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exploring the cosmos, via Mars

My trip takes me through Cambodia and Veitnam to see the jungle-covered Ta Prohm, reflect on Cambodia's past in Phnom Penh, take a boat ride down the Mekong, go down into the Cu Chi Tunnels, experience the charm of Hoi An, learn about Vietnam's imperial past in Hue, and check out Halong Bay, and Hanoi. Then my great overland adventure takes me through some of the scenic countryside of southwest China, before ending in the Chinese capital, Beijing.

Diary Entries

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Location: bejing, China

Hi all

I have finally found a computer that speaks English so maybe you wont have to put up with my bad spelling and awful grammar (Sorry Jos).
So anyway, my holiday is about to end – tomorrow I leave Beijing and should be back home and happily in Russ’ arms early hours of Tuesday morning. I have had a really hectic last few days.

We took another overnight train from Xian to Beijing, which if you haven’t noticed yet, translates to.. “Had another night with no sleep and hundreds of Chinese people staring unashamedly at us for hours on end”. Once in Beijing we went to Tiananmen Square, which is actually a rectangle, and very big. I got a very cool (read kitch) watch, saw yeta nother lovely painting of the glorious hero Chairman Mao, and posed for around 30000000 photos with the others in my group for the Chinese Tourists. I can’t believe so many people have not seen a westerner before – it is just amazing.

Then we went to the Forbidden City! This was really cool…. for the first hour. It really was a “city”. Its is so big!! It is also full of dragonflies – zillions flying around everywhere – no one really seems to notice this – (there are also zillions flying all over the place here in Beijing), but it was so cool to see.

Then we went to see the Shoalin Monks – the Legend of Kungfu. This show was a highlight! They are so cool, and have such incredible power. Most of the group was up the back but 4 of us forked out some extra dough to get good seats. We had such a good view of them… but of course we were just there to marvel at their skill, the fact that they are totally ripped and half naked and dripping in sweat had nothing to do with it J.

This morning we were up very early and off to climb the Great Wall. How cool is that? Me on the Great Wall of China! Mind you, I don’t think I even have a picture of myself there to prove it – it was so steep and climbing all the steps was harder than 3 days trekking. I was totally wrecked at the end, then found out I had to go down an awful cable car to get back. I spent the entire time holding on tight with my eyes shut and trying not to throw up.

This afternoon we went to a market – It was awful – the tourist market. We (by we I mean any westerner) got pulled and poked and shoved and grabbed and yelled at continuously all the way through. Every single person you see, actually every person that see you, starts yelling – “come here lady, you buy something, what are you looking for, I have it here, I give you cheaper”. People were incredibly rude to us (more than usual), very very offensive and then get cranky at you because you wont give them money. It was the single worst place I have been in all of China I think.

We have walked so much here in Beijing because taxi drivers will not pick up westerners, so we have to walk. Some times, Jerry (tour guide) has had to get us to hide then he will flag a cab then we run out and jump in, he has also had to go up the road a bit away from us and get into a cab then direct the driver to us and get us in – I really do not know how they plan to make this work when the Olympics are on next year.

Anyway – so many stories. Unfortunately no photos though, it appears that I have lost all of my photos from Vietnam and Cambodia L, but I will put some China ones up when I get home. Tonight is our last night so we are going out for a Peaking Duck Feast ( well I will probably have veggies and Rice like usual)

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Location: Xian, China

I cant think in a logical order anymore so i have resorted to rambles - hope i make sense.

1. I went to the terracotta warriors!!!! I can not describe the feeling of being there - I am a nerd.
They are just amazing - there aare 3 pits open to the public but they have found over 600 - they havbe a greta big pit fullof acrobats to entertain the emporer in the afterlife, they have governmenet officials, they have a found a big garden full of birds and wild life, and they have also foundabig stockpile of armour made from jade. It is just amazing. I have been pretty goodwith my money but it all just fell apart there -now My pack is so stuffed with terracotta warriers I can hardly lift it!!!

2. China is too crowded. Xian is a huge city - not as big as Chongqin obviously - but big. So many people - and no one has any manners. The tour group booklet reminds us that with 1.3 billion people it does not pay to be polite - and I can understand that. If you stand in a que and you are not touching the person in front - someone else will just squeeze in there. I have gotten really good at pushing in!! so watch out anyone in a que when I get home!

3. I got a new tattoo in China - I am just sneaking this in here so that hopefully mum and dad will read this in the next day or two and have enough time to calm down before I get home :)

4. Chinese rap music sux ass!! it is without a doubt the crappiets music to ever be invented - it should be banned worldwide.

5. there do not appear to be any raod rules in China - the road is a scary place to be. It is a terrifing asvietnam and cambodia but whilemost of the vehicleswere mopeds and the roads were thin in tose countries - here you walk through the middle of 4 / 6 lanes of busy traffic full of big crs and busses. I was in a taxi today and noticed that my heart wasracing - the only thing you can dois just not look - this goes for crossing the road too.

6. I went to a chinese night club - it is crazy, You go through metal detectors and get fully searched (well not fully!) the club was huge and full of guards in what looked like military police unifirms - including big helmet. There is a strange system for getting drinks that just doesnt make sense - Poor Jerry (the tour guide) had to do all the drink getting for us, but it didnt seem to make sense to him either. The music was cool - i liked it - but you couldnt speak one word cause it was so loud - much louder than I am used to - (and that is abig call coming from someone who has Spammy playing drums next to the lounge room twice a week!!) Chinese Youth seem to love a loud thumping bass - and I think we should love them for that. I started taking photos withj my phone and this big guard materialised out of thin air to tell me to stop - we really do not know where he came from.

7. We have had some cool dinners - last night we had a dumpling feast ( i had special looser vego dumpling feast) It was so good. I have learnt that Chinese people dont really eat rice like we think they do - apparently it is just a "filler" - it is served at the end of a meal to fill up on if you havent had enough, but rarley do people seem to eat it (mind you they also seem to start the meal with a sweet course and finish with soup). The tour guide has gotten in the habit of ordering rice straight away for us, he has also , very thoughtfully, gotten in the habit of ringing resturaunts before hand and asking them to put the beer on ice - chinese people drink their beer at room temperature - Can you believe that !!!! Room temprature!!!

8. smoking - blah - everyonesmokes, everywhere. Everwhere!!

9. did i mention that I saw the terracotta warriers?? :)

we leave tonight (after going to a DVD shop to search for shrek 3 for a special little somone) for yet another overnight train (i will be happy if I never go on another overnight train as long as I live) to Beijing. We arrive there Friday morning, do heaps of stuff then I leave to go to Bangkok on Sunday then home monday night close to midnight. Its almost over. I will put some pictures up when I get home - I cant do anything here without learning chinese.

see ya :)

Sunday, 08 July 2007

Location: Chongquin, China

Hi Again

I am impressed that I made it through the Yangtze river cruise - Have any of you ever done this?? I would like to hear about your experiences. It was very odd. We were in first class but we really didnt take that seriously till we saw some of the other rooms - then we were very grateful. We were told that in first class you need to wear a tag at all times, but since there were 300 chinese people and about 30 of us, we didnt need our tags - our faces would be our tags! (if i get called round eye one more time!!!). There was no hot water or toilet flushing while the boat was stopped and that seemed to be alot of the time :(

We got off the big boat and went on a smaller boat - about 100 i think, for a cruise down the 3 lesser gorges, that was interesting but sad cause we saw all the villages that will be flooded when the dam is finished in 2009. There were some pretty confronting sights to see.

Then we got on even smaller boats - about 20 people, buit i think we had about 30 cause we had all these chinese people wanting to get on with us and take pics. We were in this really beautifull place and they just wanna take pics of us!!

We ended up on another bus today and we are now in Chongquin - this place is unbelievable - 32 million people ... yes you heard me correctly - 32 million people!!! Can you believe this many people and no chocolate - I still cant find any!!!

It is so hot here... stinky stinky hot, you just smell and drip sweat continously, all the time. Tomorrow we go on to Xian and the terracotta warriors - we have 2 nights there then to bejing then home. Sorry there havent been any photos, there have been a few technical difficulties, but I will try to get them up soon.

Thursday, 05 July 2007

Location: Yangshuo, China

Hi everyone

Well i figured out where I am, and I have also figured out that cocktails are bad.

I am in Yangshuo, and popular backpacker haven - so its full of westerners. The country side is just beautiful. We flew into Gulin and then took a bus to Yangshuo. We went on a boat cruise on the afternoon we arrived which was fantatstic but I was so tired. That night we all stayed in and went to the hotel bar. Everyone was drinking cocktails and shooters and myself and another girl were saying "my days of cocktails and shooters are over" so we thought we were safe, about 10 beers later the cocktails seemed like "fun".

That was the last thing i remember, I woke up at 3 am absolutly terrified cause I didnt knw where i was (I thought I was in a cave) and found that my quilt cover was wet and I was freezing - I know what your thinking, and NO I did not wet the bed, Somehow the floor got flooded and we still cant figure out how. My roomie had a less than pleasant experience which turned her lovely white quilt into a "rainbow" quilt and she wasnt going anywhere the next day. I, on the other hand, decided to join a mountain bike ride through the rice paddies. It nearly killed me, but thankfully this time it was only the hangover - there were no 'ass injuries'. Although painfull at times - it was one of the highllights.

The scenery is really just so beautiful - we put our bikes on the back of these little bamboo rafts and went down river for a while with these guys pushing us along with bamboo poles - it was lovely and peacful.

Today I am off to a calligraphy class then this evening we catch another overnight train, and then I think another bus to eventually get us to the Yangzi River. We spend a couple of days on a river boat so I may be out of contact for a while. Also If anyone is texting me, I have not been able to recieve texts for some time - so I am not ignoring you, I am just not getting them. Email is probably the only way to contact me for a while.

Talk to you soon!!

Tuesday, 03 July 2007

Location: China

hi all

Well, i survived the trek... but only just!! the place, tiger leaping gorge was amazing. Obviously it got its name cause of all the tigers leaping... actually there are three places where, with the help of a big rock, the gorge is thin enough for the tigers to jump and get to the other side. I came back totally broken physically but feeling fantatsic.

We left Yunnan province and took a few bus trips and a plane and now we are somewhere else.. not quite sure where because when I havent been on some cramped transportation that does not account for the leg room required by westerners I have been drunk, Unfortunately all the beer comes in "tallies" so when i say i had a few beers (usually more than a few) I actually mean a few tallies / longnecks. I will find out where I am; and how to spell it and get back to you!

(I am now sitting in a little cafe with 'enetr sandman' blarring accross the whole place - some things just transend cultural barriers!!)

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Recent Messages

From lisa
hey Molly,
well guessing when you get this you will be back . . WELCOME, Australia has missed you!!! Your trip has sounded so adventerous . . . WOW!! look forward to the stories of it all!! hope to catch up now sometime soon now that you are back, have loved reading your blog!! keep the holiday alive!
From belinda
Heh Molly,
unbelievable...... Sounds fantastic.
I think you saw the terracotta warriers!!!
Unfortunately some unnamed person only gave me your site today so I almost did the trip all in one go. Look forward to the stories on your return.
Response: yeah - i did see the terracotta warriers... hadnt I mentioned that?? :) I have also seen the forbidden city, tianimen square (actually a rectangle), and the great wall... YES: THE GREAT WALL - I climbed up the Great Wall of China!!! me, the great wall!!!
From Kim Nolan
Hi Marlene (sorry, I tried Molly, but it's just not sticking)

Have you seen any Gustav Klimts in China? I just received a Fullers Book catalogue with the following: "Gustav Klimt coloring book"!! "Lots of gr8 little squares and twiddly bits to colour + a paper doll who has dresses to try on." ROTFL!

Stay out of caves! Cheers Kim
Response: no- surprisingly there has been none!! You should get the colouring book!!
From Jos
Hi Marlene - I can't believe what you're doing. You are such an intrepid little thing underneath that cool, efficient exterior, aren't you? You must be really fit now and really skinny, although by the sound of all that beer you are drinking ... What's this about the Yangstse River being raised so they'll never be short of water again? Or is it the Yellow? Anyway - enjoy the rest of your trip. When are you due back? Jos
Response: yes, unfortunately i am developing a beer belly. :)The Yangtse is being dammed to make a hydro electric power station - it will provide power to about 10% of china - some say 50% - eitherway thats alot of people. I think I arrive bac into bris next tuesday. Talk to you soon
From John A
Molly What an adventure. The sites sound amazing.
Your capacity for beer may skew the beer consumption statistics for an entire region of China .
Keep up the good work
travel hopefully
John A
Response: gotta keep up the aussie tradition John, although I have heard my mum is a little distressed!!
Hi Mars
Good to hear you are still having a good time, the Yangzi River sounds like it will be a great experience, we are going to Catherines wedding on Saturday now that we are home in time.
Bye for now Love Mum & Dad
Response: give catherine my best wishes!!
From Kim Nolan
Hi Molly!

Love the travel notes LOL! I'm sympathising with your butt pains - I'm sitting at my desk propped up on a pillow as we speak! It seems I bruised my tailbone jumping of the boat at Ha Long Bay, and exacerbated it when I was conned into a motorbike tour of Hanoi - Ow! Saw the stuffed Uncle Ho (Bac Ho LOL!) who looked like a harmless little man, but people are not what they seem of course. Well done on the adventure stuff! I'll get some pics to you as soon as I'm organised.
Cheers Kim
From Liam
Hello Aunty Molly. You are a gell. My bwudda is a coot little fulla. You like Shrek 3 don't you?
Response: i love shreck 3!!!!
From Janet
Aren't you quite the carnivour? Really enjoying living vicariously through your blog! Love the photos - I now have a mental image to go with the term "busted ass". HUGE fight on BB uplate last night. Waaaay bigger than Paul and Merlin!! Intruder Michelle (or as I like to call her - Spechelle- she is an absolutely moronic incredibly loud bogan with a filthy mouth, no social skills and a complete inability to self censor) v Aleisha. It was quite an attack. I had to sign up to premium to keep watching after the show (I don't think Ivan will appreciate the true emergency of the purchase so don't tell him). It all started when A politely asked not to be called a "F**ker". Andrew and Thomas out last week, all bets are on Jamie (Lamie) for tomorrow.
Happy trails.
Response: WOW!!! i would like to say i wish i was there to see it. (maybe i can download it!) Lamie sux!! go aleshia!!
From Lisa
hey there adventure woman,
Wow that all sounds so amazing!! sorry to hear about the sore ass factor but very impressed with your horse riding!! however you stay away from eating a dog . . . not sure if we will be able to be friends if as a vegitarian you eat a dog, think of Billy!!! :)

cant wait to see all your photos and hear more stories, keep having a wonderful adventurous time!!!!!
Response: mmm, billy looks yummy!
From Miller
Hey Molly

I am loving your travel updates and very jealous. Although not all your experiences are positive ones it is what make the whole trip an adventure.

Last week Steve and I were imagining all those Rice Paper Rolls that you must be getting stuck into so we (along with Claire and Catherine) headed to The Vietnamese for some of our own Asian experience. As well as the wraps we had a Steamboat. I have converted them to the Vietnamese way of eating, so watch out they could be hot on your trail over there.

Can't wait to see all your photos when you get back.

Ciao Sharon
Response: hey miller!! how are you!

Unfortunately there havent been many rice paper rolls for me - they seem to think that they are not complete without meat! I am really enjoying myself, i am totally lovin' it!!
From mandy
Hi Molly, eveyone has been so nice but what has happened between 12/6/07 and 21/6/07 you know that you have to let us know because we do not have lives of our own and we need to try to live them through someone else i need some more stories.Can you tell i am jealous,no.
From Erwin
Hello Molly

Have heard you have been missing BB updates. So here goes

Andrew continues to win FNL however Jamie did win it last week. Jamie was very excited to see that there was a Wii console in the rewards room but unfortunately

he didn’t win one from the 3 boxes….believe or not he was more disappointed at missing out on the Wii than missing out on winning a 3 week holiday!!

The house has 2 new intruders one guy and one girl. The girl is a bit rough around the edges…sort of a like a stereotypical truckie but female. The guy makes corsets for a living and is quite camp. When he entered the house he was wearing a white suit with purple lapels and purple hat…..Travis thought he looked like the guy from the Cadburys add.

BB is concerned about all the girls being evicted so this week only males were allowed to be nominated and it is a double eviction. Nominees this week are Andrew, Bill, Joe; and Thomas. Will keep you posted

See ya when you get back
Response: Sweet!! thanks - Your a champ!!
From zelmoe
damn damn damn - just had jam filled donut - even heated it up so the jam was all hot!

LMAO picturing ass flop.

Wishing you a pleasant bus journey on flat roads!!

Response: hey - did your new molly get the donut - hope you burnt your lips!! i will send you a SMS picture of my ass bruise - it really is exceptional!!
From Joan & Col
Keep it comin! Saw your pics of mode of travell and the cargo they carry. Had an email with pics coudnt beleive it till you sent same.You sound like you are having a great time. Takes alot to go it alone. Keep on having fun the time wont be long enough and you will soon be home saving to go off again. l j&c
Response: thanks - I am already planning the next trip!!
Hi Mars,
Good to read your update, so funny CRACKED me up - ha ha. Tried to phone a couple of times last week but couldn't get ya. I'll try to call again. up. Happy trails
just wondering if you were to get a mythical tatoo what would it be.And what will you get at the end of your journey
Response: the mythical tattos are done by the monks - you dont really get a choice on the design - i think they decide. However, the designs are all fairly similar and just beautiful. Men who were in the army have a particular one accross their back which is just magnificent.
From Mark G
this is sooo much better than big brother
its real
sounds like youre having a gr8 experience


Response: wow!! better than BB - now thats a big call!!
From zelmoe
Hi Molly
Checking in regularly so I can feel as though i have a life!! Now that you have gone away I have no idea now what is happening on BB - I guess it is a bit much to ask for BB updates as well as travel??? Just kidding - loving the travel news though.
ps - I haven't had a single donut since you left!!!
Response: no donut?? what - the new molly not working out for you?? ha haha
From Aaron,Janelle,M&J
Sounds great - love reading all your diary entries. Makes us wish we were there!
From Karen
Hope you are well.....the lake and river sounds amazing, it amazes me how people live and it is always a grounding experience to visit places like that. This trip will just make you want to see more. Keep on keeping on and enjoy.
love K&J
From tracy
Hi Marlene

All sounds fantastic, I am sure you will have caught the travel bug by now. It is as you may find out incureable!

Hi Mars
We are really enjoying your trip notes good to hear you having such a good time it seems it is a good eye opener, Mum said it's better than any serial on TV and gets mad if there is no news.
Mum wants to know what sort of food are you eating do they have plenty of fruit and vegies and hows the accomodation.
Love Mum & Dad
Response: hi - good to hear from you, i was starting to worry!!

The accomodations have been pretty good - far better than i expected since the tour gave the impression of bieng a bit 'basic', i think its a bit posh.. although i am very very grateful for the air conditioning. The food has been really good, except from one place chau doc - a cafe called 'bay bong'; a few of us have been a bit off since then. the others have been eating things like crickets, snake and frogs legs.. no one was game enough to try the 'baby duck eggs'. There are heaps of fruit and vegies - lots of apples (except i am a little wary of them) oranges, green bananas, dragon fruit, lychees, and a quite a few others that i dont have a clue what they are , but i have been eating alot of them!!
From john
Molly, to travel hopefully is better than to arrive.
Without a map this may take on a new and more philosophical meaning .
The pictures are great so just follow your nose.
Keep the faith
Response: Thanks john, i had a plan when i left home... go down the scariest street i could and see what happens.. it has worked. I have seen alot i wouldnt norallly have seen i think and talked to cool people i may not have met.
From Lily
Hi again

This is the only work related information I will give you. You have beed extended on the SIT until the end of September. So no need to worry about that. It was very hard to get up at 5 this mornign after sleeping in for the last 3 days.

I am sure you are having a great time and isn't email just the greatest thing for keeping in touch with people.


Response: YAY!! thanks for letting me know!