Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cambodia (our guides and the floating village)

I want to start by saying our tour guides in Cambodia were amazing.  They were so excited to show us around Angkor Wat, Siem Reap and the surrounding areas.  They were extremely knowledgable and told us many stories that gave us background on the area.

A topic we thought would be touchy and off limits was the genocide that went on in Cambodia but they all wanted to share their stories, they were all an age in which they were able to recall everything and all of them had been in a work camp and they all believed they were the lucky ones having made it out.

One of the guides was about 12 years old when we got malaria, he was taken to the hospital and while he was there his entire village either starved to death or were killed by the Khmer Rouge, there was no medicine to be had so each day in the hospital he was given a small piece of potato and sugar cube as "medicine".  When he got better he was put in a work camp and despite the odds survived.  All of our guides had stories like this, and they weren't telling us for us to feel bad, they look at themselves as lucky and are happy almost all the time, I've never seen people smile so much.

The area around Angkor Wat is a little different then most of Cambodia, tourism feeds the economy and people are quiet well off.  So our guides took us outside the area to get an idea of "real" Cambodia.  We took a boat out on the lake to see a floating village.  It was amazing there were floating food stores, schools, church, and police station...
Little girl floating around her village

One of the many floating villages on this lake

A mother and child on the way home from the food store

Floating Police Station

The sticks to the right were used to fix boats

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Angkor Wat.

After Laos we headed to Cambodia, where we met some amazing people.  When traveling around we had a guide and a driver for every two people.  Our first day we adventured around the Angkor Watt and a few of the various other ruins which were gorgeous.

That night we visited the John McDermott gallery, an artist with great photography of the ruins, we enjoyed cocktails and conversation with his wife before dinner.  The next morning we woke up at 5am for coffee and pastries at the west gate of Ankgor Watt.
Then adventured around to see the morning lights hitting the ruins... It was empty of tourist and well worth the 5am wake up.

and headed over to the east gate to see the sunrise over the great temple....

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Luang Prabang Morning Market

After morning alms we decided to head over to the local morning market... it was amazing, no tourist all locals doing their daily shopping.  The market opens early each morning and closes before noon...we were joking around that while all them men are out walking through the streets each morning be handed food (the monks morning alms) the women are hard at work selling in the market....

I think the only way to describe the market is using pictures...

Fish with a side of dried rat for dinner tonight?

Some tropical flowers.

As fresh as chicken and meat can get...

Correction...this is as fresh as chicken can get.

A bucket of live frogs next to a bucket of the cooked frogs.


mmmm anyone want a cockroach and tomato salad?

These actually looked delish

Noodles in front of a temple.

Local fruits.

A local man proud of his fish.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Morning Alms-Laos

I have some gorgeous pictures of the monks morning alms in Laos I want to share.  I will have a later post going into more detail on the hundreds of temples in Luang Prabang, Laos and how every morning the monks go around collecting their food for the day.  The most amazing thing I've ever seen.

Luang Prabang...the tropical views.

A few pics to hold you over until tomorrows monk post....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Traditional Dinner and Dresses

A few days ago we had an amazing surprise. They brought us in a room and told us they were going to make us traditional Vietnamese dresses, that we would wear to a traditional dinner the following night. 

Scotty being measured

AnnMarie picking out fabric

Traditional family dinner at "aunties" house

The family in our dresses

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More than just a cooking class...

A group of us got to take a cooking class at an amazing cooking school on the outskirts of Hanoi.
We got to make Hanoi style spring rolls, some fresh water fish, and brown sticky rice for dessert. But this place was more than just a cooking school...
Children with disabilities learning to embroider 

The building to the left is the cooking school and the one to the right the boys dorm.

Our group barging in on one of the cooking classes.

Students learning to serve.

It was a school to teach children with "hard situations" skills they could use to get jobs.  Disabled kids are taught to embroider or sew, kids without disabilities ( that have lost a parent, experienced a natural disaster, ect) are taught to cook and serve.  The school has become the top cooking school in Vietnam so many of the hotels, including the one I stayed at hire these children upon graduation.

 The school has become so popular that people now also pay tuition to go to the school.  It is $700 for one year including room and board or $200 a year.
Our teacher and her prize student introducing us to the spices.

One of our finished products.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cyclo Ride in Hanoi.

Before dinner our first night in Hanoi we went for a cyclo ride around the city...despite being terrified to be in these little carts amongst the worlds craziest drivers (I've never seen so many motor bikes) it was a great time.  To give you an idea of how crazy the driving is in this city... All traffic lights seem to be optional, one way streets also seem to be optional, cars hit motor bikes quiet often, and people carry EVERYTHING on the back of motorbikes (LIVE water buffalo, pigs, refrigerators....anything you can think of ) I'll dedicate a whole post to the craziness of the motor bikes when I get home.

Ready to roll...

Maneuvering a minor traffic jam...

Wedding shoot I saw along our ride...

Fun photos for $1

Made it back alive.