placeswetravelled

Hey! Welcome to our travel blog! We are Anna and Bertram and we intend to run this blog for our family and friends to update them on our travels.
Living in: München, Deutschland
  • Day132

    Another typical day on the beautiful island of Nusa Lembongan:

    05:00-07:30 - Yoga (Anna ;-))/sleep
    07:30-09:00 - Breakfast at EcoDeli
    09:00-11:30 - Yoga/Surf
    11:30-13:30 - swimming and lunch
    13:30-16:45 - more yoga and surf :-)
    16:45-18:15 - thunderstorms ⛈ and trying to get to a dinner place
    18:15-19:45 - Yoga/chilling :-) (while the sun sets :-))
    19:45-22:00 - Reading, travel planning, showering

    It’s nice to have that little routine which will next be broken up a little when I have 2 days off the yoga teacher training on Wednesday and Thursday next week.
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  • Day130

    After the first week of my fun and very informative yoga teacher training, it was time for the first day off - yeah!

    Originally, we had planned to go snorkeling with the manta rays but the trip was cancelled due to the bad weather forecast with lots of wind, rain, and thunderstorms 💨 ⛈ . So, surfing wasn’t an option either. :-/

    In the end, we had a nice, relaxed day in various cafés, reading our books (still on Cambodia and its difficult history for me, some historical fiction for Bertram). Following the recommendation by Bertram’s surf buddy Fabio, we even had pizza 🍕:-)

    We also started to plan the rest of our trip, looking into the possibility to visit Laos before going to Iran as our last stop. We will let you know once we figure the flights and timing out :-)

    The evening was short again with take-away food and beer on our balcony as the yoga teacher training will start at 05:00 am for our 2.5 hour asana (yoga pose) and pranayama (breathing mediation)...

    PS: photos all look a bit alike - we will work on that ;-)
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  • Day129

    Starting the Yoga Teacher Training

    February 14 in Indonesia

    Today is already the last day of week 1 of my yoga teacher training (YTT). It has been a fantastic experience so far and I am glad that we chose to come - Bertram has the great opportunity to go surfing nearly every day every day so that balances it out nicely :-)

    We are a group of 31 students from all around the world: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Israel, ... The only dimension without much variation is gender: 4 males only ;-)

    Our teachers at the moment are Thia from Indonesia and Megan from the USA and both are great, dedicated teachers which is a must for days that start at 05:00 and finish at 19:45 :-)

    I really enjoy the variety of our curriculum - we always start with 2.5 hours of asana (yoga poses) practice and pranayama (breathing meditation) every morning and then have posture, anatomy and teaching workshops over the day before finishing with 1 more hour of asana. The evening session features singing, meditation, yoga philosophy.
    After building the foundation and practicing very basic poses on Day 1, we are now adding 2-3 poses per day - so much so re-learn after practicing yoga for quite some time and sometimes differently.

    Friends at home: there will be new yoga teachings soon :-)
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  • Day124

    Today we travelled from Bali island over to little Nusa Lembongan. It’s a small village, about 4x4 kilometers large. We took a little ferry to get here (you’re about mid-thigh-deep in the water when you board, showing us the advantages of always wearing your swimsuit here :-)).

    There’s also not a lot of cash on the island and few opportunities to pay with card. So we each picked up 10 million rupiahs (about 600 EUR) before leaving mainland Bali - easiest way to becoming a millionaire :-)

    Our place is right on the beach, a traditionally built bungalow with a bedroom and balcony on the first floor and hammocks and the bathroom on the ground floor. A nice place and easy to spend the next couple of weeks here :-)

    Anna will be completing a three-week yoga teacher training while Bertram will spend the time surfing 🏄 and enjoying beach life (see the first of many sunsets to come in the pictures).
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  • Day123

    We spent most of today travelling from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Denpasar on Bali Island in Indonesia. The route took us via Kuala Lumpur where we had a couple of hours at the airport (we’ll be back).

    After a leisurely breakfast we took a motor-riksha to the airport. Mainly for the experience, but it was also cheaper than the taxis used - so it seems - almost exclusively by the tourists.

    All went well until at check-in, the lady at the counter wanted to see our proof of onward travel from Indonesia. Basically, Indonesia doesn’t let foreigners (travelling on a one-way ticket) come into the country unless they can show a ticket with which they will leave Indonesia again. It’s extremely stupid: if you really wanted to stay in Indonesia, having to buy a flight out of the country (and later not using it) wont stop you.

    Anyway, we, of course, didn’t have proof of onward travel. On the contrary, we were actually quite happy to be in one place for a couple of weeks and wanted to work out the details of where we would go afterwards while we stayed on our little island. Still, the last would not let us check-in, claiming she had cases where the Indonesian immigration sent people away who didn’t have proof of onward travel. So we scrambled at the airport to quickly buy the cheapest tickets we could find from Indonesia back to Kuala Lumpur. We thought of going there for a couple of days - and now those plans were being finalized while standing at the check-in counter in Phnom Penh. After we had that sorted, everything went well. Needless to say, no immigration officer in Indonesia asked us about proof of onward travel when we arrived there...

    We arrived in Bali after dark, avoided being scammed by a taxi driver (after negotiating the price in advance, he later claimed that was meant per person - yeah right), and went to bed.
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  • Day121

    More temples today :-) We rented bicycles for a half day (1 $ for each one) and got on the Grand Tour up to the north of Angkor. We visited a couple of smaller temples. They were built unlike the others we saw 3 days ago as the main building material was small bricks instead of larger blocks. Originally, carved stucco was mounted onto these bricks - nowadays one only sees the holes in the brick.

    I liked especially the elephant statues we saw at the temple of East Mebon as well as the hidden path along the old city wall that Bertram found when we reached the Victory Gate of Angkor and pushed our bikes up a little path. The wall went all around the moat of Angkor Thom - the former Khmer capital in the Angkor period (~900-1400). Aside from the moats which are still filled with water, there are also a lot of reservoirs. In the Angkorian Empire time, these artificial lakes were used for storing rain during the monsoon season and irrigating the rice paddies in the dry season. Today, we saw quite a few people still going to fish in it - or herd water buffaloes and cows.

    We used the rest afternoon for more time at the pool, then went into town for coffee and dinner. We went to a Khmer vegan restaurant again with a great set menu at only 10 $ 🌱

    Today’s highlight was, however, something else: we visited the fish spa :-) 🐠🐟🐠
    It was a really fun experience though getting the feet in took some courage at first :-) Also, the fish tickle the feet quite a lot from time so mental strength was required, too.

    Now, it’s time for bed as we want to get up early tomorrow to arrive in Phnom Penh in the early afternoon.
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  • Day120

    We started early with our tuk tuk driver Mr. Coin towards the lesser known, smaller but very well preserved temple “Banteay Srei” (Girls’ Temple) in the north of Siem Reap.

    The journey was pleasant but even with the tuk tuk tool more than 1:15 - glad we did not venture out with the bikes...

    The temple was quite stunning: it is indeed much smaller, but the site has been reconstructed to display the original landscape. Thus, we walked past rice paddies and small lakes besides visiting the temple. The red sandstone was a different material compared to what we had seen in Angkor Wat and the carvings were much more elaborate. Many scenes depicted ancient Hindu myths and thanks to a great documentation center we understood who the figures were! (Also different to Angkor Wat where we did not see anything like this on-site.)

    We returned around 01:00 pm and Bertram went to relax at the pool while Anna ventured into town for a cashew latte and almond cake while studying a yoga book for the upcoming teacher training starting this Friday in Nusa Lembongan. Yeah :-)

    Tonight, we will go to another NGO-based restaurant near our hotel which supports the local community by training disadvantaged youth as waiters. Again, this is consumption that tastes even better :-)
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  • Day119

    It was a rather relaxed day for us today. We went to a German bakery for breakfast (“Bang Bang Bakery”) - but then both took a bagel :-)))) Coffee was quite good as well and, thus, we stayed until 11:30 and read our magazines.

    Afterwards we changed the hotel - the first one was good and the staff very friendly but we
    a) wanted a pool and
    b) reckoned that 43$/night for 2 people in a 5* hotel wasn’t that bad of a deal ;-)

    Hotel was great as well and we relaxed a bit before venturing our into the city for more coffee and cake. Then came yoga and pool time.

    For dinner Bertram chose a really nice Khmer restaurant with very few but authentic and fresh dishes. I ordered vegetables with fried rice flour as a starter and rice dumplings with chives as a main dish - they were very much the same dish, just in different forms :-) While the starter was a pancake from rice flour and coconut with vegetabkes on top, the main was the photo attached: three fried rice flour-coconut balls with veggies on the side. Indeed, it was even very much identical to Bertram’s starter - just 3 different names ;-) However, the taste and texture were really great and Bertram was also happy with the Beef lok lak. All in, the cost including drinks ended up $21.50 which was very fair!

    We then went around the night market but soon decided that this Mallorca-style party feeling paired with cheap mass goods and repetitive “Lady, good price for you” and “Sir, need tuk tuk now” was not for us. The only fun thing we may still try: fish spas where fish in tanks eat away the dead skin of your feet. 🤔

    Home at the hotel we failed to launch the “Tomb Raider” movie - maybe another time
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  • Day118

    Exploring the Angkor temples

    February 3 in Cambodia

    We had a long and exciting day in the different temples of Angkor. We bought an audio guide which helped to put together a great full-day itinerary which went to a number of small temples first and finished with Angkor Wat.

    We loved to get to the different less famous sites and in the beginning took an opportunity to climb a very tall temple in restoration to look over the area. Unfortunately, the forest is quite thick and we only saw the tips of Angkor Wat’s towers - not sure why so many people recommend it as a sunset viewpoint.

    A first highlight was the area of Angkor Thom with vast terraces lined with elephant reliefs and high towers to climb. As with the Inca in Peru, it’s incredible again how the Khmers managed to build these complexes - but we will hopefully find out more in tonight’s BBC documentary session on YouTube.

    One other temple was noted as one of our favorites as nature had partly claimed it back and it was overgrown with trees - some of them really huge. No wonder that the movie “Tomb Raider” was shot here at Angkor Wat...

    After eating a traditional bamboo rice cake (Anna), we finished the bike ride with the main attraction of Angkor - the Angkor Wat = temple of Angkor. It is majestic because a large moat and a plain preempts the premises and, thus, it can be seen already from far away. We climbed the tower and had stunning views over the various temples that are part of Angkor Wat!

    Tomorrow we will rest a bit and move to another hotel for 3 more nights in Siem Reap to explore more of the temples before going to Indonesia.

    PS: we also have my wallet back - even with the 1 dollar in it :-) probably that was the reason as nobody steals a wallet for 1 dollar :-)
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  • Day117

    Arrival at Siem Reap

    February 2 in Cambodia

    We started early again to get onto the bus from Battambang to Siem Reap. The bus ride was supposed to take 4 hours - 1.5 of which were spent at the gas station, toilet stops and lunch :-)

    We also had a moment of shock when Anna realized when boarding the bus that her wallet was lost :-/ we called at the hotel but nothing could be found. There was nothing on the pick-up bus either. We will thought, however, that it would eventually still turn up at the hotel. There was only 1 dollar inside 💵 (plus credit card, driver’s license, identity card)... in the afternoon the hotel luckily called and reported that it had been found and would be sent with the bus tomorrow morning - let’s hope that the handover works out :-)

    We also rented bicycles for the coming days and went out to discover Siem Reap which seems quite hip. Great coffee including soy milk at Little Red Fox 🦊 and a great vegan Khmer dinner at Chamran:
    - fresh summer rolls with a lot of herbs
    - peanut-coconut dip with bread
    - pomelo-tomato salad
    - fried cassava with dip and rice
    - tapioca pearls with banana and coconut milk
    - crispy caramelized rice with ice cream

    Maybe, we need to sign up for another cooking class!?

    Tomorrow we will set out to explore the first set of temples of the Angkor complex - really looking forward to that!
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  • Day116

    The second day was also a true highlight!

    We had to get up early to be at our Khmer cooking class at 09:00. We were 6 people altogether and used the facilities of Coconut LyLy’s restaurant to prepare 4 dishes until 12:00 o’clock:
    - green mango salad
    - taro-carrot spring rolls
    - traditional “amok” dish with mushrooms
    - coconut-lime dessert

    The best thing about Khmer cuisine are the flavors: it’s not too spiced but rather emphasizes the abundant flavors of different herbs (e.g., lemongrass, coriander), roots (e.g., kurkuma, ginger), and spices (e.g., kampot pepper, chili). Also great for me, Anna, is that a lot of dishes are vegetarian/vegan :-) and if not: most can be modified and as portions are often cooked separately, one can even vary the ingredients person by person.

    We first went to the local market to by a couple of fresh ingredients. It was great to see the different colors of fruit and vegetables as well as the “coconut milk cow” in action: it’s a device which produces coconut milk out of freshly ground coconut flesh 🥥

    Cooking was fun and quite easy - also due to our great instructor Lim Ly whose wife came home during the session with their 1-day-old son :-) - but most importantly: we loved the results :-) my favorite: the taro-carrot spring rolls with a pepper-sugar spice mix, Bertram’s one was mushroom “amok” which is made with ground lemongrass and lime leaves as well as coconut.

    Afterwards, we left for an art exhibition which was unfortunately closed. So, we had a massage instead. The specialty: the massage was performed by blind people and, thus, helps them to make a living - great concept.

    In the late afternoon, we went for another tour in a tuk tuk: South of Battambang is a temple on a mountain whose caves are also full of bats 🦇 Before we waited for them to come out at dusk, we climbed the mountain for the temple and the view of the plains. Bertram also successfully added another animal selfie - monkey - to his collection. We briefly saw another horrific place of the Khmer Rouge regime: a killing cave into which hundreds of still unidentifiable die persons had been thrown after having been killed.

    The bats were quite an event: 20 minutes of bats flying out of the caves by the hundreds while screeching bat sounds :-) - see the attached video!

    Tomorrow, we will be in Siem Reap to get ready for Wat Angkor.
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  • Day115

    We had a great first day in Battambang! After the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh yesterday, Battambang feels a lot calmer and much less crowded. Sure, there are tuk tuks and street vendors here too, but there are also lots of Pagodas and a relatively clean river in which the locals bathe.

    After breakfast in our hotel (think Bamboo-house with a natural pool :-)) we went to explore the city as well as its coffee places ;-) We started to read up a bit more about Cambodia’s past and how it got to where it is today (did you know that Cambodia was the first and only country that was once placed under direct UN control?).

    In the evening, we went to the Phare Ponleu Selpak school for arts, dance, music and performance. The students study there for three months per year for three years to graduate in their course. The students for music and performance put on a well-known circus show. Anna read about it in the “REPORTAGEN” magazine back in Germany and so we were curious to see it for ourselves. The school is a very good opportunity for local kids to learn skills (such as video game animation or graphic design) that helps them build a career and escape poverty. Many of the students go on to work in Phnom Penh.

    We then had dinner in a great restaurant offering Khmer cuisine with locally sourced ingredients and a variety of vegan options - including dessert :-)
    On our way back, our tuk tuk driver took us past one of the Pagodas where we were able to see some of the Magha Puja celebrations. All the pagodas are lined with candles, creating a wonderful atmosphere in the temples :-)
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