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.