Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Greetings...

...from our 5th country in 4 weeks...Cambodia.

We've been moving fast over the past few weeks and thought it was about time to check in.  Things are great...we're seeing and doing so much, and enjoying every minute of it!  We spent a total of two weeks in Thailand before heading to Cambodia.  After leaving Raylai Beach, we headed north to Bangkok for a few days - it was interesting and kept us moving.  We spent many hours walking through markets and "window shopping" - what we buy, we have to carry in our packs!  After a few days we were ready to move on, Bangkok can be very exhausting with it's pushy tuk-tuk drivers and potential scam artists! 

Next we headed north to Chiang Mai...we tried to take an overnight train but were turned back to Bangkok due to flooding and ended up spending nearly an entire day traveling by bus (a very uncomfortable bus too!).  We fell in love with Chiang Mai instantly, with it's quiet old city and pleasant weather.  Our first day was spent wondering the many temples and markets.  Day two we headed out into the country for a day of elephant training!  And our final day was spent learning the art of Thai cooking.  It was a fantastic place to end our time in Thailand!

In order to leave Thailand before our visa ran out, and spend the most time in Chiang Mai, we opted to take a bus that would take us directly to our next destination - Siem Reap, Cambodia - rather than stopping in Bangkok again for a few days.  Unfortunatley, this meant that we were on buses in transit for over 24 hours.  We finally arrived here last night and spent our first day exploring the famous Ankor Wat. 

I know I'll have much more to say later about everything we're doing...for now I hope this helps to give a little glimpse into what we're doing. (they're kind of out of order due to slow loading...)


Elephant Training
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Ankor Wat
Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ankor Wat
Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ankor Wat
Siem Reap, Cambodia

Thai Cooking Class
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thai Food we made!

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Monk Chat
Chiang Mai, Thailand

We're planning to stick around Siem Reap for a few more days before heading on to Phnom Penh and on to Vietnam before heading home.  See you in a few weeks! 

Until next time...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Quick update!

We're in Bangkok(Thailand) now and have free wifi at the hotel, so I thought I'd take a minute to update you all.

We've been here a total of 24 hours, having arrived in the morning on an overnight train from the south. We had hoped to be heading further north this evening, but due to flooding, the trains weren't running yesterday or today... We'll check back today about possibly going tomorrow, but if not, we may have to take a bus, or change our plans. The train offers a sleeper, which is much nicer on an overnight trip than a bus seat - or a regular train seat as we found out a few days ago. Traveling overnight, we don't want to lose sleep then lose a whole day of seeing things because we're catching up.

For those following the weather, it looks like we're out of the path of Typhoon Megi, but we'll keep you updated if our travel plans change. Our prayers are with those in the path of the storm - the damage we've seen from previous storms is devastating and can take years to rebuild.

Until next time...

Friday, October 15, 2010

A few photos from our travels.

Singapore.


Bali, Indonesia





Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia





Railay, Thailand



In Transit.

Today is Day 16.  We're in Railay, Thailand where we've been relaxing on the beach and sea kayaking.  Unfortunately, it's monsoon season, so our time outside has been limited by the torrential rain storms.  But we can't complain, we have a nice little bungalow, set in away from the beach where we've been able to relax and read in our hammock on our porch.  We've decided to stay an extra few days as it's so beautiful and peaceful here. 

Before coming to Thailand, we spent a few days in Kuala Lumpur.  Here, our dislike of cities was reiterated, after a few days we were ready to move on.  Kuala Lumpur, the capitol of Malaysia, is a nice city, but much smaller than we had expected (using only our Lonely Planet Guide as a reference).  The Petronas Towers were beautiful, and we saw some amazing Mosques.  Overall, it's a beautiful city and offers much in the way of food and shopping.  The recently built MRT system is quite efficient and clean, so travel around the city was easy. 

Our departure from KL to Thailand was by train.  We took an overnight train leaving KL at 9:30pm and each had a sleeping berth.  Luckily we were able to sleep much of the night and awoke in time for the border crossing where we had to get off the train with all our things and go through customs and immigration - no sweat!  Unfortunately, the trip did not end there and we had to wait an hour while all passengers did this process before loading up the train again and making the final 3 hour trip to Hat Yai.  There we took a minibus to Krabi (another 4 hours or so) and finally a 15 minute longtail boat to Railay, where we've been for the past 4-5 days (can't quite remember what day it is or the day of the week!).

We've deviated a bit from our original plan a bit and are playing it by ear from here.  We are loving Thailand and don't want to leave until we've seen all we want to see.  We'll keep you posted along the way as to where we're going and where we've been!  Until then...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bye Bye Bali

Sitting on the beach one last time before heading to our next destination--Malaysia!

It's been a great week in Bali but a week is much too little to spend here. We were reminded of this often when people asked how long we were staying and when we said a week they would reply with a shocked "so short!!!". Yes we realize that a week is "so short," but when there is so much to see, you can only stay in one place for a short time.

While here, we visited Ubud, a fairly large village near the middle of Bali. We stayed at a nice little homestay set away from the main stretch and much of the touristy areas. Ubud is very touristy, so it was hard to avoid it all together but we did our best. While there we each took an art class. Mine was traditional Batik, which is similar to tie dye, but using wax to make a design or drawing first. It took about 4 hours and was located on this quiet family compound. I turned out to be the only student, so I got extra attention and was able to chat with the teacher while my piece dried. Dan took a wood carving class where he learned techniques in carving as well as carved a small turtle. Unfortunately, the turtle was too heavy to bring along. I know he looks forward to carving more things once we get home.

Also in Ubud, we rented bicycles and cycled to a "nearby" village to see a famous temple. The village ended up being about 3 hours away, the road having a slight incline the whole way. Once there we only had about 10 minutes to look around for fear of not having enough day light to get back. We headed back and were happy to ride down hill most of the way. Unfortunately a storm brought early dark and we got a little turned around, but not until we had returned to Ubud. Though stressful at times due to traffic and weather-not to mention a very difficult ride- it was a pleasant trip.

After Ubud, we headed to Candidasa where we spent two quiet days at an ashram, participating in yoga, meditation and prayer. Our bungalow was directly on the beach and offered a pleasant breeze along with fantastic views.

Finally, we ended up here in Sanur..while the Lonely Planet aptly nicknames it "Snore," we were able to find plenty to keep us busy for a few days. Walks along the beach and around nearby Turtle Island were both interesting and cheap!

Today we saw an anazing sunrise and went for a sailboat ride out to the reef, where we went snorkeling. A great end to a great week.

It's been a truely relaxing and wonderful trip thus far. We're excited to see what the next stop has to offer!

Until next time...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sight seeing in Singapore


Singapore has been just what we needed after a long and stressful last week in Taiwan.

There are basically two things to do in Singapore...
"shop 'till you drop" OR "eat your heart out"
And since we're not really into the first, we spent put day wandering around the city between meals.

Our hostel is located on a pedestrian only street that leads up to this beautiful Mosque, which is where we began our walk.


Next we ventured into "Little India.". We're both really excited about visiting India so this was a nice taste of what we'll find when we get there. The streets are lined with fabric shops selling the most beautiful Saree fabrics I've ever seen. Between the fabric shops you can find restraints serving every kind of Indian food imaginable. We enjoyed some wonderful vegetable baryani before heading to Chinatown.

Chinatown was basically a massive night market. We were soon bored with the same things we'd seen numerous times at Taiwanese markets and decided to head back for a nap.

For dinner, we went to Lau Pa Sat market which has a famous Satay street.  Delicious!  It was a fun atmosphere of hawkers bidding for our business.  They close down the street on Saturday nights and set up tables and chairs....it was nice to eat under a darkening sky and cool breeze.

Our night ended with a stroll along the harbour and some beautiful night scenes.




Today we're taking it easy, reading and relaxing until our flight to Bali this evening.  Singapore has been nice - it's a beautiful and clean city, but doesn't offer us a lot to do.  I can't complain though, after the stressful week we had last week, it's been refreshing to not feel pulled in a million directions.
Hope all are well.

Until next time...