mi feel guilty. i said that Vietnam had blocked my blog - and here i am - in Vietnam, posting to the blog. (but really, EVERY computer - until this one - would not show it; one even said access denied!) but thank you cindy for your willingness to keep my blog active regardless of the circumstances.
well, today we returned from our two-day trip Halong Bay. incredible. we cruised around the bay, visited a cave, and spent the night on the boat; we were lucky to have only 9 others with us on the boat - and we all got along very well. i did have a little trouble getting to sleep cause jacob got scared by a little striped bug. he WOULD NOT go to bed until the thing was removed from the room or killed. at one point he yelped when i touched his head with a pen (to make like the bug had landed on him.) well, when i got lazy hunting for the bug, he chided me that i would not be able to abdicate such an important responsibility as bug hunting if a woman had asked me. he did finally kill it, so i guess he redeemed himself in the end; (i felt sorry for the bug- it wasn't that big, and looked like an endangered species.) in response, jacob will tell you all how i threw my dental floss into the already fragile halong bay... but i still say i am not to blame for that cause i thought dental floss was made out of biodegradable string (not plastic, like jacob was quick to point out). so i guess it's nothing but fighting and contention on this end... but that's what vacations are for.
well, meet nick, nid (from Thailand, living now in Australia,) and sophie (from England):
we met them on the boat and spent the rest of the day with them. nick and nid have a restaurant in their city of Sydney (voted best Thai food in the city 4 years in a row!!) so virakone, go check it out (if you haven't already); there menu looks great, and they have a gift shop where nid sells her handmade jewelry. meeting people like them is really what makes traveling fun. and we had a great time this evening.. we ate at a street stall restaurant, and took turns singing our respective national anthems while the waiters stood by with their hands over their hearts.
check out the website for nick and nid's Thai Pothong Restaurant:
the sad news of the day: kham is leaving us for bangkok. he has a friend there and is looking forward to cheap shopping, good eats, and lots of traffic. i have asked him to send an email with updates about what's going on his last few days before he leaves back to seattle (which i will post on the blog); hopefully he comes through! he is taking off on tuesday (early in the morning) with a 10-11 hour lay over in Korea and will be back in seattle at noon of the same day. (you lose a day coming over, but gain a day on the way back)
in closing: vietnam is awesome. so much different than neighboring Laos (economically, culturally, and gastronomically (let me know if that aint a word). but watch out for the taxi drivers. we got lost trying to find our hotel today - so i hailed a taxi so we could get dropped off right in front. we had been walking for 10 minutes already, asking people where to go, and they kept pointing us in different directions - it was like we were going in circles! well, the taxi guy turned on the meter and (without a hint of an explanation) proceeded to drive us 6 kilometers around town. it was strange , cause even though i don't know the area, i knew that he was driving us further and further away from our hotel. it wasn't even the same neighborhood!
we figured he was trying to run up the meter, and so i started to get mad. then jacob started to get mad, AND EVEN KHAM started to get mad (which proves how bad this is...) we kept telling him that we werent gonna pay him to which he responded with "Bac Su... Bac Su..." (the name of the street the hotel was on.) we knew we had been within blocks of the hotel when we took the taxi, several people had told us so, and we only took the taxi cause we were tired of getting lost, and it was the only sure way to get there. but this guy decided to give us a sightseeing tour first. in fact, after driving all over town, he even drove by the same spot where he picked us up to finally take us the two blocks to the hotel.
well, we got out and just started to walk away to the hotel entrance (without paying). so taxi guy tries to stop us from leaving by alternating between grabbing my arm and kham's arm (but he was too scared to grab jacob's arm, so i think he just grabbed his bag). i think kham threatened him with physical repercussions, and he finally let go.
taxi guy then followed us to the hotel where the ever-friendly hotel staff smiled and sorted out the issue for us (they threatened to call the police if he didn't leave). i gave him 15,000 in the end - the base rate for a taxi fare, because he did give us a nice view of the lake and the opera house, which i hadn't seen before. i feel kinda bad (not that i did anything wrong, but because people will be dishonest and get themselves in situations that cause them problems later on... i mean, he had the meter on, so he will have to come up with the difference in the fare he didn't collect from us.) but i don't feel bad enough to pay him the full amount the meter said i owed him.
vacation continues. tomorrow we are meeting up with nick, nid, and sophie to see the city and eat some food.