TH_KH_VN_2013_Feb_Mar

In February and March, 2013, I went on a fabulous motorcycle ride through Thailand and into Cambodia. Then, because of Vietnamese regulations, I left my motorcycle in Phnom Penh, took a bus to Ho Chi Minh City, and had a moto sent to me from Ha Noi. I then rode 1700 km up Hwy 1 in Viet Nam back to Ha Noi. Then the reverse, though Ha Noi to HCMC was by plane. A life event, for sure. (My camera was in for repairs at Bangkok. All these photos were taken with a Blackberry, so be forewarned: many are crappy.)
2013 001 Khorat  Himself at the statue of Thao Suranari (Brave Lady), or Ya Mo (Grandma Mo), in the centre of Nakhon Ratchasima, formerly Khorat. Ya Mo is reputed to have saved the city from Lao invaders in 1826, through various kinds of trickery, and just about every third thing in NR is named after her. She is still much venerated. 2013 002 Khorat  Near the monument to Thao Suranari herself, a monument to some of the women of Khorat, apparently getting ready to kick some Lao arse. (The Lao, by the way, were trying to free themselves from vassalage to Siam. After losing the battle in Khorat, Thai forces then obliterated the city of Vientiane.) 2013 007 PakChong  Old-style train station, Pak Chong, Thailand. 2013 008 PakChong  Old-style train station, Pak Chong, Thailand. The mat is for wiping your feet after you take your shoes off.
2013 009 PakChong  Pak Chong, Thailand: cat on a pile of hot metal tiles. 2013 009 WatNonKum  Wat Non Kum, in Sikhio District, Nakhon Ratchasima province 2013 010 WatNonKum  Outbuilding, souvenir shop, Wat Non Kum. 2013 011 WatNonKum  Wat Non Kum, in Sikhio District, Nakhon Ratchasima province
2013 012 WatNonKum  Buddha, reclining, Wat Non Kum, in Sikhio District, Nakhon Ratchasima province. Much of the ornamentalia was covered in plastic, like an Etobicoke living room. 2013 013 WatNonKum  Some Buddhas, some covered in plastic, Wat Non Kum, in Sikhio District, Nakhon Ratchasima province 2013 014 WatNonKum  Wat Non Kum, in Sikhio District, Nakhon Ratchasima province. People buy the little gold squares, and place them here for "merit" or good luck. 2013 015 WatNonKum  Wat Non Kum, in Sikhio District, Nakhon Ratchasima province. If you haven't already purchased enough merit, you can place money in these "alms bowls."
2013 016 WatNonKum  Grounds, Wat Non Kum, in Sikhio District, Nakhon Ratchasima province. Damn that loudspeaker! 2013 017 WatNonKum  Grounds, Wat Non Kum, in Sikhio District, Nakhon Ratchasima province 2013 018 WatNonKum  Grounds, Wat Non Kum, in Sikhio District, Nakhon Ratchasima province 2013 019 WatNonKum
2013 020 WatNonKum  Grounds, Wat Non Kum, in Sikhio District, Nakhon Ratchasima province 2013 021 WatNonKum  Grounds, Wat Non Kum, in Sikhio District, Nakhon Ratchasima province 2013 022 WatNonKum  Grounds, Wat Non Kum, in Sikhio District, Nakhon Ratchasima province 2013 023 KhaoYai  Khao Yai Natl Park, Thailand
2013 024 Chantaburi  Coast near Chantaburi, Thailand, fishing. 2013 025 HatLek  Border, Thailand/Cambodia, from Hat Lek, Thailand. 2013 026 KohKong  It was mid-afternoon when I arrived in Koh Kong, about 8km from the border with Thailand. Hungry, I stopped at the first place I came to for something to eat. Turned out it was the Café Laurent, the most fancy-pants place in the town. Lunch was expensive: USD$6. Bridge over the Prek Kaoh Pao inlet in the background. 2013 027 KohKong  Not much happening in Koh Kong, a fairly impoverished place in a stunningly beautiful location. The tourist trade centers on "eco"-tours.
2013 028 KohKong  Koh Kong has a very busy, working harbour. Fishing and tourist boats, some merchant ships. 2013 029 KohKong  Koh Kong has a very busy, working harbour. Fishing and tourist boats, some merchant ships. 2013 030 Sihanoukville  In Sihanoukville (Kompong Som), I stayed near Independence Beach, a pretty busy, touristy area. This is the northern edge of that beach. (There are several other beaches in S'ville.) 2013 031 Sihanoukville  Sihanoukville: Independence Beach. At the foot of Independence Beach road, there's a working pier, with, of course, a bar.
2013 032 Sihanoukville  Sihanoukville: Independence Beach, looking (vaguely) north. 2013 033 Sihanoukville  Sihanoukville: Independence Beach, looking (vaguely) south. 2013 034 Sihanoukville  Sihanoukville is the location of Cambodia`s only container port and oil terminal. Just north of the container port is this fishing village. I wouldn`t be surprised if some people just like these had to make way for the port. 2013 035 PhnomPenh  Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the junction of the Tonle Sap (foreground) and Mekong (background) Rivers. Right at this world-important place is an abandoned construction project, possibly another posh hotel gone bad. Nice.
2013 036 HCMC  Ho Chi Minh City: Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens. It`s a very pleasant place in the midst of a very busy city. 2013 037 HCMC  Ho Chi Minh City: Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens. It`s a very pleasant place in the midst of a very busy city. 2013 038 HCMC  Ho Chi Minh City: Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens. It`s a very pleasant place in the midst of a very busy city. 2013 039 HCMC  Ho Chi Minh City: Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens. It`s a very pleasant place in the midst of a very busy city.
2013 040 HCMC  Ho Chi Minh City traffic. So far I've been unable with a camera to do justice to how crowded and seemingly chaotic it is. 2013 041 HCMC  Viet Nam, on Hwy 51, near Phước Thái, a few dozen kms outside Ho Chi Minh City. I arranged for the motorcycle to be sent from Ha Noi on the train to HCMC, then I rode it back to Ha Noi. Once I was able to un-grip the handles from a terrifying 15 minutes in HCMC traffic, I stopped for a coffee, and snapped this photo. One benefit of not having a camera along: didn't have to include it in the packing scheme. The helmet accompanied me for the whole trip, including on buses and planes. 2013 042 LongHai  Long Hai beach, Viet Nam: a couple of the ~2000kms of Viet Nam beaches, often mostly deserted. 2013 043 LongHai  Long Hai beach, Viet Nam: The Great Wall of Long Hai. Maybe it`s just me, but it looks like a fairly obvious attempt to fence off a private development, largely moribund, and not shown, because there was little to show. Long Hai is about 30km from Vung Tau, a well-known resort town of long standing, and LH will have a tough time drawing tourists away from there.
2013 044 LongHai  Long Hai beach, Viet Nam: The Great Wall of Long Hai ended here, in this unfinished section clearly intended to go right out into the water, thus blocking the public from soiling the beach of whatever resort was intended for this spot. 2013 045 LongHai  Long Hai beach, Viet Nam, a few kms north of Long Hai town, was a little rougher and more picturesque. 2013 046 LongHai  Long Hai beach, Viet Nam, a few kms north of Long Hai town, was a little rougher and more picturesque. 2013 047 LongHai  Long Hai beach, Viet Nam, a few kms north of Long Hai town: I came across this photo shoot. No idea what they were selling.
2013 048 LongHai  Long Hai beach, Viet Nam, a few kms north of Long Hai town: Gorgeous! 2013 049 LongHai  Long Hai, Viet Nam: a very nice resort. I did not stay there. 2013 050 LongHai  Long Hai beach, Viet Nam: not a nice resort, people actually live and work there. 2013 051 LongHai  Long Hai, Viet Nam: The Gold Stars Hotel, where I DID stay. Very new, very clean, super staff, and around $15/night.
2013 052 LongHai 2013 054 LongHai  Long Hai beach, Viet Nam. 2013 055 LongHai  Long Hai beach, Viet Nam.A Buddhist temple just off the beach. 2013 056 VungTau  Vung Tau, Viet Nam: Now THERE's a resort town!
2013 057 VungTau  Vung Tau, Viet Nam: Now THERE's a resort town! You can't have a resort town without water slides! 2013 058 MuiNe  Mui Ne, Viet Nam: a resort town, it consists of about a 10km strip of hotels/guesthouses/resorts, and a town where the actual Vietnamese live. This is the town. 2013 059 MuiNe  Mui Ne, Viet Nam is famous for its sand dunes. This is a view of one that runs along the main drag into town. 2013 060 MuiNe  Mui Ne, Viet Nam: Here are the sand dunes just outside of town. There's a reddish tinge to the sand. (Nb: No photoshop to make it appear more red!) South China See in the background.
2013 061 MuiNe  Mui Ne, Viet Nam: Here are the sand dunes just outside of town. There's a reddish tinge to the sand. (Nb: No photoshop to make it appear more red!) South China See in the background. 2013 062 MuiNe  Viet Nam: on the road between Mui Ne and Nha Trang. Note the large hill in the background is actually a sand dune, with vegetation helping it to stay put. 2013 063 NhaTrang  Nha Trang, Viet Nam: Grounds of one of the summer homes of Bao Dai, the last of the Nguyen dynasty to serve as "emperor" of Viet Nam. He's largely seen as a puppet of the French, and the Japanese when THEY occupied Indochina. It's probably a tad unfair, as he likely had little choice, given the circumstances, not to mention his lavish tastes. 2013 064 NhaTrang  Nha Trang, Viet Nam: I took a boat tour around some islands, etc, off the coast. My tour guide referred to himself as "Obama," for obvious reasons.
2013 065 NhaTrang  Nha Trang, Viet Nam: I said "tour," but these things often seem like baby-sitting for tourists, with "entertainment" being the priority, not the scenery. And a pretty low level of entertainment it is. Still, it was fun when the boat stopped for a bit of a swim, and I got to jump from the top of it several times. 2013 066 NhaTrang  Nha Trang, Viet Nam: This was cool. When my tour visited the Tri Nguyen Acquarium, I witnessed some unscheduled drama. The dumptruck in the photo went past its spot, and was on its way into the water. The power shovel in the photo used its bucket to pull the truck back to safety. 2013 067 Hwy1  On Highway 1 in Viet Nam, motorcycles are supposed to keep themselves to the shoulders, which are usually nicely paved. Unfortunately, the shoulders are also the place for parked cars and trucks, stalled vechicles of every description, oxcarts, bicycles, pedestrians, loads of bricks for construction sites, and much else. This was my favourite: farmers using the shoulder to dry rice. 2013 068 Hwy1  Viet Nam: On the drive between Nha Trang and Quy Nhon, the little fishing village of Tuy Phong 2. Gorgeous!
2013 068 QuyNhon  Quy Nhon, Viet Nam: A stunningly beautiful city, on the water, but in the mountains (OK, small mountains) as well. My favourite place in Viet Nam, so far (after Ha Noi and HCMC, of course). 2013 069 QuyNhon  Quy Nhon, Viet Nam: As it appeared in advance it would be a great, sea-side place, I splurged, spending $26/night to stay at the Hoang Yen Hotel, right on the beach. 2013 070 QuyNhon  Quy Nhon, Viet Nam: The beach, from my window. A stunning beach, but QN isn't known as a tourist destination, so very few tourists on it. 2013 071 QuyNhon  Quy Nhon, Viet Nam: A stunning beach, but QN isn't known as a tourist destination, so very few tourists on it.
2013 072 QuyNhon  Quy Nhon, Viet Nam: QN is on the South China Sea, but it also has a large inland bay. This photo was taken from a bridge that crosses that bay. QN reminds me of Vancouver here. 2013 073 QuyNhon  Quy Nhon, Viet Nam: Across the bay, there's a large ghost resort. It must have seemed like a good idea at some point. 2013 074 QuyNhon  Quy Nhon, Viet Nam: Across the bay, there's a large ghost resort. It must have seemed like a good idea at some point. 2013 075 QuyNhon  Quy Nhon, Viet Nam: Across the bay, there's a large ghost resort. It must have seemed like a good idea at some point.
2013 076 QuyNhon  Quy Nhon, Viet Nam: Across the bay, there's a large ghost resort. It must have seemed like a good idea at some point. 2013 077 QuyNhon  Quy Nhon, Viet Nam: the South China Sea, approaching sunset. 2013 078 QuyNhon  Quy Nhon, Viet Nam: At night, the squid boats go out on the South China Sea, and turn on their lights. 2013 079 DongHoi  Dong Hoi, Viet Nam, the jumping-off spot for a tour of Phong Nga Natl Park.
2013 080 PhongNha  Phong Nha Natl Park, Viet Nam: from the boat that took us up the river to the famous Phong Nha caves. 2013 081 PhongNha  Phong Nha Natl Park, Viet Nam: from the boat that took us up the river to the famous Phong Nha caves. 2013 082 PhongNha  Phong Nha Natl Park, Viet Nam: from the boat that took us up the river to the famous Phong Nha caves. 2013 083 PhongNha  Phong Nha Natl Park, Viet Nam: inside the famous Phong Nha caves.
2013 084 PhongNha  Phong Nha Natl Park, Viet Nam: from the boat that took us back down the river to the Park centre. I was surprised to see a perfectly preserved Catholic church on the riverbank. I`d love to return to see what it`s being used for now. Maybe a church... 2013 085 HaNoi  Ha Noi, Viet Nam: a telephone/hydro pole on Tran Hung Dao. I don't know if it's done to code, but I know it's art. 2013 086 Sukhothai  The ancient city of Sukhothai (Dawn of Happiness), capital of the Thai empire for 140 years in the 12-1300s. 2013 087 Sukhothai  The ruins of the ancient city of Sukhothai are not inhabited, except for a lot of circusy commemorations, events, and marketing. Not sure what this is, or why it's there.
2013 088 Sukhothai  The ancient city of Sukhothai (Dawn of Happiness), capital of the Thai empire for 140 years in the 12-1300s. 2013 089 Sukhothai  Trees, old Sukhothai.