Brenda Heerdt

BrendaH

Brenda Heerdt

Ray & Brenda are happily retired and enjoying world-wide travel. So far, recent travels have taken us to Morocco, Thailand, Tanzania, Rwanda, China, Tibet, Peru, Ecuador, India & Bhutan andTurkey. Our next trip is to Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam Feb. 6 - March 4, 2015.



Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » Cu Chi March 3rd 2015

Saigon has been renamed Ho Chi Minh City but the locals still call it Saigon. It is a typical large city in a developing nation where you see some newer skyscrapers next to run-down tenement type housing. Scooters rule here -- perhaps the entire adult population owns one (at least adults under 50 years old). Traffic regulations are only suggestions -- scooters zip in and out, run stop lights and drive on the wrong side of the street. Once again, we took various sorts of transportation and we are still alive to tell about it. FUN!!!! We leave for the airport in a few hours for our long trip home, this is a rehash of the past 3 days. 100 years of French rule left it's mark on the architecture of this city of 8M. Notre ... read more
Saigon
 Mai HomeCulinary Cooking School
Saigon traffic.

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap February 26th 2015

My older sister is showing us up this afternoon as Ray & I decided to take a break from activities. Most of our group has gone back to the Angkor park area for a visit to Ta Prohm, an untouched temple with vegetation growing throughout. This a.m. we walked around the massive Angkor Wat (City Temple) which is the largest religious site in the world. Imagine it's size by picturing the surrounding moat that is 570 feet wide. Since I haven't written for 3 days I will quickly catch up. On Feb. 26 another plane trip took us to Siem Riep, Cambodia. There are 11 flights for this trip, including the Burma pre-trip. This does not include the 3 flights each way, from U.S. I guess flights are better than day-long bus rides on bumpy, dusty ... read more
Released 3 birds
Floating Village
typical home in floating village

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh February 25th 2015

Yesterday, we flew to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The Royal Palace is quite impressive, with it's many buildings on several acres and interlaced with lush gardens. The King in residence is a ballet dancer, single at age 62 and lives with his mother. He inherited the throne when his brother turned the position down stating that he would rather live in the private sector. King Sri Hanu passed away in 2012 and his ashes were placed in one of two giant stupas on the grounds. This morning we started the day with a private meeting with Chum Mey, one of only two survivors from S21, the prison camp where more than 12,000 were tortured in the Cambodian Genocide during the 70's. Only 7 adults and 4 children survived this camp. His skills as a ... read more
Royal Palace gardens
Stupa
A ride on a Romok in downtown Phanom Penh.

Asia » Laos » West » Vientiane February 23rd 2015

Hi All--Diane here. This itty bitty computer is new to me, but will try. This is day 9 of our 19 day trip--almost 1/2 way. It is our 4th day in Laos, a rural, very laid back, happy country. Everyone greets us with a smile, a small bow and palms together in front of their chins. We are learning much about Buddhism, all very positive. 30% of Laotians are Animists, however, a quite superstitious faith whereby they believe that both animate and inanimate objects have a spirit. For instance, one will see flowers tied to the front hood of a car to please the spirit of the car so it won't have an accident. All homes have 4 ft high "spirit houses" out front which pleases the spirit of the house and the land it sits ... read more
Our Monk
PhraThat Luang
Great Sacred Stupa

Asia » Laos » West » Vientiane February 21st 2015

Interesting stories are heard from guides about life in their country. Following is one about Laotian women giving birth. 2-3 days prior to a birth the woman goes to the hospital. However, if in a rural area a mid-wife is brought in. The husband is relegated to outside the house and his job is to make a tea that is concocted from herbal plants found in the wild forests. During birth the mother's hands are tied with rope to an overhead beam and she squats low while the mid-wife calls out encouragement. After birth the mother and child do not leave the home for a month but family and friends come to visit daily. It becomes a social time. and the mothers mother stays to help take care of the birth mother and baby, as well ... read more
Luang Pra Bang Royal Museum
Water buffalo
View from hotel room balcony

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang February 21st 2015

We gave alms (sticky rice) to the monks this morning beginning in the dark around 5:45a.m. and then shopped in the local market as we each searched for unfamiliar food & spices for today's lunch. The rest of the day was a traditional experience with OAT where you spend "a day in the life"........we were in Tin Keo Village visiting the elementary school. In addition, village residents welcomed us into their homes and we had a village tour along with extended conversations with the Lao Chief and the Hmong Tribe Shaman. Most of us purchased crafts from the community co-op that has been set up to help the women learn a trade and to sell their artwork to earn extra money for their family. There are two groups of people who live in this village of ... read more
Monk walk.
Diane giving alms.
Morning market

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang February 20th 2015

We are now in Luang Prabang, Laos which was the royal capital of Laos in ancient days. The entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which helps to preserve the history and feel of this quaint village. It is located on a peninsula between the Mekong & Khan rivers and is surrounded by mountain ranges. Flying in was beautiful and everywhere you look, equally lovely. It is cooler here with a wide range of temperature each day from 50's at night to 90's during the day. To preserve the heritage, no buses are allowed in the city so we take tuk-tuk rides everywhere where 6 people crawl into the back of a small truck bed, sit on side benches and is powered by a motor-cycle. Our first day lunch overlooked the river and was so ... read more
Novices on way to monastery from school.
Learning
Tree of Life at Wat Xieng Thong royal temple.

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Ayutthaya February 18th 2015

To see all pictures be sure to scroll all the way down -- there are 10 pictures in this posting. Today's visit was to Damnoen Saduak floating market in Ratchaburi via a boat ride (think Venice minus the romance or glamour) through the market area. After several traffic jams (boat jams) we disembarked and shopped till we dropped (sort of). Vendors everywhere, snakes to hold and much activity. This is where the locals purchase fresh fruits, vegetables and fish for the day as well as articles of clothing and souvenirs for tourists. Another bus trip included discovery stops to learn about salt production and later, to the collection and production of palm sugar, coconut milk and other palm tree related products. A home visit was included where we were able to explore a family's living quarters. ... read more
Snake
Vendor
Coconut milk and coconut meat.

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok February 17th 2015

Visited Ayutthaya today -- an ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage Site that was home to 33 kings from various dynasties. It was the capital of Siam from 1353 - 1767. The Wat Yai Chai Mongkol (temple) was spectacular where there are Buddha statues everywhere. It is peaceful as the site is nestled among greenery, in a park-like setting. If I lived here it is where I would enjoy coming to meditate and simply hang out in the serene setting. We also visited the ruins at Wat Phra Sri Sanphet which is a temple complex that was burned down by the Burmese back in 1767. The left-over remains consist of bricks that outline what used to be there. War is so devastating and senseless!! After lunch we boarded a boat for an afternoon cruise where we ... read more
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol
Wat Phra Sri Sanphet
Thai home

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok February 16th 2015

Diane arrived today at 3:30 a.m., then was up by 7:30 for breakfast and a full day of sight-seeing. She shows no sign of fatigue --- amazing! Today was spent at The Grand Palace in Bangkok. There were 4 Kings who took up residence beginning in 1782 and is where Rama 4 lived (think The King And I). One high-light within massive palace grounds is the 26" Emerald Buddha which is actually carved from Jade. There are numerous government, ceremonial and residential buildings within the grounds and all are gilded with jewels and gold leaf. Truly amazing. This evening was spent on a traditional wooden rice barge where we enjoyed a traditional Thai dinner as we cruised Bangkok's beautiful river. We passed some of the world's fanciest hotels as well as The Grand Palace, Temple of ... read more
The Grand Palace
Emerald Buddha
Chinese New Year traffic




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