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the travels of dennis & sandra

Monday, June 28, 2010

the United Arab Emirates

We booked our flight from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi with a stop in New Delhi based on the fact that it would save us quite a bit of money. What we didn't plan on was that the flight we were scheduled to be on out of New Delhi was canceled weeks before due to lack of demand and that Delhi would be facing some of the worst fog of the year when we were trying to transit through. As a result we got to spend a solid 13 hours in the New Delhi airport waiting for our flight that finally did take off around 1am.

Lots of delayed and canceled flights on the New Delhi departures board.

Abu Dhabi looked very similar to when I was there in 2005. Some of the old places we really liked were gone, some where different and there were plenty of new places. There were still lots of US chain restaurants-like Fuddruckers.

Here the sun is setting beside the Emirates Palace and some new towers under construction. Sandra and I at the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Grand Mosque.

Friday, January 8, 2010

India - Mumbai and Goa

We arrived in Mumbai around 1pm and had 10 hours to kill before our train ride to Goa. We took a photo outside the Victoria Terminus (apparently the second most photographed building in India) and then walked about.

We made it onto the train and found our comfortable-ish sleeping berths. Perfect for anyone under 5'-11" tall. 12 hours later we arrived in Goa. Saw lots of old Portuguese buildings and churches and a great warning sign. I can assure you we did not misuse the holyland.

Finally, the beaches. This time of year you share the beach with everyone. Cows, Russians, Brits, Aussies, Israelis, it's a madhouse. The crowds thinned out a bit after new years and we've enjoyed some really nice days at the beach. Really just trying to make up for lost beach time in Vanuatu. When we were told we'd be living in the south Pacific on a small island we thought we be getting to the beach a lot more often than we did.
Not really sure what she's doing.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Temples of Angkor

I heard last night that the different ruins of Angkor cover about the same area as Manhattan. Of course, sometimes it's a 30 minute drive between one temple and another with not much other than a couple villages in between, but that's still a big area. Below are a few of the hundreds of photos we've taken over the last week.

Bantay Srei Temple

A pile of stones waiting to be sorted and maybe put back.

Angkor Wat - the areas that get touched most often look darker and almost polished.

A few of the faces at Bayon temple. One of my favorite places here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Mister, you buy postcard, ten for one dollar. Lady, you like cold water? Cold water, soda two for one dollar. You buy one. Maybe later. You go to temple come back you buy water from me, okay? You remember me, I have white shirt. I remember you, you have green shirt. Where you from, sir? USA, capitol Washington DC, population 300 million, major cities New York, Angeles, Chicago. You like scarf?

And so goes the chorus greeting every visitor to every temple in Angkor Wat. We've been in Siem Reap for two days now after taking the six hour bus ride from Phnom Penh. Phnom Pehn was great. It was hot, dirty, it smelled and you always felt like you might get hit by a guy and his family on a motorcycle, but it all seemed to work and made it a great place to visit. The people we met were always ready to smile and laugh and there was lots of great food. Siem Reap is a city built around tourism and Angkor Wat. Not all bad, but can get a little old. Of what we've seen so far it was well worth the trip here. Six more days here. We'll tour some more on bicycles and on foot and then we'll head to Bangkok for Christmas.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, the tourist capital of northern Thailand. We arrived here Saturday night after a 12-hour train ride from Bangkok. The train made it's way slowly but surely northwards from 8:30 am to 8:30pm. We passed loads of temples, ruins, rice fields, villages and towns in our three car 2nd class train. The seats reclined a bit and we were given lunch and two coffee breaks included in the price of our ticket. As we started climbing in elevation out of the lower plains we passed through bamboo forests and more small villages. It reminded me a lot of Vanuatu, except that every station we stopped at had electricity, a phone and a nice building, no matter how small it was. The last two hours of the train ride were the toughest. We had been sitting for 10 hours and no longer had any scenery to look at. So when we arrived at the station in Chiang Mai we were more than ready to get off.

We walked out of the station past the guys asking if we wanted taxis or tuktuk rides into the city. We then quickly realized that they were our only hope of getting anywhere and asked one to take us into town. He first asked for 100 baht, which we knew was a ripoff, so we tried to bargain. Now, after living in Vanuatu where it is considered rude to try to get things for a discount, Sandra and I both hate bargaining. But I was able to get it down to 70 baht. I was happy, he was happy and we got to our hotel. It turns out the ride should've been about 50 baht, so we ended up paying about $0.60 too much. Not a big deal.

Chiang Mai is the tourist capital of the north like I said before. There are tourists from all over Thailand and all over the world. Add onto that all of the expats who live here and it's almost a 50/50 mix of local to foreigner. People come here mainly for the extreme sports and jungle trekking. You can hire a guide and head off into the bush for 2 or 3 days where you stay in small villages, eat local foods and take bucket showers. Something that maybe we would've liked to do had we not done that exact same thing for the last two years on Vanua Lava. So we've been mainly walking around the old part of town and eating street food.

Today we went to an all day Thai cooking class outside of town. There were 12 people in our class (Austrailians, Canadian, Americans, Dutch and Spanish folks) and we each got to make 5 different dishes. We took a trip to the local market to buy the ingredients then went to the organic farm where they have the school set up. We mashed our own curry paste, cut our own veggies and all cooked on our own. We made a ton of great food that we couldn't finish no matter how much we wanted to. I think I made Vegetarian Green Curry, Thai big noodles stir fry, pumpkin in conconut milk, and prawn soup. We returned to the hotel about an hour ago full and ready for a nap. After a bit of a rest we're all going to meet up for drinks tonight. We'll be in Chiang Mai for another day or two before starting our trip to Laos. More later.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Bangkok. Hot and humid. More people on one street than on the island of Vanua Lava. Loads of great food being cooked on every street. Air conditioned 7-11s everywhere. And lots of temples. Great trip so far.

At the moment i'm in an internet cafe across the street from our guest house. I'm surrounded by school kids playing internet games and laughing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Australia has everything you could ever want in hundreds of different varieties. Well, that's the case in Sydney and Melbourne. Both busy, crowded cities like San Francisco full of tourists and people from all over the world.

We've been out of Vanuatu for only about a week and I already miss it. Well, I miss some things. I definitely miss the buses in Vila. Get on anywhere and the driver will take you anywhere. Here you have to think about where the stops are and which line will take you where and then the fare depends on how far you're going. And the most difficult thing for me is that you can't get the information from the driver. No, you've got to read the instructions and figure it out for yourself. Maybe I've been living in the jungle for too long, but city life seems more complicated than it needs to be. I tried setting up a prepaid mobile phone account and thought I'd be able to start using my phone right away, like Jason Bourne does in one of his movies where he slips the phone into the guys pocket and then calls him on it so the CIA can't listen in on the call. Well, it's nowhere near as easy as Jason Bourne made it look. You have to call and activate it and talk to a recording for about 10 minutes before they activate it.

Anyways, lots of things about city life are great, and lots of things will take some getting used to again. We're here for a few more days and then off to Bangkok. That should be interesting.