Sorry, guys. I’m alive and well; Crocks and/or punching kangaroos haven’t attacked us. Yet. Long story short, my computer was gone (I’ll tell the story later) for a week, and now I can’t get WordPress to work on my computer, just my phone. I’ll be back in a day or two, promise!
There are two walks that Sydneysiders recommend the most to visitors: Coogee to Bondi, and the walk by Manly beach. I asked Sal which he wanted to do, as this was his last full free day in Sydney (he’d be working during the day from here on out while we were here). He chose Coogee to Bondi. I had read it was a moderate walk and a section had some stairs, but was doable. We asked the concierge, and were told it was about an hour walk. Foreshadowing!
But first we needed to fuel up and have breakfast at Gowings Bar and Grill. It took us a bit to figure out the restaurant was in a hotel and a few floors up. The place was funky and welcoming. The restaurant had good views and the food was very tasty and hit the spot. I’d definitely go back again.
We enjoyed our breakfast and talked about how we needed water for the hike, and Sal needed more caffeine; the jetlag was strong with that one. We stocked up at a cafe by the bus stop and waited — we just missed a bus by less than a minute. It didn’t take long, though; the buses to Coogee are frequent. It was a pleasant ride. The walking path was easy to find — just follow the crowds! The views? Simply stunning. I can’t stop mentioning how great Sydney is with the benches, and they are very much needed on this walk. We took a few breaks. You walk along the coastline most of the way and there are many hills and many stairs. After every bunch of stairs when you are at the top of the hill we’d say, “oh, this is probably the last set!”, and it never was until the very end at Bondi beach. Eventually, when we would start going down, we’d be worried because we knew it meant we’d have to go back up again! We were on to their games.
I woke up and still had a sore throat and cough. I decided to take some medicine that day and either I was naturally getting better, or it worked. Shew! We had both slept better. I decided I would wait and take a shower at the hotel, because I did not feel like wrestling again with the handheld shower. Spray to the face is not a fun way to wake up.
We only had time for breakfast and then said our goodbyes to the boat staff. They all had big smiles for us and it was a bit bittersweet. There was something really special about boating through the canals, waving to workers and locals. I will never forget the smiling, friendly people there. The “hellos” that first night just made the whole Mekong Delta part of the trip extra special, and is something I won’t ever forget. The “fuck you” took a little bit away from it, but ya know…teenagers. Jerks.
First, another apology. I really don’t know why it’s taken me so long to finish the blog for this trip. I think I just never wanted it to end! It was sad coming home and frankly the whole thing felt like a dream. A good one, but sort of surreal. I wonder if that’s how the people who travel for a year feel? Anyway, I am getting the occasional comment from various people (OK, mostly my mom) asking if I am going to finish this trip blog. I think I just needed to start planning a new trip before I could finish this one. Or something. Anyway, I apologize to those people (mom) who have stopped by and found I’d not updated. Here ya go!
I got up after what felt like maybe two hours of sleep. You can’t sleep late on a boat due to noise and movement. Also roosters. I was coughing a decent amount so decided to try a hot shower. There was a handheld showerhead and a regular overhead. When I pulled the button to try to get the overhead to work, it unfortunately triggered the handheld. I say unfortunately because the handheld was aimed directly at my face. Nice. It was like a clown’s flower times a gazillion. Sal thought it was reaaaal funny when I reenacted it later on.
This post is going to be extremely short, because all we did was walk around, eat, and drink. That’s it. Sometimes that’s all you need to have a good day, frankly.
Just a heads up — we will be a combination of places where there might not be internet for almost a week, so don’t worry if there aren’t any posts. We are having a great time in Vietnam so far and will be back soon.
The nice thing about taking the bus rather than flying is that we don’t have to worry about how much things weigh, and can pack really quickly using the shove-it-all-in-there-and-lock-it-up method. Quickest packing to date.
I took this picture of Sal at the Cat Bar in Chiang Rai. We were laughing about something or other, and his eyes were twinkling and I asked if I could take his picture. I captured it. I absolutely love this pic.
I love you, Sal. You mean everything to me. Happy Birthday!!!
We got up early and went to breakfast, compliments of the hotel. There was a nice selection, but while there I discovered I had forgotten the key and locked us out of our room. Do’h. It wasn’t a problem for them at the hotel, and it was slightly embarrassing for me.
Our guide, Charlie, was someone I found on TripAdvisor. Shocking, I know. He came highly recommended. Before meeting him he was very good at promptly responding to questions and offering suggestions for our half-day tour. Charlie was a good guide. One thing that made him different was he asked us questions; no other guides had really done that up until that point. He seemed very interested in our lives, and that was a nice change and helped the interaction feel less one-sided. He picked us up in his car, which was perfectly fine, but certainly not fancy at all; it felt like getting picked up by a friend and not like a hired service, which I liked.
Our first stop was the White Temple. I saw a picture of this when planning our Thailand trip the last time we were in Thailand and really wanted to check it out. This time we made sure to include it in the itinerary. It’s just so different from any other temple you see anywhere. You can read more about the White Temple here.
I also took a few videos:
The front of the temple with the hands from hell was creepy. Charlie made sure to point out the only finger that was definitely female – it had red nail polish and was giving the bird. Hahaha. Like other temples, when you go in you take off your shoes. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pics, which is really unfortunate because there were some unusual (to say the least) things you wouldn’t expect to see. Most temples have a story of Buddha, but this temples had more of a current events theme on one side with the twin towers burning, Elvis, a minion, an angry bird, George Bush, Osama Bin Laden, and some super heroes. A lot of strange stuff. The temple is still under construction, and the artist said it will be another 60 years before it’s done.
One thing I’ve noticed in Thailand in general is how they really believe in luck and do things to better their luck. There are a lot of people just going around selling lottery tickets, at the temples you can do the sticks to find out your fortune, you ring the gong three times for luck, etc. At the White Temple you could get a leaf for luck and write on it to dedicate it. I wrote one for our friend, and Sal took a video of it being hung with the others.
After the White Temple we went to an art studio. Every month there is a new show. I think Charlie said there were 32 artists in Chiang Rai. This month was a feature on Japanese Manga.
From there we went to the Black House, and you can read about it when you click the link. The Black House is really a collection of buildings, so we walked along the grounds and Charlie explained several of them to us.
After the Black House we went to check out a local pottery studio and store. It was OK. Not really my cup of tea, but they can’t all be winners, right? On the way back to the hotel Charlie told us that Jermsak was the best guide in Chiang Rai. We have him as our guide tomorrow. He did say he (Charlie) was #2. Sorta funny.
We got back to the hotel and rested a bit, having thoroughly enjoyed our ½ day tour. It was just the right length of time, which makes me slightly worried because tomorrow is a full day. We went and got linner (early dinner, late lunch) at Barrab. Tasty and very reasonably priced.
We then went for a beer, waiting for the Night Market to open. It’s pretty spectacular people watching. After our beer Sal suggested going to a rooftop bar that was supposed to be nearby. We were almost there, then ran into this place.
Yup, it was one of those cat cafes. Turns out my allergies were mostly fine and Sal’s were definitely worse than mine. Almost immediately after we sat down a small tuxedo cat walked to me, then barely accepted a few pets before going straight to Sal’s lap. He/She didn’t get up again until we had to go!
Sal was clearly the cat whisperer.
I had a buddy, too.
It was really nice to pet some cats you weren’t afraid you’d catch fleas or worse from. We miss our cat(s). I think the cats had a really nice set up and the establishment took good care of them.
‘Our’ cats were the only ones who laid in our laps on their own, though, so nanny nanny boo boo! We strutted out when we left. Just kidding.
We headed to the Night Market and did a tiny bit of shopping. I didn’t think it was as good as the Happy Street from yesterday, but we didn’t see the whole thing. We’ll probably check that out tomorrow. After walking back to the hotel, it was again called a day!
The locals call it Jogja, not Yogyakarta, so I will as well.
We had planned a tour that wasn’t going to start until 2:30 p.m. and that was a wise move. We were tired from the travel day before and it was nice to relax and catch up with some people, get laundry sorted, etc. We needed a bit of a rest. Or at least I did.