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Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia!
06. September 2007, Lilian Manthei. Border crossing is our new hobby. This time it is the border between China and Laos. Leaving China, there is actually a sign asking tourists to queue. The sign is in English and also in Chinese...


Tropical waterfall enlarge (Source: Lilian)



The sign is of course worth a lot less than the material it is made off. The moment a busload full of Chinese border crossers (seperate species) arrives, the queue morphs into a crowd with everyone trying to stick a passport, often filled with banknotes, into the tiny window. The customs official is in a foul mood but doesn't bother to do anything about it. So we push back!

Having successfully crossed the border, we see a bus that is going to Luang Prabang. It is filed with the people, we had just enthusiastically queued against! Oh well!

Luang Prabang is a totally laid back place. Yes, there are quite a few tourists in Luang Prabang, but the locals have not turned crazy to fulfill all the tourist's wishes. Every restaurant or bar shuts at 11 o'clock at night. The people are gentle and friendly, including the family who runss our hostel. The morning is the only time when the mother is not so gentle. She forces us to eat bananas and coconut rice. Freeeeeeee!

We spent in total nine days in Luang Prabang, visiting temples, waterfalls and kayaking on grade 3 rivers. Go there, it is good!

There is another town in Laos, Vang Vieng. You should go there if you like drinking a lot of beer while going down a river in an inner tube of a lorry. The evenings are spent lounging in a restaurant watching old episodes of friends.Full volume. We fled immediately.

Gong from Laos to Vietnam made for another good border crossing episode. We decided against the tourist bus and took the local one instead. It turned out to be a very local bus. Thousands of empty water bottles were packed onto the roof, while the aisle of the bus was filled with sacks of rice that you had to walk on. The bus was curiously equipped with ventilators (luckily caged) above the rice sacks and absolutely everyone banged their heads into them.

So the bus was not only transporting people, but also the local delivery service. Every few minutes we would stop and give out some bottles, rice or whatever else the bus driver had agreed to sell. To make things additionally scary, some of the passengers carried guns, but tried to hide them.

We reached the border in the evening, too late to cross. We were given a room with hairy sheets in the back of a restaurant-shop-living place, everything else in that village was a lot more basic. The next morning we crossed the border on foot and all of a sudden we started to miss Lao tranquility.

Vietnames bus-, taxi- and moto drivers are a huge pain in the backside. Thgey followed us around everywhere, stopped us from going to the regular busstation and drove next to us while we walked through town. In the restaurant where we had lunch, they would sit next to us and press on. In the end we negotiated an okayish price and they had us. Funny. Once a deal is struck, they are nice people again. What a start to Vietnam.

We make three short stops on our way to Saigon. Hue is an old imperial city with many monuments and even more tourists. We have not seen this many tourists since we left Beijing. Hoi An is a small but pleasant city a little further down the coast. We splash out and get an aircon hotel room with a swimming pool on the rooftop for 18 dollars. Lilian is very happy.

Na Trangh is the vietnamese Costa del Sol. Don't go there if you want clean and quiet beaches. We spent a day on the beach and then hurry off to Saigon to meet Lilians brother Valentin and his girlfriend Sarah.

Saigon or officially Ho Chi Minh city is big and a shopping paradise, even for me. Plenty of tailor shops and, here comes my favourite, Lonely Planet books for 3 US dollars. Somewhere in Saigon there must be a massive printing operation, copying every book that a tourist might want. I am not 100% sure, but they will probably print to order. Yes, maybe it is not correct to buy a guidebook this cheap, but could you resist?

The Cu Chi tunnels are one of the horrible highlights of Vietnam. The tunnels itself are not so bad, you can make a sport of crawling through and it is okay. It is the stories of the Vietnam war that impress and the traps that the Vietcong built out of bombshels, dropped by the Americans. The war remnants museum is still, 30 years later, totally anti-American. Exhibits celebrate every killed American soldier and it doesn't feel like history recorded, it feels like propaganda.

We choose the three-day Mekong river tour to get to Phnom Penh and get to see what life is like in the countryside. What we will remember most from this trip though is our tour guide. He likes to talk. Really talk. And sing. Busrides never felt so long. An yes, he had a terrible accent so that we understood about half of what he said. Oh, nice countryside though.

Cambodia is a lot poorer, but the prices are higher. We see many handicapped people, as the war only ended ten years ago. What makes it harder for me, Cambodians always seem cheerful, no matter how poor they are. They will still smile at you, even if you tell them that you don't have any spare money to give them.

The 1000 year old temples of Angkor Wat are of course the main reason, why we went to Cambodia. Scientists recently discovered, that the temples and other buildings once belonged to the biggest pre-industrial city in the world. They are very impressive and very beautiful and they reminded me a little of the pyramids of Teotihuacan near Mexico City. Only the Egyptian pyramids are more impressive, especially when you remember that they are another 2000 years older.
Quelle: Ingo zur Übersicht...



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Temple in Luang Prabang

Mekong View

Vietnam

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Copyright 2004-2006 Raumfahrt24.de Blog für unsere Weltreise 2007 Herausgeber: Lilian & Ingo