Delightful Dalat

Hello from Dalat, Vietnam!

We left HCM City at 9am on 25th and a mere 8 hours and 320 Km later arrived in Dalat which is a small town in the highlands on a plateau 1500m above sea level. It is cold here! For the first time we have broken out our hoodies from the backpacks! The town is also known as “the city of eternal spring” as the weather is always the same between 18 and 25 degrees Celsius, which means there are all kinds of fruit and vegetables growing all year round.

The hostel we are staying in is lovely. It kind of feels like staying at a relatives house as everyone is so friendly. The room is basic but perfect. On our first day here we did very little, other than wonder about the town. Pez and I tried Vietnam’s version of pizza, which is odd to say the least. The base is made of sweet pastry! Pez ate most of his anyway!

Today, we went on an “easy-rider” tour around Dalat, which is basically hopping on the back of a motorbike. Last night, I was really worried as I have never been on a bike before, but to my surprise it was a smooth and relatively slow ride. We set off at 7am, Pez on the back of a girl named Sun and I was on the back of a guy who did not speak any English! First we visited a cricket farm and then were offered a plate of deep fried adult crickets with chilli sauce to try. I am ashamed to say neither of us could bring ourselves to eat any. I tired and picked one up but one of it’s legs was sticking out of the batter and I just couldn’t bear it! Sun thought we were really odd for not wanting to try but she was happy enough as there were more for her.

Next we visited a silk farm, which is my idea of hell. Silk worms galore hatching into hideous white moths. Ick. Thankfully, none were flying around so I contained my fear. Each cocoon is a tightly wound bundle of silk which they dunk in hot water and unravel, then use the reels of silk to make scarves, ties and gowns with a Victorian style loom. I bought a silk scarf for £3!

Dalat is most famous for the waterfalls all around the area, most of which are overrun with tourists. Our tour was a secret run by the hostel as they go to the areas without any other people around. We went to a waterfall called the Elephant and climbed down into a cave under the fall (and got absolutely soaked!). It was incredible!

On the way to visit a local village tribe in the hills, we stopped to look at a coffee farm. Sun told us that coffee was selling for 45,000 Dong last year but now it is about 25000 Dong. She said that the drop in price caused a lot of people to commit suicide as they lost a lot of money this year. When we got to the village we met Rot, who works at the hostel where we are staying. We stopped at his parents house who made us tofu and noodle soup. Pez did very well to try lots of it. I thought it was delicious and ate 2 bowls! Then Sun provided us with heaps of local fruit. We tried miniature apples, water apple, dragon fruit, and a load of others that I don’t know how to pronounce or spell! All things I have never heard of and nothing whatsoever like fruit in the UK. Some was savoury, some was like powder on the inside. After lunch we walked further into the village and sat with a family who make handwoven silk. It is so intricate and much more skilled than the loom in the factory. It started to pour with rain and the children playing outside came running in. The grandma picked up one of her bamboo sticks and thwacked them all viciously. We didn’t really understand why!

Finally we started the journey back, and stopped at a mushroom farm halfway, where they grow mushrooms called elephant ears, you can guess why! The journey back was exhausting as we didn’t stop as often. Our bums and backs are completely broken! Hopefully we can sleep it off tonight so we are repaired for the bus to the seaside town of Nha Trang tomorrow morning.

Spending some Dong on the Viet Cong

And I'm gonna be... High... As a kite

Oh hello there!

Vroom vroom


Noony's roots are showing. Eh? Boom boom!

What’s that Robin Williams catchphrase again?

So we arrived in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City to you communists) after an absolutely exhausting 15 hour bus ride. The border crossing was less hassle for us, but for the poor French buggers that put the wrong date on their visa, their border crossing was less than successful. Ho Chi Min is huge. It took an hour to get into the city from the ‘suburbs’ and the amount of motorbikes is staggering. 6 million of ’em. All trying to dodge around you as you risk life and limb getting from pavementless A to B. This city has a much nicer vibe than any in Cambodia. Y’know, like religious iconography but with a Saved by the Bell vibe?

After taking a day out to sleep for 16 hours straight, we took the chance to walk around the main district of the city. We walked up past the cathedral to the War museum. Very anti-American, but to be honest, they weren’t cool were they. Photo evidence showed us. Obviously the Viet Cong didn’t play nice either, but still. Pretty horrific war. The photo journalist requiem room with photos by Capa among others lay next to the children’s play room? What? Anyway, the museum was full of artefacts from the war and was very interesting. A new instalment was put in the day before to show the effects of agent orange. Poor babies. Their remains were kept in formaldehyde for our enjoyment. We got a late dinner and retired early as our war theme continued the next day.

Today we set off at 8am to Cu Chi tunnels, the huge network of tunnels that the Viet Cong had built as a stronghold for Saigon. Our tour guide was called Pxi, “as in cofFEE, which is also like me, black but sweet”. As he sat in a plastic cup at the front of the tour bus we travelled for well over an hour to the tunnels. The tour included walking round over the tunnels and sitting in a hut to watch an overtly anti-American propaganda war video where the “crazed devils bombed these peaceful people”. Actually, that sounds about right. They have a point. Not that I’m easily influenced or anyfink.

There was an opportunity to go into the holes, but they were so small, a western tunnel was expanded to 50cm wide by 120cm high rather than the 22cm by 30cm of all the other 200km. There was a chance to get in a V.C. hole and noony prodded me forward in front of our group. Having lost a stone since being here my lesser protruding belly merely touched the sides. Noony’s and other women’s child bearing hips didn’t stand a chance. There was a display of all the ingenious floor traps that were laid out for the Americans. Much more than bamboo spikes covered gently with leaves. No, no. Intricate rollers that pierce you as you sink further in, and weight bearing contraptions that cut you the more you struggle. The SAW franchise has nothing on these mentalists.

After walking round and being very well informed by Pxi, when a spoon wasn’t in his mouth, we went to the shooting range. A buck a bang! There was a choice of weapon from AK-47, carbines, heavy machine guns, I went for the M16 and bought 10 rounds. I was expecting it to be a bare table with resting weaponry, an open field and a barrel of hay, but to Noony’s utter relief, there was a sense of refined order in how the shooting happened. We were led down a bunker path to a range where the rifles were all fixed facing down the range. All you had to do was hold on and fire. Bit of a shame really. I’d like to get back into shooting, but maybe not with a war relic.

Celebrating my blood thirst with an ice-cream we somehow lost our group but found them at the foot of the western hole. Noony and I were third and fourth down the hundred metre long black tunnel when 15 metres into it the woman in front, panicked and unsuccessfully tried to turn back. Every 20 metres or so there are exit points to climb up and Noony said at the next one that she was leaving through one. I carried on to the next exit point then left as my legs were giving up shuffling along on my squatted ankles with a full backpack. After finding Noony, both drenched in sweat, she said she, understandably, panicked when the woman in front started freaking out. But enough about that, how the Vietnamese did it in a space much less, with bombs, rats, army dogs, ticks, bullets and crazed devils.

So, after playing goodies and baddies for the day, we retreated to our hostel. Tomorrow we head for Dalat to look at nice scenery. Bye for now. Photos and videos of today to follow.

Again, we are fine.

We were in Phnom Penh at the water festival, waiting for a night bus to Vietnam. We are fine. Poor Cambodians.

Shocker at Sokha

Where to begin…? So, we arrived safe and sound at the lovely Sokha Beach Resort, and enjoyed a marvellous 3 days in paradise. Our room, although the cheapest that the resort had to offer, was splendid, everything you would expect from a top class fancy hotel. We tried to cram in as much as we could in 3 days, using the pool, beach (sandcastle pictures to follow), gym, sauna, steam room, and even booking ourselves some spa treatments! Pez and I had 2 Khmer ladies lavish us with massages, something called a hot herbal compress, a herbal scrub and head, neck and shoulder massages. It was glorious! Although the tummy massage was too much for me as I burst out laughing and had to ask her to stop!

We were only booked to stay for 2 nights but had to extend the stay to 3 as the whole of town was booked up due to the water festival, a busy public holiday here in Cambodia. This meant we couldn’t get the night bus to Vietnam as planned. 3 nights was definitely the maximum our budget would allow so we booked to stay at another hotel on another beach in Cambodia (Victory Beach). We arrived today as scheduled to find out that our booking had not been made and that we were without accommodation. The staff were so kind and helpful and said they would not just leave us stranded, as this was Hostelworld’s fault not theirs. They were going to allow us to stay in one of the rooms occupied by a French man who works here, but we asked if there is anything they could do to get us to Vietnam. They rang various companies, who are not running due to the holiday, but eventually found us 2 seats on the night bus. So, that is now our plan, we leave on the bus for Ho Chi Minh at 8 pm. Phew!

We’ve had to pay for paradise, but it’s worth it.

We are now in Cambodia’s premier hotel, the Sokha Beach Resort. We are only here for two days so we are making the most of it. Full experience tomorrow, but for now, here is a snippet of our day in the best place we’ve been so far. By miles.

View from restaurant. Noony tried the food, and I had the same.

View from Noony's face.


Private beach lol

Noony's face is bigger than the sun.

Sunset. For Patrick. Who likes nice photos.

Night swimming in hot water.

We've had thunder and lightning every night for 2 weeks. Here's a tiny, lucky glimpse.

Things happened.

Our darkest hour

Beach club resort. Poo central.

Shouldn't have talked to this fella after karaoke.

They went mental for my Weetabix.

Wet season hasn't finished yet at Aqua Resort.

Night lightning lit up the forest.

Ladies, I'd like you to meet Jeremy.

Jeremy flirting with Noony.

Noony during the regular blackouts.


Location:Kanda St,Sihanoukville,Cambodia

So much has happened in the past four days…. So so much.

So we moved to a new hostel, The Beach Club Resort, and things were ticking along nicely. And then it happened. It was bound to happen. We had been in Asia for three weeks and things had been fine. It was all fine. Without going into any specific detail… we have both had utterly horrific traveller’s diarrhoea. Shameless, untamed, uncontrollable diarrhoea. In fact, it is still happening now, as I write. This is our fifth day. Noony said she thinks she’s dying and she can’t believe her end wouldn’t be in the two-way death pact at the old peoples home, like we’d planned, but on the toilet. Not a toilet. The toilet. Poor creature having to endure an ongoing nightmare. Noony and I have never been ones to discuss the final stages of peristalsis, but in the past five days we have discussed this more than marriage, babies, and which old persons home to do it in.

As you slowly regret having to read this and retch slightly into your coffee cup, don’t feel sorry for us. Noony may have the face of a lonely seal cub, but she is strong willed and know it will end soon.

We are trying to work out what it was. We never have the same meal which means it is either the ice in the drinks, the milk in the coffee, or the iron railings we licked on the way home from opium night at the karaoke.

I have had to tame myself as not to put you all off this blog forever, so I will have a thought for the day instead:

Talking to other travellers, of whom a vast minority are English, they insist of getting absolutely crunked each night and then recovering on a beach. Tattoos are prevalent. One Scottish nut job said he had trouble getting a visa because of his criminal record. This isn’t our scene. The clubs we have seen are the back of a parking lot with nothing but open buckets of cocktails for company. No, for the time being I have been just enjoying the scenery and company, (not sure what Noony’s been up to).

We are looking forward to Christmas at William’s house. He has been working in Laos for a few years now so he is pretty well suited for hosting us during the Christmas period. Noony would like a bicycle and i would like a xylophone for christmas. So if anyone wants to send us a card or something, it would be very nice. We won’t send one back. It wouldn’t feel right.

Such and such days until Christmas…

For those that don’t know, we are spending Christmas in Laos with Will.

If anyone wants to send us christmas presents they should send them to:

C/O William George Moss
Theun-Hinboun Power Company
2nd Floor, Simeuang Commercial Center
P.O Box 3382
Fa Ngum Road, Ban Phia Vat
Sisattanak District
Vientiane, LAO PDR

Do it! Or not, it’s fine either way.

Stories from Sihanoukville

So, after a fun 6 hour bus journey (apparently in a taxi it’s 2-3 hours max), we have made it to Sihanoukville. Again, as we arrived we could not get off the bus for all the tuk-tuk drivers shouting and bartering to get a handful of us as customers. As the bus had stopped on the side of the road, and not at the bus station as promised, we had to get a tuk-tuk to our hostel as we had no idea where we were. A short 3 minute journey and we arrived. The staff were all attractive young Cambodian girls, some with babies in tow and another was pregnant. We later discovered after spending some time at the bar that all the males in their lives are middle aged Americans who have settled here in Cambodia. The hostel was really nice, great food (Pez ate chickpea and sausage soup!) and had a really lovely pool. We have now moved to a hostel just around the corner as it is marginally cheaper with all the same amenities, a bigger swimming pool and a free pool table!

On our first afternoon here we wandered down to the nearest of many beaches in Sihanoukville (and the worst). The water is beautiful, great white sand, lovely bars, but it is heaving with people trying to sell you things. Pez zoomed off ahead of me saying no to everyone and I was stuck with a 10 year old called Pon trying to sell me bracelets, his 15 year old friend selling the same and a woman offering me a manicure. I said no, so they said maybe later and I foolishly agreed. So, they all held out their little fingers and insisted I made a pinky promise. I refused. Pon stuck with me for half an hour as we walked all the way along the beach. He was very sweet and told me all about school and his 3 older sisters. He told me his dad died when he was 8 and that his mother only has one arm and one leg. He also said he had “no business today”. Pez reminded me that it says in every hostel and guidebook not to buy off children as they should be at school so I said I would not buy anything today. All of a sudden the sweet boy and his friend changed their selling tactics. They said we must hate Cambodia if we do not buy, they told Pez he doesn’t love me if we do not buy, then he said if you do not buy “you will die of the body”. I’m not sure what that means but we had heard enough and told them firmly that they were being very rude and we did not want to buy from rude little boys. That was the end of that.

Sihanoukville has a very very poor electricity supply so for 2 days there have been lots of power cuts. Every decent bar and hostel have back-up generators though so within a few minutes everything is usually up and running again. However at our hostel the battery got taken away for repair this morning so the power cuts this evening have lasted indefinitely. It is good fun though!

On our way back from dinner this evening we stopped at the bar downstairs for a drink and a game of pool. Pez nearly squished a frog by using him as a beer coaster (he is blind without his glasses). The little frog jumped off the table and into the pool and swam away then hopped out the other side to freedom. I just wish we had our camera on us!

Gez and Pez and Noz in Cambodia

It’s taken three years to catch up, we went for pizza.

Angkor Wat at sunrise

Here come the photos! Angkor Wat by sunset

Mmm nom nom nom phnom penh

Just a note, we are trying to figure out a way to get photos to the blog. Our app keeps crashing so we might set up a google photo site and just out the link on the blog. It’s messy, but much less time consuming on our part. Anyhoo…

We arrived in Phnom Penh much more easily than we did to Siam Reap. Our little bus picked us up at 7am and supplied us with free water and a crazy jam filled pastry dish. Noony tried it and told me to tell you that it was good. On the five hour journey we passed exactly the same scenery; shacks, shanty towns and downright depravity. The mini bus driver enjoyed spending his time on the wrong side of the road after overtaking every car in his path. Rather than turn back he would happily force oncoming motorcyclists onto the dirt as, in a head-on road fight, the bus would win. Sitting behind the driver didn’t help and squeaking at every near missed did nothing to improve my cool credentials on the bus. The Cambodian couple behind felt the need to shout every part of their conversation, really belt it out. Not only that they felt the need to hold onto our seats so Noony’s hair was trapped in the man’s overhand grasp of the headrest and the woman held into the side, her fingernails digging in to my side. Their lack of awareness of personal space was apparent especially when they started stroking our ears.

When we arrived in Phnom Penh a huge mass of men hurtled towards the bus. They wouldn’t let us off the bus step until we had agreed to use them as a tuktuk. Little did they know, a man was standing at the back with a sign with Noony’s full name on (a worker at the last hostel said he would call his friend to personally take us to the hostel, good lad). Noony parted them like the Red Sea with a loud imperative and we were taken to the aptly named ‘Me Mates Place’.

Checking in felt a bit similar to the scam hostel, them asking many questions then agreeing with what we said then looking down and fidgeting. Finally after fifteen minutes of waiting, they told us that the room would be ready in half an hour. Lovely. We sat down at the spacious diner booth and looked at the huge A3 laminated menu. The music was absolutely good. Jeff Buckley, Van Morrison, Beach Boys, Postal Service. It has been the best music so far compared to Asian love songs with midi synth arrangements of the last hostel. When we finally got to our room, we were pleasantly surprised. But again, you don’t really care about the room. Needless to say, it was good.

The next morning our driver took us to the Killing fields. Bones and teeth were scattered along the paths, brought up with each rainfall. Most of the buildings were torn down after the discovery so signs were put in its place. One tree had a sign that said that this tree was used to kill babies by hitting them against it. A painting in the museum showed soldiers use them as clay pigeons. 129 mass graves uncovered different stories. Teachers, professors, intellectuals, children, babies. A glass tower was erected with 5000 cracked skulls placed inside. Didn’t take any photos today. Didn’t seem right. It was very hard to imagine what it was like and Noony and I were left wondering how and why and every other question. It wasn’t until we went to S-21, the old Khmer prison, that everything started to sink in.

S-21 used to be a school until education was abolished under Pol Pot’s regime. The classrooms were turned into prison cells, mostly single cells. The original bed, chain and rusted iron foot cuffs remained in each room alongside a single photo on the wall of the inmates as they were found, tied to the bed and brutally murdered. There was barbed wire alongside the top balcony to stop the prisoners committing suicide. Methods of torture were simple and brutal. 20,000 people from all backgrounds came to S-21. Seven survived. They only survived as they could carve and replicate Pol Pots head on a bust. Individual portrait photos of thousands of inmates were stuck up behind glass panels, some children as young as three or four.

Anyway, enough lols, here’s Noony.

After an emotional day we went back to the hostel for a bit and then went to dinner to a lovely restaurant called the Titanic. Very plush place on the river front with fountains and women dressed in silk and the food was yummy. There was a little lizard on the ledge that joined us for dinner. We fed him rice and parmesan cheese and he licked the soy sauce bottle. He was very cute.

Today, we went for a long walk and went up the one hill in Phnom Penh with a temple at the top called Wat Phnom which is what the city is named after. There is a story behind why it is called this but it would probably be a better read and more accurate on wikipedia.

Phnom Penh has lived up to expectations. It is dirty, busy and pretty much like any other city in the world. We considered staying longer but I am not in love with the city, plus I think our hostel has bed bugs… Not fun. So tomorrow (Thursday 4th) we leave on a bus for Sihanoukville on the coast of Cambodia. There is not much to see there apart from beaches, wildlife, and Cambodian islands… which is nice. We are hoping the weather picks up a bit though as it is surprisingly cool at the moment, only a high of 29 degrees today and about 22 – 25 at night. It’s warm but not swimming weather yet.