9/01/01: Tokyo: The Imperial Palace Outside Gardens were the first stop of the day and then the Sony Building to gaze at all the new space aged products. Our favorite spot was the dark air conditioned room with lounge chairs to watch a tv featuring different travel spots around the world. It was a nice jaunt down memory lane since we had been to 75% of the places. That evening, we watched most of the New Zealand - Australia rugby match and then met McKee, who's on his post bar trip, and law school buddy for some catching up.
9/02/01: Tokyo: Our first stop of the day was visiting the bus terminal to buy a ticket to Mt. Fuji. Our plan was to make a midnight accent of the mountain and summit to watch the sunrise over Japan. Unfortunately the climbing season ended 2 days ago and no night bus meant no climbing for us. The rest of the day was spent walking around Tokyo searching for a place to update the website with no luck. For dinner, we went all out and ate at am/pm. Working class Japanese food.
9/03/01: Tokyo: It was a day of hits and misses. We failed at finding an internet cafe to upload the pictures and walked all over the neighborhood to find a video to buy (we were desperate for some entertainment) but managed to tour a good ammount of the city in the process. We hit a little of old Tokyo in Asakusa, were solicited in Roppongi one more time and witnessed the pedestrian masses in Shibuya. Tired from our walking adventure we returned to Pat's apartment content with our efforts.
9/04/01: Tokyo - Kyoto: Today we made the treck back to Kyoto but only had to ride 4 different trains and thus make 3 changes. Once in Kyoto we made our way to our old hotel and promptly went out for one last beef bowl. We called it an early night in anticipation of our early flight the next morning from Osaka to Hong Kong.
China (Hong Kong)
9/05/01: Kyoto - Hong Kong: Up bright and early at 5:30am we caught the express surcharge train to the Osaka airport and flew off to Hong Kong. We arrived and met Carlos' Law School buddy Ro who was putting us up in luxury for our stay. Also meeting us was Riina from Helsinki who was starting her studies at nearby Macau. We all headed out with a group of Ro's friends for a wild night on the town. To sum it all up, Scott and Carlos were taken for a ride in a flaming lamborghini, there was a forgettable karaoke rendition of "Gambler", and no one could get enough of the jello desserts.
9/06/01: Hong Kong: Vietnam visas and flights were the order of the day. Bright eyed and bushy tailed from the previous evening, the hot, humid and crowded hussle and bustle of Hong Kong was no problem. After a few taxis and a couple of ferries across one of the most exciting and busy harbours in the world and some walking we were ready to rest at Ro's place. That evening Ro took us back across the bay to Kowloon into a building jam packed with indian food restaurants where we feasted in. Before going home we walked through a night market and experienced the worlds largest outdoor conveyer/escalator way.
9/07/01: Hong Kong: We made it out of the apartment long enough for a delicious breakfast at Al's Diner and then took a boat taxi through the code "Black" rainstorm back to Ro's apartment. After a few more movies from Ro's extensive collection that we are blowing right through, we went back out in Lan Kwai Fong.
9/08/01: Hong Kong: The rain subsided and we had a beautiful day for our day trip on a Chinese Junk. Ro's friends rented a Junk to take about 15 of us out of the bustle of the city to a beautiful island paradise. Once there we swam around, had a picknic and just relaxed all over. It was exactly what we needed. That evening a group of 20 of Ro's friends met at a spanish restaurant in Stanley for dinner.
9/09/01: Hong Kong: Using Ro's computer we finally were able to update the website. After yet another movie, we made the nearby climb up Victoria Peak for a spectacular view of Hong Kong lights by night and had dinner.
9/10/01: Hong Kong: Once again our paths crossed and we had lunch with McKee and his law school buddies and heard all about their Bali experiences. On our way to Kowloon we walked through Hong Kong Park and enjoyed the aviary and grounds. Once in Kowloon we picked up our Vietnamese visas and bought our train ticket to mainland China where we were to fly to Hanoi. For dinner we met Ro in Lan Kwai Fong and then called it an early night.
9/11/01: Hong Kong - Hanoi: In light of the events back home we don't feel a description of our day is appropriate, but focus our thougths and prayers to the victims and their families.
9/12/01: Hanoi: Due to the time difference we awoke to the unbelieveable news on our hotel tv that America was under attack by terrorists. After a few slow hours we were able to colllect the initial news of the attack on the internet and spent most of the day watching CNN at the Hilton.
9/13/01: Hanoi: Not ready for being tourists while horrible events unfold back home, we spent most of the day watching the news and reviewing emails to find out that our family and friends in New York were scared and concerned but safe. Both foreign backpackers and the Vietnamese people that we ahve encountered have all been afftected by the events in the US.
9/14/01: Hanoi - Cat Ba Island: We took an overnight trip to Halong Bay that included a scenic boat ride by the numerous islands, a short hike through the "Surprising Gate" caves and ended at Cat Ba Island for dinner and a mellow night.
9/15/01: Cat Ba Island - Hanoi - Hue: We awoke early to the oppressive heat and humidity of Vietnam and boarded our slow boat back through the 3,000 beautiful islands of Halong Bay. From the boat we boarded a 4 hour bus to Hanoi where we had dinner and boarded an overnight tourist bus for the city of Hue.
9/16/01: Hue: We arrived in Hue in quite a disgusting state. Our efficient bus drivers thought it was wise to occassionally shut off the AC on our night bus to save gas and to bake the tourists inside. We took advantage of the cheap accomodations and checked into a 4 star hotel for some AC comfort. For dinner we had Indian food delivered to the DMZ bar.
9/17/01: Hue: Fearful of melting we decided the best way to see the sights of Hue was by boat. On the bank of the Perfume River we hired our own private dragon boat piloted by a little old lady and set off upstream. Our first stop was the Thien Mu Pagoda, architecturally famous and well known for a monk who drove to Saigon in the 60's and set himself on fire. Further upriver we were dropped off and had to hire 2 motor bikes to visit a couple of tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty including the Tu Duc Tomb. As the sun set over the jungle we motored back to the city in time to enjoy the 4 star luxury of our pool and a great buffet.
9/18/01: Hue - Nha Trang: Train travel in Vietnam is the way to go. For a bit more money, we enjoyed a very scenic ride along the coast with the all important AC and 2 scrumptous meals. Getting spoiled rather quickly we checked into another 4 star hotel on the beach with an awesome view. It's the 100th hotel of the trip though so we had a good reason.
9/19/01: Nha Trang: After a buffet breakfast we walked down the beach to the Nha Trang Sailing Club where we sat on the beach for most of the day. For dinner we ate tasty Vietnamese dishes at the sailing club and spent the evening there playing pool and listening to music. On our way home at around 5am, before the sun rose, we witnessed something quite surreal. The main square next to the beach was bustling with activity as locals stretched themselves all over the place. Suddenly a loud speaker came on and still in darkness, around 400 people began to do the Jane Fonda workout. People of all ages exercising in the dark, in the square and in the ocean, escaping the daylight heat. We joined in for a bit and went to sleep.
9/20/01: Nha Trang: We took a "personal day" today. After 2 rounds of room service, we finally escaped our room only to make it to the hotel restaurant for dinner. Then it was back to our room to watch Jurassic Park II or III.
9/21/01: Nha Trang: We spent the day relaxing at the beach under a palm hut. Our afternoon was cut short by some rain but we returned for a tasty meal at the sailing club.
9/22/01: Nha Trang - Saigon: Our plans to spend the day by the hotel pool before boarding our night train were thwarted by more rain. We finally checked out of our hotel and started our 8 hour ride to Saigon.
9/23/01: Saigon: Arriving early into Saigon, we checked into the Le le Hotel in the heart of the backpacker ghetto. After a nap we went out on a scouting mission to plan our entrance into Cambodia and a tour of the Cu Chi tunnels. The rest of the day we walked around the city by the Reunification Palace and the Notre Dame Cathedral and across some hair raising intersections. Back in the ghetto we had dinner and spent the night swaping travel stories with all the multinational travelers.
9/24/01: Saigon: We got up at 7:30am and joined our tour group to take a bus to the Cu Chi tunnels. First was a short film describing the history of the tunnels and their purpose during the "American War" or what we call the Vietnam War. It was very clear that their governments opinion of the American involvement in the war differed from what America supposedly intended. The truth is somewhere there in the middle. Next was the gruesome display of boobie traps and an opportunity to fire machine guns on a shooting range for a buck a bullet. We declined. Then we finally descended into the actual tunnels for some scooting and crawling around in the sauna-like darkness. Back in town we toured the War Remnants Museum for some more war history. We ate a very tasty dinner at the nearbye cafe and hit the sack.
9/25/01: Saigon - Phnom Penh: What was billed as a relatively simple bus ride across the border and into Cambodia slowly and incrementally took on nightmare proportions. We started early at 8am and made it to the border at 11am where we found out we had to change buses. Three hours late in arriving, the Cambodian bus had hit a dog and was having radiator trouble. On we went on the absolutely worst road we have yet to encounter around the world. More pothole than road, muddy, flooded at times, we trundled on. Then came the detour where we discovered that we were on an amphibious bus as the water level in the flooded town was so high that it entered the door of the bus. We stalled in the water and thought we were done for. The bus started again to great applause only to get stuck ahead in a precarious position with one corner sinking into the mud. We were pulled out of our predicament, to some more applause, by a cable attached to a truck and continued our boat ride, I mean bus ride. As darkness fell around us in the middle of a flooded and rural Cambodia we had no idea how much farther Phnom Penh was or if we would get there. Hours later we reached a river where the last ferry had sailed and the driver put us on a boat to cross the darkness. It was also raining and thundering to add to the adventure. On the other bank we had an hour and a half ride into Phnom Penh to finish our uncomplicated 14 hour journey. We checked into a hotel, had pizza and called it a night.
9/26/01: Phnom Penh: We waited out the torrential downpour in the morning and then set out to see the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. The star attraction was the 90kg solid gold buddha decorated with over 9,000 diamonds. We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the wonderful view of the converging rivers and watching the geckos patrol the walls from the Foreign Correspondents Club. We returned home to our hotel to update the website and eat dinner.
9/27/01: Phnom Penh - Siem Reap: We had a very early morning as we had to get on the express ferry up the Tonle Sap River to Siem Reap. Being the rainy season, the river had overflown its banks making the surrounding flooded countryside a lake. After checking into out hotel we set out with Nin, our hired taxi driver, to visit Angkor Wat. We trampled up and down the impressive ruins while the sun set.
9/28/01: Siem Reap: Up early to avoid the midday heat we started our day at the Bayon with its smiling faces. Then on to Ta Prohm which was our favorite since it was not rebulit and left in its discovered state amidst the jungle. We hiked up the Phnom Bakheng for a fine view of the surroundings and returned to our room thoroughly exhausted.
9/29/01: Siem Reap - Bangkok: Bangkok Airlines gets the Wanderboys stamp of approval. Muffins, good food, great air conditioning, 1 hour and presto we were in Bangkok. In fact we got there too fast and had to sit in the airport to read about Bangkok in our book to figure out where to stay. That evening we had great Indian food and then checked out some of Bangkok's infamous nightlife.
9/30/01: Bangkok: In the afternoon, we walked around the amazing Grand Palace and the Wat Pho which houses the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It seemed quite comfortable. The evenings entertainment consisted of the Hard Rock Cafe and the carnival like atmosphere of Patpong.