A Travellerspoint blog

Go Chau Doc - Vietnam

Chau Doc, 10th - 11th February

overcast 28 °C
View beefnlamb on beefnlamb's travel map.

Twenty odd sardines stacked into a minivan, to drive to Neak Luong for our Mekong River border crossing into Vietnam. We are ushered onto a small boat - complete with fold out chairs and no room to move. Nervous laughter pervades as we contemplate the slow 6hr journey ahead of us. It's a pleasant trip downriver. We sign out of Cambodia, and then go have lunch while our Vietnam Visa's get stamped. So easy and efficient! First up of course is a plate of Vietnamese spring rolls (only US$1), then tasty noodle soup to follow. Now we change into an even narrower boat - it goes off balance if even one person moves, but these fold out chair have cushions so we're happy. We enter a tributary of the Mekong for the remainder of the journey to Chau Doc and observe the riverside life - kids swimming, irrigation works, adults with their conical hats cleaning clothes, dishes, children, and water buffalos splashing about in the mud.

chaudoc04.jpg

We join up with the Bassac River and arrive at the pier in Chau Doc. Tin shacks on stilts adorn the rivers edge, vietnamese row their boats across the river, and floating houses float on empty metal drums. Captive fish are grown in suspended metal nets to be consumed as required. We settle into a cheap guesthouse (US$5) which includes cable tv and hot water - a welcome change! We explore the small town and indulge in fish claypots (30,000 dong each ~$3 NZ) and sticky rice dessert from the market.

Chau Doc is rampant with motorbikes and cycles all tooting frantically, the odd car ploughing through. Unlike Cambodia we haven't seen any beggars yet which is a positive sign. Similarities to Cambodia include the French Colonial architecture. Yet the typical home here is constructed with tin roofing and is of a different style.

We have to try the vietnamese staple "Pho Bo" for breakfast (20,000 dong each). A rice noodle soup with beef that comes with fresh herbs (heaps of basil) and veges, chilli and soy sauces, and lime juice. All mixed in together to create a delicious fusion of fresh flavours. Very nourishing.

chaudoc01.jpg

We wander through the local market which exhibits a colourful array of fresh produce, live seafood, raw meat, conical hats etc. A true local market with no tourists in sight. Most of the women here wear the traditional conical hats, teemed with fluoro p.j's (similar to Cambodia's p.j. obsession). The school girls cycle past wearing the stunningly elegant white national dress - the Ao Dai.

chaudoc02.jpg
chaudoc03.jpg

We wander down the narrow alleyways to get to the river - houses are practically built on top of one another, all on stils, with multiple platform layers so we observe people at work, eating, sleeping... rural life in full swing. Down at the river women ferry passengers across the river. We have to wonder what work if any the men do around here...

Posted by beefnlamb 05:42 Archived in Vietnam Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Ele hikes and broken bikes in Mondulkiri - Cambodia

Mondulkiri, 3rd - 7th February Phnom Penh, 7th - 10th February

sunny 30 °C
View beefnlamb on beefnlamb's travel map.

Our bus drops us off in Snuol where we wait roadside for our connecting bus. Life passes us by on the backs of bikes - pigs with their legs in the air, logs balancing precariously, families and supplies. Our bus screeches around the corner and so begins a suicidal mission along a dirt road, full of potholes and obstacles such as rocks and sticks used instead of the trusty road cone that may as well be our national symbol back home. The driver has his foot down constantly - never mind that the dust is so thick he can't see oncoming traffic - he just uses his horn and hopes for the best. Terrifying! We choke on dust while bouncing out of our seats. Nice jungle scenery though (what we can decipher through the dust). The only toilet stops are for the lads - not as easy for the girls to pee roadside with spectators looking on.

Finally we arrive at Sen Monorom - the provincial capital of Mondulkiri, a small village home to the Phnong minority group. We anticipate the usual flood of vultures/motodrivers as we step off the bus - surprisingly there are none. It's a scramble around trying to find our packs - all look identical now that they're caked in red dust. We're left to our own devices to wander through the quiet village centre, and with a couple of aussie girls, find the perfect little guesthouse (only US$4 per night!).

We hunt out the "Info Centre" - a closed building guarded by a savage canine who chases us away - how welcoming! Time for a feed at a cheap local resto which serves real homekill pork with truckloads of veges and noodles for 5000R ($1.25) each. Great fruit shakes too for only 50c. We finish up for the day on the deck of our guesthouse where we rest, relax, and enjoy sweet creamy coffees (1/3 is sweetened condensed milk, 2/3 strong kickass coffee) and cake, while absorbing our new surroundings.

We head off to Potang village about 9km out of town, where we will commence our elephant trek. Mostly a sparse, dusty dry village, it is home to a Pnong minority group. A cacaphony of farm animals and children wander around amid traditional bamboo shacks with their thatched roofs and modern tin houses on stilts. We are shown around inside a shack - home to two extended families apparently. Today there is just one old blind man present, chopping banana palm for the pigs feed. Quite the achievement considering he can't see. We assume he is the patriarch of the family until our guide points out that he has no clue who this guy is. Just a random - just visiting perhaps? I guess that's what happens when you don't have front doors. The fire slowly burns in the centre of the hut, all day long, creating a thick smog. There are two platforms for the families to sleep on, the animals typically sleep underneath. Seems cozy for sure.

mondul01.jpg

This village has six elephants - we only see three, the rest is chilling out in the forest. Ours is an old girl called "Nuncheh". Using the elephant platform, we clambour up into the bamboo basket (which doesn't feel the sturdiest... and it's a long way down!). The mahout then sits on the ele's neck. We set off at a slow pace - Nuncheh is a real foodie and eats continuosly as we wander along the forest ridge, and down into the valley. She sprays us with her trunk as we cross many streams and cools herself down by spraying the back of her ears. We stop for lunch at a river, put up a hammock to relax in, and swim in the river. Nucheh also has a bath and a good scrub down. Her skin is coarse and leathery, with bristley black hair. We clambour back onto her and set off up a very steep hill, the mahout walking alongside to ease the load. Nuncheh swots dust onto herself with a leafy branch as protection against the sun. Smart cookie. She quickens her steps as we approach the village, and just to show her appreciation she snots on us.

mondul03.jpg
mondul04.jpg
mondul05.jpg

Once back at the village she yawns and takes a nap. We feel guilty for tiring her out but apparently these ele's have a pretty cruisy life and aren't used for work anymore - they just take turns giving tourist treks. Once these ele's die, the village will have a big problem as there is no possibility of baby ele's (all are past reproductive age). The villagers believe that if a baby ele is born it is the sign of a bad spirit and a villager will subsequently get sick and die. A sacrifice of a large beast e.g. an ox, will be presented at a ceremony to appease the gods. Very superstitious but what ever it takes to make them feel better about the lack of ele babies! As we're about to head off home our driver gets called into a celebration for "just one drink" of potent homebrew rice wine. They make tonnes of the stuff and today are drinking to celebrate the completion of a house being built (although i'm sure they don't need the excuse)... We make it home eventually.

mondul06.jpg

We hire a motorbike to venture out the 35km to Bou Sraa Waterfall. After ~8km we grow suspicious of the dirt road so query a local who points back the way we came. Back we go to the intersection but to our dismay we get redirected back again...darn. Finally we enter new terrain, making slow progress... until we get a flat tyre. Yet more backtracking as we start pushing the bike back towards the closest village. But hang on - there's a bike garage just up ahead, in the middle of nowhere. What a coincidence - yet come to think of it they are probably the ones responsible for all the nails and crap on the road... a cunning ploy to get our custom! The boy who runs our guesthouse happens to drive by. He stops briefly to converse with the mechanic and advises us it should only cost 2000R (~50c) for a puncture repair - sweet! Sure enough, upon closer inspection the puncture happens to be on the seam and the inner tube needs replacing. It still only cost US$3 to repair - gotta love cheap labour! By noon, we are finally back on track.

mondul07.jpg

Once at Bou Sraa we admire the stunning two tier 10m and 25m drops that cascade down the rock face. Locals picnic around us and there are very few tourists which makes for a relaxing environment. Once back home we head another 3km out to Monorom Falls where we watch a group of local teenage girls swim fully clothed in jeans -modesty first. Curiously they take our photo and share mangoes with us - so friendly.

mondul10.jpg

Apparantly there is a border crossing we can use not far from Sen Monorom, yet with no information to go on bar a dodgy reference in the guidebook it seems unfeasible to do in day. Even the locals advise against it. Darn, we have to head all the way back to Phnom Penh ( a 7 hour bus ride!) to make our border crossing into Vietnam. Fortunately, the journey from Sen Monorom to Phnom Penh is nowhere near as hazardous as our journey there, yet to keep it interesting we stop in Skuon or "Spiderville" as it's more commonly known. Vendors carry baskets brimming with dead spiders for consumption - creepy. Local children push live tarantulas at us - we quickly retreat to the safety of the bus. We're not really hungry after all.

Once in Phnom Pehn we have a couple of spare days up our sleeve so we head back to Sky Park Hotel and indulge in a picnic of our fave Dana Blu cheese, wine, assorted fruits and pringles. Lazy sleep ins, buffet brekkies, exploring the central market and Sorya Shopping Centre. We enjoy some drinkies from the carriage of a tuktuk and watch frantic Cambodian city life pass us by. The flipside of the coin is that we can sneak in through the Mekong delta, something we wanted to do anyway!

mondul12.jpg
Alana hinting at the bling bling but it didn't work!

Posted by beefnlamb 05:31 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

ATM Angst and Dolphin Dreams in Kratie - Cambodia

Kratie, 1st - 3rd February

sunny 28 °C
View beefnlamb on beefnlamb's travel map.

Kratie is a pretty province. Set alongside the Mekong, home to sensational sunsets, local markets, and funky resto's to entertain our appetites.

Yet the main reason we are here is to see the elusive Irrawaddy River Dolphins... but first a freakout over the prospect of no ATM, a gruelling trip back to Kompong Cham for $$ and two days wasted. Thankfully we find out that an ATM was installed only a couple of months ago - hooray! But our relief is shortlived - the ATM is out of order! Many staff and security guards mill around, yet no-one can give us any indication of when it will be back in operation. Eek, we're down to our last riel. An hour later, still no news (and Alana very anxious to get to those dolphins!) so we decide to take our chances (and the last of our money) and see the dolphins, hoping for the best!

We take a motorbike 15km North to Kampi where the dolphins reside. A tranquil ride past local villages, forests, river, and fellow local riders. The US$9 'unique fee' has just been introduced a month ago, supposedly for Dolphin Conservation, yet the fresh water Irrawaddy dolphin has long been endangered. Numbers plummetted dramaticaly during the Pol pot regime, as many were hunted for their oils. Today there are only around 75 left in the Mekong in Cambodia and Laos (with small pods in Myanmar and Bangladesh).

Upon our arrival we are pleasantly surpised - no tour buses! We even get a longtail boat to ourselves (with personal oarsman of course!). "I hear a blowhole blowing" shrieks Alana. Guido thinks she is taking the piss - but as we look out over the river we can actually see the dolphins. Our oarsman has a pretty easy job - he only has to put in a few strokes when required, as the dolphins are so close by. It's peaceful to watch them doing their thing, uninterrupted by us or others. Our oarsman then takes us further upriver, meandering around grassy islands, to get to the "rapids" - more like a swift current than a rapid but great for swimming all the same. We enjoy a most relaxing soak in the river (surely the flowing current renders this area clean...). Tranquil times. Once back on shore we sit on the hill and watch the dolphins below - it's mesmerizing to watch them swimming around in their natural basin. We guess that there are about 10 dolphins here? Hard to say. Such a special encounter - and not at all touristy!

Kratie1.jpg
Kratie2.jpg

Back to reality - and the ATM which will determine our fate. Good news - it's back in order, bad news - it closes from 4.15 - 4.45pm daily (but of course) and it's 4.15pm on the dot! Actually we had one minute to spare but some bloody aussies jumped the queue and screwed us over. Jokes on them though as they had a Mastercard, and this puppy only accepts VISA, hehehe. In the meantime we have fruitshakes with sunset views over the Mekong, while our compadres stress over getting money wired to them to ensure their survival. At least our crisis is averted, for the moment.

Posted by beefnlamb 20:39 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Kompong Cham - Cambodia

Kompong Cham , 31 January - 1st February

semi-overcast 27 °C
View beefnlamb on beefnlamb's travel map.

To break up our journey from Siem Reap - Kratie, we decide to stay a night in Kompong Cham - the gateway to North East Cambodia. Alana has dosed up on medication to survive the long bus journey, not helped by the large boiling pot of turtles on offer at our lunch stop (and no we do not indulge!). We check into a riverside guesthouse (US$6) overlooking the mighty Mekong River - the perfect view to enjoy baguettes and coffees while we digress.

Decrepid French architecture once again the flavour, bearing testament to long days past. Rubbish strewn alongside the river banks, sewerage flowing into the Mekong, and people fishing in its waters. We won't be eating fish tonight!

We walk over the long bamboo bridge to "Koh Paen", the rural island in the middle of the Mekong. Every year the bridge gets rebuilt in the dry season, as it gets destroyed by nature every wet season. It feels fragile, yet even the odd car manages to make it across safely. No sooner have we stepped foot off the bridge and onto the island when a boy runs us down to extort money from us - screw that! We head back across the bridge just as 3 tour groups all cycle over to visit the island village. Looks like we saved ourselves from another tourist trap!

KompongCham1.jpg
KompongCham2.jpg

Instead we walk back along the promenade where Guido gets roped into playing 'piggy in the middle' with the local children (Alana has the sickness excuse). A welcome respite from the 'tourist' role we unintentionally portray so frequently when travelling in these developing countries. It's these experiences that we cherish most.

KompongCham3.jpg

Posted by beefnlamb 20:32 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Temple Therapy in Siem Reap - Cambodia

Siem Reap, 25 - 31 January

sunny 29 °C
View beefnlamb on beefnlamb's travel map.

Siem Reap - gateway to the mighty temples of Angkor. Four months into our trip and and we haven't met a single traveller yet that didn't have this one high up on their itinerary. In fact, for most it is their only destination and ubiquitous with a trip to Cambodia. Surely so many people can't be wrong so we're dead keen to find out for ourselves what the fuss is all about. Off the bus we cut straight through the mobs of hawkers and navigate our way along the Stung Seam Reap River to a rather faceless establishment at the outskirts of town, one of the few places with spots available. A small town at heart we find it a real charmer with an old Psar Chaa (covered market) smack in the middle, an usual assortment of ochre coloured French colonial leftovers and a damn fine tree-lined boulevard that runs along the river, connected to the other side by the occasional "authentic looking" stone overbridge. Moreover, its clean and there are even signs up encouraging people to dispose of their waste - a novelty in these parts of the world.

Our first impressions are good and spirits are high. Most of the action is actually confined to a small wedge shaped part of town where Bar street (with its bars, cafe's and resto's) rules the roost and liveliness radiates outwardly through a dense network of alleyways and backstreets. Much to our amusement we watch the commotion and gaze at the sheer number of shops and establishments that cater to the farang - they must out number the temples 10 to 1 easily. Part of the parcel; a seemingly endless supply of pizza joints that stretch into the distance bearing such imaginable names the likes of 'Happy Herb Pizza', 'Ecstatic Pizza', 'Happy Special Pizza' 'Happy Angkor Pizza' and the list goes on. After all you wouldn't want to run out of pizza in a place like this.

The next couple of days slip by quickly as we explore the ins and outs of Siem Reap, track down decent eateries and relocate from our rather drab looking place to the Ivy - a much more atmospheric guesthouse just around the corner. Well, at least they have a few hammocks strung up and Pol Pot's old toilet seat on the wall so they must have some sense of humour? With a stroke of luck we also discover a Khmer place near the old market which does amazing authentic mains (fish amok anyone?) and wicked fruitshakes without costing the earth. This, supplemented with the popular mobile food cart stalls that set up along the main road means we have our staple diet sussed - sweet! It's not that we're food snobs by any means but since they cater for every imaginable taste under the sun, from pasta to Turkish to Rasta cuisine (go figure) we can't imagine they do any of it particularly well. Tonight however, we go to Temple Balcony to watch a 'free' Apsara traditional folk dance performance. With stunningly ornate costumes the dancers reenact a story from the grandiose Indian epic, the Ramayana - Khmer style. 'Free' as long as you buy a $0.50 draft beer. Tough choice we thought too.

siem02.jpg

Armed with a brand new $4 'Temples of Angkor' bootleg copy from the market we studiously plot our next 3 days worth of adventures at Angkor; intending to temple hop from place to place with the rusty retro bicyckles we acquired for $7 total. So much has been written about this place already; a dazzling array of different itineraries to choose from; visit in chronological order or not...according to building style or not...or avoiding the crowds perhaps? Enough drivel to drive anyone bonkers really. With the archeological park only 8kms away we decide to take a late arvo sneek peek. Cycling the dirt road alongside the enormous 19 meter wide moat past the outer guard wall perimeter the temple of all temples: majestic Angkor Wat slowly rolls into view.

siem27.jpg

Pandemonium complete, we stand awestruck by the sight of innumerable tuktuks and buses which are parked up in front and the thousands of people that slowly shuffle their way over the stone causeway which leads across the moat into Angkor Wat. This must be the most popular place on the planet! Standing on the causeway, soaking up the sunset this monument to ultimate divine worship is without question breathtaking. And when you see a rope tethered hot air balloon full of tourists drifting its way up in the sky against the fading light of day, you suddenly realise that by now you really have seen it all. Now to make our way back to town in one piece amidst the turmoil of tuktuks, cars, buses and what not. Engulfed by darkness, no street lights to back us up and only one intermittendly working bicycle light between us we wait for that mammoth pothole which will send us flying.

4:30am next day - peep peep peep...the alarm resonates throughout our room, courtesy of our new $4 g-shock watch we acquired just for the occasion. That all too familiar noise which gnaws at your subconsiousness that you ought to be somewhere else...darn. With the sleep still in our eyes we jump on our bikes and start to make our way towards the Angkor Archeological Park. Five o' clock and well before the crack of dawn as we cycle along the solemn and quiet riverine boulevard; lamp posts project our ghostly shadows on the tarmac. Even the lamp posts are adorned with ornate carvings a la Angkor Wat style - subtle details we only make out now and there's not much else to occupy our minds this early. We are not entirely alone though - the occasional tuktuk careers past and a handful of other cyclists share our endevours.

On we cycle to the tix booth, where we pay a whopping US $40 entrance fee for 3 days of sightseeing. Bloody UNESCO! With our golden Willy Wonka ticket in hand which we cannot lose, tear, frumple or even laminate we pedal for Srah Srang - our first destination in what will be a busy day. The park seems like a fairly big place so our intentions to cycle around its perimeter might turn epic. Well, we've never been any good at guestimates and they say the journey is part of the fun right? Things to ponder about as we cycle our lungs out to Srah Srang (pool of ablutions), a large man-made basin of 800x400 meters, where the king and his many wives let their hair down. A considerable journey and well beyond Angkor Wat we get there only just before sun rise. With 15 minutes to spare and having lost most of the mobs earlier the place is incredibly serene and peaceful. The local village girls are also abound and, business savvy as they are, hook us up with a hot brew of sweet coffee, which of course helps to soak up the surroundings as we sit by the lake where a lone fisherman cast out his nets.

siem01.jpg
siem03.jpg

With the day now in full swing, we stroll across the road to Banteay Kdei. Constructed in the late 12th century by Jayaverman VII it is a sprawling, largely unrestored monastery. The place is literally falling apart, apparanlty due to poor building technique and using inferior sandstone, but it's a funky place to walk around in, and the multitude of Apsara dancer carvings; heavenly nymphs or goddesses and garuda's on the walls keep us entertained.

siem06.jpg

We have the place to ourselves too which is great. Amidst the rubble two kids, locals no doubt, walk up to us. The conversation goes something like this:

G says "hi there!"
boy says "Candy"
G says "What's your name?"
Boy says "Candy?"
G says "right"
Boy says "candy?"

What's up with that anyway? Sure enough his belly was a tad bit distended but its not like we walk around with a bag of lollipops all the time. We soon get used to being followed around the temples by little shadows in trance chanting "one dollah... one dollah" as they try to sell their flutes, postcards, whistles, whatever...

siem05.jpg

Past the outer walls of Banteay Kdei to the atmospheric ruins of Ta Prohm, one of the big hitters in templetown. Walking underneath the monumental entranceway of this Buddhist temple we enter the realm of an ancient world inhabited by crumbling towers, closed courtyards and rather claustrophobic dark corridors. Reclaimed by the jungle over the years past, the many bass relief decorations are covered with soft lichen, scrubs and vines climb their way up the walls, and massive fig trees emerge from the walls and roofs they set root in over a thousand years ago. Its hard to tell whether these strangulating root formations holding the temple in chokehold are keeping it all together or tearing it apart.

siem07.jpg
siem17.jpg
siem16.jpg

Many of the overhead corridors we explore have long since collapsed, their entranceways clogged with enormous carved sandstone blocks. Others are about to with their stones balancing precariously on walls that are about to topple over. Cloaked by the dense foliage of the jungle, the few rays of light that manage to penetrate bathe the temple in a greenish hue, reminding us of the ferocity with which nature attempts to recapture the grounds from which this temple was carved. Its a magical experience. At least it was until the 40 odd bus loads of tourists descend upon it, swiflty replacing serenity with circus madness. Imagine a herd of sheep, 40 busloads of them running amok in a temple the size of a rather large supermarket and you get our drift. Time to pedal on.

siem09.jpg
siem18.jpg

On the far flung southeastern corner of our circuit awaits Pre Rup; a Hindu pyramid-shaped temple mountain with the uppermost of its 3 tiers carrying five impressive lotus towers. Pre Rup meaning "turning of the Body" which eminent archeologists think refers to a traditional method of cremation where the body is bbq'd in hot cinders. All good with us, it makes for fine commanding views over the countryside.

siem12.jpg

Tracking up, we cycle into the Eastern Baray, a truly enormous 8 x 2km one-time water reservoir fed by the Stung Siem Reap River. A depression of dry wasteland is all that remains which makes for a nice but exhausting ride past grazing ox. Approaching noon, temperatures are quickly reaching pitch fever and it's becoming punishingly hot on our bikes. Our next temple; 'East Mebon' lies at the centre of the Baray, once an island it now lies dry baking in the sun. A smaller version of Pre Rup dedicated to Shiva we find it very much same same but different. The elephant statues are cool though and the shade offers a welcome respite.

Many hours and several temples later we arrive at our last destination for the the day; 'Preah Khan'. A Buddhist temple sanctuary Bayon style it's a teaser for what's to come in the next few days. Chockered with bass reliefs, hidden passages, vaulted corridors, cylindricral columns and piles of tumbled sandstone blocks it resembles somewhat of an archeologists playground. Better still, basking in the glow of the late afternoon sun we have the place to ourselves - inspirational.

siem15.jpg
siem24.jpg

5:30pm and utterly shattered to bits we prepare for the long ride home through the fortified city of Angkor Thom, past the splendid terraces of the leper king and the Bayon - all deserted with not a soul in sight, until we get to Phnom Bakheng - the sunset temple where a spectacle awaits. Hundreds of renegade buses and tuktuks parked about, scores of people stumbling down the temple stairways in the twilight. We pedal past as fast as as our feet allow but to no avail, soon we find ourselves in the midst of a motorised turmoil weaving in and out between hooting tuktuks, cars, buses, and lots of cambodian dust. An experience in its own right =) Sure enough all this traffic soon comes to a grinding halt on the one single lane road into town. Not that it matters much to us, watching the spectacle unfold from the excellent roadside BBQ Suki, a wicked Khmer all-you-can-eat barbeque spot. We must have looked like the shaggiest dishevelled bunch ever amidst the upper class of Khmer society.

Fortunately the next few days aren't nearly as epic, yet there are some real delights to be had. Meandering up the forested path to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat from the holy temple mountain Phnom Bakheng...

siem11.jpg

Entering the forbidden city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the mighty Khmer empire; dwarfed while cycling through one of its massive gateways...The Bayon with its numerous classic towers and their four giant stone faces looking down upon us mere mortals, while its extensive wall murals provide a glimpse into daily life eight centuries ago...

siem04.jpg
siem19.jpg

The richly decorated terraces of the leper king, or the terrace of elephants perhaps with its 300 metre long facade of carved life-sized elephants and garudas; standing upon the same grand viewing platforms the Kings once admired the processions of their mighty marching armies from.

siem20.jpg
siem21.jpg

Or how about watching the sun rise over the five lotus towers of Angkor Wat whilst sipping a hot coffee at 6am in the morning? Or even strolling past the sandstone murals which depict grand storylines such as the churning of the oceans of milk; an ancient tug of war between gods and demons, pulling the serpent coiled around the Holy Mount Mandala, churning up the seas to extract the elixir of life. Unforgettable experiences!

siem25.jpg
siem23.jpg

Easy as pie the following days are. You would not believe how much you come to appreciate a tuktuk after having been on the saddle for two long days. Zipping around checking out Banteay Srei; the finest display of intricate sandstone carvings yet.

siem26.jpg

The landmine museum established by Aki Ra - a former Khmer Rouge child soldier turned DIY deminer. Onsite an orphanage taking care of the landmine victims, centred around a wacky depository of defused mines, mortars and other ordinance - the very source of their predicament.

siem30.jpg
siem29.jpg

Or the Artisans 'd Angkor - a stunning shop of classy silk garments and sandstone sculptures, made by impoverished street children turned to traditional trades. A wee bit too expensive for us not too mention that a slab of sandstone doesn't travel well either, but the free silk worm tour which showed us all the stages of production was fascinating all the same. In case you wondered the grub tastes kinda nutty. Also discovered the best cocktails yet. Delicious 'dragonfly' - a concoction of Midori, Contreau, lime, pineapple juice and vodka, and the 'beach monkey' - a sweet treat made of rum, malibu, banana liquer and grenadine. Ice cold and served in mammoth long glasses just the way we like them. $1.50 each - go us!

Posted by beefnlamb 07:59 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

(Entries 21 - 25 of 47) « Page 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 7 8 9 10 »