Southeast Asian travel tales

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In 1999 we finally made a dream come true: We packed our backpacks and went off to explore Southeast Asia for almost five months.
We had done a lot of planning and sketched a route that included Beijing, Honkong, Vietnam, Thailand,  Laos and -if time permitted- Burma. Sylvia had quit her job and Oliver had talked his company into unpaid holidays.
 

We left Germany on November 3rd and 
flew to Beijing. We remained two weeks 
in China's capital with the exception of a 
two day side trip to Xi-An. Winter had  already set in and it was freezing cold. We continued to Hongkong,  stayed five days and tried to find something like the magic of the place between shopping centers and construction sites. It was there that we learnt that Vietnam, our next destination was suffering from heavy floods that made travelling risky if not impossible. Fortunately the situation improved before our flight from Hongkong to Hanoi was due. Vietnam's capital captured us from the start and so did Halong Bay. We continued South by bus, but when we reached central Vietnam heavy rain set in and new the floods forced us to fly directly to Saigon. A visit to the Mekong Delta was another highlight.

Cambodia had not been on our list initially, but in Saigon we were tempted by a 6 USD offer for a bus trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh. The border crossing itself was adventurous. In Phnom Penh the striking poverty hit us in the face and after a visit to Tuol Sleng Holocaust Museum we left the city with mixed feelings. We went to Siam Reap by speed boat on the Tonle Sap and visited the magnificent ruins of Angkor. Then we returned to Phnom Penh and caught a flight to Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.

Chiang Mai was the place where we spent Christmas 1999. On the main plaza a Thai band played Christmas songs. A cold spell from China had caused the temperatures to drop below zero. In Chiang Mai's Hofbräuhaus Thais in Lederhosen served duck with Knödel. Almost like home! Further North we crossed the border into Laos and went down the Mekong river on the roof of a freight boat. We greeted the new Millenium in Luang Prabang, probably the most pleasant town on our trip, and continued to Vientiane. From there we followed the Mekong river to the very South of Laos. Before we crossed into Thailand again and went to the beach, we spent some tranquil days on the Mekong islands.

Burma was the final country we visited . A beautiful, still widely untouched country, with friendly people and an outstanding cultural heritage, such as Yangoon's Shwedagon Pagoda or Bagan. However, the ruthless military regime that rules the country was always present and made our trip an ambivalent experience.

But it was not only the countries we visited, that made our trip such a great experience. We also met some wonderful people. In order of appearance: Abbey&Lee, Emma&Collin&Robin, Sylvia& Giacomo, Simone&Stephane, China doll 1+2, Martin (a university friend of Oliver we accidentally ran into in Saigon), Emily&Marc, Simon, Patrick, Lars& Melinda, Maria&Andreas, Joe, Sandra&Volker and many more.

We have created this homepage with a detailed report of our trip to share this experience with our families and friends (instead of torturing them with a boring slide show). And we would like to provide information to everybody who is interested in the countries we visited. If you have been to Southeast Asia as well or if you have plans to visit these countries, too, and are looking for additional information, we would like to hear from you (see "contact").

Sylvia & Oliver
Germany, October 2000

  

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