Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Coming Home...

A few lessons learned from my summer in South East Asia:
  • Some of the busiest cities in the world (namely Hong Kong & Tokyo) are much quieter than being in any small town in the US. - The biggest culture shock I've had coming back to the States is getting used to everyone around me ALWAYS talking in english. Abroad massive groups of people sound like white-noise to an English-only speaker like me.
  • Living abroad brings you close to other people who want to live abroad. - This puts you in a position to meet some fascinating people who have a unique and challenging perspective on what could come from their own lives and experiences of the world.
  • It's said that our industry is full of egos and back-stabbing jerks... but I experienced the opposite at Saatchi & Saatchi Hong Kong. This summer has reinforced my love for advertising and the people in it.
  • Mangos are delicious... but beware of their poisonous peel and seed - no one warns you, but will make your face blow up in poison ivy blisters
  • Living, traveling, and working as a team in a foreign country where you know very few other people is straining on a relationship.... That being said... We had a great time, made some good work, got to see some amazing things... and still like each other :). Chris was a wonderful travel companion and teammate... I wouldn't change anything about our summer together. (Thanks Chris)
  • I could easily live in Hong Kong.
Thank you for listening this summer.
Feel free to pass along my blog as help to others traveling abroad.

(If you want to check out Chris' perspective on the summer - aka the witty commentary - go to )

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

  • Ho Chi Minh City (formally known as Saigon) reinforced my opinion that Vietnam is the most "foreign" place you can visit... nothing is done even remotely close to how we do them in the States. It's fascinating to watch yet difficult to understand.
Our Itinerary
  • Cu Chi Tunnels - The Viet Cong's underground "neighborhood." Their gorilla tactics are so scary and yet so smart . I shot a M60, crawled through the hot, claustrophobic tunnel... and listened to stories from a man (our guide) about his life as a Vietnamese man who ended up part of the US army during the Vietnam War... and then lived in Vietnam after the communist take over. His story was shocking to say the least.
  • We also wondered the streets throughout Ho Chi Minh... trying not to get run over by the crazy Vespa traffic. There are no rules here... one-way streets become two-way, the sidewalk becomes the new lane.
Chris in a Viet Cong sniper hole
Me shooting a M60
Can you believe people lived down here?

Angkor Wat / Siem Reap, Cambodia

  • City of Angkor, Cambodia is the site of over 1,000 ancient Hindu/Buddhist temples... over 200 hundred are still intact.... and about 10 big boys that over 2 million tourist visit annually.
  • We only had one day in this alternate universe, but it was more than worth the trip.
Our (1 day) Itinerary
  • 4:30am Sunrise at Angkor Wat - world's largest religious monument
  • Bayon - over 52 towers of giant faces
  • Prasat Kravan - Small all-brick temple with relief sculptures carved directly into the brick
  • Ta Prohm - trees, hundreds of feet tall, grow right out of the walls (where Angelina's Tomb Raider was filmed)
  • Banteay Srei - 10th century carvings that are in perfect condition
  • Baphuon - A huge temple under reconstruction... with a big reclining Buddha
  • East Baray - eroding yet magnificent brick temple with great views of the surrounding rice patties and jungle
  • 5pm Sunset at Phnom Bakheng - Temple a top the highest hilltop in Angkor. Great place to watch the sunset with a view of Angkor Wat (but it was cloudy sunset for us :()
  • You MUST have a private guide while there... you can't appreciate the stories without... reading a book is great for preparation, but you shouldn't have your nose stuck in it while walking around. Plus you can find a guide for only $25 US for the entire day and their English is very good
  • I strongly recommend a great, small, super cheap hotel (less than $20US for air conditioned rooms) - The Golden Mango. It is run by a local family in a old french home... they are personable and help set up everything for you. (They even dealt with us changing our flight info 3 times the same day they were picking us up)
narrow steps

Krabi, Thailand

  • Krabi has the most amazing beaches in Thailand... and Thailand some of the best beaches in South East Asia... and South East Asia has some of the best beaches in the world.
Our Itinerary
  • Railay Beach - is small peninsula off the coast of Krabi only accessible by long boat. We stayed there 2 nights, went to the three beaches (my favorite was Pranang Cave Beach). All the beaches are connected by trails... and there is a "hike"/rock climbing trail to a look out point. At night there are places to watch the sunset while drinking Thai beer - then watch Thai Boxing and fire dancing. We also walked out into the shallow water bays to look at the plankton that glow when you disturb the water.
  • Day 2 we went on a Boat trip to near by islands - There was a tiny glitch in our trip because of the typhoon in Taiwan... it made the waters in Krabi very choppy. So... we did not get to see Maya Bay (where the movie The Beach was shot), but we did get to go to Bamboo Island, Phang Nga Bay, Phi Phi island (snorkeling off the coast)... among other places. There are companies offering packages all over the beaches - like this one
Little kid selling beer on Riley Beach
Monkeys that swim...
Look out point on Riley
Treacherous "trail" to get to look out point
Completely different landscape during low tide
Fire Dancer... extended exposure

Bangkok, Thailand

  • Bangkok - On our way to the Thai beaches we stopped for one night and a day in Bangkok... extravagant is how I would describe this city....for both it's nightlife and temple's decor
Our Itinerary