Tag Archives: kayaking

Visiting Vietnam and Cambodia

These are photos and videos from a twelve-day trip to northern Vietnam and northwest Cambodia from April 23rd to May 5th, 2013 with Darlene, organized and booked through BikeHike Adventures.

I’ve organized the pictures into five separate galleries:
Days 1-2: Streets of Hanoi

Our trip began with some sightseeing in Hanoi including a traditional water puppet show, experiencing the packed city streets and the crazy driving habits.  We also visited the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, The Enthology Museum and One Pillar Pagoda before catching the night train to Lao Cai.

Days 3-5: Villages of Sa Pa District

We arrived in Lo Cai on the night train from Hanoi and drove an hour to our hotel in Sapa. The Sa Pa district is populated with eight ethnic tribal minorities: including the Black Hmong and Red Dzao.  Our first day was spent on trail bikes and our second day on foot following roads and paths through and around terraced rice fields and small villages. We also visited the Ta Phin cave.  Our second night was at the lovely and secluded Topas Eco Lodge, overlooking the Sapa Valley.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware or prepared for what to expect in the Sa Pa region and how much these mountain villages have become a tourist trap/destination. Everyday large numbers of tourists follow the roads connecting these villages and everyday a similarly large number of village women come out to meet them and follow them for most of the day in the hopes of selling some of their homemade craft (clothing, blankets, etc).  I appreciate their effort to supplement their income and make the most of the tourist trade, but it does get sorely tiring to spend each day being constantly plied with requests to “be their friend” and “buy from them”.
Days 6-8: Islands of Halong Bay

After returning from Lao Cai via the night train, we had breakfast in Hanoi before setting off for the coast and Halong (Ha Long) Bay. We stopped along the way at one of several large government sponsored craft stores and factories (employing war victims). We boarded a luxury Indochina junk (a traditional Vietnamese boat) to cruise amongst the thousands of towering limestone islands in Halong Bay.

Our first stop was at a very crowded beach and overlook but later we were able to enjoy some more peaceful kayaking, swimming and exploring. The trip also included an evening paddle around a floating fishing village. Unfortunately our three day cruise was cut short after the first night due to an impending storm and we had to return to the mainland, but we were at least lucky to be able to get a hotel reservation. We spent our extra time on the third day visiting some more sights on the return trip to Hanoi and to catch our flight to Cambodia.

Days 9-10: Temples of Koh Ker

We arrived in Siem Reap the night before and started our adventure in Cambodia the next morning by heading out to Beng Mealea.  Along the way, we stopped to visit an active temple-monastery and meet a Buddhist monk.  Beng Mealea was easily one of my favorite temples because it has been left in much the state it was found, partial ruins overgrown with tree roots and being taken over by the jungle.

After this, we headed much further out to visit various sites of Jayavaram’s 10th century capital of Koh Ker.  We got to camp out overnight next to the step pyramid of Prasat Thom and continued our sightseeing of Koh Ker the next morning before returning to modern Siem Reap for a respite from the sun in the hotel river pool.  That afternoon we went to the dark pink stoned temple of Banteay Srei.  In the evening, we enjoyed dinner and a traditional folk dance show back in Siem Reap.

Days 11-12: Temples of Angkor

Our last full day in Cambodia began with a predawn start to get to the entrance of Angkor Wat by sunrise – with the rest of the huge tourist crowd – and this isn’t even high season!  After the spectacular sunrise, our guide knowingly guided us around Angkor Wat to see the other temples of Angkor while the rest of the crowds lined up to overrun Angkor Wat.  It was a wonderful plan: we got to enjoy the other splendid temples, particularly Ta Prohm, in relative solitude.  We also visited the walled city of Angkor Thom and the splendid temple of Bayon where each of its 54 towers are capped with four massive stone face sculptures.  After another midday break from the sun, we finally returned in the late afternoon to slip in and tour Angkor Wat before its closing.

At sunset, we visited a street market on the outskirts of Siem Reap where our guide demonstrated the enjoyment of some insect delicacies!  (Yuck!)  On the following morning of our departure, we visited a workshop and saw a large variety of crafts, including the sculpting of stone works used in restoration projects.

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Kayaking from Davenport Landing

Kayaking out from Davenport Landing (north of Santa Cruz, CA) to see whales and dolphins
with the Outdoor Adventure Club and Venture Quest Kayaking:

 

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Kayaking in Pescadero Marsh

A couple of hours spent kayaking in Pescadero Marsh with the Outdoor Adventure Club:

 

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Exploring New Zealand

This is a collection of images from a pair of back-to-back group trips in New Zealand run by Active New Zealand and booked through BikeHike Adventures.

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Kayaking in Santa Cruz

Another fun day out kayaking in Santa Cruz with the Bay Area Outdoor Adventure Club and guided by Venture Quest Kayaking. We started out from the Santa Cruz pier and went around the lighthouse to Natural Bridges State Park to stop for lunch before returning with the help of some handheld sails.  Saw lots of sea otters among the kelp along the way!

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Moonlight Kayaking in Santa Cruz

A bit of kayaking by moonlight in Santa Cruz courtesy of the Bay Area Outdoor Adventure Club
and guided by Venture Quest Kayaking:

 

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Scenes from Namibia to Botswana

This is a collection of images from a two week trip to Namibia and Botswana arranged through REI Adventures.

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A Little Adventure in Thailand

(April 15th – 30th, 2005)

This is a collection of images from a two week trip to Thailand arranged through BikeHike Adventures.  Most of the trip was guided by Daniel and Scott of Smiling Albino but the last four days were on my own in the Krabi region.

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Exploring Southcentral Alaska

This is a collection of images from a three week trip to the southcentral portion of Alaska.  The first six days were booked with Alaska Wildland Adventures to explore the Kenai Pennisula and involved a series of separate guided day excursions while staying at a couple of lodges. (This flexibility was helpful since a different outfitter cancelled a week-long group trip at the last minute.) The middle ten days were arranged through REI Adventures and handled by Alaska Alpine Adventures. This guided group trip passed through Prince William Sound, visited McCarthy/Kennicott, traveled the Denali Highway, and included three days visiting Denali National Park. The final three days (and a couple of intermediate days) were on my own.

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Exploring Kaua’i

This is a collection of images from a trip to the island of Kaua’i in Hawai’i.  The first six days were part of an adventure tour group trip “Kayak and Hike Kauai” sponsored by Match.com and REI Adventures and provided by Kayak Kauai.

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Exploring Costa Rica

This is a collection of images from a pair of trips booked through REI Adventures and provided by Costa Rica Sun Tours.  The first was their “Jungle and Sea Escape” from December 20-27, 2002 and the second was their “Costa Rica Multisport” trip from December 28 through January 4th, 2003.

   

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Belize Adventure

This is a collection of images from a trip in March 2002 booked through REI Adventures and provided by SlickRock Adventures. It was a week of caving, rafting, canoeing, jungle hiking, sea kayaking, surf kayaking, snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, … oh, you get the idea.

 

Jungle hiking (and a bit of four-wheeling) to reach Actun Tunichil Muknal – otherwise known as the Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre.

Watch your step — those are real Mayan artifacts!

Two nights at Casa Maya, a guided tour of the ruins of Xunantunich, and some “mostly gentle” canoeing down the Mopan River.

Nice day to capsize!

 

Helmets and headlamps for caving via rafts on the Caves Branch River.  And overnight nestled in Ian Anderson’s Jungle Lodge.

Sweet!

Four days of sea and sun on Long Caye at Glover’s Reef.  Sea kayaking, surf kayaking, snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, oh, and hammock surfing.

Rough life!

Miscellaneous Excursions: Downtown in Belize City and out to the Belize Zoo, visiting the ruins of Altun Ha, and demonstrating our primate origins at the Community Baboon Sanctuary.

Who’s the true primate?!

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Adventure in Queensland – Australia!

This is a collection of images from a trip in November 2001 organized through REI Adventures.  They call it their “Reef and Rain Forest” multisport trip.  Fifteen days of whitewater rafting, backpacking, camping, biking, sea kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and uh… eating!  It was wonderful!  (No worries, mate!)

Whitewater Rafting on the Tully River

Backpacking in the Rainforest of Wooroonooran National Park

Biking in the Atherton Tablelands

Snorkeling and Diving on the Great Barrier Reef

Sea Kayaking Among the Barnard Islands

Farewell Dinner

Exploring Cairns and Vicinity

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Kayaking Elkhorn Slough

Click through for a small gallery of pictures from a day of kayaking with Adrena along the Elkhorn Slough, near Monterey Bay:

  

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