cambodia

Angkor Whaaat

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Siem Reap, Cambodia: the second time I go and basically do nothing.

We are staying at The Luxury Concept Hostel, which has the perfect distance to pub street, night markets and whatnot. Unfortunately, we don’t have a WiFi signal for most of our stay, which is only an inconvenience because of some practical things that has to be taken care of. We receive a YouTube link to a video of our shooting in Phnom Penh, and it’s awesome! Here’s the video for those who are interested:

It’s actually a super long and embarrassing video

When we arrive on a Tuesday evening, we are a bit too tired to go out. We eat some food, go check out the Mad Monkey rooftop bar, but end up looking like those boring couples who are just observing the fun people, so we just relax for the rest of the night. The following day, we get up to see Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm. I’ve already seen these wonders last time I was in Siem Reap (read about it here), but I can’t pass up the opportunity to go back, especially if that means I get to force Pete to do something slightly cultural!

We pay Clem 15 dollars for a ride in his pink tuk tuk around the temples. We unconsciously go the opposite way of everyone else in the temples and therefore get a unique (and really short) experience, but it’s fine by me. I am sweating like an eskimo in Africa, and let out exhausted sighs every few minutes. Pete takes a gulp from his massive water bottle and spits it at my neck, making the ice cold water drip down my back. Right there in front of Angkor Wat. The man has no shame.

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We get something to drink before moving on to the Bayon temple and then walking the whole way around it to find Chum. We barely spend 10 minutes at Ta Prohm, which is not nearly enough time for me to pretend I’m Lara Croft minus the everything. At this point, we’re ready to go get some lunch and then AC.

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Come nighttime we need food again. Pete has been eating snacks at the rooftop café of our hostel, and I drag him to Little Italy, which was a favorite place of mine last summer. I get a carafe of wine and a whole pizza, while Pete is picking at his pasta. I get drunk and loud and order dessert, and we spot Linda and Anna from The Mad Monkey in Phnom Penh at the same restaurant. Along with two of their new friends, we walk back to their hostel which is – surprise, surprise! – The Mad Monkey. We also run into our MM roommate Pascal (you know, the one who called me a fake Viking). We are drinking and having a good time, bonding over our double chins and writing country songs. Linda and I started a band back in Phnom Penh called Two Ladies, One Cowboy Hat, or The Diarrhea Dames, I don’t even know at this point. Back in Phnom Penh we wrote a song called The Ballad of The Man With Two Penises, which was inspired by yes, the man with two penises. There were front porches, whiskey bottles, pickup trucks and of course, a man with two penises that finds love when he meets Carly, who has two vaginas. Linda wanted us to split up for a while, but tonight we’ve decided to do a comeback tour.

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We all head to Pub Street when I get a serious craving for chicken on a stick. I make an Irish exit to find some street food, but it seems to be an impossible task. I end up with a bag of chips and go to bed, while Pete apparently finds Pho without me. Jerkface.

On our final day in Siem Reap it is Chinese New Year, and we decide to go shopping. All day, we go to a market, come back to the hostel, eat food, go to a new market and so on. We do manage to squeeze in an awesome foot and leg massage at Pura Vida, but other than that, our day is pretty much in a loop.  We are on a hunt for flag patches for our backpacks, and we have found some cool mini ones at one of the shops by the bazar, but they’re $1.50 each and we’re sure we’ll be able to find them much cheaper everywhere else. Turns out only two shops in all of the ones we’ve been to have them, and at a ridiculous price. So begins an entire day of finding flags, and in the end, we manage to find most of them, some slightly larger than others, though. While Pete goes for flags that represent the nationalities of his former conquests, I am only looking for flags for all the countries I’ve been backpacking in, which is mostly South East Asia and a little bit of Europe.

Apparently I am a bit too keen to shop today, so I buy some India pants (I know, I know, they’re actually called Ali Baba pants) and a long skirt. I was having a bit of a clothing crisis when we went to Angkor Wat, since most of my clothes was too “slutty” for temples, so I figured buying some comfortable cover-up clothing would be a good idea.

We head back to the hostel, probably for the 8th time today, and I put on my India pants and step back outside. We discover the night market that is right behind our hostel, and immediately we see a horde of American girls all wearing similar pants. Of course this is normal, just not to see 20 of them wearing the same as you at once. They run towards the fish spa and scream loudly everytime the fish pinch their toes.

The amount of people on pub street tonight is overwhelming. We find a pop-up bar and order a drink, originally meant to be to-go, called Welcome to Cambodia. It’s basically a Long Island Ice Tea with orange and lemon juice. We sit at a table while we wait and start talking to an old Scottish guy, Kenneth, who’s kind of funny, but kind of weird, and completely impossible to understand. After I finish my drink, since I’m being a bit slow, we escape Kenneth and after walking around aimlessly for a while, we go to bed.

Now it’s time to go to Bali, which I am really excited for. These past days, I’ve woken up with countless mosquito bites and bruises and I am still so white I could hide by standing by a white wall, completely naked. To be honest, the mosquito bites and my bleeding bruise with black and blue around it on my butt would give me away. Seriously, how do I get these injuries? Also, my nose is getting really red again. Yeah Bali, you better get me a tan, I think that would solve most of my problems right now.

I threw up in a car, then I threw a hand grenade

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Here is a story about semi-drunk people handling weapons and the content of their stomachs.(null)

So it’s Valentines Day and I arrive in Phnom Penh. Even though it’s early morning when I leave the airport, traffic is a bitch, and my ride to Mad Monkey Hostel is taking well over an hour. When I get there, there are still two hours until check-in. When I finally get in my bed, the sweet 14-year old cleaning lady Sopan is being very chatty. She finally leaves me alone so I can get a few hours of sleep.

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When I wake up, the sun has set and I run into Pete, a Pink Palace friend. It’s totally not weird being a boy and a girl travelling together on Valentine’s Day. We eat ramen for dinner and then check out the bar on the top of our hostel. It’s 8 o’clock and we start out with a shot of absinth. Then we do bazookas, grenades, beers, mimosas and basically anything that’s in a glass. Since it’s Valentine’s Day, there’s red and white paint to use on our faces. I paint Pete’s face white and put a red hand print in the middle of his face, naming him Wilson after the volleyball in Castaway.

We end up in a corner with a group of new friends, singing Wonderwall and Save Tonight with Linda on a guitar that’s just lying around. We (and by that, I mean I) go hunting for burgers and find new friends… I think. After Mad Monkey’s bar closes, we go to a bar and do balloons. Pete and I get lost on the way home.

What I’m trying to say is that we had an epic night, but we don’t really remember it. People we’ve never seen before come up and talk about how much fun we had together last night. In the morning, we’re a bit drunk, but not feeling too hung over until we get picked up by a car to go to a shooting range. I am sitting in the back, trying to take deep breaths, while Pete talks about things that make me want to throw up, like food. Since the drive is around 2 hours, I eventually give in and I end up throwing up in a trash can until there’s nothing left to throw up but bile. This is painful and I hate my life, but I continue to giggle over the burping noises I make while spewing. I am being as quiet as possible, and Pete hands me baby wipes and a disposable toothbrush, so I think I’ve gotten away with this without being noticed by the drivers.

Suddenly, we are parked in the middle of nowhere, and a few guys on scooters arrive with some big duffel bags full of weapons. Pete notes that the weapons look old, like the Vietnam War Era old. We are handed a set of earplugs, and within the first five minutes, Pete has an RPG in his hand and is shooting at a mountain.

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After that, they put an M16 in my hand and have me shooting water bottles and coconuts. I am not cut out to be a sniper, I tell ya that. Eventually I hit a water bottle, which sends it flying, and then they hand me a Makarov that is even harder to aim with. It’s just so much fun though! Pete plays around with an AK47, and then he gets a bright idea: I should throw a hand grenade!

They make me do a few test throws into a pit and then suddenly, kinda without warning, the guy pulls the pin. I just hurry up and throw it away and forget all about throwing myself on the ground, until the guy pulls me down and I hear the explosion. That is fucking awesome!

(null)Posing with the RPG just ’cause

We get in the car and prepare for another 2 hours on the road, when Pete gets the bright idea to throw out the clear plastic bag full of my vomit. I want to do it myself when we get back to the hostel, but he just grabs the bag and shows everyone what I’ve eaten this morning. I’m getting a bit embarrassed, because it is really fucking disgusting. And of course, I get angry at him when I suddenly want to vomit again, and the bag is gone.

Back at the hostel, we sit at a table at the restaurant area and hang out with some friends. Eventually, several hours and ciders later, we end up at the upstairs bar. It’s Sunday, so no one is going too crazy. At least not yet. We play songs on the guitar and some foos ball, forcing drinks down our throats and slowly getting more incoherent. The bar closes at midnight and Pete and I feel like going to bed, but we end up partying with all of our roommates but two Californian girls. We get some drinks, a deck of cards and play drinking games for several hours. Pascal from Germany tells me only Norwegians are Vikings, and I get so upset with him that I beat him up with a rose – yes, a rose. Staff keeps coming over to get us to be quiet, but we can’t help it. We decide to go back to our room, but we keep talking and eventually one of the girls tell us to shut up. Oops.

(null)A teapot of booze

We wake up pretty late the following day, not feeling too good. We look into a few things to do, but everything seems so expensive, so Pete goes for a massage and I go to take a nap when Sopan comes in. We talk until Pete gets back, which means I don’t even have the nap I so desperately wanted.

At night we end up drinking pretty heavily at the bar. We play cards and flip cup and beer pong and then a small group of us decide to head to Club 88, a karaoke place in a fancy hotel. Here, we get an expensive private room ($70!) and sing everything from the theme of Titanic to Bon Jovi for several hours.

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Without a word, Pete and an Aussie girl leave the room and we don’t see them again, until we walk in on them in our dorm room. Awkward, since I had loudly planned to grab one of Pete’s water bottles by his bed. Grandpa, our roommate who did karaoke with us, tags along to the nearby In N Out Mart for some water and to give the couple some privacy. As soon as we’ve decided their 5 minutes have passed, we walk back to the room to find them gone, but one of our other roommates loudly snoring and swearing in his sleep.

Another morning, another hangover. I throw up and then eat some yoghurt before we get on a bus to Siem Reap, which takes us a total of 10 hours. At one of our restaurant stops we are almost left behind by the driver. I can’t deal with that kind of stress when I’m hungover, to be honest, but we arrive in one piece, and finally find our hostel, and it’s really nice. Now it’s time to tuck in early, maybe we should actually do something with our lives tomorrow.

I also hope everyone back home is hanging in there. #weprayforcopenhagen

NovatouriEND

yaay

Planned route:
India: Delhi → Goa → Mumbai → Gujarat → Saurashtra → Pushkar → Jaipur → Delhi → Agra → Varanasi → Kolkata

Thailand: Krabi → Koh Lanta → Koh Phi Phi → Patong → Phuket → Koh Samui → Koh Phangan → Koh Tao → Hua Hin → Pattaya → Bangkok → Chiang Mai → Mae Hong Son → Chiang Rai → Chiang Khong

Laos: Luang Prabang → Vang Vieng → Khammouane → Vientiane

Cambodia: Siem Reap (2 weeks of volunteer work) Battambang → Koh Kong → Kompang Son → Kampot/Kep → Koh Thonsay → Phnom Penh

Vietnam: Saigon → Nha Trang → Hoi An → Hue → Hanoi → Sa Pa

Final route:
India: Delhi → Vagator → Arambol → Hampi → Mumbai → Udaipur → Jaisalmer → Jaipur → Amritsar → Rishikesh → Agra → Varanasi → Kolkata

Thailand: Krabi → Koh Phi Phi → Patong → Koh Samui → Koh Phangan → Koh Tao

Myanmar: Kawthaung

Thailand:
Chumpon → Bangkok → Chiang Mai → Pai → Chiang Mai → Chiang Rai → Chiang Khong

Laos: Pakbeng → Luang Prabang → Vang Vieng → Vientiane

Vietnam: Hanoi → Hue → Hoi An → Nha Trang → Saigon

Cambodia: Phnom Penh → Sihanoukville → Siem reap

Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur →  Taman Negara →  Cameron Highlands →  Georgetown

Singapore: Singapore

Thailand: Bangkok

When I started planning for this trip, I was in a bad place. Dumped by a boy. Stuck, both in school and in general, desperate to get it overwith so I could escape. I think my trip was just that – an escape.
I so desperately want to find my passion in life, be ambitious about something, but how could I possibly do that without knowing myself? To be honest, I have always felt that I was in between every personality trait – shy but social, smart but dumb, trusting but cynical. One thing I always knew for sure, was that I am selfish and dependent, and I hoped that this trip would force me to throw that away with my extra luggage.

In some way I guess this would be an Eat, Pray, Love-kind of experience. And by that, I mean I would deal with my issues, develop some strong personality traits and gain more confidence. Then I would discover my passion in life, and go back to accomplish something.

While this all sounds very unlikely, it was what had helped me in the past. Everytime I have been away from home since my parents divorce 4 years ago, I’ve become a little more independent, a little less shy, and a little more sure what I wanted to do in life: travel. Being away for 4 months however, was something I had never done until now, and it didn’t feel right as soon as I actually left. Maybe it was our choices of countries (where people could sometimes be rude, the food awful, and the cities dirty and loud), but it could also be because my travel partner and I turned out to be incompatible.

Of course, this all just sounds so negative, and of course this experience hasn’t been at all. I’ve gotten to see amazing places – many that I want to return to – and met some great people, and that is what I wanted all along. I finally got over the guy who dumped me, which gave me a lot fewer lonely nights and fits of anger.

Basically, I had some great highs and awful lows that made me see things only a tiny bit clearer, but I am on my way. I learned that I enjoy the simple things in life, like a sunset or a little kid waving at me, because deep down, there is a war in me, and I never know which side will win. Some days, I think I am a fun and outgoing person, always seeing the best in people. Other days, I don’t dare talk to people, and I think I am destined to live a life of sadness and loneliness. That is why I rely on the only ones that understand, my best friends. Away from them, I felt hopeless and less “free”, and I know that this is something that I have to get used to as we start to move in different directions.

This post will probably forever be a mess, like my feelings about my trip. There is so much I want to say, yet nothing I can think of. It was the experiene, but not the time of my life – at least not as often as I wanted it to be.

113 days away from home
18 things crossed off my bucket list
13 books read
7 countries traveled (if you don’t count Burma)
Not nearly enough hangovers.

Final thoughts: Cambodia

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Cambodia is a country I could see myself live in someday. Not permanently, of course. Prior to coming here, I read the book Survival in the Killing Fields, which got me really interested in the country’s unbelievably sad history. It is creepy in a way, seeing all these people on the street, knowing a lot of them have survived this awful event – or been a part of the Khmer Rouge. Despite this, they are among the most friendly people I have ever met. They are good at English, and the kids are adorable. No, really, I am adopting a Cambodian kid someday.

I would love to do social work here one day – especially in Siem Reap – but the party scene is so tempting too! Who knows, all that is certain is that I’ll be back someday!

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Siem Reap

I’ve fallen in love with Siem Reap. As a long term traveller, it’s just nice to rest your head in one place for a while, and Siem Reap seem perfect for just that: small enough to get around, yet lively enough to keep us entertained.

Our first day is dedicated to sightseeing. Clem, the guy working at the hostel, drives us to see Angkor Wat, Bayom Temple and the tomb featured in Tomb Raider. While it takes a “normal” tourist several hours to look around, it takes us under 2. Clem laughs at us and called us lazy, while he starts the tuk tuk and heads back to Angkor Wonder Hotel. And then it starts to rain. I guess our laziness is really just a good instinct.

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After the now mandatory nap, we go check out the night market. I buy some gifts for my family – only the ladies, since I am shit at picking out presents for guys. I buy stuff like pillow cases, scented candles and jewelry. For dinner, we head to the pub street and eat at Temple, a bar/restaurant that has an Apsara dance show. They have beautiful girls in the heavy khmer dress I got to wear in Phnom Penh just slowly dancing to traditional songs, and every now and then they switch it up and do a fun coconut dance with a group of guys.

The next day, we get massages and pedicures. Sometimes I can be a total lady. I am talking to the really nice ladies in the salon and they tell me my chin cleft is cute. That’s a first.
At night, we go to Little Italy and get pizzas and a bottle of white wine – so naturally we also get a tiramisu and pana cotta too. By the time we are finished, we still have a bit of wine left but are too drunk to have it at the table, so I pour it into my water bottle, because I am classy. Shut up. We basically pass out after that.

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We sleep for ages and have breakfast at noon. After that, I walk around town looking for the Angkor Hospital for Children, and of course I get lost. I find a hospital and ask some locals for help, but they don’t understand me and it’s awkward and everyone’s staring at me. Someone points me to the right hospital eventually, though. When I finally find it, a lady at the desk tells me to come back an hour later, as the guards who will escort me to the lab are on lunch break. I walk back to the hostel and relax for a while before I drag my lazy butt back to the hospital.

A guard takes me through the big outdoor area, where lots of families sit with their kids in their laps, staring at me like I am an alien. I’m pretty uncomfortable, mostly since I feel like my presence is making their misery a tourist thing. I meet with another guard that takes me to the lab way in the back of the hospital premises. The lab has a waiting hallway and two cubicles; one for taking the children’s blood samples, and one for blood donations. The lab itself is behind the cubicles.

I get a form to fill out, and then a nurse takes a blood sample to see if my blood can be used. Then I am laying on a bed, being drained for blood. Only 350 ml, but it takes quite some time. I am feeling a bit lightheaded and have a strong urge to giggle, all while I can hear children crying and screaming only three metres away from me, and families are waiting out in the hallway, looking at me with great interest – the door isn’t closed. You’d think they are checking to see if my blood is a different color than theirs. Half an hour later, the doctor gives me a coke, some crackers and a T-shirt. I relaxe a little bit in the cubicle before heading out again – this time by myself, which just makes people stare at me even more.

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I go back home and have a long nap, feeling pretty good about myself. Days prior to it, I had finally taken out the (healed!) piercing that has been infected since Thailand and went off my antibiotics and malaria pills – and of course alcohol. While that is normally not good enough, the hospitals here are so desperate to recieve blood because of the dengue fever outbreak, that they accept everyone as long as they are healthy. They seem grateful that I went through the “trouble”, and I don’t see any other donors or westeners around for that matter in the hour I am there. So if anyone plan on going to Siem Reap, please donate, they really need your help!

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I’m really trying to diet lately, and we’ve been on salads mostly, which we order the next day while having lunch on pub street. I need a drink after being off the wagon for almost a week, and one thing leads to another – we get drunk and decide to have pizza – after our lunch! We go to Il Forno and share a pizza and some wine. Then we decide to eat dessert at Little Italy. We are super wasted at 5 in the afternoon, giggling and falling over stuff back at the hostel. I’m sure Clem thinks we were hilarious. When we wake up from the nap we obviously just had, it’s 10 at night. So we go for happy pizza. Now, that means that they put weed on the pizza. While I am only feeling a bit lightheaded, we go for drinks on pub street and we run into Edda! I end up drinking with her and her Irish friend Amanda until around 2 at night, when we all decide that it’s sleepy time. It hasn’t been a very eventful night, other than that everyone starts dancing on the pub street and then I go home and apparently creat a profile on an interracial dating site. Whoops. I definitely delete that when I wake up, I promise.

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