Page 16 of Laura421 Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Cambodia January 16th 2012

Geo: 11.6724, 105.425 Several volunteers arrived at Wat Opot Children's Community on Sunday, two days after I got here. One of the women had been here before, so when talk began of several of us wanting to climb the only mountain visible from the volunteer dormitory, she, having climbed it before, jumped right in and said we could do it the next morning, on Monday. We would leave at 4:45AM to be at the top by sunrise. Seven of us wanted to go, so we set our alarm clocks and went to bed earlier than usual Sunday night. Waking at 4:30AM had actually become the norm here, as that is the usual time the Cambodian wedding music begins (their celebrations last for days), but most mornings we don't get out of bed then, just try to ... read more

Asia » Cambodia January 13th 2012

Geo: 11.6724, 105.425 Because I miss working with young children, on Friday, January 13, 2012 two friends and I traveled to an orphanage about one and one-half hours from Phnom Penh by tuk-tuk. I plan to volunteer here for one month. This decision was not reached at all lightly. My daughter, Laila, and I had spent ten wonderful days traveling in southeast Asia, exploring Bangkok, VietNam, and Cambodia, and since I was already in Cambodia, I thought it would be good to do something useful, to find a way to help others since I wasn't teaching in Thailand. My friend, Gail, has volunteered at Wat Opot for several years, and has frequently talked about the orphanage, so I seriously considered volunteering here myself, and signed on. Roads in Cambodia are very dusty, especially when riding in ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 10th 2012

Geo: 13.4691, 104.041 One of the reasons Laila and I wanted to go to Cambodia was to visit Angkor Wat. We traveled to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh by the Sorya Bus Company, something I would not recommend to anybody. (Take the Mekong Bus Co. instead.) The supposed 6 hour trip ended up taking almost 8 hours as the bus kept stopping to pick up people or to let them off, or, in one memorable incident, to let the passengers out into a field to relieve themselves. The men went first, of course, and then the Khmer women followed, hiding behind bushes as best as they could. Not one of the western women tried this; we all waited until the bus stopped at a horrible place that only had "athletic" toilets, basically, holes in the ground, ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh January 8th 2012

Geo: 11.5588, 104.917 One of the reasons my daughter, Laila, and I wanted to go to Cambodia was to see the killing fields. History has always been one of her main interests, but I also wanted to go. There are several in Cambodia, but we decided on visiting the fields in Phnom Penh. We hired a tuk-tuk driver for the day; he would wait for us and then take us to the next place we wanted to visit. Some of the roads in Phnom Penh are beautiful and clean, but the roads our tuk-tuk drove on to reach the Killing Fields were dusty and dirty; the dirt flew up from the road and stung our faces, our eyes. These fields are not far out of the main part of the city; it did not take us ... read more

Asia » Vietnam January 6th 2012

Geo: 10.75, 106.667 After our second day in Ho Chi Minh City in VietNam, I really wanted to do something different, since we had pretty much explored the city as much as we wanted by then. And I really wanted to see the Mekong River Delta. As we walked along the main streets and through the alleyways and rabbit warrens (no rabbits, but plenty of warrens) we saw travel agencies everywhere; they offered bus rides to other cities in VietNam or to Cambodia or Thailand, but they also advertised boat tours on the Mekong River. The boat tours were all pretty much the same, varying in price from $8-$10pp for a whole day's tour! We could not pass this up, and signed up for Sunrise Travel VietNam's "One Day Mekong Delta" tour for only $8 each. ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City January 5th 2012

Geo: 10.7592, 106.662 Laila and I flew into Hi Chi Minh City in VietNam from Bangkok, Thailand. On this trip we were only going to have a couple days to explore Saigon before we traveled into Cambodia. But we typically cram a lot of activities into each day, and the pace of this trip had not hit us yet, so we entered VietNam feeling optimistic about our short stay. Unfortunately, immigration took an unpleasant two hours, and, understanding that we did not yet understand their money, the taxi driver stole the equivalent of $40 right out of Laila's hands, even though the ride to our guesthouse should have been about $8. In Ho Chi Minh City there are more scooters (or motos) than I have ever seen in my life; hundreds of them, seemingly thousands of ... read more

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok January 3rd 2012

Geo: 13.7308, 100.521 My daughter, Laila, and I took a few days to explore Bangkok when she came to meet me in Thailand, on her month-long break for Chinese New Year. This Tuesday morning we had planned on going into the center of Bangkok, to see several Buddhas, wats, the Giant Swing, and the Green Mountain. We took a tuk-tuk, as Laila really loves riding in them, plus they are the easiest way to get around anywhere in the city. We visited a wat in the morning, had the most delicious vegan Pad Thai for lunch, and then stopped to look at a map to see how to get to the Green Mountain, one of the places in Bangkok I most wanted to see. As we were trying to decipher the map, a man came over ... read more

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Pathum Thani December 25th 2011

Geo: 14.0167, 100.533 It is Christmas Day. I love Christmas! I love Christmas Eve best of all, since anticipation is usually even more exciting than the actual event, whatever that event is. I am not Christian, but I do believe that Jesus was one of the great spiritual leaders born into this world, and I believe in something over and above us, some energy, some something, and hope that there will be a great meeting of souls after this life; agnostic would probably be the best way to define my beliefs. But I do love Christmas, for so many reasons: for the story of the baby Jesus, for all the excitement of preparation and gift giving, for the lights and decorations, for the wonderful smell of live Christmas trees, for the early darkness of the days ... read more

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Pathum Thani December 22nd 2011

Geo: 14.0167, 100.533 Let's go back to the market. I go there at least twice each day, once in the morning to buy my fresh young green coconut, and maybe bananas, oranges, mangoes, and then again in the late afternoon to buy dinner, usually a mixed salad. The market is very colorful; all colors of umbrellas bash against each other, protecting each vendor from the hot sun. The umbrellas are old, faded, ripped in places, and their hanging threads brush my hair as I walk by; many Thais are very short by US standards, but I have to duck and dodge umbrellas constantly. The umbrellas survived the floods here too, and still have enough good use to them, so, dirty, and torn, every day they are put up, and every evening they are taken down to ... read more

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Pathum Thani December 21st 2011

Geo: 14.0167, 100.533 I should have started this blog over a month ago; that's how long I've been in Thailand now, since November 12, 2011. But I didn't know how to start a blog, so I asked one of my daughters (the one who writes her blog from Shenzhen, China) and she said to use TravelPod: "It's free and it's easy!" We will see. Later on we can go back and fill in the gaps in this story, but I want to write about the markets in Thailand right now. When I arrived in Pathum Thani, on November 30, I had expected to be teaching at a secondary school here, but that didn't work out for many reasons. (Another story, but later.) I would not have ever picked Pathum Thani as a place to visit, much ... read more

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