Tour of Vietnam’s Western Highlands (For A Few Dollars More)

There’s more to Vietnam than bánh mì and phở .

Or at least, that’s what Hoan told me while we were sitting around the hot pot. I had found myself on the floor of the hostel in Da Lat, after the rest of guests had gone out to see the night market, enjoying dinner and drinking far too many bottle of rice wine with about a dozen Easy Riders.

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Templed-Out

My eyes open underneath my facemask as I feel the mini bus hurtling down the road on my way to Siem Reap. This bus is a lot more stable than the last one I was on. I pull my face mask off to see a group of men using electric tools to sculpt a massive stone into what looks like will become a seated Buddha. I check the map to see how much longer we have. Kampong Kdei. We’re making amazing time on our way from Phnom Penh where I had stopped off for a few nights.

My stomach was not in the best condition so I was happy for the well-paved highway and the chance to get some sleep. I wanted my strength for a full day visit of Angkor Wat, the ancient temple and main reason to visit Siem Reap. I was looking forward to seeing the famous temple. However, with its vast reputation, I wasn’t looking forward to what I expected to be hoardes of other tourists coming to visit. I also had not yet experienced the phenomenon I have heard referred to as being “templed-out”, but I had a feeling that after one day, I might be ready to move on. Continue reading “Templed-Out”

Back in The City (Phnom Penh)

Between Kampot and Siem Reap, I stopped off again in Phnom Penh. As the country’s capital, virtually all bus traffic flows through here. I arrived late in the evening, although we should have arrived at 4PM. The bus had to drive about 40km/hr after the bus did a full 90° spin on the road after swerving to avoid a pothole. I would have been more upset but due to some confusion at the bus terminal, I was ushered on to the bus without ever having paid for my ticket. I suppose you get what you pay for.

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Come for the Beach, Stay for the Peppercorns

It can be liberating to start a trip from the coast; especially if it’s December and you’re escaping the cold winter in the northeast of The United States and going to lounge on a sunny beach on the other side of the world. It’s also a great place to get in the ‘personal freedom’ mindset before setting out on the rest of my trip.

But as I came to find in Sihanoukville, some coasts can be fun for a few days, until the seediness of backpacker beach bars and fire raves starts to wear on the travel spirit.  After my friends had left from our New Years celebration and I was on my own, I stuffed my day pack and hopped on a ferry to Koh Rong Samleom to kick off the next phase of my trip.

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Update: Coming Soon

I haven’t had much peace inside hostels or great access to a computer for uploading pictures and continuing the narrative of my journey, but I can assure you things are going well. I’m currently in Saigon, in one of the many coffee shops I’ve found along my journey (Shin Coffee) and I’m making plans for tomorrow. I’ll travel to Da Lat where I hope to find some mountains to hike, less traffic, and some escape from the dust clouds and humidity.

Since my last update, 2017 has been off to a great start. From Sihanoukville, I took a ferry to the island of Koh Rong Samleom before bouncing back to the mainland and traveling by minibus to Kampot (I found the peppercorns). I went back to the capital since “all roads lead to Phnom Penh”. In the city, I found some great cafes and bars and was able to sort out my visa for Vietnam where I am now. Before leaving Cambodia, I made a last visit to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat. Vietnam has been great so far. So much so that I resolved not to try to squeeze in Laos and Thailand to this leg of the trip. I will spend the full month allowed by my visa in Vietnam. This morning (with help from my virtual assitant in The States: Dad) I booked my next flights. After Vietnam, I’ll fly to Delhi and go to Sharad’s wedding in Chandigarh. After a month in India, I’ll fly to Durban where I’ll meet my family for their 2 week holiday in South Africa.

Stay tuned for updates on the past 2 weeks – I’ll hopefully be able to get my pictures together with access to a better computer. And keep following along for more stories from around the world.

Kyle

(This) New Years

29/30 DECEMBER 2016 | JFK-TPE-PNH
 

I step off the plane in Taipei after sixteen and a half hours of flying to find that my Cambodian e-visa has finally been delivered to my inbox. Now I have a three hour layover to stretch my legs and convince my body that this is indeed a normal time to be awake. I got more sleep than I had expected on the flight here and staying awake when I wanted too was not too difficult as I was able to keep myself entertained with free drinks, surprisingly delicious meals for economy, and the entire second season of Mr. Robot (thank you, Eva Air). My time in the airport is relatively uneventful with the exception of being all alone in the back room of the priority access lounge – one of the many perks to my Chase Reserve credit card. I am not a paid correspondent for Chase Bank (yet), but it is a really good card.

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