Apr 3-8, 2019

I had debated just showing photos as there’s not a lot to tell you about our trip to Cambodia except I think this is the hottest that I experience. It’s almost unbearable. It’s in the 40s (centigrade) for a good part of the day, all day. If it’s not in the 40s it’s in the high 30s. Even at night. What we find when it gets this hot is that we have to live in AC. Which is kinda too bad because there is a lot to see around. But it’s just not doable.

Of course we came here to see the amazing temples of Angkor Wat so we had to see them, but I was nervous about heat or sun stroke given how quickly we lost water. I usually worry about finding public toilets but when you’re not even peeing, there’s hardly anything to worry about (ok, that’s a joke).

Phnom Penh

Really not much to report except we had a wonderful bus ride to Phnom Penh where we spent less than 12 hours there I think.

The highlight was seeing our friends Roman and Julienne from France. They were coming around the other way from Laos (where we left them) and we managed to meet up with them for dinner.

It was so great to see them and eat dinner with them and connect with them again. Vivi absolutely loves them and so she was so excited to see someone else we knew!

We didn’t stick around long enough to get to know this big city but I understand it’s not that interesting and there’s a lot of garbage and prostitution happening so I’m happy to make a quick stop and go.

They did cancel our booked bus when we got here for the next morning but we just booked a better bus (Giant Ibis). So spacious and lots of stops. Highly recommend paying the extra to get this bus.

Siem Reap

Again another all day bus trip to get here. We had booked an Airbnb that was a little outside of Siem Reap but it had a local school that the owner ran so we thought it would be great to volunteer in the afternoons with the kids.

We were not anticipating what came next. Well it was officially low season so there was no one else (tourists) staying at the Airbnb. We were anticipating lots of action and people to meet from the photos. It was basically empty. The room we slept in was ok, but the bed was horrific. Probably a 20 or 30 year old mattress. And me with my PTSD about bed bugs didn’t sleep at all.

Our French friends told us about this place in Siem Reap that was half the price that had a pool. The place we booked didn’t have a pool and it was blazing hot.

And, it was some sort of Cambodian holiday (easter break?) that there weren’t any kids at the school.

So we were all alone, down a remote road for 4 days. Since we were the only ones there, they moved us to a better room with newer beds and pumpin AC. But it’s pretty isolating when there’s no one around except the 3 of us.

We had been put in touch with a tuk tuk driver from our French friends in Koh Lanta and he picked us up the next day and we did a tour of the temples. That night we went to Pub Street where we had some 2 for 1 cocktails and dinner.

We had decided that we would do one day of temple hopping, then a day off to explore Siem Reap and then another day of temple hopping and then we leave. So the next day was spent at the museum (AC) learning about the temples and different religions that are celebrated here. Then we visited another silk farm. Then back home to regroup in the AC.

The following day we were up EARLY to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. A friend and cousin both told us to go at sunrise but then go into the temple while everyone is outside waiting for the perfect shot. Yes you’ll miss the perfect shot but you’ll get to see the temple before the masses arrive. So we did that and it was really nice to be walking around getting great pics without a ton of people in the photo.

We sat with a monk who blessed us with nice smelling water and tied string around our wrists. Right for women, left for men. For me, I had seen this in blogs and pics, and it was really special to be able to do this little ceremony with my family.

Then we set out and visited more temples. My favorite was Bayon with so many faces and the golden hour after sunrise shining on the rock carvings was stunning.

There were a few more temples that Vivi couldn’t go into due to safety issues I think so we took these opportunities for Luc to adventure and us to sit and fan ourselves. Sometimes we would meditate together.

The day continued with temple after temple. I was drenched by the end of the day. It’s exhausting being in that heat. I just don’t understand how the locals do it.

The next morning we got a ride to the airport and we took off on an airplane to Malaysia for a one night stopover in Kuala Lumpur.


  • I’m glad we went. While it was a long 2 day bus trip and it was stupid hot but to come all the way to South East Asia and not go to Cambodia to see these amazing temples, would be a shame. I’m not sure I would get over to this area of the world again in the next 10 years.
  • I think we could have picked a cooler time to come and I would have appreciated it more.
  • Hind sight is 20/20 and we should have picked a place in town with a pool. There’s just no way that we could have known that the school would have been out and we would have been alone.
  • I’m officially “templed out”.
  • You could definitely feel the difference going from Vietnam to Cambodia. Immediately the roads were worse, back to a lot more garbage and you could feel that this country was a little more rustic than Vietnam and Thailand. More like Laos as far as development went.
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Vietnam: Part 3 – The South

Vietnam: Part 3 – The South

Mar 26-Apr 3, 2019


Leaving Timothe’s was harder than we thought. Essentially we didn’t know how we were getting out of there but only that something would work out. The guy at Timothe’s called around to find out when a bus was coming by that would take us to Dalat. I didn’t want a night sleeper bus (I’d heard that the bus drivers do drugs, fall asleep, etc…and that there are a lot of accidents with the night busses. When we got to Ho Chi Minh Luc read in a newspaper that a night sleeper bus had got in an accident and people died). So essentially we got a ride to the main road and stood there wondering when the bus would come by.

Eventually, it came and it was a sleeper bus but we would be on it all day so no worries there. We were shown to the back and we were the only tourist on the bus that we could see. We laid in the back and just chilled out as we stopped about 25 times. Finally I asked to use a toilet as it really wasn’t clear when we would stop, and about 5 mins later he pulled over and the girls all went into the bushes and the boys somewhere else. It was like a re-enactment of the Camino with toilet paper strew everywhere. This wasn’t their first rodeo. It was so odd to me that we didn’t stop at a gas station or rest area and that everyone on the bus was just expected to squat. Okey Dokey.

Then after about 5 hours, the bus stopped and the driver told us that we were getting off. Well of course we had our stuff strewn everywhere because we’d been watching Mapsme and we were still a ways away from Dalat. We pilled all our stuff together as everyone on the bus continued to look at us and yell “Dalat” and we scrambled to not forget anything. Of course, Luc left his 3rd hat behind. Sigh…

We got out of the bus, and were shuffled into another smaller bus. I said “Dalat?” and the driver nodded yes. Ok then. Thankfully he didn’t ask for more money.

We finally made it to Dalat and to our hotel. Into our room and quickly we find that the light in the bathroom doesn’t work. We asked them to fix it and low and behold he couldn’t fix it so I asked if we could move and everything was booked. So then I asked for candles. Yep, candle light in the bathroom. If you can believe it, there was a bath (that didn’t hold water well) so I decided to have a candle light bath that night and only had to refill the tub 3 times.

We went our separate ways for dinner as we were starving and of course an epic fight sprung up because everyone wasn’t thinking straight and I wasn’t going to eat shitty noodles. So I took off and had a delicious burger and fries while they ate noodles.

The next day we walked to the lake. Dalat is the city of romance I think. There are flowers everywhere and because of its elevation, it’s a lot cooler. I was happy to have a brief reprise from the heat. The lake was beautiful and we went for a float around the lake on a giant swan. Vivi doesn’t get to do a lot of things that she wants (zoos are expensive!) and she wanted to do this so I was so happy to be able to make it happen. We continued on around the lake and it really was quite beautiful. After we headed back to the hotel, the power went out as soon as we got there but they assured us that they had fixed the light in the bathroom but there was no way to check. We ate at the restaurant that I ate at the previous night.

Luc and I came to an agreement finally. I’m choosier about where I want to eat. He will eat anywhere but likes cheap. Quite a few times we found ourselves walking from restaurant to restaurant and I didn’t like what was on the menu. I wasn’t feeling it and I was sick of noodles and rice after 2.5 months. Luc would get more and more frustrated. So we came to an agreement: if he wants to eat somewhere and I don’t, then he can eat there. Same for me. It might mean that we eat in different places, but we’re not settling and resentful. Vivi has the best of both worlds. She can choose what Luc is eating or what I’m eating and no hard feelings on either side. Interestingly, since we came to this agreement, we haven’t really had to implement it much.

The next morning we needed to get to the airport early so we’d asked for a taxi to come and get us bright and early. The taxi showed up with a flat tire. So he needed to fix it and when he was fixing it I noticed that he only had 3 of the 4 lugs on the tire. I looked around the car and it was the same on the other front wheel. Really? The driver assured me that it didn’t matter (yeah right). Well we already don’t use a car seat anymore and now only 3 lugs? Forget about it. I felt a bit high maintenance but knowing we had an hours drive, I really didn’t want to think about it the whole time wondering what was going to happen so I asked the hotel to call us another taxi.

Ho Chi Minh/Saigon

We got to Ho Chi Minh by way of an airplane. We could have taken a bus or train but it would have taken 10+hours and I was just a little worn out of road transportation TBH. This plane ride was about 1 hour so we bought our carbon offsets and away we went.

This was our 3rd fancy hotel that we stayed in for FREE. We were starting to get a little too used to the fancy hotel! We headed out in the blazing sun to get some lunch. There were a lot of restaurants that catered to tourists or expats which was right up my alley but the price went up drastically now that we were in the city.

Back to the hotel, where we swam in the pool overlooking the river. Dinner… we could have had an all you can eat buffet for $50/person but that was out of the budget. Instead, we made friends with the hotel food and beverage manager and he gave us some free beer (they had run out of the IPA that I wanted), extra helpings of bread, a free salad and free desert. Luc sent him a thank you note later as he was so impressed and it felt good on the wallet.

The next day, I went to the gym and then did laps in the pool. We walked around a bit, I sweated like crazy and then we headed to the bus station to go south.

We had bought the tickets ahead of time but that didn’t make it any easier. We got dropped off with our GRAB and asked what window we needed to go to. Oh the one with 40 people all trying to get to the front (read: no nice lines). We had about 10 mins until the bus left so Luc pushed his way to the front and the guy was the slowest! He had to reissue different tickets for us and then told us that the bus was in the back and the license plate number. Meanwhile I was watching all our stuff like a hawk. This was the place where you get robbed I was sure.

We walk to the back and there are about 50 busses parked everywhere. It was crazy hot and we were asking where was the bus? Running with all our backpacks here there and everywhere. Mental note: get to the bus station well ahead next time. We hopped onto the bus and it basically left 2 mins later. Phewf! We were on another sleeper bus during the day so it was nice to be reclined and just chill out.

Can Tho

We got to Can Tho and the heat just wouldn’t stop. We had rented a homestay so we were on the top floor with great AC in a small little room. The toilet was one floor down and the shower was one floor below that. I stayed in that night because it was just too hot to go outside.

The next morning we awoke very early before the sun rose so we could do a river cruise to the biggest floating market in Vietnam. Our guide, Lyly and our boat driver were awesome. So friendly and cute. The guide made us more bamboo bling bling while we floated down the river to the most beautiful sun rise. Eventually, we made it to the floating market which was pretty cool. We couldn’t really buy anything as they sell large quantities to resellers (think Costco for fruits and veggies on the river). Then we had a delicious Pho for breakfast right from the boat.

We cruised down the river and saw mud skippers and then we went to a rice noodle making business. We watched how the made big circular sheets of rice flour over a hot fire, then transferred to a place to dry in the sun. Hard work, 7 days a well. Everyone there was family.

We headed home for a much needed shower. Later we went out for dinner. We basically hid upstairs in our room in the AC for the afternoon.

The next day, we walked out to get breakfast and look around before it got too hot. Then back to the train station (with lots of time to spare) and back on a sleeper daytime bus to Ho Chi Minh. All in all, I’m not sure going to Can Tho was really worth it in the end. I liked the floating market but for the amount of time we were in a bus and in the room in AC it seemed like maybe we should have skipped it.

Ho Chi Minh/Saigon

This time we had rented an Airbnb that was a GREAT price on the 35th floor. I was in heaven. Our own kitchen, really spacious, and our own WASHING MACHINE. We decided we would wash everything we owned. It’s not so often you don’t have to pay to wash your clothes so we took advantage of the machine and the days that we had there (4 nights I believe) and started washing.

The next day Vivi and I wanted to just chill. We’d been moving around so much we just needed a day off in the AC. Luc, of course, needed to see more and do stuff, so he hopped on a GRAB scooter and took off for the day. We did girly things like face masks and watched a movie. It was so nice to just be.

That night my stomach started hurting and I could tell it was the tell-tale sign that I wouldn’t be able to go to the Cu Chi Tunnels with them the next day. That night I took all the things I needed to take for my tummy but in the morning it just wasn’t better so I stayed home again while they went to the tunnels. I really wanted to see the tunnels but it wasn’t meant to be. They had a great time and I’m so happy that Vivi got a chance to learn about them.

The next day we got on yet another bus that would take us to Cambodia. This would be a two day bus trip to get to Siem Reap.


  • Vietnam is a vast country with so many beautiful and varying landscapes.
  • I’m thrilled that they take credit cards more readily here.
  • I had heard that the younger generation can speak English and the older generation (because of the war) but the in between generation can’t so much (unless they are involved with tourism) and I’d say this is a pretty accurate generalization.
  • I learned that Vietnam has been claiming their independence from many different countries for many many years. This impacts a culture I would say when you’re fighting to be a country with its own unique culture. It seems to me like Vietnam is a young country now defining itself.
  • This is the country where we bus, plane, train, and boat the most in our trip.
  • It seems like a whirlwind of activity and by the end of it, Vivi and I are absolutely spent. It’s a little too fast or too much and I can notice how we all get a little more tense when we don’t get a break from moving.
Watch Luc's GoPro Video for the highlights
Watch Luc’s GoPro Video for the highlights
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