Monday, May 19, 2008

Good Morning Vietnam!

Ok, lame title but I thought it was appropriate. We are still alive and well! We've had more adventures so far than I can even count. We have had quite a trip so far. It's unbelievable here! It's so different and unlike anything I've ever seen or could even imagine. It's National Geographic blow up big time. And we love it!

So where we left off...we met up with our friend Steve Kofford before we left Ha Long Bay to stay on CatBa Island for 2 nights. We took a boat all to ourselves out there, it was huge and wood and old. We stopped at this awesome cave, that was used during the war as a hospital. It was incredible and totally hidden. As we were boating out there, we were surrounded by these limestone islands covered in green trees everywhere--so pretty. Along the way, we stopped and kayaked for a couple hours through these islands and tunnels and caves. These Vietnamese people just live out there on floating houses and fish all their lives. The kids are adorable and would come out in little boats and play with us. But they live out there! Then on our way back, Steve was just peddling and his oar bent in two! Totally! It was a bad oar! We knew we'd have trouble when we got back and sure enough, they wanted $20 dollars for it!We spent 30 minutes arguing in different languages and finally gave them 100,000 dong, which is about $7 dollars. They're totally like that in this country. This girl was telling us that she watched a bike shop that would loosen their screws on the bikes so that they would break and charge the people more for it. It's ridiculous! Anyway, got to the island, got a hotel for $7 dollars a night, air conditioning which was nice, except it went out. The bathroom is one room and the shower head is just right by the toilet (which at least isn't a squatter--yay) so you can do both at the same time:) We had a great time on this island. It's just so 3rd-world to me. dirty and stinky and little kids squatting peeing into the streets. But SO beautiful at the same time. We rented motorbikes and biked around the WHOLE island. $5 bucks a bike for ALL day. Pretty sweet. We went to a beach, got sunburned, played baseball with the natives with a stick of wood and a little wood piece for the ball, explored the jungle on foot, so sweet. We did that all day. It was totally amazing.
When we were back in Hanoi, we decided to get on a sleeper bus which would take us down the whole Vietnam coast....not a good idea. It was way cheap so we thought it would be great, plus we could do the long 11 hour legs at night and just sleep. but no. We are so thankful to be alive, let's just say that. It was so small and stinky, 42 people on the bus sleeping. The bus was so bumpy and they just lay on their horn the whole time so you can't sleep, even with ear plugs. Half-way through the night we came across a tipped over bus and another bus that was out on the railroad tracks! The other bus driver had fallen asleep and ran right off the road and the bus was stuck on the railroad tracks!! They had to quickly evacuate the bus and all of them had to get on with us!! No room! They were on the floors between us, Brian and Callie bunked together, I had 2 stinky guys sleep right next to me. It was nuts. No sleep needless to say. But we made it safely to Hoi An where we are right now and then tomorrow see some sweet beaches.

Anyway! It's crazy, it's so cheap here. The food--oh my word. Let me just say I have probably already lost 7 pounds in 7 days. We always feel hungry, and I eat almost nothing. Things gross me out here so bad. Flies on everything, stinky, fish, squid, weird dirty things they've been trying to sell and recycle for days. Meals consist of plain sticky rice, a couple bits of fish, a bite of green stuff, coke to wash it down and fight germs, and maybe a taste of something that makes me stop eating all together. Everyone else has been pretty good though. We buy lots of Ritz crackers and we packed tons of granola bars which I am so thankful for. We're always sweating, my garments are always sticking to me. My hair is a curly snarly mess. My fingers are always sticky, I have bug bites all's great! Haha, we really are having so much fun and we feel so safe. We love this. It's just still so surreal we're here and we have like 6 more weeks! Wow! We're washing our own clothes in the shower, taking lots of pictures and videos, bargaining all the's great. O and a couple of nights ago, there was a HUGE storm that kept us up from 2am on. It was so loud and scary, but monsoon season is starting so I guess it's normal. The power was out all night so we were just hot and sweaty and wet and awake. Great great. And I guess there's another cyclone forming and headed to Thailand--Ah! Pray for us! We are feeling them already! And thanks for reading our little (well, LONG) journal! Love you all!

Ben & Camille

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beijing and Vietnam!

Oh it is so good to get the internet!! I wanted to give you all a quick update and let you know that we're safe...not yet sound, but getting there and having a ball!

Day1: We had a fun 12 hour flight to Beijing Monday morning. We arrived in Beijing around 6pm and met up with our friends Brian and Callie Hill (who we are traveling with for about 4 weeks, they have been here for 2 with her aunt that lives in Xi'an....which is where the earthquake was a couple of days ago...luckily they only rocked for about 2 minutes and no damage was done close to them). It was a miracle how we met up...long story but there have been several occasions where it is just amazing how vivid the Lord's hand is in our trip and decision making. He is surely watching out for us and guiding us along the way. No doubt. So we found them, and decided to head straight towards the Great Wall. We got to a small town called Mutianyu around 9:30pm and found a really cheap "hotel" for about 30 yen...only about $4 per person!! It was sweet...well, the price was...not the hotel. This picture actually makes it look a lot better than it was. It was pretty funny actually but we didn't care. The worst part is the toilets. Horrible little squatting grounds to which I am NOT at all skilled. I won't go into it, but this is not for me. We tried to sleep, but with thin walls, loud Chinese neighbors, a loud dog barking all night, and jet lag...we didn't get much sleep. We finally got up around 3am and just walked around outside. Our friends woke up around 5:30 and we immediately started backpacking towards the Great Wall. It was an awesome walk and we got there around 6:30am. We had a huge hike up to the wall, got there at 7am and we were the ONLY ones there for 3 hours!! No joke. We walked the wall for miles. From tower to tower. It was so amazing. (Those of you who know Ben and me and our "one month anniversary cop" story...we have another awesome place on our list!) The weather, the greenery, the fog, so awesome. People started coming around 9:30am and we togaggoned down the Great Wall!! It was so sweet. Then we headed back to town, slept on some grass, played with some kids, ate some ok food, and watched people...tons and millions and billions. With their babies and their little slits in the back of their pants so that they can "go" whenever and wherever they diapers! AH! At the end of the day, we had a flight at 8pm to Bangkok, took it, slept, arrived at 2am, got on another flight to Hanoi Vietnam at 6:45am and arrived here at 8am.

Day 2: We immediately took a bus (3 hours of fun and mostly head on in the other lane of traffic, no joke. They are the most crazy drivers I have EVER seen) to Ha Long Bay...where we are right now! It is amazing!! We are RIGHT on the beach, just ate a $1.50 dollar meal, and are sleeping in a $15 dollar a night hotel room for all 4 of us! Totally awesome how cheap everything is! We love it! We just walked around, chilled and relaxed today and took a shower! We felt like we hadn't been clean for weeks! We feel like we've been out here forever! And it's only been 3 days! We've been everywhere already!! We dropped like logs at about 8pm last night and slept like babies. It was so awesome and felt SO good.

Day 3: Today we woke up refreshed and ready to go. We met this man from Singapore who just bought us all breakfast. We had banana pancakes. We have one more friend meeting us in about an hour here and then we're taking a boat out to CatBa Island where there are 3,000 islands off this coast and we will be kayaking and eating and staying the night on a boat. Sweet. Can't wait. But we are LOVING it here. The people, the culture, the weather, the life, the landscape...everything is amazing and surreal. The Lord is certainly with us. We couldn't feel more safe. LOVE YOU ALL!
(Pictures asap...or I'll just have to add them in when we get home)

Monday, May 12, 2008

We're GONE!

See ya everyone! We are so excited we didn't sleep last night and I have an upset stomach like I would get when I was younger every Christmas Eve or before my swim meets...AH! We're so excited.

I had 7 photo shoots in the last 3 days so I was editing all day yesterday and we finally got around to packing at 9:30pm last night. But we were done at 11:30! It went really fast and we were glad we had made some organized lists.
Here are our bags! We actually had more room than we needed and just filled the space with granola bars, grocery sacks, and toilet paper. We were surprised! But we want all that space for souvenirs. We have a weeks worth of clothes and then all the other necessities for 7 weeks!
We're so excited, it's so unreal! Everyone check our blog for updates and if you want to be on the email update list, send me an email at

Love you all!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

So a while ago, I taught Ben how to post so he could be the one to post about my birthday...but I just don't think that's going to happen. Blogging just isn't in his here I am:)

The Day: So today was totally fun!! I woke up to a big poster made by my 10 year old sister Brooke that said, "Happy Birthday Camille! You're 22! Cealabrate!" And yes, 'celebrate' was spelled like that. So cute. This is us hanging out:
We hung around my house and relaxed (while trying to get ready for this trip...which just doesn't feel like "ready" is going to happen) and waited for the kids to get home. They had early-out day, so we played our 2 favorite games, Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Cataan. I don't think a day has gone by when we're with my family that we don't play these games. We love them. We're addicted. The winner switches pretty consistantly between my mom, me, and Ben in Settlers. But this morning, for my birthday present, he thought it'd be really cute to WIN BOTH TIMES!! Not a very good present. And I think he could tell, cause he always wins Ticket, which is really annoying...but today somehow, I won! :)
The Celebration: We had a big family dinner at Applebees. It was so much fun. We had a party of 18 and they don't take reservations! We had all 4 of my grandparents, Ben's grandparents, my parents and siblings, his mom, his aunt and Robin, and Jon. It was so much fun to see everyone and celebrate not only my birthday, but Ben graduating, and also a goodbye for our Asia trip. We shared tons of laughs and food:) This is while they sang to me:
This is Jon's car "Martha" she's called, and her sweet horns. He brought her around to show to all of my family. He's had them on for over a year now and man does it get stares. It's hilarious. My grandpas loved them!
The Gifts: I got a "You are Special Today" plate. Which is special to me because all growing up, my mom has this same red plate that the special individual would get to eat on for that day, whether it be Mother's or Father's Day, a birthday, or graduation, we'd get to eat off this plate. Now since Ben and I are our own family, I get one too! It was a cute gift. Brooke got me some soap and a sudoku game that she paid for with her own money:) And Ben's aunt and Robin gave us all this really cool and smart stuff for our trip! It'll be so nice and we can't wait to use it! We got a travel log book and a journal and Ben got a GPS thing, and some other cool things. Ben got me 'The Promise' statue made by Willow Tree, the one with the husband and wife dancing (and some other secret things:) It's so cute, he knows I've always wanted one!

The blessings: We are so blessed and have the best families in the world! I've had the best 22 years alive and especially the last year and a half with my best friend and husband! Way to graduate babe! Can't wait for our trip and everyone stay tuned for updates! (Or for "we're still alive" comments!) Thanks and love you all!