Monday, August 25, 2014

A Cambodian Adventure

Throwback 2010

Cambodia serves great memories. Affectionally remembered as the land of temples, the place where i bought too many scarfs and that epic 15 hour bus ride.

Blessed with friends i travel with. The girls did a lot of homework for this trip. In just a span of just 5 days, we managed to cover three cities, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh. 

Introducing Cambodia's smallest man (unofficial) 
we met at the ferry terminal

Tonlé Sap boat jetty

Our journey in Cambodia started with a boatride down the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia.   It was quite scary, no lifejackets. Cant swim lol.

Nope, that's not ours

Exclusive, plenty of room and super rocky

Braver ones, Azean and my bff, Marie at the back 
for this awesome "outdoor" shoot

No "waving" lol

In Cambodia, you will notice that the locals set up homes on the river as the lands are own by the government. Sad. No such thing such as public housing. (Information was shared by the locals) You could see huge plots of barren land which used to be rice fields during the Khmer Rouge regime. Children grew up in these homes where the river is a source of livelihood and their playground.

Homes on the river

This gorgeous brown-eyed darling was selling drinks, 
She rode on her dad's boat and jump on ours.
Quite a shock. Imagined if it was a grown up who did this. Lol

A floating church. No excuses for Sunday mass.

We made donations to this "school" along the river 
but later realised that it wasnt exactly one. Lol

Now here's a shot of Azean and Mai planning an 
escape from us with their driver. Caught in the act! Lol. 

They didnt. We had fun racing though. 

Me and Silma in a never too tired to pose for pic (part I)

Stunning Marie with her windproof hair

Our guide cum driver was super efficient. We visited many temples until we decided to call it quits. A great excuse would be a food stop. The local food was superb. Local delicacies like fried noodles were less spicy than Thai dishes. Love it. Spicy was not my thing.

One of many temples we visited

The other one of many temples we visited

Food- stop happiness

A trip to Cambodia would not be complete without a visit to the Angkor Wat. Did you know that the Angkor Wat was built in the first half of the 12th century? 

Day pass. Admission only. Feel free to pose. As shown by Mai

Beautiful despite its ruins

Picture perfect moment. A little closer would be awesome

In awe with the artwork like this one

We made this one smile

See how happy he is

Nose to nose is the new cheek to cheek

The beautiful surrounding

Never too tired to pose for a pic (part II)

This was probably one of the scenes in Lara Croft

Definitely a scene from Lara Croft

Definitely not Lara Croft

Angkor Wat was beautiful. You feel safe in the touristic spots as the local are not allowed in. Not even our own driver. Felt sorry for the local kids who are making a living selling souvenirs outside the temples and on the streets though. Its hard to say no to them. Impossible to buy from all of them too. The older kids are less forgiving. They would say something (i assumed bad) when we said no.

Never too tired to pose for a pic (part III)

We were told that the best time to be at Angkor Wat is sunrise and sunset. As beautiful as it is, it must have been gorgeous at those times. As the sky gets darker, you could see the reflection of Angkor Wat in the lake. It has this glow which is hard to describe.

A majestic view

When the sky is reflected upon

Love this shot!

As we make our way out of the temple, we were greeted by a little boy. Cute and irresistible.

Red hot pants too!


Smittened x2 !!

Hard to resist. We almost adopted him.

Our tuk-tuk drivers are awesome. They are reliable, friendly and never out of sight. On our last night, they brought us to an amazing restaurant where we had a sumptuous buffet and a traditional dance performance. Aw khun! ( Thank you! )

Awesome dudes!

The traditional couple dance

A solo dance act

Mesmerising dance moves

Front stage pass :)

Inspired! Lol

Next on our Cambodian list was the epic bus ride to Sihanoukville for its beautiful beaches. The bus ride was painful. 15 hours long or somewhat. The bus rode through the darkness of the night. The only thing you could see out the window was the tiny moon. This was quite an experience. 

We had the best seat on the bus.. Not :(

Photo session always

Sihanoukville was a nice break coming from Siem Reap. The nicest beach was quite a ride away though. At night, the street were filled with music from the bars and clubs near our hotel. Most of them were owned by non-locals. 

Awesome find, $1 noodle shop

Bars and retail shops

The rain greeted us at Otres beach. The other greetings came from the locals who came with trays of seafood and plenty of scarfs. The scarfs were gorgeous. Cant remember how many i bought. But the number was kinda embarrassing. 

Otres Beach

Relaxing one corner

While waiting for the rain to subside, we had all the time in the world for body and feet massage, couple of fresh fruit smoothies and chat with the locals. Our driver waited the whole time while we were at the beach. He did a couple of laps in the sea too and got dried in time before our ride back to the hotel.

Here they come

Picture with the locals. We had an awesome massage

Happy buys, happy face

These ladies love Marie, probably the resemblance to a Bollywood star

One with them boys

One with them boys and their sister

Our ride back on the tuk-tuk was disastrous for our tiny driver. He had the 5 of us in his tiny vehicle. The rain made the muddy track (not road) almost impossible. The poor man had to get his feet in the mud and puddles to drag us off the terrain. Easily his worst ride ever. The muddy track was probably a couple of kilometres before we hit the main road. Must have felt like forever for the poor man. 

Our driver reminded us of Mighty Mouse, the cartoon character. Although he was small, he was powerful enough to conquer the muddy obstacle. Lol. When we got on to the main road, we cheered and clap for our hero. He was a little startled from all the noise and the excitement. 

Check out Azean trying to convince our drive to strike a similar pose LOL

Our Cambodian journey ended in its capital City, Phnom Penh. Busy town. The one where you could really distinguish between the rich and the not so rich. Tourist sights are not plenty making this place quite relax and enjoyable. 

The usual traffic

Phnom Penh was home to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. It was a former high school that was used a prison by the Khmer Rouge regime. We were told that this is one of many execution centres that existed during that time. 

Reading this made me sick to my stomach

Once you enter the classrooms, you could imagine what it was like to be a prisoner back in those days. Many of the rooms were converted into tiny prisons and tortured chambers while photos of the victims lined the wall. Millions of lives were lost during this regime :'(

Sad remains

I only lasted a couple of minutes in the rooms. Felt sick.
One of the best souvenirs that i got from Cambodia was a book called "First They Killed My Father" by Loung Ung. Got it off a kid during the Angkor Wat tour. Probably paid more than what it actually cost. Best buy. A true account of a survivor. Wish i had read the book before the trip. 

Something weird happen to us later that night. On our way to dinner, when we were walking past a temple, there was this dog who kept barking at us. Coincidence or not. You decide. We arrived at the restaurant later and the waitress wanted to confirm a table for 6. Freaky. Lol

Still 5, did you see 6?

Touting is quite common even in restaurants. Only if you allow them to. Otherwise just be firm and say no. We went the other way. We bought so many sunglasses from the lady who came to the restaurant with a huge tray of shades. She even contacted her husband who had another tray in another part of street to ensure that we had variety to choose from. That was probably one of the few times we were happy to part with our money in Cambodia.

Shiny happy people showing off new shades

More shiny happy people showing off new shades

Before we said goodbye to Cambodia, the Central Market and the Russian market was a final pit stop before the airport. Russian Market was popular with the foreigners who were mostly Russians in the 1980's so hence the name.

Photo session before we lose each other to extreme shopping

Colourful sights of the market

A little dark on the inside 

Why haggle when you can sit and haggle

Cambodia is a place where you really open your eyes to the world. Its one of the places that kinda redefine your travel experience too. You see children in their daily lives doing what they had to do. It was very humbling to see them.

Laughters were plenty too. We laughed our hearts out at a particular moment when we were so mad at some kids who tried to charge us a ridiculous amount of money for toilet break. It was just a cubicle with a hole in the ground and no lights. We laugh at ourselves when we couldnt tell between goat's poop and pebbles at one of the pit stops during the bus ride.

But this place was more than that, you just have to experience it for yourself. 

Thank you Azean for those extreme silly laughs, Mai for sorting out this trip, Marie for being my ultimate travel buddy and Silma for that (almost) quiet night of quality time, pizza and my tuk-tuk buddy on the trip!

Big hugs and kisses for Silma for always taking our photographs during this trip.

Aw Khun (Thank you) for dropping by! xoxo