Bec and Paul are trundling through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia until school is back in March 2009. They insist on keeping a blog despite the facebook thing being much more likely to attract any interest.

31.12.08

Failed Excursion

You may have noticed the adorable cat head sauce jar things from our photo post yesterday. Today I went on an excursion to see if I couldn't purchase these cat head jars myself.

Paul, uninterested in kitchenwares, stayed in his hammock and let me venture off on the nearest moto in search of the cat head jars at the central market. I scoured the kitchenwares section and found hello kitty sippy cups, pudgy duckling kitchen bins, good luck waving cats and winne the pooh coffee grinders but no cat head jars. I returned to my friendly moto driver with a sigh, and he says did you find what you were looking for? And I say no, no one has it! So I get to explaining exactly what I was looking for and he of course thinks I'm a nutter and I try to explain that the foodstalls have some in use already. So he suggets I go ask the nice food ladies where they got them from and I explain that I don't speak khmer. So this nice moto driver offers to translate for me and facillitate my search for cat head jars. A two second conversation reveals that food lady got the cat head jars from Vietnam when she went on holiday there.

Gargh! I just came from Vietnam!! I wasn't privvy to the ins and outs of the conversation, but my guess is she holidayed in Saigon as its the closest.

Should anyone know where in Vietnam I can purchase these cat head jars please let me know. I am on a mission.

Here is the photo one more time:

30.12.08

photos

To balance out the text-heavy posts, here is a photo-heavy post.




















Stupidly big shower. I told you.

29.12.08

Which hammock should I sleep in today? The decisions one must make while at the lake.

I don't have much to update you guys with lately. I've been alternating between banana-lounges, bucket chair things and hammocks over the past week or so. Today it was a hammock. #9 Guesthouse (and sister) really have to be experienced, I can't describe it properly. There is pretty much no reason to leave, so maybe you can understand why I haven't been blogging much. There's no wifi at the guesthouse, but it's not the kind of thing you think about once you're there. Seriously. Guys, if you ever come here you should find #9 lakeside. I'm speaking to the younger people here. Maybe the adults might not appreciate the $5 rooms (they're a bit on the simple side) and would rather splash out for something over by the river, but once you're here, the only time you're in your room is when you're asleep... and I've been sleeping a lot outside too, so maybe you won't spend any time in your room at all. The sister guesthouse is quieter and the rooms are a little better, but basically the same thing.

I gotta be honest, I didn't like the look of the rooms when I arrived, and a while back we had to tackle the biggest damn huntsman I've ever seen, but it really grows on you. Has anyone seen the movie Hostel? (I know it's probably a bad comparison to use, but whatev.) Well, #9 is pretty much like the fantasy hotel that lures you in at the start of the movie (without the unisex showers) - there's the frequent wafting smell of weed, and bean-bag chair movie room (I say room, but there's no walls) constantly playing Pulp Fiction (actually no one has watched Pulp Fiction, but it's on the DVD wall.) and Swedish girls wandering around. If we disappear forever, then you can probably figure out what happened to us. The only thing is, because we never leave the guesthouse, we end up spending about 5 times our room price on food.

When I first got to Cambodia I was adamant that I was going to go see the killing fields and visit the museums dedicated to preserving the evidence of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge, but I've fallen into this lifestyle that consists of little more than getting out of bed and wandering to my hammock. The killing fields feel like another world away. Maybe I'll buy the DVD instead.

I guess we should upload some photos or something. Well, not today. I'll take one of our stupidly oversized shower and upload it tomorrow, I'll try to make sure someone is in there for scale, otherwise you might not appreciate how really stupidly large it is. It's such a pity there is only one shower head in there.

28.12.08

Back in Phnom Penh

We're staying at the Number 9 Sister Guesthouse this time, same management but less potheads and therefore less noise in the middle of the night. Our original plan was to only stay one or two nights and then go to Siem Reap but we thought we should organise our Laos visa before moving on. Being that its the weekend (who knew!!) we won't get visa's back until Tuesday or Wednesday. So we'll stay here for new years and head off to Siem Reap after that. From there we'll boat to Battambang, bus back to Phnom Penh, then bus up to Stung Treng then Minibus (I think) to the border and then into Laos. We have to be out of Cambodia by 17.01.09 but will most likely leave earlier, so we have more time to get from north to south Vietnam.

The bus ride back from Sihanoukville was accompanied with an hour of cambodain karaoke videos (i didn't know tv could get so bad) and three hours awkward talk back radio and khmer and french news coverage. We stopped for a break and purchased some really awesome deep fried stuff for 1000 riel (.25c) each. We got two banana stick things and two coconut puffy things and man they were awesome.

So far all of my anti-mosquito measures are failing - Paul and I are the only ones getting around in long sleeves at night and bathing in rid etc and I am the only one getting bitten. I have eight bites alone on the lower quarter of my left leg. Damnit.

AH! Nearly forgot to mention that whilst on the beach in Sihanoukville I was coerced (seriously) into getting my legs strung by the crazy ladies that roam the sand offering manacures to tourists. This is a technique of plucking every hair from your legs using a twisted length of string. The pain was something else I tell you. They give you a free demonstration on the toughest part of your leg (front and centre) and you think well that's not so bad. But then they get cracking and bloody hell hurts. Not to mention that my skin, which is prone to coming up in welts when I scrath an itch, turns out this amazing rash. Every hair follicle made a personal protest of being plucked, and I looked like someone with a horrible disease. The ladies are plucking away saying five minutes it will be gone. But half an hour later their talking amongst themselves and glancing at my legs with worried looks. I don't speak khmer, but I know they were saying to each other holy crap what have we done to this poor girl?

So in conclusion I don't recommend this process to anyone, ever, unless they get a serious kick out of suffering.

Will let you know we go with our visas, there's a fifty fifty chance of getting our passports back with visas in them or never seeing them again. Good times!

Bec,
Phnom Penh

26.12.08

Christmas is over

Our anti-Christmas retreat to Cambodia has backfired, and only now has the carolling stopped. The entire staff at our guesthouse was getting around in santa hats yesterday, and everyone was on about Christmas. The local movie theatre (plays pirated DVDs only) was playing only Christmas themed movies.

Our Christms lunch yesterday was rediculously huge, we played two very long games of pool between mains and dessert, as we seriously couldn't fit it in.

Tommorrow we will probably be heading back to Phnom Penh, then onto Battambang or Siem Reap, depending on the roads.

Bec,
Sihanoukville

24.12.08

Christmas Eve

So far it's business as usual in Sihanoukville on this hot hot hot Christmas eve. People working on the beach keep updating us on the proximity of Christmas day - without them I think it would have slipped our attention maybe. There's also the odd scrap of tinsel hanging off some trees.

In honour of my mother I have decided to force Paul into a Christmas day lunch at Mick and Craig's - an awesome restaurant run by a couple of Australians (we think). For fifteen dolla we receive fresh tomato and basil soup, stuffed baked eggplant with parmasan cheese, roasted potato, pumpkin, beets, sweet potato, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and apple crumble for dessert. If I can't eat it all I will put the leftover's in my shoe or something because I love roast veggies so much.

I would also like to take the opportunity to blow the whistle on Paul The Traitor (please refer to him as such from now on) who keeps ordering meaty dishes full of meat. I have sampled said meat to see if it is really worth it and so far have only been slightly tempted by a quarter of a slice of sausage that came with Paul The Traitor's english breakfast. Damn it was tasty. That said, I won't be abandoning my cause.

That is all for now.
Bec,
Sihanoukville

23.12.08

More photo for you

This is another shot of the lake in Phnom Penh.
Some greenery from outside our bungalow.
Serendipity beach at night.
Kiddiwinkles playing on the rocks.
Serendipity beach during the day.

22.12.08

How's the Serendipity?

So we've just spent our first night in Sihanoukville, on Serendipity St, just up from the Road to Serendipity, which leads of course to Serendipity Beach.

Despite the name, Serendipity Beach is far from Serendipitous. Possibly this is in fact because of the name. Wander down the dirt Road to Serendipity and you think you've come to a dead end for all the businesses that have set up shop there. But a bit of searching and you will find a gap between the buildings that lets you onto the sand. Off to the right is some quieter rocky beach, with some more expensive restaurants. Keep walking and you will get to a foresty section that looks great but has a sign that says STOP DANGER ATTACKS. This could have quite a few meanings but we didn't bother to find out. My theory is that beyond that is a private beach and they don't want people sneaking in.

Off to the left is a long stretch of restaraunts filling up the sand with beach chairs and couches and and really really brown, scantily dressed tourists. I blend in with the white sand so no one sees me coming.

We're staying at the Monkey Republic, which is yet another too cool for school backpacker's guest house bar type place. There are two banana tree courtyards here, around which are bright blue bungalows, which each have a neat little verandah. Each bungalow has its own bathroom with cold water and a western toilet that was never intended to flush. Instead there is a great big bucket you can fill with water, and a scoop. This is not at all fun, as it takes about 10 scoops (big ones) to thoroughly flush the toilet. Gross.

Paul would like to splash out and look for a bungalow overlooking the beach. This is from Mister Let's Spend Only $500 per Country. We're going to wander down today and see if the extra $2 is relly worth it.

We should have some awesome photos to post tomorrow so stay tuned.

Bec,
Sihanoukville

The Royal King's garden pagoda palace grounds place

Little does this friendly monk know, he is being stalked by a shy photographer too polite to ask his permission for a photo.
And here are some crazy cool statues.
And some more again.

20.12.08

Sights Seen

So today we got up early (10am) and had a quick breakfast (2 hours) and took off on the nearest tuk tuk for a quick visit to Toul Sleng Musuem, a high school that was converted into a prison run by the Khmer Rouge. After that we headed to the royal palace for some garden wandering and pagoda viewing and monk stalking. Monks are great!

We have to find a power outlet quicksmart and charge up our electonica - we'll be able to post some more photos after that.

Cheerio,
Bec & Paul
Phnom Penh

19.12.08

Tastes like chicken!

We are being incredibly lazy at our new lakeside guesthouse. So far we've done a whole lot of nothing, followed by some nothing, and then some more nothing after that. This nothing is only interrupted by eating - the food is very good and pretty cheap.

We watched The Killing Fields today, this movie plays nightly at every place that has a TV. I think the locals must be bloody sick of it.

Last night after watching the sunset over the scungy lake, we think to ourselves - let's get food! So we order a margarita pizza and eat it in the dark on the deck. I'm munching away thinking - damn this is good pizza - and so is Paul. And I think to myself - what is this extra tasty texture I keep coming across? I decide that it's cheese, and think no more of it. So when we're done and I'm licking the plate clean, Paul decides to chime in. Hey Bec you know that's chicken right? What? No! So I eat three more pieces (for scientific testing purposes) while Paul tries hard to remind me what chicken tastes like. Finally I'm convinced and start tongue-ing chicken out of my teeth.

Sigh. Eight years of hard work gone.

But I've moved on! Eventually we will have to start thinking about maybe seeing some sights or something, and decide where we want to spend Christmas and new year. I'm thinking Sihanoukville, where the beaches are festy and the water is rotten. We have half a mind to stay put until our visa expires, then move into Laos and do the same thing. If the sights are worth seeing they'll come to us surely!

Tastes like chicken!

18.12.08

Pho 2000


Watch in HD

A few days ago in Saigon.

Hello Tuk Tuk

Ok we have sorted out a new room - only $5 a night. That's more like it I say! Paul says things like does it have a power outlet? Or does it have hot water? Does it have a fan?

Bah! It has this view and that is all that's important.


It also has a massive communal area with hammocks and couches and a dvd library - these things are important too.



Here is the view from our first hotel room if Paul holds my ankles while I hang out the window and zoom in all the way to avoid the wall of the building opposite and the unusually large carpark.



Here is a monkey.



Here is our amazingly expensive breakfast in some sort of beautifully furnished air-conditioned cafe with free wi-fi. For all of $4 we only get tea or coffee, orange juice, crepes, croissants, jam, butter and honey and free internet. What a rip. For those of you in the area La Croisette is the name.

17.12.08

Cambodia

Ok here's a quick post to say that we made it to Cambodia without losing our passports for more than half an hour. Pretty good if you ask me. Will give you a blow by blow account of the crossing (its not that interesting) when we have a better internets.

All I can say so far is it's rather smelly and grotty. Like eggs. And poo. Eggy poo.

Anyway!! we have a mediocre hotel room for the night but found a better spot on the lake. Room will probably be smaller, but for a third of the price and an amazing deck hanging over a freaking cool lake I'm totally moving. Princess Paul doesn't want to pay less than $15 for a room, even if it's mouldy. It has a great unmouldy lobby but hey - not good enough!

(Paul here: Bec hasn't actually seen the rooms at her dream hotel. If they turn out to be underwater, it's not my fault.)

k bye!
Bec (and her royal highness)
Phnom Penh

Next stop Cambodia

Wednesday morning we'll be catching the cop out bus all the way to Phnom Penh. It should take about 5-6 hours but we'll see! I have had multiple assurances that we'll be going through the Bavet/Moc Bai border crossing, which is equipped to take our e-visas, but we'll see!

Paul and I spotted a whole convoy of very flash double decker buses, with a super bling paint job stating that the buses make the Saigon-Phnom Penh run daily. Hopefully we'll be on one of these babies but we'll see!

I hope you all refresh the blog hourly in nervous anticipation of our safe arrival!

Bec,
Saigon

16.12.08

More Photos


Squirrel! This little guy was very entertaining.


Here is Paul enjoying some vegetarian Pho at our super favourite Pho 2000. This place is seriously the best ever! They have about 100 staff members on at any one moment.


Our guesthouse's little alley.



Coolest boy ever.



This lady was incredibly silent. It was either no English or no voice - couldn't tell! But she checked out some photos on my camera, and got me to point out the original location for each one. She thought Paul was hilarious because I think he was a little grumpy at the time. That's right people - I might have to start the princess diaries up again. However, he is doing very well for four days in. :P

15.12.08

Hello Photo


Dinh Y restaurant - great food super cheap.


Outside of Dinh Y.


Food market opposite Dinh Y.

The view from our hotel room.



Breathtaking!

Park bums and Adam Brand

So Paul and I spent all day yesterday in the big park in Saigon. It has really beautiful trees all in a grid, and each one has a number painted on it. We sat in the 128-36 section and read books and Paul drew pictures.

Of course after about half an hour of sitting still, we were approached by various people asking us where we were from and how much did we love Vietnam etc.

One boy (very trendy lookin) stole Paul's trendy hat and sat there smoking cigarettes and drinking iced coffee. After about and hour of his company we gathered that he didn't know a word of English.

Another boy was an English student and needed to borrow our pen. His name is Thau (will check spelling later) and is planning on getting a job as a translator. He spent all afternoon chatting with us about things and stuff. He said he was meeting up with a friend who was from Korea, and asked us if we wouldn't mind meeting him too so he can practice his English pronunciation.

This guy's name was Alex (not his given name) and he has been working in Vietnam for a year for a Korean textiles company. He said his boss isn't letting him return home for another year. They do pay for him to visit his wife and child (1 year old boy) twice a year, and the company houses its Korean employees in a dorm and has a Korean cook.

Now the point of my ramble is that Alex spent a year in Australia a couple of years ago and did a farm stay tour thing and went to a gig and met Adam Brand, and is a big fan of his music. That's right Sally, we met a Korean guy in Vietnam who loves Adam Brand. I asked - what about Sam Hawksley? And he's all - who? So I think it's important we send him a Sam Hawksley CD.

Today we will see about organising a border crossing and if that's goes ok we'll be leaving saigon in a day or two.

Stay tuned for some photos - that is our only other mission for today.

bec,
Saigon

14.12.08

videographic evidence of our current location


Don't fly Jetstar.

I just got wireless internet working from the guest-house. So this will be the first pantsless travel-blog. Don't worry, I won't be posting any photographic evidence of the pantsless nature of this entry, you'll just have to trust me.

I think I may have suffered permanent bowel damage thanks to the flight from Darwin to Saigon. Somehow all of the toilets on the plane filled up and we were informed that they were out of service. I spent about 90 minutes in the air about to explode, and then when we landed we sat on the tarmac waiting for a parking spot for about twenty minutes. Also, Vietnamese people don't know how to exit a plane efficiently. I don't often get the urge to push elderly people to the ground, but I can tell you I was considering it as we waited to exit.

Thinking back on it, it might have been better for us if the plane landed in a lake. In which case Bec and I would have been the first out the emergency exit.

Saigon

Just a quick note to let everybody know the despite Jetstar's wild incompetance, we made it all the way to Saigon, and so did our bags. Woot.

Now we're trying to figure out how we can fill two and a half months without doing all that much if you know what I mean.

The weather is reassuringly hot and sticky, there was a massive downpour for a few hours this morning but now it is sunny.

Our room is more expensive than we would have liked, but we are too lazy to search for an alternative. So I guess that's the gist of it - lazy days!

Here is photo evidence of Paul in Saigon. For you hardcore followers (anyone?) you will notice this is the same internet cafe from which we first posted in our Vietnam tour of 2006.



Bec & Paul,
Saigon

11.12.08

It's been a while

Well it's that time of time again! Paul and I are in the final stages of insecticiding our clothes and stuffing our packs and trying to break into our own combination locks.

The plan is this: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam. 75 days. 3 border crossings. Some beach, some rivers, some lakes, some sub-zero mountain towns (Can't think why) and some runs diaries volume 2.

This time round we're armed with a spanking new Nikon D90, bringing you the latest in photomatica and filmographity. Let's not forget two iPods totalling 160gB, two laptops (tiny ones) with another 40gb between them, and three, count them, three 16gB SD cards. Who said we'd be on holiday!?

So stay tuned and live vicariously through us as we tread the path untrod. Well it's probably well trod, but nowhere else will you find such regular and informative blog entries.

Peace-out!
Bec
Melbourne
2 days till launch
.