Trip to Cambodia + Thailand '06/07

Finally, I'm back from my trip... a little bit tanner, a little bit dehydrated, a little bit homesick, but nevertheless, a lot more perspective gained from the world outside.

Couldn't possibly have imagined how I felt when I saw rainclouds and mist gathering outside of my cabin window... oh I do miss the tropical rain!

Welcome and I hope you have a pleasant read... this post will be updated from time-to-time and with photos up next week!

Day 1
(LCCT -> Siem Reap)

“可以想象,当它刚刚建好的时候,是多么的宏伟” --玮轩

Cambodian time is one hour earlier than Malaysia
Stay: Bou Savy -USD3.50 per pax
Transportation: Around town - by foot (easy walk!) To Angkor Wat - tuktuk -USD12 full day
Tonle Sap boat ride - USD15 per pax
Angkor Wat 3 day pass - USD40 per pax

We reached Siem Reap airport at 11.10am Cambodian time, no visa needed for Malaysians/ Singaporeans. I had a pleasant surprise when I saw a welcome plaque held up for us, it was the Bou Savy guesthouse owner himself come to welcome us at the airport! And in a Toyota Camry too (albeit muddy and dusty...) After we reached the guesthouse located 6km away from the airport, we had a welcoming drink prepared for us, kinda like soursop mixed with something else... refreshing and nice!

For lunch, we went to GreenHouse restaurant nearby, and had banana leaf fish (pic), Khmer style beef, and rice for 3 (USD7). The food in Cambodia was good, kinda like the more peculiar Chinese dishes in Malaysia, although as we slowly found out, overpriced due to tourists.

After lunch we did some walking around town, down the street to the Royal Gardens (looks eerily like cemetery grounds), the Angkor Shopping Centre, and bought some fridge magnets/ keychains at the central market.

At 2pm, the Camry came to fetch us for a boat-ride on Tonle Sap (in Khmer, Tonle stands for Lake, while Sap for Freshwater).


Looks like the sea! -Tonle Sap, the Great Lake

On the way to the Great Lake, which, I thought was exactly like what I saw on National Geographic a few months back... a realistically painted picture of poverty of the Cambodians who lived in wooden stilt-houses on the river banks leading towards the lake. The waters were muddy and the land was barren, where young babies lay suckling their mothers with no foliage from the blazing hot sun. I asked the guesthouse owner whether the banks would be flooded during the rainy season, but he smiled and said no, those were good floods... and some of the houses-on-stilts served good seafood delicacies during those seasons. For now, the waters were subsiding towards the Mekong Delta, as it was the dry season (November-January).

3 of us boarded the lonely boat, and though the whole picture looked sad, I saw a glimpse of hope for the children as we passed by schools-on-water set up by Japanese and Korean collaborations with the local Cambodian goverment. The boat stopped at a "fish-farm" with fewer than 5 aquariums filled with small, limp fish and many many crocs.


We saw naked children paddling around swiftly in the water in a tin wok, trying to sell bananas to us. On our way back to town we saw Phnom Krom in the distance. Some may think USD15 is too dear a price to pay for what you get to see on the Tonle Sap... but when you think of the kind of insight you get into those people's lives... you might wanna rethink the kind of blessings that you take for granted all this while!

Phnom Krom (Mount Krom). Did you know that lots of the stones in Angkor Wat were quarried from here?

After the Great Lake, we started on our adventurous journey... to the Angkor Wat! It's at an even heftier sum, but we did come here to see it, so... grit your teeth and pay up USD40 for a 3-day pass. Words can't describe the feelings when you stand in the presence of that great monument for the first time... so behold the pics!

On the pathway to Angkor Wat

Five towers of Angkor Wat reflected in the lotus pond. Walk to the left side of the pond to catch a glimpse of all the 5 towers as compared to 3 when you view Angkor Wat from the centre.
Bas Relief Galleries - housing the bas reliefs describing Hindu Mahabhrata epics. Start on the West Gallery and bring a guide book along to understand the story behind the carvings!

Dancing Apsaras on the wall

Then we went inside the central temple complex...

Grab a place at the third level to watch the sunset! - The symbolism of the very steep and high stairs is that it's no easy task to visit the gods...

NOTE: You can only gain access to the Angkor park entrance at 5pm sharp, so if you can, rush up to the third level before 5.30pm before the stairways are closed! Take in the sunset... and breath in as much as you can... because you'll never experience that same feeling again when you first saw... the Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat at 6.00pm... everyone disappeared after watching the sunset.

We walked around the balustrades before the fall of dusk... standing in the lonely shadows of days gone by...
Moon over Angkor... -La Nuits d'Angkor

After visiting the Angkor Wat we ate our cheapest dinner in the whole world... just USD1.50 for food for 3 + 1 can of Coke! Then we decided to do something out of routine and went for the weekly Beatocello concert, held every Saturday night in aid for Cambodian children. We felt a bit displaced, but in that modern hall in the midst of a country stricken with poverty, disease and corruption, we beheld one of the most amazing and giving doctors... and had a flashback into the days of what Malaysia used to look like to our grandfathers, 30 years back.

Travel Tip 1: Don't wear contact lenses! It's too dusty in Cambodia for beauty!
Travel Tip 2: Bring wet tissues to rub your face and oral masks to avoid sucking in the dust by the roadside.
Travel Tip 3: It should cost around 2000 riel (Cambodian money) or USD0.5 for a 1.5 litre of mineral/drinking water. Anything more than that they're ripping you off.
Travel Tip 4: The best period to travel to Cambodia is the "winter season" which extends from Nov to Feb. Other times be prepared for extremely HOT weather (March to May) and try best to avoid the rainy season from June to Oct!

Comments

Anonymous said…
hi, hope i can finish reading your siem reap travel log before i leave to siem reap next month :)
Xweing said…
Haha... welcome! Have a nice stay~ you can voice up what you wanna know also... and I'll try my best to answer you!
Auleo said…
hehe drinking water should cost around 500/600 riel (bout RM0.50-RM0.60) for 1 litre water lo
(blue in color,very popular in cambodia)


2000riel are foreigner's price either (from our observation)
Xweing said…
Shit... I'm ripped off.

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