Saturday, February 7, 2009

We've been home for 3 weeks

Looking back on this last trip to Asia, we agree, it was a great trip. On the plane home from Hong Kong to San Francisco, we talked about the best parts or places and Leslie took notes:
Hong Kong
- Hot and cold drinking water in common area of GH + refrigerator so we can make ice
- Half price public transportation for seniors
- Brewing our own coffee
- Getting on our scheduled flight to BK the 1st day airport reopened Photo: our street in Hanoi
- Rediscovering Bangkok as a friendly place with helpful, nice people
- Higher number sois for hotels = less prostitution and friendlier people
- Great street food (charcoal chicken, pad see yew, coffee, etc.)
- Tops Mart salad bar and food court and they’re all over
- Finding Chinatown and good gold stores
- Using public buses again (the weather was so cool that we were comfortable on the non-aircon buses
- Japanese area
Hanoi (what a great place!)
- Great food nice people super-clean, smells good, great market
- Extra good coffee cheap
- Hotel with internet in the room (no balcony room)
- Bun cha
Tom Cac – the place (and bus ride and lunch buffet) – “The next big place”
- Israeli man we hung out with
- Sleeper bus nice Photos above & below taken from front steps of our hotel (Kim) in Saigon. The 1st photo is looking right and the 2nd is looking left
- Citadel on a rainy day
- Binh Duong III – best hotel of trip, maybe ever with internet in room and across the street is ...
- Thu’s Café across street from hotel
- The young women at Kim Hotel
- Ben Thanh Market
- And really getting it re food at market
Phnom Penh (Best of all, meeting up with David)
- David’s street in Phnom Penh, paved, no meat market, a miracle
- Samnang and family
- Juedi, the best cook ever
- Great internet café around the corner with nice kids helping Leslie
- Sister’s Café across the street from Russian Market
- OK Guesthouse for booking travel Photo: Ben Thanh Market in Saigon - click it for a sense of the depth of Ben Thanh
Kompot – great GH - the Popokvel (good aircon, view of pig-pen), good desk clerk, and across the street
Long Villa, for good food
Kompot is not a 3-4 hour trip – 7 hours, good ride
- Finishing in Hong Kong
- Really getting it on food in Hong Kong, and Bangkok, too
- Hanging out in Mongkok at the end of the trip, really getting into the few blocks around our guesthouse

Email from Leslie - We've remembered several things in the last few days that we want to add to the travel blog. So here goes (Photo: I walked a few minutes from bus stop on the road from Hoi An to Hue and there was the ocean):

1. On a bus from Vietnam to Phnom Penh, I talked with an 85 year old man from New Zealand who travels alone regularly in SE Asia - he said that he really recommends solo travel for Seniors and receives really good care from local people on buses, in hotels, etc. He thinks "being old" has real advantages! On this particular leg of his journey, he was seated directly behind the driver and the driver's assistant made sure that no one was seated next to him so he had extra leg room. The assistant had him board 1st and exit last, made sure he could order what he wanted at the "rest stops" and was seated under a fan to eat. So I guess he has a solid point! In fact, when we left Kampot, the desk clerk at our hotel phoned the bus "depot" (an open air cafe at the edge of town) and arranged to seat us (more old people) in the choice spot behind the driver and directly across the aisle - again no one seated by Charles so he could stretch his legs. We had no idea he had done this until we got to the depot and the man in charge tore up our tickets and issued new ones with seat assignments - this particular bus had open seating but not for us! Photo: a rainy day at the Citadel in Hue

2. In the market in Kampot, I stopped to watch some young women hand-beading fine traditional Khmer dresses - we got a good picture I think. An elegant woman about my age was waiting on a bench outside the shop and offered to translate in perfectly beautiful British English. After we took the photo and were ready to leave, she said "Happy New Year Dahling", in such a fine British accent that I was a little shocked. She reminded me so much of Charles' mother, Mary, that I got tears in my eyes. I miss her so much.

3. On our final night in Hong Kong, we went to the night market to visit a Tibetan vendor who Charles has done business with before at his inside store location. I was charmed by the young woman working with him, Tsering, pronounced "Cheering". She noticed that I was interested in the beautiful gold ring she had on and offered to order some for me. Since we were leaving the next morning, I gave her my email address and hope that she'll send me some pictures. But if not, I'll find her the next trip and see what we can work out. Photo above and right: Mongkok - to right is the entrance to our section of the Dragon Hostel - there's 6 or 8, maybe 10 rooms behind the sliding metal door

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