…entre nous soit dit…

between me you and the gatepost.

Kraitie, Cambodia…. aka a smelly hole of a town

I can not emphasise my disdain for this place enough. I was stubborn and said to my mother that I wanted to stay there for at least one whole day (which meant 2 nights), because I wanted to look around. She said, one night was more than necessary and that most people only stop there for a couple of hours.

Turns out she was right. There was nothing to do essentially unless you want to be one of those ripped off tourists that goes to see the dolphins in their no doubt awfully treated and ruined environment (although admittedly there are rare dolphins). But no sooner had I got to Kraitie, that I realised that I was going to have to bite the bullet and admit that I didn’t wanted to stay the two nights. Heck, I wanted to get out of there within an hour of arriving. But whatever. Who doesn’t love traipsing through sludgy mud in the market streets and, from a one block radius, being able to smell a rotten kidney mixed with heaven knows what else smell. It’s horrible.

If, however, you do happen to have to travel through there, then here’s a map of where I stayed (seeing as there seems to be a large lacking of maps of kratie town on google, my makeshift one will have to do):

In case it’s hard to read, the little red thing at the bottom is approximately where my bus came in and stopped, however different bus companies will stop in different places obviously. The Yon Hong 2 is where I stayed (next to the markets) and is clearly visible on the map (#91, street 8, Kratie). And the Yon Hong 1, where we were originally heading, is on the lower right corner – from the waterside road, look for a low building on the corner with a big one behind it (blocked from the road). The side of the taller one has Yon Hong written on the side of it in big letters – that’s where it is.

However, after checking out the place a bit and walking around, we discovered that the commissioned tuktuk drivers that tried to take us to some new places, actually did come from a decent place (bottom left of the map)…. but unfortunately I can’t remember the name of it. Just what the pictures on the brochure he showed us looked like.

The Yon Hong 2 was shit to say the least – the beds weren’t brilliant and I didn’t want to touch their blankets (thank god for silk lining sleeping bags – best investment I ever made in Asia), the bathroom was pretty rank, but worked and had toilet paper, and the balcony brought up the waft of kidney smell if you went out to it; but it was only $5 a night for a twin share room, and I can suffer for one night at that price. They had internet on the computers downstairs which you could pay for (although wifi is rife throughout most places in Cambodia now, apparently Kratie is yet to catch up), and the meals were pretty decent… although I stuck to museli and yoghurt for $2 the whole time because it’s both filling and there’s a hell of a lot less chance of getting food poisoning in comparison to eating meat. Although Mum reckoned the Amok was decent.

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Cambodia/Vietnam Trip, just a quick note, Notes, observation, Travel | Leave a comment

Old Photos: Cambodia

So I was going through some of my photos from Cambodia the other day, searching for all the ones from the temples to match the posts that I put up recently, and whilst I was in the files, I found all these ones and realised that I never posted them up. So here they are: my photos from a small rural make shift shanty shack “town”. These people have nothing – no food, no money and no where to go. They create their little houses on the slopes between the government owned road and the privately owned fields: No man’s land. They’re squatters in a third world country with no prospects. C.H.O.I.C.E. is a volunteer organisation that takes other volunteers (usually travelers passing through Phnom Penh that hear about it) out to deliver donated food and to give medical care.

They need help.

 

 

C.H.O.I.C.E. VOLUNTEER FOOD RUN JANUARY 2010


These are two of my favourite images from all the photos I took that day.

 

 

 

 

(pity this one didn’t quite focus properly)

 

 


 


 

 

The funny part is the fact that, despite having absolutely nothing, these are some of the happiest people you’ll probably meet in Cambodia. They’re always over the moon when the volunteers come through because they’re always foreigners and so something completely different to what they’re used to. They have a laugh and a joke, and most of all, they’ll ask you to take their photo – and then show them straight afterwards. All they want is a little attention and care. Some happy time that helps them escape the reality of their lives, even if just for an hour.

It was the same with the kids from the orphanage. They might have had no families, or bad back grounds, but those kids were the happiest kids I’ve seen in a long time. They appreciate life unlike children in Western societies. They see new family, new hope and a chance to enjoy life where they couldn’t before. They’re happy, and it spreads happiness.

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May 17, 2010 Posted by | Cambodia/Vietnam Trip, people, photography, Travel | 3 Comments

…more Cambodia details (Phnom Penh)

 

WHEN LOOKING FOR THE ANGKOR REACH GUESTHOUSE

Address: #84, Street 63 (South corner of Sorya Centre)
017 934 017    or    099 779 969

If you give a tuk tuk driver the street number, they may be able to find it, but your best bet is to just get a lift (or directions if on foot) to the SORYA (pronounced: soy-yah) MARKETS and say its near central markets if they don’t understand you at first. If your first tuk tuk driver doesn’t understand, the guy standing next to him probably will.

You can see the angkor reach hotel from the front steps of the sorya markets (if your standing at the front looking AT the markets, it’ll be to your left -> in other words, its just south). It’ll literally take you 30 seconds to walk from the markets (and that’s only because it takes a long time to cross the road)

 

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Cambodia/Vietnam Trip, just a quick note, Travel | Leave a comment

Cambodia Details (Part 5): The Temples

(Click on the map for a larger version to see detail)

SEIM REAP

THE ANGKOR WAT COMPLEX OF TEMPLES

First off, a few dos and don’ts:

DO:

  • CLOTHING: Wear long shorts to the knees or below (men and women) and wear a t-shirt with sleeves (no singlets). Without these and enclosed shoes, you won’t be able to climb to the topmost section of Angkor Wat – and you may wait for an hour in line before discovering that. 
     
  • Do not wear sandals or thongs (the shoes) if you plan on actually going anywhere other than the entrance gate to each place. These are old stones and very steep stairs so they can be tricky to climb sometimes – thongs don’t help. 
  • Wear a hat if you have one and take lots of sunscreen (obviously).
     
  • Take a lot of water because they will try to rip you of in there and, damn, your going to need it (especially if riding or walking instead of hiring a tuk tuk because it is a huge place.
     
  • If you go for the sunrise (roughly around 6 or 6.30am) then make sure you get there early for a good spot so that you don’t get other photographers in your photos (and if your lucky, one of the plastic chairs – although they may try making you buy coffee if you sit in one).
     
  • If you make it there for sunrise, head straight into Angkor Wat afterwards if your awake enough because that’s it’s quietest time your going to get – everyone else (including all the annoying as hell tourist groups) go off for breakfast and comes back around 9.30am. Although warning, the climb to the centre top doesn’t open until 8.30am (although the men who work there are prone to US$5 bribes – when its usually free – if you get there before there are people waiting)
     
  • Take a camera and hire a driver for the day for around US$14-16 and ask them about the history.
     
  • Enjoy yourself and make others pose for stupid photos (see end of post).

DON’T

  • Don’t make a scene and swear loudly etc.
     
  • Don’t be one of those annoying as all hell tourists that everybody hates.
     
  • Don’t throw your litter on the ground, draw/graffitti on anything, or run the stones – think of how many hundreds of thousands of people go through there every year damaging the place.
     
  • Don’t bother buying one of the history books they try flogging there – they start at US$30 and go down to US$5 but if you look for them before your trip to the temples, there are a couple of free tourist guides found at cafes, restaurants and hotels that give you the history, maps and pictures. If you have a guide (tuk tuk man), ask if they’ve got one you can borrow because they probably do – just give t back at the end of the day.
     
  • Don’t wear a skirt or short shorts and a singlet and expect to be allowed to climb the stairs where everyone is going to be staring at your ass and/or up your skirt. No one wants to see it. Seriously. Even long skirts are bad.

 

The Temples to See

Angkor 

Wat – this is usually the main attraction. Personally I was sort of disappointed in it. yes it’s big, but it wasn’t that amazing and it was almost plain in comparison to some of the others (in terms of architecture and things to climb). I went in 2009/2010 Summer and it was under reconstruction and so there was huge green things over it – so it didn’t even have the big impressive look from far away.

Angkor Thom – This is where we spent most of our time (it involves a number of different temples – see map) and it was more impressive in my opinion although there was construction on some of these ones too. But not noticeably like Angkor Wat.

  • Bayon – This was probably my one of if not my top favourite of all the temples. It’s old, its big, it’s climbable and it has a beautiful falling apart feel to it. It doesn’t feel sterile and like it’s basically had plastic surgery (like Angkor Wat does). You can get some gorgeous photos here as well. Be sure to get one kissing one of the many faces (see me making Mum do it on the right)

  • Baphuon – If I remember correctly, this is the one with construction on the sideways budha face around the back – follow the trail around the side and go see the work being done (and see if you can spot the budha – it took me a couple of minutes to see it was sideways). Because so many of the blocks have fallen down/been taken down methodically, they are scattered around and look pretty. Go to the north west corner (the back right corner) for the best area. There’s a beautiful big twisted tree and it’s where I created the photo where there’s a billion of one person in the same photo (see the end)
     
  • Phimeanakas – You can jump through to this are through one of the archway doors in the wall that runs around the whole area and goes along the side of Baphuon as well. This one was old, and not that big, but it’s kinda pretty if you go all the way to the back where the royal palace area is. 
     
  • Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Lepar King  – Apparently the terrace of the lepar king is nice, but that’s coming from my mother who is a history teacher and likes shallow relief sculptures (which don’t really float my boat)… I wouldn’t know. I was napping in the tuk tuk at this point while Mum had a look. I do remember walking along the terrace of elephants and seeing some crazy elephant sculptures on it though. That’s also where I met this little girl sitting ther with a baby. At first she was all shyly “yes take photo”. It was a good shot. But then she wanted money for it… and she proceeded to follow me for the next five minutes while I shook my head. Classic example of the begging that’s rife in Cambodia.

    

  • Ta Prohm – Now this is the one place that I was so looking forward to seeing. I knew about it and I’d seen pictures of Ta Prohm before I’d ever seen pictures of Angkor Wat. Mostly it draws a crowd because it was used as part of the set for Tomb Raider (staring Angelina Jolie)… but that was before it all basically fell down… Personally I just love the look of the trees and the aged look of the stone combined. I think it’s beautiful. So having built it up in my head, I was extremely disappointed to get there and discover that there was even more construction work going on here than at Angkor Wat. There are whole sections closed off and the rest of it is in rubble piles and a lot of it is held up with wooden supports (they’re not exactly worried about health and safety standards for the tourists there). There were even top parts held together with hockey straps. But don’t get me wrong, the rest of it is still kind of cool in it’s own way and there were a million places to crawl through to which was cool – the further in you go, the less tourists there are. It was relatively more quiet than the other main attractions.
     
  • And as for the other temples… well I can’t really remember which photos go with what name… but I’m pretty sure the other temples we went to were (and I’ll just put some other photos below):
    • Banteay Kdei
    • Ta Keo
    • Pre Rup
    • Ta Som
    • Preah Khan

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The photo to the right is the same place as the photo directly below

These two photos (above and below) of the lion figures are actually in completely different places. They are just common amongst pretty much every single temple there.

SILLY TIMES 🙂

Corner of Baphuon

Gotta love being able to use a timer on cameras these days… Mum just doesn’t know what the Toyota jump is lol

She was supposed to look like she was falling, but Mum’s strong suit definitely isn’t acting.

May 11, 2010 Posted by | Cambodia/Vietnam Trip, lists, Notes, observation, Travel | Leave a comment

Cambodia Details (Part Three)

 (Click map for larger copy and more detail)

(NOTE: all prices included are in terms of US dollars which are useable in Cambodia – or you can use the local currency equivalent)

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SIEM REAP

Where to Stay

I stayed at the Claremont hotel which was a bit more than the average traveller would be looking to pay (thanks mum) so I haven’t got any good ideas for where to stay because I didn’t really check out anywhere else.

If you  pick up the little local tourist books that they have stocked everywhere in the cafes and restaraunts of Phnom Penh, and every other tourist town in Cambodia. Failing that, use Lonely Planet, although it’s updated and rechecked less frequently than the local free magazines.

People to Contact

  • Chong Ang – (tuk tuk) – 017 948 933
    Second best tuk tuk driver I had the entire time I was in Cambodia. He was so kind and considerate and willing to do whatever we wanted, no matter the time. He took us to Angkor Wat and all the temples and waited for us. Extremely gracious and talkative.

Things to do

  • Angkor Wat complex – when people think of Angkor Wat they think of the one place, but it’s actually a huge complex with many different temple sites – some about half an hours drive from Angkor Wat itself. I’ll do a separate post for the different temples and where to go.
    Personally I would recommend, if you have the time, getting a 3 day pass (US $40) so that way you can go back as you please to see the temples. If you try to do it in one day then every temple is just going to seem the same as the one before and they’ll all blur together. A one day pass is around $20 so it’s worth it.
    I would also recommend hiring a tuk tuk driver for the day (especially if you’re not going to do it for 3 days) purely because you can relax and you get around a lot quicker seeing as there’s long trips between the majority of the temples – call Chong Ang (see above). $12 is usually a good going rate for day at the main temples (ie sunrise to 2pm or 9.30/10 till 4 or 5ish. Or for further out to Bantaey Srei and Bantaey Samre plus the river (it’s a full day). We paid Chong Ang $16 each day though because he was so helpful.
     
  • Night Markets – there are signs up everywhere guiding you, or grab a local map – these are brilliant for bargaining at (these people are desperate to sell, so they will really bargain. I bought “$30” earings for $6), but they’re just your typical touristy markets. Beware that you’ll probably need to wear long pants if you want to avoid the midgy bug things that jump up and bite your leg. They open at around 6ish and close at 11
     
  • The Old Markets – More touristy things to buy as well as food products and fruit etc. If your looking for a photocopy lonely planet rip off, you can find. These open at 10 or 11am i think and close around 5 or 6ish each day
     
  • Walk around the town and go to the Blue Pumpkin – it has the best ice-cream and pastries out! or a tuk tuk across/around town should be either $1 or $1.50 maximum
     
  • Pub Street is where most people go for food and drink  (Although can be pricey)- usually quiet at lunch time because people are all at the temples, but it gets incredibly busy at night time. Beware of the temple bar (near the end of the street towards the blue pumpkin) as it is filled with prostitutes and if your a male, you will be preyed on – even if your with a girl.

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RIVER BOAT RIDE SIEM REAP TO BATTAMBANG

This trip can be tedious and long. It can take anywhere between 4 and 10 hours. And yes I mean that. It took us 8 and a half hours, it took my sister almost 10. Don’t get me wrong, it is a pretty trip and it was amazing to see all the small villages that settle on banks, or float in the middle of the widest parts of the river, but it is very long… and the motor is noisy and your all crammed into pairs on small wooden seats. So it does get hard. It’s pretty but not necessarily a must do.

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BATTAMBANG

Battambang is supposedly the second or third largest city in Cambodia, however it isn’t a tourist town. So don’t expect much. Most people only visit here as a pit stop after the river trip from Siem Reap… and to see the bamboo train.

Places to Stay

  • Seng Hout Hotel – #1008, Road II, North of Phar Nat Market 50m
    http://www.senghouthotel.comchhounseng@yahoo.com – +(855) 53 952 900 OR 012 530 327 OR 092 530 293 OR 012 933 120
    $13 per night for a room with two beds, air con, fridge, tv, wifi and free internet downstairs, bathroom
    I fully and utterly endorse this hotel – It’s new and so nice/luxury considering the ridiculously cheap price for what it is.

People to Contact

  •  David – Tuktuk driver – 092 926 381 – davidsin30@yahoo.com.au
    $15 to take us around for the whole day (we chose some places and he filled in the rest.
    Probably THE nicest tuktuk driver we had – brilliant sense of humour considering his english is sometimes broken. otherwise excellent english (although his emails can be funny).
     
  • BEWARE: the tuk tuk drivers are extremely pushy seeing as there is little work in the town and it’s very competitive. We had a very bad experience with that so I’m warning you now that in particular there are a couple of drivers affiliated with the Seng Hout Hotel that are aggressive and not to be used – unless it is David.

Things to do

  • Chhaya hotel rents motos $5 per day, push bikes $1.50 per day
     
  • I can’t remember what the actual things that we saw were called so get yourself a guidebook and the tuktuk drivers are all too happy to tell you places to visit as well.
     
  • The bamboo train – this isn’t actually a train as much as a rickety old track which would be lucky to have even 5 metres of track that is actually straight. The government is about to close it down this year so hey can try rebuild and restart the trainlines throughout Cambodia (they were all shut down ages ago). It’ll cost $10 for the ride regardless of how many people are on there – 2, 3, 4 or 5. So find a friend and make it cheaper.
     
  • EATING: The Black Rose is the best place you’ll probably eat in Cambodia. The meals are ridiculously cheap and yet awesomely good quality – lonely planet wasn’t wrong for once. Just be prepared for sometimes having to wait 5 or so minutes during peak times because it gets mighty busy. But it’s worth it.
    To get to it, turn right out of Seng Hout and walk through the path straight through the gates and middle of the markets (or around the edge of the market if the gates are closed) and keep heading straight up the street. About 3 or 4 streets up, the black rose is on the corner on your left.

May 8, 2010 Posted by | Cambodia/Vietnam Trip, just a quick note, lists, Notes, observation, Travel | Leave a comment

Cambodia Details (Part Two)

 

 (Click map for larger copy and more detail)

(NOTE: all prices included are in terms of US dollars which are useable in Cambodia – or you can use the local currency equivalent)

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TAKEO

This isn’t a tourist town – this is a small town that doesn’t see many foreigners at all. Lonely Planet boasts a couple of things to do and see nearby to the actual town itself (the province is also called Takeo Province), but I’m only listing it for one reason.

Getting there: The Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Station (see Phnom Penh Map) has a bus that runs 3 times a day to Takeo and you get off at the very last stop – Takeo Town Bus station (the markets are there too). it’s about two hours.

Places to stay/Things to do:

New Futures Orphanage: (click title for website) (click here for some of my photos and story) this is a very well off orphanage in comparison to most in Cambodia – this is because it’s one of around 3 that aren’t corrupt. It is run by an English man named Neville, and the orphanage relies on volunteer travellers coming through.

Before you travel to the town, contact the director by whatever form (general inquiries email is probably easiest, but he may take a day to reply with confirmation – click here for contact details) saying when you intend on visiting and to make sure there is accommodation available. If flying into phnom penh he may be able to arrange transport to the orphanage in a car. otherwise he will either give you directions from the Takeo bus stop, or get a tuk tuk to pick you up from there.

They have accomodation at their base or in a guest house around the corner that costs $7 a night for a room with two beds, fan, tv, bathroom. They also have girls there that cook for you (and they’re damn good meals) – $2.50 for dinner and $1.5o for breakfast. Lunch you can find somewhere in town (I used to get noodles for $0.50 at the little house stall in the orphanage’s alleyway – don’t go to the burger place unless you want food poisoning)

The orphanage is around the corner from the base where you stay. You can expect well looked after kids (around 52 of them) from varying backgrounds that are bright, happy, and extremely good at english (they have the best english out of all the kids in the town). The older ones can carry a conversation in english as normally as you would at home with few queries at words. The younger children have varying levels depending on how long they have been there. Expect the kids to be enthusiastic and to jump at you with love.

Volunteers come through mostly as a result of hearing about it from other tourists. Some stay for 1 day, others stay three weeks. I stayed 2 months. It’s completely up to you how long you stay and what you do there. You can play with the children (ie volleyball especially, soccer, marbles, chasey, leggo), teach english (or another language if they’re interested, paint a mural or improve the grounds somehow… any contribution is appreciated.

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KEP

I didn’t get a chance to stop here, but the bus that goes to Kampot does drop passengers here as well and it looked very pretty from the bus. It’s you typical beach tourist town consisting of what looked like only two hotel things. The attraction to it is relaxing and sitting on the white beach. You can catch a boat across to Rabbit island which is supposed to be amazing deserted and relaxing beach where they rent out bungalows. After being inland for a while, this will seem like a dream seeing as there is actually a breeze here and that does wonders when stuck in humidity.

If you don’t want to stop and stay here for a night or so, then you can hire a motorbike from one of two places in Kampot for around $8 a day and ride to Kep for the day. It’ll take around an hour and a half I think and the roads are pretty well marked (although get a map just to be safe).

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KAMPOT

This town is basically like a ghost town. It doesn’t get busy until night time and even then it is still like a ghost town. There’s not really anything to do here – even walking around the town is pointless. The only draws are the mountain and cruising on the river. Getting out of here can be interesting… we had a minibus.

Places to Stay:

  • Bokor Mountain Lodge – Riverside drive 
    033 932 314 bokorlodge@gmail.com or www.bokorlodge.com
    This place is quite pricey and wasn’t necessarily worth it. I think it was $40 a night for 2 beds with aircon, wifi and free breakfast (good). 
    Upside: It was in a good location on the riverfront. Restaraunt next door is really good. And there’s a whole strip of food places them along there.
    Downside: Expensive 
     
  • You’d be best checking out the local guidebooks you can pick up at cafes/hotels in Phnom Penh or Lonely Planet for other cheaper places. Most of the cheaper places are a tuk tuk/moto ride away from the riverside though which is where most of the food is.

Things to Do:

  • Bokor Mountain – this is a spectacular thing to do if your physically fit. The view up the top is nice, and the buildings up there is well worth the trek. But when I say that this isn’t for the light hearted, I mean it (Click the title link to see the story and photos). Be prepared for a whole day tour (there’s a couple of different groups that do it and you’ll see signs posted around town or you can just ask your hotel) which include around 8 hours of trekking climbing – no not walking, but hard yakka work. In reflection, it’s probably a good idea to split the walk and do the tour that sleeps a night up there, however you may end up stiff and sore the next day (like us) and so it may be smarter to do it all in one day before your legs realise they’re about to fall off.
     
  • Sunset Cruise – around $5 each – you can ask a tuk tuk driver along riverside where to find these guys. There’s a number of boats that will take a limited number of tourists out for a cruise a long the river for sunset. It’s nothing amazing, just pretty. 

May 7, 2010 Posted by | Cambodia/Vietnam Trip, experiences, just a quick note, lists, Notes, observation, Travel | 1 Comment

Cambodia Details (Part One)

The red dots are places to visit (I also marked the Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Station) and the bright blue are places to stay.

(click here to see a larger high resolution (unedited) version of this map)

(NOTE: all prices included are in terms of US dollars which are useable in Cambodia – or you can use the local currency equivalent)

PHNOM PENH

Places To Stay:

  • Chivas Shack – 6Eo, 8Eo Street 130 (40 metres from river) – $15 a night for a double and single bed with TV, aircon, free breakfast (pitiful though) and there is supposedly wifi as well although it is a bit dodgy and I couldn’t get hold of it – there is free internet downstairs on their one computer though. Free pool table in common area and bar/restaraunt available for cheap.
    Downside: shared bathroom although it was never a problem for us. Wifi is dodgy. Few tuk tuk drivers know it without the actual address given to them.
    Upside: This is a very sociable place, and is the base for the guys who run CHOICE food runs. Owners are extremely nice. Centre of restaraunt/bar area and walking distance to palace, riverside, central and Sorya markets.
     
  • Okay Guesthouse – #5 Street 258 (South end of Phnom Penh) – I didn’t stay here, but my sister did and I saw the room. I think it is approximately $7 for a room for two people with a fan and bathroom. Communal “restaurant”. Internet place across the road costing about $1 for an hour or something – ridiculously cheap!
    Downside: This accomodation is definitely a tourist place and is always busy so there’s a chance it may be fully booked. The rooms are small and the bare basics. If you don’t like socialising, maybe not so brilliant.
    Upside: Very sociable, internet across the road, cheap, Owners will help out with travel plans where they can and they will hold items there if you have something sent to you whilst travelling around cambodia – you can pick it up on ur return to phnom penh (ie visas, letters, packages etc) 
     
  • Ankor Reach Hotel – #84, Street 63 (South corner of Sorya Centre) 017 934 017 or 099 779 969 – $15 a night for two single beds with tv, aircon, fridge, own bathroom, restaraunt, good wifi.
    Downside: walking up the stairs with a heavy backpack is a pain in the ass – the cheaper rooms are closer to the top and theres no lift. No social aspect being a hotel and not a guesthouse.
    Upside:  The best conditions you going to get for your money. Around the corner and down the street from the main bus station next to central markets. 100 metres from sorya markets (which contains a Swensons and a food store like Woolworths/Coles with every western food you desire except vegemite)

People to Contact:

  • Ross Wright: CHOICE food run coordinator
    092 798 642 or choicecambodia@live.com
     
  • Boun Som: Tuk tuk driver for New Futures Orphanage in Phnom Penh
    Don’t have his email address at the moment, but you could send him a message on facebook (click here) in advance and say where you want him to meet you and when and check if he’s available). Should give you a fair price – although he is a tuk tuk driver not moto.
     
  • Heng – +855 (0)12 675 320 – tuktuk driver – friend of the guys that run CHOICE food runs – if you use him, he could also hook you up with friends that drive motos instead if you want to do individual journeys.

Things to do:

  • Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (aka ‘S-21’) – around $4 entry – You don’t need a guide because there’s usually some other tourist that’s shelled out the $10 for one and you can just eavesdrop – it’s worth it. This is a must see and the only thing I would say one has to do before leaving the city. It is mind blowing and downright depressing but in an eye opening way. Any tuk tuk driver will know where it is and they’ll try charging you a lot to take you the long way to get there. You should be able to bargain with a tuk tuk driver to take two people to both S21 and the Killing Fields (see below) for around $18 and they’ll wait for you outside – pay them at the end obviously. 
     
  • Killing Fields – a couple of dollars entry – These aren’t essential but most people go out to it as well because that’s what the tuk tuk drivers do. If you do go, go after S21 because it’ll mean a lot more. It’s all grassy and peaceful now so it won’t have any affect on you if you haven’t already read and seen the brutality of S21. Trust me. The fields are about 30 minutes tuk tuk ride from town (faster by moto) and some of it’s bumpy so get a tuk tuk for comfort. Motos will be a couple of dollars cheaper but not by much – between $7 and $10 per person depending on how well you bargain (this includes the trip to S21 too usually).
     
  • CHOICE food run – free – if you get the chance, you must do this! It’s a food run organised by a group of Australian, English and American expats that goes out to remote villages where they basically have nothing. They deliver food parcels and you help package and deliver them. Gives a true view into the real life of this country. It runs every second Sunday. You can find at least one of the guys who organise it at Chivas Shack almost every evening having a drink. If not, ask the owners of Chivas when the next run is and where the guys are. 
  • The Royal Palace – $6.40 – the prices have gone up and most consider it to be a bit of a rip off seeing as it’s Cambodia. It’s cool but not that amazing. There’s the silver pagoda, but it sounds so much more grand than it actually was. The silver floor is mostly covered with carpet anway. The only thing I found awesome there was the gardens – they’re impecable – and you can see them from the grand gate from the square out the front.
     
  • Russain and  Central Markets – both of these are listed as ‘must sees’ but they’re both just tightly packed and extremely touristy and pricey. If you want a tourist shirt, hit central, or sewing/scarves etc hit russian, otherwise don’t bother with them.
  • Sorya Markets – markets inside and on multiple stories. Contains a Swensons (heaven on earth ice cream), a big food shop like wollies or coles, level dedicated to technology and dvds if you need it.

May 7, 2010 Posted by | Cambodia/Vietnam Trip, just a quick note, lists, Notes, observation, Travel | 1 Comment