The Yangtze River raged beneath us, but the sheer depth of the canyon silenced the churning rapids at our vantage in the cliffs above. Trekking through Tiger Leaping Gorge kept us on the literal edge. With towering mountains plunging almost 4,000 meters directly into the waters below, a thin path snaking around the rock face provided the only path forward. Read more
We stood high in the mountains of Southern China, surrounded by some of the world’s most incredible rice terraces. These paddies had been built over 600 years earlier and continued to be farmed to this day. We had the perfect view as the mist rolled across the valley below, making the water in the fields shimmer in the golden light. These were the famous Longi Rice Terraces, and we had traveled halfway around the globe for this sight. After stops in Hong Kong and Yangshuo, our trip in China was off to a fantastic start.
It didn’t take long for us to dislike Vietnam. Well, not at the very beginning. We had been warned about Hanoi from countless travelers. It was going to be too busy, loud, and in your face. We had low expectations, but ended up finding it enjoyable. It was afterwards, when heading south that we encountered the worst type of welcome we have received anywhere in the world. But when we were ready to give up on Vietnam, we looked a little deeper and found a country with much to love.
The view off the side of the old wooden bridge was unmatched. The river below meandered between jungly growth. The golden spire of the hillside temple shone in the fading sunlight. As the light dimmed, three monks dressed in shades of bright orange crossed the foot bridge to the left. We had found the perfectly iconic scene in modern day Laos.
We rode in the bed of a pickup through Northern Laos. Music echoed between buildings, punctuated with noises of partygoers. The streets were flooded, both with people and with the water being flung, sprayed and shot at anyone in range. The whole country had broken out in a giant water fight in celebration of Laos New Year, and we had nothing to protect against the onslaught.
We were paddling down the Mekong in Eastern Cambodia, over 250 kilometers from the nearest major city. The water on which we rode had originated in China’s Tibetan Plateau, and would eventually empty into the ocean below Vietnam after meandering through six countries. With the exception of a few fisherman and small stilted house villages, there wasn’t much out here. The air was quiet save for the sounds of dolphins surfacing for breath around the kayaks. This was the Southeast Asia we had been expecting.
The laidback riverside town of Kampot in southern Cambodia is the perfect place to unwind after a long trip in Asia. It has international influences which add to the charm, while still maintaining its authentic culture. This affordable area and surroundings have plenty of things to do and a diverse selection of restaurants. We found Kampot to be one of the best places in Cambodia, and the type of town you won’t want to leave.