Sihanoukville – beaches and beggars

Promised by the local travel agency that the bus trip from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville should take approximately 9 hours, however, in our case more than 11 hours as the “non-stop V.I.P. luxury bus”, as it was advertised, stopped a few times for god knows what reason. The entire trip the staff insisted on playing fantastically bad, and loud, karaoke videos for the locals on the bus (probably paying half the price we did). The quality of the speakers was okay on this bus compared to the one from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, but the songs were, with no exceptions, cheesy love songs where most of the producers never even bothered to record the music by playing an actual instruments. Instead they chose to simulate an entire band by using keyboard synthesizers from the 1980s.

Shianoukville Beach

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If I see another temple I will throw up!

Walking the worn paths of Angkor Wat is really exhausting and makes your feet hurt – which then again is a very good excuse to grab a foot massage in the evening to get some relief in the old aching muscles.

We tried to get to Chong Kneas, a floating village on Tonlé Sap Lake. You have to go there by boat, so when we got to the pier (in the middle of nowhere) where the boats embark, we were met by some of the rudest Cambodians we've met so far. With an arrogant attitude towards tourists they tried to rob us blind by charging us $35 for a 1½ hour long boat ride.

Angkor Wat Morning

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Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

Watching the Killing Fields outside Phnom Penh was depressing as expected but Tuol Sleng was actually worse. So after walking a bit around the fields paying our respects we decided to leave Phnom Penh to go to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat which everybody keeps babbling about. We took the local bus (5 USD per person) and started driving. The road to Siam Reap was really bad. Littered with holes caused by bad road maintenance and way too much traffic was the main reason the trip took 6 hours even though Siem Reap is only about 300 km from Phnom Penh. But also farmers suddenly dragging their cows across the road, hazardous overtakings by vehicles in the opposite lane, and dogs and chickens threatening to cross spontaneously caused the already grumpy bus driver to brake rather violently once and a while.

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Phnom Penh

Being in Phnom Penh really isn't bad at all. The city itself is fairly modern with trendy cafés and restaurants and the Khmer people seems positive and happy even after Pol Pot wiped out a large part of the population 30 years ago. They are way better at English than the Thai and even though our guidebook advises us to stay indoor when the sun goes down we haven't felt insecure for one second. The Khmer food is also quite nice; a bit like Thai but quite different as well. They have a curry dish called Amok which we've tried so far. Not bad, not bad at all.

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Island debrief back in Bangkok

It took Lisa's stomach about 3 days to get better after the food poisoning and after spending some time cursing Wunderbar we finally left Trang to go to Laoliang. We took a minivan with a sane driver to Hat Yao pier and went by boat the rest of the way. Laoliang is a national park where no one is allowed to build anything permanent that could interfere with the nature there and that meant we were going to sleep in tents. The more permanent buildings like the toilet and bar were made from wood. Climbing and snorkeling equipment was made available when we got there including a kayak but we only managed to see some fish and paddle up and down the beach in the kayak a few times.

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Still in Trang

We're still in Trang being a bit stuck here. But we're still planning on going to Lao Liang tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the few mildly interesting photos from this transport hub. Pictures from Trang

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Railay

Getting tired of the damned Swedish tourists who seem to have invaded Ko Lanta island, we decided to go to Railay (Rai Leh in Thai). Railay is famous for being the setting for the James Bond movie "The Man with the Golden Gun". It is a patch of land only accessible by boat or a 20 minutes climb. Railay was indeed super nice with exceptional limestone cliffs spontaneously rising from the ocean. And of course this place is apparently a rock climbers paradise with hundreds of climbing routes. We had to give it a shot of course and it went rather well. If we hadn't had an instructor to hold the safety line we would have died several times :). Lisa had to overcome her slight fear of heights, but after that everything went smoothly and it was great fun and we'll definately give it a try later on when we get to Laos. IMG_4338

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Still Ko Lanta

Nothing new to add really except I've finally found something to complain about: Sunday when we were trying to sleep there was some party going on close to our bungalow. Damned kids with their pop music. I was about to consider shouting and threatening them with my walking cane and telling them to get off my lawn – but we fell asleep eventually.

Next day (Monday) we went to the beach to get burned off by the sun for good. We spent the entire day on a small pavilion made available by one of the restaurants (Thai Cat). Here we ate breakfast and lunch and had quite a relaxing day going from the pavilion to the beach to the sea to swim and back again.

At the Beach, Ko Lanta

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Krabi & Ko Lanta

At the time of writing we're on Ko Lanta which is a small island 1100 km south of Bangkok. We stayed one night in Krabi which is a city mostly used as a hub for travelers moving on to the islands in the region. We arrived around dinner time, found a bungalow to sleep in, and went about 300 meters down the road before being invited to Tan's 49th birthday. Tan is the owner of a bar called "Jam Club" where we had free Thai food and grabbed a couple of beers. Maybe quite a lot of beers even. Anyway, we had a fun night where we met some really nice more or less local people, amongst these Aussie-John, the French guy Elliott, our lovely waitress Sara, and a German guy insisting on arm-wrestling for some reason (but why?!?).

Ko Lanta, Thailand

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First Day in Bangkok

Currently the time is 6 AM. I've been awake since 4. Damned jet lag! Wonder who is actually reading this (except you, Mom). I'll find something else and more exciting to write in the following days I guess. Today I think we're going to go see the religious part of Bangkok like temples and shrines and such. I'll go wake Lisa up now as she doesn't deserve to sleep any longer :-) That's always popular.

Bangkok

Photos from Bangkok

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