Cambodia (August 2014)


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Expenses:

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Transport:

  • Tiger Air S$79 with return
  • Giant Ibis bus for inter-city trips

Weather:

The only time I experienced rain was in Kampot and Sihanoukville. Elsewhere it’s sunny as Cambodia can be.

Interesting snippets of what we experienced:

Phnom Penh

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  • Meeting a solo traveller and exploring around with her (Phnom Penh)
    Met this Spanish girl in her early 20s, Maria, who asked to share a taxi from the airport to the bus station. We ended walking around the markets in Phnom Penh while killing time.
  • Sleeping overnight on a moving bus (twice)
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  • Night Market
  • Genocide museum
  • Killing fields
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Kampot

  • Lived by the river
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  • Climbodia
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  • Bokor Mountain
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  • Cycling. Rented a bike for the whole day for USD 1. We cycled without directions and came upon train tracks. They aren’t abandoned, but used infrequently, by trains that carry construction materials. I was delighted at our incidental find and scampered to snap photos as much as we can while the sun went down. The tracks led across the river and it was just such a sight to behold, as the sun came down behind Bokor Mountain.
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  • Pepper plantation
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  • Secret Lake. This path cut across the entire vast lake. All vehicles drove through this wet pavement. It’s cool to see how the water spash outwards as the motorbike and our tuktuk rode through this pavement.
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Sihanoukville

  • Kayak
  • Lived on a treehouse
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  • Showering in the cold in complete darkness because as luck might have it, there was a blackout on the only night we stayed there
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  • Pity that we couldn’t watch the sunrise from our treehouse ‘cuz it started raining in the middle of the night
  • Got my bag bitten by a mysterious animal (we suspect a dog who climbed up our treehouse) in the middle of the dark night
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Siem Reap

  • Ripped off at Floating Village.
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    A stupid boy put a snake over our neck and asked us to take picture. Afterwards, he stuck his hand out and asked for $1. How uncivilised! We were fooled..
  • Floating Village sunset
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  • Having less than $20 in our pockets (before Zena came to save us with my parents’ money)
  • Kindess from a local-
    Took a tuk tuk who brought us to Floating Village. After alighting at the Palace, he offered to show us how to go back on foot, when we didn’t even ask him! He even asked if I was Zena- all because he picked Zena up earlier that day and thought I was her. He then showed me his recently-married wife on his phone wallpaper. The pride on his face was clearly evident- and he didn’t even look any older than us.
  • Angkor Wat sunrise
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  • Phnom Bakheng sunset
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  • Had our driver’s car break down on the way down hill from Kulen waterfall
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  • Witnessed Cambodian kindness (again) when they oncoming drivers all stopped to help the overheated car
  • We were lucky to have the driver regale us of his stories about the Vietnam War.
    He has 4-5 children, the last getting married soon. He has to give 100,000 USD as dowry for his son is getting married. Cambodians usually wish the youngest to be a girl, so they can inherit all of their property.
    When we wanted to hear more about the Pol Pot regime, he told us, at 55, that he was a survivor. He was a good kid, then 16, who slaved hard during the utilitarian regime. Glad I watched the video clip WL downloaded by a clay maker on our night bus to SR. It gave me a better visual of how the war was like in the 1910s. The slaves had little to eat, sometimes having to ration food for months. They only get to shower once every few weeks/ months. It is not usual that I am interested in history that much. We were fortunate to hear the first hand account from our driver.

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Hotels/ Guesthouse/ Treehouse we stayed:

In Kampot,

  • Magic Sponge Guesthouse (owned by 2 English men. Super friendly, speaks English, quality service.)
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  • Villa Vedici (river front!)
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In Sihanoukville,

  • Treehouse Bungalows (the word “treehouse” says it all. Very basic amenities. Stay only if you are prepared to be primitive… Like getting your bag bitten off.)
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In Siem Reap,

  • Apsara Centrepole Hotel (the most posh hotel we’ve stayed in our entire trip. Satisfied with the standards of hygiene. Could not ask for better.)
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In Phnom Penh,

  • Mad Monkey Guesthouse (I felt claustrophobic. Didn’t have any windows, and the toilet had no ventilation.)

My thoughts

Although Cambodia was dusty, less developed, less clean and less fashionable, I missed the simple carefree days where we had nothing to worry except for what our itinerary was next and how much to spend on what. Witnessed the coming of a full moon and how it got chewed off bit by bit. The peacefulness of Kampot and the bustling city of Phnom Penh. 5 beds in 9 nights, 4 cities.

After eating meat a couple of times, I concluded that all Cambodian chicken, pork and beef are tough so I stuck to seafood and shrimp after awhile.

I spoke to more people from different parts of the world with different occupations than I’ve ever in my life in Singapore. Backpackers, a writer, diver, PeaceCorps, UN, etc. Cambodia is where  different nationalities of backpackers congregate. They are as open-minded as you expect backpackers are, that they’ll easily strike up conversations with you. There were more Caucasians than Asians, and this contrast was especially stark in Kampot and Sihanoukville cities.

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For Why Everyone Should Visit Cambodia At Least Once In Their Lifetime, click here.

 

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