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Baacktracking – Vietnam – Dalat

January 31st, 2008

I had no idea what Dalat was before I got there. I had never heard of it before I realized I had bought a ticket to it in my hop on hop off bus tour. Dalat is a town north of Saigon in the mountains. Lets just say the bus I was on struggled to get up that mountain. We must have been going under 20k/hour, air con shut off to reserve power for the engine, other buses and cars whizzing by us. It was a slow journey. We finally got in at night. I booked it over to the Peace Hotel 1 with a couple from the UK I had been running into and were on my previous bus journey. Attached to the Peace Hotel is the Peace Cafe where we met some easy riders. The easy riders are a gang of travel tour guides famous in Dalat for taking tourists on motorbike sightseeing tours. They provide you with books they have filled with glowing review from other travelers. We decided to leave the next morning at 8 or 9 with a driver each. Read the rest of this entry »

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Backtracking – Vietnam- Saigon.

January 30th, 2008

So after cruising through Cambodia, I entered Vietnam, straight to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City….sounds a lot cooler if you call it Saigon). Saigon was pretty tight. I have a friend who just moved down there so I wasn’t such a tourist there. We actually didn’t do much besides go out a couple nights. The nightlife was uninspiring, although there were some nice places. To be honest I was expecting Saigon to be bigger, a la Bangkok, when it was more of a glorified Phnom Penh. Thats not exactly a favorable comparison as Saigon and Vietnam in general is head and heels more developed than Cambodia but anyways. Read the rest of this entry »


Winter In Shanghai

January 30th, 2008

So I know its been a while and I probably should post more about my trip (which I will soon) but first things first. So there’s a giant snowstorm ripping through China now. And by giant I mean sometimes it snows a little bit and the ground gets wet, and sometime a little snow stays on the ground. For a rugged Canadian such as myself, I’ve been here before. For the Chinese….wow.

First off, for the snow on the ground, there doesn’t seem to be any shovels. So naturally, the snow is being removed using brooms, made of tree branches. Needless to say this isn’t the most efficient process.
Additionally, it is not uncommon to see grown men, children, whoever, building snowmen. The looks on their faces is of pure joy.
Chinese Snowman
Read the rest of this entry »

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Angkor Wow

December 13th, 2007

Despite the difficulties I wrote about getting into Cambodia, the marvels to be had at my first stop made the exhausting journey a mere distant memory. I arrived in Siam Reap, the gateway to Angkor Wat, completely unprepared to be awestruck in the way which I was. I admit, before going to the temples of Angkor I was alittle unsure of what to expect. I knew I was going to see a series of ancient temples but the magnitude and natural beauty of some of the sights were beyong my realm of comprehension.

There are a multitude of ways to reach the temples from the main town of Siem Reap. On my first night in Siem Reap I decided to wake up at 430am in order to travel to Angkor Wat to see the sunrise over the magnificent temple. I woke up and by 5am I was outside with my new friends on rented bicycles ready to pedal our way to the temple. The bike ride took about 30 minutes and we arrived at Angkor wat by about 530. Far from being the first ones there, the entrance to the temple was packed with toursits all waiting for the same shot. At around 6am, the sun began to rise and cameras started clicking. The whole event was a great experience and the sight was breathtaking.

After admiring the sunrise, I went for a delicious breakfast across from Angkor Wat and was ready to start exploring. I went back to the Angkor Wat temple and explored that for a while. Next I pedaled to Angkor Thom which was about 1 km down the road. Here I explored the ancient temple of Bayon which is highlighted by having 216 carved faces looking down into the temple or as legend goes, it was used as a means of intimidation by the people….kind of like a big brother is always watching type thing. <img src=”″ alt=”” />

After drifting around Angkor Thom on my bike, I trecked it to Preah Kahn where I got lost in the numerous ancient corridors. By this time I was quite exhausted. And was faced with a long (didn’t feel long in the morning) bike ride home before passing out.

The next day, I decided to hire a driver to take me around. These can be aeasily arranged on the street or from your hotel. I chose to trust the man at my hotel to take care of this for me and for $8 I had a driver for the day. He rode a motorbike which pulls a small carriage. This is a tukl tuk. So anyways I started the day revisitng Angkor Wat as there was still more to see.

After this I traveled to Ta Phrom which was easily my favorite of the temples. This temple can be described (as my lonely planet so eloquently puts it) as being in a wrestling match with nature. All throughout this temple ancient trees and growing intertwined with the temples walls. Its truly a remarkable temple. Some may recognize it as it used as a set for Tomb Raider….but I mean who was really looking at the scenery there. Anyways This temples a must see. After that I visited some other temples but after Ta Phrom nothing really came close.

I think 2 days in the temples is good, I think its doable in one day, but Id leave the bicycle behind if you only have one day. That being said I think the bicycle was a great way to go around and see thing at your own pace, stop where there is something interesting, etc.

It should be noted that this day was filled with little eating and drinking stops. Upon entering and exiting every temple there are countless children offering you water, drinks, etc. Its often hard to say no to them, or to some how arbitrarily choose which one will get your business.


The Journey

December 5th, 2007

If guidebooks and internet message forums are your travel bible, you’ve certainly read the commandment: Thou shalt not travel overland between Bangkok and Siem Reap. I’ve never been a religious man however and such decided to take the mythical journey from Bangkok to Siem Reap. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bangkok – Surviving Day 1

December 4th, 2007

Greetings all. I appologize for being MIA this past little while. Actually I’m really not that sorry about it. I had plenty to do putting my Shanghai life on hold and preparing for my trip to South East Asia. For the most part I am kind of switching the focus of the blog to a kind of Complete Idiots Guide to Backpacking SEA. Lets get right to it, : Read the rest of this entry »


English Corner

November 21st, 2007

Teaching adults English can sometimes be very trying. In my company, the classes are small, and the text books suck. As a result the students often vote for a ‘free talk’. This would be fine if free talk actually meant have a group conversation. Instead free talk translates to have me run and hold a conversation with people who often don’t want to talk. I mean, sometimes, the conversations come easy, the students and I get along, it feels almost natural. Other times, not so much. Read the rest of this entry »


MMM Good

November 20th, 2007

I like food. This is a fact. I usually spend half my day thinking about what I will eat next. Not in an I’m obsessed with food I weigh 300lbs kinda way, more in a this student is really boring how can I amuse myself, oh yah, what will I eat when I get out of here kinda way. Read the rest of this entry »


The Hawaii of the East

November 16th, 2007

So, I as I’ve mentioned I am heading to South East Asia. I was considering going through China to Vietnam. The usual route involves a multiple day train trip straight into Vietnam. I was thinking of being creative. Since I have been meaning to check out Hong Kong and Macau I wanted to include them to. So what I was thinking is to take the overnight train to HK, then dip down to Macau. Here is where I found a nice surprise in the shape of what is commonly referred to as the Hawaii of the (far) East. Hainan island hainan is known for its miles of white sandy beaches, great scuba diving, and lush tropical rain forest. Sounds great right. But I bet you’re thinking its probably not as good as Hawaii though. Well that is where scientific testing comes into play. Let me break down the two for you on a number of important factors.

Price: Unlike taking a vacation in Holualoa , which costs an arm and a leg (as a sidenote, just for fun I always tell my students that an arm and a leg is a very important commonly used phrase and implore them to use it, they sound funny saying it), so anyways Hainin is still for the most part relatively inexpensive.
Edge: Hainan

Adjectives used to describe surrounding sea:
This is an important one people. I need to be sold. The Hainan island is surrounded by what one reputable source calls legendary South China Sea . Now legendary isn’t a word to be tossed around too lightly. I’m not even sure Hawaii can compete. Pacific Ocean come on. been there, done that.
Edge: Hainan

Possibility of celebrity sighting: Hainan is still unknown to the majority of Hollywood celebrity’s. Hawaii on the other hand is a magnet for celebrities . Thus if you are in Hawaii you will see a celebrity. Thats what magnets do. They attract things. In case you were wondering, this is a good thing.
Edge: Hawaii

In conclusion Hainan soundly defeats Hawaii by a score of 2-1. Legendary.


Fixing electronics in a foreign country

November 14th, 2007

Now, I’m no computer wizard. This is for sure. I mean I can run around the internet with the best of them. I can fix little problem son windows. Virus check, configure, make this thing move faster. But I can not fix big problems. I can not take things apart and fix them. For example, my cleaning apparatus of my electric shaver stopped working. After playing around with it I realized that if I pushed down on it, it would work. This would be fine if I was willing to stand by my shaver for a half hour. Being the crafty person I am I came up with this: fix Read the rest of this entry »

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