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  • Today, we explored the country the authentic Cambodian way - on five Honda scooters, going through the small town and then into the rain forest at Bokor National Park. During a beautiful ride through the mountains, we quickly learned that it's called RAIN forest for a reason. After beautiful sunny weather for the first hour, we took multiple showers on the way up, getting soaked through and through. But the heat and surroundings made the adventure just that much better: temples, an abandoned French village in the fog, a pit stop and a hot noodle soup.

    It was the perfect day, yet one thing we all regret: Vanessa fell while riding her scooter in the afternoon and fractured her collar bone, which apparently can happen super quickly :( So Vanessa and Merten got to experience the excellent health care system in Cambodia, while James and I got to ride into the jungle one more to pick up Vanessa's bike. It got so foggy and cold, we decided we had earned a huge Cambodian buffet at a otherwise terrible and kitsch casino on top of the mountain.

    Vanessa is much better, but will have to rest her arm and shoulder for the next few weeks. Good thing we have a few days planned on a small island to just relax.
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  • The day had finally come - for over 2 years now, Merten and I had been dreaming of seeing the temples around Angkor Wat. The world's most likable Tuktuk driver So took us around the major sites. Even in the early morning, it was already 40 degrees and just kept getting hotter with no rain in sight. So we renamed the temples Angkor Hot!

    We first explored the big temple, which is impressive and fun, but we felt like something was missing, like it wasn't quite what we had looked for. Still, it was amazing to see. Second, we went to Angkor Thom and really enjoyed it. The many towers with faces in the stone and it's more ruined and raw character made it feel like a giant adult playground, which of course we loved :) Third, we went to Ta Prohm, our absolute favorite of all the temples. Such a unique place, with giant trees growing out of ancient buildings, taking over and claiming back a once highly developed place. The best part was that we were all by ourselves here. I've never seen anything like it and the tree in picture 4 just caught my attention right away. I stood there for a few minutes, just in awe of the ruins, the tree with roots as big as regular trees and little green parrots in its top, singing with all the other jungle noises.
    This picture I took gives you a good idea of the temple:

    When the sun set and we headed back into town, we couldn't believe the day wet just had. Unforgettable!
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  • My first day as a backpacker since I got back from my Norway adventure! This time I get to share it all with for fellow adventurers :)

    We made it to Phnom Penh (or as we say, Ping Pong) via air and then to Kompot on Cambodia's adventurous highways. So far we've experienced kind locals, heat and rain, language barriers when it comes to ordering food, fantastic food, and valuable conversations.

    After a long long day, we're completely happy and even more tired, eager to do more exploring. Tomorrow. For now it's bedtime :)
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  • Still overwhelmed by the beauty of Ta Prohm, we woke up at 4am to see sunrise over Angkor. Even though it was terribly early, and over 27 degrees C even before 5am, we were not the only ones here. We felt like pilgrims, moving towards the temple in huge crowds of people.

    After sunrise, we had some time to kill before an appointment at a zip line park at 9. We watched a kid monk on his way to work (pic 2) and explored more adventurous temples in the middle of the jungle. And everywhere we went, we tried to meet locals and learn about their life. For example, we meet two 2 year old kids, playing outside: holding two machetes, longer than their arms, and cutting off willow brakes for fun. Safety first is not a thing in Cambodia, it seems ;-)

    The zip line park was great fun! Up to 30 meters in the air, we slid from one tree to the next. On the way back, we were taught which ants can be eaten, but I was too scared to try one ;) We then spent the rest of the day exploring smaller temples, visiting the ones grown over by trees and surrounded by thick jungle, and falling in love with the place more minute by minute.

    In the afternoon, we started a new game (and of course made it into a challenge ;) ): who can photo bomb more selfies in a certain amount of time! We ended up playing it for over an hour and put smiles on many faces, once they realized we had walked into their selfies, smiling and with a thumbs up right beside them! Especially Asians laughed and often wanted more pictures with us :)
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  • Today, I took a break to get a bunch of work done. I had been working in the evenings frequently, but needed a full day, so I stayed behind and the 4 others went on more adventures. It was very good to have a quiet day and to feel productive!

    In the evening, we went into the city to grab dinner and walked through town afterwards. We found a place that offered foot skin therapy - if you could bare the tickle!!! Terrible and really fun at the same time ;)Read more

  • As a child I read the magazine Abrafaxe. They experienced a lot of adventures in distant countries. Later Indiana Jones took over the task of consolidating my curiosity for the cultures of the world. He was a scientist and research traveler at the same time. And, of course, there were later female role models: Relic Hunter or Tomb Raider.
    The protagonists were both researchers and fighters at the same time, reflecting a more emancipated image of women than before. What definitely solidified in my mind was the fact that women can be just as adventurous and explorers (so far I had not dealt with female researchers and adventurers) as man. The prerequisite for this is merely a strong will and the strength and / or the courage to stand up against other opinions and go ones own way.

    Now I am also traveling, experiencing my adventures in different countries. Sometimes I have my scientific glasses on. Sometimes I am looking for adventures in summit ascents or discover my environment by deliberately choosing a destination rather than a path.

    Angkor Wat was for me a place of discovery. Countless temple complexes, covering an area of 160 hectares, make it an ideal game for exploring. Although they are touristic, some of the more deserted temples offer unexpected adventures.
    Individual temples are hidden in dense forest. Bit by bit the forest has been recaptured his space. Individual trees bury masonry among themselves or tower on their roofs like victors. The once bright rock is gray and overgrown with moss. Passages and corridors are mazes, because walls are invaded. They obstruct the original or open up new paths. You can easily lose each other and sometimes it takes time to find each other again.
    However, few temples in Angkor Wat offer this potential. Most of them are unfortunately built with wooden bridges. It feels wrong to walk on these planks. It is like a desecration of the originality of discovery.

    Angkor Wat still has something magical. For three days, Armando and I were cycling through the huge facility. In order to better understand the background of this complex, we visited the museum in advance. The knowledge paid off on our excursions.

    But Cambodia had more highlights for us. With direct connection to the sea the country has countless islands. We drove to the island of Koh Rong and fell into spell.

    We moved in the backdrop of a pirate film. Radiant white sand beaches and azure water stood in contrast to the two-storeyed wooden houses with bars and attached accommodation, which like Tonsai seemed like a provisional. Every moment I expected a pirate spilled out of the bars. But Koh Rong also had oases of peace. Our bungalow was away from the hustle and bustle and allowed us to relax from the hectic mainland and the local bars.
    Koh Rong, however, still reminds me of experiences that could be described as magical. The island is known for fluorescent plankton near the coast. The glowing of the ocean is, of course, a tourist attraction and at night innumerable boats with tourists go out for snorkeling. So we too. The amusing thing was the fact that we were sitting with a group of Asians in the boat, who are known for not being able to swim. Also in our case. So we swam alone in the pitch black water and activated the bioluminescence of the plankton by movements. Through the diving mask I could follow the water games with the shining small animals up close. Light surrounded our arms and legs. It was overwhelming. I felt like a painter who painted with light instead of colors. On this evening we realized that the boat anchored near the coast of our bungalow. That same night, we searched the beach for a spot where it was dark enough to see the glowing. We were able to find what we were looking for and swam with the plankton every night.

    My conclusion for Cambodia is mixed, even if Angkor Wat and Koh Rong are invaluable, wonderful memories, which are at the top of my list of highlights on my trip.

    Cambodia is different from all the countries I've seen so far. Cambodia did not had the charms like Thailand, Indonesia or India. I missed the culture in everyday life, which I was so accustomed to from Thailand, Indonesia or India. One must probably be aware of the destructiond the Khmer Rouge has done in this country or within the population as originally, the Khmer were a large empire and included parts of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. In addition, it seemed that tourists paid disproportionately more for food, accommodation or transport than on average in Southeast Asia.

    This explains the reasons why we stayed in Cambodia for only three weeks. I also had an open account in Thailand. It was time to finally do my Thaimassage course.


    Als Kind habe ich die Zeitschrift Mosaik (Abrafaxe) gelesen. Sie erlebten jede Menge Abenteuer in fernen Ländern. Später übernahm Indiana Jones die Aufgabe, meine Neugier für die Kulturen der Welt zu festigen. Er war Wissenschaftler und Forschungsreisender zugleich. Und natürlich gab es später auch weibliche „Rollenvorbilder“: Relic Hunter oder Tomb Raider. Die Protagonisten waren Forscher und Kämpfer zugleich und spiegelten mit Einschränkungen ein emanzipierteres Frauenbild wieder als bisher. Was sich definitiv in meinem Kopf verfestigte, war die Tatsache, dass Frauen ebenso Abenteurer und Entdecker sein können (bis dato hatte ich mich nicht mit weiblichen Forschungsreisenden und Abenteurerinnen befasst). Vorrausetzung dafür ist lediglich ein starker Wille und die Kraft und oder der Mut, sich gegen andere Meinungen durchzusetzen und seinen Weg zu gehen.

    Nun bin ich auch auf Reisen, erlebe meine Abenteuer in unterschiedlichen Ländern. Manchmal hab ich meine wissenschaftliche Brille auf. Manchmal suche ich Abenteuer in Gipfelbesteigungen oder Entdecke mein Umwelt, indem ich bewusst kein Ziel wähle sondern einen Weg.

    Angkor Wat war für mich ein Ort des Entdeckens. Unzähligen Tempelanlagen, die sich auf einer Fläche von 160 Hektar befinden, machen sie zu einer idealen Spielwiese für Erkundungen. Sie sind zwar touristisch erschlossen und dennoch bieten einigen verfalleneren Tempeln ungeahnte Abenteuer.

    Einzelne Tempel sind verborgen in dichtem Wald. Stück um Stück hat er seinen Raum zurück erobert. Einzelne Bäume vergraben Gemäuer unter sich oder thronen auf deren Dächern wie Sieger. Das einst leuchtende Gestein ist ergraut und von Moos überwachsen. Es ist verwinkelt. Gänge sind Labyrinthe, weil Mauern eingefallen sind. Sie versperren ursprüngliche oder eröffnen neue Wege. Leicht verliert man sich aus den Augen und manchmal dauert es, bis man sich wieder findet.
    Doch nur wenige Tempel in Angkor Wat bieten dieses Potential. Die meisten sind leider mit hölzernen Brücken gehfreundlich ausgebaut. Es fühlt dich falsch an, auf diesen Planken zu gehen. Es gleicht einer Entweihung der Ursprünglichkeit des Entdeckens.

    Angkor Wat hat trotzdem etwas Magisches. Drei Tage radelten Armando und ich durch die riesige Anlage. Um den Hintergrund dieser Anlage besser zu verstehen, besuchten wir vorab das Museum. Das Wissen machte sich sehr bezahlt.

    Doch Kambodscha hatte noch andere Höhepunkte für uns. Mit direkter Verbindung zum Meer verfügt das Land über unzählige Inseln. Wir fuhren auf die Insel Koh Rong und verfielen deren Bann.

    Wir bewegten uns in der Kulisse eines Piratenfilms. Strahlend weiße Sandstrände, azurblaues Wasser standen im Kontrast zu den aneinandergereihten zweistöckigen Holzhäusern mit Bar und angebundener Unterkunft, die wie schon auf Tonsai wie ein Provisorium wirkten. Jeden Moment erwartete man einen Piraten aus einer der Bars torkeln. Doch Koh Rong hatte auch Oasen der Ruhe. Unser Bungalow war abseits des Trubels und erlaubte es uns, vom hektischen Festland und der hiesigen Barmeile auszuspannen.

    Koh Rong bleibt mir aber vor allem dadurch Erlebnisse in Erinnerung, die man als magisch bezeichnen könnte. Die Insel ist bekannt dafür, dass fluoreszierender Plankton nahe der Küste treibt. Das Meeresleuchten ist natürlich eine Touristenattraktion, und so fahren nachts unzählige Boote mit Touristen hinaus aufs Meer zum schnorcheln. So auch wir. Das amüsante daran war der Fakt, dass wir mit einer Gruppe Asiaten im Boot saßen, die dafür bekannt sind, nicht schwimmen zu können. So auch in diesem Fall. Wir schwammen also allein im pechschwarzen Wasser und aktivierten die Biolumineszenz des Plankton durch Bewegungen im Wasser. Durch die Tauchmaske konnte man die Wasserspiele mit den leuchtenden Kleintieren hautnah verfolgen. Licht umströmte unsere Arme und Beine. Es war überwältigend. Ich fühlte mich mal wie ein Maler, der anstatt mit Farben mit Licht malte. An diesem Abend stellten wir fest, dass das Boot vor der Küste unserer Bungalowanlage ankerte. Noch in derselben Nacht suchten wir am Strand nach einer Stelle, wo es dunkel genug war, um das Meeresleuchten zu sehen. Wir wurden fündig und schwammen seitdem jede Nacht mit dem Plankton.

    Mein Fazit für Kambodscha ist dennoch durchwachsen, auch wenn Angkor Wat und Koh Rong für mich unbezahlbare, wunderschöne Erinnerungen, die ganz oben auf meiner Liste der Highlights meiner Reise stehen.

    Kambodscha ist anders als alle bisherigen Länder, die ich gesehen habe. Mir fehlte der Charme, den Thailand, Indonesien oder Indien innehatte. Ich vermisste Kultur im Alltagsbild, die ich aus Thailand, Indonesien oder Indien gewöhnt war. Und hier muss man sich vermutlich bewusst werden, welchen Schaden die Khmer Rouge in diesem Land bzw. innerhalb der Bevölkerung angerichtet hat, denn ursprünglich waren die Khmer ein großes Reich und umfassten Teile Thailands, Laos und Vietnam. Zudem schien es so, dass Touristen unverhältnismäßig mehr für Essen, Unterkunft oder Transport zur Kasse zahlten als im Durchschnitt in Südostasien.

    Damit sind auch die Gründe kurz umrissen, warum wir nur drei Wochen in Kambodscha geblieben sind. Ich hatte zudem noch eine offene Rechnung in Thailand. Es war Zeit, endlich meinen Thaimassagekurs zu machen.
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  • Our third day in Cambodia was relaxing and exciting at the same time. We drove 3 hours west with views of the jungle and the ocean. When we got to our hotel, we decided to rent scooters and go to cascade waterfalls 45 minutes north of us. Trusting the usual navigation through Google maps, we found a route and headed out.

    This trip was really cool as we got to see much more authentic parts of the country. We saw the non-touristy parts of downtown, the freight harbor, and small industrial shops on a busy road along the water. There was soooo much to see and we were amidst people's every day life. Pulling cows with a moto (scooter), gutting a huge pile of fish on a shop's concrete floor, driving open fire street food carts with attached motos and playing volleyball in a factory backyard. We also are at a local restaurant with way too low bathroom ceilings for us :)

    Then the road took us into the jungle, which we loved. But we ended up turning around when the street lead into a small remote village and didn't continue. I guess you cannot always trust Google maps ;-) We didn't see the waterfalls, but had a fantastic day nonetheless.
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  • We've had all kinds of weather today - pouring rain that hurts on your skin, bright sunshine and blue skies, steady refreshing drizzle, salty winds from the ocean, and quiet cloudy moments. We tried to make the best of each one and enjoyed the entire day with all its ups and downs.

    We made it to an island in the Gulf of Thailand, just an hour off the shore. By the city of Sihanouk, the water looks absolutely dirty and polluted, but here are beautiful beaches and thick jungle on the entire island. A fantastic end to a fantastic day was a late hike through the jungle to a beach on the opposite side of the island,. Here we saw glowing caterpillars in the dark on the forest floor, listened to the waves of "lazy beach", singing silly songs and my highlight so far: I climbed a palm tree and picked my very own coconut!!! With the help of Merten and Brian, I got up the first few feet til i could hold on to the leaves and then climbed up to pick the coconut which was about 15 feet high. Feeling proud and super happy to be here :)Read more

  • I felt so blessed to be able to go back on a hiking trail today! A hiking Mareike is a happy Mareike :)

    We did a 4 hour trail to the very southern tip of Koh Rong Samloem. At the tip, after an hour through the jungle (we meet all sorts of freaky insects and frogs), there is a simple lighthouse which we climbed to get a view over the entire island. Such a good time!

    The weather was quite "moody" again, but we enjoyed both the rain and the dry. The rain made our trek into a fun apid riverbed, and while on top of the lighthouse, the weather was excellent and dry for the view. Later in the day, a highlight was a gigantic version of "pick up sticks" (we call it Mikado in German) we played out of a pile of long, thick sticks we found at the beach (about 2-3 meters each). We're quite sad we will be leaving the island tomorrow, but excited for our next adventure in Angkor Wat.Read more

  • Today we did what we could to enjoy the last day on the island (Koh Rohn Sanloem) and by the water: sea kayaking along the shore, snorkeling at a small beautiful reef, climbing a 3-level waterfall in the stream, and enjoying the big swing in front of our bungalow by the beach. We had such a good time here, we didn't want to leave. Even while waiting for the ferry to arrive at the pier, we decided to jump in a few more times :)

    The ferry ride back quickly turned into a rainy, windy ride. But as old sea bears (=German saying), we had no problems. Back on the mainland, were finished the night with Indian food, a walk through "Karaoke alley" (a road with 45+ karaoke bars filled with locals singing kitsch love songs), and a beer and authentic Khmer food with a young local restaurant owner. The dish: Cow tongue with vegetables, ants (yes, ants) and bugs. What an experience ;-)

    Ps: picture 4 shows us finishing the giant Mikado (pick a stick) game from yesterday
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