The border crossing between Vietnam and Cambodia was like being in an old movie: dragging my luggage for kilometers on unpaved, country road, along the Mekong River.
In the evening I arrived at Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. I took a walk on the streets and visited a market. No foreigners at all. I tried some grilled fish under the incredulous eyes of the locals. Not bad. I stopped for a beer and a chat with the locals on the side of a busy road. It was funny to see women wearing pyjamas on the street in a central area of Phnom Penh!
The long way to Cambodia: from Saigon to Phnom Penh. It took me two days with boat through Mekong Delta and bus.
Sailing slowly through the Mekong Delta, I admired the scenery: fishermen, floating markets, houses on stilts.
The fishermen work in pairs: woman and man, in a small row-boat. The woman keeps the boat in position while the man throws the net into the water.
The floating market is quite something to watch.
One thing I didn’t notice in other countries, is how intense and for how long the locals in Vietnam are watching me. I was uncomfortable at the beginning, but I am getting used now.
I think you can measure the level of excitement by the number of photos you take. And in the two days cruise to the Halong Bay I took a lot of photos.
3,000 limestone rocks rise like towers from the water and the view is stunning. Old ships called “junks” are sailing between rocks, and women with raw boats are selling drinks and food to the boats.
So peaceful and tranquil, being in Luang Prabang is like going back in time! With lantern-lit streets, Indochinese architecture, French villas and the Mekong River, Luang Prabang is a place where you wish you can stay forever.
Most of the time I rode a bicycle, speeding through the city and passing motor-bikes, tuk-tuks and racing with the school children. Or walking through the streets and visiting the temples here.
The longest ride was 64 kilometers back and forth to the Tat Kuang Si Falls bringing back memories of long bike rides with my childhood friends…
Bangkok. What’s all about? What makes this city so mysterious? What Bangkok offers that Paris, Rome, London and New York lack?! It’s a city with a twist at every corner, a tropical paradise with an edgy reputation, with a hint of danger and excitement (paraphrasing from Frommer’s Bangkok Guide).
After Nepal and India, Thailand is a blessing. No more honking, no more hassles, no more begging, no more garbage. And the most important, the Thais are the friendliest people in the world!
From Pokhara I joined the G Adventures tour to Delhi. Our first stop was the Chitwan National Park in a nice and quiet resort. We visited the elephant breeding centre and as always I broke free from the group and went in a village to take photos and talk with the villagers. The people in Nepal are very friendly and the kids always ask for photos. The houses are made from clay and cow dung. Agriculture is the main occupation.
The dream for a round the world trip was growing in my subconscious for a very long time. But finally, here I am: one more week to the freedom! All this happened in September 2010, when I started my four-month trip from Canada to Asia and Africa via Europe.
Half of the trip was well-organized but the other half was “let’s see what the day brings”. Africa wasn’t planned, it just happened two weeks prior the departure and was a rush against time for the Gambian visa and Yellow Fever vaccination to meet Joyce, my Taiwanese muse…
My first trip to Asia was to Hong Kong, in 2003.
I arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport (Chek Lap Kok) after 16 hours non-stop flight from Chicago. The flight path was going North, in an arch, with beautiful views of Greenland and Siberia, and coming South towards HK. I really enjoyed the journey and flying for the first time with a Boeing 747.
The new Chek Lap Kok airport is impressive, perfectly designed for the most efficient flow of passengers. You don’t even have to read the signage, and, voilà, in no time, you are boarding the double-decker bus to the city!