Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Angkor Wat

Sunday, March 6, 2011

More images to enjoy.....Hoi An, Viet Nam

When in doubt.... Fried Rice

One thing I really looked forward to on this trip was the food. Although I tend to be what some may call a "picky eater" as I have reached my 30's I have broadened my horizons a bit in the food department. For exmple I hated onions my entire life but after traveling in Central America where they put them in everything, even when you ask them not to, I love them! Which is good since they are in everything here too.
In some more traditional places in S.E. Asia, they don't have menus. Some places have pictures and while you are not exactly sure what ingredients it contains you do know if you are ordering chickens feet or not. A universal understanding everyone seems to have is fried rice. Each country has its own spin on it and it even varies from region to region, it's basically a safe bet where ever you go.
It is interesting to go into some restaurants and find the "Western Food" section on the menu. It usually has a burger of some kind, pizza, which I had a handful of times when I just couldn't take any more rice or noodles and the famous club sandwich.  While these menus were about 12 pages long, it bascially contained different combinations of fried noodles, steamed or fried rice with chicken, beef, pork or seafood and soup. They did have a large vegetarian selection due to the large Buddist population. Don't get me wrong, the food was great! I actually lost weight on the trip (quite a bit) Asian people have cornered the maket on that no doubt. But what's that saying about too much of a good thing?
In the end I have enjoyed my experience with the food, pad thai, beef luk lak (I think) and of course Pho.I just have one final thought for S.E. Asia in regards to food, club sandwichs do not have chicken or egg just for future reference.

Water Puppetry

It is exactly what it sounds like. This ancient practice started when the rice patties would flood, the Vietnamese people would do these shows to pass the time. You walk into a rather small theather and I just don't mean the size, the seats are meant for people about 5 feet tall. Instead of a stage in front of you there is a pond with a live band set just above it on the left. When it starts the lights dim and the puppets appear from the water. At the end the puppeteers come out from behind the backdrop and walk through the waist deep water. The puppets (we later learned) are on long poles and controlled from behind the curtain, the puppeteers are in the water the entire time. There were about 6-8 puppeteers total and the show lasted abut 45 minutes. It was pretty cool!

Long live the king or in this case the Vietnamese Marxist revolutionary leader

Yes in true Communist style Ho Chi Minh's body was embalmed and put on display in a glass sarcphagus in a monumental mausoleum in Hanoi. Today we saw it... To answer your question, it was creepy as hell! Thousads of people come from all over the world to pay their respects, but make sure if you want to embark on this adventure you show up Sat-Thu between 8-11am in the months of  January to August. He gets shipped to Russia in September for 3 months for his yearly maintenance. You have to form 2 lines and basically filter through in a brisk single file manner with proper attire and no cameras. Yeah, like I really want a picture of a man who has been dead for 42 years. I must say impresive work by the Russians, he doesn't look a day older then 79. Did I mention "Uncle Ho's" last wishes were to be cremated?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Never lose your wits...

So we made it 34 days and today was the first time someone tried to scam us. Thankfully between living in Los Angeles, Detroit and Boston we trust no one.... We learned in Central America how to handle the taxi drivers, first ask how much (even if there is a meter) usually there they did not have meters. Next one person (usually the man) gets in the passenger seat and the other sits behind the driver. This intimidates them and let's them know you are not a first timer. Also in case he does go off the grid this way the passenger can stop the car and the person behind can grab the driver, very Jason Bourne like.
At the beginning you are totally on guard, but after 34 days you start to get into a groove. First thing we should have noticed was the cab company was not a name we have seen. The colors were the same as the one we have used throughout Viet Nam so we did not think twice. We got in saw a meter that started and told him where to go. About halfway we noticed the meter jumping significantly, then I noticed we did not have a picture ID anywhere in the taxi. Luckily we knew what it sould cost since this was our taxi ride back. We politely pointed out the that meter was wrong, he just played dumb and kept driving. Then we told him to stop, we knew we were close and could figure out the way. Also it was the town circle, lots of people were around. He then argued with us about the fare 397,000 dong (almost $20) we paid 28,000 dong ($2.50) to get there. We firmly told him the meter was wrong, he said he would the police. When he realized we had no argument with that, he took the 30 dong and got the hell out of there!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Last Big Hurrah...

In 2 hours we depart Hue' and head to Hanoi. We have about a 16 hour train ride in a berth with 2 sets of bunkbeds. This is also our last tavel day/ night since we fly out of Hanoi on Monday. I am not sure what I am more excited about the actual train ride or knowing that it is taking me to the place I head home from...... It is funny the things you look forward to and the things you miss or don't miss. Like I can not wait to have a salad! I also look forward to wearing some different clothes.You can imagine how many outfit choices you have when traveling with a backpack that is smaller then my carry-on suit case I take home to Michigan for a long weekend. If I don't ever see my linen capris until my next trip, I will live a happy life. Suprisingly I do not miss my cell phone, this is the longest I have gone in about 15 years (since I have had a cell phone) without talking on the phone. I am however addicted to skype! I look forward to grocery shopping and cooking at home. I watched Julia and Juile twice on ths trip and it inspired me to write more and to cook more. Specifically to buy Julia Child's French cookbook and learn from that. I do not necessarily miss driving but I do miss having the freedom to come and go as I please. Things are so limited here. While it makes you reaize how simple you can live, you also appreciate what you have. I love that we have traffic laws and that you are not allowed to smoke anywhere!