Indulging on Lazy Beach (Cambodia) and A Treacherous Bus Ride to Bangkok

25th of February 2016:

We surprisingly arose fairly early (8am) given that we came home at 3am. Our plan was to jump on a speed ferry to Koh Rong Samloem. As we awoke early we got on the 11am Ferry. There are two islands, Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. Koh Rong is the main one, however apparently it’s very touristy and a big party island, whilst Koh Rong Samloem is less touristy and more laid back. Given last nights adventures we were pretty done with partying and don’t usually tend to enjoy places that are full of Westerns. The speed ferry was actually true to its word, it only took 45 minutes to get there compared to 2.5 hours on the slow boat. The island was something you see out of a movie, where you don’t actually believe that it’s a real place.   

Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
 

We hadn’t booked any accommodation and we had been told a place called Castaway was the cheapest. So we walked down the white glistening beach till we eventually found it. Their dorms were $12 U.S. each, otherwise their bungalows were $40. This wasn’t exactly cheap like we were used to. So Nick sat down with our bags and I walked back down the beach. The next closest accommodation in price was $60 per night. So we didn’t have much choice. We put our bags in the room and Nick headed down the beach to take photos and I just laid on the sand listening to music. 

 

Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
 
As Nick turned up I opted to go for a run so I headed off the other direction. It was gorgeous the sun was starting to set and the ocean was as flat as a lake. The run to the end of the beach only took 5 minutes so as I headed back I did some sprints, leg, arm and ab workouts. After 20 minutes I headed back home, I wanted to run but my sunburn prevailed, as burn, sand and denim shorts are a horrible mix.

For dinner we walked two hostels down to the restaurant that looked like a huge blue plastic marquee. The bungalow their was gorgeous however something you would expect in Greece. The prices were not as expensive as we may have imagined and I ordered spaghetti marinara and Nick ordered Seafood pizza. The lady told us it takes 2 or 3 people to eat the pizza however in only 25 minutes Nick had demolished the entire pizza and wasn’t full. My spaghetti was gorgeous, it tasted just like home. Which after awhile is amazing! We even ordered dessert, chocolate crepe. After we were completely full we headed back to go to sleep. As I opened our bathroom door there were 100’s of ants! Everyone that knows me knows how much I HATE ants!!! They just covered the whole floor! Nick was already in bed so he didn’t really care, he said just spray them with the shower. So I did for 5 minutes and they weren’t dying! Then Nick went to go get some bug spray. As he was gone I felt something on my leg. I thought it was my anklet annoying me again but as I looked down I saw a black scorpion. Now I wish this was a joke but I screamed and flicked it off. Meanwhile Nick walks in with a bowl of coffee!! I was so confused he went out to get bug spray and came back with coffee, I don’t want to stay awake for this tortuous occasion! Apparently the so called “termites” do not like the smell of coffee. So Nick was just throwing coffee on the ants. Honestly it looked pathetic and a bit of a waste of time but we had no other option. 


26th of February:

Last night Nick awoke at 2am and told me he was going outside. I remember this clearly but as I was obviously asleep I didn’t question him why! Then at 6am I hear him rushing in saying “you gotta get up the sunrise is beautiful”. So I got out of bed still dazed from my sleep and only a couple of minutes later did I ask him, “have you been outside this whole time?” The room had apparently been to hot for him so he went outside to sleep in one of the hammocks on the beach. 

 

Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
 
To my amazement the sunrise was gorgeous. As we walked out it was still dark, then a few minutes later half the sky was dark and the other half starting to turn colours. It showed a blue and pink coloured sky and clouds across the island. I was however still tired so I headed back to bed and fell into a deep sleep till 9am. Checkout was at 10:30am so we packed our things and had breakfast before officially checking out. I had a scrumptious sand which, ham, cheese and cucumber. We wanted to stay on the other side of the island as we had heard it is even more isolated, and cheap. As we arrived to the path, a tractor with a carriage on the back arrived, with 3 adults and a baby. They told us there’s only one accommodation over there and it’s $65 U.S. A night! We didn’t know what to do! Then Nick thought if we asked people if they wanted to stay over there we could share a room. I thought this was weird, just because we’re literally asking strangers. As I had predicted he got no luck. After 15 minutes and our backpacks still on our backs, we decided to head off there anyway. The walk was 1.5 km, and by the time we were walking it was now 11:30 so the sand had become blisteringly hot! To the point where if your thongs (flip flops) sunk into the sand you could feel the sting on your feet few seconds later. However thankfully most of the walk was in a jungle. As we arrived I just felt hot! We asked if we could stay a night there and she then proceeded to tell us there was only one room left and she will have to call the main land to confirm no one has booked it! All I could think of was I don’t want to walk all the way back with these bags again! Thankfully our prays were made and the room was still available. I was astonished that the food prices were actually reasonable as they were the only restaurant on that side of the island. Our bungalow over looked the ocean and was absolutely gorgeous inside! The bed was to die for! It was nice to have some peace of mind that we weren’t going to get attacked by bed bugs that night! 

 

Koh Rong Samloem, “Lazy Beach” , Cambodia
 
 Nick hired two snorkels for us for only $2 U.S. And we headed off down to the rocks only 100m from our room. The water was semi clear, and there were some huge fish but not as many as I may have hoped for! Unless you go under the jetty then there seemed to be 100’s all bunched up in a metre gap. After 30 or so minutes snorkelling around I headed back to the bungalow. Nick stayed out for 10 more minutes, and then proceeded to go to the other side (right hand side of the beach). The snorkelling there was worse than the other side. Nick went all the way to the end of the island a few 100 metres out. There were a few fish and the rest were big spiky black things. That honestly looked like they could kill you! 
As we hadn’t had lunch yet and it was already 3pm we headed up to the restaurant. It was so close to dinner and we had pre-ordered a fish for 2 so I didn’t want to ruin my appetite. So I opted just for chips. Nick ordered fried rice and a passionfruit juice. A quote from Nick that demonstrated how hard our life is… “I can’t eat my food and lie down.” First world problems right there! As we had just finished our food Nick notices our English friends, Graham and Charlotte walking past. Neither one of us knew we were at this particular island. As a result they pre-ordered a fish for dinner with us. 

   

Koh Rong Samloem, “Lazy Beach”, Cambodia
 
As the sun was setting they borrowed our snorkel for a bit and swam around. By 6pm we were ready for dinner. As we waited they taught us card games such as shithead and Romy. Then the food came out! For what we paid I honestly think the restaurant lost money! We had 2 large fishes 2 sides each (mash potatoes and rice for us and chips and rice for them) in addition we had countless dipping sauces. This cost us $10 U.S each! By the end of the night we had drank 2 bottles of white wine and played endless card games! By 10pm we headed out into the sea to see the Plankton. I tried to do it with my clothes but my shorts got soaked so I ran back to my bungalow only 10 metres away to get changed into my bathers. The plankton was mesmerising, as you splashed your hand back and forth you could see these little glowing dots everywhere. It looked like glitter had been poured into the sea. Sadly after 15 minutes Graham and Charlotte headed back with their torch light and the night was over. It was one of those nights where you just feel so satisfied with every little thing. Also the bed just felt gorgeous to sleep in so that was a huge bonus after so long sleeping in horrible hard beds. A night I’ll never forget!

27th of February 2016:

I didn’t want to leave! I wanted to stay just one more day at least! However as time was ticking for us to catch our plane in Bangkok we didn’t have all the flexibility like we were use to. As we awoke we went to grab some breakfast. I think I may have gone a little over board with the chocolate as I ordered Nutella crepes with hot chocolate. After finishing the 2nd crepe I just felt so full. As we had an hour till we had to check out we quickly ran to the beach to swim and make the most of our private white sands. I wish we had more time there, but we couldn’t of stayed any longer anyways as paying $65 U.S. Was astonishing let alone for two! Thankfully this time we did not have to walk all the way back as the tractor drove us. We had two elder U.S.A woman on the tractor that complained about the fumes. I must admit though it was disgusting so they jumped off half way to walk back. Normally the tractor stops at the end of the path but as the two older ladies jumped off the local guys didn’t want to carry their bags to the jetty so they drove us all the way. We definitely felt lazy! Unfortunately our boat was due to leave at the 4th jetty which was another 250m down the beach. As we arrived it was 11:50am and our ferry was due to leave at 12pm. So we ordered a drink.  As it neared 1pm we were confused as to where it was, the lady however told us it wasn’t going to arrive until another 45 minutes at least. So we quickly ordered food and Nick went out to have one last swim. Finally after 2 hours it arrived. As we were trying to get on I noticed she was rejecting people. As we neared the front I realised the people who didn’t pre-book their return ticket were not allowed on as our ferry was completely booked out and so was the 4pm ferry. Thank god we rang up in the morning! That would be horrible to wait 2 hours and then having to stay on the island another night! Our seat was inside where the seats were lower than the window and the only time you got fresh air is every 5 minutes. After 30 minutes I just felt so sea sick, Nick was asleep so I left him to run outside. The boat was completely packed with people standing that I accidentally stepped on someone’s foot as I was running. I literally only just made it, however there was a guy standing close and due to the wind direction I had a little freak out that I threw up on him! Thankfully (I think) it was just on the boat, and apparently my top. The ferry was going so fast that if you sit outside by the edge you got soaked. However as I was still standing by the edge feeling ill I became drenched! Not the look I was after, drenched with vomit on my top! I wish it was a lie! As the boat came to the end I saw Nick with our bags trying to get out to me. However there was no luck pushing through all those people. We were told to hop off and they will take the bags off the boat. They were literally throwing the bags and catching it over the huge gap between the boat and land. A bag could have easily fitted down the gap and into the ocean. Thankfully no ones did! Now you would think if your girlfriend just threw up you would let her take things slow. However No! We apparently had to run up the hill to get to the accommodation first before all the backpackers arrive. My stomach was still turning and now my calves were burning from running up a hill with our huge backpacks! We wanted to stay at Monkey republic as we had a good time there before.The private room was $12 as the dorms were $6 each. So we opted for the private room, as we opened the door there was no air conditioning and a very dodgy fan that was falling apart. So we changed for the dorms. However, we had to stay in different rooms. One room was Cambridge (girls dorm) and the other Oxford (boys dorm). They were directly opposite each other but at least it had air conditioning. Usually people in dorms are quite nice but all the girls seemed to have known each other so they weren’t really up for a conversation. That night we were pretty tired so we got some dinner at our hostel and by 10pm we were happy to go to bed! All the girls in my dorm had gone out for the night, but to be honest it was nice to have a room to yourself for once. So I slowly got everything ready and drifted off to sleep.

28th of February 2016:

I wish I could say I got a good nights sleep but I would be lying! I woke up every hour thinking I was going to miss my alarm and apparently so did Nick. My alarm was set to go off at 7:15am ready for our day tour snorkelling around 3 islands. The bus was suppose to pick us up at 8am, however a tuk tuk arrived. We weren’t really sure if this was legit but we seemed to have gotten in anyway, thankfully he picked up someone else only 5 hostels up the road. Our drive to the boat was about 10 minutes down the road. As we arrived I saw dodgy looking boats lined up. We left at 9:30am off to our first island. As per usual Nick sat up the front ready to take photos and I sat inside the boat on a seat. The positive thing about Cambodia is their water is so incredibly warm, unfortunately the snorkelling was not that fantastic. The island was better than here. The water had stuff floating around everywhere, it was so murky that at the beginning I honestly couldn’t see past my hand which made me feel very uncomfortable whilst I was thinking about sharks! After only 30 minutes we got on the boat to head to another island. He said we had 45 minutes here to sun bake and swim. Before we knew it they were calling us to hop back on the boat. As we jumped on lunch was ready, chicken and salad. It was best not to watch them cook the chicken or to think about it. Everyone stayed on the boat waiting for 2 girls. They came on apologising to me and Nick saying; “sorry I don’t eat meat”. The mere reason they were saying this was just to get some reassurance that it was ok, but to be brutally honest I really didn’t care if they ate meat or not I was happy sitting on the boat out in the sun. As we had all finished we were confused as to why we weren’t leaving. After 15 minutes I asked what time we were leaving… Now he says 1:30pm. This was still 45 minutes away so everyone jumped off and kept swimming. Finally we were officially leaving to go to our last island to snorkel. By this point the Norwegian girl had taken my snorkel (which was the last working snorkel on the boat) and so I wasn’t that interested in swimming in murky water whilst my googles leaked. However she did come back early so I went snorkelling for 10 minutes. Everyone seemed to be heading back so Nick and I thought it was ending. However everyone was just done. By 3pm we were headed back to the main land. 

We had no plans so headed to the hostel bar and as my parents were online it was the first time I face timed them. It was so nice to see their faces again. It was crazy how fast time had gone and yet it felt like nothing had changed. I got to speak to them for 30 minutes, about everything and anything. It really makes you miss home when you get to see a little piece of it (even though they were in Darwin). This adventure has been amazing and I know by the time I blink I’ll probably be on a flight returning home.

29th of February 2016:

Today is a nothing day, as we have our bus booked to go to Bangkok at 7pm. We check out at 10:30am and leave our bags in the luggage storage for the day. After breakfast we head off down to the beach to sunbake the day away. I felt like we were just waiting for time to pass so we could get on the bus. After 4 hours we headed back to our hostel to have a shower to freshen up. The shower I went into was about a metre squared room with a toilet, basin and shower combined. In addition there was about 9 mosquitos trapped. There is nothing worse than being in a metre squared room, naked with 9 mosquitos, you feel a bit vulnerable. I was happy to get out when I could! Dinner was another hour to waste as we waited for 6:30pm pick up to come. 

As the bus arrived Nick was playing team pool with other guys and they were on the black ball, I had a bit of a panic that he was going to choose the pool game over catching the bus that was already out the front! Thankfully he jumped on. As we found our sleeper beds on the bus, two girls were already lying in it. As typical South East Asia they had double booked the bed so we just picked the top sleeper beds in the front row behind the driver. Little did we know that this 17 hour bus ride was going to be eventful. After an hour we finally left Sihanoukville after picking up people and sitting at their bus office for 30 minutes. Nick fell asleep fairly quickly but every time we had stopped I was awake as you never know what is going to happen. The bus had universal power points in each bed. This was amazing as all my devices had actually gone flat. The only concern was that, that meant my electronics (phone and IPad) could be seen. So I had it under the blanket and either Nick was sleeping on it or I was hugging it so tight that no one could have stolen it. As we had learnt from Vietnam people are very nifty thefts so I slept with my bag under my pillow with the Zips facing in and Nick slept with his bag by his feet pushed up against the window. We stopped twice before arriving in Luang Prabang. The first stop majority of the bus got off and although I stayed on I wasn’t keeping track of people. As we arrived in Luang Prabang we had discovered a man was missing. The guy opposite him said he hadn’t seen him since the first toilet stop. All his belongings including his passport was still on the bus. Can you imagine being stranded in the middle of no where in Cambodia at midnight, with no money, phone or I.D. I was so worried for him because I couldn’t imagine how stressed and scared he must feel. After another 30 minutes sitting at their Siem Reap office we were just about to head off when a man runs with one of the bus officials. It was a miracle he is here! The local didn’t even sound that concerned he just said; “sorry about that”. You left him in the middle of no where and he some how miraculously got here, surely he deserves more than that! However as he was heading off to Ho Chi Minh city he had to jump off our bus and wait for the next bus to arrive. 

Now you would think after leaving someone behind a second ago you would be more consciously aware of it? Not in Cambodia your not! I watched this guy say to the official; “is there enough time to go to the toilet?” And he said. “Yes”. Literally 3 minutes later I hear him say, “OK, go now”. So the bus left, then all of a sudden we hear a guy running down the isle saying, “stop… Stop my friend”. We had only stopped 100m down the road, but for some reason the bus driver just couldn’t understand that he was missing someone. So after a phone call with their English translator, he gave a horrible laugh; as if it was the guys fault for wasting his time, and did a U-turn.

To Be Continued…

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The Secret War (Killing Fields) that killed 3 million people

22nd of February 2016:

Today we slept in till 9am, after yesterday I needed the extra sleep. We walked out of our hostel to try and find somewhere for breakfast. We walked through a local market that reminded me of back home. It was very crowded and full of meat lying around and fish everywhere, some were dead whilst some were waiting their fate in a little bucket with water. We found a little cafe on the corner of the street. As we walked out the same Tuk Tuk driver from in front of our hostel was outside our cafe. So we jumped in and he drove us to the killing fields. It was surprisingly a lot further than you may imagine as it took us 30 minutes. As we arrived he directed us to the door and said he would wait for us. It was $6 U.S. For a private audible tour with headphones. There would be no better option than a private tour, because what you hear through the headphones is just disastrous and sometimes it was better to walk the tour at your own pace. Also it meant that no one was talking so it felt more respectful to the 3 million people who were killed all together. 

 

Killing Fields; Cambodia
 
The tour starts by describing how they were transported to the killing fields. A officer at that time would explain what had happened when they arrived. The man speaking said he was only 17 years old at the time, no more than a teenager enforcing unspeakable things to fellow Cambodians. They would tell the people as they got on the truck from the prisons that they would be seeing their family. They were giving them hope, however they were being transported to be killed in a pile of 100’s of other innocent victims before them. The tour then described the types of tools they would use to kill other Cambodians. These tools are general tools you would find in a shed, as Pol Pots theory was they should not waste bullets on them. As the tour continued you walked around a pond where more corpses lay, however they have been kept there to rest. Stories from survivors were astonishing from a mother who witnessed her 8 month old die due to her working in the rice fields for 12 hours with only a bowl of rice a day and only able to fed him at night. Due to the hard labour she could not produce enough milk so sadly the infant died of malnutrition. In addition a story from a girl who once she returned to her village shunned herself away as she could not face her family from due to being continuously rapped and left naked in the fields while she was taken. 

 

Killing Tree; Killing Fields
 
Although all these stories are absolutely horrifying and I hope that no one has to be apart of this ever again or be a witness the point that tugged on my strings the most was when they would throw baby’s against a tree (called the killing tree) and then throw them in the pile with all the other children as their mothers watched seconds before they were killed. Pol Pot the man behind this “Revolution” as he would call it was clearly a horrible bone chilling man however prior to 1975 he went to France on a scholarship and then became a history and geography teacher in Cambodia. Cambodians were called traitors, if they were educated, bilingual, wore glasses or had soft hands (as a reflection of professional work). He was bilingual and a well educated man that wanted power. He used a mixture of power and fear which as history has unfolded numerous times before can turn into a bloodbath. He had other likeminded professional people along side him but after only two years they had turned on each other. He had become paranoid. Paranoid about other Cambodians, paranoid about his fellow leaders and paranoid of the officers in charge in the killing fields and prisons. Power and fear is powerful but once doubt becomes entwined there’s only so much time before it all becomes crashing down just as fast as it had been built. Unfortunately due to his paranoia 1000’s more victims were killed to the point where they couldn’t keep up as numbers from 300 a month to 300 or more a day would be turning up in the dark blindfolded to the killing fields for their lives to end. Pol Pot had another saying;”to kill the grass take the roots and all”,by this he meant kill every person in the family babies and all so there will be no one to come back for revenge. 

I was astonished by the events and stories that had come out of the tour but I wanted to know more. I wanted to educate myself on what the poor Cambodians had to endure only 30 years ago. So we asked our Tuk Tuk driver to take us to the prison as well. When we got there Nick didn’t want the audio tour he was happy just walking around, but I knew I wanted to know more. Sometimes its nice to be able to stay in your own little bubble, and what I heard I couldn’t and still can’t comprehend that a person had to endure that sort of torture once to three times a day. The Prison S-21 was originally a school. However, as Pol Pot stopped education they turned it into a bone chilling torture chamber called a prison.

 

S-21 Prison; Cambodia
 
 People were handcuffed to beds and electrocuted until they would confess. When I say confess what they meant was until they wrote what the interrogator was satisfied with and then they would kill them. The people who came from the fields did not make it through the torture quite as long, as they were already weak and depleted. If a prisoner died before they were giving authority to do so the interrogator would either get punished or they would become the prisoner themselves. 

 

S-21 Prison; Cambodia
 
In building B they had barb wire all along the balcony as someone had committed suicide by jumping off. One other person stabbed himself in the neck with a pen whilst writing the confession and another person poured boiling flammable liquid on their head. Throughout the rooms you see photos of actual dead bodies. Only 7 people survived the prison, these people worked in the trades prior and become handy to the officers so stayed in a different room. One man was a painter and was told to paint what was going on, including the tortures, these pictures are now hanging in the prison. One other person was a kid who hid in the clothes when they were quickly evacuating.
After this horrifying day there wasn’t much to say, and I think we just sat speechless for a few minutes.

23rd of February 2016:

We organised a bus for 9am to take us to sihanoukville down by the coast. We were told that it would take 4 hours. Oh if only once could it actually take the amount of time they say. We met this English couple on our tuk tuk to the bus station. The bus ride started off fine, however once the sun was in the middle of the sky the bus became so hot. I wish I looked attractive but that would be me trying to be nice. I looked like I just ran a marathon in the pouring rain I was sweating so much. On top of this I’m pretty sure they let in 3000 mosquitos into the bus before we got on because it became a game who could catch them. One would come every minute. The bus had no air conditioning or Windows you could let down. The bus was also completely full as some locals were sitting on plastic chairs in the aisles. I really didn’t think we were ever going to get there, however after a blistering 6 hours we finally arrived. We worked out our accommodation was 1.5km away so we walked with the English couple. They were so nice, Charlotte and Graham. They told us they were moving to Australia which I’m pretty sure all of England is. We got to the top of the hill and asked an information centre where our hostel was, she said down. We walked all the way down and never saw it after the third person we asked he finally said up there next to Nice restaurant. Our hostel was directly opposite the information centre. If only we looked sideways instead of walking down and up that hill. We went into a 12 bed dorm and literally threw our stuff down and went to walk along the beach. I don’t know why but once your at the beach everything just feels easier, it’s like we’re back home again. We grabbed some dinner on the beach. A young girl came up to us asking if we wanted bracelets normally I instantly say no, but she reminded me of my niece Charlie. Her English was amazing and I asked her where she learnt it. Thankfully at school and she was in the same year level as my niece. Unfortunately that’s where the similarities ended. Charlie would never have to walk along the beach by herself at 10pm selling bracelets. Her friend came up to ask her what the word in English that he was selling. FIREWORKS, yes that is what a 12 year old boy was selling. She played a game if Nick beat her three times in a row of rock, paper, scissors she would give the bracelets for free if not it was $6 for two. Lucky for her she won! When she left I told Nick how smart she was and how I know she’s going to go somewhere in life.

24th of February 2016:

Today we decided after getting up at 10am, to relax by the beach all day. So once we got breakfast (bacon and eggs) we settled off down the hill to the beach. If I could tell myself back then to put more sunscreen on I would have. Unfortunately after being in the sun all day my back got roasted. I wish I could say I’m one of those people who tan the next day but no I just turn into a lobster and stay that way for days or weeks to come. The top half of my back wasn’t bad but the bottom half just looked ridiculous. Thankfully alcohol always numbs the pain. We met up with the English couple and their friend at Monkey republic and was drinking to make it to the jungle party. They told us it starts at 10am but no one gets there till 1am, it supposedly lasts until 10am the next morning. Two days earlier Nick showed me this famous travel Instagram person, I really didn’t take much interest, however next minute he was at the bar with us. Now his Instagram name is called “do you travel” so I walked up to him and that was my opening line, “do you travel”. Given the circumstance we were in, in Cambodia next to their islands about 99% of the people there were travelling. Thankfully it actually was him. He had been travelling for 4 years, I don’t know how you could possibly do that! At 12pm we tried to get a Tuk Tuk for 7 of us to the jungle party. When we think back to this, this would have been the most dangerous position we put ourselves in this trip. We got on a Tuk Tuk with an unknown driver, to go to the jungle (didn’t know where) and were drunk. It took 30 minutes to get there on dirt roads with no street lights or anything the only lights were our Tuk Tuks. Thankfully nothing bad happened. We got off paid him the money then 2 minutes later he came chasing us down saying it wasn’t enough even though we recounted it again an English guy gave him $1 just so he didn’t start anything. We hear that Cambodian men try and start conflict with drunks so they retaliate. The jungle party was probably what you would expect, you had to change your U.S. Money to funny money so you could get drinks and ride the Ferris wheel. 

 

Ferris Wheel; Jungle Party
 
The Ferris wheel was something you would imagine at a run down amusement park. It was just a big green rusty wheel operated by a 13 year old boy with a motor bike engine. Non the less the Canadian, Norwegian and myself jumped on. Normal Ferris wheels go quite slow so you can see everything, this one thought it was the superman ride trying to see if it could get some G-force. Honestly I thought we were just going to spin out and our little rusty cage being the only thing stopping us. We survived though, thankfully!!! It was one of those moments where you just had to laugh it off because it’s otherwise too terrifying! When we arrived it began pouring with rain and hadn’t stopped until we got out of the Ferris wheel. So the ground became a big mud pile. We only stayed for one hour as the music was only enjoyable if you were on drugs and we were standing in mud.

Cambodia: 18th of February to 21st of February 2016; Day 31 to Day 34

18th of February 2016:
We had a well deserved sleep in and started the day at 9am. At 10am we were off down the road to do the small circuit of Angkor Wat temples. We found a tuk tuk that was happy to drive us for the day for $13 U.S. Dollars. The drive only took 20 minutes to the ticket office where we bought a three day pass for $40 dollars. The first temple was the breath taking Angkor Wat. As the tuk tuk approached the original stone bridge we saw 100’s of tourists flooding to see the historical temple. 

 

Angkor Wat Temple
 
As we joined the crowd we walked through archways still standing strong from centuries before us. The stones represented such vast histories both ceremonious and disastrous. The King in the 17th century banned Buddhism and forced Hinduism amongst all civilians, for years to come. Fortunately as time past so did the forceful rulings of the Kings before. Now the temple is a wonderful historical blessing, that has been restored in certain areas. Angkor Wat temple alone is built on a million pieces of stone to create what it is today. A guide told me millions of Cambodians sacrificed their lives for their God. I don’t believe anyone should have to sacrifice their own individual life for a religious point of view, but that’s my opinion. After walking around the huge temple for 2 hours we headed back to our Tuk Tuk ready for the next one. 

 

Temple at Angkor Wat Area
 
The four temples after became a blur of old stones with Buddha faces and tree roots entwined within the temples. They were all absolutely breathtaking but surprisingly walking around temples becomes exhausting. The heat became unbearable from the reflection off the stone. I felt disgusting and fatigued by the last temple that we were happy to go back to our hostel. 

 

Temple at Angkor Wat area
 
The small circuit took us 6 hours to complete. It was definitely worth every moment though but wouldn’t recommend in the middle of the day. As we got back to our hostel we instantly changed into our bathers to go to the sister hostel 300m down the road with a pool. The water was so refreshing and just what we needed. After the sun set we went to get dinner. Unfortunately Siem Reap, Pub Street is very touristy. It is so difficult to find many local foods as its bombarded with lights, pubs and numerous restaurants. We went to a place called Texmex where we had Mexican food. It was absolutely amazing to have something different than rice all the time. It was one of the most satisfying burritos I’ve ever eaten.


19th of February 2016:

Today was a well deserved rest day. Yesterday took it out of us a lot more than you would ever expect. So up until 12pm we were playing pool, we would of played over 10 games and never once did I win. After this we walked to the other hostel to spend the day by the swimming pool. There was no hassles for the day. I wish I could say I got tanned from spending the entire day in the sun but that is impossible! As the sun set we went out for dinner again, however we found a Khmer restaurant. Weirdly I wasn’t hungry at all so I just ordered spring rolls. They were delicious, one of the best spring rolls I’ve ever eaten. Today was a amazing and it was so nice to just have a break from all the hassle from locals and to just enjoy some of your own time. 

20th of February 2016:

Today we did the big circuit of the Angkor Wat temples, however this time we learnt our lesson from the first circuit and went in the morning. We left at 9am prepared for another long, exhausting day. We were not the only ones who had this idea. 

 

South Entrance in Angkor Wat Area
 
There was a traffic jam for 5 minutes as the south entrance is a one way lane through the original gates. Both sides have the Buddhas head carved out of stone. Surprisingly, the big circuit doesn’t actually take as long as the small circuit. It’s the same amount of temples but they are a lot smaller. One temple took us 5 minutes as it was a long walkway over a huge swamp as far as the eye could see and at the end was a little temple in the middle surrounded by water. We couldn’t walk around though so spent more time walking across the bridge than looking at the temple. 

 

Temple at Angkor Wat area
 
It only took us four hours to see all the temples so we were pretty happy to get lunch by the pool again. For dinner we ordered probably the most expensive burrito I think I’ve ever paid for, $7 U.S. Which is $9.50 Aus, and unfortunately it wasn’t very nice. I was so disappointed, there’s nothing worse than spending heaps of money and receiving horrible food.

21st of February 2016:

We organised a bus at 9am to take us to Luang Prabang. Unfortunately the night before I wasn’t feeling very well, so I only slept 3 hours. A man came out and told us to hop on the most terrifying bus I’ve ever seen. The back end was missing so the engine was out in the open. There was no room for our luggage so we brought it on to the bus. It literally looked like a broken down bus that had been sitting out in the outback for a decade and they decided to put a semi functional engine in it. As we got on all I could think of was how are we possibly going to make it all the way to Luang Prabang. This bus couldn’t possibly drive continuously for 6 hours. However thankfully after 10 minutes he dropped us off on the side of the street. I tried to stay awake but was so exhausted I felt like I was just dosing in and out. As another bus came we jumped on with all the local people. A guy around 20 years old with his mum sat opposite us. His mum indicated to us that he had a mental problem but I wish I knew what it was. He would be fine and then his eyes would glaze over and it was like he would start sleep walking. No recollection of what he was doing. Numerous times his mum would chase him down the street. He would call me sister, and seemed to want to touch me. Unfortunately from the nights events I really didn’t have much patience and all I wanted to do was sleep peacefully rather than have one eye open the entire time. At one point the kid in front of me was watching me sleep whilst trying to grab something from the back of the seat. There was the water bottle and Oreos, any kid back home would prefer the Oreos but instead she grabbed the plastic around the water cap and ate it. I didn’t know what to do, she just seemed so normal about the whole thing. As per usual there was no toilet on the bus, so when the child had to go her mum would escort her down the stairs to literally pee on the ground. Nick said she did this twice! After 6 hours we had finally made it to Luang Prabang. Our map said we were 1km away so we jumped off to walk there. I have no idea why I agreed to this because only after 3 gastro tablets did I feel semi functional again, however I was still drained. As we arrived to where the map said the hostel was we realised there were numerous places in Luang Prabang called Happy Hostel. Ours was called 19 Happy Hostel. Same same but different! We got a tuk tuk to take us, he arrived at one hostel and I waited while Nick went to check, thankfully we did because it was the other one two streets away. As we arrived I was happy to go to sleep, but the room we were given had no working fan or air conditioning so thankfully with no hesitations they changed us to another room. The good part about the hostel was it had DVDs you could choose from, so us and a couple of guys wanted to watch the killing fields before tomorrow. Prior to a week ago I did not know of the killing fields, and I was surprised it was in 1975 and onwards.

Laos & Cambodia: Day 26th to 30th; 13th to 17th of February 2016

  13th of February 2016:

Our bus was bound to leave at 9am, and they are always late, so in my head I was thinking at least 9:30am. To my astonishment it came 5 minutes early! This is unheard of and I think my mouth even dropped. We got taken to the bus station where we jumped on another mini bus that would take us 4 hours to Luang Prabang. Which is the express version, apparently. Unfortunately they didn’t warn us of how windy the drive was, and it took 6 hours not 4! Imagine literally 6 hours of starting at the bottom of the mountain and winding all the way around it and then going back down to go up and around another mountain. I don’t normally get car sick but after 1 hour I generally thought I was going to throw up. Nick had to use Chinese whispers and actions to explain “Stop the bus she’s going to throw up!” But once I got outside I was fine in the air. I wouldn’t say it was fresh air though. The drivers were happy, they went to have a smoke. At about 2pm they stopped at a random restaurant on the side of the road off the cliff side. As I was still so nauseous I didn’t eat anything. As we finally arrived in the Luang Prabang bus station we were as per usual hassled by Tuk Tuk drivers. One driver tried to say $10,000 for one person,  which was ridiculous so we took one step out of the bus station and got a tuk tuk for $5,000 for both of us. Our hostel was down a street opposite the monk temple. We got a private room, and the bathroom was the nicest bathroom yet! Unfortunately I couldn’t say much about the bed you could feel every single spring. Without exaggerating my ribs would get stuck in between each individual spring. If this wasn’t bad enough every movement you made sounded like elephants were jumping up and down on it! 

We walked down the street to the night market. It would be 100 metres with 3 lanes just full of clothes, badges, bags etc. They all sold the same thing but what I loved the most was they weren’t haggling you, they would just sit there and wait till you wanted something. We found a incredibly crowded little market down an alley way that sold food. It was 15,000 for all you can eat on one plate. Honestly some people looked like they were trying to recreate the leaning tower of Pisa. As we sat down a Chinese mother and son were trying to teach me how to use chopsticks properly. They didn’t really know any English so it was all gestures, clapping and yes and no’s. Every time Iate a piece correctly the mother would clap me. We also spoke to two Australian girls from Sydney who got scholarships to go to Laos for 4 weeks and help with the cows in their growth and taking samples for future research. It sounded amazing to say the least!

14th of February 2016:

         Today we awoke nice and early to rent a scooter to go to the waterfalls. We were told the night before by the Australians to try and get there before 11am otherwise it gets too busy and it becomes like a waterpark much like Blue Lagoon. It took 45 minutes to drive through windy roads to get to Kuang Si. It was a beautiful drive and surprisingly went very quickly. As we arrived we paid $20,000 kip to see what we thought was just a waterfall, but it was so much more! As we walked through the gate at 10am, we wandered along to the path where an opening for the Asiatic Black Bears were. They were lazing about on the hammocks just sleeping, but they were beautiful non the less. The sanctuary is a rescue centre to help prevent extinction from poachers. They showed us the cage they get put in for 10 years. It’s so small I think even a baby would complain. As you walk past the Bears the path leads you to the first waterfall. It looked beautiful! The water was a rich turquoise colour that you would only expect to see in a swimming pool. The water however was chilly as the sun had not yet reached the cascading waters. We walked only 10 metres further to another small cascading waterfall with a bigger pond. 

 

Kuang Si Waterfalls
 
There was a tree hanging over the water so naturally Nick wanted me to climb up on it to take a photo. We were so thankful we got there in the morning as the only people there were 80 year olds, 60 year olds and photographers lined up with their tripods. There were numerous sets of waterfalls that would continuously cascade one into another. As we got to the top a powerful waterfall, propelled itself off the cliff face, as the wind would catch some of the mist before it reached the rocks below. A bridge allowed us to begin our climb to the top. Honestly before this trip I thought I was quite fit, but there’s nothing that can prepare you for natural steps at 90 degrees and half your body height! As I got to where I hoped was the top, I looked down and everyone’s faces represented exactly how I felt which was, “when is this going to end?” And “am I even going to make it?” As we finally reached to the top it was a sigh of relief. I tried to not show how hard I was puffing but thankfully everyone was in the same boat! At the top it was beautiful! You can see this little creek turning into a monstrous waterfall as it cascades off the cliff face. We met an American and Chinese man. The American man works in China so he was pretty excited to talk to us in English! He boasted about how big and powerful China is becoming and how we should all learn Chinese if not from a business perspective. Surprisingly what he was saying made me want to visit China and teach English in their schools. He also taught us some of their culture and I think I would fit in quite perfectly! They love white girls, the whiter you are it represents wealth, which is good cause even if I’m outside all day I don’t change skin colour, unless red counts. They also don’t like cold drinks! This is astounding I’ve never heard of anyone who likes room temperature drinks like me. 

We took the 3km walk through the jungle and onto a long path talking to the American and Chinese man, comparing our cultures. As we reached the bottom we realised that we had walked out of the park so grabbed some lunch at a little restaurant. 

We wanted to see how busy it was in the waterfalls but unfortunately as you enter they take your ticket away. Thankfully I had taken photos on my phone so we showed them the photos as they have the date on them.

As we walked inside it was like a completely different place. You could hardly see the gorgeous natural cascading water. Instead you just saw 100’s of bobbing heads swimming in the lagoons. However, we joined them, I would say immediately but it took me 10 minutes to get further than my calves because it felt so cold. However after I made the plunge it was beautiful. After 20 minutes we got out to go home. 

However, only 100 metres away was a butterfly sanctuary. Nick loves butterflies no matter where we are and what we are talking about if a butterfly flys by he gets instantly distracted and goes. “Butterfly” in a kid voice with so much excitement. So even though I thought it was over priced at $40,000 kip we went in because I knew it would make his day even more special. We walked through the beautiful flower gardens and a much smaller creek that showed the same turquoise colour. Apparently if you put a shoe in the water for a year it will become like stone. As we entered the butterfly enclosure it was very pretty, with 100’s of butterfly’s flying around your head. Nick even got one to stay on his finger. After only 20 minutes we left to actually head back home. As it was Valentine’s Day, I treated Nick to dinner along the Mekong river. It was a memorable day and one of my favourites so far.

15th of February 2016:

Yesterday took it out of us more than I had realised. We had a nice sleep in and started walking towards the temples. I don’t know where my mind was but I completely forgot to cover up my knees and shoulders. This put me in a bad mood more than it probably should of. So I paid $20,000 kip to see the temple and sarongs to cover up. It was very touristy unfortunately. The temples on the outside were beautiful though but nothing more than you would normally expect. As we walked out we were both just exhausted still. We sat down on a bench for 10 minutes contemplating how we are going to walk the 1.5km back to our hostel. However, slowly but surely we staggered our way down the hot streets to our hostel where we had a good 2 hour nap. Then we decided to play pool in our hostel, (we wouldn’t have known this moment would start a trend of pool playing for weeks to come). We wanted to go to Cambodia but as we were in the north of Laos we had to work out the best way of getting to Siem Reap. The first option was a bus that would take 40 hours. Not appealing. The second option was a 3 hour plane trip where it would stop at Vientiane then to Siem Reap for $100 Aus more, or for the same price a direct flight for 2 hours in the afternoon. We walked around to numerous travel agents and decided we would be stupid to take the bus ride. Not only would we be losing two days from travelling, the lack of sleep we would endure would cause us to lose an additional one or two more days. So we went back to the hostel and booked the flight ourselves. We had wanted to leave on the 16th but the plane was already booked out so the 17th it was. 

16th of February 2016
:

We didn’t really know what to do today. Luang Prabang is just a city and so two nights is all you really need. We walked out of our hostel and just started walking. We decided we hadn’t seen Buddhas foot so we walked through a Monks school to reach the stairs. As we continued along the hill we reached to where you pay to go to the top of the hill. Neither of us were really that enticed to walk up it as we would have preferred at sunset then in the middle of the day. So we walked down the stairs on the other side to continue our walk to no where. We had heard so much about this bar called Utopia. That as we walked past the sign we decided to have lunch there. It is not easy to find as you have to walk down so many little lanes to come to the end where the bar/ restaurant is.

 

Utopia
 
 We sat down on a deck on rolled up mattresses looking over the river. It was so relaxing and just what we were in the mood for. We sat there for 2 hours not wanting to move and dreaming about opening up a place similar back home. As we arrived back at our hostel we wanted to play some more pool, however this time we met a Spanish guy who has been travelling around on a motorbike in Vietnam for 2 or 3 months. We took him to the buffet BBQ markets and he knew how to make his money worth. Then we just went back to the hostel again where we chatted and met a very hippy couple from England with dreadlocks. They were very nice and we chatted away and played some card games till 11pm. 

17th of February 2016:

Today’s the day we say farewell to Laos and hello to Cambodia. Unfortunately we hadn’t slept very well due to Nick getting food poisoning. Possibly the worst day to get it when your trying to fly. I was so concerned he couldn’t even make it out of the room without being sick.

 

Monks Proceding
 
 However at 5:45am we got up properly and went outside to see the Monks receiving food and drinks from the locals. I wished Nick could have seen this but he walked back to the room after only 2 minutes. The monks came out in a row and walked down the street as locals were kneeling by the side of the road ready with sticky rice and other types of food. The proceeding was very quick and by 6:15am I was back in bed trying to get some sort of sleep before the plane. However we had to leave the hostel by 10am so we packed up our things and headed out the door. This entire time Nick just looked so glazed and pale. He had been throwing up all night and was completely drained. I felt sorry for him that he had to carry his backpack. As we arrived at the airport I told him he just had to try and fake it until we got through. I’ve never considered him to be a good actor but his performance of being well was worthy of an Oscar nomination. He even fooled me into thinking just maybe he was fine now. As we checked in he even grabbed my bag to put it through to the lady. As we went through security I completely forgot I had an unopened Sprite bottle in my bag. This bottle was a week and half old, and hot. Obviously as it went through the security scanner it came up. They told me to drink it. Normally in Australia they just take it off you. However here I had to open it and show them I can drink it for me to have it. Even though I didn’t actually want it I thought it would look more suspicious if I just refused. So I had to take a big gulp of hot, flat Sprite. As soon as we got through Nick just collapsed. I was starving though, so I went and bought him a ridiculously overpriced small water and the cheapest thing they sold which was chips. He slumped over to me in the cafe. He just looked so Ill, all he wanted was to sleep and  for me to snuggle him to sleep. Whilst I’m trying to eat my chips and him not throw up on me. However, after an hour he hadn’t thrown up so it was looking promising. After 2 hours we we were ready to board.

 

Laos Aeroplane
 
 As we walked outside we saw a little plane. Now I had no hopes for Laos Airlines. Their only a little company after all but I completely forgot that it would possibly be quite small. We had requested to be by the back to be close to the toilet. As I climbed on board I was astonished. The plane was better than the domestic planes back home. I never would have guessed. The plane only had 2 seats on either side but the leg room was quite big. We were even given food (a banana cake, a cold pie and an apple). To be honest I was glad Nick was sick because I really wanted another cake but he ate the whole thing. So depressing! At least he could eat again though. As we landed we were the first ones off to check through all the Visas and immigration lines. Unfortunately we went with the slowest immigration person in the world and came out one of the last people. As we got out we had no Cambodian money. This is not helpful when your trying to find a Tuk Tuk. However to our surprise they use U.S. Money as well as their own when it’s smaller than $1 dollar.

Our hostel was not easy to translate so we got the tourist information people to help translate for us. 

We had a private room with the best shower. It was hot water and had pressure, something that is very unheard of in Asia. However due to the days and nights adventures we were wrecked. We just collapsed on the bed and slept for 3 hours. As we awoke it was night time, so we decided we should go exploring and see this famous Pub Street. We walked through the night market with numerous clothes and massage parlours. It opened up to a lit up bridge very similar to Hoi An. 

Pub Street; Siem Reap
 

Pub street is mainly just a street with restaurants and pubs. We weren’t very hungry so we got some ice cream and headed back home to sleep.