Hello All, Long time no update. I just wanted to let everyone know what our plans are for next year. I guess most of you know this already but for those of you who don't here it goes. Amy and I will be moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota in mid-August. I was accepted to the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and have decided to go there. It was a neck and neck race between Wash U. in St. Louis and U of M, but in the end U of M won. Amy is currently working as an OT at Children's Hospital covering maternity leave for her former supervisor there. She is enjoying it but she is working a lot of hours. Monday through Thursday 7Am - 6PM, OUCH. That is a little different from our schedule in Vanuatu. I am taking care of the chores around the house (Mi stap makem haus boy nomo!) and trying to set up some shaddowing. I am trying to go and shaddow some poeple in the business world here. I am going to visit the CFO of the hospital and then go and shaddow some investment bankers in the area. Hopefully, I can get a job doing something for one of the people I shaddow, or I will find something else. Other than that I have been running and biking lots. Hey what else am I supposed to do. I will add photos from Spain, NY, and Colorado as soon as I find a place with good internet conectivity. Come back to the US and no more internet cafes, and we cant get DSL at my parents house. Sorry to all of you chomping at the bit to see the rest of our adventure. I promise I will update it sometime in the nearish future. Thanks for all of the great comments while we were traveling. It kept us going sometimes and definately made us feel closer to home. Cheers!!
Long time no update. I just wanted to let everyone know what our plans are for next year. I guess most of you know this already but for those of you who don't here it goes. Amy and I will be moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota in mid-August. I was accepted to the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and have decided to go there. It was a neck and neck race between Wash U. in St. Louis and U of M, but in the end U of M won.
Amy is currently working as an OT at Children's Hospital covering maternity leave for her former supervisor there. She is enjoying it but she is working a lot of hours. Monday through Thursday 7Am - 6PM, OUCH. That is a little different from our schedule in Vanuatu.
I am taking care of the chores around the house (Mi stap makem haus boy nomo!) and trying to set up some shaddowing. I am trying to go and shaddow some poeple in the business world here. I am going to visit the CFO of the hospital and then go and shaddow some investment bankers in the area. Hopefully, I can get a job doing something for one of the people I shaddow, or I will find something else. Other than that I have been running and biking lots. Hey what else am I supposed to do.
I will add photos from Spain, NY, and Colorado as soon as I find a place with good internet conectivity. Come back to the US and no more internet cafes, and we cant get DSL at my parents house. Sorry to all of you chomping at the bit to see the rest of our adventure. I promise I will update it sometime in the nearish future.
Thanks for all of the great comments while we were traveling. It kept us going sometimes and definately made us feel closer to home.
Monday, March 17, 2003They are back!
Amy and Brian returned to Denver today after nearly 2 1/2 years away.
Readers here have been following their journey home, so I'll keep this brief so I can get to the reunion pictures taken at DIA today and at the Matthew's house. They are a little under the weather, and very tired from the long journey, but they are both well, happy, and looking forward to the future. I'll let them tell you more once they get a chance to get caught up!
Friday, March 7, 2003Sunny days in Spain
Brian and I had our final full day here in Spain. These last two weeks have been a strange mixture of ups and downs (much as PC was in fact). We loved Spain overall, but we were just plain tired of traveling near the end. There was also the small fact that we just get by with survival Spanish phrases, but we picked up what we could, did a lot of charades and communicated fairly effectively overall. Luckily, most people know enough English that we were fine overall. We did have a few interesting meals in which we had absolutely no idea what we had ordered and weīre pleasantly surprised with the dishes.
Spain is truly a beautiful country. The grandness and pride in the people and itīs monuments is very evident, especially here in Barcelona. We spent the first 5 days of our 2 weeks total in Barcelona. We had a whirllwind series of museum and art gallery visits over those busy days. We stayed in the Barri Gothic section of Barcelona, which is right near the city centre and all of the museums. Barri Gothis is Barcelonaīs "Gothic Quarter" and as described by Lonely Planet is "a classic medieval warren of narrow, winding streets, quaint little plazas and wonderful structures from the cityīs golden period. Few of itīs great buildings date from after the early 15th centuary."
We checked out the Picasso Museum, which is an incredible museum covering the time from Picassoīs start as a youngster through his death. Itīs interesting because his early paintings show that he had incredible talent in realism and impressionism, but the museum shows through his progression that he starts breaking away from the mold fairly young, creating the incredibly unique style, if not slightly bizarre that we know, and what created his infamy as an artist. The other thing that was interesting is the fact that he was just as talented or maybe even more so as a sculptor. I think that fact has definitely been shadowed by his paintings.
We also had a very full, total Gaudi day. He is the infamous Spanish Architect who created dozens of buildings etc. throughout Barcelona. We went see his two most famous sites, Parc Guell and La Sagrada Familia. Just to give you a little bit of background about Gaudiīs sites if you donīt know much about him, he buildings cause a huge range of reactions from my understanding. Many think his buildings are absolutely bizarre, atrocious even. But many, many more, including Brian and I think theyīre absolutely beautiful, one of a kind, and a must see to understand how brillant Gaudi was as an architect, an artist. These mixed feelings are especially stirred up by Sagrada Familia, which is a medieval cathedral that is only half-built after 100 years of construction. We knew this in advance and couldnīt believe something could take that long, but after our 3 hour tour, we truly understand are not surprised. I wonīt say much more about it other than to say it inspires true awe in both Brian and I and we highly recommend anyone with interest visitīs it someday. They say that they are working full steam ahead now and hope to finish it in the next 20 years or so with the technology they now have available to them.
The other Gaudi site we visited for an entire morning was Parc Güell. Guadi was hired to create a minature garden city of houses for the wealthy in the landscaped grounds that he designed. The project was a commercial flop and eventually abandoned, but at that point Gaudi had already created over 3km of roads, walks with all sorts of amazing sculptures and mosaics throughout. One of the most interesting parks Iīve been too, besides the one in Norway of course.
Now Iīd like to join the Barcelona section with the description of the rest of our trip in Spain that Brian sent out yesterday to all of our Peace Corps friends. We spent another 9 days down south, first 3 in Sevilla, then 3 in Cordoba and lastly, 3 in Granada. He started in reverse oder with Granada. Enjoy!!
We are sitting in Granada, Spain after just visiting the Alhambra. What and amazing
We decided to finish our stay here in style. We signed up for a Arab Bath. Oh My God!! Imagine a candle lit sanctuary filled with wonderful aromas (they were burning votive candles and had lots of aroma therapy oil) where you enter into a shallow warm hot tubesk pool. The air was humid and the steam so thick you could cut it with a knife. After spending 15 minutes in the refreshing hot water it was time to move to the cold room. A room just as humid but much cooler. In that room is another pool with cold water. It was shocking but after a minute in the cold water your whole body was tingling. Next, spend a few minutes sitting just breathing in the cinnamon, jasmine, and pepermint aromas wafting through the air and warm up before heading back to the hot pool. After repeating this a few times, it was time for our massages. By the end I was a warm pile of goo, yet revitalized and full of energy I have never experienced anything quite like it.
Cordoba is the other town that we visited (since I last wrote I think). It has an Alcazar. It was not as cool as the one in Sevilla, but the town is quaint and has really narrow streets that you could spend days lost in if you didnīt have a map. We will come back and add more about Sevilla in the future.
Well we are winding down our trip and we are a bit sad that it is coming to and end but very glad to be returning home to see family and friends again. On another note, I (Brian) have been accepted to 2 business schools so far and am waiting to hear from 2 others. The 2 are Minnesota and Denver. So we might be in either place. We will keep you posted.
We are on our way ,tomorrow, to Canada to visit our friend Karen for a night, then via greyhound bus to visit my best friend from college, Sarah, her husband Jeff and their little boy (our first chance to meet him) Tommy. Then we spend our last few days with our friends Lynley and her husband Ryan. We are so excited! Then home sweet home! Canīt wait to see you all again soon!
Wednesday, February 26, 2003Norway and the Netherlands!
We are currently in Spain, but I will save that update for another time. Instead Iīll begin with our 5 days in Norway, from Feb. 13th-18th with our friends Tina and Paul. We flew into Oslo, Norway at around 1pm on the 13th after 15+ hours of travel and thanks to the holistic wonder drug, No Jet Lag, we truly felt no jet lag! Granted we were a bit tired, but not bad.
The first day we took it pretty easy, just catching up with Tina (after 10 years, since the last time I saw her) and getting to know Paul. They have a lovely apartment together in the heart of Oslo, within walking distance from the downtown centre and lotīs of great coffee shops and restaurants etc. Tina made a special Norweigin meal, of reindeer casserole. It was quite good.
For the second day, we bundled up a headed out under the bright blue skies into the fairly frosty 2 degree celcius air (32ish F) of Norway. Surprisingly, it wasnīt as shockingly cold as we had anticipated. The warm rays of sunshine made a huge difference in our adjustment. However, I did notice that my skin started try to shed like a snake within the first few days. You always forget about those aspects of a different climate. So, back on track with the story, we headed down to the royal palace to check that out. We saw the changing of the royal guards and then headed downtown. Tina went off for an appointment and we headed to the sea wharf to explore that area. It was breathtakingly beautiful to look out over the geometic-shaped icy waters into the slightly foggy horizon, with pirate-like ships in the foreground. Stunning! Tina kept mentioning how beautiful Norway is during the summer and how we have to come back that time of year. I agree, however, I have a feeling that Norway is just as beautiful, in a very different way during the wintertime. We went to the National Art museum that afternoon and explored for a few hours, checking out the diverse variety of artistic styles. We also helped Tina pick out a really nice framed picture, from a gift certificate Paul had given her for Christmas.
On Sat. we took it Easy, with a capital E! It was so nice. We all slept in, had coffee in the cozy apartment, sitting on their comfortable couch. It was a much needed recovery/recooperation morning many, many mornings of early travel days and tours for the weeks prior. In the late-morning, early afernoon we took a long, leisurely walk to Visgold Park (Iīm totally blanking on the name), but itīs infamous, with itīs hundreds of beatiful, if not slightly bizarre sculptures.
On Sunday had another long leisurely day, catching ĻTwo Weeks NoticeĻ movie in the afternoon (with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant) in the afternoon. On Monday we drove to the Olympic Ski jump, checked out the museum there and then headed further up the hill to an old ski lodge for a traditional Norweigin snack - itīs essentially a kind of sour cream-like soup in which you sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top, accompanied by different kind of meat and flat bread to dip into the soup. It was delicious and the view from the lodge was gorgeous, looking back over Oslo. It was a great way to end our time with Tina and Paul, who were the most gracious of hosts. Thanks again you two! We will definitely be back to Norway someday!!!
Onto Amsterdam on the 18th for a short 3 day trip there. According to the web-site for our hotel we were meant to be just outside of the red-light district, which also happens to be the city center, very close to all of the museums etc., but the description of the location seemed to be slightly off and we were in the red-light district. Oh well, we were barely ever actually there, so it ended up being alright. On the 19th we went to the Rijks Museum, which is absolutely enormous. We proceeded to spend the next 6 hours exploring, by the end we were absolutely exhausted. On the 20th we experienced the Heineken experience and then rushed over for a quick 1 3/4 tour of The Van Gogh Museum, which as the British would say was ĻBrillant!Ļ
That evening we met up with a couple, Xavier and Esther, who we met 4 weeks earlier on a bus in Laos. We exchanged e-mail and agreed to try to meet up with them if feasible in their hometown of Amsterdam. Weīre so glad it worked out, it really nice to exchange stories and catch up with them.
On the 21st we flew to Barcelona. On that update as a mentioned before will come in a few weeks.
10 days til our NY visit with friends and 18 days before weīre back in CO. Itīs hard to believe itīs nearing the end, but we are truly looking forward to being home with you all again.
See you soon!
Tuesday, February 11, 2003Rice paddies, street vendors and Honda Om!
Where did the last two weeks go? We have reached the last day of our 15-day Vietnam Adventure and the end of our 2 month SE Asia Adventure. It's hard to believe! We have had some amazing experiences here and will definitely be back in the future. However, we're slightly wiped out from our go, go, go schedule and some of the intenseness of traffic, and vendors assertiveness, we think that we probably planned it right in keeping our time at just 2 months. We are looking forward to seeing my Norweigen friend, Tina and getting back into first world countries.
One quick side note, learning to cross the street in Saigon and all of Vietnam is a developed skill. The first few times leaving you in a state of post-adrenal rush fatigue. As Bao instructed us the very first day as we stood on the sidewalk staring apprehendsiously at the other side of the 30 ft. wide street filled with a sea of hundreds of motor bikes and a few odd taxi's:
Yea Right! Anyways, now at the end of 2 weeks we are seasoned veterans, and actually view as kind of a fun experience, a bit like Frogger!
So... I think I left off at New Year's Eve (lunar new year). It turns out that I unfortunately missed much of the Tet Celebration (developed a nasty sinus infection that knocked me out for several days). We had been officially invited by Bao's grandparents to come to their house for dinner and celebration on the 31st of Jan. to bring in the New year with them. Fortunately, Brian was able to go and take lots of photos and bring back stories. He had a huge dinner with Bao's family, including a few Vietnamese New Year specialities that reminded us a bit of a tamale, but it was made with rice. Around 10pm Brian said the family put a small alter outside their home, complete with burning incense, fresh fruit and drink to appease and welcome the gods to the New Year (hoping in turn that they would be blessed with good health, happiness and prosperity). Brian, Bao and some of Bao's Aunts and Uncles went downtown shortly after midnight to check out the scene at one of the biggest pagodas in Saigon. It turns out thousands of others had the same idea and the found themselves quickly swept up by a sea of people. Brian purchased a 4-foot incense candle, that in photos made him look a bit like he was carrying the olympic torch. The night was complete after oohing and ahhing at a spectacular fire works display.
On Feb. 1st (officially New Year's Day) Brian and I were invited to be the first official visitors to Bao's grandparents house. I was still sick bigwan so I opted out for two reasons. I really wanted to go, but obviously didn't have much energy, but I also know that the first visitor has a lot of significance for the coming year. If I had gone, I could have possibly brought a year sickness to their house. Yikes! The visitor is ideally, supposed to be male, wealthy and have children. People who are sick are osterzied because it brings bad luck. Anyways, Brian went prepared to say a few nice sentiments and wishes for the coming year and hand a red envelope containing 'Lucky Money' to Bao's grandparents. Lucky money is just a small amount of the local currency to essentially bring good luck and prosperity to the family.
On Feb. 3rd we began our journey north, hoping on a 5-hour bus ride to the mountainous city of Dalat (at 1475m), glad to be leaving the overwhelming traffic and pollution of Saigon behind us. Dalat was significantly cooler than Saigon, I'd say at least a drop of 15-20 degress. In fact we were shivering by nightfall, when just the night before we'd been sweating in Saigon. We stayed for 2 nights, 1 1/2 days in Dalat. We enjoyed a cute little coffe shop in the morning. And shortly after breakfast, began our day of obscure sights and locations. First, we went to a place called, Hang Nga Art Gallery and Guesthouse, by locals known as "The Crazy House." It was designed by a Vietnamese architect and as it says in the Lonely Planet Guide, has architecture straight out of "Alice in Wonderland." All of the guesthouse rooms are contained in a what appears to be a large tree (made out of concrete) with nooks and crannies, stairs leading to nowhere, looking out on a giraffe and concrete mushrooms. Pretty wild, but definitely worth the visit. Next, we checked out the beatiful Dalat Flower Gardens (probably our least obscure visit). In the afternoon we went to the 'magic' spinning table. Bao toted it as a must-see experience (having been years earlier himself). We walked in a saw a few people with the hands resting on the 225 year old black table. Supposedly, you were supposed to rest your hands lightly on the table say a direction out loud, left or right and the table was supposed to magically begin moving on it's on. Finally, after a number of others had tried it out, Brian and I gave it a try. Somehow or another it really did feel as though it started moving on it's own. It was a little bit weird in fact. We're not quite sure how it worked, but Bao being a Physics major and myself believing in possibilities
On Feb. 5th we began the bus trip that made us decide not to take the buses anymore for long distance travel. We took a 6-hour ride from Dalat to Nha Trang ( a beach town) spent 6 hours walking around and exploring the area. We hoped back on a bus at 6:30pm to begin our 12-hour, bumpy, winding route to Hoi An. Needless to say, it was an uncomfortable, restless journey. Upon reaching Hoi An we groggily checked into a nice hotel and proceeded to take a 3-hour catnap. Feeling refreshed we ventured out onto the streets of Hoi An. In hindsight, I have to say that I personally liked the feel of Hoi An more than any other city in Vietnam and possibly all of SE Asia, a close-tie with Luang Prabang (in Laos). Hoi An's streets were narrow and windy. The streets lined with little French colonial houses, the were painted mostly a washed out yellow, intermixed with some light blue houses, all with a dark red brick-tiled roof. Truly pictureque! And on top of it all the shopping was a dream, over 200 tailor shops, making high quality products (ie dresses, skirts, shirts etc) out of pure silk for under 20 bucks a piece! We took a full-day tour to My Son - ancient Champa Ruins from the 10th-13th centuaries.
We took a 5 hour 128k bus ride to Hue on Feb. 7th. We found the nicest hotel for only 4 bucks a night, with better service than any of the $25 hotels we'd stayed in in the past week. We explored the remains of the Citadel and the building within including the Forbidden Purple City (area belonging to the Emperor). On the 8th we took a half-day tour of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). This particular area had some of the worst battles during the Vietnam War. The Rockpile, Khe Sanh, Lang Vay and Hamburger Hill. We had an excellent guide who gave us a very detailed historical account of the area. We also visited the Vinh Moc Tunnels. There are 2.8km of tunnels in which up to 300 people (at a time) hid in during the war to avoid bombs and gunfire. It was definitely sobering to hear about and see first-hand the impact of war on the local people.
We flew (no way were we going to do the 16-hour bus ride!!!) to Hanoi our final destination in
Today, we saw Bao off at 8am as he heads to India for his next adventure. Brian and I will meet up with our friend Jenn (the PCV that we met up with in Cambodia- she's arriving to begin her 2 weeks in Viet Nam today) for lunch. We'll visit the Temple of Literture, do a bit more shopping and then hop on a plan at 8pm destined for Bangkok, Copenhagen and finally Oslo.
Hope all is well with everyone! We miss you and look forward to seeing you all in just over a month!
Love, A & B
P.S. We found a bottle of Mineral water yesterday with the name "A & B water" so we bought it for the label.
Wednesday, January 29, 2003Heart of Cambodia
First of all, I wanted to thank everyone who contributed to the virtual B-day card for my 30th (that my awesome brother put together). It helped make an already memorable B-day all the more amazing!
Let's see, how to sum up 2 weeks it such an amazing place?! Brian and I decided, while researching Cambodia prior to embarking on our trip, that due to lack of infastructure it would be a good country to do a group tour. SO... We signed up for the 15-day "Heart of Cambodia" Intrepid (Australian tour co.) and in hindsight we're so glad we did.
Basically, the tour was designed to incorporate the must see/experience areas, such as Angkor Wat and the capital (with the Museums and Killing Fields) and to see some of the smaller towns that are normally skipped by many tourists. Altogether we visited 8 different towns in Cambodia, truly giving us a taste of the rural areas along the way.
On Jan. 11th we met the other 9 members of our group + our group leader, Steve. There were a # of people from Australia, two guys from Scotland, two women from Canada and Bri and I. We covered a range of ages from 21 - 72. It was nice to have such diversity in ages and backgrounds, it ended up lending to a good group dynamic.
On the 12th of Jan. we had a pretty sobering experience visiting first the Toul Sleng Prison (S-21) Museum and then the Killing Fields. We quickly learned that most everyone had been touched somehow or another by Pol Pot's Regime from 1975- 1979, killing 100's of thousands of Khmer people thru this horrific period of genocide. The tour guide we had for the day had lost his father to Malaria due to lack of medical treatment during that period. It's hard for me to fathom that this all happened so recently, in our lifetime. After learning the recent history it makes you look at everyone with new eyes. You can't help, but ask yourself how was this person affected by their recent tragic history. The people, Cambodians, are trying to move forward. They don't want revenge, they want to live for today, and are some of the most loving, kind and gentle people I've ever met.
On the 13th we started making our way north first to Kampong Cham. We took a 3 hour Express Ferry up the Mekong to reach our destination. In the afternoon we visiting a pre-Angkorian temple. The next morning we headed to Kampong Thom, along the way we stopped in a small town that has been nicknamed "Spiderville" (for good reason). We made about a 15 min. stop in Spiderville so a few adventurous/crazy souls could order a fried spider (this included Brian). We found a woman carrying a tray full of this non-appetizing delicacies. It turns out the history behind the fried spiders, is that during the Khmer Rouge with huge food shortages the local people developed a taste for fried spiders to keep themselves alive. Anyways, I used the spider as a prop for a photographic opportunity to give the appearance of chowing down on the spider, but then I quickly handed it back to Brian for the actual tasting. He said it didn't taste all that great, a bit like chicken, and did I want to try some. For the sake of trying everything once, I tried a bit of one of his legs. I don't really recommend it.
In Kampong Thom we visited a amazing place called Sambor Preah Kok, a area that consistes of more than 100 pre-angkor temples/monuments in the heart of the forest. We also visited a rubber factory. THe smell was a bit overwhelming, but our curiosity, especially Brian's (by the end of our 1 1/2 tour he'd figured out the productivity and several other figures) was enough to keep us going.
The next morning we headed further north to Siem Reap, our home base for the next 3 days to thoroughly explore the Angkor temple area. WE visited 10 temples in 2 1/2 days. Some of our favorites were Ta Prohm (the forest temple, were a part of Indiana Jones was filmed), Bantey Kdei (called the Women's temple for it's intricate bas-reliefs/carvings) and Angkor Wat (which is the most intact wat in the area and the most magnifiscent in design, architecturally and artistically).
The most memorable moment of those 2 1/2 days was sunrise at Angkor wat on the 17th of Jan. (Gramp's B-day!). We arose at 4:00 am, headed to the temple at 4:45am and were sitting on the steps of the library (on the grounds of Angkor Wat) by 5am, in pitch darkness. We sat back on the steps to await the awakening of nature, listening to the mesmerizing sounds of monks chanting, roosters crowing and frogs croaking. Suddenly it was as though someone painted the sky with a light yellow and the three main temples became a sillhoute in the foreground. It was an unforgettable experience. It wasn't just about the sun peeking through the temple, it was the whole sensory experience, the sounds and peace of dawn in such an awesome place.
On Jan. 18th we took an hour journey down river toward the third largest town in Cambodia, the french colonial riverside town of Battambang. It was fascinating to observe life on the river. We passed numerous river villages along the way. One area consisted of homes made of riverboats, the diet mainly consisting of fish. Another village was made up of mainly houses built on pantoons with a total of 3 buildings (the church, aidpost, and meeting area) on stilts 30 feet high to accomodate for the river level during the wet season.
On Jan. 19th, I woke up not feeling any older, as I was ineviably asked by a co-tour member. We spent the morning visiting a few local temples. They were interesting to see. But, the most exciting part of the day, one in which I almost passed up to "just take it easy" was our afternoon on motorbikes and the "bamboo train." Nine of us, hired moped drivers to take us on one of the most exhilarating and beautiful rides of our lives. First we headed along a dusty trail north of Battambang for about 45 mins. We were asked to get off the bikes and walk across a suspension bridge. On the other side we got back on the bikes and proceeded to zoom thru a series of small villages on narrow dusty paths. Kids were singing out the salutations all the way with Hellos, Bye-Bye's and High 5's. We even received a few bouquets of local wild flowers along the way. The kids energy was incredibly contagious and the sights of life in the village made us think of Vanuatu. Eventually we arrived at the a small station to ride the Bamboo Train. At sunset, we embarked on a small one car, flat bed, bamboo contraption that just barely held our group. The car motor was started and we sped off into the purple, orange and pink horizon of the most brillant sunset I've seen in years!!! That night we went to this great local restaurant with the whole group. We had a delicious meal and I was surprised with an amazing cake that said "Happy 30th Birthday Amy!" on top and a group gift of a shadow puppet and a lovely card. Every bit of the night was wonderful except for the bit of dust that was extremely irritating to my Left eye, it was half swollen shut by the end of the night. But, as I told one of our friends on the trip, it made my Cambodian B-day all the more memorable : ) !
On the 20th we flew down to Phnom Penh and jumped on a bus to head to the seaside town of Kep. As Brian said in an e-mail to our folks, the "undiscovered jewel of Cambodia." It had the most relaxed air about it. It was really quite lovely and rejuvinating. Our last main stopover was in Sihanoukville which is another beachside town. Only this one is much more touristy. We stayed in bungalows off the beaten track. On the 23rd we spent an entire day on a chartered boat. We truly felt like we were living in the lap of luxary. We spent the whole day exploring small islands, snorkeling, reading and chatting. The perfect end to our time together with our group. On the 25th we were back in Phnom Penh. We went to the Russian Market, explored the Royal Palace and walked around the city. We spent the last 1 1/2 days with our friend Jenn (a co-PCV).
On the 27th we began our journey here to Vietnam. We took a 5 hour boat ride along the Mekong over the border into Vietnam. Spent the night in Chao Doc and then took a full day tour to make our way north here to Saigon. So now it's our 2nd full day in Saigon. We've had a incredible time, exploring this slightly overwhelming, vibrant city of 8 million + with our friend Bao (anther PCV whose originally from Vietnam). It's been wonderful to be with him, he's been taking care of us, taking us to the best local resturants and showing us the sights. We've been officially invited to attend the New Year Celebration (Lunar New Year - Tet) with Bao's grandparents. The celebration starts at 6pm tomorrow night and we'll stay til just after midnight (I think a nap is in order tomorrow) to welcome the new year.
We'll write another update in about 2 weeks at the end of our Vietnam portion of the trip. In the meantime, we wish everyone well and "Chuc Muang Nam Moi (Happy New Year in Vietnamese)!!!"
Love, A & B