The Clips and Trips blog was put together in preparation for our leaving the U.S. on an indefinite world travel adventure which started around August of 2009 and returned us home in December of 2012. If you want to see where it all began, read our mission statement from before we left.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hanoi, Vietnam

We stayed in the Old quarter of Hanoi, which is comprised of tiny streets and alleys situated around a big lake. Walking in Hanoi was a little daunting. There are so many scooters, rickshaws, cars, and other pedestrians to contend with. And, sidewalks aren't really for walking. The narrow sidewalks are for:

- food carts and their kid size plastic chairs and tables
- scooter parking lots
- overflow display area for street fronts
- fruit, produce, and basic sundries vendors

It was some of the most interesting city walking we've done.

A rare quiet alley full of Vietnamese Coffee shops

Pickled snakes, lizards, and crows.. For what??

The Dried Fruit Store

For the Altar

Eric contemplates a career change

Dinner at one of the many delicious sidewalk restaurants

Ha long Bay, Vietnam

In northern Vietnam we visited the coastal city of Ha long Bay. We booked a two day one night cruise aboard a traditional junk. Really nice meals were served along the way and we were really pleased with the quality of our cabin. The bay was littered with these really steep limestone island rock formations. We were taken to one that had an enormous cave inside with the usual interestingly textured ceilings and floors from sediment drippings over the years. We also kayaked around the bay. The junk dropped anchor in a beautiful spot in the center of a large grouping of rock formations for the night. There was a floating city out there, mostly made up of fishermen. Ladies would row boats around and try to sell snacks to the tourists aboard the junks.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nha Trang, Vietnam

From Ho Chi Minh City, we took a train to one of Vietnam's most famous beaches, Nha Trang. It's a much smaller town and a slower paced lifestyle to match. Walking along the streets didn't cause as much anxiety as it did in Ho Chi Minh City.

The weather is much cooler and very windy right at the beach. It's definitely a much welcome change to the hot and humid weather we've gotten accustomed to in the last four months.

Vietnamese food has continued to impress us. There are many beautiful, reasonably priced restaurants here.

Our additiction to Vietnamese coffee has started here. Typcially, coffee is served with a metal individual coffee filter/french press that sits on top of a cup. The coffee slowly drips into the cup with a little bit of gooey, sweet condensed milk at the bottom.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh city was a breath of fresh air coming from Phnom Penh. It felt nearly as modern as Bangkok, with warm Christmas decorations everywhere. We noticed right off the bat that the food was great and the people were notably warm and friendly.

There was a local restaurant food expo under way in a park near our guesthouse and we got a chance to sample some nice quality local food.

We took a tour of the Reunification Palace, which was previously the southern headquarters during the U.S. - Vietnam war. Interestingly, all of the usual disturbing historical war photographs are accompanied by descriptions of U.S. atrocities. The famous photos of Buddhist monks self-ablazed is explained as a protest to the U.S. attacks.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital has its beautiful elements like French influenced riverside architecture, but is also one of the dirtiest places I've been. A funny thing about the local currency, the locals don't want it! They'd much prefer to have U.S. dollars, or even neighboring Thailand's baht. But if you pay in U.S., you'll likely receive change in Cambodian riel. So, we always tried to pay with exact change rounded to the nearest dollar, because they don't use U.S. coins.

We saw quite a number of weddings, all set up the same way with a big tent parked in the middle of the street and a pink heart entrance way.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia -- 12th century Buddhist/Hindu temple, depending on the reigning king at the time. This place is vast. It is comprised of quite a few different temples and requires the hiring of a driver in order to see any part of it. We dedicated only one day to it, most spend two full days here. Each temple appears to be like a city within a massive, walled, and gated city.

As a kid, I would have died to have this area as my playground or backyard. It was exactly what I imagined, pretending to be Indiana Jones searching for ancient artifacts. It seemed actually too perfect at times. Almost surreal or Disneyland-esque. That's what happens when you become too familiar with the simulation, the real thing seems kind of off. Like how certain classical music brings up Disney cartoon images. I wish I could have been exposed to that music in a sterile environment so that I could have created my own story. Now I'm stuck with Mickey. Oh well, too late.

In any case, Angkor Wat was very interesting and very large. They take a picture of you when you buy your pass to be in the area and put it on an I.D. badge that you must keep with you at all times.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chiang Mai Attractions, Thailand

One of the biggest attractions in Chiang Mai is the zipline. We were attached to cables high in the jungle and cruised our way down, going from treetop to treetop.

We also went to an Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai. We saw how the elephants bathed, watched them play soccer with one another, paint pictures, massage their trainers, and play the harmonica.

The landscape portrait was later sold for 6000 baht (roughly $180).

Then, there were the monkeys... Chiang Mai monkeys can exercise, identify numerals, and ride tricycles.

Culinary Adventures, Pai, Thailand

When we first arrived in Thailand, we were a little disappointed by the Thai food in Bangkok. I think mostly because we were equating it with American Thai food, which is cleaner, less oily, and uses more identifiable meat products.

The food in Northern Thailand has really been fun to explore. Street food is clean and offers interesting and tasty bites. The typical Thai fare is just like what you'd expect in the states. The northern dishes are really unique in flavor. We've been tasting things that we've never even seen or heard of before. Their curries are very similar to an Indian curry and vegetarian food is abundant here. We ate at this Vegetarian restaurant where the owner also offered cooking classes. It was probably the best Thai we've had. We're actually planning on ordering her cookbook when we get back.

May Kaiedee's Thai Vegetarian and Vegan Cookbook

Street food has been particularly fun. It's clean, really cheap, and offers a lot of interesting and tasty bites. Eric and I have become addicted to banana pancakes. It's pretty much a deep fried crepe stuffed with whatever combination of sweets you desire and then smothered with condensed milk. We always opt for a peanut butter and banana, extra crispy.

Our other favorite type of street food is similar to a corn fritter. It's sticky rice with corn and coconut shavings shaped into little coins and fried up.

Of course, the curious meat is still available. See the green hot dog below.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Route Update Map

We've finished up with our exotic beach tour, moving from Indonesia back to Thailand to explore the south -- Phuket and the Phi Phi islands on the Andaman side, then over to the gulf for Ko Samui and Ko Phangan. Then we took a ferry and a bus back up to Bangkok, and a train to Chiang Mai in the north, leaving the beaches behind. It was great swimming every day, but we're ready for a dramatic geographical change.

I'm posting a map that identifies the general regions and order of of our travels so far.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Here are a few more quick pics from our tour around the islands south of Phuket -- Ko Khai, Phi Phi Ley, and Phi Phi Don. Again, world class snorkeling.