A Travellerspoint blog

Santa Sighted in Vietnam!

Merry Christmas & Spring Rolls...

sunny

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Xin Chao from Vietnam!

December 6th, we flew into the bustling Northern city of Hanoi, Vietnam and were welcomed by a multitude of scooters, people and shops of all kinds. Here we learned how to negotiate a street crossing with non-stop traffic zipping around us and refuse a purchase by the most persistent shop vendors. Calls of "you buy!", "where you from?", "special price", "lovely boys!", "cyclo ride-one hour!" echoed constantly. We had some fabulous Vietnamese foods like Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) and Seafood in a Clay Pot with Green Banana and Silver (rice) Paper and took in the famous Water Puppet Theatre show. We then took a 3 day trip to Halong Bay ("Halong" translates into "where the dragon descends into the sea") and toured around a few of the 3000 islands in a Vietnamese Junk. Touring Monkey Island by kayak was a highlight until one of the monkeys nearly attacked us for a Pringle. By night train, bus, airplane and taxi we've travelled down Eastern coast through Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang and finally to Mui Ne where we will spend Christmas. Highlights include exploring the many cultures of Vietnam at the Museum of Ethnography, Oliver steering our boat in Halong Bay (much to our surprise), bicycling through the rain (a bit of our good old Portland weather caught up with us), watching a Water Buffalo plow a rice field, hiking through the ancient city My Son with still visible signs of damage from the war in the 70s, and negotiating a fair price for a small rosewood sword for Emmett. Travel in Vietnam has not been without its challenges. The fact that it is a bit less travelled is both a blessing and source of frustration. It IS great for our budget: good hotel for 4 people with breakfast included: $25, dinner and dessert: $10, 5 hour bus trip: $3.

We are reminded every day of how lucky we are and so grateful for this experience and for our friends and family who've been so supportive. We are thinking of you all this holiday - and YES, there have been numerous Santa sightings on this side of the world -we hope he knows how to negotiate a thatched roof! We wish you a blessed season and a fabulous 2007!

Posted by debic 00:44 Archived in Vietnam Tagged round_the_world Comments (4)

Mae Boon and The Mekong

sunny

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Sabaidee from Laos!

We have had an amazing couple of weeks and continue to be enthralled by Southeast Asia. In Northern Thailand, we had the privilege of visiting a place called The Elephant Nature Park http://elephantnaturepark.org. This sanctuary takes mistreated or injured Asian elephants and gives them a second life. There are no rides on the elephants or other tricks performed, rather the guests and volunteers spend their days hiking with, feeding and bathing the 27 elephants. We spent 3 days there and truly enjoyed getting to know, by name, some of these magnificent creatures. A couple of favorites were Mae Boon and her baby Aura. They both were always hungry and we all enjoyed feeding time where we tossed whole pineapples, bunches of bananas and pumpkins right into their mouths.

After a few days in the restful and laid back mountain of Pai, our time in Thailand came to an end and we took the infamous 2-day slow boat trip down the Mekong River into Laos. We are now in a fabulous town, Luang Prabang - enjoying riding bikes around, eating (still) amazing food (fish cake wrapped in banana leaf for Debi, pizza for Emmett), visiting waterfalls and temples and meeting some other great travellers. Debi and Oliver have school every day while Emmett and I work on his letters and writing.

In two days, we leave for Vietnam where we will spend the rest of December. Our love and best wishes to you all!

Posted by kcrawf 22:55 Archived in Laos Tagged round_the_world Comments (7)

Stitches and Silkworms

Oh, the joys of travel...

sunny

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Sa-wat-dii Kha from Thailand!

These past few weeks have been filled with rest and adventure. We spent some wonderful time on two beautiful island beaches in Southern Thailand: Koh Samui and Koh Tao. Keith and I both had Thai massages on the beach ($7 for one hour!). Oliver and I took a snorkel daytrip around Koh Tao and the tiny island of Koh Nang Yaan (3 small islands connected by a sandbar). Oliver had his first motorbike ride on the way to the Thai doctor in our first official trip mishap. On our last day on the beach in Koh Tao, he stepped on some glass and we got to see firsthand the inner-workings of Thai medicine. $35, 20 minutes, 3 stitches (and a whole lot of screaming) later we were on our way. Soon thereafter, Emmett got seasick on the water taxi back to Koh Samui. Luckily that is all behind us as we are now in the Northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai. The food is fabulous: Pad Thai, Panang Curry, Green Papaya Salad, Fried Chicken with Cashews, Tom Kaa Gai Soup and of course, Pizza. Yesterday we hired a Tuk-Tuk (small scooter taxi) to drive us around and visited the Prah Singh Temple, an Umbrella Factory, Insect Museum, Wood Carving Center and Silk Factory. The boys were fascinated with the silk making process from the worm to the cocoon to the thread and finally the weaving. Last night Oliver and I took a Thai cooking class together. After shopping for our ingredients at the local market, we chopped, mixed, fried and stirred. We departed with full bellies and recipes to share with our friends when we return. We miss you all and Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by debic 21:12 Archived in Thailand Tagged round_the_world Comments (5)

Scorpion on a Stick

...and other tasty Chinese treats

sunny

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Ni Hao from China!

We are now in our 4th week of travel (sometimes it feels like we've been gone 4 months!) and all is well. We had a great last week in Japan staying with the Tensaka family in Morita and enjoying some fabulous hospitality: amazing (and often mysterious) food, three 40th birthday parties for me, and Karaoke - all the while making some great new friends. We said goodbye to Travis (thanks for all of the help T-Bone!) and hopped our next plane to Beijing. Needless to say, China is very different from Japan. We are gathering some great research for Oliver's "Potties Around the World" book here. We have visited the Forbidden City, watched a Chinese Acrobats show, hiked along the Great Wall and eaten some interesting snacks (scorpions and squid at the Donganmen Yeshi Night Market to mention a few). Tomorrow, Nov. 5, we are off to Thailand and are all looking forward to getting out of the big crowded city and onto the beach! We hope everyone is fabulous and we miss you all...

Posted by kcrawf 00:14 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (6)

A Toilet Seat that Washes and Warms!

...and other amazing Japanese factoids

sunny

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(sorry for all of the pictures at once - we just figured out how to upload them...so this will catch you up)

Konnichiwa!
We are slowly adjusting to life in Japan. Oliver is fixated with the fancy toilets (and some not so fancy) and Emmett is desperately hunting for pizza. The food for the rest of us is delicious: bento boxes with chicken or unagi (eel), pickled okra, rice, salad, miso soup, tempura, udon noodles and sushi. We are busily navigating the subways and train lines with Keith's good directions. Our Tokyo hotel is near the Shinjuku Station - one of the world's busiest with nearly 3 million users each day! Make that 3 million and four with us here. Oliver's new favorite place to be is the bathroom as the toilet is fascinating. Emmett decided he was happy to be in Japan while at the Nijo Castle in Kyoto and at the Pokemon Center in Tokyo. We are off tomorrow for a trip to Mt. Fuji and then will go up North with Uncle T-Bone to his old stomping grounds. It will be very different from Tokyo he keeps telling us. I guess that means no fancy toilets...Love to you all.

Posted by debic 00:42 Archived in Japan Tagged round_the_world Comments (6)

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