Category: Cambodia


Entering Vietnam

4 hours to the boarder from Sihanoukville and we stopped after about 10 minutes to go to a bakery. It was very Korean looking food because there was meat on top of bread with red sauce on top so I warned people it would be sweet—it was! I got a sugar doughnut and pain au chocolat for .75. Missing lots of chocolat.

Boarder was uneventful. The guy in Cambodia didn’t look at my picture and in Vietnam Sit went in for all of us. No one knows who I am!

Had to pay $1 to get into Vietnam because they charge for the stamp.

Again on the bus for 5 hours, stopping for lunch in a random hotel in a random city. I got vegetables and noodles for $3 and was still hungry…Thinking Vietnam is going to be more difficult to save money on food!

In Vietnam everyone wears helmets on their motorbikes but they (the helmets) don’t look sturdy or well fitting. We saw one accident too–didnt’ see that in Cambodia.

Woke at 8:30 to leave at 9 for breakfast which was included in our day out boating and trekking for $20. We didn’t get to use the menu though (like we thought the day before when we booked it), just 2 eggs and a baguette (and a plate of bacon and fruit). Then a bus to where we got on the boat. The river we went down was Pre Toek Sap and we stopped at Ma Ou Ranger Station (I think) which would be a nice lookout if it was not raining. It was a fun building to go up because it was old and dangerous and the top floor had a hole from a fire which is stuck my legs though.

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Back on the boat Visna (our local guide) was cooking our BBQ barracuda/chicken which was interesting because it was a fire on our tiny boat. We saw lots of fishermen including ones looking for scallops or ones looking or clams and some diving birds. No dolphins though.

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Then we stopped at Thomor Tom beach dolphin station for lunch where the park rangers cooked (reheated) and were super nice. The barracuda was delicious. Coke in a glass bottle too. Beautiful looking beach but the smell was terrible once we go there probably because of the bathroom.

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From here we hiked to what is now Chinese beach but was Koh Sam Pouch beach (because of Chinese development even though it is a national park). We saw lots of water buffalo who made funny faces, a mother chicken and her babies, a huge pig (well, a few) and some colorful plants. It was raining and muddy the whole day, but that didn’t stop us!

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The beach was pretty nice and there were waves and pretty shells. Also a very long pier and a swing for fun pictures.  We were here about an hour.

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Next we drove to Kbal Chay Waterfall. One was massive! So many levels of the fall as well. A smaller one met up with it and this was less powerful so we got some pictures in it. Very slippery in the area because of moss on rocks underwater. We then walked a bit to a pool to swim in that lead to the small waterfall. It was cold and clear but didn’t look clear because of the rocks at the bottom. Such a strong current that when I did the breast stroke I didn’t move.

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Back into the van to go to Wat Leo Temple which is famous for monkeys. The temple itself was beautiful and had lots of decorations up. Sit, Visna and the bus driver made strange sounds and called the monkeys over for us to feed them and take photos. We then went to a lookout at the temple which, again, would be better on a clear day. Still great. Van back to the hotel.

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I sent postcards this morning for 3,000 each. Europe and Asia should have been cheaper but I’m not bother by 200 for the 3 that didn’t go to the Americas.

Dinner at the same place (Angkor Beach Bar) and I got veggie curry for $3 and fresh lime juice for $1 when it should have been $1.25. Woop. Leaving at 7 tomorrow for Vietnam.

Took a bus between Phonm Penh to Sihanoukville. Supposed to be public but changed to private probably because of problems in the city. Bus took 4 hours and we stopped halfway though.

I was supposed to have my cooking class this afternoon but when we called they said no because it’s the afternoon and I’m only one…Strange because the G Adventures tour guide said it was all set.

Went to Angkor Beach Bar at 2:30 and I got vegetable noodles and a drink for $5. Some of us then went shopping and I got a red dress for $5. She started at $10 but I said I got one in Phnom Penh for $5 so it worked out. This one is nicer though.

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Then went to the beach and couldn’t find everyone else. Only two of us had the courage to go into the trash filled ocean and it was super warm. Then to the pool. Dinner at 7:00 at the same place. This time I had a vegetable kebab and 3 drinks for $11. There were some fireworks going off which was pretty and reminded me of Korea. Next we walked with Sit to explore and came back but further down the beach to a horribly cheap foreigner bar. I left around 1:15.

This bar was sleazy to the max. they kept coming around with bottles and telling people to drink from the free drink bottle and making announcements that you got drinks for dancing or just going to the bar. One guy did “40” shots of laughing gas and could hardly function (but it was fine and didn’t have long term effects, so he said) and another passed out and had to be carried somewhere. At least there was a fire show.

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Killing Fields

At 1:30 we went to the killing fields. I wanted to throw up at one point. Our guide was Lucky. I found a bit hard to understand. Facts: Pol Pot = Political Potential, in power for 3 years, 8 months and 20 days then supported after because he was anticommunist. 1.75 million people were killed in killed fields and there are over 300 fields. 3.3 million died total because of starvation and overworking. His name is Lucky because he was born after Pol Pot said to remove the roots with the grass. People put money and bracelets there to help the souls move on as Cambodians are typically cremated and these were not. Some were killed via palm sticks as they wanted to conserve bullets. They played music so people didn’t hear others getting hit as they were in line (they were blindfolded). Baby’s heads were bashed on a tree while the mothers watched. Whenever a skull is found it is put into a glass case at the front. I’ve no idea how many there were.

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Next was the museum. No smiling allowed here (and a sign saying so). Some rooms were quite large but they were for people being presently interrogated and tortured. They were tied to the bed and had a box in the room to poop in. If the poop got outside the box they had to lick it up. There is a photo of a torturer and tortured smiling together. Most people believe in karma, so most torturers and murders are free, while Cambodians think they will get what’s coming to them. This makes Lucky uncomfortable to talk to anyone over 50, as if they are alive, they probably murdered someone. Next we saw the list of rules which was translated by one of 7 survivors. Basically no questions and speak when spoke to. There are 14 white coffins for people who were found dead after the regime collapsed. They had been left to rot in their cells. They used an old jungle gym (as the prison used to be a school) to string people up to wake them when they passed out from torture. Name tags evolved overtime to the last having date of execution on it. The guards were between 14-25. Some whole families were killed.

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We saw some vampire bats outside.

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The last part were could not take photos and had the small cells which I think were smaller than Buchenwald. Where the floor is black, there was blood. The last building had paintings made by survivors which made me ill again. Showed the torture, like pulling out finger nails, twisting off nipples, stretching…

Got in at 6:30-7:00 and went to dinner at 7:30. Beds are hard and the showers are super slippery. Dinner of noodles which had a sticky sauce making me take a long time to eat and lime soda for 5.00USD. Walked to another bar and came back at midnight or so. Sit showed us fried spider and the egg with the duck inside.

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Woke at 8 to go to the palace to take pictures before my cooking class (never happened). Got into a fight with a tuk tuk driver who didn’t understand no. The palace is beautiful from the outside. No one was allowed in at the time because of the protests going on.

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10:30-1:00 we went to central market which was like a standard market but they sucked at haggling. I said 5 for glasses, they said okay. We walked past the protests going to and from the hotel to central market, where some police said ‘welcome to Cambodia’ while laughing.

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We then went to the Killing Fields.

Dinner at a rooftop bar. Drinks were expensive—i.e. more than 1USD—so I just had my water and tofu for 4USD. I kept getting attacked by little green jumping bugs, and was really excited for the next time of eating inside.

Wat?

Woke at 4:30 to be ready at 4:40 for sunrise where only 3 others came with me. Words cannot describe how pretty it was or how annoying the Chinese man next to us was. Too many pictures. Random white horse, which almost looked like I was hallucinating because of how random it was. Saw it again later all dressed up for rides so it made sense. We were worried there wouldn’t be a sunrise due to the rain the night before but we were in luck.

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Breakfast had amazing eggs. Left for the temples at 9am. 20USD entry, 15USD for bus and guide which was totally worth it.

The moat around Angkor Wat is 5 meters deep and protects 5 acres inside.

The first temple was Ta Prohm aka the tomb raider temple. It has many types of trees including mahogany, rubber, fig (?) and strangler. Some of the rocks there are lava. Here we noticed the rocks have holes which is how they carried them. They are still doing reconstruction. We went into one room where people beat evil out by beating their chest with their fists. You can hear your beating louder in there.

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Next was Angkor Wat. This was where the king hid Buddha statues during wars, put people still came in and stole heads and hands to sell for really good money. The steps are little because it’s easier to carry that way. We learned that head monks wear gold and they probably put it on the Buddha. There are carving of dancers with 40+ different hairstyles and 4000+ different hand and feet positions. We’ll see the dance later but a thumb down means ‘plant’, one finger up means ‘grow’, 3 fingers up means grow ‘more’, touching those fingers mean ‘fruity blossom’, and finally opening the hand means ‘drop’. A man started filming us here. There was a lot of rat droppings as well. There are 4 pools to represent the 4 rivers of India. Found the same spot as the morning to take a photo with reflection.

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Lunch nearby. Pretty expensive. Lime juice for 1.5 and a curry-not-curry in a coconut with rice was 5.5. Delicious though. Best meal I’ve had here so far. The coconut was cut into a heart shape. We then got rained in for about an hour and chatted with kids and were shown magic by sit and Visal.

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Next was the gate to Bayon which is quite far from the temple itself, then the ruins of Bayon.

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It had a lot of faces and reminded me of Promethesus. Here we saw the pulley system they made for the rocks. Because of carvings here we think the people were not slaves. They are happy in the carving and drinking and there is no master other than the king who was not finished.

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Next was the elephant wall which had beautiful carvings of elephants (duh) and people. Across were 12 lookout points and between was the elephant training fields. The wall is 5 meter tall and probably 2 meters underground so it doesn’t fall.

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Left at 5:00 to go to New Hope which is where we (the tour company, G Adventures) donated. The old building is a halfway house and many kids thought we were jungle gyms.

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The new building is beautiful and we sat in on classes and I taught some words. Very colorful classrooms, better than Korea because the kids want to be there and work at group tables. Maybe when my loans are done I’ll come to volunteer here.  Next we saw their bike repair shop to help kids get to school and learn a trade and jungle gym and clinic as well as outreach center. I guess a pedophiles in the area, after he ran from Europe. Next was dinner with sad videos playing. Appetizer of cricket, sugar, peanuts, potato chips. Then sweet curry and rice, papaya and fish salad, spring rolls, morning glory stir fried and rice cake. I can’t say that I liked much more than the spring rolls. Lime shake was good too and beer was shit. All drinks were 2USD.

Next we went to the bar area where beer was also a dollar. Upon leaving one guy grabbed me for ‘walking into him’ when I was standing and another guy said he was my tour guide. The night market was closed after which made us quite sad.

The next day, we went to the Wats.

On the way back we heard a story of Cambodian politics. Their PM has been has in power for 25+ years and opposition parties can’t get anything done in the parliament so they’re refusing to sit and want the UN to help. He also told us of his life where he started as a farmers boy, had the opportunity to go to language school, university, didn’t bribe people at university so he didn’t do well, wanted to quit, his parents told him to just switch to school in Siem Reap (was in Pheon Phem) and he did well and studied to be a tour guide and now wants to be a CEO (head of G Adventures tours).

We also learned that the term ‘Siamese’ came from the area of Siem Reap, so I started thinking of the song from Lady and The Tramp.

Dancers at Club Temple were interesting. Hands bend really far which I thought would be cool but was more disturbing and gross. Dinner of cashew and shrimp curry and 2 beers for 5.50USD then another beer for .50 later.

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Went to Angkor What Club and got buckets of booze for 7 or 8 each sharing. It was so much fun I didn’t want to leave though.

Left the next day around noon.

Part of a GAdventures trip….

Really nice bus to the boarder from Bangkok, then we got into the group tour line to leave Thailand and they wouldn’t see us. Sit said after that you have to bribe them sometimes. She had a bitch face anyway. One of the girls had a problem leaving because she had a long visa that she didn’t use yet (for reentry) and they were annoyed.

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Into Cambodia was no problem and funny-sad because one fingerprint machine was broken. How is this supposed to be secure? Or the same? A not-nice bus awaited to take us to our less nice than the first bus (so, middle ground). Stopped for lunch and I got vegetable soup for USD1. It was really good for that price. Went on a bit more to get to the hotel by 4:00 or so.