Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vientiane, Laos

We found Vientiane, the capital of Laos, to be blissfully quiet (no honking horns! no "lady want to buy something from me") and relaxing. We were pleasantly surprised to arrive at the airport and to have to ask three or four people to locate a taxi driver to take us to our hotel (as compared other places where you have to run away from the taxi, tuk-tuk, motorcyle and bicycle rickshaw drivers who want to transport you). We enjoyed strolling the wide streets & sidewalks (another treasure--sidewalks in other cities are often motorbike parking lots), visiting the impressive wats (temples) and eating by the river.

Llegamos a Vientiane, la capital de Laos. Esta es la ciudad de la tranquilidad donde no hay mas vendedores ambulantes persiguiendote todo el tiempo y en donde para tomar un taxi tienes que emplear algo de tiempo para encontrar a uno y que te lleven. Esta vez no hubo mas claxon y motocicletas andando por las banquetas.

Patuxai, a memorial to commemorate Lao who died in pre-revoluntionary wars. You can climb to the top for great views of the city.

Views of the city from the top of Patuxai.

Presidential Palace.

Wat Haw Pha Kaew

Buddha statue at Haw Pha Kaew.

Pha That Luange, the most important national monument in Laos (with monk passing).

Omar on the steps of Pha That Luang.

The night market on the riverside. Delicious and cheap barbeque and Beer Lao.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat really is magnificent. We woke up early (5am) and pedaled our little hearts out to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Unfortunately, we underestimated the distance from our hotel to Angkor and also got a tinsy bit lost. We missed the actual sun breaking the horizon, but still had beautiful views of the early sun and morning light. You cross a huge moat and courtyard to reach the temple and the lotus ponds in front of it. We admired the sky and the views before walking inside and around--the place is huge, three levels, each surrounded by large covered galleries and a series of intricate wall carvings. Again we have many, many pictures which don't do justice to the temple (or its enormity)--here are our favorites (we couldn't decide which of the front views we liked best :)

Angkor Wat es impresionante. Nos levantamos a las 5 de la manana y pedaleamos y pedaleamos para ver la primer luz del dia en el templo pero nuestro esfuerzo no fue suficiente. Pero aqui abajo les mostramos nuestras fotos favoritas del la vista de Angkor Wat (la misma vista, otro vez y una vez mas).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Siem Reap & The Temples at Angkor

Siem Reap, the town next to Angkor is a six hour bus ride from Phnom Penh. We arrived in the evening and hired a tuk-tuk (the Cambodian style one with a little two person cart attached to the back of a motorbike) for a tour of six to seven of the temples at Angkor, including the temples within Angkor Thom, a huge walled city (the walls stretch more than 12 km). At the end of a long temple filled day we watched the sunset over Angkor Wat from a temple on a hill. The temples are really magnificent--the size (we spent an hour wandering in and around several of them) and number of them and the beautiful intact statues and carvings and wall reliefs. It was just so cool to wander some of the ruins and to see how nature and the jungle are taking some of the temples back.

The next day we rented bicycles to tour Angkor Wat and a few other temples. We got up at 5am to try and catch the surise at Angkor Wat (we were a little late, but it was still beautiful). We took a ton of pictures--here are a small selection of the temples. Check out the pics of Angkor Wat in a separate post.

Llegamos a Siem Reap, la ciudad base para llegar a Angkor. Angkor es la edificacion religiosa mas grande del mundo. Sus parades fortificando Angkor cubren 12 km de distancia. Alunas de sus edificaciones o ruinas paracen que estan siendo digustadas por enormes arboles y vegetacion de la selva. UNESCO y diferentes paises estan tratando de restaurar gran parte de estos templos.

Recorrimos parte de Angkor en dos dias; el primer dia rentamos un Tuk-tuk con su chofer en la maniana para que nos llevara a los diferentes edificios, recorrimos varios templos hasta que se metio el sol. El segundo dia fuimos en bicicleta y nos levantamos al las 5am para ver el amancer en Angkor Wat. Llegamos un poco tarde, pero alcanzamos parte del amanecer.

Amy en una de las entradas a la fortificaion de Angkor. A los lados se ven un grupo de soldados de piedra jalando a la serpiente de 7 cabezas.

La raiz de un arbol comiendose el templo

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

We travelled by bus from Saigon to Phnom Penh. The countryside after crossing the border is beautiful--green rice paddies lined with coconuts, mango and banana orchards, canals and rivers and houses built on stilts to protect them from the yearly flooding. We stayed in Phnom Penh for two days. The riverside with the Royal Palace and its many temples is beautiful, especially in the evening. The city is big and busy, but not as chaotic as Saigon. We did a walking tour of several temples, monuments and markets and visited the Tuol Sleng Museum, a former security prison and torture center under Pol Pot's regime.

Viajamos por autobus de Saigon a Phnom Penh y estuvimos ahi por dos dias. Pasando la frontera encontramos campos de arroz, mangos, cocos y platanos. Las casas estan levantadas por lo menos dos metros arriba del suelo para evitar inundaciones. Esta ciudad es un poco mas relajada que Saigon. Tiene muy bonitos paisajes, museos, templos y monumentos. Visitamos el museo de Tuol Sleng que antiguamente fue una prison de tortura durate el regimen de Pol Pot.

Riverside park
The Royal Palace

Independence Monument

View of Phnom Penh from the roof deck of a shopping mall.

The Cambodia sytle tuk-tuk

The Royal Palace Compound. This is one of several temples on the beautifully landscaped grounds.
More temples at the Royal Palace

The Independence Monument at night

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mekong Delta - Can Tho

We took a bus from Saigon to Can Tho for one night in the Mekong Delta, the rice and fruit growing capital of Vietnam. Can Tho is a riverside town and a good base for exploring the floating markets.

Tomamos el autobus de Saigon a Can Tho para pasar una noche en el area de Mekong Delta.
View from the bus --one of many canals/rivers we crossed.

The ferry crossing over the Mekong, just before reaching Can Tho.
El ferry para cruzar Mekong y llegar a Can Tho.

The bridge that will replace the ferry crossing, it is under construction and due to be complete next year.
El puente que va a reemplazar el cruce a travez del ferry. Este puente esta siendo reconstruido ya que collapso hace dos anios mientras se estaba construyendo.
Negotiating the price for the small boat we hired for a tour of a floating market and the canals.
Haciendo la negociacion de nuestra embarcacion.

The captain of our small boat./ La capitan de nuestro barco.

Approaching the floating market. /Llegando al mercado flotante.

The vegetable boat. Samples of the different vegetables sold on this boat are tied to the bamboo pole.

El barco de los vegetales. Los vendedores distingen los productos que venden poniendo una muestra de lo que venden en el poste.

The watermelon boat./El barco de las sandias.

The pineapple boat./El barco de las pinas.

The dragon fruit boat.Cruising the canals. Brightly colored houses (mostly built out of cement and set back from the canal) and fruit orchards lined most of the canals we traveled through.
Cruzando los canales.