Simon and Nora


Simon and Nora

We'll use this blog to make updates from our 2011/12 romps through China, Vietnam and Thailand.

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh January 13th 2012

We really love Cambodia. We really really do. We've only spent three days in Phnom Penh. We're catching a bus to Bangkok early tomorrow morning but would stay here in Cambodia if we had more time. The people here are so pleasant. Smiles are everywhere, the city feels very safe. The tuk-tuk drivers vie for your business of course but they're also happy to help you with directions and are generally friendly even when you're not forking over cash. We arrived early on Wednesday and after checking in and a delicious breakfast we took a tuk-tuk out to the Choeung Ek killing field, about 15 kilometers outside of Phnom Penh. If you're not familiar, Cambodia has 'killing fields' spread throughout the country. They are fields that the Khmer Rouge used in the 70's as execution areas ... read more
The killing tree.
Inside the memorial stupa.
Enjoying a nice ride with Mom.

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh January 11th 2012

It's been awhile since I've been able to get to a proper computer. I'm posting from Phnom Penh, Cambodia where we arrived this morning. Here is what happened between here and Hanoi. On our third and last day in Hanoi we did make it to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. It was Friday though and unbeknownst to us, closed. We caught a train that night headed for Danang. I have to take this moment to preface a recurring theme for us in Vietnam, which was that of rip off and scam artists. While we expect some inflation in tourist areas and such, many Vietnamese went over the top in trying to squeeze money out of us. Be it overcharging in restaurants, or taxi drivers obviously taking us for out of the way rides, it marred our ... read more
A real treat of a train ride.
This friendly lady served us a delicious lunch in Danang!
Nha Trang

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi January 6th 2012

We arrived in Hanoi via train from Nanning two days ago. It's been an exceptional couple of days! The train ride in was interesting. We lucked out off the bat by sharing our six berth hard sleeper compartment with Ondrej and Ning, a Czech chap and his Thai wife. It was nice to have some mates to share the trip with. We boarded in Nanning at 6:30pm. At around 10:30pm we stopped in Pingxiang where everybody including the crew had to disembark and go inside Chinese immigration. After scanning our luggage and holding onto our passports for about 25 minutes we were allowed back on the train. At about 1am we arrived in Dong Dang at the Vietnamese border. We repeated the same immigration charades and were back rolling within about thirty minutes. Apparently the train ... read more
Outside the Hanoi train station.
What a ham!
Rush hour at a busy Hanoi intersection.

Asia » China » Guangxi » Nanning January 3rd 2012

We're sitting at a hostel in Nanning, China. We arrived here at 9am and were able to purchase hard sleeper train tickets to Hanoi, Vietnam, departing today at 6:45pm. We made our way to a friendly hostel that has graciously allowed us to set up camp in their lobby and take advantage of the computers. I paid them back by purchasing a delicious bag of Lay's cheese and lobster flavored potato chips. Hong Kong and NYE were insane. Hong Kong is the Asian version of New York City but with more people and less space. After arriving we had a few hours to kill before my Dad and Nikki met us. We headed to the Vietnamese consulate to get our visas for the next leg of the trip. Finding the consulate was extremely difficult in the ... read more
Symphony of Lights.
Creative dance in the park.
NYE was a MASS of people.

Asia » Hong Kong » Kowloon January 2nd 2012

A lot has happened since the last entry. No computer access has kept us from updating. I'm at a free computer terminal at Hung Hom train station in Kowloon, Hong Kong right now so I'll make this quick. We took a uncomfortable bus ride from Yangshuo to Guangzhou and arrived at 5am in Guangzhou on the 29th. Spent the day exploring and being gawked at. Not many foreigners there. The parks we saw were nice but other than that Guangzhou is a huge, hard city. Took a train to Hong Kong on the 30th. Made our way to the Vietnamese consulate to get visas. HK IS CRAZY. Spent NYE in HK with my Dad and his gf and had a great time wandering, shopping, eating great food and absorbing life. Time to board our train back ... read more

Asia » China » Guangxi » Yangshuo December 28th 2011

We're finally packed and ready to leave Yangshuo. The area here has been extremely rewarding but, after six nights, we're definitely ready to leave. Yesterday we took a small bus (it was more like a minivan with 14 people inside) to the nearby village of Fuli. Driving through on the main road you'd think it was a typical Chinese small town... a few stores, a few mechanics and a gas station. We walked off the main road through a market where we saw typical wares being sold, vegetables, clothing and toys and all kinds of meat. Meat that is still alive and in cages to meat that is perfectly separated so you can pick which portion to purchase, and literally all the in between stages of those. From there we found our way down some cobblestone ... read more
A happy water buffalo.
Fresh noodles hung out to dry.

Asia » China » Guangxi » Yangshuo December 26th 2011

Today was a most excellent day and it was full of surprises. We took a bus out of Yangshuo about 25 minutes to the small town of Putao.  The bus ride was uneventful except for a man who boarded the bus with a grocery bag with dog legs sticking out of it.  He also smoked on the bus despite being asked not to by the driver.  This was our first confirmed encounter of dog eating.  In Putao we both hopped on the back of a motorcycle for a gorgeous winding ride to the tiny mountain village of Shitoucheng. Shitoucheng (besides having a hilarious name) is also known as Stone City. It's an ancient city with houses and pathways all built out of large flat stones. Idon't know much more about it than that. It was crazy that while most of the houses are abandoned and falling apart, some were also still in use.  We could even hear a tv on in one of them. Nora and I were both feeling somew... read more
Shitoucheng from mountain top.
Stone house.
A candid moment.

Asia » China » Guangxi » Yangshuo December 26th 2011

Last night we made our way towards some 'touristy' bars in the hopes of socializing with some Westerners. We met a fellow from the suburbs of Chicago who has been working in Shanghai for about a year and a half. He started out teaching English and is now working for a software development company. He was surprised we were able to find Yangshuo as he had never heard of it before being brought there 'by a Chinese'. We told him about some of our adventures and he said "thats why I don't go anywhere without a Chinese". After he left we spoke with the bartender/owner of the bar for quite awhile. He spoke good English and we talked politics. He was interested in American history and asked questions about how the Mayflower influenced the Consitution. He ... read more

Asia » China » Guangxi » Yangshuo December 25th 2011

There are a lot flavors to life in China that make it a unique experience. So often travellers only share their most epic stories. Here is a list of the little things that make China, China. Riding a bicycle along with 30 or more mopeds and there being zero noise since they're all electric. The friendly "hello" from Chinese people using their only English word on a Westerner. The fun game of charades that occurs while attempting to converse. The disgusting squatty toilets with water(?) all over the floor, a sink for hand washing and never any soap or hand towel. The weird tractors with the motor exposed loudly spewing black exhaust that you see everywhere. Hot water available on the trains to heat up your loose leaf tea (that you brought on board) or your ... read more
Maybe.  Did I?
Chrismas breakfast in Yangshuo.

Asia » China » Guangxi » Yangshuo December 24th 2011

The last two days have been amazing. Yesterday we took two bicycles that our hostel offered us for free. It's a good thing they were free because they're barely in riding condition. We headed out with the intention of riding about six miles from Yangshuo to the 600 year old Dragon Bridge which arches over the Yulong River. About a mile or two out of town our path crossed the river and we had to pay a man 20 yuan, about $3.25, to take us and our bicycles across the river on his bamboo raft. We rode down some windy paths and through more small unnamed Chinese villages. Even though it was fairly cold and cloudy, we could see the limestone peaks that the area is known for all around us. At one point along the ... read more
Long ride to Xingping on the Li River.
Li River during walk to Yangdi.

Tot: 0.184s; Tpl: 0.007s; cc: 10; qc: 85; dbt: 0.0879s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.2mb