Two weeks of travel: highs and lows

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.”

Lindsey crammed on Cambodian minivan

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!

Bunch of strange pieces of meat on skewers

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!

Shot over the Mekong River in Pakse, Laos

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!

Mekong River at sunset in Kratie, Cambodia

In the Mekong River at sunset in Kratie, Cambodia

  • Oz

    Hey guys, I have been keeping up with your blog and it's awesome! The pictures are unreal and you look like you are having a blast. I honestly would not have the patience or know how to travel like that, but thanks to your blog I sort of am. You two are giving Anthony Bourdain and Samantha Brown a run for their money for sure!!! Safe travels and can't wait for your next entry

  • gq_wolf

    The trip sounds so exciting so far. I wish I was there! Chris, I watched River Monsters, and they have a 7 foot diameter sting ray in the river, so watch out 🙂 Pakse, Laos – Alex was born there I believe. Ask them if they know Alex Vilaythong – short asian dude???

    Have fun. I challenge you to try the Durian!

  • ctoch

    Yes! We are reading! Love living vicariously through you adventurous types! I could definitely smell the fish in the backpacks, and the lightening picture over the Mekong is stunning. Happy travels and looking forward to more updates.
    all love, cindy

  • Elaine P

    I love reading your blogs! Since I doubt that I'll ever get the opportunity to travel to Asia, I am relishing the unusual experiences which you two are enjoying. Keep sharing the adventures – especially a few photos!

  • Keryn McMahan

    You two seem to be having a great time on your trip and with each other. I will never get to go there but am enjoying the “travel” through your blog. Keep the pictures and stories coming. We love it-Keryn and Mike

  • Eryn

    Your blog is awesome! I would definitely not be the traveler with the iron stomach…the heart kabobs made me half to walk away from the computer for a minute :-). I can't wait for pictures of the elephants! A guy I work with went to Thailand last year and he loved it!

  • KJackson

    I'm definitely reading. I've enjoyed reading about your experience so far. Having just visited some of these places, it's cool to hear you all's perspective on this area of the world. I can't believe you haven't run across the fried tarantulas yet. I'm with Lindsey, it's a totally watch worthy event. 🙂 Hope you all continue to enjoy your travels. Be safe. Can't wait to read more about your adventures!!

  • patsygaines

    Hello Chris and Lindsey,
    So happy to hear that ya'll are having some much fun and the great experience of seeing the sights. Reading every bit of information that ya'll are sending. Can't wait for the next message and pictures. Be safe, have fun and love you lots.

  • rajelita

    Yes! I have been reading all your Blogs whenever they come in–and have been enjoying every single one. They are GREAT!–Makes me feel like a part of me is there with you.
    My Brother and Father traveled to Angkor Wat about ten years ago and said it was incredible–would love to see it sometime.
    The lightening storm photo that Chris took is amazing.
    Wishing you both more interesting adventures ahead! Raje

  • Sarah

    Hey you two. Just checking the blog for the first time and it sounds like you are having a wonderful time. What exciting adventures!! Be safe and have a great time!

  • Lindsey and Chris, I have been meaning to check up on you, but my pregnancy brain keeps getting in the way! Mainly, I am writing to tell you (Lindsey) how badly I need you at this stage in my pregnancy and how I cannot believe you planned that trip when I need you the most! LOL. Just kidding – it looks and sounds like you're having a glorious time and enjoying yourselves. Keep hydrated and have fun with those elephants! Hugs…

  • John R

    Hey guys,
    Definitely reading. Great stories, it's interesting to read a personal perspective of SE Asia. Awesome pics, be sure to upload a few dozen when you find decent internet and keep blogging, you sure have an attentive audience.

  • Hey, David. We have tried the durian, and it actually is really good and creamy. We don't know what all the “stink” is about. We thought it didn't smell that bad. Maybe we are the 1 percent of people that aren't bothered by the smell? Everything in perspective – we have smelled worse things, especially in developing countries.

  • Hey, David. We have tried the durian, and it actually is really good and creamy. We don't know what all the “stink” is about. We thought it didn't smell that bad. Maybe we are the 1 percent of people that aren't bothered by the smell? Everything in perspective – we have smelled worse things, especially in developing countries.