Well since my friends arrived on the 12th they have pretty much absorbed the little time that I had previously had to spend online and updating my blog, so again I'll try to summarize the past couple weeks in a short highlight reel-esque post.
Bryce and I spent his one day in Bangkok just wandering around and going on the various (fun) forms of public transport. The canal boats and river boats often rock excessively from the wakes of passing boats and it can be pretty fun.
The morning after Katie arrived we took a public bus to the Cambodian border crossing at Poipet, where we had thankfully read enough beforehand that we skirted the attempts to scam us for our visas, paid our $20 at the real border, and had our visas in a few minutes. We got to Siem Reap and got a guesthouse for $3 per person, per night. We spent 4 days there and went to Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples for 2 of them.
On our first day in Angkor Wat, Bryce and I were having lunch and being hounded by souvenir hawkers as usual. Fortunately I was nice to one of the ladies and started asking questions about her life and about Cambodia, and by the end of the conversation we were invited to have dinner with her and her family the next day at their rice farm. They had never had any foreigners visit their house before, and it was a pretty big deal for all of us. Needless to say it was a great experience and great food. The rice had just been harvested the day before, the eggs came from their chickens, the chicken was bought fresh from the market, and they picked the fruit fresh from trees in their back yard. They also live near a lake where the king of Cambodia from ancient times used to swim - we of course had to swim in it to.
On the 18th Bryce had to fly to Kuala Lumpur for his debate tournament, so Katie and I just rode bikes around town and explored the markets. The next day we headed back to Bangkok and unfortunately missed the night train to the Laos border north of Nong Khai. We stayed in Bangkok overnight, toured around a bit the next day, and caught a 6.30 train north.
We spent a day in Vientiane, checked out some old French buildings and the National Museum, and the next day caught a bus to Vang Vieng - infamous as a party spot for backpackers. We've been here 4 days now and were going to go to Phonsavan today to see the Plain of Jars but after Christmas night we didn't get up early enough to catch the bus, so we'll have to go tomorrow. We're here with a group of other travelers - mostly Canadians - and a Thai lady who's food stall I eat at whenever I'm in Bangkok.