Thursday, August 25, 2016

Final examples of transporting

Here are the final examples of the versatility of vehicles and the incredible loads that southeast Asians demand of their various modes of transport...

What! Is he carrying it for a spare?

Not very aerodynamic

Duck under glass? Nope - under wood!

Traditional taxi...

...and tacky taxi!

"Truck? No, I don't need a truck!"

Is this a camper?

Very wide load - move over!

So that's our collection of southeast Asian modes of transport. Hope you have enjoyed them!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

More transporting

Here are a few more examples of the versatility of vehicles and the incredible loads that southeast Asians demand of their various modes of transport...

A rural salesman

Has this guy never heard of a trailer!

Cattle power

For sale: everything including the kitchen sink

Wonder if his horn goes oink oink!

His mirrors must be useless right now

Using any means available

And we have just a few more to come...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Transport SE Asia style

On our numerous road travels throughout southeast Asia, we were amazed at the versatility of vehicles and the incredible loads that they would demand of their various modes of transport. Here are some examples...

Travelling furniture salesman makes good use of his farm equipment

Trying to get it all in one load

Hope the meter isn't running!

Pedalling must be hard work...

Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana...

Intersection madness...but they somehow make it work (34-sec video of South Vietnam traffic).

video

It's a good thing there's no such thing as "Cruelty to Machines"

He's certainly not breaking any speed limits with this load of fancy furniture

More to come...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Oh no!

We were finally back in lovely Thailand after our motorcycle travels through Cambodia and South Vietnam. Once we crossed the border it would be about a 2- or 3-day ride back to our boat Sea Turtle down in Phuket...but oops, now quite!

Cruising merrily along the highway, suddenly the bike's rear wheel locked up, leaving a long black strip as Jordan jockeyed it to the side of the road. The chain had jumped the sprocket and jammed.

Mangled sprocket

We were 30 km from a town in a rural area. I stayed with the bike and luggage as Jordan went for help which he found from a couple of considerate men at a house close by.

They didn't speak any English but with a lot of gestures they soon figured out the problem. Right away they took control. Soon the bike was in the back of an old pickup and Jordan and the men were off somewhere as I was left at a house with the other kind-hearted people.

A small motorcycle repair shop was close where it was determined that only new Honda parts could remedy the breakdown. By then, the day was closing down so they collected us and our luggage and took us to a small newish motel not far away leaving us to deal with our predicament in the morning.

The next morning we borrowed a scooter from the motorcycle shop (which we could only use for the 1 day) and headed to the Honda dealer in the big town of Chanthaburi. Unfortunately the parts had to be ordered in with a minimum 4-day wait.

In the meantime, we thought we would go back with a bouquet of flowers as a thank you to the friendly and helpful couple Aom and her husband Pun. Well, they took us under their wing for the next 4 days and catered to our every need - transporting us back and forth to the parts shop 30 km away, having us over to their home for dinner, and even lending us their scooter so we weren't stranded at a hotel.

They happily showed us the sights of the area including impressive beach views, a hike up to stunning Phlio Waterfall with its teeming fish, and an eco walk along the extensive Khun Krabaen Mangrove Trail. Aom and Pun also proudly introduced us to a few of their great friends.

Judy, Pun, Jordan, and Aom at Phlio Waterfall

5-storey high tower with boardwalk below

Unfortunately they could not speak English and we could not speak Thai. But we had some laughs, each using translator apps on our cell phones.

Aom and Pun have a prosperous little wholesale business of delivering fresh noodles at night time to vendors and eateries. Jordan volunteered to go along to help 1 night. He came home around noon the next day, very tired after 14 hours of loading and unloading 7 tons of the wet warm noodles, with only a short nap.

Tons of noodles

To celebrate our 12th anniversary, we rented a room at a cool hotel resort called Peggy's Cove. They did a fine job in architecture and settings to capture the essence of the original Peggy's Cove located in Nova Scotia Canada. We invited Aom and Pun to join us for dinner at Peggy's Cove, having conversation in our usual way!

Iconic Peggy's Cove

After several delays, the parts were finely ready and Jordan was able to fix our motorcycle. We sadly bid our friends Aom and Pun goodbye till we meet again one day...take care and thanks again for everything!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Back to Cambodia

We left Ho Chi Ming City (South Vietnam) on a bus back to the border crossing of Vietnam and Cambodia. Our motorcycle was waiting for us at the Cambodian hotel where we had left it as we were not allowed to bring it into Vietnam. Our direction would now take us back through Phnom Penh towards Thailand, taking in the sites of rural life.

Throughout southeast Asia, we had noticed large urns alongside homes that were used to collect rainwater and wondered how they were made. So when we saw a place making them, we stopped to see the process. The little family enterprise was eager to show us how they formed the concrete into smooth, finished round shapes.

Urns for sale

Handcrafted

Family members and helpers were also spotted all working in rice paddies.

Minute Rice?

We also came across an unusual sign...not one to be seen in too many countries!


Houses built on stilts on the swollen river - we stopped on the bridge to take a gander.


As it was getting late one evening, we stayed at Koh Kong, near the border of Thailand. The next morning, we found it very difficult to clear OUT of Cambodia. Again it was the issue of our foreign motorcycle and Customs officials. Hand-pushed carts fully loaded were all abustle, passing from one country to another.

Low-tech import

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Exploring South Vietnam

Our first order of business was procuring a rental scooter for our trip northwards from Ho Chi Minh of South Vietnam. Heading out was a bit of an ordeal, travelling an extensive distance in a dichotomy of road conditions before the hectic congestion of traffic eased. Some roads were well paved and others were like being on a trampoline as we bumped and jarred over the numerous potholes and uneven surface. At times, we thought "This can't possibly be the right road!"

Our large map and reality didn't always jibe and signs were few and far between, even at intersections. Small towns many times were not indicated on the map. Asking locals for directions produced haphazard results as most rural people spoke no English so it usually took the enquiry of many to get a dependable direction.

On one occasion, one man pointed in one direction and his buddy shook his head and pointed in the opposite direction. What! Now what? The two had a brief discussion and both eventually agreed on the direction we were headed. The road was horrendous. But it eventually became fairly smooth pavement.

Sometimes we had to backtrack and try again. We tried to take it all in stride and as part of the experience and as the expression goes "We are not lost, we are just on an adventure". Even with a little frustration, we always got to our destination - maybe a bit late, but we arrived.

Woman tending her roadside rice paddy

Our stops at day's end were varied - some less than ideal but some very beautiful and interesting places. We enjoyed Dalat and Nha Trang for example. The approach to Dalat was along a twisting and verdant mountainous road where with each mile the altitude went up and the temperature and rain came down. We arrived in rain gear, chilled to the bone and the decision to splurge on a luxurious hotel room for a long hot shower was easy.

Dalat has several suitable nicknames such as City of a Thousand Flowers, City of a Thousand Palms, City in the Fog, and Little Paris. As we were riding in the dry season, we called it Pretty City in the Cold Wet Clouds!

One of the reasons for our trip to Dalat and Nha Trang was to find the artisans who create beautiful pictures by embroidering with multiple coloured fine thread. Some were so intricately perfect that they looked like photos. There were also pictures that were embroidered on both sides of a see-through fabric, ideal for viewing with a double-sided frame.

Perfect artistry

The next day, again in the cool high altitude air that was laden with mist and threatened rain, we headed out, once more snaking through the steep mountain roads. But this time we were descending, heading for the coast and a hotter climate.

Water below!

Nha Trang is a coastal city that is now popular with divers, backpackers, and Russian tourists. Downtown area was especially busy and full of high-rise hotels. Eateries were everywhere including beside the long stretch of beautiful golden sand.

From Nha Trang, we started to make our way back to Ho Chi Minh City taking a more coastal route. The sights were different from the interior...fishing villages, sand dunes, and miles of vacant beaches.

More boats

A peasant's limo

Back in Ho Chi Minh, we met a Canadian couple and the 4 of us went to the Bitexco Tower for a sunset cocktail and the great 360 degree view of the City below. It is considered the third tallest in Vietnam at 262.5 m (861 feet). But that is miniature compared to the tallest in the world at over 800 m (over 2,700 feet) in Dubai!

Tower with helipad (photo copied from the Internet)

Ho Chi Minh below

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

SOUTH VIETNAM

The next couple of days, we continued eastward on our motorcycle through the flatlands of Cambodia, crossing the Mekong River once again as we headed to the border of South Vietnam. We spent our last Cambodia night at the border town of Bavet. The hotel there agreed to let us leave the motorcycle in their secure parking for our sojourn into Vietnam as we found no way past the restrictions of taking it into their country.

In the morning with very little border traffic, we found it was a breeze to get processed and through the officialdom for entry into Vietnam. We then caught a bus for the 2-hour ride to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh (formerly called Saigon) and into its labyrinth of streets chockfull with frenetic traffic.

We easily found a clean and cheap hotel in a popular area for budget travellers. Like North Vietnam, we saw many of the same skinny buildings sandwiched between others.


Saturday, August 06, 2016

Smiling Bayon

The temple at Bayon is at the center of Angkor Thom of the Angkor complex and was built about 100 years after Angkor Wat. This temple has 4 smiling faces looking north, south, east, and west on EACH of the 54 towers.

Bayon Temple

Bayon is full of smiling faces throughout the temple, some say between 2,000 and 3,000! You feel like you are being watched...

How many can you count?

What a happy place. We were left in awe and our advice to all is to definitely put Angkor Wat and its many sites on your bucket list.

Ta Prohm

We continued our amazing exploration of the Angkor sites after visiting Angkor Wat earlier in the day, including Ta Prohm for example (a location for the 2001 movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie) which struggles to escape a relentless jungle embrace.

Ta Prohm

Bits of rubble

Nature's overgrowth and destruction

A scene from Tomb Raider

Larger than life

Strolling through time

Ta Prohm has mostly been left to nature, but now the experts are trying to preserve it as nature is becoming too destructive to the temples.

Angkor Wat

Of the several impressive ancient Khmer temples scattered around Cambodia, we saved the best for last.

Just to the north of the present day city of Siem Reap in the jungle flatlands was the seat of the complex Khmer society of centuries ago. Discovered antiquities pop out of the steamy overgrowth here and there, over many square kilometres. The uncovered sites are mostly impressive temples that were the focal point of those prosperous people and as further evidence of their industriousness are the remains of a lengthy labyrinth of man-made canals and lakes.

The most magnificent of these temple edifices is Angkor Wat and is distinct not only for its size (just over 162 ha) and intricate and complex stonework but for its intact condition. Words, and for that matter, pictures, cannot capture the scope and wonder of it all.

We travelled on our motorcycle on paved roads with the rest of the tourist traffic from one prodigious ruin site to another of the Angkor area, each in various forms and features and in various degrees of ruin such as Angkor Thom, Banteay Kdei, Ta Prohm, Bayon, etc.

Approaching the Angkor complex

Over 3,000 nymphs carved into walls of Angkor Wat

Walking down the outside wall of...

...800 metres of intricate and astonishing bas-reliefs (carvings)

Inner area, outside of a temple

One of Angkor Wat's towers

Made of mostly sandstone, the thousands and thousands of tourist footsteps are slowly causing erosion. Steps are being taken to try to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage site.