Saturday, April 23, 2011

We thought we were gonna die-but we didn't

Click on this picture to see our whole photo album. The pictures are a bit repetitive, but show the craziness of what we did pretty well:)

Ha! How is that for an exciting title?? Anxious to hear how we nearly (okay, not really at all, but it felt like it!) met our end? We went canyoning! What in the world is canyoning you might ask; well, it it when you follow a river down through a canyon, by hiking, sliding down natural water slides, or abseiling down a cliff or waterfall. With our budget, we haven't done many/any organized tours/adventure outings (save for that exciting trip down the Mekong River in tubes that went 1/4 a mile an hour! haha) and we decided that needed to change when we went to Dalat, a beautiful mountain city in Vietnam. Dalat is famous for its adventure activities, and canyoning was something that neither of us had done and I had wanted to do for years, ever since I went to Interlaken in Switzerland and met a number of people who had done it there. Anyways, we decided on canyoning since it seemed new and exciting. The only problem was that neither of us were warned about how scary it is, what an adrenaline rush it would cause!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Phnom Penh, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), and Dalat

Standing Next to our Tuk Tuk in Phnom Phen (Links to more pictures)

We are doing really well, and are loving Vietnam so far! We are currently in Dalat, but spent the previous four days in Ho Chi Minh City, and looooooved it! It is really nice and beautiful with lots of parks and wide streets and modern architecture. Much more beautiful than we expected and my (Graham's) favorite Asian city so far. Our time in Vietnam thus far has also been heavy at times, as many of the sites we've seen have to do with the Vietnam war (or as they call it here, the American war). There has been more than one time that Natalie and I have teared up. One especially hard thing to see was an exhibit about Agent Orange, Napalm, and other chemical agents that were dropped out of planes over the county. The War remnants Museum had graphic, honest pictures of people whose bodies were badly burned, and what was perhaps even sadder was an exhibit about the long term effects of all these poisons that resulted in tons of stillbirths, and babies being born horribly deformed. In some areas there is still a much higher rate of that to this day.....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Phnom Penh and the Killing Fields

Hello Everyone!

I am writing from our red-themed hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We are leaving this great country tomorrow for Vietnam, which I am also really excited about. Phnom Penh is an awesome city, and it has been exciting because it is the Khmer New Year, so everyone is happy and as I am writing, fireworks are going off, and...okay, got a great show from the hotel window :)

On another note, today we went to the killing fields near Phnom Penh, where the horrific Khmer Rouge regime executed and buried over 20,000 Cambodians between 1975 and 1979. During that horrible time somewhere between 1,000,000 and 3,000,000 Cambodians were killed by the Khmer Rouge. According to Wikipedia (I always go straight to the source!) "In terms of the number of people killed as a proportion of the population (est. 7.1 million people, as of 1975[6]), it was the most lethal regime of the 20th century."  It is insane to learn about the history of this country. Poor Cambodia has dealt with more than its fair share of war (in my opinion any war is more than anyone's fair share) in the past, and it is absolutely incredible how far the country has come since the end of the Khmer Rouge rule in 1979, after such a destructive and deadly period of time.

Going to the location where such tragedy occurred was very powerful, especially because I had never heard anything about the genocide that occurred in this country before I came to Thailand. It has been overwhelming learning about the atrocities that happened here. Because so much of the population was killed, there are few people older than 50 years old, and that is immediately obvious when you look for it. Phnom Penh was completely evacuated under the Khmer Rouge and everyone who was not killed were enslaved in labor camps, in the name of a new communist Cambodia.

Today was emotional. Seeing 86 mass graves, and thousands of human skulls, many of them with breaks due to violent deaths and injuries to the head, I mean, how can I put that into words? I guess I just felt a need to write about this, maybe some of our readers know as little about what happened here as I knew a few months ago. I hope that America, and the world in general, is able to move toward more peaceful policies.

On that note, we send our love to you all.

Peace :)


Monday, April 11, 2011

Angkor Wat What?!

Graham and I just got back from the most amazing (/most tiring!) day touring the famous Angkor Wat temple complexes. This is one of the sights that we were most excited about on our trip (right up there with Halong Bay, the Forbidden City and the Taj Mahal) and we have fast internet, so I figured we should do an entire blog post for it! Gasp :) We do love keeping this baby updated, but it's difficult with all of the travel-we are going and seeing so fast it's difficult to stop for the hour or so that a post requires. Well, mine take maybe half and hour and Graham's take two, so we'll average it at one. But that is beside the point. Today we saw the world's largest religious buildings and the remains of one of the largest pre-industrial civilizations ever. Pretty incredible!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Vang Vieng to Vientiane to Thakhek to 4000 Islands to Siem Reap

The cave that we (bravely) swam into. Click picture for a link to some more pictures!
Hello........anyone there? Do we have any readers left?? We have by no means forgotten you, in fact every-time we have internet access we get super excited to update the blog, only to realize that the speed is so slow that even writing "hello, sorry we haven't updated recently....."takes about an hour to upload. Finally in Siem Reap the internet is once again speedy, so we're back!

There is obviously a lot to catch you up on, so I will just focus on the highlights. One new addition which I dreamed up recently will be a section at the end of the post aimed specifically at other travelers following a similar path and wanting recommendations/information about how to do things, or what to expect. We have benefited a lot from reading other travelers blogs and want to give in kind when appropriate. Enough chatting (Natalie must be rubbing off on me!), here's what we've been up to!
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