From Jamie's Philippines Pics

We have also had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places in China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Bali. We have archived all of our travels and living experiences abroad; and if you wish, you can read about our adventures by finding the archives on the right of this page and by checking our Photo Album.

We appreciate all of our family and friends who have stayed in touch and emailed us with encouraging words throughout the year. We hope you will continue to keep us in your thoughts as we continue our adventure of living abroad teaching at an international school. For those who have stumbled upon our site, check out the "About Eric and Jamie" section on the right for more information.

Thanks for checking us out!

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."
- Mark Twain

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends."
- Maya Angelou






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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Vietnam - Day 5

From Vietnam 2009

Jamie and I rested up in the morning, but headed out into the town. We had the typical tourist sites we wanted to see and decided to walk the town instead of dealing with the motobikes, cabs, and other various forms of transportation you have to haggle with in order to get around.

Walking the streets of Hanoi isn't the easiest of tasks. The sidewalks are full of the motobikes, so you constantly have to dodge into traffic in order to go around them. Hanoi traffic is notorious for being full of motobikes and taxis. Even one of the postcards to buy around here is of the motobike traffic wheel to wheel and side by side.

Nonetheless, we headed out and found the Hanoi "Hilton" a few blocks from our hotel. This was a Vietnamese prison camp, but most notably to Americans, the prison camp that held the POWs shot down during the Vietnam War. They have converted it into a museum of sorts, and the propaganda and slant of the museum is very pro-Vietnamese. All of the pictures of the American soldiers are of them having a good time (fixing Christmas dinner, playing basketball, smiling) and generally being treated like kings. I'm sure that there were times like that, but what about the other times. We found it interesting.

Our next stop was a few blocks up the road for the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's oldest university built in 1076. It is mainly a tourist destination today, but the main feature of the "park" is the section that has all of the university graduates carved into these large stone blocks held up by turtles. Seymore got his picture taken among some of the graduates. We also bought our cookbook of Vietnam here.

As a side note for those who do not know, Jamie and I trying not to accumulate too many "things" from the places we visit. Simply, we don't do "knickknacks," and souvenirs we do buy we try and make them serve a purpose. We do, however, purchase a cookbook from every destination we visit. So far, we have cookbooks from every country we've visited and it is a tradition we hope to continue.

After the Temple of Literature, we headed north toward the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. It was closed for the public to enter, but seeing it from the outside is quite outstanding. We walked around through the presidential gardens behind it and headed to the Ho Chi Minh Museum.

This museum is a dedication of the life of Ho Chi Minh, most notably North Vietnam's leader during the Vietnam War. It is difficult to describe this museum, but I saw it as an artistical interpretation of someone's life. You can see our pictures, but I'm not sure they do the museum much justice. One section of the museum, you walk into "Uncle Ho's" "brain." Yes, I know, strange, but informative. They seemed to have every letter and document and journal he'd ever written on display. Truly insightful.

We walked back through the presidential gardens and stopped by the famous One Pillar Pagota. We thought it was charming, but I'm sure some tourist would considering it utterly pointless.

It was early afternoon by then, but we decided to go back to the hotel and rest up before heading out again for dinner and general site seeing.

However, as I were resting and watching some TV, I passed some kidney stones that crippled me for the night. They finally passed about 9:00, but I was too exhausted to do anything.

We'll head back out into town tomorrow and check out some things before taking a night train to Sapa.

Be sure to check out the pictures...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Vietnam - Day 1, 2, 3, and 4

From Vietnam 2009

Jamie and I flew out of Hong Kong airport on Friday night on a 9:45 flight. We arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam that evening about 10:30, and was promptly driven to our hotel in the old quarter of Hanoi, the Little Hanoi Hotel DX.

We had previously worked out a package deal with this hotel for a 3 day tour of Halong Bay as well as a trip to Sapa, a mountain village an overnight train ride west of Hanoi.

On Saturday morning, we were picked up by our Halong Bay tour company and by 12:30 after a 3 hour van ride were on our junk boat with 20 other people seeing the karst landscape of Halong Bay. After a brief tour around some of the mountains, we took a trip inside one of the mountain caves. They had it spectacularly lit up with all sorts of lights and did the typically laser light showing us all sorts of cave formations in the shape of horses, turtles, kissing couples, etc.

After our cave tour, we went to a water village. Like the one in Cambodia we saw this time last year, the people that live in the water village number about 200 and they fish and cater to the tourists that come by on the junk boats selling fruits and trinkets.

The afternoon on the ship was relaxing and we enjoyed the sunset before sleeping on the boat that night. Our room was decent enough, but we awoke early for some kayaking around the mountains.

Afterwards, we went to Cat Ba island for some "trekking." We had not really been told about our little trek beforehand, so Jamie and I were both still wear our Teva flip flops while we hike straight up a 250 meter mountain. At several points in the hike, we were actually just climbing straight up the mountain. It was severely hot, but we made it to the top, and I even went up the rusty swaying tower for an additional view.

Afterward, we were exhausted, so we decided to nap in our little hotel on the island. The island is completely catered to tourist, but it was quite nice.

The next day, we awoke and took the junk boat back to the mainland and took the 3 hour van ride back to Hanoi and the Little Hanoi Hotel. We rested a bit before heading out into the Old Quarter to walk around the lake before finally finding a restaurant. We camped out overlooking the busy streets. Be sure to check out the pictures of the electrical wiring that surrounded us. If we don't have brain cancer, it'll be a miracle.

Great trip so far. We have some touring in Hanoi for the next 2 days before taking an overnight train to Sapa. Decent Internet here, so I should be able to post every day and upload pictures.

Check out the photo album at the top as always.

Year 2 in China begins

It has been a while since I have been able to post. China has blocked blogspot and picasa, so I haven't been able to post since leaving the Philippines August 21.

Jamie and I have completed 4 weeks of school for our 2nd year in China at QSI International School in Shekou.

I am teaching Reading/Language Arts, Math, and Cultural Studies while Jamie teaches Intensive English and Science. We are both sponsoring Student Council in the middle school and overseeing the hosting of the Model United Nations for middle school next year. It has been a busy beginning to the school year, but much different than our brand new start last year.

We have moved into a new apartment that is just 2 buildings down from our old one, but it is much nicer and much much quieter. We enjoy our new furniture and Griffey enjoys riding the elevator down 19 floors. He has adjusted quite nicely in China and still enjoys the smells and has actually been better with the larger dogs in the city.

Jamie and I decided to visit Vietnam for our first trip this year. We have heard nothing but good things about touring in Vietnam, so we decided to check out northern Vietnam and check out the southern part later on. Check out my next post for information concerning our trip to Halong Bay and Hanoi.

I hope everyone stays in touch despite the blog and Facebook being down. I only hear from a couple of people, but hope we can stay in touch with all of our friends and former co-workers from back home.

We hope everyone's new school year has started out well or that everyone's work year has continued through the summer.

Take care and read some more about our visit to Vietnam.

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