Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hello from Cambodia

Where my last post left off is Caitlin had just left for the airport.  Since then I have done a lot of traveling!!  After Caitlin left, I continued to travel south through Laos, stopping in the cities of Vien Viang, Vientiane, and 4000 Islands.  Vien Viang is this crazy party town where twenty something westerners go to: drink, hook up, sleep, repeat.  It is the town in Laos where you can go tubing down the river but along the river there are several bars you can stop at along the way but they aren't normal bars, they sell all kind of drugs including pot, mushrooms, opium, and laughing gas balloons.  The statistics are that a tourist dies about once a week because they get too wasted and drown in the river.  I lasted there about one and a half days, tried to bike out to an organic farm in the area only to find it was pretty much deserted.  That was disappointing.  The city was beautiful as far as scenery but I just wasn't a fan of the type of people that hang out there.  So I moved on to the capital city of Laos, Vientiane.  I don't really love big cities but I like to visit.  There was a really cool Buddha Park with several Buddha statues that was built in the 1950s - you can see photos.  I also just walked around the city and took walks near the river.  I only stayed there a couple of nights as well.  Then I moved down to the 4000 Islands which is this area is Laos where the Mekong River creates several (4000?) islands, many are extremely small but also several that are inhabited.  This was one of my favorite places in Laos.  I think I like places where you have to get there by boat so that there are no cars and everything is accessible by walking, biking or boat.  The highlight of my time there was a kayaking trip where I got to see the extremely rare and highly endangered Irrawaddy dolphins.  We kayaked down the river and walked around a couple of water falls but also spent some time in the bay where the dolphins hang out.  From what i have heard not many people see them but they were jumping almost the whole time we were there which was pretty amazing.  I didn't get pictures because I just wanted to enjoy the moment and when you try to take photos of fish jumping out of water it is generally unsuccessful.  In the 4000 Islands I had my own bungalow along the river for about $2.50 a night.  There was a hammock so I did a lot of hammock time.  Each night there were these really beautiful electrical storms that would light up the sky but with no thunder - I have never really seen that before.  After the 4000 Islands I moved into Cambodia.  I spent one quick night in the capital city of Phnom Phen and quickly took a bus to the coast.  Upon arrival I signed up for a Open Water Divers Course which consisted of 4 days of diving, two days in the pool and two days of open water dives in the Gulf of Thailand.  I was a little nervous about it because I was afraid I would panic, which is the worst thing you can do while under water.  I ended up doing really well and now as I am blogging I just finished the course.  I am really excited because now if I want to I can dive in New Zealand or if I go to Australia the Great Barrier Reef.  Anyways the diving was pretty good - we didn't have great visibility since it is sort of the rainy season here but I saw a lot of really cool coral, horned starfish, angel fish, and on my last day two cuttlefish which were really amazing.  If you don't know what they are google image search it.  I have about nine days left in SE Asia and I will spend some in Siem Reap and the Angkor temples in Cambodia and then maybe about a day in Bangkok before I fly out.  I am excited to be back in New Zealand because I am starting a three week introduction course to Wilderland, a place that is an example of cooperative sustainable living.  I am really excited.  All right gotta go do some research on where I am staying in Siam Reap - cheers and good night!!
Some of the beautiful landscape in Vien Viang - it is a great place for rock climbing

Some of the sculptures at the Buddha park

Buddha park

Buddha park
View from my bungalow in the 4000 Islands

Largest waterfall in SE Asia (largest in largest volume of water passes these water falls, not tallest)

Sunset in the 4000 Islands

Same sunset but later
Taking a bike ride around the islands - it didn't last long, that day was way too hot!!
An example of some of the road blocks you encounter in Cambodia

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