Sunday, March 4, 2012

Dolphins of Kratie

Boats waiting for passengers
Back in January, we took a roadtrip to Kratie: a town on the east side of the Mekong River.  We went for a friend's wedding, but thought we'd spend an extra day to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphins.

We rented a moto from our guesthouse and drove north for about 45 minutes to Kampi, the home of the dolphins.  Our entrance fee got us our own private boat and driver and 60 minutes out on the water.  (Actually, our driver was really nice and let us stay out almost 2 hours.)

The ride involved a lot of moto-ing around the river, then sitting with the engine off, staring at the water, and waiting.  But, we did get to see several dolphins during our time on the water!  Very cool and definitely worth the trip.

Here's just 2 videos from our boat ride - and they're not great quality.  But! maybe that will convince you to come to Kratie and see the dolphins in person.

Our boat and driver

Waiting...and waiting...and waiting...and...Dolphins!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Radhanagar Beach, Andaman Islands

About 1 year ago, we were relaxing on one of the best beaches in the world: Radhanagar Beach on Havelock Island in the Andaman Islands, India.  It's a gorgeous beach; however, it takes a dedicated traveler to get there.

First, you must travel to India (you cannot travel to the Andaman Islands from any other country).  From mainland India, you fly to Port Blair - the main city of the Andaman Islands.  From Port Blair, you take a 2-hour ferry to Havelock Island.  Then, from the main village, you board a rickety, old bus for the 45-min drive to Beach #7 (aka: Radhanagar Beach).

Half-way between SE Asia and India, the Andaman Islands are blending of Indian and Southeast Asian culture, peoples, and geography.  Plus, some British architecture thrown-in.  Definitely worth the adventure getting there!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is one of the most beautiful cities in Southeast Asia.  Filled with wats (temples), an interesting mix of Lao and European architecture, numerous coffee shops and fun street markets, you could spend several days exploring Luang Prabang and it's surrounding countryside.

A "must-see" includes the early-morning almsgiving, when the monks walk throughout the city, collecting rice from locals (and now, also tourists).  Hint: travel outside of the city core to view this daily almsgiving ceremony.  Due to the recent influx of visitors, the almsgiving that happens in the city center is mostly for the benefit of tourists.

You could spend several days visiting all the wats, but make sure you see Wat Xieng Thong (at the northern end of the peninsula) and climb to the top of Phou Si hill.

And, make sure to dedicate lots of time to relaxing in coffeeshops, walking (or biking) along the rivers, getting massages, eating delicious Lao food, and shopping at the Night Market.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mui Ne

Mui Ne is a great beach town about 4-5 hours - by bus - from Ho Chi Minh City.  It's a great place to relax for a few days before continuing your adventures in Vietnam.  We visited Mui Ne in the low season (August), so there weren't many other tourists.  But, the surfing is supposed to be much better from November-March.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Temples of Angkor

Everyone must go to the Temples of Angkor, outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

There are plenty of great guidebooks and useful websites about the Temples, already, so we won't write much about them here.  But, one thing we have learned - after having plenty of family and friends visit - is that, if possible, you should spread your visit to the Temples out over 2 days.  One day is just too exhausting for most people.  (Remember, it's always hot, too!)  The extra $20 (for a 2-day visit) is definitely worth it.


Apsara Dancers


Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

Angkor Wat

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mulberries' Farm in Phonsavan, Laos

If you're traveling to Phonsavan to see the Plain of Jars, be sure to also set-aside at least a half-day at Mulberries' Silk Farm, just outside of town.

Mulberries is a fair trade organization that sells beautiful silk products, with stores in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.  But Phonsavan is where you can see it all happen.  From the mulberry plants, to the silk worms, to the spinning, dyeing and weaving, you can see (and participate in) the silk-making process from start to finish.

Mulberry Plant
Silk Worms eating Mulberry Leaves
Worms spinning their cacoons


Recently dyed silk hanging to dry

Woven silk scarf still on the loom

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Best Beach at Sihanoukville

Sokha Beach
Sihanoukville, Cambodia has several beaches.  By doing a quick image search on google, you may be led to believe that all Sihanoukville beaches are breathtaking.  However, some are much better than others.

If you want to go to a pristine beach, with great views, and few people, head to the Sokha Beach Resort in Sihanoukville.  This might be one of Asia's best.  Yes, it's private, so you have to pay $10, but this is actually a fantastic deal.
  • You get a lounge chair and umbrella with towel.
  • You get a free drink from the bar.
  • You can use the hotel's pool (with swim-up bar).
  • You can use the hotel's clean bathrooms.
  • The beach is always empty, so you don't have to worry about your belongings.
  • The sand is perfect.  It even continues out into the water.  (No rocks to stub your toe on!)
  • There's no litter.
  • Speedboats and Jet-skis are not allowed to enter the cove.
  • The view is amazing.
Occidental Beach
Compare this to the craziness of Sihanoukville's other beaches.  Not to say you shouldn't visit Occidental or Serendipity Beaches; you need to experience them.  But, make sure to plan one day on your vacation at Sokha Beach Resort.