Kathmandu to Langkawi to Ho Chi Minh City


That howdy is in honor of Texas A&M beating Alabama a few days ago. Josh stayed up all night to watch the game via internet. What a great a game!

The past three weeks have been quite a whirlwind and the theme has definitely been to go explore.

We were in three countries in three weeks including two over-night stays in the Kuala Lumpur airport to save a few bucks. 

The last time we caught up we were making our way back to Kathmandu from the Everest Base Camp trek. We couldn't wait to have our clothes laundered, put away our heavy jackets, and take a real shower with hot water. 

Since Josh had grown a full beard while on the trek he decided it was the perfect time to sport a mustache for a couple of days. Mustaches are extremely common in Nepal so he was able to fly completely under the radar. Wow, who knew a mustache could warrant such respect. We are not lying when we say that Leanne was literally elbowed out of the way by a local so he could run up to Josh and salute him. It was a genuine salute too. We still have no idea why he saluted Josh, but he did. 

We were invited to celebrate Dashain with Manil from Mountain Tour Guides (see last post).  Dashain is one of the most famous festivals in Nepal and is celebrated throughout the country. It was really such an honor to be invited to a family event so Josh wanted to be clean shaven and looking his best. He said goodbye to the "Stache" for now.

Manil's and Sangita's precious baby girl, Marissa. She is the sweetest baby and barely made a peep the entire we were visiting. Uh oh, could this be the start of baby fever? 

What a great family picture.

Sangita looked beautiful for the occasion and Marissa wore her best smile!

Manil's mother and father made us feel like part of the family when they blessed us with traditional tika. Tika is a mixture of rice, yogurt and vermilion. Elders put this tika on the forehead of younger relatives to bless them with abundance in the upcoming year. It was a special moment for us and a moment that we will truly cherish for the rest of our lives. It was one of the highlights of our trip thus far.

She is already a poser for the camera. Manil, we think you are right about her becoming a model.

After enjoying time with the family we went to take a look at the view from the roof of the house. It was incredible, just like something straight out of the movie "Kite Runner" for those of you that have seen that movie. There were children kite fighting from several of the roofs. It was a spectacular sight!

While the boys were out buying beers to sneak on the roof, the ladies took time to take a girls only picture.  Sangita and Leanne became besties that day! If only we lived closer to Nepal...

Cheers to a successful beer run. Sneaking things behind your dad's back seems to be something that happens in every culture. Ha!

We had some big rooftop grins.

If you are interested in watching a video of the day click here:

Manil, Sangita, Marissa and the entire family, we can't thank you enough for making us feel so welcome in your home and in your country.  We will always have fond memories of Nepal and are so lucky to call you our friends. We will be sure to keep in touch. 

This is one of our favorite pictures. 

The following day we made our way to what is know as "The Monkey Temple".  We went with our friend, Andy, whom we met on the Everest trek. Boy, did we see some sights on the way there.  We crossed this river. This was unlike any river we had seen or smelled before. We didn't post the picture but we actually saw a bloated, dead dog floating down the river.

We made it and were greeted by these unfriendly bastards!

We actually liked this guy because he was sitting on a tree and not trying to take something from us. He already had a trash bag in hand to occupy his time.

We made a lap around The Monkey Temple.

We saw this boda on the walk back to our hotel. It's ironic that we came across this message. We stumbled across what we thought was a family rejoicing in a wedding celebration. We exchanged smiles and continued walking. Andy then said, "Oh look, they are having a pig roast." We headed toward the smoke and much to our surprise, it wasn't a pig but a human body burning!  It was a funeral, not a luau. We were definitely taken aback by the whole situation and decided not to spend much time inhaling the smoke or take any pictures.

Several of our last nights were spent having great dinners with our new friends from the trek. One night, Andrew and Josh even dressed alike.

Rob, Lucy, Andrew, Andy, Pipa and Ian, we are so grateful to have you as our new friends and truly enjoyed your company during the trek and dinners in Kathmandu. We will be seeing you again!

One last taxi ride to the airport.  Manil took care of the taxi ride for us. Thanks again, Manil for all of your generosity. We miss you and your family!

We were all about the free drinking water at the airport.  They actually let you fill up before boarding the airplane.

This could be a marketing advertisement for Air Asia! So long Kathmandu...

We landed in Kuala Lumpur and settled in the food court for our 8-hour layover. We wanted to save some money so we pulled an all-nighter at the airport. We didn't go to sleep. It reminded us of our college days. Leanne read an entire book and luckily for Josh, it was college football game day back in the States. The simple joys of free wifi at the airport.

Can you guess from our cheesy picture? That's right, we are in Langkawi, Malaysia for a week on the beach. We were so cold climbing to base camp that we thought a beach trip would be a good reward. We literally picked the cheapest flight we could find from Kuala Lumpur to a beach destination. The tickets were only $24.

Langkawi is a duty-free island. They had shops with all kinds of comforts from home and cheap drinks.   We caught up on some overdue wine drinking. They had some of our favorite South American wines for much cheaper than we can get back home. 

From mountains, snow and rocks to sea, sand and shells.

While meandering through a park we came across this sculpture. It reminded us that the new season of "Walking Dead" had started and we need to catch up.

We dipped our toes in the water and it felt great after all of those freezing cold nights on the mountains. The water in the Andaman Sea is famous for being warm.

Malaysia has a large Muslim population and Langkawi is a popular vacation destination for Islamic nations.

We stayed in Kuah which was a 20-minute ride to the beach. Kuah was more of a locals only spot and we really enjoyed getting away from the tourist track. We actually talked about moving to the popular beach area but decided we liked staying in Kuah more. We rented a motorbike for the week to get around the island.  It made Josh happy to be back on the hog.

Can anyone tell us what this thing is???

We caught a sunset in a small fishing village.

A common theme of our trip has been visiting waterfalls. We have seen a waterfall in every country that we visited except for Singapore.  We saw a sign for a short hike above the Seven Wells waterfall so we decided to do it. We only had on flip-flops but this was a short hike so it wasn't a big deal.

Right about here was where we started to wonder just how long this hike was going to take. The trail got a touch more difficult than we expected and it required ropes to reach the top. 

Two hours later we reached the "top" or better yet a sign that said to make a u-turn. This was the most unrewarding hike we have ever done. We were reminded that "It's not the destination, it's the journey." This is a good thing because the destination was horrible.

It started pouring so we had to take a break from hiking down the mountain until the rain subsided.

Which meant Josh slid down the waterfall for fun.

This was at the top of the waterfall.

We looked over the edge and...

this was on the other side.

Old man monkey playing around the waterfall. Is it possible for something to be so ugly that it's cute? YES!

We saw on a postcard that there are two types of monkeys in Langkawi. The Long-tailed Macaque above (old man monkey) and the Dusky Leaf Monkey. We've seen monkeys in almost ever country in SE asia but these Dusky Leaf Monkeys were the cutest!

Josh was really bummed about not seeing a tiger in the wild in Chitwan National Park so Leanne found this tank top to hold him over until we get another shot in India.

We actually witnessed Malaysian firefighters at work.  It was just a small fire and no one was hurt.

We cruised around the island and beach hopped.

Hmmm...is that another waterfall that we see?

That's one enthusiastic yes from Josh.

It was a good day!

Our flight didn't leave Langkawi until 10:45 p.m. so we had the whole day to explore. We rode up to the highest mountain, Gunung Raya. Look what we found?

It was an amazing view from the top.

Somehow we managed to dodge the rain.

As we mentioned, our flight from Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur left at 10:45 p.m. We arrived in Kuala Lumpur just before midnight. Again, we pulled an all-nighter in the airport. We had a flight to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam but it didn't leave until noon. We managed to sleep several hours in random waiting areas. We didn't take any pictures because we looked rough!

Good Morning Vietnam!

We took a taxi to our hotel (room in some lady's house). We probably could have figured out the public  transit system but after 12 hours in the airport we were in no mood to deal with that. It was only $12 so it was no big deal.

The first night was a bit of a blur due to our extreme tiredness. However, the next day we ventured out into the city for some sightseeing and real Vietnamese Pho.

President Clinton ate some Pho at this restaurant so they renamed it "Pho for the President." Despite the massive amount of people there, it was good Pho. We later found out it was written in Lonely Planet so that would explain the large crowds.

Now this is a scooter parking lot.

We visited the War Remnants Museum.  Although the museum was full of propaganda, it was good to see the Vietnamese side of things even though some exhibits were extremely biased and anti-American.

This photo won numerous awards and we can see why. 

Vietnam is full of street vendors selling a range of goods from Bahn Mi sandwiches, meatballs on a stick, and all kinds of exotic fare.

Josh even got in on the action when a coconut seller, without asking, placed his supply of items for sale on his shoulder. Later, that guy cracked open some coconuts and asked us to pay a ridiculous price so we told him to beat it.  Scammers beware: we've been traveling long enough to know all of your games.

We saw a lot of people going into this building so we followed. It is actually a post office.

Everyone else was taking a picture so we joined in. We researched that it was built in 1892 and was designed by architect Gustave Eiffel. Wonder what other significant structures he designed? Ha!

We also stopped by the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica - replica of the one in Paris.

 5 o'clock traffic.

We went on a tour to the Cu Chi tunnels. You had to join a tour group in order to visit. We weren't too excited about being shuffled around with a bunch of tourists but we wanted to see the tunnels.

These tunnels were used during the Vietnam War and were the base of operations for the Tet Offensive in 1968.  The tunnels were used by Viet Cong as hiding spots.

They were quite small shown here by Leanne's demonstration.

We crawled through the tunnels to experience what it was like. They were really dark and tight quarters.

Pho time again!

We just crossed through that traffic before taking this picture. Woah!

We rented a motorbike for the day so we could visit Rach Kien, the small village that Leanne's father was stationed at during the Vietnam War in 1967. Rach Kien is located 35 kms southwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

Josh did an outstanding job maneuvering his way through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. People say if you can drive a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City, you can drive one anywhere in the world.

We felt like we were on an episode of "The Amazing Race" because we had awful directions and we weren't giving up until we found this place. We stopped several times to ask for directions. People pointed, nodded and spoke Vietnamese to us but it did help. After 3 hours we finally found Rach Kien!

We emailed these pictures to Leanne's dad and he said it was nothing like he remembered and stated "I guess even they caught up with the world after all this time."It was 45 years ago.

Everyone in the town was friendly and smiled and waved to us. We did come across an old man that flashed us a face that he didn't like the fact that we were in his town but he wasn't rude to us. Obviously, he has his own painful memories of that time during the war.

We are fairly certain this was the first time these kids had ever seen Westerners. They innocently giggled and pointed at us.

About to head back to Ho Chi Minh City.

If you're interested in checking out our journey, click on the following link:

Mission: Rach Kien and Back to Ho Chi Minh City

As always, thanks for following along!

Leanne & Josh