This is a personal site. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of VSO.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Hammocks, hamburgers and mojitos: A Cambodian Adventure

He came, he saw and he’s gone again. For one whole month I had someone to fix pipes, fight spiders and leave the toilet seat up. I must say, I do feel a little sorry for Matt - given that as VSO has now taken over my life, it’s all I talk/think and stress about. I’m not sure how varied my conversation was, but he put up with me and provided some much needed moral support and perspective. Put simply, once he’d got the hang of washing his feet before getting into bed – I really enjoyed having him here, and can’t help but feel a little forlorn that he’s gone… I know this whole thing was my idea, but that doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.

Still, in the month that he was here we did manage to see quite a bit of Cambodia. I took a week off, and as true Champagne Backpackers (backpacking in style) we started in Siem Reap, took in the Angkor Temples, headed down to Phnom Penh for a visit to the Tuol Sleng museum and then headed south to Kep where we whiled away a few days in various hammocks and on the beautiful beach of Rabbit Island. Rested and refreshed we headed across to Kampot for New Year and then back up to Phnom Penh before catching the bus back home. We even managed to fit in a weekend in Battambang and another in Siem Reap!

And what have we discovered about Cambodia? You will find the best burger in the Gecko CafĂ© in Battambang, some solid Mojitos across the country but particularly in Siem Reap (at a bargain Happy Hour price of $1.50) and that hammocks are very comfortable, particularly with a beer in hand and a good view. Oh, and if you do decide to moto up to the Banteay Ch’mar temple, it will take you two and a half hours each way and will give you sores – my advice? Get a share-taxi.

Anyway, here are some photos of the best bits:

Sunday, 10 January 2010

It's all about Bangkok...

Almost four months into my placement, the time has come for me to at last visit the neighbours - alas, not Ramsey Street, but an even more exciting prospect: Thailand.

So, together with fellow Sisophon residents Anne and Oly we set out to cross boarders and check out exactly what Bangkok has to offer (and to pick up The Lovely Matthew, who landed in Bangkok two days after). Or at least that was the plan, and after we’d traveled the 20km back to Sisophon so that Anne could get her passport – we were on our way!

Although notorious for scamming unsuspecting tourists, armed with our Khmer and safe in the knowledge that it SHOULD NOT COST ANYTHING we skipped across the boarder in no time at all. And that was when then things slowly began to change… Faces pressed against the bus window we passed the 5 hour bus journey by eye-spying certain luxuries that we used to take so for granted. A pavement here, some toilet roll there, and a Seven Eleven on every street corner. Even Tescos seems to have made it out here – normally I’d be dead set against this, but if I’m honest I was too overcome with emotion and joy to have any morals at this point. And so it was that just seven hours after we’d set off (it takes as long to get to Phnom Penh) we hopped off one bus and onto another that would take us directly to the prime backpacker spot of Khao San Road.

Bangkok is fab. Or at least the Khao San Road area is. Yes it’s a city, it was busy, hot and smoggy – but Khao San Road was a little backpacker haven all of its own. Markets full of pretty things and tempting food stalls galore (I am now one necklace, top and rice paper picture better off, not to mention a few pounds heavier). Normally I’d begrudge being so touristy, but after being one of the only white people in the village for two months it was soooo refreshing to just blend in to the background, shop, have a drink and relax. No wonder this is where your start their trail – it’s Asia made easy, and you can buy Magnums! And Toblerones.

Anyway, I wont ramble anymore but instead will let you have a quick look at some photos...