Thursday, December 29, 2005

Merry Christmas from Vietnam!!

It has been a long while since I posted anything...Sorry folks, but December was a busy month.
However, it is ending on a sensational note!
Here I am in Vietnam ....I arrived on the 24th into Ho Chi Minh city where I met my mate Mickey. We spent the first night catching up and resting (since my last night in Korea was another sleepless night - some habits die hard...boarding a plane completely sober seems to be impossible for me).
On Christmas Day we caught a plane to Nha Trang...along Vietnam's central east coast. We took an incredibly scary taxi ride about an hour north where we stayed at a resort called Paradise. It truly lives up to its name. I promise to add photos and complete details when I return to Korea next week - but lets just say we spent the holiday relaxing by the ocean and receiving massages and other spa-like treatments for pennies an hour - FABULOUS!
After three days in Paradise, we decided to return to Ho Chi Minh by overnight train...which was an experience I will never forget. We had a sleeper birth for the 7 hour journey , but don't let the name fool you...there was little sleep. The train was loud and rocked back-and-forth in a way that might lead most people to believe it would tip over. There was very loud Vietnamese music playing almost the entire journey - but on the upside ...we got to lie flat and stretch out in our berths.
The train arrived into HCM city just after 4am which meant that we had a few hours to waste before we caught our bus.
Let me regress a bit ....our original plan was to travel to Mui Ne (another beach area), but after talking with some locals we decided to change it for a 3 day tour along the Mekong Delta. It meant forfeiting another beach, but we figured it was worth seeing, and a good way to experience some of Vietnam's interior.
So...back to my's 4am and we have just got off the train...we catch a bus downtown to find the ticketing office for our bus tour...only to find that it is closed (of is 4am after all).
So Mickey and I spot a little table at a cafe called 'Saigon', just down the street and decide to have a coffee - since it was morning after-all. There were a few drunk ex-pats still hanging around the cafe and we ended up meeting a couple of guys from Melbourne who shared a few laughs with us. The two boys had just come off a bender-in- Bangkok and as you might imagine had a few stories to share.
At around 7am we walked to the ticket agent, got settled up and with a quick wash-up in their bathroom, we were off to explore the Mekong Delta.
We have so far taken river boats and row boats along the river, seen floating markets and even got all the way to the Cambodian border....well actually about 2kms away from the border...but I took a great picture from the top of a mountain where we viewed it from.
It's been a great trip and we still have a few more days.
Right now I am in a city called Can Tho...a nice little river town about 4 hours from the Cambodian border. Tomorrow we will visit Vinh Long and do some more sightseeing, then we are heading back to HCM for New Years eve.
I have taken a ton of photos, so no worries...there will be plenty of things to see next stay tuned.
Merry Christmas to everyone and Happy New Year!!!!
Love you all.
Colleen (in Vietnam)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Snowy daze and crazy cats

Last night was the first snowfall of the season!

I had had my doubts as to when or even if it would snow last winter in Ulsan, I wasn't exactly sure how much of the white stuff we would get this far north.
But when I awoke this morning, everything was covered in snow!
It was beautiful!
By late afternoon, most of the snow had partially melted and turned into ice - but the air was crisp with the scent of winter!
Since I've been complaining that I have had a cold for weeks and never seem to leave my apartment I was determined to get outside in the sunshine and cool air for some much needed shopping and socializing.
My coworker, Whitney and I were to meet for coffee and catch the subway to a local department store - I figured it would be a good chance to check out some Christmas sales and also pick up a few books that I wanted to get.
It is difficult to find English books in my area - and there is a great book store at Samsung Plaza that has a pretty substantial English section.
As I left my apartment, I saw Whitney coming up the stairs...and running up the stairs ahead of her was the cutest, smallest kitten I have ever seen. Whitney told me that she found it on the first floor. It was obviously a stray cat that had wandered into the warm hallway of my building. There are thousands of cats all over Korea - I am sure they are kept to keep down the rodent population, since most Koreans I ask say they hate cats, but being the cat-lover that I am, I called to it and finally got close enough to pick it up. Not the smartest thing I have ever done....and as it turned out a rather painful decision.
The little thing attacked me like it was fighting for its life (although to be fair, it probably thought it was). It bit my hands and scratched me until I let it go. It ran down the stairs and I (bleeding) ran back up to my apartment to wash up and vowed never to touch another stray cat again.
So much for small acts of kindness!
Since I was fine, and not foaming at the mouth yet....we decided to go shopping after all and spent a great day at the mall checking out the not-so-cheap-sales, drinking lattes and buying some books.
Not a bad day (minus the crazy cat).

The wound

I was all smiles after the cat-attack

Whitney taking in the winter sunshine