Thursday, August 13, 2009

The end of the road ... for now (10.08.09)

I have been traveling for a bit more than 6 months now. I saw a lot of places and I am pretty happy about it. It was a great ride. Now I decided to take a vacation from vacation. I will try something else: instead of being a tourist, I will be living in a place or another for a while. I hope I will learn more about how it is to live in Asia and figure out how well it suits me.

I have started 2 blogs (both in romanian language).

In the first one I will give a lot more details about my travel and hope it might help those who'll take a trip to Asia:

In the second one I will writhe short notes about my present life:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vientiane (07.08.09)

What a pleasant surprise! This city has large streets, little traffic, small buildings, I was actually thinking that it could be a nice place to live. On the other side, there isn't too much of entertainment. I visited the most important attraction, That Louang. There are a lot of other temples in the city, also a small presidential palace and a sort of Arc de Triomphe.

Luang Prabang (06.08.09)

I heard about this city that it's nice. I would agree, but I would also add that is very touristy and it gets pretty hot when it's not raining. What I liked a lot is the Kouang Si waterfall. It is one of the most beatifull waterfalls I've seen. I had fun jumping in the large pool.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mekong river cruise (03.08.09)

I crossed the border into Laos at Houayxai and took the 2 days slow boar down the river to Luang Prabang. My first impression of Laos is that is a country very green and sparsed populated. The scenery along the river is no doubt beautiful but not so amazing and variated so after few hours it does get boring.

Chiang Mai (01.08.09)

From Siem Reap, the city close to Angkor in Cambodia, I took a bus to Bangkok. I spent just a day there, and the went to Chiang Mai by night bus. I took a day tour trekking, but wan't really that much trekking. First I visited a butterfly farm and an orchid farm. Second, I went rafting down the river; that was pretty fun. Then, I took an elephant ride. It was a first for both these activities. After lunch I went rafting, this time using a bamboo raft (the first was in a zodiac-like rubber boat). I just went trekking for about 20 minutes, to a village where women have long necks.
Chiang Mai may be smaller than Bangkok, but it is a very busy city. I didn't see anything so impressive that worths mentioning it here.

Angkor (29.07.09)

If there is one and ONLY ONE place you MUST SEE in the entire Asia, this is ANGKOR. I have never seen anything like this before. I did see it on TV and on the internet, but it was only when I saw the real thing I could realize how amazing it is.
There are over 100 temples spread over tens of kilometers. I have only seen 10 temples. The most famous is Angkor Wat. It does look good from far distance, but when you are really close to it you start asking yourself how the hell they built it. In the center is the tallest conical tower; around there is the first wall, with 4 tall conical towers at the corners; then there is the second wall, with 4 round towers at the corners; finally, there is the third wall.
The second temple I visited was Banyon, at the center of Angkor Thom city. It occupies a lot smaller surface, but it is tall and has a lot of towers; on each side of the each tower there is a face. I wasn't impressed with Preah Khan (although it streches on hundred of meters), Neak Pean of Ta Som. East Mebon is simple but interesting, Pre Rup is is a bit more complex and pretty tall; from the top I could see around for miles; far away (about 8km) I could see the top of the Angkor Wat. Ta Prohm seems to be magical, as it hasn't been restored and looks like it just have been discovered. The last temple I visited was Phnom Bakhen, at the top of the hill, from where I could have a view to the Angkor Wat.
It is so unbelievable that a great empire that build the greatest temples in Asia hundreds of years ago is now a poor and undeveloped country.

Phnom Penh (27.07.09)

It took me 8 hours to ge from Saigon to Phnom Penh, by bus. The city doesn't look like a capital of a country. It lacks tall buildings and large boulevards. I only spent a couple of days. I walked along the riverfront. I visited the Silver Pagoda and the Royal Palace. These are the main tourist attractions, an example of the 20th century Khmer architecture. After that went to the Wat Phnom, a temple on the hill. I saw also few other pagodas and temples. The traffic is not as crazy as in Vietnam; however, the city is rather dirty and dull. I didn't like too much this city. Before I left I visited Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. This was a school transformed into a prison by the Khmer Rouge where thousands of people have been held, tortured, and later killed.