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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Vietnam and Cambodia Trip Overview

So long ago my man and I took a trip to South East Asia.  We went back and forth and back and forth about what to do over Christmas break (three glorious weeks) and finally decided upon Vietnam and Cambodia.  We initially wanted to do more (Laos and Myanmar) but decided it was too much.  This put us at just over two weeks in Vietnam and five days in Cambodia.

We decided to start in the north of Vietnam and travel down to the south by train. About halfway down, we decided to catch a flight the rest of the way.

Afterwards, we took a bus to Phnom Penh, spent a night, before taking another bus to Siem Reap.  Being there was a complete dream and I loved everything about our time there and the town.

Vietnam was an interesting place.  It was so busy and crowded, and very different in every way from where we live.  The traffic in Korea (although people love to complain about it) is nothing compared to Vietnam.

The food of course is near perfection and we enjoyed cheap eats and drinks at every stop along our way.

Since I'm writing this post a full nine months after our trip ended (eeek!) there won't be as much information as I wish I could provide. I'll try and get down a bit of what I remember, though.

Our Itinerary
Hanoi, Vietnam
Sapa, Vietnam
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Hue, Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, Vietnam
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Siem Reap, Cambodia

Weather
I'm only writing about this because we were so completely shocked at the weather in northern Vietnam. It was not warm at all, and we were completely unprepared.  We had been to Vietnam once before, to the beach, and I guess we were expecting the same thing.  We ended up buying "North Face?" jackets, hats, and gloves there.  Especially in the first places we stayed.  It did not truly warm up until we went south to Ho Chi Minh City, where it was VERY hot and humid.  If you're planning on going in the Winter time, prepare for this weather.

Getting Around
We flew into Hanoi and got to everywhere on the first half of our trip by train.  The trains have bunk beds so you can sleep (some of the trips were 14+ hours).  While some were clean and fine, some left a bit to be desired.  By the last leg (Hoi An --> Ho Chi Minh City) I was ready to fly so we took a plane instead.

We also got around by tourist bus and private car.  I would recommend the private car if it's in your budget!

To get to Cambodia we took a charter tourist bus ( I forgot the name of the company) but it was plenty comfortable.  They took care of our visas at the border and it was super easy.  We even took a ferry over the Mekong River (while still in the bus) which had me very anxious.

We also took Tuk-Tuks to get around in Cambodia.  Fortunately, our hotel provided us with a personal driver.  He was awesome and always available to take us whereever we needed.  In Phnom Phen, the capital, this was much more common than taxis and a fun way to get around the city!

Camera
Please allow me to be a big baby and explain why I never posted these pictures.  I used my Nikon d5000 for these photos and mistakenly only used my kit lens, thinking it would allow me to get the wide angle shots my 35mm couldn't get.  Unfortunately it was a bad decision and I wound up very unhappy with my photographs.  Almost all were blurry and I don't think I got the manual settings right on anything.  I guess that's why I haven't posted them (not exciting to edit photos you're disappointed in) but I just need to stop being a brat and put them up.

I guess I was just so excited to see such a beautiful part of the world, and I wasn't excited about the pictures!  Looking back at them, there are a few good shots, and of course...traveling isn't about taking photos! (even though it is one of my very most favorite parts).

One good thing did come of it, it was the catalyst for me realizing I was ready for a new camera!  And our Iceland pics turned out better than I could have hoped for :)

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