy country. Nobody would cut us a break. They all wanted to overcharge us for their services. We had only been in the country for 2 hours but we were already exhausted.

Our first day out was spent exploring the Cu Chi tunnels. This is me getting into one of their entrances. As you can see, it was extremely small. I was the only one brave enough to do it.

Although, you can't really see how small these tunnels are they are super tiny, you had to squat to walk through. They have even been enlarged to allow us oversized westerners to crawl through them. Unfortunately, due to my fear of small spaces and some really strong B.O. coming from the couple in front of us Peter and I weren't able to make it all the way through the tunnel. These tunnels were used by the Vietcong to hide from the American soldiers. It was a very difficult place to visit being the only Americans on our tour and having a tour guide that openly hated Americans. But we love America and held our hands high when our tour guide asked, "Are there any Americans here today?"

After an extremely disturbing stop at the Vietnam War Museum (Seriously, I really don't even like talking about it. I thought that it was terrible and completely biased) we took a ride on a couple of cyclos. I was really enjoying being among the chaos of the streets of Siagon, but Peter was very suspicious about his driver (notice the furrowed brow). That guy ended up short changing Peter by giving him back 4000 dong instead of the 40,000 dong he owed him. It's really the difference of like 2 dollars, but that's not the point.

The streets of Siagon are out of control. They say there are 10 million people in Siagon and 8 million motorcycles. This picture doesn't really do it justice, but the number of motorcycles was blowing our minds. Crossing the street would just about give anyone a heart attack. No one ever stops. You just have to throw caution to the wind and walk while the motorcycle swerve around you. You would see 5 or 6 people on one scooter (i.e. a dad driving, a mom behind him with an infant in her arms, a toddler in very front standing between the dads legs, a child pinched between the mom and dad and quite possibly another child behind the mom holding a dog.

Ever seen a cock fight? We have. Don't worry it wasn't to the death, but it sure was strange.

While on our tour of the Mekong Delta we stopped by a couple island villages. This one is big on raising snakes to eat and make into cute wallets or snake skin boots.

Peter is the cutest. Just look at that beard. Isn't it beautiful? This photo was taken while riding from island to island on long boats. I now understand why these hats are worn all throughout Asia. They are extremely functional.

Vietnam's love of Ho Chi Minh was out of control. Doesn't he kinda look like C3PO in this photo?

We were able to visit a floating market. The kids are extremely cute, but their parents use them as a marketing tool to lure foreigners in. And, of course, our sympathies made us all buy at least one bushel of bananas from them.

Better late than never on the vacation posts I will try and get the Cambodia section up soon.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

To Live Is To Fly

Even at 4 o'clock in the morning, the only word that could describe Lacy's feelings about leaving Japan on our big vacation was "jazzed". Notice the hand.

This was our first day in Bangkok. All we had with us was our travel guide and our backpacks. Like any other first-timers, we made our way to Khao San Rd. where we found a decent enough guesthouse to stay in and a melting pot of international travelers. With street venders taking up every inch of the sidewalk, it felt a bit crowded; but the spread of cheap pad thai, fresh fruit, and excellent turkish kabobs made Khao San Rd. a Dangerford favorite.

Getting lost was something that happened a lot, but no matter where we got lost there was always something amazing to see ... or eat. This is just one of the great neighborhoods that we stumbled upon while wondering around. I loved how colorful it was and the big trees.

Had we thoroughly read through Lonely Planet we would have known how to better deal with tuk tuk (kind of like a taxi) drivers. Unfortunately, we believed the man that told us Chinatown was closed until 11 am and let him take us all over town. After the tailor shop he did take us to "the giant buddha" which was neat.

Unlucky for me, that unfortunate experience with the tuktuk driver made Peter ridiculously paranoid that everyone was trying to screw him over. He was very hesitant the rest of the trip to trust anyone (sometimes it was a good thing).

We finally made it to Chinatown and realized how foolish we were to believe that it was closed. Its a town! I think we were just a little overwhelmed and probably a little tired. The first night we spent in Bangkok they had fireworks going on literally right above our hostel till 3am, it was shaking the building.

Here is a picture of a tuktuk. When the owner of this vehicle saw me taking a picture of it he proceeded to tell us that the license plate for his tuktuk cost 100,000,000 baht (thai currency). Converted into dollars that is over 3 million dollars. I think he wanted me to pay him for taking the picture.

The next day in Bangkok we set out to find the Grand Palace, again we were told "it's closed for... eating and praying things." We decided to check it out for ourselves and found that it was open.
The entire palace is covered in gold.

Sorry for taking so long to post about our trip we have been pretty busy. Part 2 "The Depths Of The Cuchi Tunnels" will hopefully be up soon.