By: Marc Ziman

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Tuesday, 22-Nov-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark

Angkor Wat Sunrise (yes i did get up that early)
Faces at The Bayon
Ta Prom
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Well, flying to Bangkok tomorrow en route back to the UK. Had a great few days in Siam Reap visiting the temples. These are the last pics from this trip I guess, its been fun. See you all back in England sometime soon.

Friday, 18-Nov-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark

View of the Mekong from a bus window
I'm on the back of this bike
scenery from the bike trip
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Well, its almost time to come home. I'm in Phnom Penh now, off to Siam Reap to visit Angkor tomorrow. Just a few pics showing various bits and bobs including my motorcycle adventure (didn't mention that did I mum!).

Looking forward to seeing everyone soon, hope its not too cold!

Friday, 4-Nov-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark

Around Vang Vien
I lived in the one on the right
Pha That Kunag, Vietiene
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Spent a few days in sleepy Vang Vien where floating down the river in a tractor inner tube is the order of the day. This odd activity is punctuated by frequent beer stops where there are also rope swings and death slides. All great fun, but the set up would have health and safety throwing fits (but I'm still in one piece mum!).

Vang Vien is also home to the peculiar phenomenon of Friends bars. These are bars which have the entired dvd box set of friends and play them continuously. You can stand in the street and hear four or five different episodes at the same time. When I arrived I thought they were opium dens because they were full of supine westerners with glazed expressions on their faces. That place does kind of suck you in.

So now I'm in Vietiene, the capital of Laos. It's a fairly uninspiring place but I needed to sort out more $$, visa extension and cambodia visa.

Yesterday went to the impressive Pha That Luang and practiced my Lao on some monks who practiced their English on me. Today I did a 50km round trip on bicycle to Buddha park (which is just that - a park full of statues of buddha) and managed to forget my suncream. I was bright red this afternoon, but its starting to turn brown.

That's all for now.

Saturday, 29-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark

Me with the Camera gear
Riding water buffalo
I was no match for the locals
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Just spent a good few days in Luang Prabang, Laos. One of the highlights was a two day cycling and kayaking trip (see a pattern emerging here?) through some local villages. The tour operator was a Canadian guy who married a Lao girl and set up last year. Its pretty useful to be able to discuss these trips with someone who speaks good English so you can be sure of exactly what you're getting.

So, for the princely sum of $80 I was looking forward to a day of cycling through several villages, staying the night in one and then kayaking and rafting back to Luang Prabang. These tours are also a good way to meet people, and so far I've been lucky. I arrived at the White Elephant office in the morning to find my companions for the next couple of days would be a Swiss German couple, a French couple and an Aussie couple who were celebrating both their twenty first wedding anniversary and her fiftieth birthday. They were, it turned out, seasoned travellers who first travelled asia in the pre lonely planet days with more than a few stories to tell.

We all piled into the back of a Tuk Tuk with our guides Chao and Vou. We drove out of town for about an hour till we were close to the mountains and the road gave way to a dusty track. Then we were given our bikes and began the 50km cycle. It was fairly easy going, but tiring for some in the heat. The track ran along the dense vegetation on the mountains and down below we could see and hear the river.

Every few kilometers we'd reach a small village. The buildings were all wooden huts on stilts. There was no national grid in these areas though many had generators and drew some electricity from the river. There were many animals wandering around, dogs, cats, ducks, chickens and turkeys (no sign of bird flu, all seemed very healthy), pigs goats and water buffalo. As we approached a village there would always be cries of 'Sabaidee' (hello) from one or more children. Sometimes it was deafening as they all greeted us in unison. The children all had a look of wonderment on their faces as they observed us stopping for water or taking pictures. Obviously they do see westerners from time to time on these tours but they have very little contact. Some of them just stare, others laugh, some look at little afraid and then run away laughing. Once you say hello back they start losing their inhibitions and start playing. I managed to get the kids in one village to take a picture of me and my camera gear (they find the little pictures of themselves on digital cameras hilarious).

At the village where we stopped for lunch (courtesy of the Canadian's Lao wife) we first went down to the river to freshen up. Here we found a few boys swimming and sitting atop water buffalo. They were keen to play up to an audiance but the animals looked a little hot and bothered.

After lunch a couple of the more foolhardy boys decided they needed to show us falang who was boss and we had an exhausting stick fight which I could only finish by confiscating their sticks. They all posed for a group photo, before we continued on our journey.

We reached our homestay village later on that day and had a game of football with some kids before going down to the river for a swim and a wash. The women prepared our food, duck soup and buffalo with vegetables and rice followed by the freshest pineapple you could imagine. Vou decided we should all drink whisky and insisted on us having shots with our meal, and it wasn't long before the bottle was empty.

We then grabbed some bottles of the national beverage Beer Lao, and made a fire. We were joined by a crowd of villagers (until the soap operas started on the communal stallite TV) but the boys stayed with us and we exchanged songs until late into the night. Finally, tired and a little merry, we climbed the stairs to our hut for a well earned sleep.

In the morning after washing at the river an breakfast, we payed a quick visit to the village temple and sat with the monks. They were happy to play up for the camera, although one of the older monks insisted they got dressed up in their best gowns as he didn't want to be photographed in his tatty work gowns. I think I got some good photos there, and once the film is developed I've promised to send copies to them. After they proudly opened up the temple to show us their Buddahs, we bade them farewell and headed back to the village to begin our journey back on the river.

We had two kayaks and a raft. On the way back we encountered a little white water and the Swiss capsised their raft but it was pretty easy going with a few stops for lunch and swimming. We continued to a village where we were able to land the boats and take them up to the road to be packed ino the waiting Tuk Tuk whilst being watched by the entire village, and then drove back to Luang Prabang as the sun set.

The trip comes highly recommended and is excellent value for money, though you may find getting to Luang Prabang a little expensive.

Sunday, 23-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Photos from Hanoi, Northern Vietnam and Ha Long Bay

Got myself a new contract in Hanoi
Mount Fan Si Pan - Vietnam's highest
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Been a while since I've been near a computer, and I've not got long now as I fly to Laos in the morning, so I'll let the pictures do the talking

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