Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Adventures in Vietnam: Beach Dayzzz

Vietnam was overall really relaxing!  We went to the beach everyday the kids were in absolute heaven.  We played in the sand, went boogie boarding, and Bennett was obsessed with running and flinging himself down on the ground over and over again.  It was hilarious!

One day, while we were out swimming, a man came walking down the beach pulling an extremely long rope that was connected to a net or something out in the ocean.  I can only assume he was fishing, but it was unlike any other fishing method we had ever seen!  And since he was pulling it right through where our kids were playing, they decided to help the guy out!  Here they are pulling the rope from beach:

And one evening while we were on the beach, a sweet lady came walking by carrying big pots on her shoulders.  She was selling homemade, warm tofu with brown sugar and ginger for $1/bowl.  I couldn't resist!  So, she dished me up some in an actual glass bowl with a metal spoon and then she sat and waited while I ate it!  It was so delicious!  I would love to know how she made it!

While in Hoi An, we also did our fair share of pampering :)  Peter got 2 or 3 massages, Clara and I both got our nails done, and I also got a massage!  And none of them cost more than $7.  Amazing.  

Our other favorite thing to do on the beach was to eat at Soul Kitchen!  Soul Kitchen was just a few steps down the beach from our house, and it was great!  We loved the food (and the convenience) and we ate there numerous times!  Plus, being right on the beach, the views just couldn't be beat!



Adventures in Vietnam: Hoi An Ancient Town

After an amazing 4 days in Cambodia, we hopped over to Vietnam to continue our adventures!  We rented another awesome house (through Airbnb) in Hoi An, Vietnam that fit all 16 of us comfortably, and that was also just steps away from the beach.  It was absolutely perfect.  

The view from the back of the house was beautiful.  Full of palm trees, greenery, and flowers.  Then, just behind the yard was a path that led right down to the beach!

Hoi An is so beautiful--set along the coast, but once you leave the beach areas, you drive right through rice fields with water buffalo grazing and then onto the small city full of shops and businesses.

The first thing we did in Hoi An, besides run down to check out the beach, was to go to the Hoi An Ancient Town.  The ancient town was a really neat little village with original homes, shrines, and shops, some of which were built in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Many of the especially old homes have been preserved and are on display in their original condition.  It was fascinating to see what an old port town would look like.  The town is now full of souvenir shops, restaurants, art and cultural displays and performances, and street food and vendors.  We had a fabulous time walking around shopping, watching traditional Vietnamese dancers and singers, eating, and even taking a little boat tour down the river.

Those little, yellow, round cakes were potato-coconut pancakes and they were sooo delicious!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Adventures in Cambodia: The Phare Circus, Pub Street, and Night Market

Aside from seeing the temples, my favorite part of trip to Cambodia was hanging out and shopping in the night market!  We went down there twice (once during the day and the other time during the night), and I could have gone at least 3 more times!  The market is filled with every souvenir imaginable, and for the most incredible prices!  We bought clothes, wooden carvings, magnets, and snakes in a jar :)  Our kids were in complete shopping heaven.  And, then there was the food and the massages!  We found a massage place in the market that was amazing.  Massages: $3 for 30 minutes or $5 for an hour!  We all got foot massages ($1 for 20 minutes), including Clara.  And she LOVED every second of it!  She is so funny; since going there, she keeps talking about wanting to go get massages.  Such a little princess!

We also did plenty of shopping and eating around Pub Street in downtown Siem Reap.  It's a really fun area with tons of restaurants, shops, massage places, and doctor fish tanks!  Peter and I had gotten a fish pedicure in Bali, but we decided to do it again in Cambodia, and the place we went to had much bigger fish!  And it was so much crazier!!!  I was dying laughing, or squealing/screaming actually.  It was crazy!  And, sadly, all of my photos from the fish pedicure are missing, so I only have this screenshot from my instagram!

The other really amazing thing we did was going to see the Phare Circus.  It was an acrobatic circus show, not unlike Cirque du Soleil, but without all the crazy stage production.  The performers were incredible!  And the whole story behind the circus was even more amazing.  Phare not only is a circus, but they also have a school that serves underprivileged Cambodian youth.  The circus is actually an appendage of the school, and the performers are employed graduates and students.  The show was nothing short of amazing!  Well worth the money.  I'd highly recommend going!

Cambodia was, hands down, one of the most beautiful and astounding places I have ever visited!  I don't think there's anywhere else in the world just like it!  We had such an incredible time--I am truly grateful for the opportunities that we've had to travel since living here.  I had never imagined that I'd visit Cambodia and some of these other Southeastern Asian countries, but I feel fuller now that I have!

Adventures in Cambodia: Tonle Sap Floating Village and Angkor Balloon

Our last day in Cambodia was probably my least favorite day . . . Still really cool and we saw some amazing things, but I wouldn't have been heartbroken had we not done these two things.  

First up, we went out to Tonle Sap Lake to see the floating fishing village.  The reviews for going to see Tonle Sap Lake were pretty mixed, with a lot of negative reviews, and overall I think I'd probably agree with them.  Going out on the boat felt very touristy, and the people running the operation were the only rude people that we'd come across the entire time we'd been in Cambodia.  Then, out on the lake, there wasn't much to see, and the locals didn't seem to love the intrusion of the tourists, which is understandable.  We were taken to a large floating dock that had some alligators in a cage in the water (they called it an alligator farm), some fish, and a large boa that Peter held for a few pictures (and a few dollars).  And . . . that was pretty much it!  We enjoyed the boat ride, but it was not an activity that I'd recommend friends to do when visiting Cambodia.

After the lake and eating lunch, we went to go up for a ride in the Angkor Balloon.  The Angkor Balloon is like hot air balloon, but it is tethered to the ground, so you just go straight up and then back down.  We'd driven by the property a several times throughout our trip, and since we had time our last day, we decided to give it a go.  We knew that it would be short (and quite expensive), but we wanted to see the amazing views of Angkor Wat.  It was indeed beautiful, but again, I wouldn't have been too upset had we skipped the balloon ride . . . That being said, I think Peter really enjoyed it--or at least being able to get some great photos of Angkor Wat and the Cambodian countryside, and our kids loved it as well.