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Yangon, Myanmar

Yangon (formerly Rangoon) is one of the more interesting major cities we have been too. The electricity only works about half the time. The buses are made mostly of wood, and many of the temples predate the birth of Christ. We arrived in time for the annual water festival to celebrate the new year. A…

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Back in Bangkok….

This bus ride was an interesting one. Taking one vehicle from our hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia we arrive at the border and cross on foot. After getting our visas stamped we walk into the no-man’s land between Cambodia and Thailand. The bus attendant says we have to wait for 30 minutes before we are…

Bookworm…

As a student for the last 4 1/2 years, working a full-time job, and often a part-time job as well to pay for my education and the “lifestyle” I had grown accustomed to (code for: I can’t -and have no desire- to learn to cook and therefore go out to eat, A LOT!), I often…

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Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat is the crowing jewel of Cambodia. Angkor Wat is actually a single temple amongst many but its astounding beauty has given the entire area its name. It is the largest religious structure on earth and was built around 1,000 years ago. Over the centuries the temples have been ruled by Hindus and Buddhists…

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Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Yet another smooth, successful border crossing puts us into Phnom Penh (PP), the capital and largest city in Cambodia. It’s busy and sweltering hot which aids in our decision to employ a tuk-tuk to take us around and look for a cheap hotel. Along with a new friend Jose, a Spaniard currently living in Dominican…

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Saigon, Vietnam

We were expecting Saigon to be a lot like Hanoi, which is to say so busy that your personal countdown to explosion starts the minute you arrive.  We were pleasantly surprised.  The pace is crazy and the amount of commerce is intense, but unlike Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) was built for modern-sized human…

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Nha Trang, Vietnam

Nha Trang is one of the most developed beach towns in Vietnam, the kind of place we generally steer clear of.  It happens that it’s also a good way to break up a very long bus journey from Central Vietnam to Saigon and the Mekong Delta, so we disregarded our inner masochists and booked a…

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Hoi An

Getting here was quite and adventure.  All of the regular “open tour” buses that pick you up from your hotel were full.  The direct bus to Hoi An had already left by the time we got to the Hue bus station.  So we opted to head for Danang, the fourth largest city in Vietnam and…

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Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam was the royal capital for the Nguyen Lords, a fuedal dynasty that controlled all of Southern Vietnam between 1744 and 1802.  They were able to hold the capital until 1945, when the last emporor adbdicated and the Communist party was established and based in Hanoi. The Viet Cong took the city, which lies…

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Ninh Binh, Vietnam

After stopping briefly back in Hanoi to pick up our visas for Myanmar we got in a bus to Ninh Binh, Vietnam.  I’d seen this place before, from out the window of a bus, and thought that it looked beautiful.  The guidebook described it as “Ha Long Bay or rice paddies” – good enough for…

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Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Leaving the frantic pace of Hanoi, we hop a bus to Vietnam’s third most populous city Hải Phòng (which doesn’t feel very busy by comparison). Arriving late in the evening we find cheap accommodations. “This place smells about right” Scotty declared upon detecting the familiar mildew smell that greeted us at the entrance, indeed! In…

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Hanoi, Vietnam

Just the name conjures up images and connotations.  The nicest bus we’ve ever taken brought us into the heart of the beast.  Traffic was insane, crossing the street seemed like more like a suicide tactic than a means of moving around.  Sights and smells attacked us from all directions.  You knew it was coming, and…

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Vang Vieng, Laos

“Do you want some motion sickness pills?” asked a concerned co-passenger.  “It’s not motion sickness.”  -Scotty 5 hours in to an 8 hour mini-bus journey… Vang Vieng is a funny place.  It’s naturally beautiful.  Precipitous limestone mountains rise up like a stegosaurus’ back on the other side of a beautiful river.  There’s plenty of hiking,…

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Luang Prabang, Laos

Aside from the constant smoke, a staple here in Laos, Luang Prabang is an inviting town. We would have liked to stay longer, but not being able to breathe freely really put a damper on our visit. Located on a peninsula where the Nam Khan river meets the mighty Mekong River, this quaint town is…

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Mong Ngoi, Laos

Travel in Laos is usually a difficult affair, so the boat ride from Nong Khiaw was a much appreciated pleasure.  The hour long ride saw us pass limestone cliffs, submerged to the head water buffalo, tribal villages, small rapids, and lush hillsides.  Though tightly packed we watched the passing scenes in relative comfort, getting more…

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Nong Khiaw, Laos

Getting here was a little slice of magic, and another dose of torture.  But after many hours in mini-busses on bad roads, a lesson on how to play pitong (Laos’ version of Bocce Ball), and a few thousand less kip (currency of Laos), we slowly untangled our way out into the sun. Nong Khiaw is a quiet town on the…

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Luang Namtha, Laos

–Day One– Fully rejuvinated we book a 3 day trek and hit the road.  There is another couple booked with us, we are told, but they have canceled so we’re on our own!  Our guide “Woot” gives us a preliminary run down as we cruise to our starting point in a Saengthaew (improvised pickup truck…

Arriving in Laos

Val’s feet splash down on the wet sand and it’s official, we’ve reached Laos.  As we walk up the hill to immigration the a brilliant sun sets over the mighty Mekong river.  Getting our visa is the first taste Laos bureaucracy, a legendary monster of lethargy feared by travelers round the globe.  Fortunately the hype…

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Chaing Mai, Thailand

North, north and further north. Hopping another bus we find ourselves finally in Chaing Mai, touted as the culture capital of Northern Thailand. This place has it all: hand-crafts, jewelery, tons of religious sites, classes on yoga, language, cooking, and meditation (among others), shopping, traffic, art, night markets and, of course, bowling. The city is…

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Krabi, Thailand Part 1

I’m pretty sure Scotty shed a tear when we left the beautiful beach in Southern Thailand. What he didn’t know was how many more, tears of happiness he would be shedding when he beheld the wonders of the Krabi area. Arriving by bus, the place wasn’t much to look at at first. From the back…

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Ayuttaya and Sukhothai, Thailand

It is time to leave the city and head north. The problem is we do not know where we want to go. We arrive at the bus station armed with nothing more than a direction to head in. After consulting the guide book, Scotty and I narrow down our northern destinations to 3: ranging from…

Krabi Part 1

Scotty woke me up real early this morning, and for anyone who has spent any significant time around me, you know. This is a dangerous proposition. I can be oh so much more than just…. “Krabi”

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Bangkok

Well, you might say this place has a reputation.  And we’d probably tell you that from what we could see peeking around corners, its reputation is well deserved. We took a 12 hour night bus from Krabi to get here and our sleep schedules never really recovered.  Each night we’d set an ambitious agenda for…

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Krabi, Thailand Part 2

What do you do when you’ve enjoyed 2 of the 3 things a region is famous for? Go for the third right?  So we set out to complete the trifector with Daniel and Nina, our comrades from Finland. Large limestone cliffs and pillars, or “karst”, are common throughout mainland SE Asia, but in Krabi they are…

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Life on the Beach

  After a surprisingly fun night in Satun drinking Thai Whiskey with a local family, we hopped a boat (a large modern speedboat!) headed for the nearby islands of Ko Turatao National Marine park. The ride took us past dramatic limestone and granite bluffs rising defiantly from the ocean.  The park comprises over 50 densely…

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Arriving in Thailand

Indonesia and Malaysia share a common language, which happens to be one of the easiest in the world to learn.  After 4 months of real world practice we had gotten pretty good and were beginning to feel like we’d pierced the clueless tourist veil.  Then came Thailand… From the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia we took an…

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Cameron Highlands

We ended up staying in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for 3 weeks.  Celebrating Val’s 30th Birthday, Christmas, and New Years.  We had a fantastic time, but needed to reintroduce some adventure into our lives – enter the Cameron Highlands. The 3.5 hour bus ride went by in a blink and when we stepped of the bus…

Kuala Lumpur

Considering that we have been gone for 3 months, taken 8 flights, and traveled about 13,680 miles (22,016 km), our travels in SE Asia have been limited to Indonesia and a few days in Malaysia.  So when we once again showed up in Kuala Lumpur we were excited to begin a new chapter and truly…

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Bali

…and then suddenly we found ourselves in Bali, the most touristy area in Indonesia, and we would quickly find out why. Bali is a beautiful and lush island, a Hindu stronghold in a predominately Muslim country. Bali is known for it’s great cuisine and emphasis on the arts and culture. We head to Ubud first,…

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Mt. Bromo

As we began readying ourselves to leave Yogyakarta it became clear that getting to Bali was going to be a headache.  We could take a train, which would undoubtedly be the most comfortable and scenic.  The problem was the length, requisite overnight stops meant hotel rooms and the hypothetical bill was adding up quickly.  The…

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Central Java

Yogyakarta (pronounced Joe – g – jah – kar – tah) is the cultural capital of the island of Java, Indonesia’s most important and populous island.  A little over 500 thousand of the island’s 120 million people live here and they are fiercely proud of their unique customs, art, and language. Jogja, as the locals…

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Togean Islands

The Togean Islands are a collection of limestone plots huddled in a large peninsula formed by North and Central Sulawesi.  They are a well known, but difficult to reach, place to forget time and become one with sand and sun. We started our Togean Odyssey in Manado, near the Northeastern tip of Sulawesi.  First we…

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Bunaken, Indonesia

***I had to make this photos very small to get them uploaded, which is unfortunate because they have lost a lot of quality in the process and I had to remove many of ones containing expertly hidden fish.  Take a moment to look closely at them as there may be hidden treasures you don’t notice…

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Bunaken Photos

Pulau Bunaken is a small island off the Northeast coast of the Sulawesi, Indonesia.  We’re here for only one reason – to dive!  The sea here is rich with life and has especially incredible corals.  So far we’ve done nine dives but will be doing a few more before we head to the Lembeh Strait. …

Many Monkeys and 1 Monchichi!!

Welcome to the jungle baby!! Arriving in Bukit Lawang (Boo-keet Lu-wang) after a very long travel day, we were snagged up by a local guide who promptly guided us off the bus, to a a hotel room, and into a jungle trek package. We signed on to leave bright and early the next morning for…

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Orangutans in Bukit Lawang

Orangutans are critically endangered. Their biggest threat is the ever growing palm oil industry. Palm oil is used in countless products, in fact is very hard to avoid even when conscientiously trying to. To grow palm oil large tracts of land are cleared, by logging or often by burning, and replaced with palm trees. These trees…

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Banda Aceh

Banda Aceh definitely deserves its own post.  Banda Aceh was the epicenter of of the earthquake that caused the 2004 Boxing Day Sunami – killing over 300,000 people.  Aceh took about 80,000 casualties, roughly 5 of every 6 people. Driving through the area now you’d hardly know anything happened here.  Besides the odd concrete skeleton,…

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