Thursday, March 29, 2007

Vietnam deplam...1st part South Vietnam

Hello all,

How could I define Vietnam in only one word?... BEAUTIFUL (Deplam in vietnamese)!!. Each single destination I have been at has something special and different to offer, mountains, beach, canyons, dunes, monuments, atmosphere, craziness!
The scenery here is just...amazing...some destinations need more time than others to discover their beauty, but every single one has really deligthful views...underwater sometimes!.

Travelling in Vietnam is so easy..., there are cheap buses going from South to North stopping at each interesting destination..for only around 20US$ !!. At the same time, this helps a lot in meeting new people..and this has been definitely, even more than the scenery, what has made my time in Vietnam so nice!!.

Andrew, Anne Sophie, Alex, Asier, Brianna, Caroline, Courtney, Daragh, Dave, Eliane, Gael, Janelle, Jo, Jose Ramon, Isabel, Kim, Paul, Patricia,Therese and many others thanks for all these moments spent all have made my time in Vietnam so special. Hope I will see u all later on somewhere ! (at the moment I am writing this lines, I have bumped into Daragh and Malaysia...the world is really so small!!)

After this brief (?) introduction, here u are the path I have taken, from South to the North:

Mekong Delta: green rice paddies, quiet canals, floating houses and floating markets. The region main economic activity is rice growing...Vietnam is the 2nd worlwide rice producer , and most of this rice is produced on this area..., 3 crops per year and virtually all the surface of the mekong delta is used for rice growing.

The Mekong delta is something really picturesque, and it is so amazing cause everything here happens on the u want a cup of coffee? worries, just raise your hand and someone will bring it to your boat!

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon for the non-initiated ;-) ): the busiest place I have ever seen on earth...where u can sit down on any crossing and spend hours regarding how Vietnamese are living on the edge...driving their motorbikes !
9 million people is living here, in a maze composed by wide green avenues...and small alleys off main streets

Close to HCMC u can visit the Cao dai temple. The Caodist religion is an eclectic mix of catholic, buddhist and confucionist religions...a sort of mother of religions which tries to implement the best of each. The colorful temple is completely different to any other temple I may have seen before...

Mui Ne: peaceful place on the coast side, a strong wind area very appreciated by kite surfers...At the same time, it's got one of the best countryside views of all Vietnam. I let you judge...

Some pics of the red dunes, white sand dunes with its nenufars and a sunset view taking from Mui Ne fishing village

Dalat: mountain station, cold weather, waterfalls, pines, pines, pines everywhere...someone would say we are in the Pyrenees or in Grenoble surroundings!.

Here u are some pics with Alex after climbing a 4100m high ;-) mountain, and with Daragh and Caroline in one of the waterfalls on Dalat outskirts.

and crossing a bridge over the nice (and very dirty!) Tiger waterfall

Nha Trang: beach resort, nice beaches, nice party, the place to meet people and to go partying until late...beside that...the best scuba diving site in Vietnam!!...Partying and diving...and explosive cocktel I would do not recommend to anyone...can u guess arrive at the hotel at 3 am, and wake up at 7am for diving...with a hangover like hell...??!!
As I had enough time to spend around, I decided to take my Open Water Diver certificate so I can dive now down to 18 meters deep. The most amazing dive I did, in a place called Madonna rock, consists of a set of narrow caves plenty of fish and corals...definitely one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life!. A picture of me splashing, just before going deep down...
As any other destination, Nha Trang has another face, far less well known, and far away from the beach resorts and night clubs. At the north bound of the city you can see how people lives from fishing or any other activities beside tourism. Very picturesque and very cheap!, a whole plate of tasteful barbecued seafood by only half a US Vietnam!!

And that's all so far. I will try to post soon the trip at North of Vietnam. Until then, take care!.
Jona be continued...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

South of Cambodia

Hi all folks,

Hope you still remember that I am backpacking throughout southeast asia ;-)...last chapter was more than a month ago!'s been 'two whiles' since then!!. Please forgive me, but it is just that Vietnam is so nice and so..HUGE..that it really leaves you little time to accomplish 'administrative' tasks such as updating your blog..!

After my apologies, here we go!, last chapter, Ratanakiri, northeast of Cambodia, remote and dusty region. After a couple of days sick (of course that happens when travelling), I headed to the south to change my mind...I needed some rest and to chill out on the beach while sipping a beer...After 12 hours of bus, I finally got to Sihanoukville, exactly on the 17th of february. For those who travel or have travelled in Asia, you may know that this day is the Chinese New Year (or Tet)...the most important holiday in Asia. That means that prices double and moreover it becomes nearly impossible to find any accomodation...Arriving late in the evening does not help we ended up in a free dorm in one of the most popular night clubs in Cambodia..UTOPIA!. Hopefully I met Sophie, Claire and Emilie, three very nice french girls who work in Pekin as french teachers. We spent our time in the south together and we really had a great time, hope I see u again in China!.

Indeed, it was really utopic to go to bed at try to get asleep with the full volume music in the bar until 6 pm...and to be awaken up by millions of mosquitoes seeking your blood...hopefully next day the magnificent Otres beach did some nice work and we could finally take some rest...
The Cambodian coast cannot compete with Thailand's in natural beauty (at least that is what most people says!), however it still has got a couple of spots reachable by boat which are, in my own view, u are a couple of pics of an unknown beach in the area and Ko Ta Kiev island. For those who are looking for some adventure, u can even overnight in this island in the so called 'Tonty's Jungle Camp', run by a nice english man (Jonathan!) who has cleared out the jungle to make some 'rooms' (basically an hammock with a mosquito net on top of a wooden floor!).

Before logging off, check out a couple of sights the national park of Ream offers

And that's all for the time being, see u in a bit !!


Friday, February 23, 2007

Northeast of Cambodia

Hola !,

After a 4 days stay in Phnom Penh, my on-my-own trip started!. I took a bus to get to the northeast part of the country, waterfalls, jungle and elephant trekking attract many visitors to this area. However it is still quite easy to find out off-the-beaten-track sites (hors des sentiers battus) and the atmosphere in this province is really different from the rest of Cambodia, it is so remote...and so dusty!.

First stop, Kratie, 6hrs away from Phonm Penh in a air-conditioning and comfortable can see the Mekong dolphins and enjoy one of the most spectacular sunset views in Asie

Then from Kratie, things gets tougher, the capital of Ratanakiri is only 7hrs away by bus..but this one is far less comfortable...jam-packed, with families and their small babies peeing just beside you...Anyway I can make u sure than we had a great time, the trip was more than exhilarating...7 hours and 3 breakdowns later (one flat tire and 2 engine breakdowns), we finally managed to get to Ban Lung, our base camp for the following days.

The following days where just GREAT!, best time in Cambodia, three days of motorbike runs to
get to beautiful waterfalls, minority villages, lakes, this is really something !.
Susanne, Gerhard, it was great to share such an experience with you guys!, I miss you a lot!!.

Some waterfalls...

A rubber tree plantation.....

...a gem mine in activity, miners working there have to support really high temperatures, they dig around 3meters depth holes in the ground and from the main hole they carve out galleries to extract of the toughest jobs I have ever seen...

Everyday was a completely new adventure, several hours of motorbike driving, in sometimes very complicated dusty tracks...i have become nearly an expert ! ;-)

It was as well a brilliant opportunity to know how people lives like it these villages, how they live...and the way they die!
In some minority villages, young people gets married at 15 years old. In case one of them dies, the tradition says that the other has to kill him/herself in a week time...Here you are some pics about their cemetery, the older is the man/woman who dies, the bigger is the 'sanctuary'. Relatives go often to the cemetery to offer food and water to feed the spirit...

...and what about Cambodian children?, they are just lovely, never seen in my life people so
smiley, children are so happy with so few..

After Ratanakiri, my dear friends left to Siem Reap whereas I planned to go back to Phnom Penh and then go further south up to the coast. Bye bye Susanne and Gerhard and farewell!!.

Next post completely different atmosphere, switching from dust to tropical beaches with immaculate white sand...

More post are coming soon, keep you posted!


In the Capital and surrondings...

Hi folks,

Here we are for a couple of snapshots of the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Pehn, which was considered for a long time as the most beautiful city of the French Indochina.

Visitors do not usually stay for a long time, but this city has something special, and the longer you stay, the more you like it...An important number of expatriates live here, most of them working for NGOs or simply as foreign language teachers. French touch can be felt almost everywhere, in the luxurious gardens, in the colonial French style houses or in names given to some government facilities, such as 'La Calmette' for one of the main hospitals...

Day-to-day life of cambodians and most of the tourists is concentrated along the riverside, local people play a sort of football with special balls similar to the ones used in badminton...They are virtually able to hit the ball in every position you can imagine...I tried to play once and I felt so could be a good exercise for football trainings, will it be imported into Europe?!

Like in all big cities in the world, traffic is a main

and like anywhere else in Asia, you can find every kind of goods in local markets, food, clothes, souvenirs...and spare motorbike parts!, nothing more relaxing than a 'siesta' between shock absorbers, ignitors and all the stuff...

It was cool to spend a couple of days there with Silvia, we then split, she flew back to Bangkok whereas I headed towards the northeast. Here you are a picture of her with a new fried we met there...
Next pit stop, Kratie before getting to one of the Cambodia highlights, Ratanakiri region!.

And that's all so far!. Read you soon!


Sunday, February 18, 2007


Hello all,

Sorry for the delay. Everything is going fine, it is just that is difficult to find out some spare time
to keep you posted, but I will keep on doing so!.

Do you remember the last post?...sure you do so...boat trip from Battambang to Siem Reap, the closest city to the ancient temples of Angkor.
We stayed there for a week, a big group with Emma, Silvia, Beatriz, Carol, Philippe and myself.. unfortunately, at the end of the week the group splitted little by little...the real adventure on my own starts!.

Most of these temples were built around the 10th century after Christ. You have seen already the pictures of Cambodia nowadays...hope with the next ones you will all be able to go back in time and to get a snapshot about what Cambodia looked like at this time...really different!!. It was simply one of the most powerful countries in the world.

Do you want to have a look around this magnificent site ?, follow me!!. To get into one of the main fortress, Angkor Thom, which is just huge (more than 10km of perimeter!), enter one of their four gates. Here you are one I preferred, Victoria gate:

Which leads to the misterious temple of Bayon with its enigmatic faces, some would say they are smiling, some others would say they are staring at you, keeping an eye on you to make sure you are behaving as a good Cambodian citizen...

It is difficult to say how many temples are there, but there are more than a hundred!. Each one has its own atmosphere, and it is so nice to walk inside and try to understand how people could feel entering to one of these huge mass of carved stone...

Nowadays most of the temples have been cleaned out of any tree or any kind of plants which virtually covered them, some exceptions are Ta Prohm , can you guess being one of the european explorers who first found these marvellous buildings?. Can you guess the nationality of the first explorer who actually recorded this discovery?...french!.

Here you are another version of the world famous Rodin's Angkor!

For those who may come here, I highly recommend you to hire a bike and just wander will see images like these ones

And that' s all folks for the time being. I promise the next post will be soon.

For your information, now at this time I am nearly ending up my stay in Cambodia, heading to Vietnam in three days. Next posts will be for Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, Kratie, Ratanakiri and Sihanoukville in the North. More nice shots and some history is coming soon, so please stay tuned!.

Kisses for you all, take care.