A Travellerspoint blog

Still in Cambodia

because we're lazy

semi-overcast 28 °C

Just a quick update to let you all know we are still alive. Not much has changed since the last posting – we are still in Sihanoukville. We are in the place previously described – a large hotel-ish place with a pool and rooms with aircon, tv, fridge etc. We did move room today to a bigger (and more expensive) one, so we now have a view of the pool and a couch or two to laze on! Luxury! Not that we didn't like our previous place, it was nice and had added extras like a gecko in the porch light at night!

Our Christmas dinner was very nice, but we both ate a little too much and had to lie down to let everything settle afterwards. I think 5 months of rice and noodles doesn’t prepare your stomach for a three course roast dinner.

There is not much else to tell. We sit by the pool most of the time and have bought food to store in our room to help keep costs down, only going out for dinner (breakfast is free!) and to get more bottled water. It is a bit lazy of us, but it’s a long way to the beach (5 mins?) and here we don’t get the beach sellers. Although… I could do with some pineapple about now…

On the 31st we have to go back to Phnom Penh as we couldn’t find any free accommodation in Sihanoukville – I am sure there is some but we do have standards, and a budget to stick to! For New Years Eve we are not too sure what we are going to do – there are fireworks over the river and all the bars will have something going on, but we do have to be careful, or we might find ourselves in a dodgy bar full of what we are calling ‘wrongs’: western men who wander about with local women half their age on their arms. It’s just so wrong! One restaurant we were at for dinner two nights ago had 5 of these ‘wrong’ couples eating there. But I guess it does give us a level of amusement :o)

From Phnom Penh we fly to Bangkok on the 1st, stay there for two nights (we’re going to do a whole days shopping) and then onto Sydney on the 3rd, arriving on the 4th. Things are rapidly coming to an end!

I better stop writing this and get out into the sun. Or where the sun would be if there weren’t large clouds covering it.

Hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas break and are either enjoying your summer holidays or not letting the cold northern winter get you down too much!

That’s all for now

Posted by Big.G 23:56 Archived in Cambodia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Christmas in Cambodia

It's hot and sunny :-)

sunny 30 °C

We are now in Sihanoukville, also known as Snookyville!
We pre-booked accommodation as it is the Christmas period but after contacting lots of places, only to find they were already fully booked, we had to settle on 2 guest houses during our stay here.

We arrived at our second one this morning, which is very different to the first…..Our first home was up in the hills above the beach with an amazing view of the ocean and a magnificent sunrise each morning, it was a cute bungalow but very basic and very small, we had a couple of pet geckos and several termites which appeared to be munching their way systematically through the thick wooden beams! They made interesting noises as we tried to fall asleep!!!

Our home for the next week is in the grounds of a big hotel, we now have space, cable tv, a fridge, air-con, a safe, wi-fi and a swimming pool but absolutely no view. I guess in peak season you can’t have it all if you are on a backpacker’s budget! One place we spoke to yesterday had raised their prices from $35 to 80!!!!!

Yesterday we went on a trip around 3 islands close to here, the snorkelling was nothing to write home about but the island we spent the most time on, Bamboo Island, was just beautiful. The beaches were pristine, the water was clear and warm and there is almost no development on the island at all, just a few huts and a restaurant on each side. We really loved it and are thinking of paying someone to take us back over for the whole day rather than doing the whole 3 island trip again….

The rest of our time has been spent at the beach, relaxing in the sun and reading in between getting interrupted by sunglasses, fruit or bracelet sellers! Some of them are so funny to talk to, they have amazing English and are so quick witted. We have had some very entertaining conversations.

We discovered a lovely restaurant that is run by westerners and tomorrow they are putting on a traditional 3 course Christmas dinner so we have booked ourselves in, we thought a nice roast would make a change from rice and noodles.

So all that is left to say is ‘HAPPY CHRISTMAS’ from the both of us, we hope you all have a great day and that Santa brings you all something nice!
Lots of love
Anita and Gerald
PS We should have good access to the internet tomorrow so if you have skype check and see if we are online and we can chat xxx

Posted by bumblebum 07:01 Archived in Cambodia Tagged round_the_world Comments (3)

Temples of Angkor

There are a lot of them!

sunny 34 °C

As I type this I am sitting on a grass verge just outside of Siem Reap. It became pretty obvious from the off that something was wrong with the bus tyres. The driver and co hopped off, found a huge rock stuck between the right hand side back wheels and spent some time getting it out with a sledgehammer borrowed from the little shack across from where we stopped. So we set off again after our delayed start, drove a couple of hundred meters before we heard a big bang, stopped again and discovered the same wheels are now flat as a pancake!!! It is now midday and we should have left an hour and a half ago!!

We have spent the last few days in Siem Reap exploring the Angkor Temples area. We hired a tuk tuk driver for 2 days and bought our 3 day pass ($40 each!) and set off to see what many describe as the eighth wonder of the world.

The first day we set off just before 9am and didn’t return back until almost 6.30 having watched the sunset from the top of one of the temples in the area. The temples varied greatly in size, architecture and in their state of disrepair! Various countries around the world are helping to restore some of the temples which is a HUGE job. There are enormous stone blocks on the ground laid out in lines ready to be put back together again, if only they had the instructions to help!
The whole area was discovered by some French explorers after hundreds of years of being deserted. The temples were covered in dense plants and forest which had to be cleared. However some of the temples had trees take root on their walls or in cracks in the brickwork and so after hundreds of years the trees are now firmly rooted and part of the temples and look very cool! One of ‘tree temples’ was used for the filming of Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft.
One thing all the temples had in common was the amazing and intricate carvings on almost every piece of stone, they really are beautiful to see and we got a bit carried away taking photographs, Gerald alone took over 600 on the first day!!!

On the second day we got up at 4.30am so that we could watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. Of course we were not alone, there were well over 1000 other tourists waiting patiently alongside us. Once the sun came up we found our driver and headed further out to more of the temples (there are around 1000 in total in an area covering many square miles). We only lasted until midday as it was unbelievably hot and we were beginning to become a bit ‘templed out’!!

Siem Reap was a lovely city with lots of bars and restaurants and the latest craze – Dr Fish Massage tanks. These are big tanks set up at the side of the road with lots of small fish inside that love to nibble the calloused skin off your feet!!! For $3 you can have 20 minutes worth of nibbling! We were a little tempted to try it but after walking around the temples for hours and hours our feet were filthy and we thought we would have killed the fish if we put them in there!!!

We have found Cambodia a hard place to be at times, it is a country that is still recovering after various traumas. Eating in outdoor restaurants can be hard to do as a stream of people approach you trying to sell books, jewellery or other goods, desperate to be self sufficient and provide for their families. They often have no legs or no arms or are blind or hugely disfigured from land mine accidents. It makes us feel so guilty that we are there on holiday enjoying ourselves, we have given to several people along the way but you can’t give to everybody and you feel so bad saying ‘No thank you’.

Anyway, about half way through typing this blog, another bus came to pick us up and continue the journey to Phnom Pehn. The driver obviously felt he needed to make up some time so drove like a crazy man the whole way, beeping his horn incessantly at EVERY SINGLE cyclist, motorbike and car he wanted to pass (which was all of them). After 6 hours I was close to smashing the horn to smithereens!!!

Tomorrow we have another bus journey, this time to Sihanoukville where we will be for the next 10 days. We are looking forward to heading back to the beach and relaxing again after our intense and often emotional times in Cambodia so far. I’m hoping we don’t get the same driver!

Posted by bumblebum 06:35 Archived in Cambodia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Into Cambodia

And the history of Khmer Rouge

sunny 30 °C

It’s been a while (I shouldn’t have left you, without a dope beat to step to) since the last post, and a lot has happened! When we last spoke we were in Mui Ne and were about to go to Ho Chi Minh City. Now, we are in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia! Woo!

The trip to Ho Chi Minh City was uneventful, a short bus trip. Ho Chi Minh is a busy city, but we liked it more than Hanoi – it’s not as busy, noisy, dirty or cramped. The place we wanted to stay in was fully booked, but a nice man (who had pointed out where the full hotel was) had a guesthouse, so we followed him along the road for a few minutes. The place was called “Y Nhi” and was clean and nice, with very friendly owners, and right in the middle of the budget touristy part of town, down a narrow alleyway full of local people and their guesthouses. It looks like most of the people there have built new (or adapted their existing) houses into guesthouses, as walking down the alley you could see families cramped into small rooms, spilling out into the street, even though their houses are four stories high!

While in Ho Chi Minh we booked ourselves onto a tour to the Cu Chi tunnels, where villagers from a whole region of Vietnam hid during the American War. They were all communist, or North Vietnam, supporters, and the South Vietnam (or ‘American Puppet’) Government (we’ve heard a lot of propaganda over our stay in Vietnam) didn’t really approve of them being there, so they were bombed quite a lot. The area is about 40km northwest of HCMC, just about half way to the Cambodian border. While there we got to see lots of bomb craters and what remains of the tunnels. There are different kinds of entrances to the tunnels: fighting tunnels that are big enough to get in and out of quickly; and hidden ones that are about 40x20cms - small enough to hide, and also small enough for westerners to get stuck in (as a girl in our group managed to do…).
We got to crawl through 200 meters of tunnel to see what it was like, and there was the opportunity to shoot a few guns: AK-47, M16, Thompson, M1 carbine, M60. The cost was a bit prohibitive though, so we passed on the chance. The whole trip was good though, and was accompanied with a lot of propaganda type messages from all the guides. It seems Americans are bad.

The day after the tour we booked ourselves onto at bus trip to Phnom Penh, as we are running out of time. The ride was a simple 5 hour trip with 90 mins of border crossing hoo-ha in the middle, as we moved into our 6th country! Phnom Penh is a clean, friendly city, not at all crowded or busy. We’re in a hotel right by the National Museum and Royal Palace, just down the road from the river! Location location location!

Yesterday we went to see S-21, the old Phnom Penh High School that the Khmer Rouge turned into a detention/torture place. It was all a bit daunting being there, seeing the cells that had been built in the classrooms, the classrooms that had been turned into torture rooms with huge photos of dead tortured bodies, the shackles that had been used, and loads of mug shots of some of the prisoners that had been through the prison. Enough said about that!

Today we went out to see The Killing Field, where the prisoners were taken from S-21 to be executed. It’s about 14km outside Phnom Penh, a short tuk tuk ride. They have found over 8000 bodies in 160-odd mass graves there and have built a Buddhist stupa (to help the spirits of the dead access their remains) to house the bones of all the bodies found.
There is a debate between the government and the relatives of the victims as to what to do with the remains, as Buddhism states that bodies should be cremated, but the government wants the bones on display to help remind people that this sort of thing shouldn’t happen ever again!

And now we’re at today! Tomorrow we’re off to Siem Reap, the launching point for Angkor Wat. Siem Reap is an historical place where the Khmer won a decisive battle against the Siam invaders – Siem Reap means Siam Defeated!

We’ve been super organised lately. Christmas and New Year are on the way, so places are getting all booked up. To make sure we have accommodation we’ve booked ahead all the way to New Years Day, when we fly to Bangkok to do some last minute shopping for fakes, before flying out to Sydney. If anyone has a good idea where we can spend New Years Eve in Phnom Penh, please let me know!

That’s all for now

Posted by Big.G 06:30 Archived in Cambodia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Sand Dunes and Fishy Smells

sunny 30 °C

The last few days have been spent lazing by the pool in the sunshine, reading and working on my tan, well for me anyway….Gerald on the other hand decided to abandon me for several hours each day favouring sea water going up his nose and in his eyes whilst being dragged out to sea, all in a bid to learn to kite surf! He went from learning to fly the trainer (2 meter soft) kite, moving onto a larger (10 meter inflatable edge) kite and discovering how it has the power to drag you quickly out to sea (he learnt to control it so he can go both up and downstream) and by the end of his lessons was just about getting up on the board (if only briefly) so today he hopes to master the staying up bit!

This morning we were up at 4.30am (see, it’s not all fun fun fun!) to go on a local area tour. We started at The White Sand Dunes for the sunrise. It is a beautiful area but as usual we weren’t the only ones there so some of the beauty disappears amongst the many thousands of footprints all the tourists leave!
At the moment in Vietnam it is wedding season, so, not only do Gerald and I get asked on a daily basis whether we are honeymooning but anywhere that is considered a beauty spot there will be couples getting wedding photos done. This morning there were two couples on the white sand dunes in all their wedding finery getting their photos done. The weird thing is, it isn’t their wedding day and they have no family or friends with them, they just choose a pretty venue and get nice photos taken!

Our next stop was the Yellow Sand Dunes, another beautiful place with lots of friendly local kids trying to rent out plastic sheets to all the tourists so that they can sandboard down the dunes. We gave it a miss as it is just so knackering climbing back up again afterwards!
After that it was a stop at the fishing village where we spent time observing the local women sorting through an enormous pile of various sea creatures that we presume must have been caught in the nets, everything from starfish to eels. It looked pretty gruesome and didn’t smell too nice either and to be honest watching them sort it all out while it bakes in the burning heat of the sun kind of put us off eating seafood for now! We suspect that it is also used to make the fish sauce, so famous in these parts. We walked past a huge area full of enormous pots fermenting the stuff, it STANK!
The final part of our trip was a walk down The Fairy Stream to see a small waterfall and, more impressive, the Red Canyon. The canyon is made of sandstone and is a very rich red colour which looked amazing against the brilliant blue sky. It was really nice to see such different landscapes after months of lush, tropical greenery. We were back at our hotel by 9.30am and ready for another day of sunbathing/kitesurfing!
Tomorrow we leave for Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) our final destination in Vietnam before heading to Cambodia.
That’s all for now

Posted by bumblebum 04:04 Archived in Vietnam Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

(Entries 26 - 30 of 69) « Page 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 .. »