The last of SE Asia

Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
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Trip End Sep 14, 2010


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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Sunday, January 3, 2010


Hello again everyone, sorry its been a
while but its been a bit manic moving from one place to another and
also my laziness has not helped, ha ha. Well as usual there's a lot
to get through apologies for the long and maybe boring blog but I
hope you at least like the pictures if the text sends you to sleep.
Just to sum up where we are up to, we had just spent new years on the
island of Don Det in Laos and here we cross over into Cambodia and go
from there on the rest of our journey through SE Asia.




Hope you enjoy..







From Laos we crossed the border into
Cambodia, one of the most corrupt countries in SE Asia, this was
proven immediately by the border guards who charge a $1USD per stamp
in the passport and they also had a tent set up where they claim to
test you for quarantine reasons you have to fill out a form then they
stick a thermometer to your forehead!! this, they want to charge a
dollar each, me and Adam pretty much told them to F'off being that
they weren't wearing a uniform and brandishing a gun we thought it
would be OK to not pay them and we were right, sadly a young Italian
girl got caught out and thus didn't have enough money to keep paying
the other “taxes” so we helped her out, poor thing..




Anyway after about 2-3 hours at the
border waiting for everyone to cross we set off on the bus to Phnom
Penh the capital of Cambodia. On the bus a fight erupted between
about 6 travelers and the bus guy as they had brought a ticket to
another destination which wasn't on route so basically they got
ripped off the argument went on for about 3 hours until they all
decided to go to Phnom Penh but they still had to pay another $7 on
what they had already lost.. what choice did they have!




The bus took about 10 hours and we
arrived pretty late into the city. After a good nights sleep we were
up early and off to the Vietnam embassy to get our visas which we
thought might take a few days turns out we got them back the same
day, bonus!




We then went to the site of S21, this
is an old school that during the Khmer Rouge occupation of Phnom Penh
was turned into a prison and torture place where over 20,000 people
were brought and killed, out of the 20,000 only 7 survived S21, and
this was only one of these types of prisons/camps that were in
existence in the country.




Cambodia suffered a total of 3 million
deaths through torture, executions, hunger and exhaustion when the
Khmer rouge took power for just over 3 years, from 1976 – 79. Led
by the extremest dictator Pol Pot. Everything was banned including
currency, religion, education, healthcare, shoes, any
coloredclothing, only black pyjamas were to be worn, singing,
laughing, calling your mum and dad mum and dad, banned so many rules
and all in Pol Pots mind to rid the country of its westernized ways
and return it to the old country, basically an agricultural and
illiterate society. Anyone who was educated, doctors, nurses,
dentists, teachers, anyone even wearing glasses were murdered.
Basically leaving the country full of unskilled and uneducated
people. Its only in the last 30years that the new government were
able to reinstall schools and hospitals but there just simply were
not enough doctors, teachers etc to work in them and probably still
aren't its a constant battle in some of the more rural areas I think
but its slowly getting back on its feet from what we read and saw.




Its hard to imagine what it must have
been like back then and all only 30 years or so ago a like most of
the countries in SE Asia it is as corrupt as ever and has the highest
child prostitution figures in Asia but it is a country rebuilding
itself.



Its incredible though as you travel
through the country and see anyone over the age of 30 you just think
to yourself I wonder if they were alive during the atrocities of the
Khmer Rouge, the strength and courage of the people is humbling it
just goes to show the what people have to and can endure. It most
definitely makes you think about how lucky we are.




After a very thought provoking 3 hours
at S21 we wandered through the city which in some respects reminded
us of India with slum dwellers and the rich on each others doorstep.
But its a progressive city with a very western influence in some
parts, French bakeries and what have you here and there.




We collected our Vietnam visas with
success and booked a bus to take us to Siem Reap, the place of the
famous Angkor Wat and surrounding temples to go the next day.




That night as we had to be up so early
we decided to have an early one. Unfortunately a bunch of 19yr old
drunken gits (that's putting it nicely) decided it would be fun to
put on the movie “Back to the future” and turn it up full blast
right outside our room and then have overly loud conversations about
their travels, all well and good but this went on until they passed
out at 4am! We got 2 hours sleep if that and were shattered traveling
up to Siem Reap but it was only about 7 hours on the bus there so it
wasn't too bad but still.. little sods! God I'm getting old!




During the journey we stopped for food
and toilet breaks and then as we got back on several Cambodians had
purchased a huge bag of crispy brown snacks, suddenly as we realized
these were a bags of deep fried locusts and as they started snacking
on them, picking the wings off and sucking the bodies you could see
the legs getting stuck in their teeth hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm yummy!!




When we arrived in Siem Reap we stayed,
on recommendation from Tom and Tilly, at the guesthouse “Wats Up”
very central and probably the best shower in the whole of Asia,
amazing!!




Siem Reap as a town is basically a
tourist hole primarily a base for anyone visiting the Angkor ruins,
there were bars and restaurants everywhere and a great night market
with some very cheap meals, perfect for us. We did go to a little
place called the Khmer kitchen and had some local curry of Amok and
Khmer flavors very very tasty.




We decided that we would do the Angkor
ruins on bikes and so hired a couple of peddlers and planned to
cycle to the ruins the next morning, rising early at 4.30am so as to
catch the sunrise at one of the many temples. However due to our lack
of sleep the previous evening we literally couldn't even open our
eyes despite the alarm blaring at us so we decided to stay another
night and do the cycling the next day.




We were so tired we had our first lie
in past 9am in months it was bliss, and we basically had a very lazy
day, so good but yet we felt so guilty, its one of those things that
when your traveling you feel you have to do something everyday but
its impossible and so exhausting so the guilt was short lived as we
tucked into crisps, and watched films for the morning ha ha !




We made sure to have an early night and
the next morning we did get up at 4.30am and cycled our way to the
Angkor ruins, the whole route was about 30kms and by the end we were
so knackered, hot, sweaty and my bum.. Oh my God it was bruised to
the bone! But doing it this way was well worth it, we managed to get
some of the temples to ourselves in the morning but when we arrived
at Ta Phrom (this is a ruined temple where the jungle has grown into
and over the foundations ) it was absolutely packed with bus loads of
Japanese tourists each with about 3 HUGE Cannon cameras round their
necks, very stereotypical I know but so true! It was such a shame as
it made the experience slightly less magical as we got pinned into to
corners by the overly excited bus loads of happy snappers.. mind you
they were all shorter than us so we we could still see but it wasn't
exactly a great experience. However the ruins themselves are still
pretty impressive. There are piles of collapsed stone walls
scattered about and the roots of these humongous trees swallow up the
foundations to make some dramatic scenes.




We cycled on and went to several small
temple ruins on the way to the main site of Angkor Wat, this is the
only temple which has been restored to its previous glory in a sense.
Its an immense site, the skill and patience to build these
structures is incredible, it took over 300 years to complete the
Angkor temples and you can really see why, they are enormous and the
carvings so detailed.




When we reached Angkor Wat this was our
last stop of the day and our limbs were aching from the cycling every
step was an effort we literally dragged ourselves around the
corridors and grounds before having to cycle the last 10kms back to
our guesthouse where upon arrival into our room we collapsed on the
bed it felt so good!




I was definitely impressed by the
Angkor ruins but not to the extent of Hampi in India, I think sadly
tourism takes a lot of the magic out of these places and with
thousands of people clambering all over the ruins it kind of takes
the sense of discovery out of it all and also buggers up your
pictures too but we have to remember we are also tourists and you
know, what can you do. Its a tick on the list but for me but it
didn't come close to the experience we had in Hampi.




We decided to head down to the south
coast after Siem Reap so took a bus to Kampot, a small town set on an
estuary in amongst fields of rice and banana plantations, it took us
about 11 hours to get there and when we arrived we were given our
bags and much to our horror they had been lying in a pool of fish
guts or something, probably left over from a previous journey so we
were stinking, I'm surprised that we managed to get a tuk tuk at all
the stench was vile! we arrived at our guest house called Utopia,
pretty late, it was about 9kms out of the town and set on a quiet
bend in the estuary.



On our first night we heard something
rustling around near our bags which still had the very very heavy
essence of rotten fish on them, in the morning there were nibble
marks over a carrier bag near the backpacks,clearly a rat or
something had been at it. The next day we made sure to wash the bags
with but all we had was a sachet of Sunsilk shampoo.. needs must and
all that, the bags we so soft and silky after wards.. ha ha it really
does work!




We spent our 1 and only day chilling in
the restaurant/bar overlooking the estuary having a very lazy day in
the sun and a swim in the water which was so warm, the scenery was
gorgeous too, surrounded by hills and farms. Adam took a tube and
crossed the river to a rope swing, his belly flops could be heard
from miles away it was hilarious.




The next day we moved onto the beach
side town of Kep about 25km away, we were only staying one night
here as well as we were going to Rabbit Island the next morning. We
had the best meal at our guesthouse in Kep, I had jacket potato with
beans and cheese and Adam had a massive burger suitably named the
AK47! It was sooooo good.. and a much needed break from the rice
and noodles. Kep isn't much of a place, a small fishing village and
beach side retreat, very quiet but pretty. We met a dutch guy living
there who had been working in Phnom Penh with the police in training
them on how to deal with pedophiles, he had some very interesting and
shocking things to say. I'm not going to go into it here but I will
say that we all know about corruption and we have an idea of what
goes on behind closed doors but we really don't know the half of it.




Anyway enough of that, he also told us
about his neighbors and how they had stolen and eaten some of his
cats and dogs, nice! Cambodian men believe that eating dog will help
them perform better in the sack, apparently they are not well endowed
at all as a nation and so will try anything to improve their status
lets say! Have they not heard of Viagra, gap in the market there I
reckon!




The next day we took a boat over to the
island of Koh Tonsay also known as rabbit island, its a very small
palm lined beach spot and we had a lovely 3 days there. We had a very
basic beach hut, the door didn't shut so Adam had to rig up some sort
of pulley thing to solve that problem. Also there really isn't much
to do there, we sat on the beach, did some swimming and ate but I did
get sick there, think I had some dodgy egg in my rice or something as
I just had the worst nausea for about 24 hours which was a shame but
it passed when I just stuck to eating plain pancakes and bread, hmmm
nice!




After Rabbit Island it was time to
cross over to Vietnam, it was only about 2 hours drive into the
Vietnamese town Ha Tien a town not far from the Vietnam border, we
had decided to stop there and make a trip through the Mekong Delta
area in the south of Vietnam and then up to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
however we changed our plans very quickly purely because there was
just nothing to see or do round the south, it was crazy we looked it
all up and couldn't find anything that even inspired us so shamefully
we decided to make our way to Saigon and decide what to do next from
there. So we decided to take a bus to the town of Rach Gia about 2
hours from Ha Tien and from there maybe go to My Tho and little
fishing village outside of Saigon and then go onto the city the
following day. We got a moto (motorbike taxi) to the bus stop, its so
funny on these bikes I loved it but the helmets never quite fit and
being the that the Vietnamese are famous for their crazy driving I
was a little worried but it all turned out fine. They hailed the bus
for us and on we got, 2 hours later and a very squashed journey we
arrived in Rach Gia, we thought we could get another bus to My Tho
but after a bit of an argument with some other moto drivers we found
out that we had to get a private bus and so off we went to the ticket
office on the motos, all to with commission as usual, we managed to
get a ticket down from 150,000 dong to 100,000 and I'm sure we were
still paying above the odds. We had a 2 hour wait at the office and
this lovely man who spoke pretty good English invited us to sit with
him and told us all about his life and asked all about ours, he was
such a friendly guy he introduced us to his friends who were deaf, it
was so much easier to sign than to speak Vietnamese we found, crazy!
Anyway finally the bus arrived and off we went, as the time went on
it was getting pretty late and as the bus was heading to Saigon we
decided to duck down when it pulled in to My Tho and basically
smuggled ourselves all the way to the city instead.. well like I said
we paid above the odds for the ticket so all is fair in love and war
as they say.




We didn't really know what we wanted to
do still, we had almost 2 weeks to kill in Vietnam but this wouldn't
have been enough to go to the north and back and we were getting a
little bit weary with moving constantly so after a night in Saigon we
booked a bus to Mui Ne. Again our friends Tom and Tilly had told us
about it and it really was lovely so much so that we spent 10 days
there. Mui Ne is basically a beach resort famous with kite surfers
and wind surfers who were in their element there, with a huge beach
and the pacific ocean waves and wind it was perfect for them, and a
great place for us to stay put for a while.




For 2 days we had terrible storms and
once these cleared we went for a walk on the beach only to find a
drowned dog and chicken washed up on the shore, lovely!

We literally spent our time there
walking and beaching it before we headed back to Saigon for a couple
of days, I really like Saigon, its a busy city but not as busy as
some we've been to, however the motorbikes are crazy I'm not joking
when I say you can be at the traffic lights crossing and there will
be maybe 50 or more bikes lined up ready to race through, it really
is taking your life into your own hands though when crossing the
roads, lights and pelican crossings exist but mean shit when the
drivers have to be somewhere! One day this little old woman saw us
trying to get across a crazy busy road and instead of me helping her
she grabbed my arm and got me across the road it was hilarious, she
was so funny, not a word of English but chatted or should I say
shouted at us in a good way all the way across she was so sweet.



Finally after securing our lives for
another day we went to the war museum which had a huge exhibition of
photos and documents it was immense and pretty impressive. Yet again
as in Cambodia we just couldn't believe it was so recent and yet the
country appears to have recovered, however the affects of the war are
apparent in Vietnam to this day. Thousands of people were infected
with the Agent orange gases the US forces used and their children and
their childrens children are suffering, being born either without
some limbs or with mental disabilities, we read of one girl who has
to be locked in a cage as she just eats everything in sight
otherwise, even herself. The villages were the worst affected and as
there is so much poverty I don't think there is much aid to help
them. Also another shocking stat was that 4 million Vietnamese people
died during the war but only 1.5 million of these were soldiers.. the
brutality of some of the US troops was hard to swallow and its easy
to see why maybe some of the Vietnamese don't warm to us westerners
so easily, more Americans than Brits but still they judge as we do
too and when you hear and see the reasons for this its not so hard to
see why.




But I have to say we never experienced
any hostility, yes people will try and succeed to rip you off but not
nastily, and to be honest sometimes its OK to be ripped off even if
we are on a budget we are still probably better off than some.




So yet again a moving and thought
provoking experience as always, but Saigon is a bustling modern city
as any other and a great place to spend some time. The people were
lovely to us and we had a great time wandering the streets and
running for our lives across the roads!




Although when we came out of the museum
this drinks seller wanted to sell us a coconut, Adam agreed and when
we asked him how much he said 100,000 dong! WHAT you are kidding was
my response as I walked off but from that he dropped within a second
to 30,000 for the coconut and a bottle of water.. so funny what they
will try.



We flew from Saigon to Phuket a couple
of days later and from there we took a ferry in the morning to Koh
Phi Phi, what a place! Adam, as it was my 30th birthday
had booked us into this lovely beach resort, it was so lovely, basic
but the view and the water and beach were stunning.




We had 3 days there and met some lovely
people, an American couple who were so friendly that on my birthday
brought me a cocktail and then a lovely Canadian man who just made me
laugh as he mumbled so much I hardly understood a word he said! We
did a snorkeling trip on my birthday to a gorgeous reef about 20 mins
boat ride from our resort and then we landed on an island, Bamboo
Island where we watched the sunset before heading back and having
dinner on the beach. When we got back to our room that night the
lights weren't working as Adam had earlier tried his hand at being an
electrician, Oh Dear,.. he had managed to make the plug work but
cocked up the lighting.. anyway we showered in the dark with a torch
and suddenly Adam yelled out and looking over to him this massive
Huntsman spider, bigger than my hand flew out of the shower, I swear
I've never jumped so high and run so fast, I tucked myself into the
mozzie netted bed until I was sure it was safe, the bloody thing was
ridiculous how huge it was, its just not normal to be that big,
especially in our room! Hence to say that that night was a restless
one!




Anyway the next morning, spider less
and a bit calmer we took a boat trip with others to Maya Bay and the
surrounding waters, this is where they filmed 'The Beach' with old
Leonardo DiCaprio, what a stunning place, it was busy but still the
beauty and the waters were crystal clear, better than that in fact,
the fish were huge and abundant and it really was such an amazing
place I couldn't believe it, it really was like being in a film!
Incredible.




Later that day we took a long and very
sweaty walk to the peak of the island to look out over the bay an
amazing view and considering they were the worst hit in Thailand with
the Tsunami they have recovered so well, business is booming by the
looks of it and things are back to some normality.




When our time came to an end we took a
ferry to Krabi where we stopped for a night before crossing back over
into Malaysia. We took a bus which was meant to be 6 hours including
the border crossing, however a good 10 hours later we arrived yet
again in Penang, where we had passed through almost 2 months earlier.
It was a bugger to with the bus as it was the day that Andy Murray
was playing Roger Federer in the Aussie open final and we missed it,
gutted!




Anyway we then spent a night and a day
in Penang, did a bit more sightseeing of a Buddhist temple and the
shopping center before catching an overnight bus to the old colonial
town of Melaka, 11 hours south and on route to Singapore.




We arrived very tired having not slept
much and we had to find somewhere to stay so we caught a bus into the
center of the town and trudged the streets of Chinatown looking for a
hostel. It was so eerie at 9am everything was closed, we were hungry
and needed food but couldn't find a single place open, even all the
guesthouses had their doors locked, maybe they saw us coming looking
like a pair of sweaty turtles with our bags on our backs.. who knows
but it was very odd, like a ghost town..




Such a pretty place though, Chinatown
is made up of old colonial buildings and as it was coming into
Chinese new year the streets were decorated with paper lanterns and
banners.

We finally found a place to stay and
literally hit the sack as they say for a few hours before going out
to explore. It was baking hot and our room was a wooden box with no
window and a little fan that barely made an impact, definitely shed
some pounds through sweating in there but it was good enough for us.




We went out in the afternoon and
visited the maritime museum which is housed in a replica old
Portuguese sailing ship, very odd but interesting and then we went up
to an old ruined church which had a great lookout over the rest of
Melaka. Finally that evening we found somewhere to eat and had one of
the best meals in a long time, being that we had become so sick of
rice and noodles it was great to have something different. The next
morning we were up and on our way back to Singapore where we spent
the next 3 days again wandering the streets and the many shopping
malls although we could only look and not buy despite the fact we saw
so many great things! We headed straight to the food courts too and
Adam was again in his element.




As we had been in Singapore already we
decided to treat ourselves to a night at the cinema, mind you it only
cost about 4 quid each and we went to see Avatar 3D, what an amazing
film. Usually not my kind of thing but it was seriously good and Adam
wants to go again.. hmmm obsessed maybe??



We also went to Singapore Zoo, its a
great place as the animals are not penned in by cages but rather by
steep banks and rivers but they have so much space to roam, it was a
bit of a crap day weather wise but a great experience, especially
seeing white tigers and polar bears.




Finally our time came to an end in SE
Asia and we caught our flight to the sunny shores of Australia which
is a new blog entirely.




Throughout SE Asia we loved Thailand
and Laos and of course Singapore is one of our favorite cities, we
did enjoy our time in Cambodia and Vietnam and Malaysia but after so
many amazing places its hard to love everywhere but we have been so
lucky to see so much and the fact that everywhere we have been the
people have been so welcoming and helpful we really are blessed.




I don't think I would go back to either
Cambodia or Vietnam but the north of Laos and the four thousand
Islands I could definitely do again but then we still have so much to
see on this trip its hard to say. But for any of you thinking of a
cheap and affordable trip then I would highly recommend Laos and
Thailand. The scenery, the people and the food all amazing.




Time is flying by on this trip and were
trying to appreciate every minute and I think as time is moving on we
are finding out things about ourselves which maybe weren't apparent
before. Who knows what the next, well almost 6 months remaining now
will teach us but whatever it is the memories of all these wonderful
places we have visited will be with us for the rest of our lives.




See all our photos from this trip on the following link - http://picasaweb.google.com/adam.reevesRTW



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Comments

dad on

Another interesting blog Rae and Adam,looking forward to the next one.Lots of love Dad and Lorraine x

Fred on

Your trip sounds amazing guys, really nice to have a reflection on it that isn't @ 4 in the morning - massively hammered!! Green with envy here in blighty. Bon voyage! F

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