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Travel Journal


Emily Parmacek - Travel Journal


Here is a update of my trip.

Scroll down for earlier dates as Most recent is on the Top

March 17, 2003

Full Moon Party- Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand!!!

Hello everyone!!!

I just want to bring you up todate with my adventures...  I've done soooo much in such a short time I have a hard time keep track of it myself.  I am trying to keep up with my daily journal, but even that has been quite challenging...  So last I left you was that Rebecca and I were heading to Damnoen Sadeuak (DS) to see the Bat Cave and the floating market.  To tell you the truth... the BAT cave was the coolest thing I think I've EVER seen!!!  We didn't realize our luck until we got there.  It doesn't exist in the guide books.  There are 4 or 5 caves (2 that you can actually enter) filled with bats.  It actually smells REALLY bad, but it's really neat.  At 6pm Bats from 2 caves make their way out for the night.  It was unbelieveable.  There was a dark stream of bats exiting the cave and flowing into the skyline.  It lasted for over an hour and a half.  Rebecca got it on video... hopefully it will come out.  What a highlight...  We also hit the floating market...  it was a bit touristy, but nice to see.  It was much different than the one I had seen in Vietnam.   After a few days of touring Bangkok...  we headed back to the islands.  The weather getting to and at our first stop (Koh Tao) was TERRIBLE!!!  We took a speed catamaran to the island...  it took about 1 1/2 hrs.  The weather was not on our side and after a few days - even snorkling in the rain.  Thankfully the weather got better... and we headed to Koh Pha Ngan for wat we thought was one day early .  It was really funny...  we totally lost track of our days...  and ended arriving not one day ahead of schedule but two.  You know your truly on vacation when that happens.  So with our extra day, we splurgged and bought ourselves a spa pakage at the place we are staying...  For $50 US we started off with an herbal steam and cold plunge for about 1/2 hr... then recieved 1 hr oil massage... then we did the detoxifying bali salt scrub where we were scrubbed down with spicy salts, wrapped in towells and left our bodies to steep while they rubbed our feet and applied the "Hairapy" (hot coconut oil in our hair).  After we steeped for about 45 minutes we were lathered up with cooling yogurt and lead to a HOT shower.  That in and of itself was worth the whole day!!!  When we were finished in the shower we were lead to a chair where we had facials and more foot massage.  After 3 1/2 hours of pampering I felt like a wet noddle!!!  And the cleanest I have felt since I left the states!!!!  :o)

Last night was the full moon party.  WOW!!  what a sight!!!  Every full moon the beach of Koh Pha Ngan goes wild.  everyone comes out to party.  We headed over there early to watch the moon rise.  The moon wasn't really full last night, but due to a Buddist holiday tonight they celebrate the night before...  the reason I found out is because the Thai people like to drink (buckets of Rum, Coke and Red bull to be exact) and they can't drink on the Buddist holiday.  It was pretty crazy.  We left the beach area to get food and check things out, we must have walked around for about an hour...  by the time we came back there was NO PLACE on the beach to hang out.  It was soooooooo packed with people (Westerns and Thais alike).
Anyway, I am back on my own.  Rebecca left today  :o(  She is on her way to discover some of Thailand without me  :o(  But I decided to stay here to study Ayuvedic Massage (India).  The course starts in a few days!!  I am very excited.  I have been interested in that type of massage and had to learn it after having it. 

I hope all is well!!!
I love and miss you!!
Emily  :o) 


January 10, 2003

Hi all-
Just a quick note to catch you up...  I am going to try this again...  I just wrote a quick note but it got deleted...  bummer...
So, I am currently back at my friend, Mason's, waiting patiently for my first visitor - my mom.  I am very excited.  It's been three months and I am ready for a bit of home.  So after Cambodia, we came back to Bangkok for a few
days before heading down south to hit the beaches and go rock climbing.  As par for the course, we got a bit sidetracked and wound up on a little island in the South East called - Ko Mook.  It was Fantastic.  And not too crowded.  We spent about four days there soaking up the sun, relaxing on the white sand beaches, swimming in the "hot" water, and kayaking.  We took Kayaks to the Emerald Caves, but the tide was too high to go in... so we just took pictures.  I had just finished giving Steve a hard time about "not getting the camera wet" and as he was handing it back to me...  in I went... capsizing myself from leaning over too far.  If you ask me my boat was just very "TIPPY"  hahaha  Fortunately, Steve still had the camera.  I don't think I will ever live that down.  I am sure my face was full of shock and surprise... too bad we don't have that on film.  :o)  After living life - Thai Style, we continued on to Railey beach, Krabi.  What a beautiful little nook.  We found a cheap place to stay...  An open roofed bungalow in the middle of the forest...  The mosquitoes found us and after two nights of being eaten alive, we found a less "buzzy" place.  The pace of Railey was totally different.  Not as relaxing, of course that was just because we explored all the nooks and crannies we could.  We swam, explored caves, mountain climbed (mountaineering style), rock climbed and walked to most parts of the peninsula.  At night we feasted on Seafood and enjoyed the bar/music scene.  ALL-n-all a great time.  Unfortunately Steve had to cut his trip short due to $$$ getting stolen.  So back to Bangkok we headed.  :o( 

Now I am waiting for my mom...  We have a great trip planned... of course I will keep you posted!!!
Lots of love!!!
Emily  :o)

January 9, 2003

Hello everyone!!!!
Sorry for the delay!!!     I have been on and off sick for a while....  I can't believe it's been so long since I've written.  So much and yet so little has transpired in that time. 

So, currently I am in Bangkok.  Leaving today as a matter of fact!  I have been here for about a week.  But let me back up and catch you up to date!!!  After leaving Angkor Wat, I arrive back in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  I wasn't too excited to stay in Cambodia much  longer and decided  to head to Thailand over land.  I was ready to get back to civilization and study massage again (while waiting for my mom and later my friend to come for a visit)!   VISITORS-- YAHOO!!!!!!!  While, as usual, I got side tracked.  I met a cast of characters who have definitely impacted me and who, in the end, I had such a good time with I couldn't possibly leave.  The group consisted of English, Scottish, Australian, Canadian, and a British speaking Spaniard from Barcelona!!!!!!   Alex the Spanish fellow, lives in PP and teaches English.  Every Sunday he heads for a Buddhist temple 40 KM outside town.  One Sunday he took me, I have to say it was one of my TOP days in Cambodia for sure!!!  We spent the whole day there playing and hanging out with the local kids and ended up buying ice-cream for about 30 kids for $3.  It was fun!!!!  Alex paid for a moto driver to take the kids home, but not all could fit and we ended up taking the last remaining one home!!!  There we stayed for about an hour or so playing football!!! 
So, after a few more days of hanging out by the Lakeside watching beautiful sunsets and laughing with my friends, I began again to get motivated to leave.  Again, I got sidetracked and stayed for one of the English man's b-days.  WHAT A CRAZY NIGHT!!!!!  We headed out to bar hop...  Steven, the Scot, and his friend Scott both dressed in traditional Scottish garb - Kilts....  And all the Cambodian women couldn't WAIT to get their hands on what they had underneath.  I finally got to see FIRST HAND just what they do sport under their Kilts.....  And I've been SWORN to secrecy!!!  So don't bother asking!!!  I am saying NOTHING!!!  It was a wild night...  well documented by those with cameras....
After that night I spent a few days on the mend...  While I was healing Steven taught the Khmer staff some Scottish...  Quite funny to hear the local Cambodians speaking with a Scottish accent (this might be one of those have to "be there" moments"). 
So, now, Steven and I are headed down south to Krabi via train.  I am looking forward to the beaches and climbing. 
Look forward to hearing from you!!!
Lots of love!!!
Emily  :o)


January 1, 2003

Hello everyone--
So glad from some of you about your New Years...I had quite a mellow one...  Spent it in Siem Reap (Angkor
Wat) in Cambodia...  yes I am still here.  I am soon heading back to Thailand to Climb, Scuba and kick it
waiting for visitors!!??!! So, as most of you know, I intended to move to Thailand, but seemed to have gotten side tracked - Vietnam & Cambodia.  The truth is that I have visitors coming and didn't want to travel Thailand by myself then travel it again with my mom, then travel it again with my friend.  So, I got out of dodge!!! Anyway, so, here I am in Phnom Pehn (Capitol of Cambodia).  I had a geat time in Siem Reap.  Watched the last sunset of the year on top of a small mountain over looking Angkor Wat and a distant lake.  It was BEAUTIFUL until the sun ducked behind a cloud.  I was there with a friend, Sharon, and about 500 of my closest traveling companions.  It was packed.   When the sun actually set everyone started clapping.  It was quite a site, unfortunately I was too slow on the Kodak moment and didn't capture it....  Oh well.   As for the beginning of my year, I am off to a good
start.  I have made my first young non-speaking Khmer friend.  He is only about 1 years old.  I have to say,
he has been the only Khmer child that hasn't fallen to pieces at the sight of me (yeah yeah get a good laugh).  Let me explain...  Last year (before today), every time I saw a little child I would smile, wave, coo, and of course make some funny faces...  they in turn would frown, run to their mom, screaming and crying...  I couldn't believe it.  I have had such success in the past.  I was beginning to get a complex.  Am I really all that scarey?!?!?  OK, DO NOT ANSWER THAT!!!! Anyway, this little guy was really interested in me.  He stared at me for about an hour and before long he was laughing and cooing and smiling and even reaching for my hand and playing with the
clips on my bag.  His older brother was less convinced but at least he wasn't crying.  It was nice because I
don't know what I would've have done if he cried.  You see, we were in the back of a pick up truck (just 16 of us and 2 were very small children) headed back to Phnom Pehn (only a 6 hour ride, once we got started)... So, Ankor Wat is quite spectacular.  The first day we arrived we headed to see the Khmer dancing in front of the temple, but the tickets were sold out :o(  The next day we woke up SUPER early to see the sunrise at the temple. 
It wasn't such a beautiful sunrise, but the temple was pretty incredible in and of itself.  After the sunrise we headed to other temples.  There are some that are just unbelievable.  At one of the temples we ran into book.  He was a very nice monk and allowed me to take his picture which him holding the book.  It was sooooooooooooooooooooo funny.

Anyway, I am headed to the south of the country to Kempot, Bokor National Park and Sihanoukville (the beach).  I will head into Thailand by boat from there.  I will definitely be in Thailand within the next two weeks. Looking forward to hearing from you!!!

Emily!!!   :o)

P.S.  Brett (my brother) has set up a web page for my travels.  It has all my previous letters.  Soon it
will have pictures too!  I will let you know.  You can read the letters at Parmacek.com/emily


December 26th, 2002

Hi mom, dad, Joan, Brett, Victoria, Todd and Jean!!!
Just wanted to say hello!!!!  I am back in Phnom Penh.  I will write an update tomorrow!!!  Just thought I'd tell you I was thinking of you and send love!!!
Emily  :o)

Hello all!!!
Well, I am happy to see that I had nearly 60 emails from friends and family.  It was really great to hear from you all.  I loved hearing from you and want to encourage you to keep on writing and for those of you who haven't written yet, get off your #$@ and write something!!!!
Well, I had quite the adventure...  So, I left Phnom Pehn and headed for the far northeast.  My destination Ban Lung.  The road to get there however would be long and BUMPY!!!  I left PP in the morning and caught the boat to Kratie.  The boat took about 5 hours.  I was one of the only westerns on the boat and it was pretty much packed.  I sat next to a woman with her baby and her young small boy (probably about 7).  They didn't speak English and I hardly speak Khmer.  Only hello and thank you.  They were very nice and within a few hours we (the little boy and I) were playing little peek a boo games.  At one point he bought some gum and offered my some.  It was really cute.  I of course, didn't bring enough food with me and ended up calling over a young girl who had boarded the boat to sell food.  She had little banana leaf packaged things.  In Vietnam they had sold little coconut candies wrapped in banana leaves, I of course thought that maybe they would be the same.  So, I called her over pointed to her treats and asked what they were.  She unwrapped one...  it was double wrapped in banana leaves.  Inside there was something white wrapped with a chili pepper and wrapped again with some herbs and lettuce.  She handed  it to me.  And just as I put it in my mouth I noticed that ALL the locals on the boat were staring at me.  I ate whatever it was and could really only tate the hot chili.  I ended up buying the bunch and eating a few more.  I tried offering them to the locals which they turned down.  The woman I was sitting nest to, made a yucky face and pointed to her son and shook her head.  Of course, I had no idea what I was eating but my sense was it wasn't good.  I just hoped that I wouldn't get sick...  Later I found out that it was fish wrapped in spices...  I didn't get sick... thankfully.  So when we landed in Kratie, a million people were trying to get you to their hotel.  I found a spot and bargained with the owner for a discounted price.  Then I met an Irish girl, Maria, who was staying at the same hotel and we decieded to split the room.  They weren't too happy, but again I bargained to keep the discounted price.  Maria, the English bloke, Nick, and I hung out.  There isn't a ton to do in Kratie, but they do have a few things.  Nick and I went exploring the town... hit the market, and sought out a Wat.  The next day before leaving Maria and I went to see the Kratie Dolphins.  They are Freshwater Irrawaddy Dolphins.  And they are endangered.  They say that there are only about 50 left in all of Asia.  We didn't see too many, but we did see a few.  The road out to see them was beautiful and REALLY BUMPY!!!  Then Maria and I headed to Stung Treng by another boat.  Unfortunately the water is really low, so the boat takes a REALLY long time.  6+ hours.  Of course again we didn't bring enough food.  Thankfully we had enough water.  The trip up the Mekong River was awesome and the sunset was incredible.  We sat on top of the boat checking out the vista and taking in the sun.  The toilet on the boat was quite a story in itself.  It was kind of a open topped box you step into with a hole to the water.  If you stand up everyone can see your head.  It was defintely an experience.  There was nothing much to Stung Treng ( a few hotels and a market) and Maria and I said goodbye that next morning.  She was headed up to Lao and I to the north.  I contracted with a pickup truck and sat on the back with four other people and amongst coconuts, bags of produce and boxes of stuff.  It was quite a ride.  Dusty and cramped, but beautiful landscapes.  Finally I made it to Ban Lung...  It didn't seem to be much to this place either, but I was wrong.  I hired a moto guide and went to gem mines.  It was incredible.  The Khmer men dig these amazing holes in the ground about three feet wide and 15 meters deep.  Then they dig tunnels and search for gems.  In the area I was in they mined for Sapphires.  I had no idea that they were brown gems before they got fired and turned blue.  It was really interesting.  After that we took a single track road to a nearby waterfall.  It was really nice.  It had many tiers and was really wide.  From there we visited another waterfall and ended up at Crater Lake.  It was the clearest water I have seen so far.  We went for a swim with the locals.  I went in my clothes (like the locals) even though I had my swim suit.  The locals are a bit modest and have a hard time with the westerns stripping down.  It was a great day.  I also visited many minority villages, cemeteries, Lao and Chinese Villages, rivers, lakes and markets.  I spent many days there exploring the region.  I would have liked to have traveled to the southeast but the road was really bad and the drivers I was going to take didn't want to wait another day!!!  SO Instead of heading back the way I came...  I took a flight back to Phnom Pehn.  ANd here I am.  Tomorrow I am taking the bus to Siem Reap and will be there for New Years!!!  Anyone who wants to brave the phone bill can call me at 011783701.  I don't know the Cambodian country code, but that is the number!!!
I hope you are all having a great holiday season!!!!  HAPPY 2003!!!!!
Love, Emily  :o)   

December 19th, 2002

Hi everyone...

Since I am staying a while in Cambodia...  I spent 15 dollars to buy a phone number... (011783701).  I don't know the country code, so you will have to figure that out for yourselves.  So, basically this number means you can call me, but I can not call you!!!  Please feel free to call whenever you want time doesn't matter.  I will try to keep my phone on so I won't miss your call. 

I love you!!!  Emily 

December 18th, 2002

Can't remember where I left off in my updates, so if I am repeating myself I am REALLY sorry.  You just have to bear with it.

So, Last I remember writing was about my trip from Dalat to Mui Ne.  From Mui Ne I took a bumpy bus ride back to Saigon (HoChiMinh City).  Went shopping, bought a few things that I ended up buying a bigger travel bag just to all my new possessions.  :o)  From there I signed myself up for a 3 day trip up the Mekong Delta and from there headed into Phnom Penh (PP). 

The trip up the Mekong was great!!!  We saw many many things... the floating market in Cantha, fisheries, coconut candy being made, even a bird sanctuary.  I don't think I would've been able to see all I saw on my own!!!   And I took a ton of pictures (which I will develop and uploaad when I get back to Thailand).  I met some great people headed my way.  But they have all moved on to Siem Reap (Ankor Wat).  So far I've checked out many things here in PP.  The first day I went with some of the people I met to get rooms at a hotel.  It was quite the dive.  Right on the lake.  Looks really beautiful, but chance are if you fell in you'd get REALLY sick fro all the pollution...  to give you an idea, the toliet doesn't have a flush and all my waste went right into the lake...  Pretty gross.  Also the floors are wood planks not securely together with like contact paper over then, but not completely...  quite smelly and you really need to use the mosquito nets at night.  So, after checking in (and not realizing the horrible conditions until much much much later- you get what you pay for and I am only paying $3), we headed to the shooting range....  yes I shot an AK47.  It was really really weird.  It is such a powerful gun.  Hard to believe that RAMBO coud hold one in each hand, hit his targets and stay standing.  I had a hard time and the guy running the shooting range had to hold my shoulder so I wouldn't fall backwards.  Out of the 30 rounds, I hit the target 4 times.  Once in the arm, twice in the side and once in the shoulder.  Something like that...  I have a picture of my target.  I will show you when I get the chance....  The next day we went to the Killing Fields, the Russian Market, and S21 (the school that was converted into a torture/prison by the Khmer Rouge).  It was a really depressing day.  Hard to believe that there was all that killing going on from 75 - 79.  2 Million people died.  When we got back from there, I ran into my Canadian friend...  He was staying a place around the corner, I am now staying at the same place.  It's MUCH nicer and the same price.  Today, we went to the market again...  shopping...  bought a few more items...  It's quite crazy!!!!  After the market we headed to the Royal Palace...  There is a Silver Pagoda there, the floor is REALLY all silver.  They have most of it covered so that it doesn't get ruined.  We had our guides take us for a typical Khmer meal.  It was delicious... we ate chicken in this lemony soup, tasty eel with some kind of mint leaf, squid and mushrooms, and some beef (no worries they don't eat dog or cat here in Cambodia).  After that we headed back to the hotel.  I watched the movie "The Killing Fields".  And now I am here checking mail. 

My plan... or temporary plan...  Instead of only staying a week and heading back to Thailand, I've decided to stay much longer...  Tomorrow, I am headed by boat to the Northeast.  I am first headed to Kratie then to Stung Treng and finally to Banlung.  I will return to PP and then head to the Northwest - Siem Reap (Ankor Wat) also going to Battambang and possibly another town on the way back to PP.  Then I will head down to the Southwest to Sihanoukville.  From there I will head back to Thailand by boat!!!  I am excited...  I don't know what my email situation will be like while in the north...  so until I get back to PP I might not have access...  I will try to call tonight just to say hello!

Talk to you soon!

Emily  :o)

December 13th, 2002

Hi everyone!!!

Just thought I'd catch you up....  I leave tomorrow for the Mekong Delta.  So, Since I last wrote...  I have travelled by motorbike through the mountains and forest all the way to the beach of Mui Ne.  It was really great.  I met a Canadian boy named Joel while rock climbing and we headed together with our motor bike drivers to Mui Ne.  It was really great.  We saw beautiful sights....  many lands...  farms (tobacco, tea, coffee, cotton, fruits to give a few)... and factories (silk, tea).  We stopped at waterfalls, walked the streets of the country side, met mountain villagers, and ate many a fine foods...  among my new adventures in eating I have now tried Bat, Frog, Turtle, and Sea Slug.  Can I say VERY INTERESTING!?!?!?!  Now I am back in Saigon...  Tomorrow I head up the Mekong Delta.  And into Cambodia.  I am not sure what my email/internet access will be, so I will write you back when I get a chance!!!

Talk to you soon!!!

Lots of love!!!

Em  :o)

P.S.  Dad- I don't have a number to be reached at until I get back to Thailand...  I think....  If I do get to a place where there is number I will drop you a line!! 


December 8th, 2002

Hi mom, dad, joan, brett, victoria, todd and jen.

I just wanted to tell you how great climbing was and to give you a quick update since I won't be near email for a few days!!!  Until Wednesday most likely.

Today I went rock climbing.  It was truly amazing.  We went to an area south of one of the waterfalls I had visited yesterday for "exercise" (according to my hired tour guide...  It was sooooooooo much fun.  There was a small group of us.  We hiked, repelled (Abssiled), went trekking through the water and later went swimming.  We also slide down some waterfalls.  It was soooooo much fun.  Possibly the best day yet in my travels.  Tomorrow, I leave with the same tour guide for a 2-day mountain experience to the beach (Mui Ne).  I have picked up another companion, Joel.  I am happy for the company.  We have somewhat the same travel schedule and time line.  I am sad to leave DaLat, but much continue on!!!  I have to say that so far my experience has been AWESOME.

I love you and miss you all!!!

Please send me news of your day to day.  I feel somewhat disconnected from you, your lives and just american life in general.

Talk to you soon!

Em  :o) 

December 7th, 2002

Hi everyone!!!

Just wanted to give you an update!!! 

I had a great day today.  I am in DaLat a mountainous town.  It is sooooooo beautiful.  I hired a tour guide to take me around.  He showed me the city and country side.  I took some fabulous pictures.  I went to a "crazy house" (that's what it is called) that was very similar to the Gaudy stuff in Barcelona.  A few water falls for as my guide says "exercise".  He didn't walk down with me...  LAZY!!!  We saw the "Chicken Village".  they were nomadic people who were forced to live in this area by the King so that they wouldn't ruin the forests.  He built a Chicken statue for them.  The statue is huge and the chicken has 9 fingers...  really quite weird.  Couldn't really understand the story as he explained it...  In this village we met the local "minorities".  We saw some of their weaving, went into some of their houses and saw their farms.  I also saw a girl making incense... cinnamon/sandal wood.  I which I wanted to buy, but my guide said later because it was too expensive...  I saw silk worms, and a black mushroom hut.  REALLY cool!!!  I even saw people harvesting rice.  It was a really full day.  I also went around town through the French Quarter.  The French colonized here in DaLat, but the Vietnamese conquered over them and they left.  Anyway, I hope the pictures turn out.  Unfortunately, the camera got broken.  I think it must have fallen except I can't think of when.  Anyway, I have to  open the lens after turning on the camera.  I just don't know for how long it hasn't been working.  So, I might have lost some of my earlier pictures from Bangkok... which is ok.  Hopefully it was working at Chiiori (Japan).  I am very excited tomorrow I am going rock climbing with one of Mason's friends.  He is a very experienced climber.  So I am very very very very excited!!!  Then on Monday I leave with the same tour guide for a 2-day mountain experience to the beach (Mui Ne).   I have to say that the Vietnamese food is excellent.  My tour guide brought me to a local restaurant ad for $1 we feasted on BBQ pork, Bamboo shoot soup, chicken, pickled cabbage, grilled beef and vegetables.  It was soooooooo good.  I am enjoying my adventures. 

Well, I send lots of love!!!

Take Care!!!

Em  :o)

December 1st, 2002

Hi everyone-- Just wanted to give you an update!!! Mason was extremely helpful in helping me plan. So here it goes... More or less... I fly into Saigon tonight (Dec 2nd). I will spend the next 3 days in and around Saigon... going to check out the CuChi Tunnels one day. On Dec 6th, I catch a bus to DaLat and spend 2 days exploring the area. It is supposed to be very beautiful and mountainous. On the 9th I head to the beach town of Mui Ne in which I will park my ass on the beach and kick back Until I travel back to Saigon on the 11th. I will join a group trip down the MeKong Delta for 3 days/2 nights with night stays in Cantho (where the floating markets are) and Chaudoct. From there I will travel into Cambodia via boat to Phnom Penh (Dec 14th). On the 16th I will head up to Siem Reap (Ankor Wat). Hang there for 3/4 days and head back to Bangkok on the 20th of Dec. On the 21st I will head down to Krabi to meet my friend Karin for some rock climbing.... I am sure I will be writing to you while on my trip. I will not have phone access. Unless I run into problems then I will buy a SIM card to use there. Anyway, I am thinking of you all!!! Lots of love. Emily :o)


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