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Curious what backpackers do in Cambodia? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Day71

    We've made the next step in our travelling journey and left Vietnam and arrived at the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. Our bus left at around 8.45 to make the journey across the boarder. The journey started well as they provided water and pastries, although we didn't eat them, and played 'fantastic beasts and where to find them' at the front of the bus and although you couldn't really hear they put on English subtitles so we were able to enjoy the film. This pretty much took up all the time until we reached the boarder where we had to disembark and queue to have your passport stamp for leaving Vietnam. We boarded back on the bus and got comfortable again only to get off 2 minutes later at the entry point to purchase our visa and have fingerprints taken. There was little direction for the guy in or bus but it went better than we had expected with getting through immigration. We had a lunch break after before setting off again to the capital. This part of the journey took forever and this time they played another English films but chose Korean subtitles! Out of all the languages to go for! Finally we made it to the capital and unfortunately we were dropped at a different place than we saw on the website. We were so excited as we were meant to be being dropped a 3 minute walk from our hostel but it wasn't meant to be. Still determined we tried to find the river which our hostel was on. We were sent in a general direction continously but with no real help on how far it was, and that's when the heavens opened. We were caught in a downpour which was actually quite refreshing after the bus ride but 15 minutes later and still walking with no sign of a river it wasn't so pleasant to anymore. In the end we gave up trying to find it on our own and flagged down a tuktuk. Turns out we were going in the general direction for the river but the complete opposite way to the section where our hostel is. It felt so good to get there and then check in to probably the best room we have had so far. The hostel is lovely and modern and clean with very friendly staff. There's a great communal area so we're quite excited to be here and hopefully will meet some other travellers. After showering and getting settled we just headed out for some dinner before coming back and watching a good couple of episodes of miranda on YouTube. Such fun!Read more

  • Day72

    We decided to have an explore on foot day today. Our hostel is situated near both a temple and the royal palace so it made sense to make the most of it. We struggled to find the first temple but after some wondering around we stumbled across it. It quite a small temple at the top of a mound and we enjoyed exploring around the building and the grounds. By this point it was already so hot and knowing that it was going to hit 33 degrees today it was only going to get hotter. We decided at this point to get a tuktuk to the royal palace and for only a couple of dollars you can't go wrong. Unfortunately we found out it closes between 11am and 2pm so we couldn't go in yet but it did mean we got some good photos with no one else in them. We thought we'd go and have an early lunch and visit the national museum and then the palace after. The museum was in a gorgeous red building with a picturesque courtyard in the centre with 4 fish ponds. The fish would all swim towards you as we stood on the edge, leaping in and out the water to get closer to the edge. The museum had lots of things to do but was quite heavy with information on the audio guide and in the heat it was hard to keep up with it. After the museum we went back to the palace where I had to purchase a very stylish white men's Cambodia branded t shirt to wear to cover my shoulders. The woman was also saying I needed to buy trousers but I pulled my shorts right down and they were lower than most people's who were being let in so I disputed this and managed to just get the t shirt. The palace was impressively with very ornate gold patterned buildings and intricate silver monuments to past kings. There wasn't much to see despite being a large site and no information on anything so we were glad we went last thing in the day when the crowds were minimal and it was cooler in temperature. After the palace we found out there was an Aeon Mall in the city, a mall which we loved in Japan so we had to visit! We walked along the river front to get there and it took a good 40 minutes of navigating and getting lost to find it. We were both feeling quite drained but a Krispy Kreme and Starbucks later we were ready to find somewhere to have some food. The restuarant we chose seemed very reasonable but unfortunately this was reflected in the potion size but you live and learn! We took a tuktuk back to hostel and had a relaxing evening video calling Aeryn and Jen before bed. She loved showing off her new scooter!Read more

  • Day191

    Das Wildlife Rescue Center Phnom Tamao ist eine knappe Autostunde von Phnom Penh entfernt. Mit Patricks Kollegen Jeremy und seiner Familie haben wir einen kleinen Sonntagsausflug dorthin gemacht.

    In Phnom Tamao werden kranke, ausgesetzte oder konfiszierte Tiere aufgenommen und falls möglich wieder an die Wildnis gewöhnt. Wenn ihr kommt gehen wir da gerne wieder hin :-)

  • Day42

    Phnom Penh als erster Stopp in Kambodscha ist eine Stadt mit schönen Ecken, aber viel Armut und einer absolut schockierenden Geschichte.
    Insgesamt bin ich zwei Tage in Phnom Penh, die man benötigt, um zu verstehen, was hier vor knapp 40 Jahren passiert ist. Das S-21 Gefägnis und die Killing Fields vor den Toren statt sind vermutlich das Schlimmste, was ich bisher gesehen habe. Im S21 haben knapp ein Duzend von schätzungsweise 20.000 überlebt. Ansonsten wurden Ihnen während wochen- bzw. monatelanger Folter ein, teils frei erfundenes, Geständnis abgerungen, um sie daraufhin zum Tode zu verurteilen. Sie wurde anschließend mit verbundenen Augen und in Handschellen in Lkws zu den Killing Fields transportiert.
    Die Todesurteile wurden auf grausamste Art und Weise mit Werkzeugen, wie Hammern und Bambusrohren ausgeführt, da das Geld für Munition fehlte. Anschließend wurde sie in die Massengräber geworfen und mit Chemikalien getötet, sofern sie noch lebten. Kinder wurde gegen Bäume geschlagen, um sie zu töten...

    Es war schlimm, die Geschichten von Zeitzeugen über den Audio Guide zu hören und die Beschreibungen der ganzen Abläufe. In weniger als vier Jahre Herrschaft der Roten Khmer wurden Schätzungen zu Folge 20-25 % der Bevölkerung umgebracht.
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  • Day183

    Today we had a quieter day, catching up on trip planning, arranging transport, laundry, etc (not exciting, but necessary). We have decided to stay in Siem Reap for another few days, instead of our original plan to move on to another town in Cambodia. There is plenty to do here and it should give us chance to catch up on preparations for the next leg of our trip (we fly to New Zealand next week), as well as fortifying ourselves before the 10-hour bus journey to Bangkok and another imminent round of jet lag... Selfishly, it also means that I do not have to spend my birthday tomorrow on a bus! We went for a last swim in the pool of our fantastic hotel before we had to check out and move to a hotel across town (also very nice and above budget - a birthday treat!). We went out for a walk in a park by the riverside and saw lots of large fruit bats roosting in the trees - fascinating to see. Having missed out on the Foreign Correspondents Club in Phnom Penh, we found the FCC in Siem Reap and enjoyed a "happy hour" cocktail there this evening (whilst Solana practised her photography skills again!). We ended up going to an Indian restaurant tonight and, although not up to Bradford standards, it was better than we expected. We also saw a pharmacy that doubled (tripled?) as a mini-mart and money exchange shop - possibly an idea for pharmacies in Britain who are feeling the economic pinch?...Read more

  • Day181

    And now for the big one - we visited Angkor Wat this afternoon. Apparently it is the largest place of worship in the world. It certainly was very impressive, even after seeing the temples at Angkor Thom this morning. We entered Angkor Wat over the stone bridge across the 180m wide moat that goes all the way around the temple complex. We were explaining to Solana that the moat was made to protect the temple and she concluded from that that anyone bad who tried to get over would be pushed into the water to be eaten by crocodiles! You then walk along a long pathway that leads to the main temple complex, with the iconic view of Angkor Wat in front of you along the way. Once inside, we spent a couple of hours exploring. It was pretty busy inside but it quietened down a lot towards 5pm. Solana met a couple of other little girls around her own age, the first we think was Japanese and the 2nd, pictured here, we're pretty sure was Cambodian; the two of them attracted quite a crowd, all wanting photos of the cute little girls! Solana is loving the idea of Buddha and today she was asking questions about the offerings people had made to the statues in the temples; we told her about offerings and she wanted to make an offering herself. After talking about the different types of offerings (many of them here were sweets - bearing a remarkable resemblance to Werther's Originals!), she offered some money; a monk then offered her a blessing of luck with holy water and tied a red cotton bracelet around her wrist. It was lovely to see her interaction with him. As it got later, the light got even better and we managed to get some photos of Angkor Wat together with its reflection in a lake - seen here with us spoiling the artistic view!

    As with many things, the photos don't really do it justice but it gives you a flavour of what we've seen anyway. All in all, it was very reminiscent of the days we spent in Central America 12 years ago, wandering around the Mayan and Aztec sites including Chichen Itza, Tikal and Copan - but here there are slightly fewer mosquitoes and definitely more tuk-tuks! It is also striking every time we see such ancient buildings, the similarities between different such sites in very different parts of the world, geographically distant and often built in different eras - e.g. the Mayan and Aztec temples of Central America, Machu Picchu in Peru, Angkor Wat, the ancient cities in Thailand, the pyramids in Egypt. It makes us wonder - did ancient civilisations have more contact with one another than we know, or did many different groups of people come up with similar ideas independently?.... We also saw a bit of wildlife around the temples today - including monkeys, lizards, myna birds, butterflies, frogs and parrots. Tomorrow we plan to visit some of the other temples in the area (to get our moneys worth from our $62 each tickets - they went up in price dramatically just last month, from only $40 per person!).
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  • Day179

    We spent the day exploring Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. This morning we went to the Royal Palace, the official residence of the King. It is still the Royal residence, so many parts are off-limits and the parts that we could see were not well signed - but the buildings included palace, temples and stupas and all were very ornate. It even got a "wow" out of Solana when we first arrived! It was very busy there today, being a weekend it was busy with both Cambodian and international tourists. After the palace we found a kids play park - the first decent one we've found since Playa Hermosa in Cost Rica, over 6 weeks ago, so Solana was ecstatic! She somehow forgot that she doesn't like being out in the hot midday sun and happily played there until we dragged her away for lunch.

    This afternoon was a lot more sombre. We went to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (aka "S-21"), to learn more about the history of Cambodia. We weren't sure whether or not to go with Solana but, after reading up about the place, we decided to go and we took turns staying with her in the gardens, whilst the other went around the museum (but we decided against going out to the Killing Fields). This was a prison in which thousands of innocent people were detained, tortured and killed during the dark days of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime during 1975-79 (i.e. in the lifetime of most of you who will read this blog....). As you might expect, it was a harrowing visit, with tissues required, but it is appropriate that it stands as a monument to those who lost their lives and to educate future generations in the hope of preventing such atrocity from occurring again.

    This evening we were hoping to take James & Lou's advice and head to the FCC for a sundowner but time ran away with us and, after a quick and refreshing dip in the hotel pool, we ended up in an odd local restaurant - where no English was spoken but managed to enlist the help of a 10-year-old boy to translate (son of one of the staff members!), our portions were small and served with no rice, yet there was a small kids play area. Tomorrow, we have a 7-hour bus journey to Siem Reap - not looking forward to the long journey on a bus but needs must....
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  • Day7

    Today we left our lovely hotel and Siem Reap, which was a sad depart having loved the city so much. Our next stop was our homestay which would be a true local experience of a Cambodian.

    On the way we stopped at the floating villages. These buildings and the way of life around the river was incredible. Some people living on floating houses year in and year out. Located here are some of the poorest people and it's so eye opening having an insight to their personal lives. I feel almost silly about the worries I have in life. Here, putting 3 meals on the table and feeding your children is a big worry for these families as where this is a given for me, my biggest worries ranging from whether the spot on my forehead is gone or if I moisturised my face that morning.

    I can't quite put into words how much I admire these people and they deserve so much more credit than they get. If I think about how they live in comparison to me, although it amazes me it saddens me at the same time. Having said this, all I do is see these people smile, making me question what's necessary to make someone happy and it's not always the latest iPhone or newest shoes that do this.

    Before our homestay we visited another set of temples with a lovely tour guide who did a super job. On to our homestay, which was with a delightful family who had spent the majority of the day cleaning their house and preparing our dinner in order to welcome us. They cooked up a masterpiece and I've never had a meal so tasty. Breakfast was the same, indulging in typical local treats.

    One thing I have to say about this place is I adore the kindness in people's hearts and willingness to please. Everything is always presented with a smile on their faces no matter how much they have to offer. I feel as though I'm the luckiest person being able to experience the generosity of these people, yet they act as though they are lucky to have us, which I guess makes the whole experience all the more touching.
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  • Day184

    On Thursday we celebrated my birthday in Siem Reap. I had a few birthday cards (which Solana was very excited about and desperate to "help" me open!) and Laura even managed to find a bottle of fizz as a present, which was a nice surprise. In the morning we did a Cambodian cooking class. We visited the food market, then made some traditional Cambodian dishes. We both made mango salad to start, then Laura made beef lok-lak and I made fish Amok for main courses. They were tasty and, although some of the ingredients may be difficult to get at home, we would try to recreate them with substitutes where needed.

    In the afternoon we visited another temple (photos to follow in a separate post). In the evening, the hotel staff knocked at the door and brought me a birthday cheesecake, complete with candle! It was a nice touch and Solana loved it - she thinks a birthday is not complete without a cake & candles. For dinner we went to a Japanese shabu shabu restaurant - where you select items from a food conveyor belt and cook them in a soupy broth at your table. It was great fun (once we'd worked out to avoid the offal!) and they even had a bit of sushi - tasty. The day was rounded off by finishing off the bottle of fizz - a great way to end a good day.
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  • Day178

    Well - my previous post turned out NOT to be our last day in Vietnam...yesterday morning I woke up with D+V, so we postponed the boat until today. Laura and Solana had a lovely day yesterday, spending $5 to use the pool of the posh hotel in Chau Doc. I spent most of the day in bed but I'm happy to report that I'm feeling much better now.

    This morning we got up early and got cyclo taxis to the riverside dock. These cyclos were different in style from the ones we've seen elsewhere in Vietnam - and more precarious - but good fun nonetheless. We then made the 6 hour journey by speedboat up the Mekong River to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Along the way we saw more of life by the river, although not as much as on some of the shorter boat trips we've done, as the Mekong river is so wide - rivalling the Amazon or, closer to home, the Humber at its estuary! We did get to see some of the large floating houses that have fish farms underneath them though (see 2nd photo here) - interesting to see. We stopped about an hour into the journey and disembarked to do the border formalities leaving Vietnam (1st photo with green sign), which consisted of sitting around on plastic chairs in a floating café for 15 minutes (whilst the boat staff got exit stamps in our passports), then putting our hand luggage through a scanner (a token gesture, as everyone's main luggage remained on the boat!), then getting back onto the boat. A few minutes further on we stopped again at the Cambodian border - 2nd photo with green sign (having seen quite a few houses in between - are those people Vietnamese or Cambodian? Who knows!). We all got our Cambodian visas and were back on our way again in half an hour or so - a pretty straightforward and painless border crossing.

    As we approached Phnom Penh, lots of large and tall building appeared across the horizon (see last photo here). From what we have seen of the city this afternoon, it definitely has a "big international city" feel about it - much more so than the other cities we've visited so far (even Hanoi). There also appears to be a more noticeable Thai influence here - particularly in some of the temples/pagodas. I guess that makes sense, as we edge our way ever closer to our final SE Asia destination of Thailand...
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Kingdom of Cambodia, Kambodscha, Cambodia, Kambodja, Kambodia, ካምቦዲያ, Campuchia, كمبوديا, Kambodiya, Камбоджа, Kamboji, ক্যাম্বোডিয়া, ཀམ་བོ་ཌི་ཡ།, Kambodža, Cambodja, ཀམ་བོ་ཌི་ཡ, Kambodia nutome, Καμπότζη, Kamboĝo, Camboya, KambodĪa, Kanbodia, کمبودیا, Kambodso, Kambodza, Cambodge, Cambodg·e, An Chambóid, કંબોડિયા, קמבודיה, कंबोडिया, Kambodźa, Kanbòdj, Kambodzsa, Կամբոջա, Cambodgia, Kamboja, Kambódía, Cambogia, カンボジア国, კამბოჯა, ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា, ಕಾಂಬೋಡಿಯಾ, 캄보디아, کەمبۆدیا, Kambodya, ກຳປູເຈຍ, Kambôdja, Kamapōtia, Камбоџа, കംബോഡിയ, Kemboja, ကမ္ဘောဒီးယား, Kambodsja, कम्बोडिया, Cambòja, କାମ୍ବୋଡିଆ, Kambodża, کمبوډيا, Camboja, Kambuya, Cambodscha, Kamboje, Camboggia, Kämbôzi, Kamboodiya, Kamboxhia, கம்போடியா, కంబోడియా, Камбоҷа, ประเทศกัมพูชา, Kamboçiýa, Kemipōtia, Kamboçya, كامبودژا, کمبوڈیا, Cam-pu-chia, Kambocän, Orílẹ́ède Kàmùbódíà, 柬埔寨, i-Cambodia