A Travellerspoint blog

Day 2 with Easy Rider

....continued


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Day 2 we traveled from Lak to Buon Ma Thout. It was a short distance but we were still on the road for most of 8 hours.

The first part of the day was spent touring through the villages and seeing the coffee plantations. I was in heaven! If I haven't mentioned it already....I LOVE the coffee here. "milk coffee" please! Mike and Kim and I even tried our hand at making our own but alas....it isn't quite the same!
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I made Stephane stop along the road so that I could take a few pictures of the rice fields and I stopped a lovely lady from her work for a couple of shots. She just kept smiling and after I was finished she went straight back to her work.

Took a quick stop to watch them make sugar candy. Again, the workers were all smiles and went straight back to work after they took a peek at the pictures I took. There were thousands of bees milling about. Unfortunatly, the pictures don't really show them. I managed to leave unscathed!

Went for a short hike to two different waterfalls. Dray Sap and Gia Long. There were HUGE spiders everywhere! I tried to capture a few of them on film but it's difficult to show how large they are. I swear that they were as big as my hand! I enjoyed Dray Sap the best of the two. I even got to cross a suspension bridge....a little scary! It sways and moves with every step and dont even think about looking at the construction or the boards that your walking on. There is no way that they would ever let people on this thing in the US! I just tried not to think about plunging into the churning waters below, held my breath and went for it.
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Stopped in at a small farm and got to see how they grow mushrooms. It seems that everyone has several things that they grow here. For most, it's coffee and a second job/crop ie mushrooms, silk worms, peppers (will go into that on day 3), sugar making, basket weaving, etc. It really makes me stop and think about the traditional skills that we are quickly losing in America. It's almost a shame that things have become so commercialized and most of us would starve if the microwave quit working!

The further away from the tourist track I go, the more I feel like an attraction to the locals. They are all very friendly and want to try to talk to me (we do pretty well with sign language and of course, it helps that I have Stephane with me to translate). They all ask about my children, which makes me miss them even more. I wish that I had brought some photos to show. Everyone likes to have their picture taken and see it on my camera. No one out here has cameras...except the occasional cell phone camera.

Posted by Khandilee 10:48 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Easy Rider Day 2

....my long winded rant!

sunny
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Day 2 on the road with Easy Rider

It's the end of day 2 and I am still questioning my decision to take 7 days on this trip. My driver is clinically depressed (my professional opinion), and I am getting sick and tired of hearing about how 'poor' he is and how hard he has to work. Fu*k! We all have to work....and I'm sure that he is making enough off of me to live for about the next 4 months! What most people don't understand is that American's are not rich but instead, most American's live off of credit. If you take away all of the American's credit....the number of poor will be evident. People will keep their cars instead of 'getting rid of them as junk' as Stephane thinks. People will lose their home and live with their parents (like many in Vietnam do), people will not have money to go out to eat/play/etc (like the Vietnamese) and will sit at home in the evenings watching TV (of which they will have only basic channels and not HBO/Cinemax and the hundred other channels that we have now. People will not have money to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on clothing and instead will wear what they have, fix the holes and buttons or make their own clothing (like the Vietnamese). People will not spend thousands of dollars on home computers and internet and will instead go to local internet cafe's (just like the vietnamese do) and finally, people will be forced to work more than one job just to make ends meet...JUST LIKE THE VIETNAMESE DO!

Maybe I'm just tired, but I am tired of hearing about it. That and I SMOKE!! He knew this when he was hired and I'm tired of hearing about 'you smoke a lot' , 'you can smoke now', and how 'no one in Vietnam smoke Marlboro' Bullshit! There are Marlboro to be found everywhere! I find it interesting that he feels like he needs to give me permission to do anything...guess it goes back to my being independent. He tells me when I can smoke, when I can eat, when I can take a piss, when to wash my face, you name it and he tells me that I can do it. I KNOW I can smoke/eat/drink/piss! I'll do it when I feel the need!!! OH...while I am complaining...for some reason, I need to find a husband! Why? Because my driver thinks I do!! I hear about that about every 5 seconds too... I guess this must have to do with the Vietnamese culture? Although, I do get the same from many people back home too....so maybe it's just me that's fu**ed up?

I am also tired of hearing about the Vietnam/American war. I know that there was some bad shit that happened then but I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE. I didn't cause the 'war', I didn't fight in the war, I know that a lot of people died and I'm sorry. Just like I am sorry for all the crap that is going on in the middle east right now. I don;t claim to understand any of it and I wish that we could all live harmoniously together....but we don't, that's life, there WILL be war and whether or not we like it...it will happen!

Wow...that was quite a rant! I do feel a little better now.....

I think that the Vietnamese Diet that I spoke of in an earlier post is still holding true... Today I ate:

Badly cooked eggs (half) and a dry piece of crusty bread
Noodle soup of which I consumed about ¼ cup
1 Banana (one of the little ones that they grow here, about half the size of the ones in USA)
3 oz package of almonds (brought with me from US
3 small veggie wraps with rice paper
½ of a fruit shake (scared to eat more as it's made with tap H2O ice)

My stomach is making all sorts of weird noises and I am uncertain if I am trying to get sick or if I am just rumbling out of hunger! I would love some cheese and crackers right now!! ;o)

Then to top things off, I got extremely sun-burnt today. Only on the back of my neck and my arms (going to have a farmers tan for sure now). It is hotter than hell and there is no such thing as aloe lotion or anything that I can find to put on it to stop it from burning (guess the Vietnamese don't sunburn). So right now I have a cool , moist towel draped across my neck and over my arms....feels much better. And, before you ask....I have been wearing sun-screen!! I guess 9 hours riding in the hot sun is more than my skin could take. Tomorrow, I am wearing long sleeves and I am sure that I will roast to death, but I cant get sun-burnt again!

I'll fill you in on the sights later....been a long day and I am going to bed now!

Life is good ?? ...........

Posted by Khandilee 03:18 Archived in Vietnam Comments (3)

Easy Rider Day 1

Hitting the road!

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Crazy House
Pagoda
Terraced Gardens
Flower Greenhouse
Silk Worms
Bamboo basket weaving
Silk Factory
Minority Village
Elephant Falls

What a full day! I will have tons of pictures to share with everyone once I get to someplace that has good internet.

What the hell was I thinking of going on a 7-day moto-bike ride through the hills of Vietnam? It''s been a fun and very tiring day. We started out at 0800 with the sun shining and just a bit of overcast sky's. We have traveled over 150km today. The rain stopped only long enough to provide me a fabulous rainbow and I was soaked and tired to the bone by the time we reached the hotel tonight.

I wont go into details on everything because there is just too much to cover. I think that I have been on edge most of the day. One example would include the trek down to the bottom of Elephant Falls. It was quite treacherous as hopefully you can see by the photos. I was way to chicken to go all the way to see the actual falls from the bottom. I was somewhat intimidated by the rushing waters, slippery rocks, and my lack of coordination. The fact that I was alone down there might have something to do with it too. I just didn't think that a swim sounded like a good idea!!

Another would include simply being on the back of a bike in the hilly roads with all the intermittent downpours that we had. The worst being the last 40km. I was certain that my driver didn't have a headlight as the light from the sun was fading and he still had not turned it on. We were sloping up and down hills with hairpin turns about every 500 feet! Dodging ox-carts, bicycles and pedestrians in the rain. We finally made it to the hotel around 7pm (we were supposed to arrive around 5:30pm). I am exhausted, my ass hurts and my bed-mate is a cicada that I made the hotel guy take away!! My driver is supposed to meet me for dinner at 8pm and it's now a quarter after and I've finished one beer and he has just arrived.

Annoyance: Rain, rain, and RAIN and the hundred times every minute that I have to hear 'America is a very rich country'. I guess by the locals standards, we are all rich. However, I don't feel very rich. I have to work hard every day to have what I have.

One of the highlights was the minority village. The children were so happy. Stephane (my driver) had to point out to me though that the color of their skin is 'darker' than his. I guess prejudice is everywhere....even Vietnam. Sad. We handed out some candy to the children and enjoyed taking their pictures. They laughed and smiled when they saw their pic on the camera. I wanted to give out the stickers (see Mike!) but Stephane had candy instead....next time! The boys were adorable playing on a bicycle that was hanging from the tree..

Life is good.....

ps: Cant post pictures right now, connection isn't good Will try to get up soon!

Posted by Khandilee 02:55 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

The Short Bus

My experience with the Vietnam Open Bus Tour

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Dalat....I'm finally here!! For anyone thinking about taking the bus from Mui Ne to Dalat, I would caution you to find alternate options. I found the bus to be miserable. First, I expected a much larger bus and was herded into a 24 seater which was about the size of the 'short bus' at home that carries the handicaped children to school. It would have been much more fitting for about 12 people instead of 24. And of course, it was full!

I was terrified that I would over-sleep (although now I think that might have been a blessing), so I set my alarm for 0530 for an 0700 departure. I was ready and waiting outside at 0650 just in case. Craving a morning coffee, I opted not because I figured as soon as it was placed in front of me the bus would arrive. Ahhhh how wrong I was! So, packed and ready to go with my Lonely Planet in hand I sat....and waited....it's 0710...and waited...0715....craving some coffee....waiting...0730.....5 more minutes?.....0745....maybe I missed the bus....waiting....0800.....looking for the number for the tour company....0805....the bus finally arrives!!!
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I'm quickly herded onto the bus with an empty seat beside me, thinking this must be my good karma, because the seat in front of me is so close that my knees barely fit. Next stop....my empty seat is taken, d#%n!

The girl that sat beside me was very nice, Lee (I'm sure I am butchering the spelling) from Singapore. She is on holiday for 17 days to travel to Halong. We shared some conversation before it got to loud to continue.

The Vietnamese man in the seat in front of me apparently thought that his comfort was paramount to anyone else's.. His window was wide open the entire way and although a little cool air would have been nice, by the end of the trip I felt like I had ridden 5 hours in the jeep from the day before, my hair slapping my face the entire way. Then just to make matters worse (remember my knees are tight against the seat in front of me), he decides to lie his seat all the way back. So suddenly out of nowhere....his head is slammed into my lap without warning! Now maybe it would be nice to have a mans head in my lap but come on!! This was ridiculous.... I managed this for about 10 seconds....took a deep breath so as not to say anything horribly not lady-like and tapped his shoulder and politely told him to remove his face from my chest!! He kindly obliged....with a horrible grimace my way.

The road to Dalat is not a smooth one. Between dodging huge holes in the road and the ox-carts carrying everything you can imagine, most of the trip was taken at about 10mph (or so it seemed). Except of course when we finally got into the mountains with no guard-rails then the speed seemed to increase as quickly as the elevation. Most of the time it was better to pretend to be asleep than to watch the passing scenery or the cliff that I was sure we were going to tumble down or send some unsuspecting moto-bike down as we took the hairpin turns on the WRONG side of the road!

There were a couple of stops along the way but I was careful not to wander far from the bus due to yesterday's display on the streets of Mui Ne. As we were having breakfast (lunch for me), some girl suddenly ran screaming at the top of her lungs chasing after a bus. We were certain that the bus had ran over a friend/companion of hers and she was hysterical. Come to find out it was her luggage. Somehow, the bus left her with her luggage still on board.

As we arrived in Dalat, I had planned to taxi to another hotel than the one that the bus dropped us at but I was way too tired to deal with finding a taxi and hoping that another hotel had vacancy. So here I am at a shit-hole guesthouse, The Trung Cang Hotel. Actually, it isn't really too bad. I have a double room that is HUGE, clean, with two beds, hot water (real hot water...the shower was wonderful), cable TV, mini-fridge and a window that wont close. Breakfast is free and there is wi-fi in my room! All for a mere $7/night!

So by this time, I am starving. Having only eaten a few grapes on the ride here (for fear that motion sickness would set in if there were anything on my stomach). I basically dropped my bags and tried to head out of the hotel. I checked in at the desk to drop my passport and let them know that I would only be staying one night The clerk at the desk brought out a tour paper and wanted to give me his sales speech....I quickly informed him that I was headed out to find something to eat and I would think about tours later. He did not appear happy but I didn't give him any other option.

Leaving the hotel, I attempted to find the town center and the market. Certain that there would be food to be found. True to form, I headed the complete wrong way!! I quickly figured out that I was not in the right place and turned myself the right way. Soon, I was approached by the well-known Easy Riders!

Already knowing that I plan to do the Easy Rider trip, I told him that I needed to eat and then I would talk with him. He directed me to a place in the market and I had a fabulous lunch/dinner. After, we discussed the options for my Easy Rider trip.

I have booked 7 days from Dalat to Hoi An (hopefully off of the tourist trial) at a price I am not planning to share. I have read many things about the Easy Rider trips and hope that I am as happy with my trip as others have been in the past. My itinerary travels through several small villages (with an optional home-stay) and includes Lak Lake, Buon Ma Thout, Pleiku, the old DMZ, Phouc Son and several others taking the scenic route to Hoi An. I'm very excited about the trip. We are leaving tomorrow morning after breakfast. We will tour around Dalat a little more (took a couple hours today) before leaving town for our journey. My driver is Stephane and he speaks fluent english, french and vietnamese. I rode around town today with him for a couple of hours and he seems a very capable driver. He states that he has been doing Easy Rider tours for 16 years....

Today, we toured the Truc Lam (Bamboo Forest) Zen Monastery, walked along the shore of the Tuyen Lam Lake (paradise lake according to my guide), and indulged in a tram ride (which was a little scary and I'm not fearful of heights). I was happy that he dropped me at most places and allowed me to explore for some time alone. He then joined me and explained some of the history/stories about the places that I saw. The Monastery was beautiful and actually a working Monastery. There is a huge bell in the garden and reportedly, it rings only at New Year. (something about placing family names on paper slips inside the bell for good luck or something like that...I really need to pay more attention). After, we shared a coffee at a pleasant coffee shop near the market and I am now relaxing at my hotel.
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Planning to make it an early night, I am comfortable in my pj's here at the hotel. My body aches from the bike-riding, bus-jostling, and climate changes. It's nearly cold here at 67 degrees!

Life is good.....

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Posted by Khandilee 06:56 Archived in Vietnam Comments (3)

Brothers Grimm

....Fairy Springs and the Lake of Tears


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Yesterday felt like a page out of Grimm's fairy tales. Kim, Mike and I signed up for a jeep tour of the white and red sand dunes. Fortunately, the Fairy Springs were included, for me it was the highlight of the trip.

We started the tour with a wade through the Fairy Spring. I'm not sure of the origin of the name, but I'm most certain that there is some sort of magical tale behind it. I was quite leary of taking off my shoes and wading through unknown waters....who knows what might live in those waters. Fortunately, there were no incidents except for Mike scratching his leg pretty good on the rusty jeep! Hopefully he had his tetanus shots!!

The red rock formations were beautiful, the pictures do not do them justice. The red mixed in with the white in a multitude of formations is indescribable. It did remind me somewhat of the Red Rocks in Sedona, Arizona.

After the Fairy Spring, we took a 30km drive out to the Lake of Tears and the White Sand Dunes. I think the highlight of this part of the trip was the ponies cooling off in the water. The Lake of Tears has an interesting story that I only caught part of and wish I could find more information about...something about a man and a woman and I'm sure some sort of love story with a sad ending. The ride it's self was quite bumpy and uncomfortable (although I have to say that I did get the best seat in the middle). Poor Mike and Kim were on the edges where the seats were separated (not really sure how to explain it other than I am sure that it wasn't comfortable). I tried to swap places during the trip but they are both too damn stubborn....!!

Another 30km back and we got a glimpse of the red canyon. This looked stunning but the main entrance is apparently closed and the government (I think) is going to start charging admission at some point in the future (according to our driver...).

I think we were all simply beat from the bike ride the day before and the jeep ride out to the white dunes because when we got to the red dunes, none of us wanted to get out and walk up them!

Daily expenses (usd):

Hotel $10
Day Trip to Fairy Springs and Dunes $9
Coffee/Breakfast $2
Lunch $ ???
Dinner and drinks ~$5

Total for the day: $26 + lunch

Highlight: Fairy Spring
Annoyance: Taking my shoes off all the time! (Those that can wear flip flops/thongs don't know how easy they have it) :o(

Posted by Khandilee 06:27 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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