Okinawa Sunrise

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hanoi and Halong Bay

Angkor Wat

Cu Chi and Cao Dai

Mekong Delta

Motorbike City!

For all of your still checking this space...I admire your stick-to-it-iveness! I really am the most negligent of bloggers. I blame facebook. Once I tack some pictures up there and update that community on our goings on I tend to consider my obligations to cyberspace fulfilled! But not so! My little un-loved blog calls and after some months I always come back to it!
Here, for your viewing pleasure, are some photos of our trip to Vietnam and Cambodia in November. The weather was just perfect. Hot, but not sweltering. Halong bay, in particular, was just perfect.

We first visited Ho Chi Minh city, known most appropriately by it's nickname, motorbike city. If mopeds had the vote....a vespa would be mayor. The place is overrun. Getting around in a taxi cab, as we did most of the time, was frightening but you took comfort in the fact that you were the larger vehicle and could push your heft through the throng. Walking however, was taking your life in your hands. The trick in the end, is to walk resolutely into the road, head up and at an even pace. They will go around long as their mobile phone doesn't distract them or they drop one of the refrigerators they are transporting.

We shop shop shopped in Ho Chi Minh....that was my birthday present :) And we ate wonderfully! We also took a day trip to the Mekong Delta where we got a look at the more rural side of Vietnamese life. Vietnamese school girls still wear the archetypal white trousers and tunic with straw cone shaped hats. We rode our bikes through small villages and saw how coconut candies were made. From Ho Chi Minh, we also made an excursion to the Cu Chi Tunnels, where Viet Cong guerrillas made their base during the Vietnam war. The tunnels, were claustrophobia inducing and frightening even now, without the chance of booby traps around every corner. At 5'2'' I still had to bend in half and bend my knees to make the tight squeeze.

From Ho Chi Minh, we flew to Siem Reap in Cambodia to visit the temples of Angkor Watt. These temples really have no equal and have to be seen and experienced rather than described. Each temple in the large complex is unique. I have about 600 pictures but I've attached just a few of my favorites here. The town of Siem Reap is a dusty little place that hasn't quite caught on to the fact that it's now a major tourist destination, even though the big five star hotels have already moved in! I am sure that if we ever find ourselves there again, in 20 years or so, it will look a great deal different.

From Siem Reap, we flew to Hanoi and then directly on by bus to Halong Bay. By far the most relaxing and beautiful leg of our trip, it was almost cathartic after the hustle of HCMC and the dry, tourist infested temples. We took an overnight sail on a beautiful junk boat. The food and the scenery were sumptuous! Our MC for the tour was a little too by the book..."you have from 8:00 to 8:35 for relax time on the sundeck....yes.....please proceed at 8:35 to the dining room for eating buffet dinner at 8:35....yes....delicious....yes.

Then our last few days were wandered away through Hanoi's old quarter exploring more delicious food venues! We also indulged in the local bia hoi.....freshly brewed local beer without preservatives that must be drunk shortly after it is made. No problemo! It's only .10 cents a glass!

We hope these pictures give you something of the flavor of our trip! We hope to visit Vietnam again in the future. Perhaps visiting the northern town of Sapa, where many indigenous tribes still live, and some of the older colonial cities of Hue or Hoi An. We heard wonderful things from fellow travellers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My grandparents, that's right, grandparents (emphasis on the grand here!) made it all the way to Okinawa to visit us! They get the bronze!!!!
We were so glad to have them right in the middle of what I consider to be Okinawa's finest season...fall! It's still hot here but the edge is off the humidity. You can enjoy a walk without coming back looking like you took a swim.
We visited all our favorite haunts and some new Okinawan hotspots. They loved the food and the beer. We visited the very fine Okinawa Aquarium (home to the world's largest aquarium viewing window, which facilitates an impressive view of the center's whale sharks....those are some big fish!). And together we discovered a delicious amber brew...called Nihede Birru. It's actually a play on Hogan, the language of Okinawa, the word for Thank you is Nihedebiru. They called their birru (beer) , Nihede! Get it???

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thailand: and just in time too!

Dear all,

In a further attempt to manipulate the passage of time and expedite Adrian's return, I travelled to Thailand in August to do the tourist thing and have some much needed catch up time with the world's best travel buddy Holly! It would seem that we made our trip just in time too as Thailand has since found itself embroiled in some political turmoil resulting in a State Dept warning for all Americans. I swear.....we had nothing to do with it ;-)

We spent our first day on very little sleep taking in as much of Bangkok as we could and seeing so many Watts we couldn't keep straigh which Watt was what! Sorry....too hard to resist that one!

Our very first night in Thailand was spent in transit via overnight train to Chiang Mai in the north, not far from the Burmese border. It is the second largest city in Thailand but it has a very different character from buzzing Bangkok. We also took in some Watts there, ate lovely Thai food (made lovlier by the very reasonable price) and took full advantage of readily available Thai a day keeps the doctor away!

We did take one day trip out to visit a Karen Long Neck Tribe village, about 40 minutes north of the city, and to an Elephant conservation center.

Then back to Bangkok by a much shorter plane ride to experience the finer things the city has to offer including the beautiful Jim Thompson house, and the Siam Paragon shopping center.

Enjoy the pics!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Hakone is a very popular retreat from the city for Tokyoites. Rat-racers can relax in natural hot-springs or take in views of Mt. Fuji. Sadly, our day in Hakone was nearly as misty as it had been in added to the mystique of the place but Fuji. Just the same, the appeal of Hakone lies in the various means of transportation used to tour the place. From the hotel, we bused down to Moto-Hakone. From there, an imitation pirate ship took us to Togendai. At Togendai, a ropeway (like the thingys you take on ski trips) took us up the mountain, where had nature been kind we would have paused to admire "the Fuj". However nature was pretty brutal when we stopped by the volcanic crater in Owakudani which means "great boiling valley". Rebecca and I evidently have very sensitive aulfactory nerves because the smell of sulpher coming from these natural hot ponds put us off our lunch for the day and eggs for the rest of the trip! Most people however, enjoy buying eggs boiled and blackened by the springs which are said to add 7 years to your life.

From there we took the Tozan railway cable car to our hotel, the Fujiya. Its a grand old place which has hosted many dignitaries...John Lennon too ! It also had an indoor thermal pool and public bath fed by the natural hot springs.

The next day, before communting back to Tokyo, we all checked out the impressive Hakone open air museum which houses modern art sculptures with an amazing natural backdrop. As you can see, in hindsight, that would have been the day to try for a Fuji view! Ah trip!