A Travellerspoint blog

Trekking in Sapa

Lau Chai and Te Van

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Vietnamese Children in the Countryside

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The following day, I went on a hike through the terraced mountainside to the villages of Lau Chai and Te Van.
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The mountains surrounding Sapa
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As you can see, it was absolutely gorgeous scenery.

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Trekkers and my guide

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Our guide....and her hair

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Our group amidst the rice fields

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Setting up shop in the mountains

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Baby sleeping while his mother works in the field

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It was rice-harvesting season, so the entire village joined in on the effort
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Rice-harvesting in the fields of Northern Vietnam
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Then I was off on the night train back to Hanoi and onwards to Laos.

Posted by kendallwallace 13:18 Archived in Vietnam Tagged sapa Comments (0)

Bac Ha Market

Bright Colors and PETA's Nightmare

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The next day, I headed to the Sunday market in Bac Ha, about 2 hours away from Sapa. The market was so colorful, and very overwhelming.

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Everywhere, there were tapestries, purses, and scarves to buy.

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Local people at the market
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There were also live animals for sale.
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In fact, it was particularly disturbing the locals were putting live pigs into plastic bags with just an opening for their snout and then tying the bags to their motorbikes. The sound of the squeals was made me sick to my stomach. As I said, PETA would have had nothing short of a shit fit. Pigs weren’t the only animals being sold there at the market.

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They had chickens, lots of water buffalo, miniature horses, and puppies.
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In the market, they also had freshly cut pork. And when I mean fresh, I do mean fresh....

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What’s more is that they had the head of the pig sitting there on the table, as if to say, “This meat came from this pig.” It was an interesting way of displaying the meat, especially with the hair still attached to the skin of the animal. All in all, I’m glad I got to check it out. While the market may not have made me hungry, it certainly did satisfy my appetite visually.

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Granny wants a Popsicle

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A typical site: whole families on one motorbike

Seriously? Do you really think you are going to be able to get around with that chest on the back of your bike?
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Posted by kendallwallace 12:53 Archived in Vietnam Tagged market ha bac Comments (0)

Sapa

Northern Vietnam

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I took the night train to Sapa—made some Vietnamese friends along the way who were in my bunk. They were awesome—even gave me a lift from the train station to town!

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Sapa countryside

The first day, I explored the village. It was a quaint little alpine town reminiscent of those in France, just with Asian people, if that makes any sense. This was particularly evident when I had a tartiflette (an exquisite cheese and potato dish they serve in the Alps) and vin chaud for dinner!

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A typical outfit worn by the local women

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Not the french cuisine, but an interesting sight nonetheless

The town had “The North Face” apparel everywhere. I’m sure some of it was fake, but there’s also a factory nearby, so I can only assume some of it came from there and had "fallen off the back of the truck." In any case, even though I’m going to have no use for a jacket in SE Asia and India, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get a jacket. And hey, who knows, maybe I’ll get some use out of it when I trek to Everest Base Camp next month? :)

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The beautiful mountains of Northern Vietnam
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Posted by kendallwallace 12:43 Archived in Vietnam Tagged sapa Comments (0)

Snake Village

Snake Blood Beats Tiger Blood Any Day of the Week

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The next night, the Vietnam Backpackers Hostel organized a trip to Snake Village, a place where you play with your pet, eat it’s heart (while it's still beating), and then drink it’s blood and eat it for dinner….literally. It was nuts. My friend, Tor, had no qualms about playing with the snake. I, on the other hand, prefer dead snakes to live ones.

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After playing with them, we sat down, and the guy brought over a bag of 10 snakes. He pulled each one out one by one. He held the neck so that it couldn’t move and plunged a knife into its neck. He then pulled out the heart, and one by one, everyone went up and grabbed the heart with their teeth and ripped it off (while it was still beating), and swallowed it.

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Then he drained the blood into one cup and its bile into another. Later one, we mixed the blood with rice wine and took shots of it. That’s right, I drank snake blood. Take that, Charlie Sheen! Snake blood beats tiger blood any day of the week!

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Then we had a number of snake dishes, including ground snake bone with peanuts, snake skin salad, and snake spring rolls. Needless to say, the rice wine made everything go down a little easier!

Posted by kendallwallace 12:35 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Halong Bay

Rock Long, Rock Hard

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Tor and I signed up for the Vietnam Backpackers Hostel Castaways 3 Day 2 night tour of Halong Bay. Immediately once we got on the boat, the party started. We cruised the 4-hour cruise to Castaway Island. I met a bunch of Americans, and we immediately became “Team America” for the beer pong championships, which would occur that evening. The quick 3-day, 2-night trip was like a mini-version of the Kiwi Experience. It was a boat of 16 people there to have a good time while exploring the wonderful UNESCO site, Halong Bay.

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Jumping off the boat into the bay
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The only somber moment came when we were all heading out to Halong Bay, and I had just met the group of Americans. One of them asked the date, and I looked down at my watch to read the date: “9-11.” It was a bit bizarre and somber moment where we all were pretty quiet.

Once we arrived at the island, however, we were there to party and have a good time. There was a pontoon that people swam out to.
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That night was definitely a time to let loose…lol.

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Team America. (I hadn't met many Americans on my trip, but then met a core group during this trip: Bobby, Danielle, and Beth)

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Beth, Danielle, and I created a boy band. Although it sounds a bit awkward/predatory now, it was pretty thrilling at the time.

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Here are some mates doing the flabongo

The next day, we woke up and went tubing behind the speedboat. I hadn’t done that since I was a kid on a family vacation. It was hilarious!

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Then we did some rockclimbing. large_DSC08791.jpg

The next day, I was planning to do a Deep Water Solo rockclimb, which is where you climb the limestone rock and then jump into the water from wherever you climbed to. It's also good because if you fall, you fall into water. Today, we were just rockclimbing, and then I was supposed to go wakeboarding after. Notice I keep telling you about what I was planning. That’s because when I was rockclimbing, I fell. The guide who was belaying me told me to lean back. Only when I did there was a bit too much slack so I dropped a few feet. To top it off, the rope was caught on a rock at the top, so when I dropped, the rope tried to straighten up. This action resulted in me making a huge swing and slamming my back into the rock. It was very painful. My belayer slowly lowered me into the water, but I couldn’t move. He had to carry me to a table, where I rested for a good 2 hours, just trying to be able to sit up. Essentially, I had just nailed my lower back. Finally, I was able to sit up. With the help of a stick, I was able to move (slower than a grandmother, mind you) and walked to bed, but not before I enjoyed a bit of the night with new friends. large_DSC08801.jpg

The next day, my mobility improved and by mid-afternoon, I lost the stick. My main concern was having to carry a 18 kg backpack with a back injury.

So in the end, my back injury threw a wrench into an otherwise great couple of days. After all, I couldn’t partake in the late-night skinny-dipping in the bioluminescent waters like everyone else ☺

The night we all returned, being a bit more mobile, I partied with the group, and as you may be able to tell from the photo, what a party it was!!

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Posted by kendallwallace 20:01 Archived in Vietnam Tagged bay halong Comments (0)

Hanoi

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The next day, we picked up our tailor-made clothes and hopped on an overnight bus—16 hours—to Hanoi. Tor and I met these Aussie girls and we walked around the Old Quarter of Hanoi together. We went to the famous Temple of Literature, which used to be a university for teachers. large_DSC08669.jpglarge_DSC08677.jpg

Then we headed to the Museum of History, which I would not recommend, since there weren’t a lot of descriptions of what I was looking at. There were just the artifacts in front of me, and without the background of its purpose in history, it didn’t add much meaning to my knowledge of Vietnamese history.

One of the highlights of Hanoi was the Vietnamese barbeque. We even had goat udders, which were really tender, by the way.
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Hanoi, like Ho Chi Minh, is one of those cities you have to be careful for the purse-snatchers on motorbikes. They work in teams and slow down just enough so the person on the back of the motorbike snatches your bag before you even know what has happened. Unfortunately, this happened to my friend Siobhan and Emma in Ho Chi Minh City. Emma got dragged for a good 10-feet and ended up with scrapes and bruises all over her body. We learned pretty quickly not to go out at night with much money at all (and to avoid taking a bag at all if possible). All in all, I wasn’t nearly impressed with either city as much as I was with the quaint experiences in Hoi An, Halong Bay, and Sapa, the highlights of Vietnam.

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It was pretty awesome to see women like this on a regular basis though.

Posted by kendallwallace 19:34 Archived in Vietnam Tagged hanoi Comments (0)

Hoi An

Making Clothes and Memories...

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I arrived in Hoi An with Vic”Tor”ia, a friend of Hayley and Siobhan from Phi Phi. We had met up at the VinPearl theme park and continued onward together since the other girls wanted to take their time getting up the coast. We got in and headed straight to get clothes made. Hoi An is the old commercial capital and the best place in Vietnam to get clothes tailored. So I got a dress, a jacket, and a shirt made for when I return to a corporate environment.

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Then we headed out to explore the town, which took about an hour, since Hoi An is more of a small town than a city. We saw the historic French colonial architecture everywhere. It was beautiful.

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A Vietnamese School Boy
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Rickshaw drivers relaxing while they wait for patrons.

The next day, Tor and I rented motorbikes and biked to a place called the Marble Mountains, where a lot of marble products are manufactured.

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We hiked to the top of these hills to check out the caves and temples at the top. From the top, we also spotted a beach, which we figured would be a nice place to have lunch. So we hopped back on our bikes and headed to the water.
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We spotted a nice resort and headed in, thinking we could eat lunch by the pool. Instead, we walked past the pool and out to the beach. We just happened to find some loungers so we decided to use them as our own until someone caught on and decided to kick us out.

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Only, they never came. Better to ask for forgiveness than permission, right? ☺ We had a heck of a time just chilling on the beach, swimming in the sea. It was great, and for the first time, it reminded me of home. You see, all of the beaches I had been to in Southeast Asia had been petite with virtually no beach, but this one was vast, and it didn’t take forever wading in the water just to get deeper than my ankles. It reminded me a bit of Hilton Head of all places. As you can tell, we had a blast here.
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Then, Hayley, Siobhan, and Emma met back up with us and we went out for a night on the town in the wonderfully quaint old French town.

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Posted by kendallwallace 19:12 Archived in Vietnam Tagged hoi an Comments (0)

Nha Trang

Amusement Parks, Mud baths, and Southern BBQ

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We arrived in Nha Trang and went to a wonderful Beer Garden for dinner. The next day, we headed out early to go to the VinPearl Amusement Park. large_DSC08554.jpg

Now, unlike American amusement and water parks, this one as we would come to find out, had safety regulations that weren’t exactly standard. It was nuts—on one ride, we all were so terrified because all of our weight was against the harness that was a good 8-inches away from the seat, with nothing else holding us in. After fearing for our lives for a good 60 seconds, we ended up having a blast on the rest of the rides. We explored the water park, going down all of the slides.
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The next day, we went to mudbaths in the area. It’s supposed to be good for your skin to get the natural minerals on there for a bit, but as you can tell, we just ended up getting really dirty. We were like kids again.

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Speaking of being like a kid, I was a kid in a candy store later on that night when we went to an American BBQ place. An American, Wayne from Memphis, had moved there and set up an American BBQ restaurant, importing American meat. I had ribs, cole slaw, corn, garlic bread. It was a splurge, but boy, did it feel like I was back in the South!!
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Posted by kendallwallace 18:53 Archived in Vietnam Tagged nha trang Comments (0)

Mui Ne

Dunes, Ostriches, and Kites

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We arrived in Mui Ne, famous for its windsurfing and kite surfing. The first day, we took a taxi to the famous yellow sand dunes. Climbing these sand dunes, I thought we were in the Sahara, as the dunes stretched for what seemed like miles and miles. Each of us had a boy that we “rented” to carry our sled, because what better thing to do on dunes like that than go sledding?!?!

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It. Was. Awesome.

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And a car stuck in the sand once it started raining.

On the way back, we walked along this spring because we were told it was a cool thing to do. It did provide a lovely backdrop, but once again the heavens opened and it started pouring rain (aren’t you glad I didn’t say “pissing it down,” Mom?) The lightning struck so close; it was nuts.
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On the way back, they had ostrich riding. Although PETA would probably have my head back in the United States, I saw this as the one opportunity in my life to ride an ostrich, so I did. I didn’t realize that my life could have come to an end pretty quickly until that thing took off. I’ve never been so frightened (as you can see by the photos). My friends told me I had a look of sheer terror that made them nearly piss their pants.

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The next day, I took a kite-surfing lesson—something I hadn’t done since Perth last year in Australia. It was really fun but I resolved that the next time I do it, I’m going to do it for a week, so that I can actually improve.

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Afterwards I got the one thing I wanted to do while in Vietnam: get a pedicure! You know how in the U.S., virtually all of the nail salons are Vietnamese owned and operated? Well, I thought what better way to enjoy Vietnam than get a real Vietnamese to give me a pedicure here rather than in the U.S.? It was a real treat, and since my mom and I always go and get our toes done together, it brought a smile to my face just thinking my mom was in the seat next to me.

We also went miniature golfing, which was so much fun since none of us had done that in years.

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P.S. Oh by the way, these are some typical sites of Vietnam: buses breaking down and Jager shots in a 7-11, because as we all know, Jager is always served in shots at 7-11. WTF?
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Posted by kendallwallace 18:35 Archived in Vietnam Tagged mui ne Comments (0)

"Good Morning, Vietnam!"

Ho Chi Minh City

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We arrived in Ho Chi Minh in the evening and went out for dinner at this bar that had a band that played sing-along music. I knew I was in the right place when they started playing some CCR and “Sweet Home Alabama.”

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The following day, we booked on a tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels. The tunnel network at Cu Chi was the stuff of legend during the 1960s for its role in facilitating Viet Cong control of a large rural area only 30km from Saigon. In the district of Cu Chi, there was more than 200km of tunnels.

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Our tour guide made the trip. He was a former member of the South Vietnamese Army and an advisor to the United States. In addition, he was perhaps the only representation that I witnessed in Vietnam that provided a more balanced view of the war. Both the video at the Cu Chi Tunnels and the displays at the War Museum criticized the American offensive and praised the comrades who took the lives of American soldiers. It was a bit hard to stomach as an American. Regardless of one’s opinion of whether we were right or wrong in that war, if someone criticizes your country, it’s hard not to be a bit defensive. It’s like picking on a sibling: you can pick on a little brother or sister all you want but the moment someone else does, it becomes a different story. At the same time, though, I acknowledged that quite simply, the Vietnamese were just trying to inspire nationalism in their country, so I continued to try and look at it from that angle of nationalist propaganda.

In any case, our incredible guide led us through the area of the tunnels. Being in that area of the jungle, I could totally understand why the U.S. decided to use Agent Orange. I’m not by any means agreeing with those actions, but one could see why they used it. Agent Orange was used to burn down the trees so that the VCs could be seen. Well it was no wonder—you couldn’t see anything through the trees, as you can see from the picture below.
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I don’t know how the Americans even had a shot at winning the war It’s like, “Good luck boys. Good luck finding your enemy because it’s a freaking jungle!” And that’s not even to mention the tunnels underground, where the VCs would fire, crawl 30 feet, fire from a different hole, crawl another 30 feet and fire from another different hole. It was crazy!

We even got an opportunity to crawl in the tunnels. At certain points, the VCs made the tunnels so thin so that the American soldiers, with generally larger body builds, would get stuck. Well I nearly got stuck in that thing! It was seriously tiny—not for the claustrophobic, that’s for sure.
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We also saw the homemade booby traps that the VCs made. This one here was used for killings dogs, who were supposed to sniff out the entrances to the tunnels. The poor dogs would fall through the trap to their deaths.
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Then there were other traps for when soldiers would step in them and the razor-sharp metal would trap their legs, most likely resulting in an amputation.large_DSC08392.jpg

Since Cambodia and Vietnam are the only two places in the world where you can pay to fire off automatic weapons (in Cambodia, you can pay $600 to fire a rocket and blow up a cow—yea, creepy, right?), I figured this would be my only opportunity to fire off an M16. Since that’s the weapon of choice that the American soldiers used during the Vietnam War, I found it only fitting to do the same, so my friend Hayley and I shot off 10 rounds. I was never going to get the chance to do this again, so why not?
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The following day, we went to the War Museum.
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Although it was extremely one-sided—after all, the Vietnamese government is trying to portray a nationalistic history as most countries do—perhaps the part that was most interesting was also the least biased. It was a display of the effects Agent Orange has had on the Vietnamese people. All I ever knew about growing up was how some of the kids of the dads who were exposed to it during the war have Tourette’s syndrome. However, the effects on the Vietnamese population seem to have been a lot more physically apparent. Photos of kids with giant tumors, deformed babies, deformed adults, burns from the Agent Orange were really sad and disturbing. In addition, fishermen developed deformities as the water was tainted and the fish they ate contained Agent Orange if they were in close proximity to Agent Orange storage facilities. Again, it was a very disturbing and sad site, but also really educational.
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After seeing the sites, we left Ho Chi Minh City and the emotional relics of the past behind and moved on to the beauty of present-day Vietnam.

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Posted by kendallwallace 12:55 Archived in Vietnam Tagged saigon Comments (0)

Giardia Part II

I kept waking up throughout the night with a fever. Finally, when I nearly passed out, I had an epiphany, as I had remembered those exact same symptoms from another time in my life—in Ghana! Then, I was so thankful for having had giardia before, because Flagyl to the rescue!! I knew about the miracle drug that is standard for Peace Corps volunteers when they get Giardia thanks to my brother Cameron, who was a Peace Corps volunteer, who had advised me to take it when I got sick a few years ago in Ghana. So with Flagyl in my system, within a few hours I was feeling much better, and I was off with my friends to Vietnam.

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Posted by kendallwallace 12:52 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Phnom Penh

The Killing Fields and S21 Prison

I arrived in Phenom Phenh in the morning and set off immediately to see the sights. Unfortunately for the people of Phenom Phenh, the “sights” have a dark cloud that looms over the history that has taken place there. Phenom Phenh is the center of the Khmer Rouge memorials. Between 1975-1979, roughly one-third of the entire Cambodian population was murdered in a genocide under the rule of Pol Pot. Pol Pot, a nickname he received from the French, meaning “Political Potentiale,” He killed all of the intellectuals or educated people to establish what he perceived as the best civilization, one of rural farming where everyone is a peasant.

The first stop on my journey to the memorials was a place known as “The Killing Fields.” Here, thousands of people were beaten to death and put into mass graves. The Khmer Rouge played loud music late at night to drown out the cries of the people as they died. In order to save bullets since they were so expensive, people were instead bludgeoned or beaten to death. At the center of the site sits a memorial to those who were murdered in the genocide. It is a monument encasing hundreds of skulls. When you look closely at the skulls you can see the different causes of death based on the holes in the skulls.

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Perhaps the most disturbing was the tree where babies and children were killed. Babies were held by their legs as the soldiers struck their heads against the tree, killing them. The audio guide said that when they discovered the tree, it still had brains on it.

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I know the above passage is pretty disturbing, and I’m sorry if you’re offended. I was offended too. While ignorance may be bliss, I’m glad I went, and I’m glad I know what occurred there. Quite honestly, I was so sick with disgust the entire time I traversed that field. There really aren’t words to describe not being able to avoid stepping on bits of the clothing that the people who died there wore. Every week, the preservationists have to clear the clothing and bones, which have risen to the surface after a heavy rain. There’s just so many of them. There really are no words....just a disgusting feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I went to the S21 prison, where prisoners were kept before they went to the Killing Fields. Formerly a high school before it became a prison, each of the classrooms was divided into individual small cells. You could see into the cells, and in each cell was a photo of that cell with a prisoner in it from between 1975-1979. This prison was for torturing political prisoners who opposed the Khmer Rouge. Again, I could not shake the feeling of utter disgust as I walked the halls of the former high school. Thankfully, my camera ran out of battery so I don’t have any pictures of that place.

It was a very depressing and emotionally draining day, based on the content of what I witnessed. The rain that followed my visit to these two places definitely symbolized the mood of the day. Interestingly, the streets flooded rather quickly and deterred which routes we could take to get back because of the drainage problem there.

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At the end of the day, however, I was reprieved when I returned to the hostel to find some friends I had met in Thailand. We went out to dinner at an NGO restaurant that employees at-risk youth and the next day, I left the depressing yet moving sights behind to travel to Vietnam with my buddies: Hayley, Shiobhan, and Emma.

Posted by kendallwallace 12:32 Archived in Cambodia Tagged fields killing s21 Comments (0)

Cambodian Landmine Museum

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Before dinner, I had a very educational day, visiting the Cambodian Landmine Museum as well as the War Museum. At the Cambodian Landmine Museum, I learned about all of the landmines that were installed during the Vietnam War as well as during the Khmer Rouge to keep the Thais out of Cambodia. Every year, farmers or children are killed in the rice paddies or woods when they unsuspectingly trigger a live land mine left there from 30 years earlier. There are many efforts going on to rid the country of its mines, but it’ll take another 20 years to rid the country of mines by the best estimates. There was a portion of the museum dedicated to the late Princess Diana, highlighting her efforts to rid Cambodia of landmines as part of her royal philanthropic outreach.

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Following the landmine museum, I headed to the War Museum, which was a history museum dedicated to informing about Cambodia’s internal war up until 1998. There were left over tanks and helicopters from the Vietnam War that we could see as well. My tour guide was unbelievably good at putting meaning into the objects I was seeing, including these U.S. mines that would explode towards the enemy.

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While explaining about the different mines, he showed me one and then said that it was this mine that he was diffusing when it backfired and blew his fingers off. The next thing I know, I looked down at his hand and saw 4 fingers missing. The mine that exploded on him is pictured below.

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That whole tour really brought it home for me. He explained that he only joined the army for food, since his parents had been killed during the Khmer Rouge. He showed me what looked like a tin can and explained that this can was a mine that would hang from above in the trees. It would be filled with glass that would explode when triggered, and all of the shards would end up in the enemy’s body, killing him. Then he showed me the exact tank that one of his friends had been killed in. You could tell he wasn’t leading me astray because you could still see the bone fragments inside the tank.

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More mines.
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A make-shift mine field with the posting that many current rice-paddies and wooded areas have, warning passers-by to be careful of the live mines.

But the history lesson wasn’t over with that; in fact, when I got to Phenom Phenh, it just got worse.

Posted by kendallwallace 11:30 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Angkor Wat

"Angkor What What?"

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After a 12-hour journey crossing the border from Thailand into Cambodia, I finally arrived at Siem Riep, the town where the Temples of Angkor Wat are located. I arranged for a tuk tuk driver to pick me up at my hotel in the morning and head to Angkor Wat for sunrise. Known as the world’s largest religious building, it was truly majestic at sunrise as you the beautiful etchings in the stone glowed in the sunrise.

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The main building at Angkor Wat.

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Next, my driver took me to Angkor Thom, an immense complex that houses Bayon, a state temple of Cambodia’s legendary king, Jayavarman VII. This temple had 216 enormous etchings of his face which glare down at you like the one below.
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Beautiful old buildings with moss growing on them in the main complex
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Angkor Thom
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Then we journeyed to Ta Prohm, made famous by Tomb Raider starring that ho that broke up Jennifer Aniston’s marriage to Brad Pitt :p The temple itself was incredible, with trees growing out of the temple. Apparently, the temple looks much the way most Angkor monuments did when European explorers first set eyes upon them. Built in 1186, its crumbling towers and walls locked in the muscular embrace of centuries-old trees.

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Tomb Raider Temple

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I also went to the temple of Preah Neak Poan because it was supposed to be a temple with pools surrounding it, as if a Vegas style pool. Unfortunately, the pools had been dried up due to lack of restoration since some flooding the year prior.
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The last temple of the day was Preah Khan, which once housed more than 1000 teachers and may have been a Buddhist university.
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Just as I was exploring that temple, the heavens opened and it started pissing it down.
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After a break in the rain, I found my tuk tuk driver and we headed on.

Since I had rented my tuk tuk driver for the day, I asked him to stop at just one more temple so I could take a photo of it. He refused, saying he was going to take me back to the hotel instead. I explained that since I had paid for the service, I expected him to stop. This obviously ended in an argument that left me quite upset, particularly when he threatened my life. I make light of it now, but at the time it was a bit overwhelming.

One of the other tuk tuk drivers at the hotel, who had seen the argument continue when my tuk tuk driver dropped me off was nice to me and apologized for the other man’s behavior. He then invited me and two English boys to his home the following night for dinner with his family.

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Putting the past behind me, I happily accepted and so the following night we had dinner with his family in his one-room home.

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Posted by kendallwallace 11:27 Archived in Cambodia Tagged angkor wat Comments (0)

Bangkok

“Bangkok has ‘em now…” --The Hangover Part II

A Typical Site in Bangkok--power lines!

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Koh San Road....
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After Railey, I took the overnight bus to Bangkok and arrived at the infamous Koh San Road. The first day, I prioritized getting my visas for Vietnam and then took the opportunity to take in the city. I walked to all of the shopping areas, including MBK. It was amazing because the department stores reminded me so much of department stores in the U.S. It wasn’t anything like the Australian one-story department stores, but it was a proper multi-level shopping experience (with nice restrooms as well—such a small detail but when you’ve been traveling as long as I have, some things are really important in a store) ☺

The next day, I took the river boat along the “Grand Canal of the East” (a la Venice--that’s a slight overstatement—it’s more like dirty water along a canal) to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

The entrance to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha among other buildings, aka Wat Phra Kaew:
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The Emerald Buddha:
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I also saw the Grand Palace:

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And the largest Buddha in Thailand in Wat Pho.

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That night I met a group of awesome Americans. They were all former Peace Corps volunteers, having served in Berkina-Faso, on their way back to the United States. We had a great time—we went out to the Nana Entertainment Complex and had a wild night out! We even met a ladyboy, which was a hilarious conversation I’ll always remember!

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The next day, we snuck into the hotel pool at the Labua—the same 5-star hotel where they filmed The Hangover Part II.

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After all, it had been a while since all of us had indulged in that type of luxury.

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Unfortunately, our afternoon of luxury was cut short when the management caught onto us, but not before we got some amazing pictures of the restaurant at the top, which you'll recognize from the scenes from The Hangover Part II.

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On the way back to Koh San Road, we took a cab. Although the cab ride should have been about 60 baht (the equivalent of $2 USD) and absolutely no more than 100 baht, that jerk of a cabbie took us for a ride. He basically drove halfway to the airport and back, claiming it was a shortcut. What should have been a 10 minute cab ride turned into an hour and a half with the meter reading an upwards of 300 baht. Not having any of it, we gave him the 100 baht and then ran away cowardly avoiding a confrontation, but at the same time feeling very proud of ourselves for not succumbing to his corruptive scheme.

After another night out in Bangkok, I left Thailand behind and moved onward to Cambodia.

Posted by kendallwallace 04:59 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok Comments (0)

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