We arrived to Siem Reap around 7 pm….after a dodgy 6 hour bus ride. We were greeted by loads of tuk tuk drivers and before we knew it, we found ourselves on a tuk tuk headed for our hotel. We pulled up to a grand palace looking hotel. I was wondering if it was the right place because what we booked was only supposed to cost us $.7.50 each per night. But, it totally was the right place and we ended up with a really sweet room.
We had dinner at the Old Market along the river and woke up early the next morning to explore Angkor Wat, or what is referred to as the 8th wonder of the world. We picked up a local as our designated tour guide for the next 2 hours as we explored the ruins of Angkor Wat. We had our tuk tuk driver take us from one end of Angkor to the next. We managed to also see Angkor Thom as well as some other forts that were enclosed in a jungle. I will have to post the photo’s from our time there because words can’t describe it.
The rest of our time in Siem Reap consisted of eating lots of good food, walking along the riverside and enjoying the street markets. I did manage to fall in love with a piece of artwork and went back every day to admire it. It wasn’t until 30 minutes before we left for the airport did I decide to break down and purchase the painting. My only purchase so far on this trip. And, an expensive one at that.
We got to the Siem Reap airport and took our flight to Ho Chi Minh City, though I still prefer to call it Saigon. Getting to Vietnam is no easy task in regards to the visa. We applied for pre approved embassy letters that needed to be verified at the visa counter at the airport. The only setback? Every other tourist had the same idea and it took close to 2 hours before the chaotic system approved everything. Got my visa stamp, collected our bags and got a taxi to our next place.
Saigon. Damn, this is a cool city. I don’t know what I was expecting but this definitely was not it. A city center with insane amounts of mopeds and bikes circling around cars and pedestrians. The key is to move slowly when crossing the streets so that the mopeds navigate around you. This system works pretty well. If you have not already done so, you should view the clip that went viral really quickly, all captured by an English photographer my age with a natural talent. His name is Rob Whitworth and here’s the link: http://vimeo.com/m/32958521
Once you see this clip, you will understand what I have been exposed to for the first few days here in Saigon. The ultimate moment of thrill had to be when the driver threw me on the back of his moped and zipped me across the city at lightening speed. I have never had such an adrenaline rush.
The Vietnam War Rememberence Museum? The entire museum is dedicated to photojournalists who were living and breathing the Vietnam War. The photo’s are a tribute to their lives and a passion to capture the truth. It was also interesting to see all the anti-war propoganda posters from around the world. It seems that every country was against America attacking Vietnam (for obvious reasons). Many countries regarded this war to be a war of aggression, and as such, this goes down in history as one of the worst international war disasters. These photo’s were not easy for me to digest (especially as an American) and were also a nice reminder for me to brush up on my American History. I plan to read more about the Vietnam War in the coming days.
Today we went to the Mekong Delta. In all honesty, it was a bit of a let down. It was a muddy, trashy river…with a strong current. They organized for us all to take a row boat on the river (and through the jungle); however, it just wasn’t that exciting. I will say that it was cool to experience something that I once learned about in 7th grade geography. though.
Tomorrow, we are headed for Hoi An. We will stay there for a few days before making the trek to Hanoi.
Vietnam has made an impression. And, I am looking forward to the rest of my time here. I also can’t access Facebook in Vietnam since it is blocked by the government. Once we are in Laos, I should be able to post some pictures.
Enjoy the viral video…it’s better than any blog I could ever dream of posting!