Thursday, 28 October 2010

Vietnam and Cambodia, done

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.

Soooo, 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.

The 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.

On 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.

Anyway, 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.

After 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 on Halloween.

Must dash now, lots to do plus I have to pack. The bus leaves a 6am, FUN!!!! Laterz xxxx

No comments:

Post a Comment