Sunday, June 3, 2012

Nha Trang!

Finally....Beach Time!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday night we boarded a sleeper bus to take us up to Nha Trang. Nine hours and very little sleep later...we arrive at our destination. Traveling by sleeper bus is definitely a cheaper way to travel in Vietnam-however it is not the most comfortable form of transportation. Even though you can recline your chair- they are incredibly hard to sleep on and allow little space to spread out on.

At least there was a beautiful sunrise to wake up to :)

Day 1: Beach time! 

After scouting out some prime chairs we had our first day of R&R since the girls arrived. 

Day 2: We rented two motorbikes to drive up to Ba Ho waterfalls. Kudos to the girls for handling a bike with ease. Jess stepped up to the plate and drove their bike (I still am not able to drive one even after living here for almost a year..oops)

The falls were just outside of the city and took us about an hour to drive there, the scenery was breathtaking. 

On the way we saw some local boys jumping into a nearby river and I took the chance to take some pictures. The boys were excited to have their photo taken and gave me lots of material to work with. 

Once we parked our newly rented motorbikes we hiked about 45 minutes to get to the actual waterfalls.

After hiking in the hot and humid weather the prospect of jumping into the cold water was impossible to resist...even though the jump WAS a little high :)

After swimming for a while we drove back to the beautiful city of Nha Trang. I wish we could have had more time in this fun beach destination.


Cao Dai Temple and Cu Chi Round 2

After a day of shopping and eating with the girls we decided to take them on a day trip to see the Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai temple.

Caodaiism is a religion that was developed in Southern Vietnam in 1926. The religion encompasses various different beliefs- like yin and yang, heaven and hell, God and Buddha. The large temple is magnificent with a beautiful ceiling painted like a vault of heaven featuring clouds and intertwining stars.

At 12pm they allow tourists to watch the devotees sing a hymn and prayer.

After lunch we arrived at The Cu Chi tunnels again. :)


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Girls VISIT! xo tour

Two of my best friends, Jessica and Shelly, flew all the way out here to visit me which made me ecstatic.  They managed to get 10+ days off work so that I could show them around the country that I have been living in since July.

Knowing that I wanted to get them on the back of a motorbike their first night in Ho Chi Minh City, I arranged for us to go on a tour called XO Tours. The company has one female motorbike driver for each tourist and they take you all around the city to try various authentic Vietnamese food. It was a blast!

Food we ate included: Bun BO Nam Bo (a beef-noodle soup I frequently eat that work usually provides me for dinner)

Then we got try FROG and Goat :)

Finally- lots of shellfish and crab (I am the only who tried the food here since Shelly and Andy don't eat seafood, and Jess is allergic to shellfish) We were a hard group to please :) Luckily, they supplied us with all the beer we could drink.

Once the tour was over and we couldn't stuff any more food in our mouths it was time for KARAOKE!!!!!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Temples Part 1

Bali is known as the island of a thousand temples. In truth there are many more than that, every family has a temple in their “home compound” as well as their town or neighborhood.

Andy and I decided to skip the tour this time and rent our own motorbike to go on the adventure. The man who rented us the motorbike for the day also provided us with a map. He marked relatively easy to find temples along a main highway stretch. We set off and found the first one within 20 minutes of our journey. After donning some pretty awesome SARONGS we were off to see the temple. 

Goa Gajah actually means elephant cave and was built in the 9th century as a sanctuary. The entrance to the cave supposedly looks like an elephant but I think it looks more like an evil monkey man.

Once inside the cave you can pray to the three main Hindu deities: Brahma: the creator, Vishnu- the preserver or protector and to Shiva: the destroyer or judge.

Outside the cave was a holy bathing area made to ward off evil spirits, and tourists are allowed to wash their hands and face in the water.

There were also many large Buddhist statues that stood in ruins after an earthquake in the early 1900’s. The ruins now are covered with moss and are surrounded by water from a nearby waterfall. 

Many large trees are considered sacred here (you know this by seeing the checkered sarong wrapped around the base of the tree) and Andy and I were able to take an awkward family photo by one of them :) 


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Monkey Forest!

 Smoking is bad for you monkey!

This is how close you could get to the monkeys! 

Just a 10 minute walk from our hotel was the Sacred Monkey Forest
The immense forest had no gates or enclosures for the monkeys and they were able to go wherever they wanted. The unbounded monkeys could come up and take food right out of your hands, or even your sunglasses off your head if you were not careful.

Cute Family. 
However, I noticed that the monkeys with babies were extra protective and would bare their teeth at you if you were too close. I am so use to seeing monkeys confined, having that perimeter between us always made me feel safe and comfortable. However having them so close to me I felt a little nervous that they would bite me.

Luckily we were not molested by any monkeys on our trip :) 

Love from the monkeys, Andy, and Lauren!


Eat. Pray. Love. Ubud

Elisabeth Gilbert did more than transform her life in her book.....she transformed Ubud, Bali. Maybe even tourism for single women as well. Her wildly acclaimed book drew women from all over the world to the three places she visited in her book (Italy, India, and Bali) but from what I could see- they seemed to linger here.

I was instantly drawn to this place. Lush green moss covered the hundreds of temples we passed. Every door was exquisitely carved and so ornate I couldn't help but to say "oh my god I love that door" every five minutes. Quiet streets were lined with boutiques selling organic soaps, crystals and yoga get up. Coffee shops were bustling with people who were either grabbing their soy lattes to go or sitting for hours on plush cushions using their Mac computers. Andy was a little disgusted, but I was in love. There was a Starbucks.

The drive was about an hour from Kuta to Ubud. We took a "bus" but by bus they shoved 6 of us with all of our luggage into a 5 seater van. It was uncomfortable to say the least. Once we arrived a really nice Balinese man helped us with our luggage and escorted us to his guesthouse. Bellow is the view from our room:

Isn't this a beautiful rooster? Yes it is, until 2am rolls around and THEY ARE STILL CROWING!??? Ubud was filled with roosters and ALL of them insist on crowing ALL night long. It was difficult to get a good nights sleep- once one rooster would go they all would start to pitch in, then the dogs would howl and it was just a bunch of pathetic sounding commotion outside our window at all hours.

Funerals are a huge thing here. They involve a parade and a public cremation of the body! We saw a few different parades but were never around at the right moment to see the cremation. The traditional wear for men is a long white button up shirt and white cap with a checkered sarong. The women wear the most beautiful outfits- they do a lot of hand made lace here and their outfits feature the fabric on top with a long skirt on the bottom.

More Ubud Posts to come!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bali! A few days in Kuta

After a restless night of sleep at the poster hotel in Jakarta, we jumped on a three hour flight to Bali. We landed in Denpsar and took a cab to the nearby beach of- KUTA!

We found a hotel that had a pool, hot water, free breakfast and AIR CONDITIONING (luxurious I know) for $18 dollars a night. The only downside was a weird mold formation on one of our walls- but we were practically never in the room so we settled on these accommodations.

Kuta is a wonderful place, but it was a little overwhelming. Surfers, tourists and locals crowd the streets that are lined with stores and open air markets. They were selling everything from cheap tie dye dresses to knock of sunglasses to bracelets and BINTANG Towels (the countries export beer logo). Most of the Balinese people spoke English very well, were friendly and happy to give directions or exchange a smile with even if you were not going to buy anything from them.

Our day at the beach unfortunately was over cast. So I made the best of it by supporting the economy and local business. I was the most popular lady at the beach, while getting a massage I was also getting a henna tattoo and buying bracelets. At one point a woman came up and tried to give me a pedicure (this was day 2 of our trip, so I had obviously just gotten a pedicure two days before) I had to literally pry her hands off my feet to turn her down. :( Poor lady.

Andy chose a shark for his tat- and I a SICK dragon in light of the new year ahead. GO 2012!