North America, Asia · 18 Days · 36 Moments · August 2018

Cambodia and Vietnam

14 September 2018

Made it back to JFK and then to Delmar after about 25hrs of travel. The flight home is always less exciting than the flight away so we slept a lot and watched a lot of movies. Using our global entry for the first time was amazing- got through customs in three minutes and waited in no lines. Yaaassss! Looking forward to putting up the Vietnam prints we purchased at the museum and printing all the amazing picture we took!

13 September 2018

Enjoyed our last full day in Vietnam. Took a short flight from Dong Hoi to Ho Chi Mi City, checked in to our hotel and went for a walk around down town. We ran in to our friends from Germany who we met up north in Bia Tu Long Bay- sooooo crazy and random! Saw some cool buildings and went to an interesting museum. Our hotel is really nice and has live traditional music during afternoon tea. We are so sad this trip is ending but are so happy to have the memories to look back on!!

12 September 2018

Woke up after a pretty good nights sleep. The tent was cozy and the sound of a billion sparrows above us, along with our insane fatigue, put us to sleep. Woke up to an amazing meal to get energized for the 8 mile hike out of the jungle. The first 3 miles were through a pitch black cave with the most amazing stalactite/stalagmites we have ever seen- one looked like a t-Rex! There were times when we even had to climb on them, which felt wrong, but we had no choice. There was a terrifying spot when we had to repel up a cliff with a 60ft drop on either side. The guide said a lot of people cry at this part but we didn’t- yay!! Couldn’t get pictures of these parts of the cave because we were hanging on for dear life. Had so much more food cooked for us and then climbed out of the mountains. Such a hard hike but an amazing feeling to be done. Nik ended up with a pretty bad leech on him that bled so much. We got to enjoy the Farmstay a little in the evening even though we were exhausted.
Pygmy cave, heng over cave, and hiking out
Pygmy cave hike

11 September 2018

This hike was definitely the hardest and craziest we have ever done. 5 miles of up and down mountains on trails, not meant for giant Americans, made for a long day. We were also battling leeches- they cover the paths on leaves and rocks. These leeches aren’t like the ones everyone knows about in the water, these are tiny little f$&@ers that sit on things reaching out for you. The guides gave us special bug spray that kills them instantly but two did get on Veronica and cause a little bleeding. It was all worth it though when we arrived at our campsite in the 4th largest cave in the world. We had five guys with us to carry everything and making sure we didn’t die- they were amazing. They Cooked us sooo much amazing food, gave us their homemade rice wine and then pulled out a karaoke microphone loaded with American songs- couldn’t have asked for more. The tent even came with little air mattresses!
Started our insane adventure from the Phong Nha farmstay and took a bus to the entrance of the Phong Nha National Park. The “Jungle Boss” tour group got us all set up for our two day one night trek in to the park. They didn’t approve of most of our gear and wanted us to buy their socks and shirts - I thought it was a scam to get us to spend money but as we quickly learned, these guides know what they are doing and I’m soooo glad we took their advice. The jungle is full of some nasty leeches that are looking for a spec of skin to suck your blood. Lol

10 September 2018

Enjoyed our last day in Splendora riding around on mopeds. Missing Sar, Gar and the kids already. We got a Grab taxi to Hanoi airport, had some amazing airport Pho, and flew down to Dong Hoi for our stay at the Phong Nha Farmstay. It’s a giant plantation turned into a modern hotel. Food is homemade and delish and the place has a really nice feel- lanterns all over, swimming pools, live music and friendly staff. The owner greeted us and told us about a new cave tour that just opened for the 4th largest cave in the world. We originally wanted to camp overnight in a cave but that wasn’t an option so we booked a “lighter” tour- this new cave tour gave us more options. We decided to change so now we are doing one of the hardest: 12 mile hike, descending in harnesses and actually sleeping in a cave! 😱😱

9 September 2018

We stopped at a park downtown before heading back up the Splendora. Took a ride around to go swimming at Oliver and Sarah’s school- St. Paul’s International School. Met some of Sarah’s coworkers and then back to the house for a quiet night. Heading south tomorrow. Sad to leave the fam but looking forward to our next adventure. We are staying at a farmstay and going camping in the Phong Nha jungle to see some caves!

8 September 2018

We are staying down in the Old Quarter tonight so we did some sight seeing and walking around downtown Hanoi. Visited the prison museum. The prison was originally used by the French imprisoning Vietnamese and then used by the Vietnamese for American POWs. John McCain was here at some point and they called it the “Hanoi Hilton”. We did some more waking around, saw an amazing pagoda and an old catholic cathedral - the kids were troopers. We went back to the night market and beer street. Beer street is a small crazy area loaded with tiny restaurants, tiny chairs/tables and lots of yummy food. I was told that the smaller the chairs, the better the food; based on tonight, with are knees in our chest, I would have to agree. Lol

7 September 2018

Awesome day hanging out with the fam. Had beautiful weather in the am so we hit the pool. It rained in the afternoon so we all went to the mall- not just a regular mall, a mall in a 65 story tower with a kids play park, virtual reality games, and a hotel attached. We then went out for some wood fired pizza which was sooooo delish. It might sound gross but blue cheese pizza drizzled with honey may be the best pizza I’ve ever had!!! We then grabbed a Grab (Uber of Vietnam) and headed to the night fair (side note: while waiting for our ride, Veronica took a seat on a cement half wall that was still wet, she got yelled at but we all laughed hysterically!) The night fair was so fun! All the roads were blocked off to traffic so we ran around, seeing at much as we could. We are staying in a hotel back in this area tomorrow- looking forward to it!

6 September 2018

We had a really enjoyable ride back to Halong Bay harbor- there was a nice breeze, great scenery, lovely company, and of course, more delish homemade food. Next was the Ethic Travel Tour bus for 3.5 hr ride back to Hanoi. We stopped a pearl shoppe where they showed us how pearls were made- this process is waaaay more interesting than we thought it would be! We even bought a single black pearl necklace they made. After a long bus ride back to Hanoi, we said good bye to the wonderful people we made friends with over the past four days and said hello to our “Vietnamese family”. Looking forward to spending a few relaxing days with sar, gar, and the kids!
Started out the morning by watching the sunset and doing some yoga from the top of the boat in Halong Bay. It was incredible- soooo glad we decided to change our plans and stay on the boat (thanks Leanne). After breakfast we hopped on kayaks again and rode through a cave to a lagoon with walls covered with monkeys!! We spent about an hour watching them climb up and down the wall, chase each other around, jump in the water, and “couple”. Lol. They were so entertaining, we could have stayed all day but we had to get back to the boat for the ride to the main land.

5 September 2018

Halong Bay
Halong Bay
Left our home stay early and took another beautiful boat ride back to the main land. After an hour bus ride, we arrived at Halong Bay and to our boat. Originally, we were suppose to stay on the main land in a hotel but decided to join the three other people on our tour and stay on a boat in Halong Bay. I’m sooo glad we changed our plans because we saw some of the most amazing scenes. We also have the whole boat to ourselves- only 5 of us.

4 September 2018

After a bit more time on the boat, we landed in a port where our bicycles were waiting. We rode to the beach to go for a swim in the South China Sea- the water was warm and super clear. We did see a carcass on the beach that looked Iike a baby beluga whale. 😱 More bike riding to our home stay where we learned to make spring rolls, had a giant dinner, and took a nice walk. Another great day!!
Had a looooong bus ride (4hrs) from Hanoi to Bai Tu Long bay on the east coast of Vietnam. We are touring with Ethnic Travel Company and so far everything’s amazing- great spots with no other tourists, easy to understand staff and A LOT of great home cooked food. After the bus ride, we got on a boat to have lunch while we traveled to our kayaking spot. The weather was perfect and the scenery was unreal.

3 September 2018

Relaxing day today before our flight to Vietnam. Got a massage, ate some pizza, drank some beer and pelagreno. There were no economy seats left on the flight so we had to get business class. We had no idea that the special airport lounges provide food and free booze... could def get use to that. The seats on Vietnam Airlines were insanely comfy!! It was so great to see Sarah and Garret tonight. We looking forward to seeing the kids tomorrow morning for a brief minute before we go on our boat tour. We come back to the house for four days at the end of the week.

2 September 2018

Our 8year anniversary was pretty interesting. We had a relaxing morning and booked a horseback riding excursion for the afternoon. The Happy Horse Ranch has really good reviews and we could see why. The place was immaculate and the horses looked well taken care of. Our horses were matched to us based on weight - nik had to ride the largest and feistiest horse that needed a guide to walk with him. Lol. Horses here are smaller so anyone over 200lbs can’t even ride. The ride was interesting: down busy roads, through the “country side”, and next to charging water buffalo. It was about 94 out and halfway through our trip, I felt dizzy and dehydrated so I hopped off the horse and flagged down a Tuk Tuk - much better! Nik rode back to the ranch at a trot and the feisty horse almost bucked him off but it was all ok. We picked a nice restaurant for dinner that ended up being closed so the Tuk Tuk driver found a delish spot for us. Not the smoothest day but still a great one. 9/02/10v8!❤️

1 September 2018

Another day another 11 temples. A Tuk Tuk picked us up at 7 and we were off for a long day of sight seeing. First was Angkor Thom, a huge site, 4x bigger than Angkor Wat, with 5 temples. We spent an hour or so exploring and then hopped back in the Tuk Tuk to do a large loop of other temples. I was surprised with how all the temples are different. One was in water, one made with bricks, one made of huge stones, one with a lot of human faces, and one with animal faces. We also stopped at the “Tomb Raider” temple- it was busy but amazing colors and structures with trees growing in/through them. It’s easy to understand why they chose to film the movie there.
Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider temple), Pre Rup, Banteay Kdei and a much needed swim.
Preah Khan, Ta Som, Neal Pean, Easter Mebon and lunch a much needed air conditioned restaurant.
Angkor Thom

31 August 2018

Went to Pub Street after dinner. Crazy area with tons of bars, vendors, flashing lights, and loud music. Definitely a contrast to all the ruins.
We literally couldn’t stop taking pictures.
After we drove down the mountain, our guide brought us south east to Beng Mealea ruins. Most of the site was over grown but there were walkways built so you could get a nice perspective. The trees and roots growing around the giant stones were really cool to see in person.
Started off early this morning with an amazing breakfast before getting picked up at 7 to go to Kulen Mountain. It was about an hour north of Siem Reap so we needed an early start. We chose this tour because we wanted to see the waterfalls but the park so much to see. On top of the mountain was a Buddhist temple that is still in use. It felt strange to be a tourist in a place where people are practicing religion but the monks seemed accustomed to tourists. Swimming in the waterfall pool and eating fried bananas was the perfect way to spend time before the road opened back up. Kulen mountain only has one road that is one lane so, from 8-noon you can drive up the mountain and after 12, you can drive down. I’m sure this has prevented many accidents. Lol

30 August 2018

We are determined to “beat” jet lag so we unpacked, grabbed a Tuk tuk and went right to Angkor wat. Got a three day pass to see the ruins for the next few days. Went to the main temple- it was super busy but still really cool to see. Riding in a Tuk Tuk is awesome and super fun but not for the faint of heart. Lol Dinner at the hotel restaurant, hour massage and then early bedtime!!
Made it to Cambodia after about 25hrs of travel. Feeling tired but not too bad so we are going right out to the ruins to get on the time schedule here. We are about 11hrs ahead of NY. The hotel is amazing and I feel like I need to get a massage everyday when it’s less than $30 for 90mins! Lol

29 August 2018

We are in China now for a short layover then one more short flight to Cambodia! 👏👏 The flight wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. All we did was nap, watch movies and eat a bunch of food for 14 hrs. I’m soooo glad we decided to spring for the upgraded seats. Our section of the plane was pretty much empty so we were able to roam around- nik stole all the water bottles from the empty seats. Lol. I thought the flight pattern was going to be west over California but we flew north over the North Pole and Greenland- pretty cool.
Premium economy is amazing. Tons of room, foot rests, charging stations, remote controls, pillows blankets, slippers, headphones, and toiletry kits. Still going to be a looooong flight but hopefully a little comfortable. :))

28 August 2018

Made it to JFK with no issues- Nik was fueled with Stewart’s coffee obvi. Parking in long term and taking the tram to the terminal was all fine. The lines for China Southern Airlines were insanely long but fortunately, since we purchased premium economy, we got sent right to the front of about 100 people. Yaaasss. But, the airline saw an error with our visa - our middle names were missing. The attendant asked us to call the visa hotline and come back. We thought for sure this was going to take hours and be a giant headache. Shockingly enough Nik got ahold of someone from Cambodia in 2 mins and they cleared it all up and emailed the new visas. We shot straight through to the head of the line again and the airline printed the visas for us. Crisis averted. Next was trying to find something, other than McDonalds, to eat... we may end up eating dinner 3x today. 🤷🏻‍♀️
Getting packed up to leave. We have an extra suitcase to bring fun stuff to Clara and Ollie- including 40 boxes of Mac and cheese. Lol Sort of dreading the 22hrs of travel but we know it will be a blast!