War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, Vietnam

The War Remnants Museum is in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, Vietnam. It was created to expose the war crimes of French and American soldiers during the American War in Vietnam. Read more

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London Town!

The journey from New York to London wasn’t super long, but wasn’t super comfortable either.  Neither of us slept and Zach celebrated our arrival by beginning to throw up repeatedly about an hour before landing.  After we landed, we conveniently found out that our second (because our original had already canceled) Couchsurfing host had to cancel on us!  Great.  So off to a hostel we went, navigating several confusing forms of public transit, Zach dragging all the way.  Thankfully he perked up once we arrived at Restup Hostel UK but we couldn’t check in until 3pm so we stowed our stuff and started walking.  Fortuitous, because as soon as we found some WiFi we had another host offer from someone we met through this very blog!  Hooray!  Now we just had to kill the next 10 hours before we could show up at Tom’s house.

Luckily Zach made a miraculous recovery and we were able to enjoy a great walking day along the Thames River, taking in the skyline, a glimpse of the London Eye, the Old Globe

Sorry for the iPhone pics, we forgot the camera
Sorry for the iPhone pics, we forgot the camera

(very exciting for me, as a former theater nerd)

the London Bridge,

(very unimpressive considering we’ve seen the original London Bridge where it now stands in Lake Havasu City, AZ.  It’s true.)

a classic British pub with warm and flat cask ale,

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Taylor Walker Pub On Thames

the amazing Borough Market which we just stumbled upon,

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and the Tower Bridge with a view of the Tower of London.

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After all this rambling, we got to meet up with our wonderful hosts in Earlsfield, southwest London, for some awesome hard ciders and conversation at their local pub.  They are moving to Colombia soon and that’s why they had been reading our old blog entries.  Although not official Couchsurfers, they definitely had the spirit, and hopefully we were good enough guests to convert them!

Phew, what an exhausting but awesome first day!

Our first Mayan ruins

I was a bit weary and skeptical of ruins after spending so much time in Perú.  “Really, how can anything compare to Machu Picchu?” I thought.  With this attitude, we were considering skipping the Ruinas del Tazumal outside Santa Ana.  Our hostel’s owner convinced us to go, however, and we were so glad we did.  It was a quick, easy, and cheap excursion from Santa Ana and the Mayan ruins were so different from anything we had seen before!

The Tazumal Ruins are located in a public park right inside the small town of Chalchuapa, only 13km from Santa Ana.  The structure is basically one big pyramid which is now partially buried underground.  It costs $3 to enter and you can walk around and even climb on some parts of the pyramid.  Of course doing this inspired some epic Apocalypto-like posing, and, as always, jumping pictures:

I am your ruler!!!!!

After walking around and taking lots of pictures for about an hour we had had our fill of archeology.  Before leaving, we stopped at a cafe to try a local Chaulchuapa specialty: Yucca con chicharron.

Chicharron is fried pork kind of like bacon, and it was served over boiled and mashed yucca with some coleslaw mixed in.  Zach enjoyed it more than I did, but we both LOVED the “horchata!”  Horchata is an amazing iced beverage made from the roasted seeds of the “morro” fruit.  Horchata is super sweet, milky, really almost chocolatey!  I don’t know how they get that taste out of this fruit, but it works for me!  I’d tried Mexican horchata once before but this was way better.  I think we discovered another addiction!

Sadly, morro trees are almost extinct!

Coca Museum: The Quechua Culture

We had some time to kill so we decided to stop by the Museo de la Coca in downtown Puno, Peru.  Once through the front door, we made our way up a flight of stairs and into the museum.  There were three rooms, one like a gift shop where you paid the 5 Sole entrance fee, one full of pictures and information on the history of coca and how it has affected the culture of the surrounding areas, and the third dedicated to traditional dancing and dress.  We started in the third room, surrounded by crazy and colorful dancing costumes.  They played a short documentary for us, in English, explaining the different dances and what they mean.  After the movie, we got to try on some costumes!

Well worth the 5 Soles (under $2) just to play dress up, the Coca Museum was informative and interesting.  Did you know that coca leaves have more protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin A than corn, wheat, rice, barley, quinuoa, or yucca?  It’s too bad people have to go and do bad things with an amazing plant.  To close, here’s a quote displayed at the museum that proved chillingly prophetic: