Hoi An, Vietnam
Sorry it has taken me so long to get this email out but I have been a bit lazy and also the email places everywhere till now where pretty expensive. Anyway if I remember correctly last time I wrote I was in Thailand still in Nong Khai.
I left Nong Khai just after a pretty drunken new years eve and headed to Phimai. Phimai is a lovely old town with 10th Century Khmer Ruins which pre-date Angkor Wat and may have been a test construction for Angkor Wat as they are similar. The ruins are set in lovely peaceful grounds and it was a great place to sit and watch the Thai Tourists that visited the place.
After Phimai I headed into Bangkok for a few days and did a bit of shopping on Kho San Rd (or however you spell it) and spent a day mooching round Chinatown which was fun. From there I went to Ko Chang and had a very relaxing two weeks on Lonely Beach which is no longer lonely but nice. I had a very nice little basic hut right on the rocky beach about 5 minutes walk south of the beach (see the photo), it was so much on the beach that at high tide the water was underneath the hut, it was very peaceful to fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing underneath you.
From Ko Chang I headed to Trat and spent a couple of days there before crossing the border into Cambodia to Ko Kong. Cambodia is definitely a much poorer country than Thailand and it seem relitavely lawless but pretty relaxed at the same time, I just stayed one night at the town on the border and then got a boat to Sihnoukville which is the only developed beach area in Cambodia.
Sihnoukville is a cool place with about 6 beaches some much better than others and a very easy place to hang out for a while, which is pretty much what I have done. I did a dive refresher course (a morning in a pool with and instructor) and then I did a 5 dive (including one night dive) overnight boat trip to some of the islands 2 and 4 hrs away from the mainland. It was great and I absolutely loved it so I am going to do as much diving as i can justify to myself. I have no idea why I left it so long between finishing my advanced open water course in Oz and diving again (about 8 years!!!). Anyway I came back from the boat trip and then went camping to a beautiful deserted beach in Ream National Park with a guy I met before I went diving and he drove us there on a 250cc dirt bike (which we needed because the last bit of the path to get there was pretty rugged). It was lovely the beach was about 2km long and there was a couple of houses set back from the beach but nobody else, the locals seemed very happy for us to be there,unlike most other country’s national parks the rangers where cool with us camping too. We spent 3 nights under canvas cooking everything on an open fire (just bbq as we didn’t have any real cooking equipment) then headed back to civilisation.
We spent a couple more nights in Sihnoukville then headed to Phnom Phen the capital of Cambodia. Phnom Phen is a big city but compared to Bangkok its tiny and it seemed pretty chilled out, we stayed in a guesthouse near the lake which seems to be the cheapest area and therefore has the most backpackers and backpacker facilities (email, travel agents, cafe’s ect ect). From there we got a bus across the border into Vietnam to Saigon/HoChiMinCity.
I know I didn’t go to many places in Cambodia but I am going to head back sometime out of season and go and see Angkor Wat then as people that I spoke to who had been there recently told me that it was very crowded with tourists on package holidays so Im going to go back when its quieter, also its meant to be very green and lush in the rainy season so maybe i might go back then (also flights are very cheap with Air Asia to Siam Reap).
I have been in Saigon for 4 days now and i really like the place, the traffic is annoyingly noisy and crossing the road can be a nightmare but apart from that its all cool and most places seem to be within easy walkable distance.
Heading north tomorrow to Nah Trang so more beaches and then going to be heading steadily north to Hanoi and from there who knows.
Hope all you guys are doing well and sorry that it has taken me so long to get this batch of photo’s to you, I shouldn’t take as long next time, honest ;)