Saturday, 25 June 2011

Rain, rain, go away.

I think I'm going to get enough of this at home!

2 weeks and counting..and yes I am counting. I  never thought I'd say this, but I actually can't wait to come home. It's been too long without seeing all your happy, smiley faces. I have come to realise, that as amazing as traveling is, it is also an endurance test. Especially when you've been constantly moving and slept in over 100 different beds in the last 9 months. Testing, yes.

I think we got to the final straw on our oh-so-painful bus trip from Vientiane to Luang Prabang in Laos. In western time, it should've taken 3-4 hours. In Laos time, it takes 11. All uphill across windy mountain roads with sheer drops on the side of you. At least it wasn't raining this day. It was yet another example of a bus journey on this trip where you think that death is a real possibility. But we live to tell another tale.
And yes, the wet season has finally, and fully caught up with us. Its like being bucketed every time you attempt
to go outside. Shame really, as its a beautiful place to explore - not quite like Hoi An in Vietnam, but def the Laos equivalent. Lots of bakeries, orange robes monks, golden temples, amazing handicraft markets and generally peaceful and relaxing. Not a bad way to end the trip.

So we're here for a week before we fly to Bangkok - really couldn't face the 2 day journey by bus! If the rain holds off, we're gonna attempt to get our tans back. Scarily, I am almost as white as when I left the UK - leading to the theory that I actually never left. Ah, and I was so golden. Sad times.

And Daves treating us to our last 2 nights in a nice hotel - a bit of luxury before we leave, hurrah! A soft pilow is always welcome!

And I have much to look forward to when I get home - Dad and Adrian picking me up at the airport, Ben and Jerries Festival, The Fringe Festival, Reading Festival as well as many catch up lunches, drinks and general shenanigans that I plan to have before the lead up to my birthday! (and hopefully I will have a job and a room in London by then!) and all will be well. And all of this includes the lovely Dave, who is joining in these festivities from August 6th. 

Definitely the best year.

Ok, time for a curry. See you in 2 weeks!

Muchos love xxx

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Why hello there. Long time no speak.

So alot has happened in the past month. We basically started and finished Vietnam and am now in Cambodia, which despite being right next door, is a totally different feel to Vietnam.

But first things first. Vietnam. Ended up being a rollercoaster ride. Started with hectic Hanoi, where the air is polluted as standard and you can carry your whole life (and a couple of extra people) on the back of a motorbike. Its pretty insane. So when Daves sister Kristy came to visit us, we were happy to escape to Sapa - near the Chinese border and way into the hills, for a bit of a break. Sapa is a beautifully green area, full of farms, rice paddies, the Hmong tribes people and water buffalo. A great area to trek around, get some cool fresh air and watch the royal wedding of course, mwah ha! Oh and sample the french bakeries and eat a duck feotus on a stick. Barbecued of course.

So after this we did the once in a lifetime, cruise around the UNESCO site of Halong Bay ( yes, that place where they filmed Top Gear). It went pretty shambolic. We got on our luxury boat, had a nine course lunch when they told us a storm was coming and that we would not be able to stay safely on the boat and have to drive 3.5hrs back to Hanoi, where we had just come from. Of course, no one was happy. The large group of young american medical students decided to get really drunk and shout at our guide as they had 'ruined their trip'. We waited in the mini bus to try and start again tomorrow. Annoyingly, the weather was a perfect sunny 36degrees and all the other boats were staying out. Apparently their was issues regarding the captains wage so he didnt want to do it. Hmm...

So anyways, when the trip got going it was good. We didnt have as great weather and it was fairly overcast, but with a good chance of burning! We had 9 course meals, sea kayaking in caves and lagoons around the bay - was beautiful. And it was a great chance to get to know Kristy and obviously great for Dave to have her there - all in all a great trip (minus the hassle!). We spent our last day in Hanoi running around thinking that we'd been charged twice for the Sapa trip, which was later refunded to Daves account, but meant that it was super stressful and put a bit of a taint on Vietnam, as the north had been harder and more expensive than we thought.

We wanted out to we flew to Hue for a few days just to chill out before we hit the beautiful Hoi An. Another Unesco site, its an old french built town, still kept in tact and where motorbikes and cars aren't allowed to go to! Heaven from the constant beeping. You cycle around the small old town where they burn insense in the air and have classical music played in the streets. They also are the home to the delicious white rose dumplings. If you go to Vietnam, Hoi An is a must see.

The beach resort of Nha Trang was our next stop, on the non sleeping 'sleeper'bus. It basically is a coach with 3 aisle of metal bunkbeds, which move up and down as seats. It means that your feet are under your neighbours head. And any normal westerner cannot physically fit into these tiny asian constructions. and you have to sleep on your luggage. all while the driver smokes, swerves at high speed and beeps the horn all the way through the 12 hour night journey. interesting. the best thing was seeing the brilliant orange and red sunrise over the mountains.

The best thing we did in Nha Trang, was to meet Robert from the Laterns restaurant. All the profits from this business help fund local orphanages and school children. They also have a scheme to help feed the local people. A lot of the children in the orphanages do have parents, they just can afford to keep them. so they get left outside pagodas, orphanages, in rubbish or on the beach. its really sad. we went to one of them and as soon as you walk in, the kids are all over you, climbing on you, wanting to play, sing, have cuddles, hold your hand and wear your sunglasses! they are all so cute and friendly and just normal kids, who have a harder life because their family is poor.

they get a few new kids each week, ranging from new born babies to young children. they grow up under the strict rule of the female monk, who is at least 80 years old but a tough old bean! they all have to help out and they will also become monks themselves. they also get an education there, but because they are next to the river, every year in the wet season, they move upstairs as everywhere floods. really eye opening.

So, after this and a few days at the beach, we went to Dalat. Don't go to Dalat. Its rubbish. Proof that you dont always enjoy where you go to. and Mui Ne is where we got all adventurous on the motorbike and went out exploring the beaches and the landscape, which was beautiful. we went to go sandboarding on the white sand dune 28km from mui ne, a beautiful scene - like the sahara, but stupid hot and not very successful for the boarding.

It was here, on the dirt road back, that we had our bike crash. I remember lying on the side of the road, with the full weight of the bike on my leg white i was worried i couldnt move. Dave was up and panicking, trying to get it off of me. I rolled over, my leg in a lot of pain, covered in red sand-realising that i broke Daves camera in the fall. After the shock, i realised that i wasnt badly hurt, just had cut my knee and leg up a bit. I wasnt looking forward to having to get back on the bike to ride back to mui new, as we were near nothing. so we wrapped my leg up in a vest and hopped back on. to run out of petrol down the road from where were staying. hmmm...not a brilliant end to the day but at least we were alive.

Then we hit Saigon - aka HCMC for the Chu Chi tunnels in the vietnam war - amazingly  impressive - even the widened 'tourist tunnel' was tiny and very claustrophobic. Not nice to have to live down there and fight a war. And the war musuem, which was incredible. Documenting the war and the affects of the use of Agent Orange was another eye opening event.

so now we are in cambodia. we have just spent the last few days in siem reap having a look around angkor wat and such like, very impressive but super hot. extremely fed up of sweating now. there is no escape!!

am looking forward to the cold summer of the UK!! Which is only in 5 weeks! I arrive at 9am at Heathrow 5 weeks today, cant wait to see everyone! I cant deny that it is getting much harder the longer you travel. i keep dreaming of home and seeing my family again, which makes it hard but also exciting to see u all again!

so dont worry, i am still thinking of you as i hope you are still thinking of me. much love and see u all in 5 weeks!!! xxxxx