Archiv der Kategorie: Cambodia

Cambodia – Summary & Pictures

People: The Cambodians seemed very open and warm to me. They spoke much better English than the Laotians – which made contact easier and also some jokes started flying around again 🙂 The group of tourists was a colourful mix – lots of package tourists only in Angkor, many backpackers on a detour from Thailand. But also people travelling in similar routes as us through the Mekong region!

Food: I rarely ate real Cambodian food – and when I did, I found it less nice than in Laos or Thailand. Western food was mostly really good though – and waiting times finally went down again!

Weather: Heat, heat heat!!! The only place where the sun was not burning down the whole time, was unfortunately Sihanoukville 😉

Costs: In the end, Cambodia was a bit more expensive than expected – especially food and accommodation were more expensive than what we were used to. Also, I had a lot of higher expenditures: Angkor, tuk tuks, museums, diving, shooting range,… In total this results in a daily budget of 28 Euro.

Accommodation: The price/performance ration was definitely right in Cambodia! We always had nice double rooms with our own bathroom for about 6-10 Dollars. Everything was clean, towels, blankets,… And finally working wifi again!

Infrastructure: Busses and tuk tuks. Everything rather mediocre, a little bit too expensive for what it was…

Illnesses: All was fine 🙂

Safety: You often hear that Cambodia is less safe than other countries in SEA. I definitely did not have that feeling at all!

Highlight: Angkor Wat of course.

Lowlight: Sihanoukville. But I didn’t have high expectations anyways!

Click here for all my pictures of Cambodia:weiterer Dschungeltempel

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Cambodia in 16 Days…

31.01.2013 Crossing the border and arriving in Kratie

We crossed the border between Laos and Cambodia. What sounds like a simple enough step was in fact an odyssey spanning a full day. Going to the border by bus was fine, but at the border we were completely ripped-off – everywhere we had to pay one or two dollars for this or that… Annoying!!! Having spent 2 hours waiting for who knows what, we were finally presented with a crammed minibus to take us on. However (and who knows why) it only ever went up to Stung Treng where we were dropped off at a small restaurant in the outskirts… and promised a connection within half an hour. Said bus connection then turned out to only have space for 4 out of 14 people, so we had to wait for another 2 hours. No information to be had from anybody, and at some point we were told that there was not going to be another minibus at all… exasperating. Luckily a bus turned up after all, we squeezed in and endured the next few hours.
übervoller MinibusArriving in Kratie, we were happy to find a good guesthouse and food and to sleeeeeep for a long time… Apart from that, I didn’t see anything in Kratie, for the next day Mathijs and I continued to Kompong Cham.

01.02.-02.02.2013 Kompong Cham

Fortunately, we were spared a sequel to the minibus odyssey and made our way to Kompong Cham fairly quickly – a small town at the Mekong which I was very fond of.

Mönche in Kompong Cham

The town is nicely situated at the river and the old French lighthouse is a good viewpoint for watching the sunset, even though the steps up are a little scary…!steile Stufen am Leuchtturm

Aussicht vom Leuchtturm

The following day, we rented a motorcycle and cruised to the few sights of the area: Wat Nokor is a beautiful old temple, reminiscent of Angkor Wat in its style.
Wat NokorMen’s and Women’s Hill are two hills presenting a view all right, but one that will unlikely knock your socks off 😉 The temple on Women’s Hill is rather nice, though! We also went to Wat Hanchey – it wasn’t really worth the lengthy search for the right road, but the drive through villages was pretty enough. The bamboo bridge in the south of the town impressed us mightily, too:
Bambusbrücke

And in the afternoon we travelled on again…

02.02.-04.02.2013 Phnom Penh

We had scheduled 2 days for Phnom Penh, which was enough. After very rural Laos it was nice to be in a big city again.

Phnom Penh Verkehr

Having said that, I didn’t especially like the city. We visited the Wat Phnom temple, the Independence Monument and the two markets, Psar Thmei and the Russian Market – none of which could be called outstanding. The water front promenade was gigantic, but not very nicely made. I suppose I’m simply spoilt by how Europe does these kinds of things 😉 The King’s Palace and the Silver Pagoda weren’t accessible at the time, for the King of Cambodia had died 3 months before and was now being cremated and buried… But it was fascinating to see masses of Cambodians in mourning clothes!
Kambodschaner in Trauerkleidung Königspalast bei Nacht

I was most impressed by two historic museums treating the cruel past of the country (because of the force of the atrocities, I decided to only take black-and-white photographs here): Today’s Tuol Sleng Museum was a prison and a place of cruel torture under the Khmer Rouge regime.
Tuol Sleng FoltermuseumIn the end, prisoners were brought to the Killing Fields (Choeung Ek), where they were even more cruelly executed. In order to save bullets, people were killed with shovels, axes, hammers… A terrible place; the audio tour really helps you get to know the history.
Killing Fields near Phnom PenhIt did feel a bit weird to go on to a shooting range directly afterwards – but how often do you get the chance to try out an AK-47!?!? It was real fun, too, although it was over within seconds… 😉
shooting an AK47

05.02.-06.02.2013 Kampot

Kampot is a small town near Cambodia’s coast, but has no direct access to the sea. We only spent one day there, renting motorcycles. First, we went to a temple cave – but it could not equal the caves we had seen over the last few weeks… The scenery and villages on the way were definitely more of a sight! 🙂Dorf nahe KampotAfterwards, we went up to the Bokor Hill Station – a pretty long and windy road into the “mountains”. The old buildings up there reminded me of a ghost town and make quite pretty photo opportunities – and the view across the sea is truly spectacular!! Sadly, investors are already busy transforming the area into a resort of five star hotels (positively ugly concrete blocks) and casinos 😦Bokor Hill StationGoing down again, we soon realised we had a flat tyre… damn! With immense luck we were able to slowly go down all the hill and reach the next garage! Phewww… 🙂

07.02.-09.02.2013 Sihanoukville

Only a short bus trip separates Shianoukville from Kampot. On our agenda there: beach and scuba diving. I had high expectations for neither. And I was right: there are no particularly nice beaches in Sihanoukville. By motorcycle, we went to Occheutal Beach, Otres Beach, Sokha Beach and Hawaii Beach. The last one was by far the best for us!
Hawaii Beach in SihanoukvilleFor diving, we went to Koh Rong, an island which looks very beautiful but where we unfortunately had neither enough time nor money (everything was fully booked and very expensive at the time). The dives only went down 8-10m, and all those who know me will know that this is not up my alley at all 😉 Give me 20m at least, please! It was nice, though, to be under water again after so much time had passed since my last diving experience (July 2012)!!! I also saw my friend Squeeky from Honduras again. We did the dive instructors’ course together and she now works here. It’s always nice to meet friends again while travelling!
ich und Squeeky

10.02.-13.02.2013 Siem Reap

A night bus then brought us to Siem Reap. Completely exhausted, we first needed a long sleep. Afterwards, we would have liked to visit Tonlé Sap Lake. However, all tours going there are either outrageously overpriced or painfully touristy. We were not going to gape at people as if they were animals in a zoo!! So we ended up only buying tickets for Angkor and soaked up our first sunset impressions…
Angkor WatThe next 3 days were fully dedicated to Angkor. On our first day, we rented bicycles and went on the Small Circuit plus a few other temples. Highlights were of course the Bayon temple full of stone faces and the Ta Phrom jungle temple.
Bayon

Ta PhromBut smaller temples were a pleasant surprise, too, because they were less crowded! On the second day we had to get up early – to see the sunrise together with 1,000 other tourists. Oh yes: it was definitely worth it!! A wonderful sight… 🙂Sonnenaufgang Angkor WatAfterwards, we took a tuk tuk to the Banteay Srei temple, situated a bit further away and adorned with beautiful stone wall carvings. One of my favourites!
ich im Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei Steingravuren

We also went along the Big Circuit to see the remaining temples along that route. I was especially impressed by the Preah Khan temple – a gigantic temple unspoilt by tourists and parts of it magnificently overgrown by trees.
weiterer Dschungeltempel

Tempel um Angkor WatThe third day was a bit more laid back. We took a tuk tuk to the Roluos Group, which basically consists of merely three main temples. They were not massively spectacular, but on the up side we finally had a brilliantly blue sky! 🙂Roluos Group

Roluos Group

Plus, we went up the Phnom Krom hill, where we enjoyed a truly beautiful view of the area. We were especially taken by the rice fields, almost garish green in colour…
Aussicht von Phnom KnorOn this trip, I almost lost my camera: I accidentally left it at a temple, and it was an hour later before I could come back to look for it. Never would I have thought I’d ever see it again – what a lucky devil I am!!!  🙂

14.02.-15.02.2013 Battambang

Our last stop in Cambodia! The town itself didn’t have much to impress us with – there isn’t really a lot to see here… But in any case we mostly came here to go on the Bamboo Train! It’s mostly a tourist attraction now – but this fact did not at all destroy the fun experience! You sit on an engine powered bamboo flatbed set on wheels on old rails, and you speed along for some 20mins. Fun, fun, fun!!! 🙂Bambuszug in Battambang

When there is oncoming traffic, the vehicles are stopped and one of them is disassembled, quick and easy: take off the bamboo flatbed, get the wheels off the rail – done!
Bambuszug in BattambangA very unusual and fun experience… a good conclusion for our travels through Cambodia, a country I wasn’t approaching with great expectations but which had many nice surprises in store for me!