Friday, June 03, 2016
Woken up early to the pounding rain, I knew my choice of skipping the island was the right one for me! Dozing in bed listening to the thunderous tropical rain, surrounded by my romantic mozzie net in my comfy bed is a great way to wake up I have to say!
Before long everyone is awake and up and dressed and we head to the pool side restaurant for noodles and pancakes for breakfast - sure why not! Noodles were delicious I have to say! I wish I could cook them as well!!
The girls head off for their meeting point, as I wait for a break in the rain, reading my book! A couple of rain showers later, thunder and the works, loss of electricity, it looks like there will be a break long enough for me to walk down to our favourite spot!
Walking along the beach, which is roaring with waves, I paddle in and out of the waves, stopping to take the occasional photo. There are some crazies in the water playing in the waves, although I have to say, the water is far from cold and I will no doubt join them later on!! The beach is deserted though, no one really out braving the weather! Not even the locals. I make it just in time before the next shower hit and am warmly welcomed back. Drinks and lunch it is! I sit down to catch up on my blog, watching life go by around me and the soundtrack of crashing waves - not too shabby really!!
After lunch I catch up with Li-Li, who as promised, is going to teach me to make my favourite cocktail! The Coco Loco! Delicious!
30ml Coconut Liquor
Now that's what I'm talking about! She even let's me have it at happy hour prices - how nice is that!! $3 cocktails! Not to mention attentive waiting staff. Winning really!
I head in to the sea which has crazy waves happening, great for wave surfing! Thankfully a lovely American lady minded my bags for me so I could go play! The waves were great, I got dumped a few times, but nothing like that to clear out my sinuses!!
Dinner was another great curry with delicious cocktails! Home to the pool - great day relaxing really!!!
Thursday, June 02, 2016
Up early, we head for our breakfast, pancakes again - they do them really well!! And we head back to the room to pack our bags. We have a short trip down the street to see if we can find this inflatable unicorn we have seen on the first night, but sadly can't find it! Back to the hotel to laze in the pool before we need to check out. The pool is surrounded by garden and beautiful flowering orchids of varying shades of purples and pinks hanging from coconut pot plants hanging or on the palm trees. Very tropical, with other pinks, yellows and white with green verigated plants. Beautiful really!
While in the pool a guy yells out that he's seen a snake - I very nearly walked on water! Thankfully it was up by the hot tub and not in the water and was a skinny 40cm snake but enough to get me out of the water and looking a bit more closely at the plants around us!! Eek!
We check out and jump in our cab, who we also organise to drive us to PP in a couple of days as he has a nice car and does us a deal for 50 bucks! Great deal! The rain starts just as we leave for the next hotel. Good timing!
We get to the next hotel - Legacy Hotel and Resort (http://www.legacy-resort.com/) and check in straight away. They give us a welcome drink and ice cold face washer - the best way to greet someone here I swear!! We can check in early so we jump in the golf cart which drives us to the door of our room! Right by the huge pool and it delightfully has three single beds with mozzie nets around them! Huge bathroom, we have stepped it up a level and still for insanely cheap prices!
We dump our bags and head for the beach. Up the road two minutes and then we hit it. Unfortunately the only clean part of the beach is outside a hotel/restaurant as they clean up outside their establishments. The sea is slowly eating away the trees, so they are barely hanging on, and the beach is scattered with rubble, everything from a light globe to plastic bags, to you name it. Very sad to see. We continue on, paddling up the beach until we come across the place we had found the day before, the Secret Garden. As we walk, we can see the dark storm clouds off in the distance, which make for great photos! We grab a table and order some lunch and basically pull up stumps here.
The girls book an island trip across the sea to one of the islands dotted in front of us, looks rough to me, so I decline, preferring to chill out over here!
Reading, chatting, eating, swimming, we idle away the afternoon here, drinking their delightful cocktails - my personal favourite the Coco Loco! Funnily enough we each enjoy a different cocktail! Good times on the beach though, as the afternoon passes, we watch the sunset, which is rather spectacular and stunning as we run around in the last of the light much to the amusement of the staff and other patrons. Before leaving I have the promise from our waitress that she will teach me to make my cocktail the next day! Woo! Can't wait!
Monday, May 30, 2016
Up early again, seems to be the way here! Over and have our last breakfast, which Chia plays all our favourite songs for us! Nicest guy! We ask him about this other temple which we were contemplating going to - well that was until he told us it was 2-3 hours away! Roads here just aren't great, so it takes longer then you expect! We decided to skip that one!
I have one last swim with Shell in the pool, before we have to go pack our bags and get ready to check out. We store our bags with Chia and grab a tuk tuk into town for one last wander around and some food. We stop at a place my old boss has recommended to us, the Red Piano which was a great suggestion. We had a drink, went wondering then returned for food! Very delicious and you could easily while away your time watching the world go by! We timed it well as the skies opened!
Heading back we packed up our luggage, grabbed two tuk tuks as we needed that much space and headed to the airport! Checking in was easy, I am pretty sure they didn't even look at the weights of our bags! They did stop me bring my water through, so I skilled that one! Through to the very basic waiting area, where there was little to feed or entertain us. Our flight was then delayed by an hour! Always the delays!
Eventually we boarded a little plane, not tiny but small enough! We were airborne, got our token bottle of water and then landed! Longest taxi into the terminal though. Unforntunately it was dark so hard to see but seems like we were landing in a valley of some sort!
Thankfully we got our bags and our ride was waiting for us! Very little English but comfy car and we were on our way! Not for long though before we were stopped for a good half hour. There had been an accident, so we were trapped and going no where, not that that stopped others, as they careened up the side of us making it a three lane road instead of one! Eventually we got moving, couldn't see anything thankfully!
Got into town and headed towards our hotel, down another bumpy road, our little oasis! This time we were staying at: The Deluxx Boutique Hotel (http://www.search.sniphotel.com/Hotel/Deluxx_Boutique_Hotel_and_ServicedApartment.htm)
Our room is upstairs and thankfully the guys helped Lee with her bag up the stairs (she is currently carrying her life around, I remember the fun that that is!!) and we have an OK size room. The pool is nice but more excitingly is that there is a giant inflatable unicorn in the pool! Not something you see everyday and of course everyone wants one!!
We dump our stuff and head for town, again a free tuk tuk down town and $3 back. We find a busy back packer type bar/restaurant and really can't be bothered looking further. Oh did I mention the giant golden lions we passed on the way in. I so need to get a photo of them!!! Hahaha
Saturday, May 28, 2016
5am pick up - oh the brutality! Only on a holiday would you do this, the added excitement of the day's adventures helping to motivate one out of bed!! Even at 4.30am it's so warm and humid! Promises to be a stinking hot day!
Our guide, who I found through trip advisor - Tep Nat - picked us up on the dot of 5am. I had sent him an email the day before letting him know how it was difficult to find us. Conscientious as he is, he did a test run so they would know how to find us! Impressive! Today we are going by tuk tuk as all the temples on the agenda are close by. Today's tour is costing us $65 for the three of us and it's a private tour!
Our first stop is sunrise at Ankor Wat. But first we have to go to the check point and pick up our ticket, which is at a cost of $40 for a three day pass. As we are doing 2 days we need to pick up a 3 day pass as there isn't a 2 day one, just one day and three! They are pretty savvy with the whole passing tickets around, you have to go and have your picture taken (woo just what you want at 5am!) and they print you an individual ticket with your picture on it! Sadly Tep tells us that this is all privately owned by the Vietnamese, who are meant to invest and upkeep the sites that we are going to but don't. Sad to think all that money isn't going back to the Cambodian people to make things better for them.
There are surprisingly a lot of people out and about at this time, and while it's hot, it'll get hotter, so I assume that's why the locals are out and about. The others are bed ragged tourists in pursuit of that sunrise like us! We get near the temple and catch our first glimpses of Ankor Wat! It's impressive, their is a moat all the way round it that is super wide and Tep tells us this was all dug out by hand! It took 40 years to complete the entire temple and it's moat! That must have taken a lot of people a long time!!!
We walk across the moat, along with others, but not as many as I'm sure it has in the peak season. We wander through and Tep explains all about it, who built it, the three levels, one for the King being the grandest of course. There always seems to be a library and the structures of semetrical, so one of either side. There is always an odd number of towers - this represents good luck.
We join the small yet still large crowd who are congregated around the ponds to get the reflection shots of the sunrise and the sun is just coming up. Unfortunately it's a cloudy morning, so the sunset isn't amazing but it's still a good one! We take a million shots along with everyone else, and then cross to the other side and take more before stopping for some breakfast. It's positively steaming now the sun is coming up!!
After a quick break, Lee getting not one but two undrinkable co
As we wander through the different rooms, in and outside, little lizards come out of the rocks, pictures are composed and starred in, sweat is dripping, we make it through to the back side, where we can mount the steep steps to pose in the door way. The steps while not only step are very shallow as well - an added bonus of fun (danger!!). Coming down is worse then going up, that's for sure!!! But a great view and puts in perspective how big it actually is when you see how tiny you look in the photos!!
We walk out the back side, past bits and pieces laying on the ground that once formed a part of this crazy structure and out the gates, following the path up to the outer gate where our tuk tuk is faithfully waiting. Getting into the tuk tuk is almost heaven, as when it's moving, a cool breeze cools you down. To say I was melting is most likely an understatement!!
Next stop is the Tomb Raider Temple or correctly named Ta Prohm, as we drive through the Angkor Thom city to get there, once having millions living within it's walls. It's impressive as you walk up to it, the old ruins of a temple with giant trees with roots that seemingly are taking it over! As this is a smaller temple, there are more people here, still not as crowded as peak time, I have to say this is a better time to visit even with the humidity and risk of rain, the crowds are smaller, I can't imagine wandering around with 1000's of others!
We see the spots Tomb Raider was filmed, pose in front of the trees and go deeper. They always say that if left long enough, nature would eventually reclaim the world, and this place feels like it. There are plants wedged through the walls, growing around and up them, strangling them, bits of the walls falling off into heaps around them. It's impressive to see the carvings, to hear that they never used concrete or mortar between each stone, so they were all perfectly carved and slotted into one another. Little faces poke through the tree roots, carved into the walls a long time ago. It's very cool, and a wonderful place to walk and climb over. Work is meant to be done on them, but as I mentioned above the funds don't come. Some countries have taken ownership and funded or restored as best they can some parts of all the temples we are seeing, but you do wander what they could do with all the money that goes through ticketing.
Remarkably, the areas around the temples and areas are all very clean and well looked after. Everywhere else is littered with garbage and rubble that you go, but they keep these areas very pristine.
I have to say driving in and out of these temples we pass the gates that have the buddha's faces carved into them - these are one of my favourite things and builds my excitement for this afternoons temple as there is one full of faces there! We pass across the bridge, one side representing the devil (my favourite side) and the other the good team (less interesting heads imo!). The heads, like in most of these temples have been damaged or taken off or scratched out. Vandals across the times, around the world have really ruined some amazing art.
We are pooped, hot and bothered and desperately in need of lunch! Tep took us to the local place, where I am assuming they always go, as then they get a free meal. Fine by us, the place is a little garden oasis, as we head in, there is what seems like a little black bird who fully says hello and then wolf whistles at you! You might not believe it or how real life it sounded, but that's ok, I got a video! Stay tuned!!! :)
Lunch was another Cambodian specialty which was a bit like a Stirfry and it was delicious! Although not really lunch time, we ate like it was, having been up for hours!! tummies full, cooled down, we were ready to keep going and battle the heat again. Tep had timed it really well to be at the temples when less people were, doing it in reverse to everyone else. Suited us just fine! Less people in our pictures the better!
I have to sing his praises a bit here, if you are looking for a guide he is definitely worth the money. We had unlimited water, he knew all the short cuts or cool things to see. His knowledge of history of his country and the temples was fantastic! He knew all the spots to stand to get the picture perfect spots, and didn't mind taking photos by the dozen for us! He had a great sense of humour and we were often laughing through out the day as he told us about his life and his family, telling us that his wife called him a fat black water buffalo had us laughing so hard and referring back to it jokingly over the next day or two! A great guide! We even taught him Ankor Waaaaaat (gangsta style!) which had him in hysterics and all of us often repeating it. He taught us that in Cambodia it was not OMG but OMB!! Oh My Buddha!! Again we used it a lot much to everyone's amusement!
Next stop was past the Terrac of the Elephant, a large long platform with elephants holding up the floor, to Baphount. This temple had a long walkway, a bit like a catwalk into it as we strut along! Unfortunately Lee and Shell hadn't bought long pants or shirts to wear, which is necessary in some of the temples. Although they had a sarong, the guards wouldn't let them in. So I was on my own! I headed in and climbed up the three layers to almost the top. The top isn't open and that was ok with me, this was high and steep enough! The stairs were nuts getting up, and they had installed wooden ones with frail rails, but still really shallow steps and soo Steep! Did I mention STEEP!! The view from the top however was well worth the heart palpitating walk up and down! All around, through the trees, a 360 view. There was a little kid up there who cheekily asked where you are from, Australia I obviously replied, he in turn replied with his script of Captial City Canberra, G'day mate with a cheeky grin. Then trying to get you to give him money for his school - luckily a lady at once of the previous temples had told me about the little scam they had going on!! I politely smiled and declined and wandered on! The temple has lots of door ways which really seem to wander off into a whole other realm. They inspire creativity and wonder as you gaze at them and wonder about the magic and mystery of the place. Heading down I meet the others, who are resting under a tree.
Bayon Temple is up next and really has to be my favourite. There are 216 faces in this temple. As you look at it, you are really taken aback by the stone structure in front of you. I almost expected an Indiana style scene, where the faces start turning, or the blocks moving to reshape - it stirs the imagination that's for sure! Even from the outside, I knew I was going to love it! And sure enough, I did!
We headed in, and there was a small group of monks also visiting, which only enhanced our pictures! They even posed for us when Tep asked and we helped them out by taking a photo for them. Tep had us kissing the faces and holding them, posing in Windows, the works. I could have sat in that place and watched the world go past, it had a really great vibe about the place! Love Love LOVE! If you come and only go to one temple, this is the one I'd send you to!!! We had a deal with Tep that if we agreed with him on the favourite temple then we get a high five, I promptly told him on arrival that this definitely was going to be my favourite, and I received an immediate high 5! We were all in agreement - awesome temple!!
This was the lucky last temple on our list for the day and what a way to finish, but we were pooped and exhausted! On the way back to the tuk tuk there was a family of monkeys, sitting there like little old men, almost posing you would swear!!! There was also a 'modern' Buddha in a shelter to pray too made out of the ancient stone.
We headed back, before stopping to take some photos of these monkeys who were chowing down on bananas given to them by tourists, not phased at all by people watching and taking their pictures!!!
Back at the hotel, we had a quick swim to cool off, and Lee off to have a rest. Shell and I headed back in town to wander a bit more, ending up buying some more items! We found a hyper green massage place and settled in for a half an hour but turning into an hour massage for $7. How could you not really!!! Our massagers laughing at us and posing for pictures. Mine was more of a distracted torture but Shells doing a good job. Regardless having ones feet rubbed after a long day is bliss!!
We headed back home after this to check on Lee and we ended up having dinner at our hotel, which was delicious. I tried rice paper rolls for the first time, they were pretty good. They really know how to do complimentary sauces in this place I have to say!! Tuckered out after a long day, we headed to bed! Great first day at the temples!
More photos to come when I'm on a computer!