Friday, January 7, 2011

Cambodia Trip- The highlights and the DONT'S!

After talking about going to Cambodia for the past two years, I finally got to...and it happened on the first four days of 2011! Woo hoo!!!!!! I was always fascinated with Angkor Wat after reading about it and hearing it from my dad. My travelling bug has been niggling at me to go to Cambodia every summer, and I am glad I finally did. I expected Cambodia to resemble Bangkok in a way but it was more undeveloped than I thought it would be when we arrived...... no sky scrapers, no highways, freeways, and the roads are extremely dusty with many motorcycles zooming around. The traffic there scared me to death, I basically had to close my eyes when I was sitting in the van, or else I wouldn't want to be on the prepared for that if you do go........ However, there are of course places you MUST visit when you are there which made me go "wow"! I thought I should prepare you guys for what you should look out for and not do before you plan your itinerary:) Saves you the trouble...

The places that made me go"wow"

1. Sunset Cruise - It's not your typical "sunset cruise" in which you imagine a white boat with people dressed in their Sunday's best sipping champagne and looking at the sunset. It's literally a boat or what Malaysians call a "sampan" with a motor attached to it, and you can experience the salt water splashing in(akin that to your er...champagne?), and they take you on a ride to the open ocean to view the sun setting which was definitely breathtaking to me....

The jetty(basically just a place for people to jump in and out of the boat)

In our "cruise ship"

The beautiful ball of golden light

I love that we could see how Cambodian fisherman families lived.... this small house by the river is where everyone sleeps, cook, hang out,etc...

at the helm of our boat waiting for the sun to set....

2. Angkor Wat and all the other temples in the surrounding area - we went to three.... but the one that impressed me the most is Angkor Wat itself..the structure, and the spirituality within the structure...amazing!

Posing by the river before we head in

The many many tourists walking in and out

This pond reflects the structure of the Angkor Wat, beeautiful ain't it?

Now, this is a picture worth showing..... apparently, royalty and priests are the only ones able to climb up these steep steps into the Angkor Wat previously. However, they closed it down recently to tourists because someone tried to run up these steps, fell down and died..... I was looking at it thinking to myself, I wouldn't event attempt to go up if there were no proper staircase....ugh!

The view from how did I go up instead?

Through a proper staircase....which was pretty steep too..look at the inclination!

Walking towards the Ta Phrom temple where Tomb Raider 2 was filmed

The humongous tree at the entrance, the structure of the temple is basically damaged by the roots of the tree breaking down the bricks and foundation

Such as the roots of this tree...

The ruins..It's already so beautiful when I went in there, can you imagine the structure before it was ruined?

The intricate designs inlaid within the walls..

The third temple called Angkor Bayum, the area was pretty small  and more exposed as you can tell:)
I would say that the one day pass which costs USD20 is worth it if you head there early, best if you cauld see the sunrise from Angkor Wat! You can then head to the other surrounding temples and spend the rest of the day there, very worth it! BUT, be warned that the food within that area isn't really good and pretty pricey!

3. Apsara dance - As a tourist, I recommend this performance if you are into cultural performances. The show features many different types of dances but the main attraction would be the Apsara dance which is a Cambodian cultural dance that is infused with hints of animisn and primitiva magic. While watching, you get to enjoy their buffet spread which has alot of traditional Cambodian + western food... Definitely worth 12 USD!

My Favourite dancer..she's soooo cute!

4. The Cambodian Tuk-tuk is a MUST! Especially when you are travelling short distances in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Convenient and cheap, and you get to enjoy "fresh air"


There is only one major thing which I do not recommend tourists to do especially when you are short on time.... That is fly to Phnom Penh and take a 6 hour van/bus ride to Siem Reap and back within four days. Why?!? Because...... the fact is that it is a one lane uneven road which is undeveloped and the journey takes 6 whole hours( I have to keep stressing this point). Plus, you don't get to see much except the same "atap"or stilt houses again and again and again....and did I mention how BUMPY it is!!!! I had a headache everytime when I tried to sleep:(

I suggest you fly to Siem Reap, spend 2-3 days there. After that, take a flight to Phnom Penh or the ferry down...that would be much better.... taking flight saves time and avoids a painful butt whereas taking a ferry would definitely be an experience:)

The same scenery for 6 hours to and fro..there is only one way there!

For those thinking of taking a trip to Cambodia, I hope this post made your planning much easier.... I know alot of people buy Air Asia tickets and usually go only for a few these are the things I recommend to do and NOT to do! I did not spend enough time in Phnom Penh but there is the genocide museums and killing fields there which I knew about but did not want to visit from the start anyway. If you like more gruesome pictures and artefacts, you can visit those places when you are in Phnom Penh. Hope this can email or message me if you have more questions and I will be glad to help:)

Next up, Cambodian food("delicacies" included)!



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