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Adam's Travel log

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Welcome to my travellog. Here you can read about my journeys day by day.

Log entries 81 - 90 of 264 Page: 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Aug 24, 2009 06:00 PM First look at Angkor Wat complex

We arrived in Siem Reap at 1 p.m. after 6-hour ride on a bus operated by Phnom Penh Sorya (US $5). There were many tuk-tuk drivers waiting for passengers and we went with one of them to the town. We're staying here at Green Town Guesthouse. Just US $6 per twin room, fan only, cold water shower. There's also a decent restaurant in the guesthouse with reasonably priced food.
After lunch we discussed with Vantha (the tuk-tuk driver) what we want to see in Angkor Wat complex. For two and a half days he wanted US $40 only (petrol and driver's meals included). I didn't want to haggle as this means only ca. US $10 per day for him (after subtracting costs).
The admission fee for the complex is high - US $40 for a three-day pass. Today in the afternoon we went to see Bayon temple and also sunset at Phnom Bakhain Temple. We were also passing by Angkor Wat and it's really magnificent from distance. We'll explore it tomorrow.

Aug 23, 2009 06:00 PM Second day in Phnom Penh

Today we started from the National Museum. It's full of sculptures from differend epches of Khmer civilisation. For me not very interesting, but the building itself is nice. Admission US $3. Then we visitied two important temples: Wat Ounalom, the headquarters of Buddhism in Cambodia and Wat Phnom. The second one is located on a hill and there are many beggars sitting on the steps leading to the Wat. Consider supporting them as there is almost no charity in poor, developing countries.
In the afternoon we went to the Royal Palace and also visited Silver Pagoda there. Admission fee has risen since the time last LP guidebook of Cambodia was published and is now US $6 instead of 3.
For three days we've been patronizing an Indian & Nepalese restaurant Mount Everest located on Sihanouk Blvd. The food there is delicious (try mango lassi - joghurt and fresh fruit shake) and management as well as staff v. friendly.

Aug 22, 2009 06:00 PM Cambodian Auschwitz

Today we visited the sites commemorating the genocide commited by Khmer Rouge against Cambodian people. First, we went to the infamous Tuol Sleng or S-21 prison where almost 20 thousand people were killed or tortured to death. Only seven surivived. The pictures of inmates are terrifying. All look so scared, their sight is full of fear. All were killed - men, women, children. One of the most poignant pictures is of mother holding a small baby, for sure both were later killed.
Tortures were unimaginable. After visiting S-21 now when I see any Cambodian 40 or older I know he went through this hell.
We also visited the Killing Fields on the outskirts of the capital. We hired a tuk-tuk to get there (US $7 returned, haggled down from US $15). There is a stupa full of human skulls, again very strong and tough experience. There are also many pits around - these are former mass graves from which bodies were exhumated.
Admission to both S-21 and killing fields is US $2.

PS. Thanks to all those who signed my guestbook!

Aug 21, 2009 06:00 PM 12 hours on a bus

We took a morning bus to Phnom Penh. It departs from Ban Lung at 6:30 a.m. and arrived in PP almost 12 hours later. The ticket was 34k riel. We're staying here in a nice midrange place - Golden Tour Eiffel Guesthouse. A suite is just US $15 (haggled down from US $18). It's centrally located between two important sights - the Tuol Sleng museum and Royal Palace (both within walking distance).

Aug 20, 2009 06:00 PM Cemetaries of the Tompuon people

Today we again hired the same guys to show us around the province. This time the ride was longer.
First, we went for elephant trekking. I didn't enjoy it. It was a very touristy experience. The elephant was actually taken for breakfast.
Then we went by motorbikes to Voen Sai, 35 kms from Ban Lung on dusty dirt road. It was a good choice to buy masks before, not the inhale this brown-reddish dust. The road was very bumpy too. After one and a half hours on the bike I was all covered with red dust. Then we took a boat to Kanchon (US $15 for charter), a village inhabited by Tompoun people. They have a very interesting cemetary there and it was worth the effort to go there. The locals will charge you 4000 riels for visiting the cemetery.
On the way back we went to a Chinese minority village. Talat lost his camera there, we couldn't find it. Many pictures were lost, unfortunately.
We returned to Ban Lung after it got dark. It wasn't very safe to ride on this dirt road and I had a minor accided - just abrased my knee.

Aug 19, 2009 06:00 PM Exploring Ratanakiri province

This is a real outback of Cambodia. Khmer Rouge guerrillas were hiding here after repression from the Cambodian king in 1960s and '70s. The province has much changed since that time. There's almost no jungle now - just cashew and gumtree plantations.
In the morning we rented motorbikes with drivers - US $10 per bike per day (fuel included). One of the guys - Makara - speaks decent English and I can recommend him as a guide. We went to see a couple of waterfalls. I had a great power shower under one of them - Chaa Ong. We also visited one minority village and I had a swim in Boeng Yeak Lom crater lake.
There's internet in the town, and it's now as cheap as 4000 riel per hour. It's quite fast so you can also use Skype here.

Aug 18, 2009 06:00 PM Corrupt customs officers

Today we left Laos and started the Cambodian episode of the journey.
In the morning we left Don Kho by boat, then took a jumbo to Pakse, bought tickets for a minibus tranfer to Stung Treng (in northern Cambodia) and get on. The ticket was 190k kip, expensive, but when you consider rip-offs from the border to inland Cambodia it's a sheer bargain.
I didn't have any problems getting Cambodian visa on arrival, but Talat did. They didn't want to grant him the visa showing a list with Pakistanis excluded from visa on arrival service. They demanded US $200 bribe, got US $100. There are a lot of extortions at the border. First, Lao officers demanded US $2 for exit stamp, then we had to pay for quarantine check US $1. A few bucks is nothing but it really gets on my nerves.
In the afternoon we arrived in Stung Treng, from where we caught a bus to Ban Lung it Rattanakiri province. We paid US $10, and it was a rip-off. It should have been five only, as we then learnt.
At the bus station we were met by huge swarm of locals offering hotel and guesthouse rooms from as little as US $3. We are staying at Lakeside Cheng Lok Hotel, paying just US $4 for a big twin room with fan (A/C not needed here) and hot water.

Aug 17, 2009 06:00 PM Homestay on Don Kho

Today we decided to go to Don Kho island, around 15 kms from Pakse to see how the locals live and live with them. First, we had to get to Ban Sapai village (7k kip by a jumbo) and then take a boat (20k kip per boat). On arrival we were met by a local girl, Mik, who led us to our homestay and then became our guide. The life on the island is very tranquil, men do the fishing and women weave silk. We walked around the villages visiting houses and observing women weaving salongs and scarfs. I bought a few pieces, so did Talat. We had lunch and dinner prepared by our hosts. Prices on the island are fixed: 30k kip/person for homestay, 20k kip per meal, 50k kip per guide per day.

Aug 16, 2009 06:00 PM Magnificent Tat Fan

The overnight journey on the sleeper bus turned out to be very tiring. The double beds are very narrow (like a single bed) and only 170 cm long (I'm 180), so you can imagine I could not sleep.
There were two reasons to go to Pakse in southern Laos: Champasak Temple (listed as World Heritage site) and Tat Fan waterfall). To the waterfall we went by public transport. Jumbos leave from the morning market, 2 kms from the centre (5k kip for a motorishaw/tuk tuk ride per person). We paid 15k kip for the ride to the waterfall and there was also an entrance fee. The twin waterfall (two streams) turned out to be really breathtaking and it's probably the most striking waterfall I've ever seen, but I haven't seen the most famous ones yet.
On the way back we first hitch-hiked and then caught a public bus (15k kip) to the town. In the afternoon we rented motorbikes to go to Champasak temple. It's almost 50 kms from the town, but first 30 or so kms is a very good road. Then it there are many potholes so I have to be more carefull. The museum at Champasak temple is open only until 4:30 p.m., but the temple is open as long as until 6 p.m. so we managed to see it thoroughly.
On the way you have to cross the Mekong river (10k kip per motorbike), in the evening we had to wait for the ferry for more than an hour.

Aug 15, 2009 06:00 PM Vientiane - the capital (?)

Actually this city doesn't look like a capital city. We got here by a minibus (4 hrs, 80k kip) from Vang Vieng. We visited the oldest temple in the city - Wat Si Saket (admission 5k kip) and just wandered around. There's nothing special to see, so this evening we're leaving on a night bus (sleeper, 150k kip) for Pakse.

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