Safe in Vietnam!

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 07:18 pm
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Angkor Wat was awesome and tiring and not for people with no head for heights. All the trekking has left me tired (in a good way), and the past two nights has been two of the most relaxing sleeps I have ever had. How do you pluralize sleep? Can you pluralize sleep?

Siem Reap (town near Angkor Wat) is very much a tourist destination to the point where most of the prices in restaurants, etc, are in dollars and things are cheaper if you don't convert into riels. I have never been anywhere with that system before. (i wonder if they keep a separate menu for locals?). Want to actually say something but not tonight.

Have had lots of good food, lots of good pictures. Need to raid my brother's and sister's cameras, because they got all the good shots.

Now in Vietnam! People are not lying when they say that Vietnam coffee is really good. Our guide took us to Trung Nguyen cafe, biggest coffee shop I have ever seen, with the best coffee i have ever tasted: drip coffee mixed with condensed milk, poured over ice.

I have never liked coffee before. It always feels thin and bitter, but this coffee was rich on the tongue and the bitterness was masked by the condensed milk, but the condensed milk did not mask the flavor of the coffee. Also, I was not shaking after drinking it, and instead of feeling slow, I feel really really good. Would drink it again.

Crossing the street is intimidating. Except on the biggest streets in the center of the city, the traffic never really seems to stop, and while you walk, motorcycles zoom by in frontof and behind you. The trick, I am told, is to walk slowly. It feels like you need Manila street smarts x 10.

Must run for dinner!

Cambodia day 1

Saturday, January 15th, 2011 10:23 pm
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Notes written throughout the day, when I remember to do so

My brother accidentally knocked my phone out of my hands, and it fell to the floor *hard*. It has done that before with no damage, but this time, the backlight was broken. At first, it was as if there was no backlight, and then it was as if there was too much backlight, and it was washing the screen out.

 I was just about to give up on it, when my sister jokingly suggested i thwack the back of the phone to fix the backlight. I did, twice, and voila. :D phone all fixed now.  

At the Ho Chi Minh airport (stop over to Siem Reap), someone walked over and asked me whether it was all right to bring knitting on the plane. Hers was all in her luggage, but maybe what i told her will help next time!

Siem Reap airport is gorgeous, looks more like a spa than an airport. :)

It is apparently less hot here than the Philippines. I don't go out in the sun back home so i don't really know though *g*

Passed a tuktuk on the way to the hotel. It is like a tricycle and a jeepney rolled into one. Or maybe a tricycle and calesa and now I think of it as a horseless calesa the way a car used to be a horseless carriage. Also, lots of bicycles here. Dad is amazed there are so many alateris trees. I can say and eat alateris, I just can't spell it!

We are at Raffles. Um wow. This is the most gorgeous hotel i have ever been in, bar none. Usually I don't care as long as the bed is comfortable, but this is just blowing me away. There are a lot of tiny details that they got right, which I only noticed now thay every other hotel has gotten wrong.

Have so far eaten in three restaurants. The first was a snack at a random hole in the wall where they were out of everything, which was a shame because deer barbecue cambodia style from their menu sounded good but their yang chow fried rice was okay and their duck with crispy skin was really really good so that gave us enough energy to keep going through the afternoon.  

We dropped by the national museum but it was late in the afternoon and we decided we didn't have enough time to give it justice so we skipped the paying area. 

Stopped at le grande cafe in the old market area, where we had fantastic ice cream -- profiterole (vanilla ice cream wrapped in a pastry bun topped with whipped cream and chocolate syrup), and a Paradise sundae (banana, lime, strawberry sorbet topped with whipped cream and strawberry syrup) -- a light and refreshing counterpoint to the chocolatey goodness of the profiteroles. 

Shopped a bit after that. Got some earrings and silk scarves :D I love these scarves, just wish  I had more opportunities to wear them. 

And then dinner at Amok: banana heart salad, spring rolls (deliciously vegetabley), tumeric chicken (mild for curry which suited me perfectly), pork kebabs (cute! And delicious!), beef luk lok (small cubes of beef, just that perfect balance between tender and chewy with a slightly sweet pepper sauce), and fish amok (fish in coconut gata, a bit bland beside everything else and the only disappointment of the day) . Each dish had two tiny mounds of fragrant jasmine rice, and this rice was really really good. I could eat it forever. 

It is surprising to be in a place where things are cheaper than back home. I fact, i am sure this is a first. Every other country I have been to was more expensive than the Philippines -- even Thailand! I am not sure how I feel about this. Let's start with "strange"

Finally back at home base. Was all cranky because the free hotel wifi blocks all but the most poplar sites, but have worked around it by using OpenDNS.  mwahaha. :) 

Tomorrow is Angkor Wat, and more food.
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Heading out to Cambodia/Vietnam for five days *g* I meant to research language, but somehow ended up researching food instead.

I'm in the middle of packing up clothes, and wrapping up time critical items. I will regret the lack of language knowledge soon enough *rueful*.

(From my research, it sounds like it will be similar to the Philippines in some respects, and very different in others which I mean. I DUNNO. I feel like I may be able to luck out with Chinese in some areas, though)

I will be busy during the day, but will be coming online at night. (I suspect I'll be tired from all the walking, so not going to be around much, but)

I will have more luck with the language (and similar luck with food *_*) in Hong Kong, where I'm visiting briefly at the end of this month. Mom needs to do some errands for my grandpa, and needs someone to accompany her, so I volunteered / was volunteered.

Quite happily! There's a fantastic restaurant over there called Jade Garden, plus the other fantastic restaurant which I forgot the name of but which has yummy goose, and we're definitely dropping by both of those.

Bonus: the hotel is within walking distance of the yarn store I made my mom tell me about. It's the same yarn store where my mom bought the cashmere yarn that I used for my grandpa's scarf. Not that I intend on splurging on cashmere on my own, but they carry other, more interesting stuff, too, like a bamboo mix which is bright and glossy and really lovely.

I have never been there, but I have dispatched my mom and brother (who was the designated helper last time my mom ended up in Hong Kong) to that store. That time, I didn't have much money, and I could only get them to understand as far as "nothing acrylic!"

This time, I will be there personally. And I will have money to spare :-)

-- lots more stuff about Hong Kong than about Cambodia or Vietnam because I have been to HK, but never been to either Cambodia or Vietnam. I'm excited to go to all these places!