So, we are officially two weeks into our trip. The time has really flown by. We are in the third country of our itinerary and Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos seem very similar, but they have subtle differences. As they say in Cambodia, “Same Same, but Different.” The people are very friendly, the traffic is crazy, the language confusing, the countryside beautiful, the sights amazing, and the food is delicious! Everywhere we hear in a breathy accent “Sir, buy something” and “Lady, where are you from?” Then after hearing we are from the US they would start reciting facts of America like a robot, such as “the capital is Washington, D.C., the President is Barack Obama, and he has two daughters named Malia and Sasha.” It was rather strange, almost as if they went to some training camp to teach them about where the tourists come from. They would end by saying “I know about your country, now buy something.”
Transportation has been pretty crazy. I think in this trip we are going to travel by every mode possible. Today we rented a motorbike and Chris drove while Lindsey hung on for dear life. We had a nice relaxing boat ride this morning along the Mekong River. Tonight we take a VIP overnight bus with air con for a 12 hour ride from Pakse, Laos to Vientiene, Laos, the capital city. Lindsey is looking forward to riding some elephants in Thailand. We have seen some already, but Chris keeps saying, “Wait until Thailand.” So she is waiting. The roads are not in great condition because of the wet season, but sometimes the bus is faster than a train. Go figure.
The food has been a wonderful surprise! As most of you know, Lindsey is rather picky and Chris will eat anything. The food everywhere has been great! Of course, we are not going too far off the beaten track with our selections. Although, Chris did eat a boiled silk worm – he said it tasted nutty like an almond. But we haven’t seen really crazy things like fried tarantulas and scorpions like the Bizarre Foods guy would have you believe. We are keeping our eye out for them. Chris wants to try them and Lindsey just wants to take picture! The craziest thing we have seen is what we think was chicken hearts kabob, but the vendor did not speak English, so we are not sure. We have really been trying to eat the local food, which means a tremendous amount of rice which is playing havoc on our digestive systems. So far, only Lindsey has gotten the “Montezuma’s revenge” of sorts. Chris has the iron stomach. He keeps eating and drinking whatever, saying that he is innoculating himself. Maybe Lindsey should do the same!
The sights have been absolutely stunning, especially Angkor Wat. Just seeing the amazing carvings and thinking about the history of the temples and walking where ancient people walked blows our minds. Also, seeing Buddhist monks in their orange robes around every corner has been really cool. In the beginning we were taking a picture of every monk we saw. It’s funny to see one chug a Coke, smoke a cigarette, talk on a cell phone, or hang on the back of a motorbike.
The tropical dry season weather has been crazy hot and humid. As Texans, we should be used to it. But back home we don’t spend all day outside, like we are here. We have both gotten sunburned a couple of times. Wearing sunscreen makes us sweat even more, which is already a problem because I am sure we are both dehydrated. It seems like we drink a lot of water, but only have to go to the toilet maybe twice a day. Although, on the long bus rides, we try not to drink too much since we are not sure when the toilet stops will be. We have already had an experience from our travels in South America where Lindsey was just about left in a town by the bus during a toilet break. Don’t want that to happen again!
Last night as we were walking across town we saw a lighting storm. The crazy-cool kind where the lightning streams across the sky for several seconds. We searched for a good place to try to photograph some strikes along the Mekong River. Chris did a great job and got a few amazing shots. You would never think that we got them with our Canon Elf click and shoot camera!
All in all, our vacation has been enlightening and humbling. Not knowing the language is quite a disadvantage to breaking out on our own to get off the beaten path. We have tried a couple of times to do our own thing, and have been burned both times and spent more money than planned. So, maybe we will learn our lesson and go with the local travel agency tours. Or just say, “It is only money” and what matters most is the experience. And each choice we make does make a difference. One case in point, if we had decided to do the Mekong Delta tour or take a different bus from Can Tho, we would not have met the great Belgian couple, Maxime and Julie, who we traveled with throughout Cambodia.
We are doing extremely well so far. We are just wondering if anyone is reading this. We would love your comments and some feedback. Sending love to all!