Sorry it's been a while but I've been super busy and haven't had the best of internet access apart from trusty wifi on my phone.
where did I last leave you? Oh yes Hoi An in Vietnam. After another horrid night bus journey from Hoi An we arrived at the crack of dawn in
Nha Trang, a lovely town on the coast of Vietnam with a nice long beach.
We ended up spending nearly an entire week here because a) I did my
Advanced Open Water PADI course plus Claudia and Daire did their Open
Water PADI course and b) I celebrated my 24th birthday there and was too
hungover to undertake another night bus ride for a few days.
diving was brilliant, definitely one of the better places I've dived and
the course was great. I specialized in navigation. deep, photography,
night and search & recovery. I was really happy Claudia and Daire
decided to dive too because it means we can dive together in Ko Phi Phi,
Ko Tao and Borneo =) I dived with Rainbow who were brilliant so if you
are ever in Vietnam check them out!! After the course I joined Claudia
and Daire at Octopus Diving and did a few fun dives which were extremely
enjoyable due to the intensity of the advanced course. I saw loads of
amazing fish plus I racked up quite a few numbers in my dive log.
the 17th I celebrated my birthday with a few friends we've made whilst travelling. Natalie and Bob bought me a conical hat which is hilarious
and I'm dong my best not to loose it (or squash it). Claudia bought me a
beautiful silk kaftan and we went out for dinner where I had some over
priced lobster which unfortunately wasn't worth the money I paid.
Several bars ensued plus some paddling in the sea and we eventually
arrived back at the hotel in a pretty bad worse-for-where state at 5am. I
managed to get a bar to play some Green Day and ended up with a free
bottle of champagne and chocolate cake, brilliant!!!
The 2 days
were spent sleeping on the beach and we eventually left on another night
bus for Saigon. Nha Trang was brilliant and even though it was a bit
over cast the ocean was lovely and warm plus the town had a really good
atmosphere about it.
Once again the night bus dropped us off at
6am in Saigon where we had to spend 3 hours napping in a hotel reception
until a room was available for us. Saigon was fantastic whilst it was
even bigger and busier than Hanoi it was more exciting and I would
definitely go back. During our time there we went to the Cu Chi Tunnels
and the War museum plus a pagoda and crazy market. The tunnels and
museum were really interesting yet a completely harrowing experience.
Whilst my history about the Vietnam war wasn't so great before I
embarked on this trip I have learnt so much about the atrocities the
US army did to the people of Vietnam. Yes, the Viet Cong did some awful
stuff too which was very apparent at the Cu Chi Tunnels but the War
Museum really showed the extent of the Holocaust like action the US Army
caused with Dioxins and the other chemical they dropped on the country.
enough of a history lesson. After Saigon we left Vietnam (1 week later
than scheduled) and arrived in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia.
Whilst here we visited the Silver Pagoda (mega rip off), Killing Fields
and Genocide Museum. This was another depressing day learning about the
action of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pott's regime. The Genocide Museum
(S21) is a bleak prison where thousands of Khmer people were sent for
fear of bringing down the communist regime from the inside. The majority
of people sent here were completely innocent and had to endure horrific
interrogation and torture. The place reminded me of Auschwitz which I
visited last year whilst inter railing. After being sent to the S21 the
prisoners were then transported to the Killing Fields (just outside the
city) where they were immediately executed. Babies and children were
even killed here and now the person in charge of these actions is
awaiting trails!!! Despite the reason for the Killing Fields it is quite
a tranquil place and a memorial has been constructed in the centre
where is holds the bones of the people who were murdered there.
a few days of really depressing day trips we headed up north to Siem
Reap (our current location) to marvel at some wonderful temples. We
bought a 3 day pass for the Angkor temples and since then we have seen a
crazy amount and personally I never want to see another temple again!!!
On our first day we did the 'small circuit' which included Ta Prom my
favourite temple of the 3 days. It is huge and has not undergone much
renovation so is still in its original shape plus it has all thee
magnificent tress growing through the rocks and looks completely
stunning. It was the temple used in Tomb Raider so you would probable
recognise it. We also went to see Bamteary Seria pink temple 30km
outside the city and another one I can't remember the name off!!! There
was a temple we wanted to see even further outside the city with a
waterfall but our tuk tuk driver would not take us there unless we paid
more and since we had already spent a significant amount on the temple
pass we opted out.
On the second day we did the 'big circuit'
which included some truly wonderful sights the temples of Angkor are
unlike any temples you would normally see, they are in fantastic
condition complete with intricate wall carvings plus they are HUGE!!! At
the end of the second day we climbed the mountain (read large hill) to
another temple to view sunset however the overcast weather made this a
slight waste of time. That evening we checked out the market and met up
with Natalie and Bob to explore Pub Street and eat Mexican food, yum
yum!!! We knew we had to get up early so headed back to the hotel in
good time however a problem struck... Daire, who was the last one out of
the room locked the door but left the key inside.... Okay not to much
of a problem because all hotels have spare keys right? WRONG!!!!! The
crappy hotel we are staying in seemed to have a spare key for every room
except ours. We spent over an hour trying to get in. We tried to pick
the lock and failed, the staff tried to take the lock of the door and
failed. Eventually Daire constructed a massive rod thing with a coat
hanger at the end weaved t through the window and managed to pick up the
key!!! It was all rather hilarious but a bit scary at the time since we
almost couldn't get in!!!
After a short sleep and early 4.30am
rise we headed to Angkor Wat to see sunrise. Angkor Wat is meant to be
the most magnificent temple of them all because it is in such good
condition and is huge!!! Anyway the sunrise was a complete waste of time
and despite the grandeur of the temple I really wasn't 'feeling' it.
Nevertheless we headed to Angkor Thom next where Bayon temple reside.
This temple was really great because it is covered in faces carved into
the towers. We looked around a few more temples and eventually headed
back to the hotel at noon for some much needed sleep. This evening we
are meeting people again for dinner, the night market and maybe doing
that thing where you stick your feet in the water and the fist eat the
dead skin!! Tomorrow we are headed to Laos and have to take a 24 hour
bus journey because they plane is too expensive, joy!!! Cambodia has
been a strange country and whilst the prices are surprisingly high and
the people cam seem somewhat unfriendly I have enjoyed the contrast of
war vs temples. However, I am really looking forward to Laos and tubing
Must dash now, lots to do plus I have to pack. The bus leaves a 6am, FUN!!!! Laterz xxxx