Siem Reap, I'll Miss You


Sunset on West Mebon
Originally uploaded by inqurious
Erin and I left Siem Reap, the city by the temples of Angkor, this very morning. Goodbye to what was probably our favorite spot on the trip so far, even though we both got sick during our week there.

For our last evening we went up to Phnom Bakeng (Mount Bakeng), atop which sits a moderately-size temple by Angkor's standards. It was about 30 meters high. With the hundred or so other tourists up on the top we watched the sun go through the most spectacular light show I have ever seen.

I took 36 photos of the sky, and each one beautiful. Unfortunately we are in Battambang now, which is not much of a tourist spot despite being the second-largest city in Cambodia. Consequently the internet connection doesn't appear to be the best so i can only share a couple of photos at a time.

Tomorrow we go for a cooking class and a tour 'round the nearby countryside on motorbikes, and then on to Phnom Penh for a little bit before heading to the Cambodian coast.

On Something

In what I think is clearly an episode of me showing my solidarity with Erin in her trying times with an illness, I was chivalrous enough to contract the disease myself. Now, I didn't want to steal the limelight, of course, so I gave her a 3 day head start before coming down with the symptoms.

Imitating her precise method for dealing with the illness I have spent most of the day in our room reading and resting. Inventing my own method would be rather uppity, don't you think? Much as she let me go off and do boy things like ride a bycicle 30k while she was sick, I let her go off and do girl things like shopping.

In keeping with how our respective illness brought out the gender roles in us, while home I managed to find something interesting on television. The World Team Video Gaming Championships. For an hour I saw some of the most heavily produced competitive sports television of our times. Video games get a lot of rap for not being a true sport, but surely this display of colorful excitement will change that once and for all. Some hilights that surely drew the viewer in to the action:
  • Each player was referred to as their gaming nickname. It wasn't John versus Brad, but KRUSHER versus MAGNETIK!
  • Each event was started by a scantily clad bimbo waving a green flag!
  • Periodically we would glimpse a picture-in-picture view of the competitor's facial expression and see the exquisite level at which these athletes hide any and all emotion from their opponents. Their faces were sheer drywall!
  • The gaming arenas were fully decked out in flashing lights and colors the likes of which TV games shows have never approached out of a limited sense of decency!

It was, clearly, an event for the ages.

Yes, I'm feeling quite medicated right now.

Sentries


Faces at Bayon
Originally uploaded by inqurious
On the aforementioned solo cycle tour of Angkor I did something that Erin and I didn't do the first time. At the Bayon temple, I took the main (East) enterance.

From a distance The Bayon looks like a weathered, rubble-strewn hilltop. But as you approach and your line of sight to the top is steeper some heads seem to pop over the horizon. It gives you the eery feeling that timeless spirit=guards have awoken and will watch over you as you enter their temple.

It sent chills up my spine. That or my back was dripping in sweat... both are probably true.

Dirty Old Men

There are generally 4 kinds of travelers here.
1) Young adult backpackers
2) Middle-aged families
3) Asian tour groups
4) Dirty old men.

Not surprisingly it's the Dirty Old Men (DOM) that are far and away the sketchiest. They dress like dirty rednecks (old, faded tank tops and t-shirts advertising beer). They drink like nothing else.

We sat next to one at dinner last night. He was very drunk and wouldn't stop talking ('swearing' is more like it) at us. After he established that we were from America he promptly said the following:

America is shit. Your president is shit. Mark my word. America will be 3rd-world country soon. They are shit.


Our current president I could maybe agree with, but a third-world country? Read a newspaper. I couldn't help but notice a myopic French accent.

A few minutes of silence and then he says:
Hey, sorry about what I said earlier, but I do whatever the fuck I want and say whatever the fuck I want.
Under my breath I muttered "I noticed".

This was after I helped him email a song to someone. He was pretty ignorant of the basic idea of "email attachments". Here's the kicker: Erin thinks that was the guy who she saw earlier complain about how a young boy owed him his $50 back and how he wasn't afraid of the police or anybody else.

Dirty Old Men suck.

Bike Ride


Bike Ride
Originally uploaded by inqurious
I took the free bicycle rental from our guesthouse for a spin yesterday. It was fantastic!

Erin was quite sick from a head cold and decided to stay in and rest. It's probably best, since I was shooting along for about 5 hours and 30 kilometers. It's very freeing to go along and be able to adventure down any road or path you see. It's even better when nearly all of them take you by rivers, jungle, and/or fascinating temples.

What was also nice is that if I kept going at a good pace on the bike I never felt too hot. The breeze made it seem civil when the real tempurature was pushing 100 and as humid as a, well, jungle. Oh god did I ever start sweating when I pulled over to check out a temple or take a picture. It would take all of 45 seconds for sweat to drip all the way down my forearms and off my pinky.

Lovely stuff.

Tuk Tuk Cambodia


Tuk Tuk Cambodia
Originally uploaded by Jotachispas
For those who haven't seen one before, a Tuk-Tuk is a little carriage with a roof attached to the back of a motorbike. They can be convenient and cheaper than a taxi but terrible for long distances.

Today we rode one for about 65km. We breathed in so much dust and exhaust from the dirt road and dirty vehicles that Erin and I both felt a little queasy. Our destinations, an exquisitely carved temple and holy waterfall, were beautiful. But I don't know if they were really worth the hours spent on the tuk-tuk.

That being said, there were some fabulous moments. I liked sitting under a waterfall getting respite from the intense heat.

Angkor


Old Faces, New Faces
Originally uploaded by inqurious
Erin and I went to several of the temples of Angkor today; our first of seven days since tickets came in 1, 3, or 7 day varieties. We've been really enjoying Cambodia and have since decided to stretch out our stay here. It doesn't hurt that the 7-day ticket is $8.50 per day and the 1-day is $20.

I haven't seen such a wonderful place before. It reminds me a little of the Mayan temples of the Yucatan, but the sculpture is something completely else. All the beguiling carved faces seem to be holding a happy secret. They are content to let you wonder their temple grounds, but they will withold the secrets of the divine from us mere mortals. And they are always watching you; from the doorway, the wall, or ceiling.

The part that really bowls you over is that we are seeing only some of the immenseness that was here before. There is rubble everywhere. For every square foot taken up by temples there is at least another square foot of stone rubble that used to be a temple, causeway, or wall. And hordes of this stuff has been pulled off in to museums and the black-market.

And it's still mythologically stunning.

We've saved the big temple, Angkor Wat, for another day and spent the first day doing some of the other major sights. Each temple, tucked away in the rumbling Cambodian jungle has it's own uniqueness.

One is full of 54 giant stone faces, all with an otherwordly expression.

Another is lined in Elephants.

An immense, mountain-shaped temple was dissasembled for study but the documents were lost thanks to the Khmer Rouge, leaving the 75ish% complete mother-of-all-jiggsaw-puzzles.

One of the largest is almost completely unadorned with sculpture after it was struck by lightning during construction. It was abandoned by the king for this bad omen. Or perhaps the king died during construction. Nobody knows. It was too steep for Erin to climb (mostly she was starting to fade after 6 hours in the heat). She missed a historical account of the temple by a local who would tell you stories for 10 minutes for a couple dollars.

It's also worth noting that every single temple has a line of huts with people selling things for "wan dallah!". These are mostly the direct descents of Angkor since the villages around have always been inhabited since the fall of the Empire. They, if anyone, should benefit from the tourism I guess.

The kings of Angkor probably enslaved hundreds of thousands of poor Cambodians to build these wonders. Such exploitation is a shame, but such wonders are a gift.

This internet cafe isn't so great on the whole speed thing -- I'll upload more photos at the other one across town some other time. Perhaps after dinner.

Speaking of dinner, it's off to Bar Street to try out the "Tomb Raider" coctail after seeing the temple where they filmed a few scenes of that movie!

Cambodian Rythm


Royal Palace Gate
Originally uploaded by inqurious
I'm very fond of the time I had in Vietnam, but it in all senses it was less vibrant than I expected travel in developing nations to be. Cambodia suffers from many things, but not a lack of vibrancy. Although I get pangs of longing for the first world along tedious, 6-hour bus rides, I feel I've found my traveler's legs. This is good, since I'll need them for the days I'll spend pounding around Angkor.

Phnom Penh suffers from multiple personality disorder. A lot of it is a dirty, dusty city with lots of poverty. Other parts are pocked with high-rises of the super elite (there's no in-between) that ride around in fancy cars and their children have bodyguards. There are also fantastic buildings built in a royal style not unlike Thailand's royal palace. And of course there are the numerous backpacker hotels, guest houses, and bars.

We spent the first afternoon venturing around the center of Phnom Penh along the Mekong River around the parks and royal palaces, ending up at a fantastic not-for-profit restaurant that employs street children and give them a trade in the exploding tourist industry. Far and away some of the best food I've eaten this trip, for a good cause, and about $3-4 per tapas dish.

The next day saw us visit the National Museum, full of all the Khmer sculpture I mentioned before, followed by the Royal Palace. Cambodia's monarchs still exist, so we were only able to see about half of the complex as the rest is inhabited by the king and queen.

We spent the rest of the evening barhopping along the riverfront having a fabulous time, and in the morning we left for Siem Reap, where the temples of Angkor reside. As I write this we've already arrived and caught dinner. We got here around 3:30pm and got stranded in our guest house for an afternoon thunderstorm. It wasn't so bad, considering that we're staying in a colonial-style building with lovely marble verandas.

Phnom Penh

Our guidebook is probably out of date. It was picked up off the street in Saigon, so that's probably quite likely. It said there were no ATM's in Phnom Penh, but there are a handful around. It said the price of a bus ticket to Siem Reap (the closest town to Angkor) was $4, but we found them to be $9. I've loosened up on the cost of things. It's a lot easier to not haggle for a dollar or two here and there. I'm not a poor student anymore.

I've found Phnom Penh to be good and bad. There are sections that are full of grand Khmer architecture and greenery. But these are the museums and royal palace, most people live in the rest of the city, which I'm guessing is nothing special and quite dirty. I suppose that once you factor in that the Khmer Rouge was here 40 years ago, it's not so bad. Outside the capital, however, there's nothing but shacks and the occasional dirty town with trash in the streets.

And yet, I like this more than Vietnam. There's more color and culture to it, and the section of the city we're staying in is full of good stuff and great food.

The sculpture in the National Museum was fascinating. Styles of Buddhist art that I had never seen before -- my Buddhist art class certainly never hinted at some of the things I've seen here.


We travel to Siem Reap tomorrow for temples upon temples.

In to the Heart of Darkness


The Lonely Road
Originally uploaded by Storm Crypt
Erin and I will most likely leave for Cambodia tomorrow. We will likely be quite remote for the next few weeks -- the guidebooks mention that some of the places require an oxcart to get to.

Should be fun!

Ho Chi Minh Saigon


Ho Chi Minh Statue
Originally uploaded by inqurious
It's been quite a whirlwind few days, really. Erin and I took a car from sleepy, historical Hoi An north 40 minutes to Da Nang airport where we caught a plane to whirlwind Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon); a rising Asian pearl of commerce if ever there was one.

On our first evening here we walked about 15 blocks from our hotel to a high-rise building along lovely, wide boulevards filled with parks and trees. Now, there certainly were dense streets and alleys going off the boulevards, but this was a far cry from the supreme overcrowding of Hanoi's old quarter. Our destination was the Diamond Complex: complete with a department store, movie theater, and a pulsating games club (not to mention the offices of such companies as Exxon Mobil). Keep in mind that "department store" in Asia implies a 4+ floor behemoth carrying designer clothes, clinique/chanel/etc. beauty products, housewares, and a supermarket -- the whole of an American mall.

It was Saturday night, and only downtown Tokyo could be more trendy than what Erin and I saw on display at the club packed with pulsating music, bowling alleys, video arcades, pool tables, and bars. These were the sons and daughters of Vietnamese businessmen that had Made it Big here in Saigon, and they were out for a night on the town. Erin and I just wanted to soak it all in and catch a movie at the theater up on the 13th floor. Iron Man turned out to be quite entertaining. The AC and fluent English for a few hours in a hot and muggy foreign country never hurts either.

We spent today doing some sight-seeing. The Ho Chi Minh City museum, which details the Great Victorious People's Liberation Army's various victories over the Evil Aggressor's Colonial Puppet Regime's atrocities in Ho Chi Minh City. We then went to the War Crimes museum, which detailed with brutal imagery the Evil Aggressor's Colonial Puppet Regime's atrocities against the Great Vietnamese People.

Yes, America was superbly wrong in gross acts of war crimes during the Vietnam War. Hell, we most certainly shouldn't have even been here. I also think that the War Crimes museum does a good job of showing what war really is: Hell. But the museums here make supremely clear that in war it is the French and the Americans who commit atrocities, never the Vietnamese. History is written by the victors.

That being said, I love Saigon.

You Can't Go Home Again


Lookout
Originally uploaded by inqurious
A moment in your past of hearth and home defined by the people and the place as they were but no longer are. A memory tinted slightly rose in the rear view mirror.

Erin and I have been talking a bit about home recently -- Washington for her and bits of New Hampshire for me. It has struck me that the next time I'm in New Hampshire it will probably be for Christmas, if my nuclear family doesn't just meet in the middle in Ohio again.

I'm sure that I will love hiking and adventuring out in the Sierras, hopefully with my Dad every now and then, but it will have a sense of adventuring only. In California I don't know if I'll ever feel like I'm out in the wilds of my home, which an old rickety Inn and a warm hearth and hearty fiddleheads with mashed potatoes at the end of my trail.

I've always said I never really felt like I had any real roots anywhere, and that still holds some truth -- I still don't fit in completely with New Hampshire. But all this talk of going far, far away is bringing out something quite real: Dad and Mom have made it their home while putting down roots, and while raising me there dug out something I could call home. The smell of a hockey locker room; the crisp crunch of snow at a New Deal ski area; the rugged, ancient giants of the Presidentials; The creak of wood in a centuries-old inn; The lost granite rock wall in the woods;

A wooded, wild, very New England solace that I won't see again for a long time. Until then, New Hampshire, please don't change too much.

Happy Travels


Hoi An Lanterns
Originally uploaded by inqurious
Now that I've gotten some bad juju out of my system with the previous post, how about some good stuff, eh?

Hoi An has redeemed Vietnam for Erin and I. The quiet little city near the sea has quite a lot of charm. There are silk tailors with dresses and suits out on display next to beautiful lantern shops and art boutiques. The charm doesn't appear to have been hit by either the Vietnam war or modernization. The buildings and pretty streets feel older. The fact that they're tiny and not allowing anything bigger than scooters helps.

There are some nice restaurants, too. Erin and I had some really nice Italian food tonight, but that's not the pearl of Hoi An. There's a restaurant here called Mango Rooms that's absolutely fantastic. It's really expensive by local standards, but that only means $30 for a 3 course meal and drinks for two people. The horror! Our guidebook says Mic Jagger has even stopped by. I wouldn't have blamed him. Plus I found a street-food staple that I really, really like: Cau Lau. It's a bowl of noodles with grilled pork, lettuce, and mint on top in a flavored soy-based sauce. Too bad it's only a Hoi An thing.

Tomorrow Erin and I head off for the My Son ruins and then fly to Saigon the day after. Hopefully We'll find more foodstuffs worth blogging about there.

I am not an ATM


Weaving a Reed Mat
Originally uploaded by inqurious
No, I do not want to take a motobike taxi. Yes I heard you the first 6 times. Please stop shouting across the street at me. I do not want to ride your motobike.

I am not an ATM. I can't go more than 5-10 minutes without being asked by some lazy man with a scooter if I want to be ripped off to be driven about 1 kilometer. This is probably the most pervasive and frequent of the many myriad ways that make me feel like far too many Vietnamese are only out to rip me off.

In Hanoi, there were lazy men pushing motobike rides every few hundred feet.

In Sa Pa the English was limited to "Hello" and "You buy from me?"

In Hue we were litterally accosted by 5-6 teenage boys pushing their hotel. Erin and I spent 10 minutes getting rid of them at the train station. We then went to the backpacker's hotel district and found the same damn group of teegagers. They said "Remember me from station? Try my hotel! Try my hotel!". Erin and I gave up trying to get them to leave us the f*** alone after another 10 minutes and refused to look at any of their hotels. We found a very nice one for $10 a few blocks away without being accosted once. I can't possibly fathom how those pests are good for business.

In Hoi An, which is known for it's silk tailoring, I was initially dissappointed because all the shops displayed just suits for men, but various different styles of asian dresses and tops for women. I didn't want a suit -- I already got a really, really nice one on this trip. I finally found the one store that had some asian-style tops for men (practically the only one), and they wouldn't budge below $60 for 3 shirts (one silk, two cotton). In contrast, Erin picked up 2 knee-length silk dresses for $32. I paid it, though, since a nice tailored shirt for $20 is still cheap for America, but I was still being ripped off.

Erin and I spent today going on a 10-hour bycicle tour of the river-delta islands and tiny, rural vietnamese towns led by an expat Yorkshireman. He knew quite a few of the locals (he's even married in to one of the families) and we stopped at a few of the houses and shared things with some of the families. At one of the villages that makes reed mats we stopped by a house that was busy making one of the colorful things. Our guide, Steve, said that he slipped them around 5,000 Vietnamese Dong (about $0.34) each time to make it easy for them, but they were all obviously having a wonderful time.

As we got up to leave, the man of the house ran over to me, stuck his hand in my face, and said "money? money? money? money?". Soured the whole damn experience for me.

These people would get oodles of more business from me if they'd treat me with respect instead of a stupid foreigner and let me decide what I'm interested in instead of forcing it in my face.

Halong Bay


Weeeeeeeee!
Originally uploaded by inqurious
Again, ups and downs. This time the ups were higher and the downs weren't quite as low. First the bad news (downs).

On this 3 day trip we traveled with 3 Finnish women, to our detriment. They seemed rather snobby about everything -- nothing was quite good enough. It's hard to not have that rub off on you. Maybe it's just bad luck that most Finnish women that I've ever met seemed snobby; it certainly isn't large enough to be a representative sample.

At every meal they would sit there and speak Finnish to each other, despite speaking english quite well. I'm not an egotistical American that thinks the whole world should speak english, but what these women were doing was effectively making it impossible for Erin and I to speak at all during meals.

We couldn't speak over them since they'd just understand what we were saying. But they'd invariably just start chatting up constantly and Erin and I would just sit there akwardly, eating silently. At our last meal together we just talked about Erin's sisters and computer science: something they couldn't contribute to. Meh.

And now, the ups!

Halong Bay is gorgeous. Countless little cliff-islands covered in lush jungle (when not too steep!) with birds soaring overhead and chinese junks floating along underneath. The first day saw gorgeous, sunny weather. We sat out on the deck, soaked in the breeze, and read books. Fantastic!

In the early afternoon, (after a curious 5-course meal) we went to this gigantic cave. The lighting inside was multicolored and surreal, and a few of the natural cave formations looked awfully like carvings (a turtle, dragon, face, and phallus).

After the cave we boated around a little more and then came to a stop at the place we would anchor for the night. And I went swimming! It was fantastic, especially since the water was perfect, the sun was creeping near the horizon, and we could jump off the top decks of the boat. There were a few times, floating on my back in the water, that I felt I must have found a little slice of heaven (proverbial, of course).

Northen Vietnam is China Light?

We've been on the ground for a week now and I'm just getting a sense of the place. Invariably this leads to comparisons between Northen Vietnam and my past travel experiences. Specifically: How is Northen Vietnam compared to China?

I have to be honest and say that right now it feels a lot like China did, but without as much of the things in China that I liked. The population spills out on the streets with trinket shops and people. The architecture is pocketed with Stalinist influences. The people look almost the same. But there aren't as many interesting historical buildings
(bombed out by invading forces -- Thanks America, China, and France).

The local food is definitely different, but besides the Pho the local food isn't anything really new. It tastes an awful lot like Chinese food but the quality of restaurants lie only at the extreme: Clearly unsanitary blocks of meat out on the street or substantially more expensive full-blown restaurants. The "full-blown" restaurants are still cheap, though!

An aside: Interestingly we've actually had some really good Indian and Italian food while here.

And while we're comparing to real Chinese food, lets not forget the lack of jiaozi or lao mian. I got addicted to those in Beijing. I have yet to find anything that I really love in Vietnamese food. I do hope I'll find something.

All that being said, we still have 3 weeks in Vietnam to try out the local fare. There are bound to be aspects of Vietnamese society that I'll learn to love. I can't wait to find them.


And in case any of you are worrying that I'm having a bad time: We leave tomorrow morning for 3 days on a boat in Ha Long Bay. It's not so bad here :-)

Photos and Internet Cafes

For various technical reasons* I won't be able to upload all my photos as I go. I'll just be limited to a few here and there. Hopefully in the meantime I can figure out how to keep my photos from being a little too dark before post-processing in photoshop. Surely there is a method with more finesse than just turning up the exposure? Even the photos taken at midday come out a little dark on a computer monitor, even though they look great on the camera's own LCD screen.



* Some of the internet cafe machines don't have USB ports, when they do have USB ports sometimes they don't work, and the upload speed is atrocious.

Sapa


Sunrise from Sapa Hotel Room
Originally uploaded by Wiggum03
Erin and I spent the past 3 days in Sa Pa, northern Vietnam: A land at 4,000 - 10,000 feet full of steep mountains, rushing rivers, and terraced rice patties. The landscape was gorgeous... when we could see it. The first two days were full of drizzling rain and near-complete cloud cover. It was still beautiful and interesting even when it rained, however. The things that struck me while in Sapa are quite varied.

The mud. Everywhere. It made hiking on steep mountain paths quite an adventure. Never mind that the locals were having no problem whatsoever in smooth plastic sandals.

All the men were really, really lazy. Maybe they worked really hard in the harvest season, but we mostly saw them sitting around doing nothing but offering motobike taxis while the women ran the shops, lead the tours, cared for the animals, and hawked homespun bags and bracelets.

This seems consistent with how people in Hanoi behave, however. It may just be a Vietnamese thing. According to Erin it was like this in India too -- maybe it's a 2nd/3rd world thing.

Nearly all the local tribes knew the following English phrases: "Hello", "What your name?", "Where you from?", and finally "You buy from me?". Other than this last phrase, uttered often, the locals were absolutely lovely.

On a 5 hour trek, the tour group of maybe 4 westerners would be joined by about 2 local tribeswomen in traditional dress for the entire hike. They would help you not slip, chat a little, giggle at you when you fell, and were all-in-all quite jovial.

But were they just being friendly to make a sale? After two held Erin's hands for an entire 4 hours through the roughest footing she put it well: "I don't care if I'm overpaying for stuff. These two little girls just spent 4 hours keeping me from falling on my ass. I am totally buying something from them".

Many farm animals abounded: Hogs, roosters, chickens, water buffalo, ducks, etc.
90% of the tiniest ramshackle huts had television and some motorbikes. With all the tourists that run through there it's not so much a surprise, really.

We spent one night in a "homestay" at one of the villages. One of the huts advertised Karaoke. Karaoke in what was supposed to be a "remote, authentic H'mong village".

So it was fantastically beautiful and the locals were extremely kind and covered in beautiful traditional dress. But I couldn't help but feel that, in a tiny way, we were being had.

That being said, the hiker and nature-lover in me absolutely loved it. Worth going for sure.

Dirtier but Better

I'm not sure what I'll say once I go back to Bangkok to spend more time there, but at least right now I like Hanoi better.

It's like a corn kernel, stuck in my teeth. I can't quite wrap my head around the city yet but I like it. In the old city where we're staying you see a city that is covered in crowded shops and stalls mixed in with overflowing food markets (snakes for sale as snacks kept in tires) on the narrow streets. If you go south 4 blocks, however, you'll find Hoen Kiem lake which has ancient vietnamese temples and wide open boulevards packed with motobikes riding past the overbearing buildings of stalinist architecture that made its way through China. Another 3 blocks South East from the lake and you're in the French Quarter -- wide boulevards lined with old French-Colonial villas and coffee-and-pastry caf├ęs. The French demolished a few of the oldest temples in Asia to build it all, unfortunately.

On every single sidewalk you'll see groups of people gathering together to drink, play games, or eat -- right next to the ladies in wide-brimed, rice-paddy hats selling chestnuts and pineapples. I'm having trouble making sense of it all, honestly, but it's eternally fascinating. I suspect it would take years and years to really get under the skin.

Safe and Warm


bangkok street
Originally uploaded by inqurious
Arrived safe and sound in Bangkok last night. 27 hours of planes and layovers after just 3 hours of sleep can be taxing. Lets hear it for Cathay Pacific, which made all the flights quite pleasant. Having two full meals, periodic snacks, and on-demand TV shows and movies makes a 16-hours flight from New York to Hong Kong manageable.

After arriving in Bangkok we had our first little tussle with the local economy. We bartered over taxi prices from the airport to our hotel. I love it already. The air is rich with humidity and the smells of street-food stands. Last night after arriving at our hostel Erin and I went out on to the street and had some fantastic fried rice, and then slept for about 12 hours.

This morning it's sunny and 80 degrees, so the quick-drying hiking shorts and shirts I picked up are paying off in spades. Erin got a chocolate croissant for breakfast, despite me imploring her to wait a day until we're in a former French colony (Vietnam) to try the pastries. I had pad thai for breakfast -- it cost $0.80 and it was fantastic.

We've only got another 5 hours until we go back to the airport to fly to Hanoi, so we'll go look at a local park on the rive here in Bangkok, wander the markets, and then head out to the airport.


And for the record, I'm going to drop my megapixel count from 7 to 3 (or maybe 5). It's taking about 30 minutes for 5 photos at 7MP.