Terribly sorry for my long absence. I got back from traveling last year and just could not keep the posts coming. However, I will be continuing my travels in September a which will mean more content will be coming. And in the mean time, I want to finish all the reviews and posts that I never got to from my trip last year.
And the best part of this all is that I am building my own website to keep a more robust account of my travels and just life in general. I want to include quality reviews, tips, ideas, and tools to not only inspire others to travel but to do some other cool stuff too. So stay posted for the official launch.
Let me begin by saying how wonderful you have all been. Your support has been a much appreciated blessing. And so it is sad for me to say that my trip is coming to a close. This does not mark the end of my posts as I still have much left to say and many places left to review, but it does mean one thing. As you may or may not notices or cared, my posts have become less frequent. Keeping the blog updated has become more work lately and I really want to end my travels well so for the time being, I am putting the blog on hold. I will be continuing it after I return home an the good news about that is that I will be working from my computer so the typing will be much easier and I can upload all of my pictures from my good phone. J will end with this, my greatest pleasure would come from inspiring others to travel. You don’t have to follow my footsteps, but just get out there. If you do go along my route or just have general inquiries, please ask me and I will be glad to help.
My crazy buddy Austin found a poisonous snake in the animal viewing hide bathroon in the middle of the Taman Negara Jungle. We’re miles from any civilization aka help if we were to get bit. So of course he grabs it by the tail and starts to drag it out.
(Sigh) I hate writing reviews about places I didn’t really enjoy because everyone’s experience is unique and I think tons of people would really like this place. Its not that I didn’t like it, I just had to spend took much time there and would rather have just skipped it entirely. It just wasn’t my kind of place.
A lot of this things to do here revolve around the ocean because it is just a small beach city. However, while the kite surfing is supposed to be great, there isn’t really much sand to lay out on because most o the time the water runs all the way up to the concrete beach or the wall the lines the edge of the beach. In fact, unless you plan on staying in a nice hotel with a pool to just hang out by, the only thing I found worth while was riding a bike down to the Fairy Stream. This is actually a cool little sandy stream that you can walk right up. The ankle deep water leads you for about twenty minutes until you get to a small waterfall. The waterfall itself isn’t too spectacular, but the walk there is pretty awesome with a combination of red and white sandstone cliffs shooting up on either side and lined with bright green vegetation. A pleasant experience for sure. The only other activity option I know of was a trip to the red or white sand dunes. I decide to skip this.
The food in Mui Ne was another story. Because it is right on the sea, and there are many fisherman, the options were incredible. The seafood options were always fresh and cheap, but other options ranged to lizards and even things I have never seen before. Its fun to walk by the tanks and take a peek at the days options. Most of these restaurants, unfortunately, were a bit expensive for a travel budget so we found ourselves walking east along the road to get out of the touristy area. The best option in my opinion because you pass many little food stalls that serve almost exclusively this very tasty soup with a side of quail eggs. It usually cost just over a dollar and was well worth it.
I can’t comment on the place I stayed because it was brand new and didn’t have a name. Also, while I was there, a national holiday was going on so every other place jacked up the price ridiculously. It was basically our only option. So I will end with this; Mui Me can be a nice place to hang out if you want to spend a little more and stay in a nice hotel with a pool and a great view. Otherwise, I think it can be skipped.
Pics from our Mekong Delta tour. First is a sunset shot at our hone stay. Second is at our lunch spot where they served crocodile, eel, turtle, ostrich, and snake.
Ho Chi Minh, or Saigon as the locals still call it is basically the capital of southern Vietnam. It is an incredible, bustling city with tons to do and see. Just make sure you get some practice crossing busy streets because this city has definitely earned its nickname; Motorbike City.
I spent about a week here and really enjoyed my time. This relatively long stay allowed me time to check out two hostels, both of which I recommend. The first was Saigon Backpackers. The whole place was very nice, new, and clean and it cost me $8 a night for a dorm bed. The pros were; free breakfast before 10, a pool table (though very small), TV with movies and games, wifi in the rooms, and best of all, access to a refrigerator and kitchen. It is in an alleyway which might be hard to find, but at the end of this alley there is a small market for meats and produce. The second place I stayed was called Kim’s place. I moved primarily because it was $2 cheaper, and though not nearly as nice, I was happy to stay there. The owner is a very kind and funny lady, but she is a little crazy about cats. I first learned this when I was showed my room on the fifth floor and a different cat was lounging on each level, wearing a ridiculous ladybug or ballerina costume. I thought this was hilarious. Anyway, this place also had free breakfast before 9, AC, and it was closer to the backpacker area. They also were kind enough to give me a free lunch when i walked down at the right time. They had just sat down with a huge order of some of the best duck i have ever had and asked, “You want some?” You bet your sweet, cat-loving ass I do. I would stay there again.
One advantage to being in the backpacker area is that you’re close to everything. There are parks, a cathedral, a big market, water puppet theater, and the War Remnants Museum all within walking distance. Albeit, a long walk, but you can make one big loop and see it all. I highly recommend the war museum. It takes a couple hours to see everything, but its pretty amazing. Some people told me it was highly anti-American, but I didn’t think so. Those sentiments are due to the fact that a couple exhibits, the prison, propaganda, and war crime ones, shed a bad light on Americans but these are all part of one countries history and should not be forgotten. Personally, I didn’t find them offensive, just historical articles and I believe that is how they are meant to be taken.
Moving on, Saigon offers a couple tour packages as well. You can go to the Cu chi tunnels which looked cool, but I decided to skip out on this. Instead, I went for the Mekong Delta tour, two days with a homestay. If you want to do this, Kim’s. Guesthouse gave me the cheapest price, but I don’t recommend it. It was one of those assembly line tours that offers too many experiences to fit in a day, and there are like 10 other tour groups doing the exact same thing. I will say this though, it was a very good deal for what you get and it could be a lot of fun to some people, but I prefer a more unique experience. Now I’m sure I didn’t cover everything there is to do in Saigon but its a big city so give me a beak. I want to move on to food.
If you want really good pho, there is a place at the northern end of the block from Kim’s GH with some really good stuff. I found places that were cheaper, but none better, and its only $2.50. On the other hand, if you want a place with many dishes that are all delicious and that same price, I’ve got it. This time, going to the southern end of the block from Kim’s, hang a right a just a couple doors down is a place called Lam. The wok stir fried dishes are amazing.
Beyond all that, the only thing I can mention is drinks. Vietnam by far had the cheapest options for drinks out of everywhere I have been. From Lam, turn around and head the other way toward crazy buffalo. You will see a few places that are packed with people huddled as close as can be on little plastic chairs. 20 cent glasses and 50 cent bottles. After all that sight seeing, go ahead. You’ve earned a beer or two…maybe ten.
I have heard many people ramble on about how much they liked Cambodia, and I wish the case was the same for me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Not to say it was bad, but I came here after Laos, my favorite country so far, so everything was a step down. However, I will say that even with my expectations too high, Cambodia was a cool place. The people there are quite friendly and helpful, but come off a bit shy as well. It takes a bit for them to open up, but once they do, that are very charming. Another aspect of Cambodia that is specific to this country is the remaining effects of the Khmer Rouge. It is a terrible part of their history whose rippling effects can still be seen today. Mich of the architecture, traditions, and general culture has been destroyed beyond repair. The fact that these people get on so well is a tribute to their character. Definitely a place worth going. One thing that is great about the country is that there are just a few must stops so you can do it very quickly. My recommendation is 2 weeks, but it can be faster if you’re short on time or longer if you want to take it slow like I did.
City; Probably Sihanoukville. While it doesn’t offer much as far as cultural experiences and I honestly think you can skip it completely without missing out on much, I spent the most time here because its cheap and its on the beach. The parties can be a bit much, but the islands are perfect to get away and chill out for a while.
Local: This ones easy. Mr. Delicious from Sihanoukville. Rarely do we encounter people so fine.
Traveler: Another easy one. Kevin from Holland. Met him in Sihanoukville (notice a pattern?) Then again in Siem Reap and it was always good times.
Traditional food: Lok lak. Its a marinated beef dish which doesn’t sound like much, but the sauce it came with was the shit.
Activity: Getting my scuba cert in Sihanoukville.
Restaurant: Thida restaurant in Siem Reap.
Traveling is awesome. And I hope most of my blog posts reflect this. However, I’d like to take a minute to touch on a more serious subject. Which is the first mass genocide that comes to your mind? Ok, I admit its not a pleasant subject, but go with it for a minute. Can you think of a time in recent world history where a whole type of people was being collected and systematically killed for such cause as ethnic cleansing? Well yes, there is at least one that jumps to the front of most people minds, but if you’re thinking of the same one I am alluding to, you’re talking over fifty years ago. However, a quick minute on Wikipedia can show you dozens more recent examples. Some I have heard about, and some I admittedly have not, but I was especially surprised to learn about one while on my travels that I have never even heard a whisper of. Now, I don’t consider myself an expert by any means on world issues, but I don’t think I am entirely oblivious. This recent discovery was before my time yes, but still the fact that I had never heard of it took me by surprise.
Every country in southeast Asia has artful, colorful, and interesting money. But I think I liked the money in Cambodia best.
Siem Reap’s one and only Batman. If you’re lucky enough to find him, grab him. He offers the best deals on tuk tuk tours to Angkor Wat or wherever you may want to go…and c’mon…Batman.
"Alright, I'm going to make a phone call.
But stay stoked on life.
"Haha. Alright man. As long as you do the same for me. Peace out."
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