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Epic Day 1 in Mongolia - A post by Hillarie

It is going to be hard to beat this

The last four and a half months have been epic for us. New places, different food, foreign languages, different landscapes. But we have been saying all along that Mongolia was going to be the true height of our adventure. We imagined that it would be very different - like nothing else we had experienced thus far.

Well, let's just say that Day 1 in Mongolia did not disappoint! In less than 8 hours we visited the larger than life Chinggis Khaan (Genghis Kaan) with our friend Shijiree. Ran into a group of colourful herders attending a conference and wearing their Saturday best. We saw many ghers (yurts), got a sense of the old Soviet presence, and felt liberated by the open spaces. A fantastic day under the great blue sky.


Oh yeah .... Zach held a golden eagle and rode a camel.


I wonder what day 2 will bring?

Posted by fishonyukon 17:18 Archived in Mongolia Comments (0)

High up in Hong Kong - A post by Hillarie

72 hours in a world class city

Three words to describe Hong Kong .... busy, crowded, awesome!! Wow, what a world-class city. Obviously we only scratched a minute layer of the surface in our 72 hours there.

Our stay didn't start out that great when we entered our very expensive and "spacious and bright" 2 bedroom Airbnb. Well, at least we were living like the locals! But it did the job and was centrally located in the Jordan neighbourhood.


We decided to purchase the Octopus card which gave us easy access to Hong Kong's world class transportation system. The streets are super busy but the underground subway takes you from point A to B in no time at all. Cities like Hong Kong are really good at moving people. We could learn a little bit in our Canadian cities. The city has a great ferry system and also a covered people mover called the Mid-Levels Escalator system, which is the world's longest outdoor covered escalator system, stretching for over 800-metres through the streets of Hong Kong Island.


After discovering street life we decided to splurge and see the city from above. We spent a small fortune to visit the Sky100 observation lounge. From 100 stories up we got an unbelievable view of the city and surrounding area. Definitely worth the money and we hope to make the Air North magazine with one of these photos!!


Two other highlights of our stay was the view of the Hong Kong harbour at night and the food. Our first night we were treated to the largest outdoor permanent light show in the world at the harbour.


And of course there was the food. You cannot visit Hong Kong without doing Dim Sum and why not try a highly rated Nepalese restaurant! Both meals were delicious.


Even within the hustle and bustle of the city streets, Hong Kong also offered beautiful green public spaces. We found hidden corners with exotic birds and turtles! There were shaded park benches to escape the heat and large public recreational facilities open to all. My sense is that it is a highly livable city with an endless list of things to see and do.

Posted by fishonyukon 04:16 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Finding a routine in Hoi An - A post by Hillarie

Eating and biking to fill our days

When one is out of the everyday work and school life, it is both wonderful and difficult to find the daily routine. We dream of having no routine when we are in the thick of a routine. But without a routine, it can be hard to find the everyday comforts that make us feel grounded.

The Mekong left us feeling a bit tired. We were bouncing around quite a bit, only staying 2 or 3 nights in a place. We were looking for a place that would give us some more comforts and Hoi An seemed to be just what we were looking for. It is a beautiful city in Central Vietnam well known for its historical significance, tourist infrastructure and beautiful night scenery with its lanterns.


We booked ourselves 7 days in Hoi An, hoping to rejuvenate before the next leg of our journey. But when you spend seven days in a place, you need to find a sort of routine to fill the days and keep you interested.

Our routine in Hoi An became pretty simple. Wake up and eat. Go out bike riding. Find a nice lunch place to eat. Relax at our hotel in the hot afternoon. Go out biking in the evening. Find a nice dinner place to eat.


Whenever possible we like to find a hotel that offers free bikes. The Little Green Apple was a perfect choice given that it met three important criteria for us - a free buffet breakfast for Zack and Dennis, a pool for all of us to cool off, and free bikes for us to explore the surrounding area.

Everyday we would head out on the bikes and just explore. Small narrow streets, rural paths, busy urban thoroughfares. In Vietnam, all of them were little adventures. Narrow streets navigating tons of people. Rural paths braving the blazing sun. Busy urban streets dodging mopeds, bikes, and cars.


Vietnam let me live my little dream of not owning a car and riding my bike everywhere. The weather is perfect, it is flat (at least in Hoi An), and I don't need to worry about traffic rules or wearing a helmet!

Oh - I forgot about the last bit of routine that took up hours in a day. Playing card games! Wizard and Dragons was played for many hours over many cups of coffee and smoothies!


Posted by fishonyukon 02:21 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Markets of Mekong - A Post by Dennis

Smelly, stinky, squishy, and amazing

sunny 34 °C

There are many different kinds of markets. There are night markets, tourist markets, local markets, fish markets, meat markets, vegetable markets, floating markets, mountain markets, bug markets, farm markets....to name a few. Some are refined and sophisticated. Some stinky and smelly. Some fishy and meaty. Some floral and fruity. Others are squishy and nasty.


We've pretty much experienced all of them on our travels. A market in Spain or Germany will be much different than one in Guatemala or Thailand. Travelers are drawn to markets. They give you a snapshot into real life and a pulse of the people making ends meet. It is where commerce, culture, community, people, landscape, food, and animals intersect.


Most of us in the family enjoy the sights, smells, colours, and sounds of the market. No surprise here in that Max absolutely hates visiting markets. In Europe you can enjoy a Cappuccino, croissant, smoked ham and mountain cheese before sniffing the flowers of the market. Central America has a considerably more chaotic tone and Asia takes that to a new level. Southeast Asia's markets are absolutely awesome mental.


Personally, I love the fish and seafood markets. I love seeing what other cultures eat and enjoy. We've seen our share of interesting things in Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese markets. All the unique fruits, vegetables, bugs, fermented fish, eggs with embryos and many unidentifiable things. Many of the markets in Asia are for locals while others are designed for tourists as well. We've taken in our share of local markets and lets just say our food health and safety standards are considerably different. You have to check your western values and bias at the door and just relish in the insanity. Animals and especially fish are treated differently here. Refrigeration is expensive and trying to keep things on ice in these temperatures is very difficult to do. We have visited many markets this trip but have only eaten at a few. Previous trips we've eaten in markets and have paid the price. If its not cooked on a grill in front of you or it doesn't have a skin you can peel we don't eat it. Knock on wood but we've been doing pretty well in the stomach department.


We have traveled a part of the mighty Mekong River from Phnom Pehn, Cambodia to Vietnam's Can Tho and Chau Doc. These Mekong communities remind me of those on the Mackenzie Delta of the Western Arctic or the Yukon and Porcupine River drainage's in the Yukon. I enjoy seeing these rural river communities functioning with water being their main connection and conduit. People are always tinkering with boats and motors, fishing and traveling along the river. Their connection to the water is different than those of us that rely on roads and pavement to move around. I think of all the fish in that river and those communities that depend on them. This makes me think of the mighty Yukon Chinook salmon that are starting to move into the Yukon River delta through Alaska towards the Yukon. My thoughts and well wishes go out to my friends, colleagues and all residents that depend on these salmon. I hope there will be plenty of salmon to enjoy for all and enough to rebuild for future generations.


Posted by fishonyukon 02:41 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Tired in Vietnam - A post by Hillarie

Beautiful moments while missing home

sunny 35 °C
View Around the world on fishonyukon's travel map.

I hate to admit it, but we are getting tired. Is it possible to become saturated with travel experiences? Maybe .... I feel like we are in a bit of a slump. Home is starting to call us. I think all of us are starting to long for a routine, some familiarity, our own beds. I don't want to complain. I am not complaining. But, we are getting tired. Thirty-five degree temperatures, small spaces, noise, and dirt - Whitehorse is an ideal image in our thoughts right now.

It was hard to leave Cambodia. People were so nice there. I felt like Vietnam would never measure up. And I am tired. So, it is getting harder to see the beauty in the small moments. But as I sit here at our hotel in Hoi An, Vietnam, I am reflecting on some of our daily experience that we have had in the past week in Vietnam.

First there was Ms. San. She owns a very small tour company (it's basically just her) in Can Tho. I emailed her about taking our family on a Mekong Delta tour. Is it possible that her and I could be life long friends after an afternoon together? Maybe it was sharing a moped in the pouring rain that bonded us. We spent the afternoon touring the countryside on the back of four mopeds. We saw rural life on the Mekong River. She shared with us her love of birds. Her gleeful yelps at every bird we saw still makes me smile. The day we left Can Tho she met us at the bus station. There was no reason for her to meet us other than to give us a care package of food for the bus ride. I will remember that kindness forever.


And then there are the kids. They make me smile. Especially in the rural areas, they are just so darn happy to see you. They smile and wave and practice saying HELLO! If they get the courage, they give you a high five. And then there are those boys ... they really are all the same no matter where in the world you are. A middle finger as they laugh and try to impress their friends.


The moments in between. The travel moments. Buses, boats, waiting around. I know that I will look back on these times with great fondness. I think they build strength and character.


And finally, random acts of human kindness. A smile as you are served coffee on the Mekong River.


Nana (the owner of the little store across the street from our hotel) giving the kids free candy when they go and buy water. The front desk staff at the Green Apple Hotel here in Hoi An. We are getting a free dinner tomorrow night because they like us. I can't seem to come up with a better reason than that. The server at the Claypot restaurant last night who said we could come back later because we didn't bring quite enough money along to pay for dinner. "I trust you", she said. "Tomorrow is fine". The boys at the local basketball court who let Max join in on their pick up game. And the list goes on and on.

So yes, we are getting tired. Some days it feels like a bit of a grind. But still Vietnam doesn't disappoint. It is a country of really kind and generous people who are helping us through our travel ups and downs. It is a good reminder that it is the little things in life that matter. And most of the time we are still smiling!


Posted by fishonyukon 02:01 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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