Asia 2005 Post mortem.
Well I'm back in New Zealand... after roughly 26 hours of flying and stop overs (Hanoi -> Bangkok -> Sydney -> Auckland) I landed back home... to be greeted by a selection of my family (Parents, Brother, Nieces and grand parents no less) - which was all good.
My last few days in Hanoi were great - didn't really do much sight seeing... just enjoyed the good food and beverages on offer in Hanoi and generally relaxed as well as I could - was lots of fun - and put me in a good frame of mind to head home.
The trip out to the airport in Hanoi was also pretty cool - there's a funky bridge you have to travel over... wish I'd got some pictures of it, pretty impressive.
And now that I'm home... well I've got the winter blues a little - to come from 36 degrees and doing whatever I pleased all day long... to 16 degrees, GST and income tax waiting in the wings and a town full of generally unfriendly and distant people (in comparison to most parts of Asia I visited).. It did/has left me in a bit of a daze - though only temporary I'm sure.
Oh, and for the curious... If I was to list my favourite countries, it would be in this order:
Which isn't to say I hated any of them... but I did definitely loved China just that little bit more then the others... if there was a place I'd head back to for another visit (or to work...hmmm)... probably Beijing or Hangzhou for a city.
Oh and as for some myths dispelled... I remember at first thinking that woman were wearing masks perhaps because of fears of bird flu or SARS... and I think Nikolai commented that it was probably because of air pollution? Well we were both wrong, it was because the woman wanted to hide from the sun and keep their faces as white as possible... they even have shirts with extra long sleeves that button up/down (makeshift gloves) and attached bonnets and face masks that look like giant collars - just to hide from the sun when riding around on bikes. Asian woman want to be white with big breasts (loads of adverts for breast enlarging "cream" on the local TV)... Western woman want tan's... cest la vie.
Another thing that puzzled me at first was the Cambodian kid I saw with what looked like lash marks and scars on his back (who's family I got a ride with over the Laos/Cambodia border)... It was actually just a bad reaction to a big dose of tiger balm "stripes" - which they normally apply when someone has a dose of the flu - saw loads of people like this in Vietnam and Cambodia, that and people covered in lots of black/purple round spots where they've been using vacuum "therapy" to suck the "poisons" out of their blood... fun stuff.
Guess my next blog post will probably be a technical one - should make for a change!