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Fashion disaster December 31, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Fashion, Uncategorized.
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I have to say that our culture shock has taken on a different theme this time. Last time we came back to Australia from Asia the wealth of everything shocked us. This time it is much less lofty and worthy.

All I can see this time is how badly Australians in general dress. Not only is it boring and beige, the clothes are such bad quality and so badly designed.

In Europe, even shops the equivalent of Target had much more aesthetically pleasing, more quality made clothing. Here, I am sorry to say, many people just look slobby. And Australians seem to be much more afraid of standing out from the crowd. It is so depressing.

Trinny and Susannah, Australia needs you to do a whole country makeover!

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Emo December 31, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Fashion.
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Oh no. I am really getting old. Last night I had to be told what an Emo was.  When I heard that it was on “The OC” I didn’t feel soo bad but still.

Of course now I know what an Emo is, I have seen them everywhere but just didn’t know the name. That is a sad excuse for an out isn’t it.

Anyway I have to say that Emo is probably the yoof fashion I most like- at least there is a little bit of creativity in there.

Saddam execution December 30, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Uncategorized.
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It doesn’t matter who someone is or what they have done, I don’t think it is right that a person is put to death.

I am sitting here having just heard that Saddam Hussein has been executed in Iraq. He committed appalling acts that lead to the deaths of thousands but I still can’t agree that he should have been killed.

Let him rot in a jail cell until he is an old man, forgotten about by most of the world. Let that be torture enough.

The state puts itself in the same league as a murderer by committing the same act.

Executions may give some sort of feeling of revenge to victims but the state should be bigger than that and not condone acts that ultimately have no benefit to society.

So what now? December 30, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Uncategorized.
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This blog was created to diarise our trip overseas but you know, I quite enjoy it and think I am going to keep it going. It doesn’t really matter if no-one reads it.

So from now on it will be about whatever I get inspired to write about.

Stay tuned…

Re-entry successful December 30, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary.
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After 179 days, 17 countries, 70 different beds, 26 train trips, 25 bus rides, 13 flights and 12 boats*, we are back in Australia.

We surprised the families by arriving in Brisbane on Boxing Day rather than 3 January as we had told them.

By the last couple of weeks,  we couldn’t wait to get back as patience thinned and money grew tight. Now we are back it is all a bit daunting as we try to find jobs and somewhere to live.

We spent the last week or so in Thailand. We were going to spend a lot of that time on Ko Samet but the accommodation was very expensive so we went back to Bangkok and just hung around there. On Christmas Eve, we splurged a little and went to stay in the Davis Hotel which was very nice after all those hostel rooms.

So now we will look forward to catching up with you all at some point in Brisbane or Sydney or whereever!

*These are only the major trips, not running around cities.

Good evening Vietnam December 16, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Uncategorized.
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We are flying out of Vietnam tonight after almost a month. So it is time for a bit of reflection on what has been an interesting and, at times, frustrating few weeks.

Hoian and Sapa have been real highlights. Hoian was a great place with excellent food and a laidback atmosphere. We returned to Hanoi from Sapa yesterday and despite some terrible weather it was a really fascinating place. We managed to do a walk to the villages and the scenery was spectacular.

Hanoi is confusing to navigate and the noisiest place we have ever been. I can’t say we will be sad to leave even though it has been quite an experience. We fly to Bangkok tonight and we are looking forward to the peace and quiet! Yes we are talking about Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. The traffic and horns here are crazy!!! You can’t hear yourself think.

One thing that has really got to us has been the hassle throughout Vietnam. At times it has been very tempting to write an entry titled “Vietnam rhymes with scam”. Whereever you go in Vietnam, you are constantly approached by people trying to sell you something- motorbike rides, cyclo rides, food, cigarettes, accommodation, tours, souvenirs etc etc etc. It is a neverending barrage and often you get followed and badgered. They also use the technique of asking where you are from and trying to engage you in conversation in order to keep you talking and sell something. After a couple of weeks (or days!) you don’t want to make eye contact or speak to anyone because it is virtually certain that they are trying to make a sale. We have found that we have not had conversations with Vietnamese people as we have had in other countries because of this. It is really very sad.

Unfortunately this annoyance also goes hand in hand with not getting what you pay for. You are told that breakfast is included in the room only to arrive and find out it isn’t. You get completely ripped off in a taxi that has a bodgy meter. You book one class of train sleeper only to get there to find out you are in the lower class- it goes on and on. We haven’t had these problems elsewhere in Asia as much as here.

Of course this is just our experience and there must be a lot of trustworthy, friendly Vietnamese people but we have been left with a bad taste in our mouths.

Weather woes December 12, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Travel Diary.
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After a pretty good run of weather for most of this trip, the last couple of weeks have been a shocker.

We have hardly seen blue sky since we have been in Vietnam. We had rain in Hoian and Hue, cloud in Hanoi, fog in Halong Bay and now here in Sapa, we are completely enveloped in mist. There is also another typhoon headed our way. Sapa is very cold and we don’t really have the clothes for it. It is all a bit depressing.

The most disappointing has been Ha Long bay as I have wanted to go there for a long time. The fog was so bad we could hardly see the islands at times. It was too cold to swim and the company on our tour was woeful so it made three days go pretty slowly.

We arrived in Sapa this morning and despite the weather it is very interesting. It is up in the mountains and is quite a small town with apparently amazing views if we could see them. There are many people from different ethnic minorities living here so the clothing is quite colourful and diverse.

We are here until Thursday night so hopefully it is going to clear up.

We came, we ate, we shopped. December 4, 2006

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We are in Hoi An in central Vietnam.

Hoi An is a World Heritage listed town with a fantastic old town that has temples and old merchants houses and one of the most picturesque markets I have ever seen.

It also has more tailor shops per square metre than probably any other place on earth. It is also chicken.  As in cheap cheap cheap. (Someone told us how Singapore, Japan and Taiwan are the tigers of Asia whereas Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos are the chickens. Anyway I digress.)

Usually, I need a beach to relax somwhere but Hoi An has been great- and with a nice room that is $8 a night withe cable and a full sized bath with hot water we are not complaining. The weather has not been fantastic with Typhoon Durian providing some drama. At the moment it is blowing a gale and raining but it has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

Chris has had a suit made and some other clothes for work, all for about $150AUD. I have had a couple of small things made as well.

The food here is great with some regional specialties that we have been living on. It is really light and tasty.

Today we head to Hue and then north to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay.