Arriving in Seam Reap, Cambodia, it became apparent very quickly that we had arrived at a very special time.  After being sprayed by giant water guns for the umpteenth time we finally asked someone – Maha Sangkran – New Year!

Well this turned our trip to visit the temples at Angkor Wat into something much more interesting for the children.  By day we walked the temples, by night we were water warriors!

Max was very excited to see Angkor Wat however I was not looking forward to wondering around old buildings all day, I know I’m terrible.  After squeezing all five of us into one tuk-tuk (money saving Yorkshire mentality is hard to let go of) we at least would have a fun ride there.

First impressions weren’t great as we were inundated with pushy sellers that I personally find very uncomfortable (and that’s quite an understatement).  The upside was the advice to buy a top to cover our arms; we had come with legs covered but in a vest top.  Max also loved his discounted book on the temples.

We then spent the day walking around the temples, even I was impressed, they are truly stunning. Looking out from the top gives you at least a feel for the vastness of the development.  I would have loved a helicopter tour to really see the extent of the ruins but when travelling for six months these luxuries are out of budget.

It was also lovely to be walking the temples with locals rather than just tourists as they enjoyed the temples as part of the 3-day new year celebrations. Seeing large family groups pitched up by the side of the road, cooking, playing and having an amazing time was a privilege.

Xander and Scarlett were pretty impressed with the temples however it was the evening that they continue to talk about daily.  Both children were bought their own small water guns and we entered the “zone” in the centre of Seam Reap.  It took about 5 minutes before Max bought himself the biggest one he could find.  It was great good-humoured fun.  Lots of water, smiles, music, dancing, and a gentle talcum powder rub on each cheek to wish you a happy New Year.  If anyone knows the background to the talcum powder please share!

We left Cambodia after a couple of days with fabulous memories of the sun rising over Angkor Wat, big smiles, warm welcomes and wet clothes.


Vietnam – first stop

After Xander being very unsure in Hong Kong and our expectations of Vietnam being “very different”, we were all a bit anxious about our month there.

First step was getting into the country, Max and I had decided to follow the embassy website advice to not use the e-visa process as it can’t be guarenteed, and go all the way to London and get the visas in person over two days.  It was just an added bonus that this meant we could have a fabulous two evenings out in London with Yvonne, Amanda, Laura and Pete wishing us luck for our travels.

Laura went with the e-visa…would she get in?  How long would it take? Well, e-visa worked fine.  Really quick (Xan says it was still longer than having the visa already!).  Would have saved us train to/from and two nights hotel in London.  This was one of Max’s caution decisions that wasn’t needed…

In keeping with our cautious approach to Vietnam, all the accommodation was booked in advance along with hotel pick ups and transfers.  The transfer from the hotel consisted of us looking out the window at the traffic in utter amazement and trepidation that we would have to figure out how to manage through this craziness of mopeds.

Pulling into our hotel, the Angel Palace, the challenge began – could we cross the road?

For those on Facebook you may have seen our short videos of our road crossing attempts.  We managed that afternoon with the simple advice of “just walk slowly across the road and let the traffic go round you”.  Seemed simple. I was just a bit worried about the added “don’t stop, or walk too quickly, otherwise you will get hit!”.

By the end of the first day we were already in love with Vietnam and its energy.  The hotel, although only a 3* was very modern, clean and perfect.  The traffic was daunting but we managed, the difference to the UK is that no one seems to have the right of way, so everyone is expected to pay attention to everyone.  It works.  It also took at bit of getting used to the noise. All the “beeps” were not people being angry with each other, the noise was not one of aggression.  They were just curtesy beeps to let people know they were there.  The crazy traffic, the noise, and the people.

The people, or more specifically families, are just on the street.  Small plastic chairs and tables outside their home, shop, restaurant are were they seem to spend the evenings.  Watching the world go by whist cooking their dinner.  As an avid people watcher myself I just loved it.

Well, that was my first impression of Vietnam from Hanoi.  I’m going to post more about Vietnam with our photos and writing about the various places we visited, but my first impression never changed.  An amazing place, great people, great feeling, just love it.

Will definitely visit again.

Footnote:  Electricity…don’t look up!

Reading 📖 – the thing to do in a thunderstorm ⛈ 

Well, after 43 days of travelling I’m finally ready to begin reading from my friends recommendations.  Yvonne all yours were covered in the first 43 days ☺️. If something you recommended isn’t on the list of probably read it!

I’m really looking forward to reading some new authors, I like most books with my favourite author being Iain Banks (and his sci-if Iain M Banks) but with limited time I’ve been reading mostly trash for the last few years with the odd exception.

Feel free to add or even to agree with some of the titles!

My plan is to edit this blog with my thoughts on each novel.

  1. Animal Farm by George Orwell.
  2. Jack Reacher – Well, I’ve read the first three books.  I did really enjoy them but by the third one I decided they were a bit too similar for me to want to read anymore from this series, just my personal choice.
  3. The hitchikers guide to the galaxy books- Douglas Adams
  4. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.
  5. Grapes of wrath or any other Steinbeck book.
  6. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
  7.  The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens.
  8. Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre.
  9. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.
  10. I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella.
  11. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – I read this book whilst in Vietnam which seemed rather fitting.  Very thought provoking book, I think I will have to read it again.  Happiness or freedom seemed to be my main takeaway.  It did make me think of Singapore and Vietnam society.  In Singapore, from my limited knowledge, they seem to have a benovelent dictatorship but everyone seems happy and well cared for, but do they feel trapped, do they dream of a more free society?   
  12. Travels with Charly
  13. The Goldfinch
  14. Mists of Avalon- Marion Zimmer Bradley
  15. Pillars of the Earth- Ken Follett
  16. Shogun- James Clavell
  17. State of Fear, timeline, rising sun, prey-Michael Crichton
  18. The Stand, It- Stephen King
  19. Lightening- Dean R Koontz
  20. Water ship Down- Richard Adams
  21. All the light you cannot see – by Anthony Doerr.
  22. Fingerprints of the Gods, keeper of the Genesis, magicians of the gods- Graham Hancock