A Travellerspoint blog

Nepal - Scratch that.

Kathmandu, Nepal

sunny 31 °C

We were all geared up to go to Nepal later tonyt. We booked our flights and one night stay in the heart of Thamel, Kathmandu (where tourists stay). We contacted our hotel for airport pickup, which is pretty common for hotels in Nepal to offer because of the nameless streets and the difficulty for foreigners to navigate. The hotel responded by telling us that there is a scheduled strike on the day of our arrival so they won’t be able to pick us up, unless there is a withdrawal of the strike, they will contact us. Hmm.

We did some research earlier that day about the political unrest in Nepal and how less than a month ago there were 4 bombs detonated on buses in Kathmandu and continued strikes/demonstrations that often turn violent. We interpreted this email from the hotel as a red flag, a sign that maybe we should rethink this. One of the main reasons why we decided to stopover in Nepal was because, 1) it was economical to travel there and also cross the border to India; 2) there is an Indian embassy in Nepal to get our visas, none on this side of China; 3) we wanted to explore a new country!

We did a bit more research and there were enough travel advisories from countries other than the US warning against traveling there – updated as of this AM about reports of kidnapping. So anyways, we decided to aire of the side of safety and scratch those plans. Figured our family and friends would appreciate our responsible decision.

So now instead we’re taking a quick trip back to Cambodia. We didn’t get to really explore Angkor Wat last time so we’re going there first for a couple days, then we’re going to stopover for a 3-4 days in Phnom Penh to get our Indian visas. Then we’re off to India!

PS. in other news – the total eclipse of the <3 (lunar) is happening tonyt. And the only place where its not visible is in North Amerika. haha Hopefully we’ll have better luck here in China!

Posted by lesbotravels 6.15.11 23:35 Archived in China Tagged cambodia nepal demonstrations violent strikes kidnapping Comments (0)

Goodbye China :(

Hello Kathmandu, Nepal

sunny 30 °C

After 15 days in China, we visited 6 cities – Nanning, Kunming, Chengdu, Leshan, Emeishan, Jiuzhaigou. The first three being metropolitan developed cities, while the latter 3 being less developed but touristy spots.

Leshan - famous for its huge riverside cliff-carving of Buddha.

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Emeishan was a spiritual experience. We went up to 10,000ft to witness this Buddha that is known to have a golden glow to it during sunrise.

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Jiuzhaigou elevation 8,000ft - is a valley surrounded by hella mountains with pristine clear lakes. One was called the 5-colored lake where there were various shades of green and blue. Beautiful - words can’t describe the experience.

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It was an interesting experience overall being here in China for me. For once, I was surrounded by people who was of my ethnicity. I blended in here. I thought about how life would have been if I grew up here and how I would be part of the majority. Then I thought I am part of the majority. There are billions of Chinese people in China and across the world, but because of white supremacy it was hard for me to imagine til now. It was a nice feeling to be able to blend in for once. The only problem was again, I couldn’t communicate. They all spoke Mandarin or some dialect of it. They would all turn to me to talk but would be shock when I couldn’t respond back. I can’t wait to go to Guangdong and Hong Kong where they speak Cantonese. Then I’ll really be “at home.”

Talk about China and their censorship issues. Well the US does very similar things, the propaganda we are inundated widely with in the news and cultural media is pretty misogynist (male), racist (white), classist (rich), ablest (able bodied) you know I could go on and on. What are the things we don't hear about or see? Also, did you know that China is the creeping up to Japan as the second largest economy to the US? Craziness.

The transportation is pretty interesting as well. You know in the states cars rule the road, here in China its the buses. Buses be weaving in/out of lanes cutting off cars, people, motos, anything that in its way.

Anyway, we’re leaving China tomorrow because it is too expensive to stay for much longer. And we will be returning to the Eastern part of China when my parents visits in September.

Next stop – Kathmandu, Nepal for a week or so to get our Indian visas, then to New Delhi. Hope their internet is better there. Wish us safety and luck.

Posted by lesbotravels 6.13.11 23:29 Archived in China Tagged temple mountain buddhism us buddha transportation language Comments (0)

3 cities, 4 days

Nanning, Kunming, Chengdu - China

overcast 26 °C

“Dang, China is hella developed” is what I’ve been going thru my mind the last few days here. We’ve quickly travelled from Nanning, Kunming and Chengdu – not very known cities of South Western China. Each are huge, modern cities with many high-rise buildings, some with big screen commercials playing and others decorated with brightly colored moving lights. Think NYC times 4. Everything is in Chinese characters – signs, billboards, street names. Everyone speaks Mandarin or some dialect of it. Hardly anyone (including the taxi drivers and hotel staff) speaks any English or Cantonese. And everyone, even the ones that don’t understand any English, seems to understand my partner (who is not Chinese) better than me. WTF.

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Anyway, I thought Vietnam was hard to navigate…pfff, well that was before I ever came to China. We arrived after 13 hrs of being in a stanky-smoky-sleeper train ride in Nanning at 7am on 5/30 – and found ourselves lost for the first time, like REALLY LOST lugging around all of our shit in the middle of a large busy metropolitan downtown street. We took the local bus from the train station that was supposed to only take about 30 mins and drop us off really close to our hotel that was supposed to be on the main downtown street. If you haven’t picked up from this point, key words – “supposed to.”

Well THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN. Instead for 5 hours – we wandered about hella stranded, resting at the bus stop (at which point my partner was losing her nerve), me trying to wave down taxis that would stop and I would try to communicate in Cantonese (because according to wikitravel Nanning – some of the older folks are supposed to speak it) showing them the name/address I wrote down in my lito notebook of the hotel given by the website that we booked from. Damn, our first lesson in China. LESSON #1 – if you ever travel to China and are like me and my partner, WRITE DOWN or PRINT (if you have access to a printer) the name/address of the hotel in the Chinese characters.

So for about 45 mins of being posted at the bus stop looking hella desperate and cab drivers stopping and then driving away from us cuz they couldn’t understand what I had written down, luckily (or not so lucky) finally a cab driver decided to take us to our destination. Well he ended up driving us hella far away from the main road and then driving us back to the same road he picked us up from except one block up and charged us 30 RMB which is about $5 USD. Short 5 bucks and some more time– we lugged our shit into the huge ass mall near where he dropped us that included shops like Adidas, Walmart, Nike, Apple store, etc. Exhausted, I finally was able to find someone who could speak English, he wrote down the address for me in Chinese characters. Reluctantly we got into another cab that ended up successfully getting us to our hotel – which we found was not really on the main road but awkwardly tucked away off the road with no signage of the name outside or inside of what was listed online.

Anyway, we stayed in Nanning for one night at the stinky cigarette-smelling hotel and was on the next 13 hr train to Kunming. No crazy lost stories in Kunming, just a big cockroach one… We decided to book a little bit nicer hotel unknowingly trading in the 2nd hand smoke for this inch long black cockroach chilling on our white bed. Yea, like chilling. FML. Two nights here, got to see what this city is known for the Stone Forest.

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We also randomly came across this restaurant that serves Sichuan fish. Basically hot pot full of peppers and garlic and each person gets their own full fish that is cooked in it. Yum, the fish was sooo soft and good, it melted in our mouths… eating the fish in this style represents bringing good fortune for the upcoming year.

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We’re in Chengdu right now and far so good. We are staying at the Holiday Inn Express, so we have more access to the internet. Which the hotels in Nanning and Kunming advertised as having but didn’t really and it didn’t matter because apparently, China has blocked google, youtube, facebook, wordpress and many other US-based sites. But because we’re at an American chain hotel, somehow we have had an easier time accessing google and wordpress. Its pretty much hit and miss.

More later on the cultural shock of being in China…and hopefully some more yummy good foods its been the best in China so far in this Asia trip.

Posted by lesbotravels 5.31.11 19:25 Archived in China Tagged taxi china smoke lost google cockroach youtube develop mandarin wordpress facebook commercialism censorship Comments (0)

Hue, eh.

Hue, Vietnam

sunny 34 °C

We got there and it was a pretty small ordinary city with nothing spectacular about it. I learned that Hue means lily flower in Vietnamese. We went on this city tour and that was kinda a bust. It ended up being way more expensive than we had expected because they didn’t give us the full information about having to pay (on top of the tour fee) to get into each of the sites. The sites were pretty eh too. We went to three tombs of these Kings of Vietnam from centuries ago. Of course, it was hella patriarchial. These men had these huge ass palaces all too themselves, like HUGE. So they could pray or have some peace to themselves. They also had over 100 wives, so yeah. There was one gay king though, that was interesting somewhat. He wasn’t out but everyone knew he was gay. Its just crazy to me to think how much time/energy/money was spent into building these tombs and palaces to perserve the memory of these men.

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We also visited the Forbidden City where these kings would live, aside from the other palaces built for them. It was literally a small city just for the royal family to stay. There is one small section where the King’s first family (first wife, mother and children) would stay. And this whole other section where all his concubines would stay. I asked the tour guide, is this Forbidden City or Sin city? Looks like just one big party for the king. He chuckled and said yes, then retracted and said the king was really smart. N E way…

Our hotel stay at Vina Hotel was probably the worse place we stayed so far. Other than not giving us the full info about the tour, they had…FLEAS. We came back from the tour and found all these little bugs crawling at the head of bed under our pillows! We called house keeping and they started spraying all over the bed. We asked the reception to change rooms and they said they were full and couldn’t change our room. Finally one of the staff came up to check it out and realized that there was no way anyone could breathe with that toxic spray smell everywhere and decided to let us stay in another room. When we got to the other room, we inspected the bed for bugs, and lo and behold, fleas under the pillows. So he gave us another room, thirds a charm. Luckily, no bugs under the pillows or sheets. That whole experience was not fun and I could barely sleep that night.

Posted by lesbotravels 5.18.11 19:16 Archived in Vietnam Tagged flower city gay palaces king tomb men tour hue patriarchy fleas concubines wives Comments (0)

Nha Trang vs Sihanoukville/Kampong Som

Nha Trang, Vietnam

sunny 34 °C

Much like how Kampong Som is the known beach town in Cambodia, Nha Trang is the popular spot for Vietnam. I hate to admit it, but I did like Nha Trang better. Differences:

1. Nha Trang did charge about $1 – $1.50 to use their beach chairs. Kampong Som free. But once u rented the chair ppl left u alone to relax. In Cambodia – free chair but then hawkers try to sell u a product or service every 5 mins. At one point I literally pretended to be asleep so that we’d be left alone. I prefer to just pay for the chair.

2. Cleaner/nicer looking at Nha Trang. The sand was finer with less debris/trash around. The water though, pretty comparable in terms of trash but Nha Trang’s water was a prettier blue color. There’s actually trash and recycle cans placed around the boardwalk.

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3. Nha Trang is bigger and more developed. Not to say that this necessary equates better. But in this case the setup is less grimy looking and there are more options of places to eat and things to do.

4. B/c it’s a bigger city there are more ppl, and what matters is that there are actually locals that use this beach regularly. We came in on a Sunday when folks were off work and it was packed. Like not a yard of free space along the sand/water line. It was nice to see the lil kids having a good time. The next day it was a lot quieter with majority of the patrons being tourists but even on weeknights the locals come out.

5. Why #4 matters is cuz at Sihaounkville/Kampong Som the majority of folks enjoying the beach are gross Western and European rapist/pedophile/abuser men everywhere. We couldn’t relax there since we were constantly reminded every time we turned we saw another perpetrator. Happens here in Nha Trang for sure but wasn’t as normalized and/or blatant as in Cambodia. I’ve been reading more travel blogs and forums, and of course the sex industry is normalized and encouraged by the gross male tourists, as well as local males. Our driver at one point in Kampong Som, after my mom expressed her anger/disgust at the white men was – “well they feel sorry for the women that’s why they use/rent them. otherwise they woudln’t have $” I responded to back my mom up with which he shut up but didn’t change his perspective any.

We liked Nha Trang so much we spent a few days here. We did have a lesbophobic day when we went on a boat tour. Turned out to be a male loving homophobic booze cruise. To name a few – sea urchin dishes passed out only to male passengers with gfs/wives b/c it’s “good for the men at night” gross, while their gfs/wives fed them, cleaned after them etc and weren’t allowed to eat. we weren’t offered or even acknowledged. at one point our tour guide/mc said “sorry i’m a homosexual” to which a middle-aged passenger said (while sitting next to his wife) “don’t worry i am too” i hate them. then for an hour we stopped in the ocean while the male staff ppls started to strip to thier bathing suits, dance grossly to loud ass techno music while pouring cheap wine into plastic cups to all the men who wanted a drink. i made the mistake of glancing in the water to see our tour guide with 2 plastic cups on his chest (his boobs) while grinding the air. we tried to zone them out by staring into the 2 feet of space where there was nobody else and gave our attn to the lil fishes in the water. :’( the tour lasted from 830AM until 5PM aaaarrrgggghhhhhh!!!!!! when we thought we were in the clear the last few words we heard as we were getting dropped off were “don’t worry i can get u a russian girl hehehe”. fml. wish there was a disclaimer but as bebe pointed out i guess it’s default.

next stop hue.

Posted by lesbotravels 5.17.11 07:27 Archived in Vietnam Tagged beaches cambodia city vietnam tourists nha trang rape homophobia patriarchy Comments (0)

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