Hey folks, just Tina here.
So it would seem some time has passed since we last wrote on this thing. Well we made it Don Det, one of the main islands in the 4,000 Island area of southern Laos. The island has one walking sized path that goes around the island, which can be walked in about one hour. Guesthouses line the riversides, are dingy with cold water showers in concrete shacks that sit 20 feet away and require bug nets over the beds and a handy flashlight for when the power goes out at 11pm every night. Much of a rastafarian paradise, as well as for any other person who tips towards the hippie and/or simple and relaxed way of living, with no ATMs, 2 official "bars," and one of most beautiful sunsets your western eyes have ever seen. With two english boys we had run into several times on the trip, we decided to go tubing one sunny afternoon in the Mekong. We were dropped off about a mile upstream, and it took us about 90minutes to float back to the area of the island. Wearily, for Steve and me, we didn't take notice when our boat guy had told us to paddle toward the other island 10 minutes back. Alas, the mighty Mekong in all its current fury. We were swiftly directed towards the underbrush of a neighboring island and immediately started paddling and swimming as hard as we could so as not to get sucked under the sharp bushes and die a miserable drowning-while-inner-tubing death. Luckily, to the amazement of both us and the crowd of people that had gathered, the boat driver came and pulled Steve and the tubes into the boat. Word of advice.... if you ever plan on swimming in an area with a strong current, wear an equally secure bathing suit. I stayed clinging to the ladder for save of embarassment while trying to keep my suit on my body. Nothing like almost two hours of lazy nothing and 5 minutes utter terror to get your blood pumping.
But Brooke got a bit claustrophobic being there so left for Cambodia a day before I did. The following day as I headed to the border I met a New Yorker name Ryan, with whom we have been traveling for almost the last month. Piece of cake. Give the man my passport, walk across the 50yards that is the assumed border into Cambodia and get back on the bus. I met Brooke in Sihanoukville, where we stayed from Christmas to New Years. Small beach city, that is both beautiful and extremely sleazy. On first impression I though Cambodia had an inferiority complex with the amount of almost vulgar statues I saw and was disgusting because it was full of scuzbag western men who come to find young Cambodian girlfriends.
But after having visited the sights in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kep (best crab I've ever had), Battambang and Ban Lung I have a completely different perspective of the country. Cambodia is a child, literally filled with mostly young people because the older generation was murdered during the Khmer Rouge genocide. They are a people filled with kind hearts, almost a naive bliss, and complete genuineness. They are poor, they are happy, and live contently. But the government is also immature and trying to hard to grow up- they are taking offers from Russia and Korea to build huge suburban cities with casinos and pools over historical landmarks in the hopes of bringing in more money. I think there is a big disconnect between the people and the government, and they both need to grow together, which unfortunately is not happening. But both Brooke and I fell in love with the place. With smiles like that I can see why Angelina Jolie fell in love and if you don't believe me you could always adopt a Cambodian child, hint hint....
We bother pretty much maxed out our visa time in Cambodia, longer than I expected, so I had to extend my trip so I could see Vietnam, which is where I am now. Vietnam is very different. Old people, no shinning smiles, concrete houses instead of wood, and 5 billion more motorbikes. I actually kind of miss the almost annoying "hello! hello! tuk tuk miss?" every 2 minutes, as there are none here in Ho Chi Minh City. But I went to Cu Chi tunnels today- an area of land in which the Vietcong and guerilla fighters built a series of underground tunnels as a way to avoid American bombing and warfare. We started with a short film on the history. Holy nationalistic propaganda. Vietnam is apparently perfect in all they do and America sucks. But cest la vie I suppose. I am extremely amazed at how the Vietnamese were able to survive for so long in these tunnels though. After having a slight claustrophobia-and-sweat-filled-air induced anxiety attack (I thank the lord no one ate bean burritos for breakfast) I now have an appreciation for the lifestyle they were forced into in attempt to protect themselves and their country. But we shall see how I feel as an awkward American after visiting the war museum tomorrow.
Brooke and I have split for the last few days- we hope to meet tomorrow, but she bought a motorbike and plans on riding up the country whereas I will be public transporting it, so the blog will most likely be updated by yours truly if I can.
See you laaaayaaaaa.
Best pho ever.