Well, I've now been in oppresively hot, steamy bangkok, for the last few days. Time to update everyone on what and where I have been the last few days. After my last entry I was off to explorer downtown Siem…
Upon arrival at quite a nice little airport I was able to quickly get my visa and get through customs without any surprises. Outside the airport I was greeted by my driver who took me on about a 15 minute drive to my hotel in a Romork, a Cambodian Tuk Tuk. The Kazna Hotel is nice but after seeing the plethora of new hotels being built and huge amounts of advertised discounts, I realize I may have been better off arranging accommodations once I arrived here. There are now more hotels in Siem Reap than there are temples in the region, and that is saying an awful lot.
After a quick check in and dropping my bags off in my room I was back downstairs and on my Romork with my “English” speaking guide Nahtan, not Nathan. He seemed like a very nice guy, but between the ridiculous Sanskrit to English translations, which always equated to some 15 syllable name, and the fact that I felt like I was back in high school reliving a history class, my eyes quickly glazed over and I simply acknowledged every one of his pauses with a nod and an uh-huh. It worked out well, him escorting me around the site, me nodding “uh-huh”, until of course he asked me a question that had to do directly with his previous comment. He even gave me a choice between two answers, a 50/50 chance, I still managed to answer incorrectly. He stared at me in a way that I knew he was on to me, I’m pretty sure he just made up the rest of the history from there on out….uh-huh.
Note to self, pack one change of clothes in carry on, and remember deodorant for the sake of those who have to travel within a 25 foot vicinity of me.
Well here I am, finally sitting on my flight to Cambodia. A tiny turbo propwhich is without a doubt designed for Camodians, all 4’11” and 90 lbs of them. Before I even sit down I receive chuckles from the flight attendants. I would laugh to, it must be comical watching me, doubled over, bumping my head every time I have the nerve to look up to see what row I’m at, trying to navigate to my seat, which of course is the furthest one from the door. I feel sorry for those that must sit next to me. One leg off in front of the seat next to me, the other tucked up nearly into my chest. The seats are narrow too. Trying my best, I can’t even attempt to use the arm rest, so instead I’ll just use the person leg next to me. 20 hours of flights down, only a little, cramped, 1 hour flight remaining.
On the 5th of September we wrapped up our tour in Beijing and checked our bags through to Lhasa . After a quick goodbye to Lynn we head down the escalator to security. Since this was a domestic flight, neither of our security guards could explain to us what they needed but after playing a quick round of charades we deciphered that they were looking for our Tibet visa. Now for a little background on this, ourChinese visa was originally denied due to the fact our itinerary said we were going to Lhasa after Beijing . After a fabricated itinerary and some help with our tour guide, we were able to get one once we were in Beijing . Back to the story, once we produced our visa we endured ten minutes of confusion and lots of animated discussion in Chinese among security, we were finally let through to the x-ray machines. At this point dad and I had to stand on a short pedestal while we endured a thorough body search which would have been more appropriately done behind closed doors and after a few drinks. After are rear ends had been thoroughly groped we went on to our final stage of our examination which included a thorough wipe down of us and our carry-on with the bomb detecting fabric. Apparently we passed and were allowed through to Tibet .
Well we are well into our trip at this point and I thought I would drop an email and let everyone know how we are doing.
Lua, Dad, and I headed off to the airport on the 1st of September, Lua heading off to Mexico for the month and Dad and I off on our whirlwind tour of Beijing, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and India(it counts, we will be out of the airport for a few hours!).
14 hours later, and a trip over the North Pole and Siberia, we landed in Beijing. The new terminal at Beijing international Airport is the largest terminal in the world, and it was obvious that China has put a huge push into developing Beijing for the Olympics. Upon exiting customs, which was a smooth affair, we met our Beijing tour guide Lynn. Lynn and our private driver took us off to downtown Beijing, a 30 min drive, for dinner before heading to the hotel. Once we got closer into downtown we were both amazed at how modern and updated everything was. The streets were clean, the buildings were new, and they had a plethora of western conveniences including the ever important Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Hagan Daz. If it were not for all the Chinese people and bi-lingual signs, you would assume you were in a nice American town….
Well we just got back from the lost world epic. A 7 hour caving experience!
called this one of the must do trips in so we figured we would finish up with a bang, and it did not disappoint. Lua said this was her favorite part of the trip, even though her knees were knocking together all morning beforehand!
We lucked out as we are in the off season it was just Lua and me with two guides! We first took a drive out to some rather inconspicuous shed where we geared up with wet suits, harnesses, helmets, and headlamps. Then we were off to the rappel!
What an amazing day!
We were picked up at about 5:30am from our and driven over to the big bus down to Crossing. We arrived at the trail head at around 7am and after a quick bathroom break we were on our way to the crossing.
The Tongariro Park is basically a still active volcanic area just south of Lake Taupo. It is a desolate wasteland that was very pretty in its own unique way. It started out fairly flat for about an hour or so and then we started Devils Staircase which was an old lava flow. I have been on some tough, steep climbs, but this takes the cake as far as tough climbs. Imagine 45 minutes on the stair stepper of death, with steps twice as big as the should be, that gave you constant vertigo, and had loose rocks that could give way at any moment. Lua loved it…..