Welcome to The Wedding Travelers!

We are rob & lauren: two professional photographers who love weddings and travel. This is where all of those things come together for us. Within these pages we hope you discover and sense our deep love for the cultures that we encounter and experience. Our biggest hope is that you come away from this site with a great understanding, respect and love for them and their ways. Enjoy!

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A New Portfolio Friday
Edmonton, AB

First off, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been stopping by to check out this site. We haven't had much time over the past year to work on it, but there are plans to update it, add lots more information, and hopefully embark on another trip soon. So make sure to keep checking back every once in a while!

Also, if you've enjoyed this site we would be deeply grateful if you'd take a bit of time to go vote for it! Just follow the link below, set up a quick account, and vote. We want people to get to know this site, and get some more attention for the great information we're hoping to add! So go here to vote for us:

http://vote.photoblogawards.com/photoblog.php?name=the-wedding-travelers

And finally, I've been going through all the images from our India/South East Asia trip. I never had a chance to really sit down and look at them all, so I did, and wow, the memories that came flooding back! Here are a few that jumped out at me today:

A fish seller in Vietnam.

india, travel, photography, vietnam

Making samosas in Calcutta.

 Traffic in Calcutta. I love the look on his face, and I wonder what he was thinking about.

 Our boatman in Varanasi.

 The Ganges river.

 Making cow pats in Varanasi.

The boats in the Ganges river.

Street scene, India.

Lovely girls in Jodhpur.

 

A welder in Jaisalmer. 

A common sight on the roads of India.

 

Category: Adventures

Tags: calcutta, food, ganges, india, market, street life, travel photography, varanasi, vietnam

Cherie & Kevin | A Vietnamese Portrait Session Tuesday
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (written from India)

So it has been pretty near forever since we took these photos, and we hinted at them, but we managed to get ourselves really busy, and Rob has been steadily working on the hundreds of photos we took of these guys, but we never put anything up. Well the time has come that we’ve thrown together some of the photos we took of Kevin and Cherie while we were in Ho Chi Minh City. Yeah, I can hardly remember that either! But let’s take a trip down memory lane shall we.

We met Kevin and Cherie in Edmonton as we were talking about their wedding photography. While chatting we found out that they were going to be in Vietnam at the same time as us. We all figured it would pretty much be the coolest thing in the world to do a portrait session of them while in Vietnam, and so that’s exactly what we did. Just to be fancy we actually did two, so let’s start off with the “normal” one.

portraits, vietnam

portrait session, vietnam 

portrait session, vietnam

portrait session, vietnamportrait session, vietnam

portrait session, vietnam

portrait session, vietnam 

portrait session, vietnam 

portrait session, vietnam 

portrait session, vietnam 

portrait session, vietnam 

And now for the really exciting stuff (not that that wasn’t exciting, but this is even more so!). Kevin and Cherie were in Vietnam to get their clothes made for their wedding in Canada. And they had just finished getting everything together before we got there, so these outfits were ready to be photographed! And traditional Vietnamese wedding outfits are beyond cool! Here is Kevin getting ready with the help of his mom
vietnamese wedding dress, vietnam

And Cherie doing the same, with Kevin's mom playing make-up artist (check out that amazing hat!)

vietnamese wedding dress, vietnam

Some detail of Kevin’s outfit

vietnamese wedding outfit, vietnam

And detail from Cherie’s (the outfits are made out of Vietnamese silk, and have the long coloured tunic over white pants, along with the really cool hats)vietnamese wedding dress, vietnam

Nice and easy to get it started

vietnamese wedding dress, vietnam

And then we started to really use the location. We were at some big theme park thing just outside of HCMC and it was really a photographer’s playground! Enormous credit to Kevin and Cherie, who stood on this bridge for who knows how long, incredibly still, as Rob and I took a million photos. They really were champs. And the photos really were worth it I think!

vietnamese wedding dress, vietnam

vietnamese wedding dress, vietnam

vietnamese wedding dress, vietnam

Kevin has the best smile, his eyes really get into it!
vietnamese wedding dress, vietnam

And Cherie looked so classic, like she was meant to wear a Vietnamese wedding gown

vietnamese wedding dress, vietnam

And together, it was magic ;)
vietnamese wedding dress, vietnam

There’s no better way to finish up a relaxing and romantic photo session than by seeing vicious crocodiles! Right?? We wandered into this little pond area, thinking it’d be a nice background for some shots, and found ourselves right in the middle of thousands of crocodiles. Seriously. I think we may have put pictures up of these crocs before, but here’s another one just to drive the point home.

crocodile, vietnam

Scary. Like, I was honestly really scared. But we survived! And came out of there with pictures coming out of our eyeballs. There are still so many more to go through, but I hope you guys enjoyed seeing these and getting to peek at what a traditional Vietnamese wedding outfit looks like!

Category: Adventures

Tags: Ho Chi Minh City, photography, vietnam, weddings

Photos from Vietnam and Thailand Sunday
Hoi An, Vietnam - Bangkok, Thailand - Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Hey everyone!

Well, we haven’t gotten a good blog post up in a long time, so I bet you’re craving some pictures and some videos! Especially all of our friends and family back home in Edmonton who are enduring temperatures of -50 degrees Celsuis right now. I can’t imagine you guys are going outside, so here are some photos and videos, dedicated to you! I hope they help you try and think of warmer places!

I’m going to keep the chatter to a minimum here since there are really a ton of photos and videos to get through!

We’ll start with our last day in Vietnam, which was spent in Hoi An. First we have a rooster that we came across. I absolutely love how he is the one splash of colour in this shot.

rooster, vietnam

And before we left we had to go back and visit our good friend Chompsky. Here we are having a good last snuggle.

puppy, vietnam

We made our way to the Central Market in Old Town, which provided some fantastic photo ops

central market, vietnam

And some nice light as we were walking home

street life, vietnam

We got up incredibly early (4AM) to go to the My Son (pronounced Mee Son) ruins just outside of Hoi An. They were built by the ancient Cham people, and were Hindu temples, which was surprising and also very cool. In the end we were very glad that we got there so early, since we didn’t have to try and work around hundreds of visitors to get some great shots.

my son, vietnam

my son, vietnam

And then we were out of Vietnam. We had originally planned to visit the North, but in the end chose to cut it out of our itinerary. We ended up spending 10 hours in the  Hanoi airport, and saw that the weather looked absolutely dreadful. We actually wore a couple of the winter coats we had made for us, as well as scarves, because it was so cold! So we were happy with our choice for sure!

When we got to Bangkok we headed straight for the Khao San Road. I would say that it could be considered the center of the backpacker universe. In the morning after a good nights sleep we were up and exploring. We had some absolutely amazing Phad Thai from a street vendor



Breakfast of Champions: Street food, Red Bull, and Coke…mmmmm

street food, thailand

There were some really cute kittens at our hotel

kittens, bangkok

And here’s the Khao San Road at night. It’s really a crazy assault on the senses!

khao san road, bangkok

They have these things here in Thailand that they call “buckets”. It is essentially a small plastic bucket that they fill with alcohol. The “traditional” mixture is cheap Thai whiskey, Red Bull, and Coke. It’s potent, to say the least!

buckets, bangkok

And while on the Khao San pretty much anything can happen. As we were sitting there this women came up and just plunked this weird hat on my head. Clearly I was a bit surprised!

khao san road, bangkok

And then we made our way to Ko Phi Phi, nothing less than an island paradise.

ko phi phi, thailand

Our first night there we wandered around and came across a wicked fire dancer show

fire dancers, thailand

They make just amazing patterns

fire dancers, thailand

Here are a couple of videos that will hopefully give you a better idea of the madness of these dudes than pictures can. In this first one if you just saw the end, you would definitely think it was on fast forward. But no, he’s really just that fast.



And then the finale consisted of about 6 of these guys just going at it. It was way too cool.

fire dancers, thailand



Then the next morning we went snorkeling. Now in Vietnam the snorkeling we did blew our minds, and we were hoping that Thailand would measure up. I’ll tell you right now that it completely blew all of our expectations right out of the water!



This was the sight we saw when we first jumped in to the nearly bathwater warm water



The visibility was incredible, you could see way deep down beneath you!



The variety of sea life we saw this time around was mind blowing. Check our this enormous eel we came across



This is a giant clam, and you could see it opening and closing if you watched for long enough

giant clam, thailand

A sea cucumber

sea cucumber, thailand

A rather scary looking sea urchin (I think the thing in the center is it’s eye…..creepy!)

sea urchin, thailand

And perhaps one of the coolest things was seeing these clown fish (think of Finding Nemo!).

clownfish, thailand

They were hiding in the sea anemone and if you wiggled your finger they would dart in and hide, then pop back out, ready to play some more!



Other strange creatures? No, just us! I’ll tell you, it’s rather hard to smile while wearing a snorkel!

snorkelers, thailand

Our snorkel tour even took us to Maya Bay, which was where the movie “The Beach” was filmed. Back when Rob was here 4 years ago he had the whole place to himself. Unfortunately we had to share with 100 other people. But we still really enjoyed the white, soft sand and the clear blue waters. Here’s a shot of one of the long boats inside of the bay.

maya bay, the beach, thailand

Then on the way home we saw an incredible sunset. Here’s a shot of Ko Phi Phi Ley in the gorgeous evening light (which is the island that is home to Maya Bay, we stayed on Ko Phi Phi Don, a short boat trip away).

ko phi phi, thailand

And one of that sunset (straight out of camera, no Photoshop to this one. The colours were really spectacular)

sunset, thailand

And to finish up our time on this island we headed off to a local bar to watch a bit of Thai Boxing. It was definitely intense!

thai boxing, thailand

thai boxing, thailand

thai boxing, thailand

Ouch!

thai boxing, thailand

So you might wonder why we only spent a couple days on such a gorgeous island? Well, I shall tell you. First off, Ko Phi Phi is actually really expensive now! We were paying roughly $100 dollars a night for our room, and it was not as nice as I was expecting! It was really quite standard. And we were lucky to even find it, everything on the island was practically fully booked! So with our traveler’s budgets there was no way we could afford to stay there very long.

Secondly, Ko Phi Phi has become something of a Cancun of South East Asia. The number of young, tanned beach beauties around was astounding and they were all there to just party and lie on the sand. As we were wading in Maya Bay, easily one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, I overhead a girl say “This is fantastic. But if only it had a bar!” Can you believe that?? The chilled out travelers vibe is totally gone, and the place is just packed. Not exactly what you want for a place to relax, since it’s tough to even walk down the street without having to push through crowds! Not exactly our scene.

That being said, we honestly thoroughly enjoyed our time on the island. We had some incredible food (easily the best sushi we’ve ever had) and indulged in a Thai massage. We don’t have any pictures of that, since we were too busy getting massaged, but it’s so very different from a typical Swedish massage! It involved a lot of pushing and pulling on your limbs, and has been described as “passive Yoga”. It sounds very strange, but I assure you it was fantastic!

So that’s the scoop with us. Right now we’re in Krabi and are very happy to have found a simple room for $10 a night. We’ll be spending a bit of time here catching up on our work, and then preparing to arrive in India. So get ready for that, and we’ll talk to you all soon!

Think warm thoughts ☺

Lauren

Category: Adventures

Tags: bangkok, clown fish, coral, eel, food, hoi an, khao san road, ko phi phi, landscape, longtail boat, my son, ocean, photography, snorkeling, street life, sunset, thailand, the beach, travel, tropical fish, vietnam, wildlife

Puppies of Vietnam Sunday
Hoi An, Vietnam

One thing that we have thoroughly enjoyed about Vietnam is the abundance of puppies. And no, these aren't the type that get eaten. They are the pets of the people who live here. But the great thing is that these puppies are given completely free reign to run about as they see fit. It makes for a wonderful walk down the street visiting all the familiar puppies. It's really quite funny, since these puppies don't have any fancy Purina Chow, they don't get the same nutrients as Western puppies, and are all quite short! We haven't seen a "large" dog the whole time we've been here. What we have seen are what look to be normal sized dogs, with really tiny legs. They are beyond cute. So during our photo outing the other day I took it upon myself to take pictures of all the puppies I came across, and thought I'd share a few with you!

puppies, vietnam

Hope you enjoy! We're off to Bangkok, Thailand tomorrow, and are looking forward to some warmer weather!

 

Cheers,

Lauren 

Category: Adventures

Tags: dogs, hoi an, street life, travel, vietnam, wildlife

A Taste of Hoi An Saturday
Hoi An, Vietnam

So it’s time we gave you a little taste of Hoi An: City of Dreams….Well, City of Dreams to those who dream about fashion. This town is THE place to go if you want some clothes tailored in Vietnam. You are more than welcome to saunter into a store with a copy of Vogue in your hands, and they will do all they can to make your fabric fantasies come to life. I’ll tell you right now, it’s been incredibly hard not to pick up 15 different coats, as every day I see another one that I love. I’ll be walking away with 3, the same as Rob. Add to that a few pairs of pants each, probably 10 tops for me, 8 for Rob, a suit for him, shoes tailored to our specific size…the list goes on, as do the Visa bills. But you can see that this place is heaven if you’re coming for clothes. And that’s why we came here: just for clothes. That’s all we knew about this little town. But I’ll tell you right now that we were incredibly surprised at what a picturesque and beautiful place this is. Yesterday we had a few hours to kill between appointments at different tailors, so we packed all of our camera gear into a couple bags, and took off to “shoot the hell out of this town” as Rob put it.

And it was such a fantastic (and extremely tiring) afternoon. This is what we came up with.

A shot, not of Hoi An, but cool all the same. This was the light switch in our compartment on the train we took here from Nha Trang. To this day we aren’t entirely sure what the button on the far right is for, and I’m not really wanting to find out….Ignorance is bliss in this situation, especially since we will be taking more trains!

scorpion button, vietnam

And now for some from Hoi An. A very typical scene here is the young kids riding down the streets on their bikes. And they usually ride two to a bike, as you’ll see here!

bicycle riding, vietnam

One of the main streets here is Tran Phu. Look at how fantastic the post is that holds the sign. I wish things back home had even half that much character.

street sign, vietnam

As we made our way to the river I saw this guy rowing his little boat along. I did practically yank the camera with our big zoom lens on it from Rob’s hands to get the shot, but in the end I don’t think he minded too much ☺

man on boat, vietnam

One of the most enchanting parts of Hoi An is the Old Town section of the city. We’ve spent most of our time here since our hotel is right beside it. It’s an area that is now a Unesco World Heritage Site, and is regulated in order to maintain and preserve the buildings. If you can block out the other tourists with cameras in hand, and the stalls selling Coca-Cola and cigarettes, and just get lost in the buildings around you, you can almost feel like you’ve been transported back in time. This Japanese covered bridge is one of the main attractions, and is certainly a very interesting site. If you saw the picture of the lantern from the last post, that was taken inside the bridge.

japanese covered bridge, vietnam

A stunning view across the river

hoi an, vietnam

Some gongs for sale

gongs, vietnam

Really, am I crazy for wishing that Edmonton looked more like this place??? I certainly don’t think so, it’s just fantastic.

old building, vietnam

An alleyway

alleyway, vietnam

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but here in Vietnam they stick little bundles of incense all over the place (in pop cans on the street, in tree branches, in cracks in the pavement) and it burns frequently throughout the day. It’s such a comforting and warm smell, and I just love walking past the little bunches.

incense, vietnam

A simple stroll down the street is sure to turn up some wonderful sights, including this little lily pad

lilypad, vietnam

And this gorgeous flower beside it

flower, vietnam

What a quiet street looks like in Old Town

street scene, old town hoi an, vietnam

Vespas all over the place. I desperately wish it was practical to have one back home…but I don’t see it doing so well competing with the huge trucks along the freeway at 80 km/h

vespa, vietnam

Some boys just out for a ride

bicycle riding, vietnam

They young guy was doing some incredibly intricate carving at a shop.

wood carving, vietnam

Then we walked along the river to take a peek at the fishing boats

fishing boats, vietnam

I just love all the colours of them

fishing boats, vietnam

bicycle, vietnam

And now it’s time for you to meet Chompsky! One thing that I was doing as we walked was “collecting” photos of dogs (I’ll be posting that up soon!). We were walking past a square when I saw this ridiculously cute dog just standing there, so I stopped us and went over to get a shot. Little did I know that this would turn into a 20 minute stop-over as we played with him! Here he is playing around between my feet.

puppy, vietnam

And a shot of Rob as he was trying to help Chompsky catch his tail

puppy, vietnam

Lowepro Camera Bags: Puppy tested, puppy approved.

puppy with camera bag, vietnam

Don’t you just want to snuggle him all day??

puppy, vietnam

As we were watching him a group of three young girls came up and started playing with him. I took some shots of them goofing around with Chompsky, and eventually they wanted to check the photos out.

young girls, vietnam

Now, why is his name Chompsky? Because he’s a very young puppy, still teething, and really likes to chew on your hands, and maybe even your feet! He loved chasing after the girls feet as they danced around keeping away from him.

girls with dog, vietnam

girls with dog, vietnam

Even this old man was enjoying the scene as everyone played with the puppy. Don’t you just adore his expression? So happy and peaceful.

old man, vietnam 

The girls playing, and Chompsky chomping

girls playing with dog, vietnam 

All in all it was such a great little experience playing around with the puppy, and we even went back today and hung out with him for a bit. But, like the careful travelers we are, once we left we made sure to wash off our hands, so don’t worry that we’re going to get sick.

Then as we continued our walk we came across this lovely little scene

bicycle, vietnam 

And then walked past the tailor where we got the majority of our clothes made. We had to take a shot and post it up here so that anyone planning on making their way here after hearing us rave about the clothes would know where to go! There are two Thuong shops, and this one (#16) was our favorite. They were super nice, and always waved to us as we walked by, which was really cute. And the clothes they made for us turned out great, so check them out for sure.

tailor, vietnam 

And a couple more from the rest of our walk. Here’s a fruit stand. These are all along the road and it’s so great to see them walking around pushing them down the street!

fruit stand, vietnam 

Now with all those scooters we’ve been showing you, you must wonder where they get the gas from. This here is one of the more fancy gas stations. It’s really a cylinder of gas with a plastic tube to pour it out into the scooter. We’ve even seen plastic water bottles filled with gas that they just set out close to the road in case someone needs to ride up and fill up. Yes, there are the big Shell stations, but they are few and far between, so this is a fantastically smart way of solving that problem!

gas station, vietnam 

So I know that was a ton of pictures, but I’ll tell you right now that we could have put up so many more. This town is just brimming with character and charm, and we couldn’t help but be swept away by it all. I hope you enjoyed it. It’s sadly the last stop in our traveling in Vietnam, but I think it was the perfect way to end it all. We will be checking out some local temple ruins tomorrow, and doing a bit of a photo excursion (hopefully the weather will cooperate with us for that!) and then we’re heading to Thailand for a week and half. Vietnam was fantastic to us, and will certainly remain in our memories for a long time. I really intend to write up some reviews of all the towns we visited here, so that those who saw what we did, and think this might be a cool place to travel to will know what the deal is!

But for now we’re heading out for dinner so I’ll leave it here.

Lauren ☺

P.S. Did anyone catch the two semi-finals of the Australian Open???? We were completely in shock! Two huge upsets back-to-back, incredible! We’re rooting for Tsonga now, and I hope he gives a similar performance in the final!

Category: Adventures

Tags: dogs, flowers, food, hoi an, incense, japanese covered bridge, landscape, photography, street life, tailor, travel, vietnam

A Teaser from Hoi An Saturday
Hoi An, Vietnam

Hey all!

 

So we know we haven't posted any photos in a long time. Bad bad us! But we finally got all of our tailoring finished yesterday and we're so glad to have it all finished. It was a ton of work! But we'll let you know all about that later today and just leave you with one teaser for now (our breakfast is about to come!)

 

One that Rob played a bunch with last night, and looks supremely cool:

 

chinese lantern, vietnam 

Talk more soon!

 

Lauren :) 

Category: Adventures

Tags: chinese lantern, hoi an, photography, travel, vietnam

Our Gear Wednesday
Hoi An, Vietnam

Hey everyone!

 

Right now we're in Hoi An, which is a small town in central Vietnam. The main reason to come here is to get clothes tailored. There are about 500 tailors in this small town, honestly you can't look around you without seeing one! This is really why we decided to come to Vietnam, to get ourselves some sweet new threads, and so we've been really busy running around and getting a ton of clothes made! So not too much in the way of pictures right now, but what I've done is put together a quick little video that shows you what kind of gear we're using, and how we lug it around with us.

 

 

I also wanted to mention that we carry around 50GB of memory cards with us, as well as a little Wacom tablet, which makes editing our photos on the laptop waaaaaaay easier.

 

Our travel plans have changed a bit and we're planning to head to Thailand next week. After that, in the second week of February, we finally make our way to India, the place that this whole trip was planned around. And once we get there we will change gears and start to really focus on people photography, rather than having a bit of a holiday, which is what we're doing right now. I hope you all are really excited for that, because we certainly are!

 

Cheers,

Rob (who is quickly becoming addicted to tailored clothes....they just fit so well!) 

 

P.S. I've been toying with the idea of putting up lens and camera data (exposure, aperture, etc.) info for all the pictures we put up here, but that will take a fair bit of work. Let me know in the comments section if there are some of you out there who think this would be usefull for them and then I'll do it up. And make sure to let me know if you are curious about any of the photos here, and the processing we do to them, and we'll do our best to explain!

Category: Photography Tips

Tags: photography, travel, vietnam

Not All Fun And Games Monday
Nha Trang, Vietnam

So we're still nursing those sunburns, which are really quite painful. We had an easy morning and watched some of the Australian Open (tennis, for those not in the know). It seems whenever we travel there's a Grand Slam tournament on. When we traveled Europe we were able to catch Wimbledon. It's such a fantastic sport to watch. But I'm way off topic here :)

 

Anyway, after a morning in, we made our way to the train station to pick up some train tickets to Danang tomorrow. We managed that with relatively little trouble.

 

Not wanting to spend too much time out in the sun today, we thought we'd check out the mineral mud baths here in Nha Trang. It was really quite enjoyable, sitting in a big tub of mud, although getting into it was extremely painful with our poor burned legs.

 

After 20 minutes in the mud you did some sunbathing (don't worry, we stayed entirely in the shade), rinsed off all the mud, then soaked in a mineral bath for half an hour. It was a nice and relaxing afternoon, although I'm not sure if it didn't anything for our burns. That remains to be seen!

 

But we were definitely pretty sore and ready to just take it easy in our hotel room, get a bit of work done, watch some tennis, you know. I guess that peace and quiet we were looking for was not meant to be....

 

 Yes, karaoke. Very very loud, and very very terrible karaoke. It was some restaurant a little ways away, so you can just imagine how loud that speaker was. I don't know what it is about blaring volume that makes people think they are fantastic singers. Anyway, this went on for a few hours as we attempted to ignore it and work, but eventually we gave up, plugged our noise isolating ear buds in and watched a movie.

 I feel sorry for those in the restaurant who didn't have that option...

Category: Adventures

Tags: karaoke, mud bath, nha trang, travel, vietnam

An Underwater Adventure Monday
Nha Trang, Vietnam

So when I say "Vietnam" what do you think of?

 

 

Tropical paradise right?

 

No? That's not what you thought of? Oh! Well then you're in for a surprise, because on the coast of Vietnam you will find a totally amazing tropical getaway. White sandy beaches, huge waves, coconut trees. The works.

 

And with that comes some pretty cool scuba diving and snorkeling in the South China Sea.

 

Yes! It's true!

 

Now Rob is a certified scuba diver, but I have asthma, which is pretty much a no-go when it comes to that. So we decided we'd go snorkeling. It was my first time, and I was completely blown away. Like, my mind was blown. I couldn't believe that just swimming along the surface I was going to see tons of fish and coral. It was amazing. And we got a really awesome video of it all, so here you go!

 

That sound you hear while we're underwater is the sound of the fishes eating up the coral. The visibility wasn't fantastic, since we're here right at the end of the rainy season, but as you can see we still saw a lot and were really happy about it.

 

And our souvenir? Some really really bad sunburns :( We're definitely in a bit of pain today, and slathering on the aloe and whatnot, and hopefully we'll recover soon. But of course, we still think it was totally worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Category: Adventures

Tags: coral, nha trang, snorkeling, south china sea, travel, tropical fish, vietnam, wildlife

A Long Overdue Introduction Sunday
Nha Trang, Vietnam

So this is pretty long overdue, but we wanted to film a short little clip to introduce you guys to the site, and what we're hoping to with all of this. I'll let the video do the talking!

 

 So there you have it! The Wedding Travelers in a nutshell. Make sure to try and leave some comments on the videos, we're always so excited when we see a new comment! And as always, if you have any questions ask away and we'll do our best to answer!

And for the record, that's the South China Sea behind us. Killer.

Cheers,

Rob & Lauren 

Category: Adventures

Tags: nha trang, south china sea, travel, vietnam

The Road to Dalat Is A Bumpy One... Friday
Ho Chi Minh City, Dalat and Nha Trang, Vietnam

And the way there is fraught with many perils. And is also stinky. Very stinky. But let’s start at the beginning shall we?

As you saw in our last post we spent one of our last days in Ho Chi Minh City at the Cu Chi tunnels. Here’s a video from that experience that you might enjoy.



And finally the time had come for us to say goodbye to Ho Chi Minh City. On our last night in the city our friend Kevin and his dad drove to our hotel and picked us up on their scooters. They took us on a ride so we could get the experience of a scooter journey in HCMC. It was definitely a thrill, but strange things were going down that night. We saw a really, incredibly drunk pair of Vietnamese guys topple their scooter over, fall to the ground with no helmets on, then hop back up and drive off. And while we were enjoying some sugar cane juice with Kevin and Cherie we saw a street brawl between two other Vietnamese guys (I can only assume they were drunk, as that seems to be an important component of such an event). Weird, weird stuff. But at no point did we feel unsafe, so you don’t need to worry about this being a rough town! Here’s a little video Rob took as we were jetting along on our scooters.



And finally the event we had been waiting in Ho Chi Minh City for so long for….the arrival of our Indian visas! We made our way to the consulate early in the morning, had the customary wait that is required when you are doing anything official, and BAM! Two passports complete with visas in hand, and we were ready to hit the road.

And this is where things got interesting.

Days earlier we had found a transit company that offered buses to our next destination, Dalat. With the help of our translator, Kevin, we found out where to go and when to catch the bus. They even gave us a little pamphlet that showed us the times and location to get the bus. However, this pamphlet was entirely in Vietnamese. Not one word in English. This should have been our first clue….

But of course we went along our merry way, caught a taxi, and they dropped us off at this bus station. We were expecting to see a ton of huge tour buses, but in fact it was a small, little place, with rows of chairs, and no buses to be seen. That’s okay, thought we. We marched inside, and Rob set out to get us a couple of tickets. As I’m sitting with the bags I notice that it’s taking him an incredibly long time to just pick up a couple of tickets. I also look around and see only Vietnamese people. Not a single tourist in sight. Hmm….

Rob comes back and says that it seems like we’re on a bus at 2:00PM (it was around 12:00PM now and we were hoping to leave at 1:00PM) and it was a 16-seater bus (we were wanting a big 45-seater). But apparently the girls at the counter didn’t speak a lick of English and Rob had a tough time getting what we wanted across to them. He went back to try to figure it all out, and one of the staff members came up to me and basically made it clear that it was our turn to go. I was quite puzzled, since it was only around noon, and apparently we weren’t leaving until 2:00PM. I waved Rob back over, and we grabbed our bags and were loaded into a little van. I honestly had no clue whether this was to be our transport to Dalat. The seats were old and worn, and our driver swerved in and out of traffic like a slalom skier. Little did I know that after finding out how we were actually going to be traveling, I would have happily chosen the little van over it!

So we bump along in our transport, with no clue where we are off to. And when we finally got there, we really wish we hadn’t. There may as well have been sign that said “Welcome to the Urinal Depot”, because that’s what we’ll forever remember it as. It reeked. Badly. Like urine. Just in case you didn’t get that from the “Urinal” part.

Add to that the smell of about 100 buses coughing fumes, and you can see why we weren’t too pleased to be there. We get out of the van, grab our bags, and stand helplessly amidst the buses. Thankfully our driver sensed our confusion, and said a bunch of things in Vietnamese, then led us to the café.

In case you’ve never been to Vietnam, a café can very easily consist of some tiny plastic chairs (think of the ones designed as lawn chairs for children), tiny plastic tables, and some umbrellas. Out in the middle of the pavement.

He motions for us to sit down. I do so with little problem. Rob, who is very much not of  normal Vietnamese stature, sits down in his chair, then laughs, and stands back up to demonstrate the fact that the chair sticks to his bottom, because it is so desperately small for him.

We whip out our books and begin to pass the time by reading. And also by inhaling the fumes of the running van a meter behind us. This is Ho Chi Minh City, and it is sweltering, so we weren’t too pleased to be blasted with hot, stinky air. We weren’t too pleased with anything at this point. But this is what traveling can be like, and we’ve had a very similar experience waiting for a ferry in Greece, so we just sit and read and hope that whenever we’re supposed to get on our bus someone will tell us.

Well, eventually someone finds us and motions for us to follow him. We go through the motions of putting our books away, getting our bags ready, stand up, and….Where did he go? We peer around, start to slowly walk through the vans, and generally look like some lost, baby deer. Then he suddenly appears again, and waves to us to follow him. So we start walking through the buses again, and have to take a little detour because the bag won’t fit between two of them. By the time we get out into an opening where we was standing but moments before, he has once again disappeared.

I’m starting to feel like Alice chasing the white rabbit.

We wander again, many Vietnamese men motion at varying buses and at us and seem to have very important things to tell us, but it’s all in Vietnamese, and our grasp of the language doesn’t extend beyond pho bo (beef soup) and sinh to (fruit shake). And they were using neither of those phrases, so we were out of luck.

We stand for a while, then suddenly he pops up out of nowhere and motions us towards a small little bus that here is known as a 16-seater.

Please note that this means 16 Vietnamese people, traveling in Vietnamese style (i.e. crammed in like sardines).

At least the sign on the front says Dalat. We’re getting somewhere.

We bring our bags around back to put them away. Two of them get in there alright, but our large camera bag doesn’t look like it is going to fit, and we’d rather not watch him slam the door on it, as we’re sure it would be accompanied by the crashing both of our cameras and our dreams, so Rob holds on to it. We walk around to the door, and it opens to reveal…


A damn tiny bus.


And luckily for us, our seats are in the very back, crammed with two other people in our row. Wait, make that three other people, because the woman was holding her young son on her lap. We literally barely even fit in our seats, and had three bags between the two of us to hold. The leg room was so scarce that neither of us could sit with our knees straight forward, as they would bump into the seat in front of us. And we needed to contort our limbs into pretzels in order to actually fit in some way that didn’t involve Rob’s elbow in my ribs, or my kneecap in his thigh.

I sat there and knew that this was going to be a very very long ride.

And it was. It was about seven hours to get to Dalat, including a pit stop where I had my first encounter with a squat toilet (not as fun as you’d think), and we watched kittens playing (way more fun than you’d think). We both attempted to sleep, though that definitely didn’t happen.

And we became intimately aware of the poor condition of the roads in Vietnam, as we bumped along, and upon many occasions became completely airborne, sometimes by about a foot.

We said a silent thank you to Steve Jobs, and those awesome folk at Apple for inventing the iPhone, as we spent the last two hours of the ride watching The Matrix, which helped time pass better than counting black shapes in the darkness. Did I mention that twilight here lasts about 30 seconds? One moment I’m reading my book, and by the time I’ve flipped the page it’s pitch black and I’m SOL.

As we got closer to the ETA that we calculated when we left HCMC (I’m in an acronym mood right now, it appears) the bus started pulling over, and people started getting out. At very very random places in the middle of seemingly nowhere, without saying a word to the driver. At least I don’t think they said anything…It was incredibly strange, and we were starting to wonder how we were to know that we were supposed to get off.

Well, the way to know when you’ve arrived at your final destination in Vietnam is precisely when the driver hops out and throws your stuff onto the street.

He jets off and leaves us there around 9:00PM in a bus station, which we desperately hope is in Dalat. The only other person we immediately see is a very intrepid motorcycle driver who wants to take us into town. This tiny man on his tiny bike wants to take me, Rob, and our 6 larges bags into town. We chuckle at his optimism and tell him “No, we need a taxi”. “No more taxi” he tells us. Did I mention it was raining?

So we start to walking towards a building with lights on, in hopes of figuring out what to do next when a little green van driving by stops, and some Vietnamese guys inside yell at us “Where are you going?”. “Hotel”, we reply. “Yes, get in”.

They may as well have said “Yes get in and I’ll tell you all about how you just won the lottery”, for as good as it sounded to us at the moment.

So we pile into the van, and pick a hotel from the Lonely Planet and say we want to go there. They convey this to the driver, and off we go. Before they get out they let us know that we don’t have to pay for this ride, it’s complimentary from our bus company. People here can be genuinely, incredibly nice, and we were very glad to have met some of them.

Then we met the other taxi driver.

After the local guys had piled out, and it was just the two of us foreigners left (read: easy marks) another taxi driver came up to the window and told us about a very nice hotel room for very cheap. “No thanks, we want to go here”.

”No, it’s closed”

“It’s not closed”

“Yes, it’s closed. I have a very nice room for very cheap.”

“No, we want to go here.”

“It’s closed”

“No, it’s not closed”

“You say it’s not closed. Okaaaayyyyyyyy” Like he thought we were crazy.


It wasn’t closed.

Duh.

Remember that if you’re ever traveling. As I hear it, it can be pretty bad in India. Just stick to your guns, and if you get there and it really is closed, you can still find somewhere else.

So, it wasn’t closed. We were proven right. But it was, in fact, full for the night.

Did I mention it was raining?

And though that could have been a wee little disaster right there, luckily in Vietnam you can’t spit and miss a hotel (or however that saying is meant to go) so a two minute walk down the street brought us to a two star hotel (they were very proud of that fact) for $20/night that only smelled mildly of sewage, and so we took it.

And that was our journey to Dalat.

Since it was pitch black there when we arrived we had no idea what to expect. When we checked in to the hotel they asked if we wanted to partake in the breakfast buffet. “Sure!” we said. (Mistake).

The girl at the desk happily informs us that she can give us a wake-up call at 7:30AM so we can get breakfast. Our happy faces turn into sad faces. But we figured we’d wake up, sleepily walk downstairs, have breakfast and walk back upstairs back into bed.

So 7:30AM rolls around and we are woken up by knocking at the door. Apparently our line was busy so she came to the room (in all fairness, the staff there were super awesome, and totally helped us out a lot while we were there!). We trudge downstairs, expecting to see a restaurant somewhere full of people. We saw nothing of the sort. With confused looks, we go to her, and she tells us that the restaurant is actually 100m down the street. So we take off, walk quite a ways down the street, see absolutely nothing, so we walk back. One of the security guys springs to action when we say that we can’t find it, and says he’ll take us on his scooter. So he and another guy rev up their engines, and take us right back the way we just walked. Only difference, they went about 10m further around a corner, and there it was.

So we’re finally here, we figure we might as well enjoy it. We burst through the doors expecting to be welcomed with the smell of waffles and eggs. And instead the smells of noodles, fried rice, dumplings and “fish gruel” (as Rob describes it) meet our nostrils. Mmmm, breakfast of champions.


But we eat, get back to the hotel, and arrange to rent a scooter for the day. About 10 mintues later a very friendly guy who says he loves the snow but has never seen it (that’s why he loves it, he doesn’t know how freakin’ cold it is)  shows up and gives us a scooter for the day.

Scooter rental: 100,000 Dong (around $6)
Filling it up with gas: 50,000 Dong (around $3)
Total freedom: Priceless

We found a map, brought along our handy Lonely Plant, and took off down the road. Some of our best memories of our trip to Europe involved jetting around the Greek Islands on a scooter, and we were very glad to be doing it again. And we sure got our monies worth with some breathtaking scenery. Let’s get to some visuals shall we?

Our first stop was a cable car that promised breathtaking views of the area. I think it came through.



The cable car took us to this little area with some pagodas and whatnot. We just wandered around, avoiding the legions of small schoolchildren who were visiting that day. One thing you don’t see at home, bamboo growing all over the place!

bamboo, vietnam

We followed a path that took us down to the water. The skies were just fantastic, sometimes a clear blue sky isn’t always the best.

boats on the water, vietnam

The ubiquitous motorcycle, everywhere you go.

motorcycle, vietnam

The steps leading back up

stone steps, vietnam

And after we made our way back across the cable car we stopped for a little snack. These have become our favorite treats, and it’s funny because we’ve actually had them back at home in Edmonton, from the local Asian grocery store. They are ice cream bars that taste just like honeydew melons. Rob bought two and had both of them finished before I had finished my one…. I have sensitive teeth….

honeydew melon ice cream, vietnam


The entrance to the cable car had some really interesting trees and Rob grabbed this awesome shot of one of them.

tree, vietnam

The view of the city from where we caught the cable car.
dalat, vietnam

Then it was back on the scooter, a quick look at the map, and off we went again. This time we were heading a bit further out of town, but we were up for the adventure. The Lonely Planet had mentioned that you would be taking a dirt road. What they should have called it was “the crappiest road you’ve ever encountered”. There were two tiny paths on the very shoulders of the road where people tried to avoid all the bumps. Didn’t work that well. Every jolt sent a shockwave of pain into my brain. It definitely wasn’t too fun. But that’s the price you pay for independence ☺

And I would say the views we got were worth the pain. Here’s a little video of some of the scenery.



Finally we made our way to our destination: Tiger Falls. And because we made our own way out there, we were the only tourists in the whole place, so we were able to enjoy the scenery all alone, without any kids tearing around, or people screaming in 20 different languages, and the tour guide herding you back to the bus before you are ready. Just peace and quiet and a ton of water.

tiger falls, vietnam

I sat and read the guidebook while Rob took some shots

tiger falls, vietnam

He took some really really amazing shots.

tiger falls, vietnam

Then when we were hiking back up we had the option to go left, the way we came, or right, a brand new way. Naturally, we went right. And came across the bridge that crossed over the falls. It certainly wasn’t like any bridge you’d encounter in Canada.

wooden bridge, vietnam

It was a bit scary

wooden bridge, vietnam

And we had to walk very cautiously

wooden bridge, vietnam

But it was definitely fun. Here’s a little video just to get you even more scared



And then it was back home. Here’s our trusty stallion, our scooter

scooter, vietnam

And a sign that we saw as we were driving along. Apparently the Vietnamese don’t care for the sound of trumpets. Who knew?

no trumpets, vietnam

And a final shot, as we were driving around looking for some place to eat dinner. One of the strange features of Dalat is a radio tower shaped like the Eiffel Tower. I had to get a shot of it, because who would really believe that this was here, in the middle of Vietnam? But it is, and it was really funny to drive through the streets with this huge thing looming in front of you.

eiffel tower, vietnam

And that about sums up Dalat! We left the next morning, bright and early. A mini-bus picked us up from our hotel at 7:15AM and we were just praying that we weren’t in for a repeat of our last journey. When we pulled up beside a big huge tour bus, and saw lots of white people standing around, we knew we were safe. 7 hours later, and we find ourselves in Nah Trang, a beach town. We’re in a room that costs $15/night, has WIFI, and we can see the ocean from our room.

And it smells nothing at all like sewage. We’re very happy.

Category: Adventures

Tags: bus trip, cu chi tunnels, dalat, eiffel tower, Ho Chi Minh City, landscape, Motorcycle, rain, tiger falls, Traffic, travel, vietnam

Welcome to HCMC! Friday
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Well, well, well here we are! Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Formerly known as Saigon. And honestly an insanely cool place to go. Like I mentioned before, neither of us really knew what to expect from Vietnam, but I’ve gotta say that I’m so glad we made our way here! Within moments of driving through the streets on our way to the hotel we got a sense of the charm and character of this place. The photos will really tell you more than I can with words, so lets get started!

Our airplane from Singapore to Vietnam.

tiger airways

A shot from the balcony in our hotel room of the typical street scene

street life in vietnam

Many of the women here actually wear the conical hats that you see in movies. It adds such a dimension of authenticity, it’s fantastic. They all ride around carrying whatever it is they sell. I believe this woman was selling strawberries.

street woman with strawberries, vietnam

The street that our hotel is on. Sure it looks crowded and crazy, but it’s so simple and real at the same time.

street scene, vietnam

So when I ordered a coconut juice at a local café I definitely wasn’t expecting this! To be honest I wasn’t a huge fan, but it sure looked cool.

coconut juice, vietnam

There are street side markets all over the place, and our hotel room is a short walk to Ben Thanh, one of the big ones. Here are some of the fruits they are selling. I really don’t know what they are! But they look interesting ☺

fruit at a market, vietnam

The Ben Thanh market caters not only to tourists, but also the locals to come here to buy their meat and produce. We were quite shocked to find that all of this seafood is actually still alive!

seafood at a market, vietnam

The market is crammed with hundreds of booths selling everything from shoes, to handbags, souvenirs, dried shrimp, coffee, tea…you name it! Most of the booths look like this, completely packed!
market booth, vietnam

We’ve grabbed a couple meals at the market. This fried rice surely had some sort of addictive substance in it, because there was just no way to stop eating it.

fried rice, vietnam

And of course when in Vietnam you have to have a bowl of pho. It’s pretty much the staple here, and is eaten at any time of day. It’s a simple soup, with rice noodles, onions, and meat. But it’s just incredibly good, and we enjoy it immensely.

pho, vietnam

Here’s Rob getting right into it!

pho, vietnam

A shot from our seats where we were eating. This was all the meat for the dishes that they were preparing.
market meat, vietnam

And a very typical street scene. The women carry so much on their shoulders, I can’t even believe it. And they always, always do it with a smile.

woman carrying goods, vietnam

A shot from our walk home. The walls here all have the most incredible texture and character to them, Rob is loving getting shots of it all.

bicycle, vietnam

And this is what the roads look like. As you saw in the videos below, crossing the street is a bit of a gongshow. There are an insane number of scooters here, like they comprise 90% of the vehicles on the road. And from the outside the traffic looks like complete chaos. But somehow they manage to get by with out ever colliding. Honestly, there have been times when we were in a cab where we simply couldn’t believe that we would get through it all, but somehow the scooters magically part and you just sneak on through. It’s beyond impressive. If only Edmonton drivers were this good ;)

scooters, vietnam

All the drivers on their scooters wear face masks because the pollution here is so bad. We literally have not seen the sun yet!

scooter masks, vietnam

At all the intersections the power lines look like this. It’s beyond nuts! Our power was out yesterday, and I think they just routinely shut down different parts of the city. All the restaurants and shops had generators out on the sidewalk so that they could keep business going.

wires, vietnam

So as you can see this place is really incredible. There’s such a different feel to it than Singapore. Yes, here you are constantly berated with calls of “What you looking for, madame?” and “Let me help you, madame!”. I definitely get it worse since I’m so obviously white, and Rob’s just an enigma to everyone. I think people who have trouble with personal space might have a hard time here, as I’ve been gently grabbed on the shoulder quite a few times by over-eager shop keepers, but I’ve learned to just keep going, and stay chilled.

Same thing with the street crossing. It may have looked incredibly scary on the video, but after doing it once you really get the hang of it.

For any of you planning on visiting Ho Chi Minh City in the future, and are worried about the crossings, I’ll give you the scoop. All you need to do is understand how it works, and it’s easy as pie.

First, you check the road, and which way the traffic is flowing, and at what point it changes direction (for when you are crossing traffic going in both ways) so you know when to switch and start looking the other way. Do not step out if a bus is just about to come your way. They have the rule of the road, and don’t really stop for anyone. You stop for them.

Then you slowly step out into the road. Yes, there will be scooters careening at you from every which way. But the key to is to walk slowly. That way they know where you are going, so they can swerve around. Don’t start to run, that would pretty much be the worst thing you could do! Just walk nice and slow, small steps, and don’t be afraid to just stop and wait for cars or buses to go by.

It’s quite the experience, and I know things are similar in Dehli, so I’m glad we’ve earned our wings with street crossings!

So that’s the scoop so far. We’ll be posting again soon with something different, so stay tuned!

Lauren ☺

P.S. Just a couple of house-keeping things! We just wanted to let everyone know that they can feel free to post about us on their own blogs, and grab a few pictures (keeping the logo on of course!). We think it’s so awesome that people are spreading the word about what we’re doing! Just make sure you drop us the link so we can check it out! And HUGE thanks to all that have done so so far, we totally love you guys!

And also, sometimes when we’re working on pictures or surfing the net we’ll have our Skype open. You can feel free to add us and chat with us if you wish! Our username is “robnlauren” so say hi!


Category: Adventures

Tags: Airplane, food, Ho Chi Minh City, street life, Traffic, travel, vietnam

A Couple of Teasers From Ho Chi Minh Wednesday
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Since we've been here a couple days now and haven't shown you anything, we thought we'd give you a little teaser. There's more to come later!

 

 

At the end of that second video you can hear Rob saying "I thought he was going to charge me 600,000 Dong for that..."

 

The currency here in Vietnam is the Dong, and 15,000 is roughly $1 Canadian. Rob was talking about some sunglasses that he bought, and how he thought the guy was going to make some ridiculously high offer!

 

But we'll tell you more about our adventures later. We had a very busy morning (with tons of photos taken) and we need a nap!

 

Hope you are all doing well!

Lauren :) 

 

Category: Adventures

Tags: Ho Chi Minh City, Motorcycle, Traffic, vietnam

Launch Monday
Edmonton, AB

Well, here we are. The official launch of The Wedding Travelers. And we are really, extremely excited. 

 

Right now I'm sitting in our office, looking out at all the snow covered buildings, and counting down until we board the plane to our warm and tropical destination. We're 47 hours from take-off.  There is still much to do before we leave, but as Rob said to me today, we've reached the point where if it doesn't get done, there's not much we can do about it, which has left us both with considerably less stress, and much more excitement.

 

This will be the inaugural trip for The Wedding Travelers and I don't think we could have picked a more perfect place to start. South East Asia. More specifically we will be making our way to Vietnam and India.

 

Why are we going? To explore, learn, expand (in knowledge, hopefully not in waist size!), meet, greet, and just enjoy. But at all times our main goal will be to gather information about the cultures we are experiencing, and then pass it on to you, our readers.

 

We will seek out weddings, and capture them with our cameras. We will add to the articles we are writing in the "Weddings" section of this site. Hopefully you will find these interesting, and that maybe you'll even make some use out of the informtion, whether by planning your own wedding, shooting one as a photographer, or just attending the wedding of a friend.

 

Please feel free to contact us at any time. We will check our email regularly as we travel. We'd love to hear your thoughts on our work, what we're doing, or if you're in one of the countries we're visiting and would like to hook up to do a photo shoot! And please also leave a comment on any of our posts, we really enjoy it!

 

Believe me, these posts will get a lot more exciting and thrilling, and with tons more photos and videos. But for now enjoy a few shots of the climate we're very glad to be leaving behind.

 

Rob shoveling snow last week 

snow 

 snow

snow 

 

snow 

 

Talk to you all soon!

 

Lauren :) 

Category: Adventures

Tags: canada, india, snow, travel, vietnam