Angkor Wat (Day 1)

Starting the day at 4:40am was really not such a great thing. But I wanted to see the sunrise so I had to do it. On the recommendation of Tim, the owner of the Apple Rose Guesthouse I forewent Angkor Wat and the hordes of tourists and would start my day in Ta Prohm.

Of course without coffee it was difficult but I got a breakfast box for later and with no delay Mara and I were on our way.


As you can see it was still dark when we left. The ticket office and the park (Angkor Wat is just one temple of many and all of them are in a park called Angkor Wat) opened at 5am and I didn’t want to wait out the sunrise in a queue.

There was no one really waiting, just a couple of other early get uppers. I got my three-day pass with my picture on it (picture was done on the spot) in no time and off we went to the first temple. Ta Prohm was a great choice because during sunrise there was exactly one other tourist with me. And I was glad that I wasn’t alone since there were all kinds of noises (I later noticed small monkeys)IMG_5555 IMG_5557 IMG_5561 IMG_5563 IMG_5569 IMG_5574 IMG_5573 IMG_5572 IMG_5570  

When I left the temple the sun was out and I found Mara sleeping on the back seat. Understandable, he must have made the tour a hundred times. Our next stop was Sras Srang which looked less like a temple but one big pool. No swimming though in these holy waters (not that I know but I didn’t see anyone). Here I also made a short stop and had an ice coffee at one of the stalls plus I bought postcards. I noticed that my bargaining skills wouldn’t work here because everything was one dollar. Couldn’t cut one in half and local money I hadn’t seen so far.

  

Right across from Sras Srang was Banteay Kdei were Tomb Raider was filmed. A very beautiful temple with interesting details.

     

After the third temple I was hungry and fished around in my breakfast box. I found a croissant, some bananas and a yoghurt that got mostly spilled over my pants due to my not enough road checking while eating. Nonetheless it helped sustaining me for the next temples.

Number four was the Ta Keo temple which had the steepest steps I had seen so far. Reminded me a lot of Chichen Itza in Yucatan. Maybe they did sacrifices here too?

  
  
  

Temple number five was Thommanon.

     

Right across from it was the next temple, called Chau Say Tevoda.


  

  

By that time I felt exhausted from all the temples but the small round was far from over. We drove off to the Bayon, temple number eight. The Bayon is a part of the Angkor Tom complex and to get there we had to enter by the South Gate.

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From the Bayon I had to make my way along the North South route to the Tep Pranam, passing Baphoun Temple, Phimeanakas & the Royal Palace, the Elephants Terrace and the Leper King Terrace. What I didn’t take into account at 4:30 in the morning when I was getting dressed was that my attire was not right for the temples. So far I hadn’t had any problems but the guard at the Baphoun Temple wouldn’t relent and sent me away (as many others). And while I was annoyed at first, it was my own fault and now I just don’t care anymore.

  

So this is the place I couldn’t get into and believe me I tried. I walked around it and was prepared to sneak up the back way. Not a chance!

So I passed the temple without going up and moved on to everything else on this road.IMG_5823 IMG_5825 IMG_5827 IMG_5830IMG_5832 IMG_5834 IMG_5835 IMG_5836 IMG_5838 IMG_5840 IMG_5842 IMG_5843 IMG_5844IMG_5845IMG_5846IMG_5847

You can’t imagine how exhausted I was after the last temple for the day. I took a break right then and there and had another ice coffee and some fried rice. It was lunch time after all and my breakfast had been hours ago. Thus refreshed I was ready to go back to the hotel. We left the Angkor Tom complex through the North Gate which was in better condition than its counterpart.

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When I was back at my hotel I was so glad that I took the advice of one of my fellow travelers to book a hotel with a pool. I spent the afternoon napping and around 4pm or so I made my way to the pool. No point in being outside during the hottest hours of the day.IMG_5862Dinner then was a quiet and early affair. I walked the 10 minutes to the main street and the first thing I notice is a pub street. Definitely not the right thing for tonight. I was still tired from the day and the early get up.IMG_5864

Instead I walked up the main street, looked for a decent street food place and tried Cambodian cuisine. Yeah, what can I say….I was not really convinced.IMG_5865 IMG_5868 IMG_5870

On my way home I passed a small massage parlor and saw two people coming out. I asked them if they could recommend the place and since both said readily yes, I decided spontaneously to enter and get my feet in shape. I had another long day coming up. Yours, Pollybert

 

 

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Quy Nhon

So here I was in this quiet beach town with no tourists (I saw 10 all in all). This was going to be my relaxation after all my traveling. You can’t really say it out loud, but traveling is not relaxing. There is always something to do or see, to arrange a transfer or a hotel. Basically you never sit still and don’t do anything. So these four days were for me, to give myself a break.
Which meant sleeping in the first day. Which was a good plan but didn’t work. As usual I woke around 6am (why isn’t that happening at home?), updated the blog, watched an episode of GoT and just took my time.

In search of coffee I left the Hai Huong Hotel with the bicycle and made my way to the beach. And this was my first impression of the beach.

  
Really quiet, really no tourists but also no sun bed and umbrella. I stopped at a beach place (5 tables, plastic chairs and a guy with one of these ‘hot dog’ carts) and had an ice coffee. Looking at the beach I noticed that my beach vacation was going to be different than I imagined.

Since it started to drizzle I hopped on the bicycle to explore the city. Away from the beach I found a small coffee place that also had bathroom facilities (haha, sounds a lot grander than it was but long gone were the days in China with bathrooms everywhere).

When I left I was hungry and searched for something to eat. The first place that looked inviting was this little street place with excellent rolls!

  
  

They were just fantastic! Warm crunchy pancakes with bean sprouts on top, rolled in rice paper with lots of herbs and salad, served with a peanut/fish sauce. Just delicious!

Since the rain had stopped but it was still overcast I drove to the beach again and  decided on a sugar cane juice. I parked my bicycle and noticed that the only other guest of the place waved me over. I sat down at the table next to him and our communication consisted of me saying ‘Xin chao’ and him saying lots of stuff I didn’t understand. Quite funny really. I ended up giving him my phone to take a picture which he did (that’s my bicycle in the back). But then he indicated that he wanted me to take one of him. So I did.


When I left a bit later because the sun had finally come out he ‘told’ me that he had paid for my juice. Really lovely!

So off I cycled to a place on the beach where I could see other people. Still no tourists but at least the local youth was out. As I realized later, no one was on the beach during the day but the locals came out around 4-4:30pm. So there were people on the beach, I just needed to wait.

There were actually more a bit later but most were wearing swim vests and some went into the water fully dressed. So I being on the beach in my bikini was a bit of a curiosity.


Kids were coming up to me, trying to bury me in the sand or offering me chocolate. Three students came to practice English and one even had his homework with him which I had to correct. Everyone was so friendly and the students told me were to go for dinner, showed me the massage places on the  map so that I didn’t mind the interruption of my reading.

Once the sun went down I said goodbye and went in search of my dinner. Which I found at the other end of the beach (see, lots of people in this town).

  

Right at the sea I figured fish would be a good choice and it was. I had one (no clue which) with salad. I really liked the way it was served, just cut in the middle which made it perfectly grilled on both sides.

The next morning was overcast again so I decided instead of driving to the beach for coffee I would go and look at the grave of Han Mac Tu, a famous Vietnamese poet. On the map it was one of the sights to see and near my place. Off I went and got lost as usual. When I arrived at the indicated crossing where it should be there where two streets to take. One up and one straight. I took the high road, even asked someone if I was going to the right place, but they probably didn’t understand me and just said yes. After pushing my bike for more than 20 minutes I gave up. I took one picture of the town from above and decided this grave was not worth so much trouble.

When I was at the crossing again I tried the straight road (don’t want to give up after all) which didn’t lead anywhere and in the end I sat down at the café at the crossing and had an ice coffee.

After a second one (weather was still not great) I was hungry and drove 100m further to a street vendor. Since I didn’t know what to order I said everything. What came was rice with a piece of an onset, a piece if fried pork and a piece of fried chicken.

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By then it was still grey but in a lighter form. There was hope that the sun might come out after all. So I decided to go to the Seagull Hotel and ask for one of their sun beds. It was a really interesting discussion, I offering to pay for the bed, the employee telling me the beds were only for guests. In the end we settled on my using it for free so long as nobody else wanted it.

  

But I could only stay so long at the beach (will I ever do a beach vacation again?) and after an hour or two I was ready for a sugar cane juice. It was served with a dish of salt to cut the sugar.

In search of another thing to see I went for the Thi Nai Bridge. Something of it being the longest over sea bridge or so appealed to me. It was definitely worth seeing. Yeah, can’t really tell you anything about it because I never found it. But I found a massage place that was not on the map. When I passed it I decided to forget about the bridge, I was on vacation after all and have a massage instead. It was glorious!

Dinner were rolls again at the same place as the day before. They were as good and crunchy as I remembered them. After that I just cycled home and watched GoT. Yours, Pollybert