Walk Like an Egyptian

By , June 27, 2010 5:38 am

So we took an all night flight into Cairo. Our original intention was to take public transportation to our guesthouse and when we got to the bus, we were bombarded with eager taxi drivers wanting to take us into town. The price was right so we agreed and good thing too because we would have never found our guesthouse. It was down a wiggly road with most road signs being in Arabic and it was in a building that in the bottom was a dilapidated shell of a bank. In fact, the guesthouse sign was tiny and three floors above the street – who’s going to look up there?! Even our taxi driver had a difficult time finding the place and had to ask about four different people for directions. Once there, we were greeted warmly and offered a complimentary breakfast of coffee, two baguettes, butter, laughing cow cheese and a boiled egg. A nice way to arrive! Our first order of business was to book a tour to the Pyramids of Giza. Rumor had it that our guesthouse inflated the tour prices so off we went in search or a tour agency and since we were in the embassy area, all we found were tours that were even more expensive. Little did we know, there were plenty of tour agencies downtown but since we didn’t know where the downtown was at the time, we eventually headed back to our guesthouse and they happily booked us for a private tour for the next day at an exorbitant price, of course.

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Asian Transport-asian

By , June 7, 2010 7:40 pm

I really have to take a moment and do a post about the transportation in Asia–it is that interesting!!! First let me tell you about our best transportation day…it starts like this, we were in Battambang, Cambodia and wanted to get to Koh Chang, Thailand for a little fun in the sun. Unfortunately, there weren’t any direct routes because there was a border crossing involved and Koh Chang is an island. And each time we asked how to do it, we got some convoluted story–even our sometimes trusty but crusty Lonely Planet didn’t make much sense. In the end, our hotel arranged for us to take a shared taxi two hours to the border for $7 each. Well, he picked us up at 6:30 a.m. as planned, took us to the end of town in Battambang and we waited there for a while for others to show up. It was a shared taxi after all! Well, nobody showed up so he said the price went up to $10 for a private taxi. We had no choice so off we went.

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Phnom Penh, Cambodia

By , May 29, 2010 3:02 pm

So, we had a bit of adventure getting to Phnom Penh and it was wonderful. Instead of taking the bus, we opted for a two day river boat to Phnom Penh.

Why not! We headed out of Ho Chi Minh City early and had one last drive through the countryside before getting on the boat. We really loved Vietnam–the people were so friendly, the food tasty and the accommodations were amazing and cheap as well, which makes for a backpacker’s paradise. Anyways, we took a minivan to the boat, then took a lovely ride up the Mekong River. There are many houses and villages that line the Mekong, and many people in the water bathing or swimming or washing clothes. It’s just amazing how, when they saw our boat, they smiled and waved like it was the first time they’d seen a boat go by. We love that about Vietnam. Everyone is so friendly.

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Good Morning Vietnam (Part 2)

By , May 23, 2010 10:29 pm

This is the second part of Christine’s post about our adventures down the coast of Vietnam. If you missed the first part, go here: Good Morning Vietnam (Part 1)

Da Lat: Finally a town in the mountains with some cool weather! Da Lat is up in the central highlands and significantly cooler than the coastal areas and cities. It’s only about 200 kms from Nha Trang but took 5 hours due to the biggest potholes I had ever seen. Some were as big as a Volkswagen beetle! We could hardly believe the bus would make it as it chugged along at about 20 km per hour. But we made it and, like always, were dropped off right outside a guesthouse. So, we started walking down the street and decided to duck into a different guesthouse just to see what the prices were like given it is festival time. This was the weekend that Vietnam had a big holiday celebrated both Reunification Day – April 30, and Labor Day – May 1. Lucky for us, the guesthouse had one room left, but it was down on the basement level (flashbacks to our last apartment in Seattle).

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Good Morning Vietnam (Part 1)

By , May 14, 2010 8:58 pm

Well, here we are on another sleeper bus in Vietnam heading to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC, aka: Saigon) with yet another psychopath driver. Just moments ago he passed a car – on the shoulder! – at 60kph! Despite his crazy driving, I am enjoying the lounge chair that reclines and the cozy blankets as well. HCMC is the last city we will visit before we head into Cambodia. We can only stay 4 nights as our visas are due to expire. I realize we haven’t written much these past weeks and that is because we have been having so much fun in this amazing country. So, let me tell you what we have been doing. We already told you about crazy Hanoi and spectacular Halong Bay so I will continue with our story from there.

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Dirty Little Secrets of Long Term Travel

By , April 26, 2010 5:27 pm

If there is something I love, it’s drama! Especially when it is not my drama which is probably why I went into social work.

We have been traveling darned near 9 months now and I think we are finally ‘getting it’. Although we have seen so many amazing places, met tons of wonderful people and sampled the yummiest of food, we were surprised to find that long term travel has a down side. How come nobody talks about it??–I would have loved to have been warned. I never in my wildest dreams expected to run into some of the issues we ran into–I mean, after all, we are lucky enough to travel for 13 months. Isn’t the world is our oyster? How could we have even one bad day? Well, we have had our fair share so, sit down and let me tell you about some of long term travel’s dirty little secrets . . .

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A Wonderful Place Called Laos

By , April 11, 2010 3:12 pm

Some call it “Lee-os”, some call it “Lay-os”, we call it “La-owe”. This is by far the poorest country of S.E. Asia. We have only been here 8 days now and have already accumulated so many cool memories. Laos is definitely the S.E. Asia experience that we were hoping for for several reasons; less tourists (“falangs” as they like to call us here), more interactions with locals, amazing scenery, baguettes and very strong Lao coffee, so inexpensive and each and every ride we take is an adventure in itself.

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Hill Tribin’ in Chiang Rai, Thailand

By , April 5, 2010 10:54 am

So, we went to Chiang Rai to get some hill tribe action and that is exactly what we got. We stayed at the Akha river house which is owned by a leader in the Akha hill tribe. Although I had exchanged many emails with the owner, when we arrived at the guesthouse, the man at the counter had no idea we were coming and very limited English. Well, closer to no English. Luckily we got some free SIM cards at the airport because it was the perfect time to use them to call the man I had emailing, who after me reminding him of our plans, reassured us that we had a room and tomorrow’s tour would be set up. So, we settled in and then went for a walk about around town. We found the hill tribe museum and it was fascinating to read about them. It also got us excited for our next day’s adventures.

Well, the next day arrived and so did our tour guide. He took us to the boat launch where we caught a boat down river. As usual, it was lovely being in a long tail boat, cruisin’ down the river. Our first stop was an elephant riding station. A bit on the touristy side but still we got to ride an elephant (not the ‘adopt an elephant for a day’ experience that we had hoped for but it was fun). We rode around the community, through the river and Paul even got to ride on it’s neck, while I rode in the chair on it’s back.

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Bangkok Baby !

By , March 26, 2010 5:57 pm

Ah yes, Bangkok – a city with so much to offer. Where do I even start?

Well, after a 2 hour ferry ride and an 8 hour bus ride on the fancy bus with the chairs that recline, movies and toilet, we made it to Bangkok. The moment we got off the bus, it was complete chaos! Everyone trying to get their bags at once while tuk-tuk drivers are coming up, one after another, offering rides. After studying my Lonely Planet on the long ride to Bangkok, I decided that maybe a taxi with a meter would be a better bet that we would actually make it to our hotel. So, we went through 3 taxis before finding one that 1) would agree to use the meter and 2) said he knew where our hotel was.

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The Ko Tao Conspiracy

By , March 14, 2010 2:36 pm

I think I have been reading the Lonely Planet a little too much lately. Seems like ever since we got to Thailand, I have been paranoid about getting robbed or ripped off in some way, shape or form. But isn’t that what paranoia all about. Maybe it’s a healthy dose of skeptism. There are an awful lot of warnings about the scams and theft here and a lot to keep aware of which brings me to the Ko Tao Conspiracy.

See, we knew we wanted to go to an island in Thailand but didn’t know which one as there are several popular ones. As people who don’t like a lot of crowds, we heard that Ko Tao was the island for us. We were in Phuket and Ko Tao is a bit far from Phuket so we started planning.

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