Thursday, March 31, 2011

you live, you learn 6

-Thai Airways has the largest airplane bathrooms I've ever seen!
-The bus from the Thailand-Cambodia border to Siem Riep had the driver's seat on the right-hand side of the vehicle, even though in Cambodia they drive on the right-hand side of the road.
- Angkor Wat is the largest temple in world. It was constructed using 300 million tones of stone.
- Crickets don't taste like chicken. They don't taste like beef either. They taste like... cricket :)
- S21, a jail in Phnom Penh that was used during the genocide in the 1970s, had VIP rooms for government officials to be interrogated and tortured in.
- The young girls selling trinkets on the beach in Sihanoukville offered threading (i.e. hair removal) as a value-added bonus on any purchase to try to entice you.
- A second 3-digit luggage lock combination randomly reset one morning, while securing my luggage.
- At the hotel in Chau Doc, there was a price list for the room inventory items (i.e. bed, TV, remote, fridge, etc.) but no price list for the in-room items that were actually for sale (i.e. water, chips, etc.).
- Some of the "fixed price" stalls at the market in Ho Chi Minh City will actually negotiate on pricing.
- Facebook is blocked in Vietnam.
- Morning glory, a green vegetable commonly served in restaurants over here, is grown in fields with sewage.
- Vietnamese people eat pho for breakfast.
- It's worth going first class on trains in Vietnam (not because it's cushy, just because it's cleaner).
- While waiting to use the shower by the hotel pool in Nha Trang after we'd checked out, I saw two men wash their hands before, but not after, going into the urinal area.
- Some of the roundabouts in Nha Trang look like intersections except instead of having lights, they have a small post in the middle of it with arrows to direct traffic flow around it.
- Monks in Cambodia wear orange all the time. Monks in Vietnam only wear orange on special occasions.
- It takes about 3-4 hours for a one-armed woman to make a bamboo hat. It costs about $1.50 US to buy one.
- During monsoon season, people can fish in the rice fields in Vietnam.
- Sixty-two percent of the scientists in Vietnam live in Hanoi.
- Despite his desire to be cremated, Ho Chi Minh's body has been preserved since his death in 1969 and is on display in a mausoleum.
- In Luang Prabang, the experience of cleaning an elephant costs more than riding one.
- As a result of too many tourist accidents, it's illegal to rent motorbikes in Laos.
- The concept of possession doesn't exist within Lao culture. The word for "mine" and "yours" is the same.
- Everything closes by 11:30 pm in Laos because there's a government curfew that requires everyone to be home by midnight.
- In Laos, as a foreigner, you can only legally have sex with a local if you marry them.
- In Bangkok, apparently it costs 3000 Baht (about one hundred bucks) to get someone shot dead. My expat tour guide only gives his Thai wife 2500 Baht at a time... just in case ;)

Monday, March 21, 2011

transit etiquette

On the metro in Bangkok...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

view from the top

...of an elephant ;)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

and i quote 6

A few from the last trip...

"I need a bigger one." - Greta, a friend I met in Indonesia.  She was buying a wooden penis-shaped bottle-opener as a gift for a friend back home.

"Transport? Magic mushrooms?  Balinese boyfriend?" - Some of the things offered by the men in Bali as you walk down the street.

"Mid-life crisis at 31?  I love it!" - A 43-year old man I chatted with while waiting to board my final flight home from Chicago, making a judgment on my life.  I had just told him that I'd been in Australia for 6 months and was planning to do some more travel in the coming year.

One from a trip to Montreal while I was home...

"Oh good! It's only minus seven!" - My friend Shiv when I went to visit her in January, as we were about to head out to an evening event outdoors.  (For you non-Canucks, that temperature is in Celsius and about 20 degrees Fahrenheit.)

And now that we're caught up, some from this trip...

"Do you mean on purpose?  Or did you get lost or something?" - Mark, one of my tourmates, from Bristol, England.  Maria, another tourmate, had just told him that she'd been to his hometown.

"I thought I was going to get robbed tonight." - Maria, a 24-year-old traveller from Ireland.  We'd just walked into a riverside restaurant in Phnom Penh for dinner that offered a lot of great photo opportunities.  She'd left her camera at the hotel, heeding our tour guide's warning to take only the pocket money you need for the night with you as any other items would attract thieves.

"Are they all wearing their pajamas?" - Maria, wondering if we'd caught the women in the street-side shops too early in the morning.  Women in parts of Vietnam wear loose-fitting, light-weight tops and bottoms made out of brightly-patterned materials during the day.

"I'll never order prawns again." - Nina, another tourmate from Austria, while we were out for dinner in Ho Chi Minh City.  She didn't realize that her grilled prawns would be cooked at the table using live creatures, allowing her to see them struggle through a hot, painful death.