Thursday, February 22, 2007

Novel of my Trip. I apologize in advance.

So here's a quick run down of what all we did in our four weeks. All in all we covered several thousand miles and by the end when we calculated it all up we spent over 100 hours on buses and trains, the majority of which were to just get us out of China.

So here's how it went down. This is the abbreviated version if you have any questions feel free to hit me up. As I begin to write, I have a feeling it will be abbreviated but yet horribly long so I suggest skimming. Sorry it's not going to be much on fluff this go around and more on just letting ya know what happened.

Me and Angelyn left on the 16th from Shiyan to go to Nanning, China to work on Vietnam Visas.

Jan 20-22 - Hanoi, Vietnam. Hanoi is possibly one of the craziest cities I have ever been to, hands down. I've never seen anything like it in my life. They say that Hanoi's population is 4 million people with 2 million of them owning motorbikes. Now imagine a thousand of those zooming down a one way street with no sidewalks about 20 feet wide with no stoplights or stop signs or any sort of traffic signals. I wish I were exaggerating. Now imagine trying to cross said street. Basically you step out in front of cars and motorbikes and expect that they will move. It was incredible and yet terrifying all at once. Seriously, after living in Asia for a year with their traffic I'm going to get hit by a car when I get back to the States.

Jan 23-24 - Hue, Vietnam. First day we got bikes and went biking through rice fields to these ancient tombs. After seeing the touristy ones, we kept going on the road and found these incredible ones in literally the middle of the jungle, all in the rain. Possibly one of my favorite days. The next day we took a tour of the DMZ which was pretty neat.

Jan 24-25 - Traveled from Hue to Mui Ne with a brief stop in Hoi An.

Jan 26-29 - Laid on a sweet beach in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

Jan 30 - Feb 1 -Spent the day in Ho Chi Minh (where I found Dr. Pepper and Mexican Food and promptly wept afterwards) and then went on a Mekong river cruise for two days as we traveled from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Feb 2 - 6 - Went to Siem Reap and spent two days at Angkor Wat. Possibly one of the coolest places I've ever been in the world. I can't express how amazing this place is. Everyone should see it. For those of you that don't know what it is, it’s this gigantic temple complex in the middle of the Cambodian jungle. It’s unbelievable. Google pictures.

Feb 7 - 9 - Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We visited the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum on the 8th. It was an intense day. Cambodia's had a rough life in the past 50 years but they’re some incredible people. For those of you that don’t know what happened, around 1975 a man named Pol Pot came to power and within two days of claiming it he sent every person out to work in fields. He literally emptied every person from Phnom Penh (the capital) which is a city of 1 million people. For the next five years he tried to "Re-Educate" the people and in the process killed somewhere between and 1 and 2 million people or nearly a third of the population of Cambodia. He killed nearly every intellectual and artist, basically wiping away the entire culture of the country. The first thing I noticed when crossing into Laos was the number of old people compared to Cambodia because most of them were not able to survive Pol Pot and the horrible conditions. The people are amazing though. Some of the nicest people we met in Southeast Asia were Cambodians. I'll write more about this day later. It was intense.

We also met up with the Northens, some Workers there and Met with their Family there. It was great.

Feb 9 - 10 - We went to Kratie (prounced Krawtchy) and some fresh water river dolphins and then on the 10th crossed into Laos.

Feb 11 - Si Phan Don or Four Thousand Islands, Laos Laos (pronounced Lao). The whole time we were traveling we kept hearing about Laos and how great it was. Every person just described Laos using the word “chill” And it’s true. Laos is just "chill". If you ever go to Laos, expect your food to take well over an hour to cook while the Laotians feel no hurry to make it any other way. Every city in Laos was like a ghost town just because no one was in a hurry to get around. Even the capital on a Tuesday morning was like I was in Searcy, Arkansas. Four Thousand Islands is a great place to go if you just want to relax and swim in the Mekong (even though I'm pretty sure there's someone living in my stomach now because of it)

Feb 11 - 12. Traveling to Vang Vien

Feb 13 - 15 Vang Vien, Laos. Really neat place. We spent the day tubing on the Nah Sho River. We were the only people on it for ours. It was amazing gorgeous.

Feb 15 - Traveled to Luang Prabang. Funny story. This "four hour bus ride"(read six) was incredible. For the last five hours we spent it winding through these mountains in a 40 passenger bus without a town in site. Needless to say some people's bladders were getting a little full. About five and hours into it, the grown man behind me just started crying, "I have to peeeee." At which the back half of the bus erupted in unison begging (which involved the use of unique charades) to the driver who spoke no English. He got the idea and about 15minutes later he pulled over onto a banana plantation. I was towards the front of the bus and couldn't get out at first and as I sat there I watched literally 50 people file off this 40 passenger bus and make their way through a field of banana tress. So if in a month or so you're eating some bananas and they have "grown in Laos” on the box. You can thank me and my friends for our contribution to the Laotian economy.

Feb 15 night - 18 - Traveling from Luang Prabang to Shiyan. 72 hours on a bus and train. Culminated by 6 hours standing from Wuhan to Shiyan. Need I say more?

Grace and Love