Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

End of the day...


After lunch we walked down the
street to the next temple, Banteay Srey.
The temple walls are densely covered with some of the most beautiful,
deep and intricate carvings of any Angkorian temple.


The next day we woke up early to drive out to Kbal Spean
which is is set deep in the jungle to the north east of Angkor.
It is commonly known as the valley of a 1000 Lingas due to the presence of the estimated one
thousand lingas, which are sculptures dug in the Siem Reap riverbeds.
Lingas were believed to fertilize the water that irrigates the rice fields in Cambodia.

Unfortunately Sonny's foot was in bad shape so
he stayed back in the little village, and he gave
Kimiko his camera for her to take pics for him.
Kimiko + Camera = Dead Battery! ;)

It took us about an hour to hike to the "waterfall,"
and when we got to the top Huyen wasn't too
impressed..."Sonny is lucky!"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Angkor Wat

Our last stop for the day, and what can I say...
Simply amazing!

At the apex of Khmer political and military dominance in the region,
Suryavarman II constructed Angkor Wat in the form of a massive
'temple-mountain' dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu.

After lunch...

Funny, but I don't have a picture of my lunch?
It was some of the tastiest chicken I've ever had,
and I offered a taste to Sonny, but in his mind he
heard "eat this ALL"....well he ate it alright! :\

After lunch we were off to Ta Prhom, or as the locals
liked to call it the "Laura Croft temple."
Ta Prohm was originally constructed as a Buddhist monastery
and was enormously wealthy in its time, boasting control over 3000 villages,
thousands of support staff and vast stores of jewels and gold.
It is now a sprawling complex that is overgrown with
massive fig and silk-cotton trees, but it's still freakin cool!

Temple Hop!

Our first day of temple hopping started out
with a short elephant ride!
You'd think it would be really comfy
to ride an elephant, but in the back of my mind
I felt kinda bad for the big guy, and couldn't
relax on our ride.
Sonny on the other hand looks like a king riding his!

Angkor Thom is a walled and moated royal city,
and was the last capital of the Angkorian Empire.
There are five entrances (gates) to the city, one for each cardinal point,
and each gate is crowned with 4 giant faces.

We started at Bayon temple,
which was built by King Jayavarman VII between
the late 12th century and the beginning of the 13th century.
This is the only temple in the complex to be built primarily
as a Mahayana Buddhist temple.
However, under the reign of Jayavarman VIII in the
mid-13th century the temple was converted to Hinduism.
At the top of each of the 54 towers, are the four faces
of Avalokitesvara (Lokitesvara).
In total there are 216 repetitions.

We then walked over to Baphuon and Phimeanakas.
Legend has it the golden tower that crowned the temple of Phimeanakas
was inhabited by a serpent, which would transform into a woman.
The kings of Angkor were required to make love with the
serpent every night, lest disaster befall him or the kingdom.

Friday, December 19, 2008


After a short flight we landed at Siem Reap, which was
much hotter and dryer than Saigon.
We checked into our hotel before we headed out for lunch,
and the rest of the day was spent eating,napping, and relaxing since
we were all pretty spent from the previous nights travel.

Once we were all clean and rested, we met up with a couple
from Mexico that Kimiko and I met in Ha Long Bay.
We had a lame dinner(thanks to our snooty hotel concierge)
and then walked over to the night market where everyone
had their feet cleaned by little fish!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


The next day Kimiko and I decided to treat ourselves
to a spa treatment, followed by lunch and a visit to
a school that Nol volunteers at.
Some info on Blue dragon...

It was really cool to see where Nol has been spending time,
and it was fun to play teacher for the day!
Nol is currently teaching them basic drawing
principles and life drawing, as the arts are not
something that get taught much in the Vietnamese
school system.

After finishing up at the school we had a quick
dinner and headed back to our hotel to get ready for our flight to Saigon.
Originally the flight was supposed to leave at 9 p.m.,
but it ended up being closer to 1 a.m.
We checked into our hotel in Saigon around 3 a.m.,
and the next day we grabbed breakfast before
going back to the airport for our flight to Cambodia.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


As many of you know, Kimiko LOVES grooming peoples
eyebrows, so after our mushroom hotpot dinner,
we headed over to visit a couple of Nol's friends.
Earlier in the day we had bought some dark
beer for Irish car bombs...
It's basically Bailey's and Jameson in a shot glass,
layering the Bailey's on the bottom.
Then Guinness goes into a pint glass or beer mug 3/4
of the way full. You then drop the shot glass into
the Guinness and chug.
If you don't drink it fast enough it will curdle!
You'll notice Nol in the background making dessert
for us, chocolate molten cake!

Interesting day...

It was nice and warm on our first day of
traveling with Sonny.
Woke up, went for a morning bowl
of Pho, and then had a coffee before
we headed to the war museum.
It was neat to see all the American
hardware still left there.
After the museum we walked across
the street to check out one of the
last Lenin statues still standing.
I wish I could have captured it on film, but on
a different day we were driving by the
statue, and there was a kid practicing his
skate boarding technique by "grinding,"
at the foot of the statue, crazy!
For those that don't know what I'm talking

After the war museum, we headed over to meet
Huyen for lunch. I know it might look kind of gross,
but it wasn't too bad.
We went and had lunch #2 for Kimiko and I after
the intestine though! :D

After lunch Nol took us over to the Hanoi Hilton.
It was a very dark and oppressive place, and
it was odd seeing McCain's pics there so soon
after the elections.
The prison used to be much larger, but the
second half has been developed into
commercial property at this point.
Let's just say it was nice to be able to walk out
of there and into the bustling day!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dinner with Sonny

After taking a little nap we headed out
to grab dinner and catch up with Sonny.
Our first meal was Bánh cuốn (literally "rolled cake")
is a dish from northern Vietnam.
It is a crepe-like roll made from a thin,
wide sheet of rice flour filled with ground pork,
minced wood ear mushroom, and other ingredients.
I think this was one of Kimiko's favorite
things in Ha Noi, yum!
How it's made-

Then we headed off to another part of town
to eat some fish head soup.
I didn't know what to expect, but it was really good!
Of course we needed something sweet after all
the salty goodness, which we then followed up
with a Vietnamese coffee.
To finish off the night we took a little walk to get
a hot black sesame drink.

Day 2 in Ha Long Bay

So, before we went to bed the previous
night, they asked us if we wanted a wake up
call to do tai chi, and we said sure.
Well I guess them pulling up anchor at 6:30
in the morning was ours, and everyone's
wake up call!

We had a light snack before we headed out
to Surprise cave(caves found by two french nuns), which was pretty damn
After a tour of the caves we headed back to the boat
and had a tasty breakfast as we made our way
back to shore.
We made it back to Hanoi
around 4:30 and met up with Nol, and our friend Sonny
who was visiting from Virginia.
"Lets take a nap before dinner!"

The bay in the morning...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ha Long Bay

After dinner we went back to our hotel and packed
since we had to leave early the next day for our
three hour van ride out to Ha Long Bay.
It was a very long ride, but it was interesting
to see the countryside, and a bit of a relief
from the constant honking in Ha Noi.
We headed out on our junk for an overnight
trip, and after a quick lunch on the boat, we arrived
at our first stop.
Titop island had the honour of receiving a visit from
astronaut Ghermann Ti Top, a hero of the former
Soviet Union, accompanied by Ho Chí Minh.

From there we headed out to visit the largest
floating fishing village in the area, which was really
cool! The guide was saying that they live most if not all
their life in the village.
After visiting their tiny school, we headed back out
and back to our boat for the night.
After dinner, I got a massage , and Kimiko
went below to check out one of the crew squid fishing.
At this point the jet lag was still doing a number on us,
so after I finished my massage Kimiko went in for hers
and I passed out!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A fun evening

After a nice nap, we headed out to
go on our first scooter ride, and
eat some dinner.
Not to sure what the name of the dish was,
but it was basically fresh fish,vegies,noodles,
with was damn tasty!
After we headed out to the Intercontinental
hotel for drinks.
Unknown to Kimiko and I, Huyen HAD to stop at
the famous corn lady.
How good could it be?!?
Surprisingly, it was really good.


After a relaxing coffee break,
we headed out to see some sites, and meet with Huyen for lunch.
(Which for some odd reason I don't have pics of?)

I must've been really hungry again, or the jet lag was kicking my butt!

After lunch we went by a fancy hotel where we were going to enroll
in cooking classes, but decided against it at the last minute.
Jet lag was really kicking in at this point so we decided to head back
towards our hotel and check out Nol's apartment since he was right up the street.
Then we had to take a serious nap before dinner!

Morning in Ha Noi

The first morning I awoke to an empty bed at 4 a.m.,
since Kimiko had decided to get up and go somewhere!?
I stumbled out of bed and found her in the lobby surfing
the web and looking at what else, facebook!
We went back to bed, well at least I thought we both
did, only to be awoken again at 6:30 since Kimiko wanted
to head downstairs and eat breakfast #1.
I woke up a few hours later and had my first
breakfast as well, then spoke to Nol about meeting
up to start our day.
We headed out and we quickly realized how chilly it was in Ha Noi
compared to our afternoon in Saigon, that's why you'll see Kimiko
wearing Nol's jacket in later pics.
On our way to eat, Nol took us through a typical large market, but
it's crazy how many people are selling food on almost any street you walk on.

Well it was time for breakfast #2.
I think this first Pho place that Nol took us to
was the best on the whole trip, and there are so many variations
that I never tired of it!
After breakfast, we headed out to grab a tasty vietnamese coffee...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

First Night

This was our first night in Ha Noi, and we
finally got to meet Huyen (Nol's fiance) in person.
I'm sure you noticed, but I kind of forgot to take pics of what we ate.
We were a little hungry! ;)
After dinner Nol and Huyen took us to a little dessert
place they knew about...

Saigon Airport

We were originally supposed to all meet in Saigon,
but plans changed along the way and we were unable to change our flight.
We had a couple hours to kill before we headed to Ha Noi to meet Nol so we
grabbed a bite to eat and watched the tube.

Going to visit Nol and his fiance...

My first picture with our new camera as we're waiting at LAX for our flight to Saigon.
Our flight went thru Hong Kong, where we heard the last call being announced
for our connecting flight and had to run through the terminal to catch it...
Great beginning to our three week adventure! :O)