A Travellerspoint blog

Wandering around town and the circus

I could hardly get out of bed, but I did anyway to find Mahe (Molly Ringwald). She had made a be-dreadlocked friend from Germany and we all ate breakfast for a few hours, not wanting to go out at all. Another German woman joined us and then we set out on an architecture tour with me in the lead because I was the only one with a map.

It looked like it would take an hour, but of course I pointed us in the wrong direction and we found nothing for an hour and a half. We eventually figured it out and went to gaze at the royal palace (which is never used because the king lives in Phnom Penh) before we got tired and sat on the river with a few beers. We listened to an annoying generator the whole time and talked about nothing.

Battambang really was my favourite place in Cambodia. I don't plan on coming back, but if I do, I will only go to Battambang, nowhere else.

When we were hungry, we had some vegetarian food, because the dreadlocked guy was vegan of course. We went back to our respective hostels and then got ready to see the Phare circus, a performing arts school for poor children. It was really nice and quite professional. I bought a cute painting of a boy riding a water buffalo that will most likely get smashed at some point in the next three weeks, I'm sure. The students also make the art for sale in the circus school's store, by the way.

Royal palace

Royal palace

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The boat to Battambang (and pick up truck)

We woke up real early to go to the boat dock. 6:30 was too early. The woman who picked us up was way late, and then we waited some more for a minivan to take us from the collection point, to the dock. It was craycray.

When we finally left on the actual boat, it must've been 9 a.m. I said goodbye to Jo and then promptly fell asleep on the boat. It was supposed to be scenic, but I just thought it was smelly and dirty. Maybe it was because it was the dry season, who knows?

I snoozed until suddenly we hit the bottom of the river and couldn't go any further. We had to get out and get into some random pickup trucks. All the "young" people scrambled into the back and the driver pointed at me specifically an "old person" and made me get into the cab. Wow, do I really look that fragile? I don't care, I'll take the special treatment. I sat in the front of the truck with yet another knowitall awful old man from France. His girlfriend however, didn't say much, in French or otherwise. I had just about had it with him by the time we got to Battambang.

I found a hostel pretty quickly and my friend who looked like Molly Ringwald showed up at the same place. We ate lunch with another strange person from France and promised to meet for breakfast tomorrow. I went to bed early only to be woken up by some British douchebags at 5 a.m. because they had apparently just arrived and needed to discuss their plans for tomorrow in the dorm room. Ugh.

Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Boat to Battambang

Boat to Battambang


Pickup truck to Battambang

Pickup truck to Battambang


The laundromat family offered me dinner

The laundromat family offered me dinner

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History day

We spent the better part of the day in teh Angkor Museum, learning about all the stuff we had just seen. I especially liked the stories they told to kids, such as this one:

Garuda's father (Garuda is an immortal bird man) had two wives, one was bad and the other one was good. The bad wife told the good wife to ask their husband which wife he thought was the most beautiful. Whoever lost the wager would have to do everything the more beautiful wife wanted. She would be a slave forever. The good wife was reluctant but took the bet anyway, hoping she coudl gain some power in this lopsided relationship.

The husband god of course, said the bad wife was more beautiful, because he was afraid of the repercussions from the bad wife, if he said she was ugly. So, even though he believed the young wife was prettier, he said that the bad wife was in fact, the most beautiful wife. So, the good wife was imprisoned as the bad wife's first order, and her son, Garuda, had to go rescue her. The end. What a bullshit story.

We looked at a lot of statues that were taken from the temples at Angkor and watched a lot of videos about ancient history in Cambodia. It was a lot to take in and our brains were soon full.

We tried to buy tickets to the circus and it was a little complicated, so we gave up. Instead, we stopped at a random place for spring rolls and amok. At night we went to the night market to buy some touristy stuff for Jo's friends.

At the museum

At the museum

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Third day at Angkor Wat

Today was the big day, we got up real early to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. Many people had the same plan, and I watched a group of Indian-Australian bros discuss the best way to adjust their SLRs for at least two hours.

We went up to the top after that, where there was a lineup for an hour before we could get in. They limit the top to 100 people at a time. That was nice. Then we looked at the carvings on all four sides of the building. There was a depiction of heaven and hell, as well as the ubiquitous "churning of the ocean of milk", the story of the devils and god tugging a naga to spin the mountain that Vishnu sat upon, which in turn churned up the oceans, creating an elixir of immortality. I don't know what happened after that, but it's the big story repeated everywhere.

From there we took a break in the shade to eat some wasabi peas and then headed to Angkor Thom and Bayon, which is covered in faces resembling the famous king. This one was my favourite because it felt like Big Brother looking down on everything. It also wasn't restored like at Angkor Wat. The carvings were made with common people in mind. We could see a woman giving birth, as well as people playing chess and watching the circus.

We dragged ourselves to the last stop of the day, which was the elephant's terrace. It was a gigantic venue for military marches and the like. You could stand there and imagine the crowds of people dressed in their finery and displaying their talents for the king and his consorts. Amazing.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat


Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat


Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat


Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat


Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat


Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat


Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat


Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


Bayon

Bayon


Bayon

Bayon


Bayon

Bayon


Bayon

Bayon


Bayon

Bayon


Bayon

Bayon


Bayon

Bayon


Bayon

Bayon


Bayon

Bayon

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Second day at Angkor Wat

We took a smaller loop today, with Ta Prohm and Sra Srang on the agenda. Ta Prohm is the "Tomb Raider" temple, I guess because some of the scenes from the movie were shot here. The trees have overgrown the temple and it's quite shady. It would be peaceful if it wasn't Chinese New Year, probably.

In the morning, we stopped at Ta Keo, one of the oldest temples around, and very plain. It was being restored by China and we all know how that will turn out. It will all be brand new and look completely different when they're done with it.

I think we went to another charity restaurant that's part of the Friends chain for a three course set menu that night, but I can't be sure, there's no photos. It was great and we spent way too much money on cocktails.

Ta Keo

Ta Keo


Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm


Ta Keo

Ta Keo


Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm


Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm


Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm


Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm


Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm


Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm


Giant swimming pool

Giant swimming pool

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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.

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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

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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

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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)

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