Photos and stories about my expat experience in China, currently in Bejing.
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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Photos

Cambodia: hot, rowdy, beautiful, horrible, ancient... too many words to describe this country.
Ancient temple from the Angkor-era
The Cambodian countryside, 50km from the capital
The legacy of Pol Pot

The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek; thousands of bodies in mass graves were uneaerthed here in the 80s.
Mug shots of the people that were tortured and executed by the Khmer Rouge

Motorbikes in Saigon

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Phnom Penh

I am in Phnom Penh now.

This country is no joke. I met an Australian today who had his camera and all his money stolen by little kids, pretending to be selling Lonely Planets! I lend him some money for a meal.

This city has little over 2m people, but seems to be crazier than Saigon. Next to the motorbikes, there are huge 4-wheel drives here, who don't stop for red light, let alone pedestrians.

This country is very religious. There is a huge Buddhist university, and many temples and stupas. Monks in orange robes wander around the streets everywere. In short: it is a world apart from Vietnam. The alphabet is different here too, I'll post a photo of that soon.


It took a 6-hour busride from Saigon to here. The roads were so bad that sometimes it seemed like the National Highway was nothing more than a dirt road with pot holes in it. I got launched out of my seat a couple of times. Fortunately, I met a family on the bus, who gave me a ride in their car to a hotel, and they treated me for dinner later. It helps to know local people.

More to come soon.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Saigon

Walking around in Nha Trangh, a touristy beach-resort town, I met a guy on the street who offered to take me to Saigon on his motorcycle. It would be a 5 day trip, going inland through the country side and the mountains. Before I knew it, I handed him over a couple of million Dong, and the next morning at 9:00 he was there, waiting in front of my hotel.

For the next 5 days I rode on the back of his motorcycle, staying in little villages and visiting the towns of Dalat and Mui ne. Unfortunately, today I was stupid enough to burn all my photos on CD and send them home by mail, and thus I deleted everything before I could upload :S

The South Vietnamese countryside is beautiful, and the people are extremely friendly. The first night we stayed in a village of the local ethnic minority people, who still live relatively authentic lifestyles in the mountains. I rode an elephant.

So, now I am in Saigon. Yesterday I caught up with my old classmate, and he showed me around. It saves a lot of worries knowing a local in a place like this. The weather is hot and humid, and there are literally millions of motorbikes on the streets.

Today we visited the war memorial museum in Saigon. It was a very impressive display of photos and stories of all the horrible things that happened here during the war. I felt pretty sick after all that. I've got one more day to enjoy here, before i have to move on again, since my visa is running out.

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Met mn stomme kop heb ik vanmiddag al mn foto's op CD gebrand, en naar huis opgestuurd en mijn kaart leeggemaakt, dus ik kan geen foto's uploaden nu. Dan maar in woorden:

Ik liep me een beetje te vervelen in Nha Trang, een soort van Salou; veel hotels en strand, toen iemand me op straat aansprak en aanbood om me achterop de motor naar Saigon te brengen. Het zou 5 dagen duren onder het motto 'Easy Rider'. Ik besloot om het risico te nemen, en gaf hem een paar miljoen Dong als voorschot. de volgende ochtend om 9:00 stond hij voor mijn hotel te wachten.

De volgende 5 dagen reden we door het binnenland, door de bergen. Dit was natuurlijk veel interessanter dan van de ene toeristische stad naar de volgende te trekken per bus. De lokale bevolking is ook een stuk vriendelijker in de kleine dorpjes in de bergen, en staarden ons na.

Nu zit ik in Saigon, sinds een dag of twee. Gister heb ik een oude klasgenoot opgezocht hier, en we hebben een beetje rondgetourd door de stad. Het scheelt een hoop gedoe om iemand te kennen die uit de buurt komt, en het afdingen gaat ook een stuk eerlijker zo. (Ik heb voor 10 Euro 3 Lonely Planet's gekocht gister). vandaag hebben we het War memorial Museum bezocht. Heel erg indrukwekkend (en verschrikkelijk eenzijdig) tentoonstelling van foto's en verhalen over wat er zich in de oorlog hier heeft afgespeeld. Zoals te verwachten was er geen goed woord over voor de Amerikanen...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Some impressions

At last! Some photos. These are some impressions of the past two weeks I spent in the South of China and North of Vietnam.
The heavily guarded Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi
No cameras, talking or bad manners are tolerated inside.
Working the land, near Ninh binh, Vietnam
The mysterious scenery of Ninh Binh
Monkey research and breeding centre near Ninh Binh
Making incense on the banks of the Red river in Hanoi, note the breakdancing kids in the background
Ethnic minorities in Sapa, North Vietnam

A street seller in Hanoi stopping for a quick Bia Ho'i (draught beer)
Somewhere on the road near Lijiang, South of China
2 Mosou women in a small village near Lijiang

Read carefully: "Food massage"
I took one and couldn't walk for several hours! No I'm kidding, it was quite enjoyable and lasted for over an hour.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hue

Ik ben vanmorgen aangekomen in Hue, dus halverwege Vietnam. Het regent hier en is koud, dus morgen ga ik weer verder richting het zuiden. Ik heb 3 dagen in Ninh Binh rondgetoert op een scooter (met gids) door de omgeving daar. Rijstvelden, misterieuze rotsformaties en vissersdorpjes; heel mooi. De foto's moeten nog volgen, zoals gewoonlijk.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hanoi

Pfew.
Two weeks and no posts, I am so sorry.

From Kunming I took a night bus to Hekou, which is right on the Southern Chinese border. From there one must cross a bridge and enter Vietnam on the other side. From there, it was an 1-hour drive to the mountain village of Sapa, where I stayed a couple of days.

Besides being a bit touristy and overpriced, Sapa was still good fun, and I spent Christmas there. It is home to some minority people, and the scenery is beautiful.

A 10 hour train ride later, I found myself in Hanoi. It was 4:30 AM, and I could not exchange any money anywhere. I had 1000 Dong in my pocket, which equals about 5 Euro cents. An earthquake in Taiwan had damaged all Internet and telecommunication lines, so for a few days there was a lot of trouble finding Internet that worked. To pass the time, I sat down by the lake and watched the people do aerobics and Tai Chi (still in the dark) After a long search I managed to find a hotel and exchange some Euros.

For new year's eve I took advantage of this place having the cheapest draught beer in the world (9 Euro cents / glass) and had a great night. In Vietnam so far I have seen many more Westerners, and it seems that most places are a bit better prepared for tourism than in China. It also means that prices go up, and pushy street sellers askme every 2 minutes if I want to buy a Lonely planet, pineapple, if I need a motor bike, or a cooked egg. Speaking of food, baguettes with French cream cheese are available on every street corner, and the coffee here is superb (and very strong).

I don't have my camera with me at the moment, but some pictures will follow shortly. I hope that everyone is allright and had a good Christmas & new year's.

Tomorrow night, I'll move on South and slowly make my way down to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). I bought an open bus ticket for $20, which allows me to travel across the entire country within 30 days and stop along the way a couple of times .
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