A Travellerspoint blog

First day at Angkor Wat

We went on our rental bikes to buy our three day Angkor Wat tickets. I briefly pondered a seven day pass, but realized I'd be templed out after three days anyway.

So we took the long rout on the first day, trekking out to Preah Khan, a Buddhist/Hindu fusion temple, and Preah Neak Poan, a nice swimming pool for the gods. I was feeling a little poopy, so I sat out Preah Khan mostly, laying back in the leafy shadows while Jo had her own adventure.

On the way home, Jo left me in the dust and I met up with a chubby Italian guy who we had met in the morning. He was going my speed, so I followed him back to town, where I picked up some fruit and juice for lounging around at the pool. Jo did not realize I had the bike lock! The joke was on her as I enjoyed a popsicle and wandered around in the air conditioned grocery store.

We had a swim and happy hour drink, then went to another charity restaurant called New Leaf, recommended by a blogger I follow in Korea. The sweet potato fries with wasabi dip was awesome.

Preah Neak Poan

Preah Neak Poan


Preah Neak Poan

Preah Neak Poan


Preah Neak Poan

Preah Neak Poan


Preah Neak Poan

Preah Neak Poan


Preah Khan

Preah Khan


Preah Khan

Preah Khan


Preah Khan

Preah Khan


Preah Khan

Preah Khan


Preah Khan

Preah Khan


Preah Khan

Preah Khan


Preah Khan

Preah Khan


Preah Khan

Preah Khan


Preah Khan

Preah Khan


Preah Khan

Preah Khan


Gate

Gate


FCC swimming pool

FCC swimming pool

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Took the boat to Siem Reap

I woke up a little early to buy some snacks at the market, where I saw some lady boys, still awake and arguing about something. I picked up a huge bunch of bananas and a ton of longan fruit. We ran out the door to the dock and made it just in time for the boat to Siem Reap.

The boat drivers let us climb right on top of the boat, even though there wasn't anything remotely like a railing. It was quite frightening, but once we got to our place on the bow, I tried not to go back in. We just watched the river bank roll on by as it broadened out into Tonle Sap Lake and we eventually reached Siem Reap.

I had already paid for a tuk tuk to town, but somehow they had already lost my money and we had to take an overpriced one for $10. Blech, I was really mad.

They dropped us off at our beautiful hotel. Jo booked the FCC in both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. How classy. We went out to eat at Pub Street, which was horrendous, and must be done once I suppose.

We're on the boat

We're on the boat


Tonle Sap river

Tonle Sap river


The boat

The boat


Tonle Sap River

Tonle Sap River


Guy who ripped us off

Guy who ripped us off

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Busy day in the Penh

Today was super busy! I picked Jo up at the airport in the morning and then we pretty much went straight to Tuol Sleng, S-21 prison, on the other side of town. It was really heavy and depressing. 21,000 people were tortured there for secrets they may or may not have had. Then they were sent to the killing fields outside the city. Many of the victims' photos were on display, including some photos of people that were already dead when they took them. One beautiful woman stood out to me. She was dead, but looking up to the sky. Someone had taken her photo looking straight down at her from above, but her eyes were facing away from the camera and pointing to heaven. She wore a plaid button down shirt and her long black hair was flowing out of the right side of the frame. Although I couldn't see her eyes, which must have been closed, she seemed to be an angel gazing at the heavens, ready to be called back home. What pain she experienced, she didn't deserve, but at least it came to its inevitable end. People in Cambodia say that there are ghosts all around us, because so many victims of the Khmer Rouge were cremated properly. None of these murders were blessed by any mnks. If any of that is true, I believe I felt her spirit still trapped in that horrible place.

Feeling like I weighed 500 pounds, we lumbered back to the bus, hungry and exhausted. We waited a while before it came, but it was suddenly hilarious because we met a cute family with two very articulate children speaking English to us. They immediately brightened our mood. We had seen them on the way to the museum, so it was funny to see them again on our way home.

We grabbed beers and a sandwich on our way back to the hotel and I felt much better. But then it was time to see the other more vibrant side of Cambodia. We watched a folk dance show, with amazing costumes and talented musicians, they looked like they stepped out of an ancient temple fresco, it was amazing.

After that, we still weren't finished. We had a late dinner at Dine in the Dark, a pitch black restaurant, where you are served by blind waiters. I ate with my hands the entire meal, which consisted of bacon wrapped asparagus, roasted duck and caramel custard for dessert. It was great fun guessing what everything we were putting into our mouths was. We were wrong only on the duck, we thought it was a strange type of roast beef. As soon as a big loud group of British people showed up, we knew it was time to go. We had to get up early in the morning anyway.

Tuol Sleng

Tuol Sleng


At the show

At the show


Dance show

Dance show


Dance show

Dance show

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Museum and palace day

With the visa stuff all sorted out, I had the whole day free until Jo came. I woke up early to visit the royal palace, but it was closed until 2 p.m. So, national museum, it would be. There was a nice courtyard and a lot of old statues from the 10th century with hindu and buddhist sensibilities. An interesting attribute of the sculptures here are the "Khmer smiles", all of them have a slight smirk, which makes them look either serene or condescending, I don't know which. There were no paintings or anything else, I guess it was all destroyed in the years of warfare.

By the time I was finished all that, my brand new sunglasses had completely snapped, beyond repair. Ugh. I went back to the hotel to call the shop in Sihanoukville to see what she could do for me. The answer was nothing. Actually it was worse than nothing, she offered to sell me another pair for half price! What a scam! I was so angry, I went out and bought another pair right away. This time the shop keeper sold me a stronger pair, because I told her the story of what happened to the last one. I was moderately happy with the new sunglasses, even though the total I spent on frames now came to $45. Not outrageous but it could have been half that if I didn't get suckered in.

I ate more bananas and went back to the palace, which was just opening again, so I had a brief moment to see it without any crowds, I was one of the first ones in line somehow. So that was nice. By the time I was finished, the crowds were back in full force. I was glad to go for dinner, i had some noodles at another charity cafe and went back to the hotel early again.

National Museum of Cambodia

National Museum of Cambodia


National Museum of Cambodia

National Museum of Cambodia


National Museum of Cambodia

National Museum of Cambodia


Royal Palace

Royal Palace


Royal Palace

Royal Palace


Royal Palace

Royal Palace


Royal Palace

Royal Palace


Royal Palace

Royal Palace


Royal Palace

Royal Palace


Royal Palace

Royal Palace


Royal Palace

Royal Palace


Royal Palace

Royal Palace


Royal Palace

Royal Palace


Royal Palace

Royal Palace


Royal Palace

Royal Palace


This juice cost $4

This juice cost $4


Royal Palace

Royal Palace

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Back to Phnom Penh

I had to pick up my passport with the extended visa in it before Jo arrived on Saturday and I was worried I wouldn't make it to Phnom Penh in time if I left on Friday morning. So, I left as soon as I felt well enough on Thursday. I didn't eat anything all morning, to avoid any unfortunate accident. I drank some watered down lychee juice the whole way back to Phnom Penh. I asked them to drop me off at the airport, so I could pick up my passport without going back and forth, it was great.

A young Swedish woman with a Leonardo DiCaprio T-shirt was having a melt down over her expired passport, and I swiftly breezed through whisking my visa away into the sunset. Traffic was horrendous and by the time I got to my little hotel on the riverside, it was 4 p.m. Aside from the immigration stuff, I had been on a bus for seven hours nonstop, without pooping my pants. I devoured my huge bag on bananas and went to sleep. I woke up for dinner and found some hand pulled veggie noodle soup with tofu. Awesome. Then I slept some more.

Back to civilization

Back to civilization


Yeeeeee visa

Yeeeeee visa

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

So sick

There was a reason for all that sleeping, as you'll see later. I had breakfast in the market and then went to the doctor. While I was running around looking for my watch, I hurt my toe and wondered if it was broken. After a quick and easy x-ray, I found that thankfully, it was not. I changed to a nicer hotel and promptly began pooping my guts out. I slept again and then vomited out whatever was left. Anna and her family all had the same thing, I found out. So that was why I was sleeping so much the day before. Koh Rong is a total shit hole. My god, what a terrible island.

When I felt well enough, I went across the street and bought some new sunglasses frames for my unfortunate sunglasses. They had cracked and the right lens kept falling out. I didn't really check the quality of them, but I was happy with my fake Polo sunglasses. I spend the rest of the night drinking water and listening to CBC podcasts.

Retail therapy?

Retail therapy?

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Back to Sihanoukville

I went back again to try and find my watch, but it was still gone. I made a report to the police, but I won't ever hear anything, I'm sure. Grandma's watch is gone. Sad.

All the boats were full until 1:30, so I got on that one. My mission in Sihanoukville was to find a pawn shop and buy someone else's stolen watch to make myself feel better and even out the imbalance in the universe. At least then, I wouldn't be alone as a victim of thievery. I found one, but they only bought things from people. They didn't sell anything, weird. OK, so the watch thing will probably wait until Canada.

It's unbelievable to me that I worse it this long without submerging it in water or breaking it some other way. I guess I'm just glad I had it for the year and a half after grandma died. It was a nice keepsake while it lasted. I checked into a really terrible guest house on top of a bar with old dirty men (one that molested my hip) while I was checking in and slept a lot.

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Goodbye watch

The sea was quite rough, so I had to take the big expensive boat over to Koh Rong. The waves were huge and it was pretty exciting to skim over them in our big boat. I checked into the cheapest hostel on the island, and later i found out why. But first the story of the big tragedy. I decided to make some bloody mary cocktails and relax on the beach somewhere by myself. The backpacker street was so gross, I didn't want anything to do with it. I found 4K beach, which was totally deserted and beautiful. I made my nice drink and took a nice swim. I left my watch on my towel. After the sun started setting, I started to pack up. A Khmer guy waltzed by and started talking to me in English, sort of helping me pick up all my stuff. I was really uncomfortable, and in the confusion, I didn't put my watch back on. He either took it while I wasn't looking, or I left it on the beach. I think the former is the most likely. I didn't notice it was gone until I got back to the hostel. I ran back to the beach, searching frantically through the sand. I found nothing. I tried to report it to the police, but they just told me to come back the next day.

During this time, my hostel had become a horrible dance club, which explained the $5 price tag of my dorm bed. I couldn't go back and go to sleep, even though that was the only thing I wanted to do.

Some creepy bartender noticed my distress. He tried to tell me worse things could happen. For example, his best friend died of a heart attack and he went to a Cambodian prison, accused of murder. Then he awkwardly tried to get me to come to his house, which would be marginally quieter. I had to decline at least three times. He was clearly a sicko predator. Finally the music stopped and I slept for about four hours. This was hands down the worst day in Cambodia in six weeks.

boat to Koh Rong

boat to Koh Rong


Gross backpacker street

Gross backpacker street


Koh Rong beach

Koh Rong beach


4K lagoon

4K lagoon


4K beach

4K beach


4k beach

4k beach


bloody mary concoction

bloody mary concoction

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Missed the boat

It was a lazy day spent using the wifi and talking about the Trump inauguration at Secret Paradise all morning. I went to catch the boat to the main Koh Rong island, and after some massive confusion, I found out it was full. I found another hostel closer to the pier and stayed there for the night, promising to come back to the pier in the morning.

I went to find my California friends and we had dinner together at a new place with dollar drafts of beer. The coconut vegetable curry was amazing. Anna and I walked back and forth on the beach, trying to find some sort of party, but it was Sunday and we couldn't. There was someone doing a fire show and that was alright. However, after the show we saw a drunk woman fall into the ocean. The fire man called her a whore in French. How awful. We checked to see if the lady was alright, and then I went back to my hostel for the night.

Boat to Koh Rong

Boat to Koh Rong

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Lighthouse

The hotel manager told me I could go see a lighthouse on top of a hill, so after sleeping in until 10, I headed over there.

It was a gentle hike, but not one that Anna could've handled with her sprained ankle, so I went by myself. The view was great and a really nice way to spend the afternoon. I went with the Oakland people for dinner and back to bed in my noisy dorm, right beside the generator.

I remember there were some weird white people with dreadlocks on top of the lighthouse, probably waiting for me to go down so they could makeout. Awkward.

Lighthouse

Lighthouse


Lighthouse

Lighthouse


Lighthouse

Lighthouse


Lighthouse

Lighthouse


Lighthouse

Lighthouse


Lighthouse

Lighthouse


Lighthouse

Lighthouse


Lighthouse

Lighthouse


Lighthouse

Lighthouse


Lighthouse

Lighthouse


Lighthouse

Lighthouse


Lighthouse

Lighthouse

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Relaxing on Samloem

My hostel booked me a cheap mini van to Sihanoukville, and a nice Israeli lady gave me a pen when mine died as I was writing my journal.

I took the next boat to Koh Rong Samloem, a quieter island than its neighbour. I met a nice family from Oakland and stayed with them at their resort. They had dorms there for $8, so it worked out just fine. Anna reminded me of myself 10 years ago, having a quarter life crising and bouncing around doing crazy stuff. She had just quit her secure government job and decided to start travelling full time. Good choice I think.

We immediately went swimming in the shallow water, but wouldn't you know it, some kind of crazy fish decided to take a bite of me. At first I thought it was a crab, but as I saw it speed away, it was some sort of speckled black and white monstrosity. Who knows?

Anna and I went back to shore, where we shared some chips and whiskey that I brought from the mainland and watched the rain fall outside the hotel restaurant.

Samloem

Samloem


Samloem

Samloem


Samloem

Samloem


Samloem

Samloem


Samloem

Samloem


Samloem

Samloem


Samloem

Samloem


Samloem

Samloem

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

It's not a worm!

In the morning I went straight to the hospital, even before it opened. This way, I was first in line. The doctor confirmed that I didn't have a parasitic skin worm, but actually some sort of fungus and he told me to use some cream to clear it up. He also said to keep taking the anti parasite pills because I'd probably get one in Cambodia anyway. Wow, OK. Haha, thanks!

I snoozed away the rest of the day in the empty dorm, after having lunch at Epic Arts Cafe, where proceeds help deaf people and local artists.

At around three, I went out with a few French motorcyclists and bought a ticket for the firefly night boat tour. It left at six and we took a little barge out to one tree that was covered in them. The boat trip was nice, but another arrogant French man made us go back 30 minutes early because he was getting too many mosquito bites. Buuhhh....

I bought a happy shake on the way back and it put me right to sleep at 9 p.m. I think it had sleeping pills in it actually.

Kampot river

Kampot river


Kampot

Kampot


River tour

River tour


River tour

River tour


River tour

River tour


River tour

River tour


River tour

River tour


River tour

River tour


River tour

River tour


River tour

River tour

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Rabbit Island

I woke up and walked to the jetty at about 8 a.m. Guess who I saw again. All those guys making the movie. I walked right by and bought my ticket for the boat to Rabbit Island. I had some eggs and rice plus iced milk coffee for breakfast with some men on their way to work.

A bunch of day trippers like me crossed the channel in about five boats. As soon as we arrived, I took off on a little hike around the island. It should've only taken about an hour. Eventually, I came to a dead end in some jungly part,, along with five other French people. After one of them scolded the younger two women for wearing flip flops, we decided to go walk along the rocky shore in the water. It would involve me getting my shoes wet again, but at this point, those shoes were dead to me. I had too many blisters from them. Blech.

After climbing over the jagged rocks, it wasn't long until we met up with the trail again. We claimed a victory over that arrogant old French man. The women were better off in their flip flops than any of us and he had walked back along the path he already took.

When we arrived back at the beach, we had some drinks together and then went swimming for the rest of the afternoon. It was quite idyllic until an annoying loud Polish lady came by to strike up a friendship with whatever other loud lady was around. After living in Asia for so long, it is now extremely irritating for me to overhear other people's asinine conversations, especially when you can hear them bullshit about every single thing. So annoying on an otherwise perfect beach. I got out my iPod and played some nice CBC podcasts for them.

After drying out in the sun, we all piled into the little boats and went right back to Kep. I shook off an aggressive tuk tuk driver who wanted to pay me to drive me back. Why? "Because I like you and we are both lonely." Why else? I walked back to town and took the next bus to Kampot, which left in two hours. So of course I had to have more pepper crab for dinner.

My next hostel was really easy to find, across from the bus station and $3, plus free laundry! Wow! I stayed for two nights.

Rabbit Island

Rabbit Island


Rabbit Island

Rabbit Island


Rabbit Island

Rabbit Island


Rabbit Island

Rabbit Island


Rabbit Island

Rabbit Island


Rabbit Island

Rabbit Island


Rabbit Island

Rabbit Island


Rabbit Island

Rabbit Island


Rabbit Island

Rabbit Island


Rabbit Island

Rabbit Island

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

My man Gene

I tried to sleep in, but it never works. I got dressed slowly and found a small pharmacy to find something for my burning and itching hand. The pharmacist phoned the local doctor, who spoke English with a strong French accent and who couldn't seem to explain his location to me in a way I could understand. After asking him a bunch of times the same questions, which he never answered directly, he got upset, and I decided to go to the hospital in Kampot instead.

The pharmacist had her own opinion on my finger, she told me I had worms and sold me some pills. So I tried them, hoping for the best.

I tried to take my mind off of it, so I went for a hike. They were shooting a pretty expensive movie at Kep National Park and had blocked off the whole place. Some Khmer guy in fatigues told me I couldn't go. I tried to argue and then some Australian guy with a headset convinced him to let me in. I walked along the empty trail and bumped into Gene, a retired book publisher from New York. He talked my ear off about Cambodia all morning, and I left him at his brother's house at the foot of the mountain. His brother is a missionary doctor in Phnom Penh, doing free surgeries, mostly for children. They see a lot of motorcycle injuries, of course.

As I was walking back home, Gene drove by and picked me up in his gigantic ancient white truck, donated by the US embassy and we went for breakfast. We made a plan to get some crabs for dinner, and I went to the beach to snooze until it started to rain. I slept in the hotel right up until it was time to meet Gene again, we had a nice dinner, even though he spent a good portion of it telling me I needed to either marry some influential person or at least start some sort of career climbing occupation in Canada. Uhhh... I already tried both of those things and they both suck, so no, I think I'm good, thanks for your concern. On the way home the bottom fell off of my "new" used sandals, it struck me as a metaphor.

"Worms"

"Worms"


Kep National Park

Kep National Park


Kep National Park

Kep National Park


Kep National Park

Kep National Park


Statue

Statue

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

To the south

My big mission of the day was to drop my visa extension application off at the immigration department. I read in the guidebook that it was a complicated process, so I went to Facebook for help. I found a couple of people who had wrote about doing it last year and it seemed quite simple. I sent a general question to the couchsurfers on facebook and they merely regurgitated everything in the Lonely Planet right back at me. I was quite irritated, because I had asked a clear question looking for real world information and all I got back were people telling me I had to go to an overpriced travel agent.

So, with that anger pushing me along, I left the hostel groggy first thing in the morning to find the bus to the airport. Sure there was a lot of traffic and the whole ordeal took about two hours, but I saved at least $20. The officer at the airport was friendly and only took $30 for the service. He told me I'd get my new visa and passport back in a week, which was fine for me. I was headed out to the coastal islands anyway. A travel agent would've done it faster, sure, but the independent route was quite painless and convenient enough for me.

The traffic back downtown was bad but the bus was comfortable and a nice teenager chatted with me the whole way. He told me about his previous job as a tuk tuk driver, which he failed at, because he wasn't dishonest enough. That explains a lot about running any successful business in Cambodia or otherwise.

Next mission: buy boat tickets for Jo and I to go to Siem Reap. Also very easy to do. After that, I needed a ticket to the beach. The next bus was leaving after lunch, so I had some halal noodles and entertained myself with the pro-Islam pamphlets on the tables. Did you know that a woman covering her hair is a sacred protection from impure men looking at her? The hijab frees a woman from relying on her beauty to get her through life. Wearing a veil ensures people respect her for her intelligence instead... Right, and remind me why so many woman are illiterate in the Islamic world again please? The pamphlet conveniently doesn't mention that fact.

OK so then it was time for the bus. I piled in with a bunch of other tourists who were going the same way. None of them were going to Kep, I don't know why, because I thought the other places were too noisy and crowded.

The one lane road leading south from Phnom Penh was slow and congested, with miles and miles of shanty towns, street peddlers and ramshackle roadside mini marts lining the way.

We got to Kampot too late for my transfer to Kep, so I waited an hour for the next one. The riverside was quite nice and I had some fancy lime and pepper (!!!) sorbet along with lemongrass and galangal ice cream, but when I got back to check for the bus, it still wasn't there. I finally had my dinner, a saucy baguette with chicken on the street.

When the bus actually did come, the driver suddenly decided to take a shower, with me waiting alone in the van in the dark for 20 minutes. Really. When he got back, he asked me where I was staying and I made something up from Lonely Planet. We drove right past it anyway. I was annoyed a little again, but it didn't matter. I just chatted with some Scots who were waiting for their bus to Phnom Penh. They told me where they stayed for $20, but there were a bunch of small places for less across the street. I said goodbye to David and his brother when their bus came and went to sleep with intense itching in the fingers of my left hand, ugh.

Tickets bought

Tickets bought


Nice ice cream

Nice ice cream


Kampot

Kampot

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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