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Old 9th January 2012, 16:55   #136
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jignesh View Post
Hello Mr. Ramkya1,

Just finished reading all the 8 pages of your travelogue & have no words to appreciate the same. It is simple wonderful. Yes. this travelogue deserves 5 star rating.

It is like almost being there at that place while reading. You capture scenes, situation & humour in a perfect combination.

Can you also throw some idea on cost of the entire trip, I am not asking for exact details, but some approximate number.

Thanks,
Jignesh,

Thanks for appreciating the T log.

Have a work out on an excel sheet, will try to load it up here sometime later. I think earlier I had given a thumb rule calculation, something like this, all USD:

Cambodia:
Room: 25 - 40 for a A/C double room for two.
Breakfast: Included in the room rate for two.
Lunch: 20-30 for two
Evening shacks etc.: 15-25 for two.
Dinnner: 30-40 for two, with Alcohol - no limits Best to buy from departmental stores and enjoy in room, if you're that type. If you want to enjoy in the restaurant, cost goes up north.
Transport by Tuk Tuk: 10-15 per day for two Tips about 1-2
Laundry: 1 per day
Print outs (watch out here): up to 1 per PAGE!
Entry fees: As per place. Angkot was expensive @ 27 per day for two.
Pick up / drop : Average 15 for two

Flight fares: Most unpredictable!! From Mumbai-Bangkok-Mumbai was 40 K INR for two, sectors inside Vietnam+ Cambodia were killers, Siem Reap - Bangkok was 22 k INR for two had no choice, we needed that specific day and time, so its a combination of variables you need to play with. Book 3 months in advance, you get great savings.

More later, when I finish, not long now.

--Ramky
=====
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Old 12th January 2012, 16:55   #137
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA: Bayon / Faces

Next log after a break...

===


0200 PM, 07-11-2011 - Siem Reap,Bayon Temples

We were hungry by the time we finished, walked out to the park, found Kui sleeping and he took us to the restaurant nearby. This is the only time in our entire tour we came across some children selling picture post cards, they were selling not begging. This restaurant was the most popular for all the guides / tuk-tuk guys, guess they get a commission out of the trade. The food was OK, we settled for veg soup and spring rolls. There’s a shop nearby selling excellent icecreams, the lunch was OK.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayon

The Bayon group of temples were next most clicked in Siem Reap with huge stone faces, architects argue this is the face of the king / God, the jury is still out. Bayon stands at the middle of Jayavarman’s capital, Angkor Thom and is God’s gift to a shutter bug. Kui says photographic teams spend 2-7 days just on this one spot, we spent 1 hour!! Let the photos speak.


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By the time we finished the Bayon, walked through a jungle and reached the Terrace of the Leper King, light was fading at 5 PM, we must have walked about 5-6 KMs that day and were tired and wanted to just go to the room and relax.

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=======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 12th January 2012 at 17:18.
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Old 12th January 2012, 17:36   #138
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA: Jungle Temple

Get a load of these shots!!

Some more on the way from the Bayon to the Temple of the Leper King:

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We wanted to go home, our guide Kui was not willing to let go, he said one more temple the Ta Prom, the best of the tour, the most visitie in Siem Reap, the most photographed and filmed, he begged us to continue, so we did. Angalina Jolie, Temple of Doom Fame temple with trees all over, not to be missed at all!!

Ta Prohm - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It was great to see Indian tricolour on the board and our contribution to maintaining this world wonder.

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This was as true wonder of wonders, huge trees engulfing structures, twining through boulders and practically swallowing whole temples, time taking over history. It's a sight to see, one of the true wonders of the world. You can again spend a whole day shooting here, we spent about 45 minute.

It was dark when we finished, we were happy and tired. This was a walking tour, Kui promised the next day would be reverse, he would drive 100 kms and we would not walk. Liar, Liar.. Pants on fire!!!

Next day turned out to be one of the toughest climbs and treks we have done in a long while.

========

Last edited by ramkya1 : 12th January 2012 at 18:03.
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Old 30th January 2012, 13:03   #139
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

Apologies for the long break, picking up the log where I left off.

0900 AM, 08-11-2011 - Siem Reap,Bayon Temples:

A typical Siem Reap temple tour consists of the Small Circuit and Big circuit. Small circuit starts with Angkot Wat, Angkot Thom, Ta Phrohm, Banteay Kdei, Baphoun, The Terrace of the Leper King, The Terrace of the Elephants, Twelve Prasats and Bayon. If you are up to lots of walking and finish everything before 3, then you can finish off Bayon too on day 1 which requires dedicated 3 hours. This is what we did.

Long Tuk-Tuk Drive day, Kui our pilot said be prepared or some walking, we were ready for ‘some’ walking but not for what the day had in store for us.

Drive through the bypass of Siem Reap towards the peremetre of the temples, bike borne police check our tickets, clip it and let us pass. They never seem to miss, always checks, saw them send back a couple of cycling tourists to get the tickets. Our Tuk Tuk driver Kui said the police would take the cyclist to the ticket counter, ensure he gets and ticket and drop him back to his cycle, they facilitate the process!!

Long drive, about 15 kms w come to first stop Ta Keo, a tall structure, very steep steps, but once you’re up there, lots of photo ops. Read about it here.We spent 20 minutes here.

Ta Keo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Other temples one after other, read about them here too.

Banteay Kdei - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Pre Rup - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

About 11 we reach Banteay Serai, 40 kms away from Siem Reap. The drive has been through meandering back country roads, expanses of paddy fields and greens resembling many green states of India. People went about their farming life, small villages on the way came and went and we turned into the Banteay Srei complex, 40 KM from Siem Reap. This is a touristy place, a huge parking complex, a shopping arcade, a kacha road walk towards the temple complex, an ordinary looking wall but extraordinary trees, some as tall as 100+ feets!! Many giants like that around there.

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A tourist police Bike:

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Banteay Srei | TheAngkor


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Banteay Srey merits mention. It’s a Pigmy of a temple, but a giant in terms of architectural value. Made of red sand stone, intricately beautiful carvings depict many Hindu mythological stories. Me and Anu were discussing some scenes from Ramayana, Firangi tourists gathered around us and started asking questions, turned out their tour guides were spinning elaborate stories which had no relevance to anything we know of, the guides were visibly disturbed at our depth of knowledge on the carvings. We decided it’s not a good idea to exhibit our expertise there and withdrew out of crowd, sat in a corner and wondered at this wonder. What was the inspiration for this one? How did so much of Ramayana get into these walls? How did it travel beyond oceans and cultures to translate into red stone carvings inside a jungle? Were there Hindu rituals? Was Sanskrit the language? What language did the people speak? So many intriguing questions!! The spot was serene, tall trees dwarfed the structures, a big pond in the back lined with these trees and a cold breeze on a cloudy day, right combination to tickle any wondering mind.


A music group at the back of the temple complex and wide wide open greens...

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OOps.. already uploaded 30 photos on this one, so more on the next post.



======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 30th January 2012 at 13:14.
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Old 30th January 2012, 13:31   #140
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA: Waterfall

12 Noon: We had done lots of walking by this time and energy levels were ebbing, pre-lunch bells had started ringing, the body’s way of telling you to take a rest. Kui said just a little longer, hang on. We stopped by a shop, had a big juicy coconut for water and the flesh to quell the hunger, we though this would be OK for another 2-3 hours till we reach the waterfall.
We drive on for another 15 kms, climbing road, a row of hills up ahead in the distance, we turn off to left towards a big parking space, a couple of vehicles in contrast to the tourist buses, vans and tuk-tuks we saw in most other places. Kui said, it would take about 1 hour for a gentle climb to the waterfall and be back while he slept in his tuk tuk. He said carry water, carry eatables and camera, we did.

We were tired but decided to give it a try, if it turns out to be too hard, we would turn back and call it a day. The day was cold, sky was overcast, a chilly-wet wind was swirling, we were on layers of cloth to ward off the cold with head covers. The track was gentle, through green paddy fields for 500 meters and changes gradually. The ascent angle increases, some places as steep as 50 degrees, some others have steps to climb, some places you have to trace your steps carefully over big boulders. Roots and twines claim the path, the canopy of green makes the world dark, jungle sounds permeate the air and you expect wild animals to jump on you!! We passed few groups of tourists, the sky becomes darker with clouds, every fiber of our being vibrating with expectant rain. Not a pleasant prospect, cold day, no rain coat, slippery path and boulders to content with. One Km climb, we reach mid way, nobody in sight, just me and Anu and the jungle, we rest in a woden hut made for resting. We were breathing hard, drenching sweat was turning cold, we peel of the jackets and take off the head covers and drink lots of water. Voting time, to continue or go back. I expected Anu would vote for a U turn, she never stops to amaze me!! We’ve come half way up, half way across the world, let’s take it by the horns. I had no choice against such determination, we climbed up. I turned the video on the camera, plodded up, we could hear the water faintly up ahead, with every step it grew louder and pulled us faster and faster towards it. It was a roar, we were helpless in a magnetic field of sound, all thoughts of turning back gone now. We were oblivious of our labored breathing (only later on the video we realized it), energy raced through us, we were walking faster and the last few steps practically running. The sound and water was upon us, we emerged through the trees into a clearing into light and thundering water, what a sight for sore eyes!!


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See the video for yourself:





After what seems like 5 minutes of frozen wonder, suddenly realized I was sweating plenty, took off most of my cloths and wrung out my T shirt and splashed cold mountain water all over me and sat down on a rock to cool off. Something strange happened. Butterflies started gathering around me and many sat on my bald head and shoulders, was it the sweat, salt or me I don’t know? It was an eerie, crawly, uncanny and a unexplainable experience. Some photos have captured one fly sitting on my head.

This waterfall and river was something. Cuts through Kulein mountains, sandstone formations and architectural sculptures carved on the stones. This spot is also known as the valley of 1000 lingas, we saw many on the river bed, on rocks and under water. This was one of the most exciting sights for us, it was so unexpected.

There is a guard outpost, 2 guards on 24x7 duty. There was a Cambodian girl, daughter of a guard was happy to show us around and try to explain with broken English, half of which we understood. She took us downstream through a path, pointed to carvings on rocks we would have missed otherwise. Spent 30 minutes on top, tipped the girl and we started to retrace our steps. The sky was very dark now, rain hanging over our heads, this is a wrong place to get caught in rain, the descent down was quicker, we were soon at the car park which had clean toilet facilities. It was drizzling now, we bundled into the Tuk-tuk and told Hui to take us to a restaurant for lunch.

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Kbal Spean - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

0230 PM: We reach a restaurant, we were hungry, the veg soup and spring rolls were good, we were the only customers. The restaurant overlooked a brook with a show-piece waterwheel, lots of greens around and was a very romantic setting, Bollywood would go ga-ga over it. We did have a romantic lunch and remember it as one of the best ones in recent times.

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We discovered while discussing with tourists and friends who have been to Cambodia that many people give the hike to the waterfall a miss, DON’T. Many guides and drivers avoid it as it’s far, out of the way and scare the tourist into believing it’s a difficult trek, if we could do it, so could any other person in a reasonably good physical condition. Worst comes to worst, you’d have to do it slowly, so plan for it, do it and plan to spend half a day there, it would be one of the most memorable parts of your Siem Reap trip. You have to do to believe it. Insist on it to our tour guides and tuk-tuk drivers.


============

Last edited by ramkya1 : 30th January 2012 at 13:52.
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Old 1st February 2012, 12:21   #141
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Default Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA: Rains and more temple ruins

0300 PM, 08-11-2011 - Siem Reap,Bayon Temples: Delicious lunch was over, Kui said we would visit some more important temples on the return leg of 60 KMs, he was honest enough to tell us that he would get free lunch from most restaurants if he takes customers there. We were OK with that, the total bill for lunch was about 10 $ and worth the money.

Lots of coconuts around, tasty too!!

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Rain started in earnest, Kui pulled down the shades and donned his raincoats, the wind was strong and we had to stop.


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In about 15 minutes it abated and we go on to the next temple about 30 km down. Don’t remember the name of this one…. Maybe some of you know?

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Another temple on the way, read about it here:

Ta Som - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The same girl with the same dress another TBHPen shot in his travels to the same place!!!!


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Out tuk-tuk driver Kui. He was so patient, calm and co-operative, we tipped him 2$ every day and gave him 10$ on the last day, was worth every $ we paid.

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The walkway to the snake temple was flooded, one of the largest floods in history, but the authorities had built a usable wooden platform over water, so efficient. The almost i KM + walk was unnerving, nobody around, water sounds, sounds of sudden ripples from water creatures / fish splashing and crickets suddenly erupting in banshees, some experience that!!

Read about this unique temple here.

Neak Pean - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Another temple, the very last one we saw in Siem Reap, in ruins and being restores.

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This was the last arch out of the whole complex.

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Finally at about 6 PM we exit the compound and head for home. A very tiring but fulfilling day.

Last edited by ramkya1 : 1st February 2012 at 12:39.
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Old 2nd February 2012, 13:24   #142
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Default Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA: Waterworld!!!

0900 PM, 09-11-2011 – Floating Village, Siem Reap:

I am trying to hurry and finish this T-Log, it has taken long enough.

So the final day at Siem Reap and visit to the floating village. We were ready after breakfast, we have heard so much about Tonle Sap Lake and the floating village we were looking forward to this. We have seen Venice in Italy, Aleppy in Keral which have similar populations but the one in Tonle Sap exceeded all expectations, was a very different experience altogether.

The ride on Tuk-Tuk was highway for 15-20 KMS then Kui veered right towards the Tonle Sap and the boat staging point. This secondary road follows a canal, rough roads and mud in many places. The previous day’s rain had rendered it slushy, we had to get out in many places for Kui to drive through, he had to struggle through the mud. By 930 we were there and negotiating with the boat guys, the boat cartel was operating, we had to pay 12 $ per each person though we were told the whole trip would be about 5-6 $!! Had a bunch of Russians, they also tried to argue with them, it was a waste of time, looks like this place is run by the Cambodian fishing mafia!! Well, we wanted to get on with it and so we paid up and moved on.

The small boat was scary, it was so low on water any jerky movement from us would have capsized it. It took us to the other side from where a big boat all for ourselves would take us to the floating village and back. Stopped at a slushy road, did a hop-skip-jump across water and landed into the Boat house, lots of tourists milling around to get the best boat. We got into one and settled for the 40 minute ride.

The expanse of water was endless, nothing in the horizon, like backwaters of Cochin, Aleppey or Kottayam in Kerala. The boat was big, only us and the pilot, an old man. Half way through, another passenger boat flagged us, they were having engine trouble and the local people wanted to come into ours, the pilot asked us permission and we said OK, wanted to get to know the people up close, they were are citizens of the floating village coming up in the horizons. Have taken some photos of them.

The ride through the floating village was an experience. Reportedly the take would recede for almost 2-3 KM, the houses on stilts would stand tall at 20 feet and will have to be accessed by ladders, now water was at their doorsteps and everything was floating. Google for more and read on the links, it’s an amazing world out there, something like “Waterworld”.


Tonlé Sap - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tonle Sap Lake Floating Village : Chong Kneas


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Floating Police Station

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Floating School.

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There's nothing certain in this world except death, tax and I want to add POLITICS!!

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More pictures coming up.

======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 2nd February 2012 at 13:36.
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Old 2nd February 2012, 16:55   #143
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Default Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

Life at the floating village.
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Last edited by ramkya1 : 2nd February 2012 at 17:04.
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Old 2nd February 2012, 21:53   #144
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Default Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA: Quad Biking

0100 PM, 09-11-2011 – Floating Village, Siem Reap:

The floating village teaches you on how little people can live. You can see the fishing community was living basic and seem to be happy. I am not advocating a regression to a Cro-Magnon, only appealing to the people who seem to crib at everything in life even when they live in abject luxury. For me and my wife the visit was a reiteration of our philosophy in life, “count your blessings.”

Got back the same way, got into our tuk tuks and Kui took us to the Indian restaurant ‘New Delhi’ again, we were there the previous night and enjoyed the true blue Indian taste. Mr.Sharma who runs is quiet a story. He’s from Dehradun and in Siem Reap for the past 10 years, married a Cambodian and runs the restaurant on her name. He has a wife in India and introduced his Indian son whom he has brought to work in the restaurant, hard working young man who spoke Hindi and entertained us. Sharmaji said he would take care of Indian groups or friends who want to tour Siem Reap and arrange everything, he said he has contacts throughout Cambodia, he loves to talk tall!! We enjoyed his company (we listen well) and loved his food.

Post lunch we wanted to try the Quad bike adventure possibilities, called in and booked for the sunset tour. They said, its 30$ per bike for a 3 hour tour starting from 5 PM. The tuk-tuk came to pick us up from Tanei Guest house at 0400 PM, read more here:

Siem Reap Angkor Quad Bike Country Side Tour

They had about 10-12 ATV’s with them, the leader briefed us how to drive it using the thumb, there were 8 of us and the days plan was for everyone to ride one. The leader first tested our ability to ride it by sitting pillion, he tested me out and all others, my wife and 3 others opted to ride pillion with their companions, that was OK, if you take a pillion on a quad it would be 40 $. We have to sign off a release paper indemnifying the company against accidents and repair etc., the usual stuff. You need to be careful when on the road and when faced with traffic, most roads they take you through had low traffic or people.


This was one of the most exciting off roading we have ever done, the bike was pretty powerful and the terrain was mud through back roads and paddy fields, we were doing lots of mud plugging, sending streams of mud backwards. From the front streams of mud were assaulting our shoes, our shoes were covered with plastic sheets to cover that up. We had a separate lead guy who was on a dirt bike and we had to follow him, we were so excited we forgot to take photos and only stopped when our lead guy reminded us about photo graphs. We must have covered about 20-30 kms and stopped to watch sunset in the paddy fields and regrouped with all other ATV’s and headed back to base.

By far, this was also one of the best days, exciting, educating and memorable. Our last night at Siem Reap. Next day we fly out to Bangkok on the return journey.
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Last edited by Rudra Sen : 3rd February 2012 at 11:09. Reason: Removed tags.
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Old 3rd February 2012, 10:41   #145
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Default Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA: Quad Biking

Some More pictures:

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Some parting shots from the Quad Biking Trip.

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=========

Last edited by ramkya1 : 3rd February 2012 at 11:05.
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Old 6th February 2012, 21:41   #146
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Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
Our last night at Siem Reap. Next day we fly out to Bangkok on the return journey
Wow, this must be one of the most exhaustive travelogues ever. Amazed that you had the patience to upload so many pictures. It has done two things.

1. Fell in love with the place one more time
2. Made me decide that I will not write our travelogue.
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Old 6th February 2012, 22:41   #147
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dot View Post
Wow, this must be one of the most exhaustive travelogues ever. Amazed that you had the patience to upload so many pictures. It has done two things.

1. Fell in love with the place one more time
2. Made me decide that I will not write our travelogue.
DOT: Thanks again.

Resizing, uploading and organizing pictures into the story is a lot of work, but then it would be useful to prospective TBHPns as a jump-off point for travel.

It's sad you're not writing your T-log, every T-Log has a different perspective, look at the number of Ladakh logs here, each one is worth a read.

If it's OK with you, you can even start in between my story or start with the very same thread, or add snippets/ pictures, whatever you want.

I just have the War Museum, Siem Reap to do before I close this...

--Ramky
=======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 6th February 2012 at 22:43.
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Old 6th February 2012, 23:23   #148
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
DOT: Thanks again.

Resizing, uploading and organizing pictures into the story is a lot of work, but then it would be useful to prospective TBHPns as a jump-off point for travel.

It's sad you're not writing your T-log, every T-Log has a different perspective, look at the number of Ladakh logs here, each one is worth a read.

If it's OK with you, you can even start in between my story or start with the very same thread, or add snippets/ pictures, whatever you want.

I just have the War Museum, Siem Reap to do before I close this...

--Ramky
=======
Excellent travelogue Ramky!

I too, did a Vietnam trip last year and like dot, I have been following this thread to decide the fate of my travelogue. You have set a high benchmark for photography and narration.

Luckily for me, my itinerary was different from yours so I still have a story left to tell. I will be starting my thread in a few days.

Keep the pics coming!
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Old 6th February 2012, 23:32   #149
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Excellent travelogue Ramky!

I too, did a Vietnam trip last year and like dot, I have been following this thread to decide the fate of my travelogue. You have set a high benchmark for photography and narration.

Luckily for me, my itinerary was different from yours so I still have a story left to tell. I will be starting my thread in a few days.

Keep the pics coming!
Hai Thanks.

We felt Vietnam is under explored by Indians, there's so much to see and the Govt. willing to go out of way to help tourists. Your logs would give different angles into Vietnam, looking forward keenly to see yours.

We have decided to go there again to spend 15 days exclusively, do some research on circuits possible for Indian tourists; have lots of friends who want to go with family, top travel agencies are way too expensive. There's a huge market out there for mid-range, lower-mid-range / budget tours to this exotic land.

--Ramky
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Old 7th February 2012, 23:04   #150
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Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
It's sad you're not writing your T-log, every T-Log has a different perspective, look at the number of Ladakh logs here, each one is worth a read.
Thanks. Our trip was pretty decadent. Not sure if the travelogue will be one of those path finding types. Will curtail a few stuff and write sometime.

Last edited by dot : 7th February 2012 at 23:06.
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