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Dan's Gap Year

Welcome to Danielle's Travel Page...

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain.

...Hope you all enjoy keeping up to date with my journey. Please leave a message and let me know what you're doing too. Football scores etc also greatly appreciated!

Lots of love,
Danielle
xxx

Diary Entries

Monday, 19 May 2008

Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Yey just arrived in Bangkok and had an amazing red thai curry!!

My last few days in Vietnam were more interesting... We went to the Palace and saw basically an advert fo Changing Rooms with lots of 70's decor! Then we got lost walking to the War Musuem so hitched a ride on the back of some motorbikes to our hotel which was actually 15 mins ride away! Was also raining so we were so relieved to get home (and for less than 1 dollar)
The next daw was awesome as we went to see the Chu Chi tunnels which the Vietnamese used to win the American War. We crawled through them and saw all the hidden traps and torture traps. The history video they played at the beginning was really disturbing though as it kept describing 'killing/mudering/beating the american enemy' and then describing innocent cute vietnamese girls holding weapons and killing them and being heroins.... hmm. Anyway we left Vietnam the next morning and arrived in Cambodia which was amazing :)

The first day we arrived in Phnon Penh, the capital, and went out for some traditional kymer food. the curry is called Amok and it is delicious. We also found a bakery and so i had to have a chocolate brownie!!
The next day was very draining... we first when to the Palace and saw some amazing temples. Then we went s21 the security prison/ school used by the kymer rouge. it was really disturbing... all the pictures and some rooms left as they were. Our guide also told us how his dad and 2 brothers were killed by them so it made it really real and upsetting. The afternoon we saw the killing fields which was also very shocking. there were just bones poking through the ground everywhere and then waterlogged mass graves and baskets of clothese which had been found underground and put together.
In the afternoon we went to a shopping mall to look at all the fake dvd's and got lost (again) and didnt have the name of the hotel on us and there was monsoon rain. ooops/ eventuallt found it more by luck then judgement navigating by the rubbish we recognised. (It is the dirtiest place I have seen... stuff piled everywhere... loads of rats) Then we had dinner and a few drinks ready for our early start to Siem Reap the next morning.

Siem Reap was pretty cool, we were staying right near the markets and Bar Street which was great and we had great weather in the mornings so manged rto top up the tan a bit!
Obviously the higlight was Angkor Wat and the other Temples. They were truly incredible. Hopefully my photos will show at least some of their beauty. We also saw the Jungle temple where Tomb Raider was filmed and that was really cool. I did a bit of shopping and bought a really nice Buddha painting.

So now looking forward to the last leg of my journey and the trip down to the islands. Hopefully the rainy season holds off a few more days...

Danielle xxxx

Monday, 12 May 2008

Location: Saigon, Vietnam

Wow, so I'm now nearing the end of Vietnam...

The water puppet show in Hanoi was certainly an experience! Bit random but it definitely made a bit more sense when we read the english leaflet.

Had a lovely meal at a french restaurant that trained local poor kids- a bit like Jamie Oliver does. Then we spent the next day having a bit of a sightseeing tour but it was anh abolsute wash out! Stood in the rain looking at Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum and them some pagoda (a bit over them now...) and then some other thing that was like a small forbidden palace- so as u can tell not that impressed- hehe. Had more fun roaming the streets trying not to get run over by the millions of morotbikes (altho this is nothing compared to Saigon!) Got lost trying to do some shopping but it was all good.

Then took an overnight train to Hue- a small town on the perfume river, where i did the coolest/stupidest thing ever and got a motorbike tour. Don't worry I didnt drive the thing myself- I had an expert local who knows exactly when to beep/swerve/accelerate through red lights. Was a real buz and a good way to get round the sights. Saw how they make those traditional pointy hats- actually quite techinal- and how they made incense. Saw the old emporor's palace which was pretty cool and some old tiger fighting ring. The the heavens opened again and I was stabbed my the rain beating down on the motorbiker as we took a detour through the countryside. Trust that to be the day I had decided no need to bring a waterproof. Luckily i had a nice criver and he bought us both one of those cheap poncho things so the party could continue- was awesome speeding through the rice paddies in the rain and then through rivers of mud! The next day we got another river cruise to an actually quite nice pagoda.

The we had to take a bus to Hoi An (the town of tailoring) and got very excited when we saw our hotel hads a big outdoor pool. Went to create myself a fashion masterpiece the first night (see pictures) and had no idea where to start. So designed a dress with the help of my vietnamese friend that is olive green silk and nicely fitted and very original!!

The next day we took a day trip to an Ankor Wat style ruin. It was pretty cool- unfortunately the American's deliberarely obliterated much of it so it's kind of being all restored. The afternoon was spent relaxing in the pool and then going for the dress fitting. All good excitingly! Well it fits well, it was 30 quid and no one else has it :D

I then spent the next morning collecting the above master creation and visiting an old wooden japense bridge(!) before we took the bus to Na Trang...

Na Trang was fab-- wooh my first beach since Costa Rica- it was beautiful- the only real tourist resort in Vietnam (altho I dont think Hoi An will be far behind looking at the beach construction) We spent the day on a tug boat doing an 'island tour' which actually meant a swim in the middle of nowhere and then paying to use a dirty tourist beach (well at least some bloke is making lots of money!) Spent the night having a bit of a party too- won't say i got too drunk- but the smell of the slight alcohol content in my suncreen got me heaving all the way to the beach the nexct morning!! Anyway had a breakfast burger and a swim and felt much better...

Then borded the Reunification Express Train for the final time- thank god- and it was the worse train ever!! Prison cell would be too generous- my bed was suspended by 2 thick metal chains and had a 2cm mattress covered in filth-\. Hope ur getting a nice image! Anyway it was all over at 3.30am this morn when we got to the hotel and went back to bed. Now about to go and see a few things around town and dodge the motorbikes...

Love me
xxx

Monday, 12 May 2008

Location: Saigon, Vietnam

Wow, so I'm now nearing the end of Vietnam...

The water puppet show in Hanoi was certainly an experience! Bit random but it definitely made a bit more sense when we read the english leaflet.

Had a lovely meal at a french restaurant that trained local poor kids- a bit like Jamie Oliver does. Then we spent the next day having a bit of a sightseeing tour but it was anh abolsute wash out! Stood in the rain looking at Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum and them some pagoda (a bit over them now...) and then some other thing that was like a small forbidden palace- so as u can tell not that impressed- hehe. Had more fun roaming the streets trying not to get run over by the millions of morotbikes (altho this is nothing compared to Saigon!) Got lost trying to do some shopping but it was all good.

Then took an overnight train to Hue- a small town on the perfume river, where i did the coolest/stupidest thing ever and got a motorbike tour. Don't worry I didnt drive the thing myself- I had an expert local who knows exactly when to beep/swerve/accelerate through red lights. Was a real buz and a good way to get round the sights. Saw how they make those traditional pointy hats- actually quite techinal- and how they made incense. Saw the old emporor's palace which was pretty cool and some old tiger fighting ring. Then the heavens opened again and I was stabbed my the rain beating down on the motorbiker as we took a detour through the countryside. Trust that to be the day I had decided no need to bring a waterproof. Luckily i had a nice criver and he bought us both one of those cheap poncho things so the party could continue- was awesome speeding through the rice paddies in the rain and then through rivers of mud! The next day we got another river cruise to an actually quite nice pagoda.

Then we had to take a bus to Hoi An (the town of tailoring) and got very excited when we saw our hotel hads a big outdoor pool. Went to create myself a fashion masterpiece the first night (see pictures) and had no idea where to start. So designed a dress with the help of my vietnamese friend that is olive green silk and nicely fitted and very original!! The next day I took a trip with 2 of the girls to a sort of mini Ankor Wat- it was a good pre Cambodia visit I think. Was interesting but the American's had deliberately bombed most of it so there isn;t much left which is a real shame. Spent the afternoon lazing by the pool until the dress fitting- in the end i was very impressed- not bad for 30 quid anyway! ;)

The following day involved picking up said dress and a quick tour of the town to see an old wooden japenese bridge! Then we had another journey on the Reunification Express Train to the tourist resort of Na Trang (Although by the look of things and all the work going on Hoi An is not far behind).

Na Trang was awesome- lovely beach with crystal waters- my first beach sine Costa Rica- I can't believe it! We took an old tug boat for an 'island cruise' but it basically involved a swim in the middle of nowhere with some limited snorkelling and then a stop at a dirty tourist beach (which you had to pay to enter) far inferior to the one infront of the hotel! Some guy is obviously making a lot of money from these tours tho!! Had a party night in the evening drinking 2 for 1 cocktails and dancing at the Sailing Club. Won't say i got too drunk... but the slight alcohol content of my sunscreen had me heaving all the way to the beach... ! Managed a breakfast burger and a few hours in the sea before boarding the Vietnam train for the last time (Thank God) It was the worse yet- prison cells are a millions times nicer. It was dirty, i had a 2cm matress and my bed hung from the celing on 2 thick metal chains. I hope you are getting the picture... :) Anyway i't's all over now- we arrived at 3.30am this morn and prompty went back to bed. Now off to see a few bits and bobs around town.

Love me xxx

Sunday, 04 May 2008

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam

So last time i wrote it was backpacker town in Laos...

The next day was chucking it down with rain so we stayed in bed until it was suitable to walk to some caves. Kind of agree with mum that caves are caves now though! They were OK but nothing to get excited about. Got a nice view of the river though from the walk. Had a few drinks that evening and had a fun night playing pool. I lost and so the barman made me drink a shot of his special lethal home brew and i felt like throwing up for the next hour. Funny though. Then it was Monsoon 2 of the day so i had to make a jacket out of a bin liner and run home in flip flops :)

The next day we travelled by bus to the capital Vientiane. It is a very queit capital- hardly any cars and not much capital like stuff! Still there were some pretty temples and we spent a day walking around the sights in the nice sunshine. We even went to the first massive hotel that has been built and pretended to want an executive room- (i was with a lady who looked respectable so it wasnt that dodgy!) and they showed us this amazing suiite with great views. Were only business men staying there though- thwe rich tourists arent really choosing Laos yet. Also saw this monument which looks like a mini arc de triumph- funny story was that money was given by the americans so that laos would build a runway but they built that instead! - Even funnier it says on the trourist information sign/plate on the wall that it 'looks like a concrete monstrosity'!!!

Anyway, now in Vietnam- after the capital we spent the night on the border- not very eventful apartfrom it was labour day so a simple walk round the local market to look at all the weird food- bats, snakes etc- ended up in an impromptu partyy when we were dragged by market workers under one of the stalls and given glasses of tiger beer. and then they took lots of photos of us and made us dance to ridiculous music :) Good laugh.

We then had a days train ride to Hanoi- there was an annoying screaming child but nothing else of note. Then we had the night in Hanoi hotel and booked a tour to Halong Bay. It was fab- very beautiful landscape- saw my first beach in a while and swam in the sea. Then relaxed on the deck opf the boat and enjoyed seafood. Off to see water puppets tonight and City tour tomorrow to see Uncle Ho!

Lotsoflove
Dan xxxx

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Location: Luang Prabang, Laos

Ok now i have a proper keyboard I can write a proper entry! Other than the computer related issues (really slow internet etc) Laos is fantastic. It really is primitively beautiful.
The last few days have a been a real adventure and back to the backpacking day to day life of Latin America.
The trip began by crossing the border from Thailand to Laos in a really really old bus. We laughed when we saw 5 men push start the bus before us but little did we know it would be an experience we would be partaking in every time we used a vehicle with an engine over here! Luckily the bus journey was quite short and we crossed the border (The Mekong River) by boat and arrived in a small border town called Probang. We stayed in a simple guesthouse and drank very cheap beer. Never before have i felt so rich; i have 400 grand in my pocket right now! Pitty lunch today cost me 50, 000 :) Although that works out at about 3 quid- all the thousands are certainly keeping me on my toes. After a short stop over in Probang we took a local houseboat down the river. We travelled for 2 days, stopping to see local villages on the way and to some Buddha caves. We saw a local man cutting off pigs bollocks (!) with a pen knife and old grannies with tattoos all up their arms. Very interesting!
Then we arrived in Luang Probang- and wow what a beautiful place. It has such a peaceful air about it. Apparently it is like Thailand 50 years ago- a few Tuk Tuks, lots of small cafes and night market every day. I enjoyed a couple of days wandering around seeing temples and the history museum and climbing to a viewpoint. Then yesterday we went to some natural waterfalls- they were very pretty and no one was there. On the way back our truck broke down and after the driver changed about 6 spark plugs (that's what the bloke next me said they were anyway!) we managed to push start it up the hill. Only for it fail a few metes later. So we slapped on the sunscreen and prepared for 40 degree hike back to the town. Then luckily he got it up the hill and it was downhill from there so we were saved. Now in a stop off town on the way to the capital. It was only created 5 years ago because backpackers had to make the journey in 2 days so needed somewhere to stay. It is pretty awful- internet cafe after bar after travel agent over and over. But only here for tonight and then tomorrow when we are going to spend the day doing something on the river. Really liking Laos,

Lots of love me xxxx


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Recent Messages

From
wont it be nice to join the real world and work . xxxxx dad.
Response: haha thanks xx
From
you can leave the fish in our pond alone. xxxdad
Response: Hehehe :) That took me a while...
From mum
Hi Dan, got a letter from the solicitors regulation authority stating you haven't replied to their letter for student enrolment+£80 fee for your LPC to be confirmed. Is this correct? If so don't worry you have until 1 Aug to do it!!! Hope your train journey wasn't too horrendous! luv u lots xxx
Response: yeah i have not done that but its ok i was waiting til i got back. have i got one from the college of law confirming my place? if not i need your help to chase that up asap. thanks xxx
From mum
like the cool photo frame! Sounds like China is yet another fantastic place to see. we both really enjoyed Turkey but back to reality with a bump now!!Up at 6.30 on sat to get to wembley. take care ,loads of love xxx
Response: ahh yeah, have fun. we are gonna try and watch some footy at some point if we can work out the time diference :) xxx
From Josh
don't be too naughty
Response: never!
From M
Great fun reading your journal, keep up the good work X
From mum
shant be putting nicaragua on my"must see" list then. although the volcanoes sound fantastic! We loved the photos & my message&picture was brill (made me cry) looking foreward to seeing you soon!!!! luv &miss you xxxx
I miss you too!
From white chocolate sen
There was definately two names on the package of those chocolates. lol. Glad they arrived safely. I spoke too soon about the weather iv just been drenched, mixed indoor club nationals this weekend, should be fun, nothing compared to ur beech ultimate.
4 weeks til ur back, i bet ur dreading seeing us again.
From mum
wow!makes my 1/2 term seem v. ordinary. caught up with some old friends-Joan sends her love-bought Granny a suitcase for her hols & did a lot of sorting out. By the way u owe me £12 4 ur malaria script,thats all done now.Had a lovely meal at the reindeer 4 valentines +2 cards & some chocs thru the post ,dont know who they where from as dad got me ared rose & teddy bear,surprise!! Cant believe back at skool 2moz thank goodness only 4 wks til next hols~&we get 2see Dan AGAIN!!!:)
love u take care mum xxxx
From asherley
alrite mate has bn a while! love the news sounds like once again ur havin a ball! night out in notts was ledge all tho cant memba much:) hehe.
Played 2day agenst blackburn, bn struggling with a back injury all week and i got brought off at half time. I dont know why!? he sed i luked injured but i sed i was fine. Shokin decision that me,dad and me teammates didnt understand. Ohh well thats football! start agen with training on monday! hope ur not turning orange mate :P

speak soon love xxx
Response: just had an awesome night in cancun, will speak soon- take care
From mum
hope u r enjoying mexico.had a letter fromthe college of law moorgate offering u a place starting in aug. is this right? please advise by phone or e-mail asap lots of love xx
Response: yes that is right. do i have to do anything? if so can u sort it please thanku!! xx
From
granny cried and kissed your ecuador pics. "the numpty" locked himself out of your car had to call out the aa. I AM NOT IMPRESSED. GRAN WOULD LOVE TO HERE FROM YOU1111 Love mum and dadxxxxxxxxxx
Response: haha ok. i sent a postcard to gran xx
From dad
ash won 4 nil at bolton. playedsuperb. sheep got stuffed 4 1 at home to preston
Response: awesome
From Sarah Kuchel
Good idea to write the travel blog. I am very, very jealous that you have revisited a few volcanoes and even more so that you hiked 5,000m. Those high altitude treks can get addicitve.
If you are still with Alfredo, say a big 'hello' for us.
Keep having great journeys,
Regards,
Sarah and Karl
Response: hey guys, yeah it has been amazing. how are u going? xx
From mum
great to hear you're 0K & that everything is as wonderful as you remember it! I am finally feeling almost normal again-glad its the end of the week tho.have fun in the sun!! love u lots xxx
Response: thanku :) u 2
From Ashley :)
Alrite matey,

first of all we'll start with the important news...

Forest drew 2-2 on wed nite, 2 goals in the last 5mins from cohen and tyson against Milwall.

I got bolton tmoz, hoping to put last year behind me!

And then i got a nite and a half planned in notts!! :)

I'll have a drink for u mate.

Glad to hear from u and seems everything is cool!

Will let mum no about this.

u take care pal xxxxxxxx
Response: so how was saturday night??
From thegreatestUKlong
So u got there safe and sound yeah? Do u still check ur hotmail
Response: yes still check hotmail... im good thanks. how are u? xx
From plastic cup diver
animation, very very good, yariba yariba yariba.
From Sand loather
Nottingham forest 0 derby 3, eek lol, probably not in the same league. Enjoy the trip, (safely).
Response: haha you little rascal... i'll be thinking of u whilst i play lots of beach frisbee