Monthly Archives: March 2016

Vegas and grand canyon

After a 6 hour bus journey from LA, I arrived in Vegas.

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First stop was the high roller. Its the biggest one in the world. It only took about 30 minutes to get around. It had amazing views of the whole of Las Vegas. The cabins were huge and could hold 40 people.

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This was taken from the strip. This street was so chilled with restaurants and bars where you can sit outside and people playing guitars and singing. Perfect place to relax.

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The Palazzo hotel. Its had a shopping centre full of designer shops. Was a really posh looking place.

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Outside of the Mirage hotel is a fire and water show. It was inpressive. Definatley a must see if your in Vegas.

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Inside the venetian hotel. Made to look like Italy. The whole ceiling was made to look like the sky. You could take a ride on the gondala in the lake running through the hotels. Hotels are huge in vegas. They have shopping malls, theaters and more in them. Theres signs in all hotels as you can get lost in them

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New york new york with its rollercoaster outside.

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Excalibur hotel. So pretty. Outside hotels there are fake clocks on them as there no really sense of time here. It is hard to find a working clock outside here.

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This hotel is the luxor. It is shaped like a pyramid and all egyptian themed inside. They have this ray of light reaching to the sky when its nightime.

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This LED screen was insane. Its in freemont street. The screens change with music and people fly across ropes on the top. Its amazing to see. Theres bars all the way down with outside entertainments. Theres also lots of shops.

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The next day was a visit to the Grand canyon. I took a helicopter ride and got to sit by the pilot. Yehhh. The canyon has been formed over billions of years. Its over 250 miles long.

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Views from the helicopter. We were heading to the river for a boat ride.

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Nice little speed boat ride with the rocks towering above us. The rocks are beautiful and are different colors.

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The helicopter waiting to take us back.

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More views from the helicopter on our way back.

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There were three main places to visit at the grand canyon. This stop was the ranch. You could stay there in the ranch accomodation.  They had the cowboy looking shops and restaurants, horses to ride and the bull. I met a cowboy called Michael. He actually wanted to move to the UK with his girlfriend from the phillipines. He was a great guy to chat with.

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This was the second point. The canyon is so huge. You feel so small in it. Theres no barriers either so its pretty scary looking over the edge. In the second picture is the glass Skywalk. This is owned by the tribe who live within the canyon. They will take your picture on it. You can stand here and look for hours.

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You get a free lunch at the 2nd stop with a pretty good view. Food is really good too.

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This was the 3rd stop and my favourite. It was like looking at a picture. Ive never seen rocks like this and the colours make it look so pretty. I just dangled my feet over ha. You can see the Colorado river running through the canyon. Definatly one to remember.

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On the way out of the canyon we stopped at the hoover dam. Its been in movies such as transformers and San Andreas. It was dedicated to president Roosevelt and was named after president Herbert Hoover.

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On my last day in Vegas I jumped on the tour bus. Vegas looks a lot different in the day. First stop was caesers palace. This is the colloseum.

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The famous lobby from the Hangover. If you have the money i would recommend staying here. Its a stunning hotel.

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The ceilings are amazing. Theres so much design. This photo was taken from the casino.

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This is walking to the shopping mall in the hotel. Got all your designer shops and restaurants. This hotel is huge, thankgod for the signs.

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Lunch at Serendipity.  The food portions here are so big. It took me 40 minutes to eat this and I was done for the day. The food was so good. I wanted to eat here as its Kim Kardashians favourite place ha.

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I went to see the Titanic artifact exhibition in the Luxor hotel. It was amazing they had so many items from the actual titanic. They even have a part of the titanic ship in there. I was in awe. Im going to do a more detailed blog of this exhibition as it was so interesting.

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Harley Davidson cafe. So many of these stores here. They sure love their motorcycles in Vegas.

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Ha these wedding chapels. I saw a bride and groom outside one of these. They are definatly a spontaneous thing. They looked like they just popped in to get married on their walk down the street.

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Mandalay hotel. Looks like gold. Wouldnt mind staying there either.

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Designer shops. The building are stunning. I didnt expect Vegas to be this nice. All the buildings are immaculate and its so clean there.

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Eiffel tower. You can go to the restaurant inside. I love how they’ve put landmarks there so unique.

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A load of these chocolate a drinks stores in this street. There was a hersheys one opposite and a hugeee pint of guiness.

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The Bellagio hotel. They have water fountains every 30 minutes. This hotel is famous for there casinos and was also in the hangover movie.

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At the end of my last day here it was a trip up the stratosphere tower to watch the sunrise. Theres a bar and restaurant here and you can do a jump off the tower.

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View of the strip. They say good morning at nightime because its when the city really comes alive.

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Vegas is up there with my favourite places. Its so much fun and so much to see. Theres something for everyone. Will have to come back here some day.

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Los Angeles

Today I took a 6 hour day trip around Los angeles. First stop was the hollywood walk of fame.

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The stars continue on for a mile theres so many. They start near the dolby theater.

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This is capital records. Theres a light on the top that flashes in morse code ‘hollywood,

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This is from the griffith observatory park. The name griffith actually came from a billionaire from Wales who wanted to build two things before he died so he built this park and the white greek theater thats in the movie get him to greek.

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This house used to belong to robert pattinson and is the house that he was going to move in with kristen stewart. It now belongs to jim parsons from the big bang theory.

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Ahhh the house from fast and furious. I couldnt believed it when i saw it.

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This is the house used in charmed its two doors down from the fast and furious house.

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Venice beach. This place was so nice. Theres a boardwalk behind with shops and a cycling and skating track all along the beach.

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Few more of Venice beach.

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Was on route 66 a few times on this tour. Can check that one of the bucket list now.

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The famous santa monica pier. Its got rides, amusements and more.

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This road heads up to Malibu. You can just see the malibu hills in the distance.

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This is one of the entrances to the playboy mansion. Its so hard to see the houses as theres huge gates, bushes and trees covering them.

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Audrey hepburns former house. Her son may still live there.

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Elton Johns former house. Well gate.

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Michael jacksons house, the one he died in.

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Elvis Presleys house. It was opposite Michael Jacksons.

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Beverly hills. This place had a really nice town with coffee shops and stores and people driving around in their expensive cars of course.

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Sunset Boulevard 🙂

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This is the other end of the walk of fame. These statues were so cool.

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Chinese theater and the front of the dolby theater. A great day.

Wat themy and sok orphanage

This morning I went to a temple called wat themy. Its is a small memorial place for the people who were killed in the pol pot khmer rouge regime.

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Here are the skulls and bones of the people who had died. Some of the skulls still had teeth. Some were half a skull or less. It is a very strange feeling standing there looking at what used to be people who died so tragically.

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These are some pictures of what life was like in that period. The photos were really old and faded. They are mostly pictures of people working or eating together as they had to.

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The pictures on the left are of the dead. They are a bit hard to see. Pictures of all the victims were taken. You can see they were just skin and bone.

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These are pictures of the field workers. Most of them waiting to die. If the people did anything wrong, them and their families would be killed. Even if they said the word angkor wrong that was the end of their lives.

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People returning back to their homes after the fall of the khmer rouge. They have no idea what they are going back to, what happened to their families or what they are going to do next. They have nothing. Completely walking back to the unknown.

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This is the prison surrounded by barbed wire. After the end of the khmer rouge this was turned into what is now called the genocide museum we know as the killing fields. Even being here gives and effect on you. I dont even know if i could go to the actual killing fields in phonm phen which is now as museum  Its so graphic there and ive heard of people having nightmares after what they have seen there. My guide said that some young people in Cambodia are in denial that it even happened.

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After a quiet journey in the car lost in thoughts, I visited an orphanage. The owner of the orphanage was badly affected by the regime. His whole family were killed when he was a little boy and he had to fend for himself most of the time. The website for this orphanage is sokschoolvilla.com and you can read his story. You can also donate as they rely on funds from donors and visitors.
There are kids here ranging from kindergarten to high school. He has really done wonders for the children here.

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They loved the selfie stick. I played volleyball for about an two hours as they all wanted to play. Was good to just be there and play with them for a couple of hours.

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This one wouldn’t let me rest for 5 minutes ha. Theyre all really happy there and are doing well. Its really nice to see.

Day 2 of tour

An early start at 5.30am to watch the sunrise. We stopped just outside angkor wat and sat by the lake. As we were sitting the tour guide told me more about the political situation during the pol pot regime and after. Millions of people were killed during this regime and apparently the first killing began when khmer people were informed that they had to kill educational people. Around 100 000 people were killed that day but it is still an open case as to who sent that message to kill the people. The guide also said about the locals having to drink dirty water when ge was young. In his school he could only learn German and Russian but when he was older he started learning english under a stilt house with a teacher but only writing not speaking. When he began being a taxi driver he would practice his english speaking with tourists.

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After breakfast we were off to the            lake to see the stilt house village. Im writing this at a restaurant by the lake. Ordered a big meal as im always hungry :). I wasnt too sure what to expect. Ive seen stilt houses before but nothing like this. The houses were held up by tree trunks.

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How they stay up I dont know. You can imagine how high the floods get by how high the houses are. Families have to stay in their houses when the floods are bad. There are also bridges over the river made from thick branches. The water is filthy and there rubbish on the sides. Hard to believe this is peoples lives.

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Me on the boat with the driver doing a cheeky photo bomb.

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We stopped off at the temple in the village. These women were preparing lunch for the monks. Monks have to shave their hair off.

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I was suprised at how many schools were here. I could just wander in the classroom and take a picture. The children chanted something in cambodian, saying hello and thankyou. The classrooms were so hot, there wernt even any fans. The kids and teachers were sweating. The only english was the alphabet. Hardly any resources. But still all smiling and laughing. They were so cute.

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Alot of the kids didnt have any shoes. Their feet had infected sores on them. They didnt seem bothered though. Their uniforms were filthy but they were all wearing them. One little book walked up to me and shook my hand. 2 girls poked their hands out of the window to touch mine. Even though they didnt have much, I didnt feel sad. They were so happy. Such strong people and kids.

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A local women asked me if I wanted to buy notebooks and pencils for the kids. Heres me giving some. She looks pretty happy. This photo makes me smile.

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Here they are with their new supplies. They love a picture.

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Some new friends followed me down the road and held my hands. One girl kept looking at my long nails. She seemed pretty fascinated and held my hand up to scratch her cheek with them. They then went off to their homes. I wanted to stay longer but I didnt. You really appreciate the little things when you see this and we need a reminder now and again of how lucky we are.

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Continuing through the river. These are mangrove trees. The trunks were so cool.

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This was a restaurant on the water. They had a baby crocodile farm and a random python.

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On the way back there were signs outside houses and wells. They were donated by mostly American  charities or were dedicated to people. Was pretty cool to see so many. Heres a donated well.

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My lunch and the biggest coconut ever. I hope theres plenty of pee stops this afternoon.

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This temple was called banreay srei ‘womens temple’ and is famous for its pink and yellow sandstone.

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Alot of the carvings had been restored as so much of the temple had been restored. The carvings were so detailed and told stories of the gods.

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Standing in a doorway. You can see how beautiful the design is.

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This temples was built 2000 years before ankor wat so is a very old building. The buddha statues are the protectors.

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This was the last stop of the tour. The road to this temple was too dangerous during the pol pot regime as it was full of landmines. Landmines were layed across the whole length of cambodian thai border. The local people of cambodia were forced by vietnamese to plant the landmines to stop any attacks from the khmer people in Thailand. The goverment planted more around villages to protect them. We passed a sign saying that this area had been cleared of them.

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Most of this building was crumbled but the towers stood tall. They cremated bodies here. You could see the stone rectangular block where they put the bodies in to burn. They then collected the left over bones put them in a box then in stone and put them on top of the wall of this temple. This was for the important people.

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One of the protecting towers surrounding the main tower where the king would be buried. My guide told me that years ago when they cremate a family member they burn the bones after thry have been cremated and drink them. He said he had drank his brothers bones and that it didnt smell bad. If people wanted to be buried they would put the body in a tree and let the animals eat the bodies. They would then go back, collect the bones and bury them. Not sure how people would prefer that or how the situation is today.
I booked this tour with happyangkortour.com

Angkor wat

Angkor wat meaning city of temples was built in the 12th century for the king and the khmer empire. It is the biggest religious monument in the world.

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My guide was full of knowledge about these amazing temples. He told me his parents died in the khmer Rouge, the pol pot regime and he was brought up with some locals villages. He had to work hard carrying a basket on his head everyday carrying water, cow dung etc. He said his childhood wasnt bad but everyone was starving. The pol pot regime is one of the saddest tradegies ive read about. Please look it up on the internet as its long to explain. Theres also books called the killing fields which is about the regime and what happened.
Cambodia also had many landmines during the regime. The majority of them have been found and detinated. We passed many landmine victims playing instruments with missing arms, legs and eyes.

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Inside many temples are stunning carvings which tell stories of the people, gods and devils.

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There are many inscriptions on the pillars in the khmer language which is not used anymore. They are mostly poems, chants or prayers about the gods and life.

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A famous picture spot with the reflection in the water.

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The big tree roots growing over the buildings. These temples were very old. Some were just blocks on the ground. They were covered in green moss but was definatly the best temples. They were amazing to look at.

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The tree behind me is the one you see in tomb raider. There was a huge line for a picture but I got a sneaky shot sitting on some rocks before one of the workers caught me. I also recommend reading Angelina jolie notes of my travels. She is an ambassador of the UNHCR which works with refugees all over the world. She visited cambodian refugee camps as a result of the pol pot regime. to help raise awareness.

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The very old and crumbled parts. The tour guide knew all the best places for pictures. There was a do not climb sign on the side though of course.

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This was once a hospital. Most of it is destroyed but you could still go inside. You couldnt make out any rooms in there.

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This was the east gate. We climbed up the hill to see the buddhas face. Theres four of these on each side.

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This was an impressive temple. The tall tower is protected with towers of buudhas faces. Buddhas eyes open mean protection. Eyes closed means meditation. One eye open means imagination. All of the faces are different.

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Carvings of cambodias traditional dancing called aspara. There are performances of this dancing telling the story of cambodia life.

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Kiss the buddha 🙂

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Tour guide getting me to do some hopeless poses.

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The road to paradise. God statues on the left, devils on the right.

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Ending with this view. Theres so much history to this country. So much tradegy has happened but the people have worked hard to rebuild their lives and their country. I admire them very much and am privileged to see this amazing country.

Halong bay

The last day of the trip was an overnight boat trip around Halong bay. In english Halong bay means “descending dragon bay” and is made up of thousands of islands and large rocks in well known emerald water.

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Even though the weather was misty it was still beautiful we continued our journey through the bay.

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We had a stop at a cave called sung sot. There were 3 different sized caves which contained many rocks shaped like animals.

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We then stopped at a pearl farm. Here the workers would try and breed the pearls by mixing part of the clam membrane and core together. The clams would then be left for months to see if they produced a pearl. Only 20% makes pearls.

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This one made it. The guy said it was near enough a perfect pearl.

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Before dinner it was a jump of the top deck. Still cant believe I did it.

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On day two we were on top deck and 6.30am for tai chi. Was an amazing experience to do this surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

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We floated along to a floating village. There were many longtail boats selling fruits and vegetables. A very unique way to buy your groceries.

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We stopped off near the village for a spot of kayaking. Its a must do if your there. Kayaking around the huge rocks. There were lots of jellyfish but they dont sting you.

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After kayaking we made some classic vietnamese spring rolls in a cooking class on the boat and ate them with a delicious lunch before the trip ended.
The whole trip was amazing and there were moments that I will never forget.
If anyone is interested in doing a similar tour I booked with Asiacharmtours.com I would highly recommend them. I loved every moment of it and vietnam is a beautiful place to visit.

Sapa day 2

Today was another hike. This time 6 miles.

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We started walking down steep mountain sides and around rice paddy fields. We were followed by a group of villagers. They follow foreigners who are headed to their village and try to sell you things at the end.

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This was my following friend. She comes from the hmong tribe. These hmong people settled in vietnam and surrounding countries when the indochina wars broke out. She was a lovely lady who helped me down the steep slopes and asked lots of questions. Her name was Jee.

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Jee carries a basket with her things to sell. She only wears slip on shoes and walks with no problem while the rest of us are slipping and sliding all over the place. Each tribe wears different clothes.

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Jee made me this made of small leafy twigs twisted together. Vietnamese people are very good at making things.

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These are the rice paddy fields. Its an amazing site and all the villagers help plant the rice. The rice will be ready in the summer for them to harvest, eat an sell.

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There are so many children walking about trying to sell you bracelets. These children were very dirty and came from very poor villages living in shacks.

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The views here were amazing. There was a panoramic view of all the rice fields with a waterfall at the bottom. The views here are very unique and a must see.

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This was at the end of our walk taken from a bridge. We had walked through very poor villages and seen people with virtually nothing. Its definatly an eye opener and a hike I will never forget.

Sapa Vietnam

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The journey to Sapa started on an overnight train ride. It was a true travellers experience. Shared with 3 lovely ladies from England and Germany. Didnt get much sleep but the beds were pretty comfy. The ride was 8 hours from Hanoi to cao lai.

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Today I went on a hike around the villages of sapa. This was the first glimpse of the rice fields. The tour guide was amazing and actually took us to his parents house and then to his house he has with his family and we met his daughter called lee. Was so welcoming to be invited to there homes.

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Some albino buffalos taking a stroll.

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Some of the locals kids eating a bag of candy from tourists. These kids have virtually nothing and were pretty grubby but they were playing and laughing and very happy. Shows how much of our possessions we dont need to be happy in life.

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The children and women wear the most beautiful traditional vietnamese clothing. Made from colorful embroidary and decorated with beads. Women sit outside stiching the material. The kids will try to sell you things but they are so sweet.

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Just a baby in a box cot. She was smiling so much when we were making a fuss of her. The mom was nice too.

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This village is not a popular tourist route and not many of the locals have seen foreigners but they were not phased when we walked past. The views were amazing and above us was a cable car going to the highest mountain peak in Vietnam called Fansipan. this was an amazing way to see real local life.

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View towards the end of the village. All the houses are traditional mud hut houses. Behind us was a small school which was a nice sight to see that these children were having an education.

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Fell in love with this little girl. She got shy as we walked towards here and she started to turn around and walk the other way. Maybe we were the first foreigners she saw.

I have fallen in love with Vietnam already. The people are so welcoming and they are so happy even when they dont have much. Its an amazing sight to get right in the thick of the culture and the real locals and see how they live. I feel so lucky to be able to see and experience countries in this way.