Saturday, January 24, 2009

Indochina trip to Cambodia

Cambodia is the second country we visited after Laos. We stayed in Cambodia for about 6 days. We took bus from Donkhone, Laos to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, passing through Pakseh in Laos, Stung Streng and Krati in Cambodia. In Cambodia, we only visited two places which were Phnom Penh, the capital and Siam Reap, the place which is located near the Angkor or Angkor Wat.

Different from Laos, Cambodia use US dollars as well as their local currency: Real. The rate of exchange for 1 US Dollar is 4000 reals while 1 USD is equivalent to RM3.65 that time. The major difference in Cambodia is that all (or almost all) the places, you could have transaction in USD. They accept USD everywhere and the price of the products is labeled with US Dollar too.

Same like Malaysia, it’s quite hot in Cambodia. Siem Reap is a bit cooler in the morning but it could be very hot in the afternoon due to the strong sunlight. However, overall it is cooler than Malaysia because it’s windier than Malaysia. Oh ya.. there’s a lot of dust and sands here. If we use tissue to wipe our face, we could notice there’s a thin layer of brown colour dust and sand on the tissue. It made us had to/ must wash our face at least twice per day.

Phnom Penh, the capital

When we reached Phnom Penh, it was around 10pm already. Thanks to the bus delay. Entering Phnom Penh from Laos made us really happy to see Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh is a much developed city compared to EVERY city in Laos. (We are so happy when we saw KFC there!) It also should be better and bigger than Ipoh as it is the capital. (but should be less developed than Penang Island, I think) Phnom Penh’s population is much better than ANY places in Laos. It’s a bit hard for us to walk all around. The places we visited were the royal palace, Russian Market, Central Market, Independence monument and etc. Royal palace is very expensive for the ticket price. The ticket costs us 6 USD per person (more than RM20) and honestly it is not too big. To me and probably Calvin, it is not really worth the money. Plenty of places are restricted area and visitors are not allowed to visit. Nothing’s there actually, or maybe I don’t know how to appreciate and enjoy it. Russian Market and Central Market are selling all kinds of goods. Most souvenirs I bought from Cambodia ‘originated’ from there. Russian Market is the place for us to practice our bargaining skills (prepare for Vietnam) where we could really lower the price quite much but still being ‘chopped’. In Phnom Penh, we managed to get a lowest cost accommodation for the entire trip. I’ll write about that later. Overall, Phnom Penh is a nice city (very nice city that time as we just came from Laos). Compared to Vientiane (the capital of Laos), it is not as peaceful because it is quite crowded. Another weakness compared to Vientiane is the hot weather of Cambodia like Malaysia. But, if you want me to choose between Vientiane and Phnom Penh, I will definitely choose Phnom Penh.

Inside the royal palace

Inside Central market

Siem Reap and Angkor
Siem Reap is a city near Angkor. Many people are confused with the difference between Angkor and Angkor Wat.(so did we) Angkor Wat is the famous ancient temple that we learned and studied in Sejarah (malay for history) in secondary school. Angkor is the ‘town?’ or the area of the whole Angkor which comprises of Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat. Angkor Thom? what is it then? Angkor Thom can be referred as the ancient city which has a lot of other temples. Angkor Wat is just a famous ancient temple which is NOT located in Angkor Thom. Confused? Briefly, Angkor comprises of Angkor Thom which is quite big and Angkor Wat which is just a temple.  

Siem Reap & Angkor is a very dusty and sandy place. Me and Wen Pin bought a mask because of that. Not the mask of some werewolves or ultraman, but the mask that cover our mouth and nose from the air pollution. To us, Angkor trip was not really a fun one. Somehow, I felt that I was happier when I was in the room, resting. Something worth mentioning was the price of the ticket. It WAS SUPPPPPPPPERRR EXPENSIVE!! It costs 20 USD for a person for a day. We went for 3 days (Angkor is a very big place) and we paid 40 USD for it. 40 USD!! just for the entrance! Near to RM150 had been spent just for it. But never mind, I don’t think I will go there again. We almost woke up everyday at 5am to see the sun rise in different places. We watched the sun rise on the first day in Angkor Wat and the third day in Stung Strey… lol.. I just simply gave a name. Couldn’t really remember the name of the place we went on the third day. Both views were quite nice. But I hate the moment we had to wake up early and took a duk-duk to Angkor. It was very cold in the morning. Duk-duk is open-aired and that means the winds were continuously blowing towards us. Probably you cant imagine how cold it is, but believe me, it totally gave us nightmare of waking up early and travelling by duk-duk in the early morning.  

About the trip inside Angkor, basically it was boring to us. I think we had made a mistake by not hiring a tour guide (to save money). We didn’t know what the temples were about and the history behind it. Basically, we were just walking around the whole place without knowing what we actually visited (or maybe it was just me). The more interesting part of the trip was when the tour guide brought us to climb a mountain. We actually counted how many steps (it’s a long stairs) it took to climb. We climbed 620 something steps to reach the top.. swt.. That was so tiring. I hate climbing stairs, it’ll cause my legs super exhausted. Anyway, me and Kylie rested for a few times before continuing climbing unlike Wen Pin and Calvin as well as the tour guide were climbing up quickly like robots. I doubt they understand what ‘tired’ means. OK OK.. I know I lack of exercise la. 

Angkor Wat sunrise


Sunset somewhere near in Angkor (a hill near Angkor Wat)

Doing silly face while waiting for the sunset.

Traffic and Transportation

There are quite a lot of cars and motorbikes like Malaysia. It’s just like the city central of Ipoh. The traffic is not too worse until it can cause a traffic jam. There are plenty of traffic lights around. The one big difference from Malaysia is the existence of duk-duk as public transport (same like Laos). But basically, Cambodia is just like Malaysia, it doesn’t differ much. 

like Laos, the ppl selling things to the passenger.

A cambodia duk-duk



The common meal in Cambodia is like Malaysia: rice. It's not cheap though. It costs around RM3.65 for rice with only 1 dish. So, we have to share the dishes by ordering rice with different dishes. Well, we did try some special food. Not me, but calvin and Wen Pin. Guess what? They ate spider! I was a bit regret for not trying it. I had the chance to try it when Calvin passed me one of its legs. (fyi, spider has 8 legs.. :P). I wanted to try at first, however when i saw the leg was so hairy. I gave up. It was very disgusting to eat some hairy spider leg. So, the leg 'fall' to Wen Pin's stomach. They said it has a taste that is hard to describe but not too bad, according to them.

the spiders.. sold at a small market


The people here are less friendly than Laos, they are more money oriented (perhaps more developed country). However, the great advantage over the other two countries is their abilities to speak english. Their english is quite fluent. We had almost no communication problem there. 

sorry, but i do feel that the girl has money eyes. What she cares was whether we buy her drink or not.

the students in Cambodia... they were more friendly than the greedy girl just now.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Indochina trip to Laos

Laos is the first country we visited followed by Cambodia and Vietnam. We stayed in Laos for around 5 or 6 days. We went to Vientiane, the capital of Laos from Malaysia and then we went to Luang Prabang. After that, we went back to Vientiane and continued our trip to Savanakhet, Pakseh, and Donkhone. 

The currency used in Laos is kips. The rate of exchange is 1 US dollar is 8500 kips while RM 3.65 is 1 US dollar (before the value of dollar drops)

The weather in Laos is quite cool, especially the North part (Vientiane and Luang Prabang). The temperature for Vientiane is just a bit higher than Genting Highland in Malaysia whereas Luang Prabang can be as cold as Genting Highland ( I think). The south part is not very cool. Savanakhet will be similar to Cameron Highland while Donkhone and other 4000 islands are almost as hot as Malaysia except that they are much more windy.

Vientiane, the capital

As mentioned above, it’s the capital of Laos. You could say it is ‘ulu’ because Ipoh is even more developed than it. However, the lack of big cars and modern buildings make Vientiane a relative peaceful city. It’s not too undeveloped that we could find 1 super market in the city. lol. It’s very cold in the morning. I couldn’t stop shivering for cold since I woke up. Imagine you have to stop walking and shiver after you had just taken 2 steps. Walk for 2 steps, stop and shiver for 1 second, continue walk for 2 steps, then stop and shiver for 1 second…… This was what happened to me that time for more than 15 minutes. swt.. never thought Laos can be that cold (It’s just South East Asia, that was what I thought before I came). We walked a lot in Vientiane (coz want to cut down money on transportation). We started walking from 1pm to 8pm. Of course we had some rests in between. (we were not robots nor super athlete) It was a good place to visit (Maybe it was our first destination) although it’s not as developed as Ipoh. It’s cold and windy and peaceful. 


Vientiane Airport


There isn’t much car and motorbikes as well as bicycle in Laos. Similar to Cambodia, the common public transport is Duk-duk and bus. Duk-duk is some kind of transport that feels like trishaw but it is driven by motorbike and it is bigger and faster than the old trishaw. It’s very common in Laos and taxi is rare. Cant remember if I saw any taxi in Laos. Duk-duks are used for short distance of travel while buses are used for longer distance of travel. For long distance travel, honestly their ‘highways’ are pretty poor. There’s only one lane for each side unlike Malaysia’s, there’s at least two lanes for each side. 

In a big duk-duk

The bus in Laos is very different from Malaysia’s bus. The appearance of the bus is almost the same like Malaysia’s. Usually, there are two persons in charge of the bus. (usually 1 guy 1 girl). The girl or lady or woman is in charge of ‘arranging’ the seats for the passenger; the guy (is not the driver) is in charge of ‘arranging’ the luggage of the customers. I was surprised when I saw many local people trying to sell their food to the passengers on the bus. The local people came into the bus in bulk. They get on the bus and start asking every passenger if he/she wants to buy. Some of them sell the things through the windows (maybe too crowded in bus or lazy to get on the bus). The things they sell are food like fried chicken, satay, sticky rice, fish balls, insects, and etc. 

Another thing that makes me SHOCKED for the first time is the bus stops almost every one to two hours for the passenger to go toilet. Sounds normal right? but actually not. The bus isn’t stop at some public toilet or restaurant. It just stops at the road side where plenty of grasses and trees along the road. Then the local people will get down from the bus and start zip down their pants and pee. lol. Well, not only guys, for the ladies, they will find a ‘shade’ eg: grasses and start doing their ‘business’. It’s so unusual for us, the foreigners to see this. If you want to observe carefully, you could actually see ‘something’. Anyway, I didn’t, this is what you should know. lol. The funny thing was a blonde girl from Western country at first felt very disgusted of it. However, after a few hours, she couldn’t stand it anymore and did like what others local ladies did. Pity her.  

Super Long journey
 The minimum time it takes for us to travel from one place to another by bus is 7 hours. The exact time needed to travel from one place to another is often longer than the estimated time told by the people at the bus station. For example, if the estimated time is 5 hours, it will take 7 hours. if the estimated time is 10 hours it will take 13 hours. We achieved a new record of staying for almost 24 hours in the bus. This is because we wanted to travel to another place after we reached the bus station. So we sat on the buses for more or less 24 hours which gave us some of the FIRST TIMES. It was my first time of not bathing once in 48 hours and my first time of not brushing my teeth for more than 30 hours. .  

Super budgeting
You might be surprised on how we save our money in Laos. We were like crazy and tortured ourselves for this. This is because we brought limited money (US dollar) for this trip and we were afraid the money was not enough for the whole trip. We brought 1000 US dollar (me and Wen Pin 1100 USD) and that’s it. We couldn’t withdraw money in the countries because there aren’t any CIMB or public banks there. There are a few of banks which you cant find them in Malaysia. That’s why we have a very tight budget in case we would overspend later in the journey due to unexpected circumstances. This is how we save our money:

To travel around the city : walk!
Food costs more than 10000 kips (around rm4) : dun eat!
Too expensive to go to a destination : skip!
Before buying anything : ask the price and ask for discount 
Breakfast : usually skip!
Too hungry : eat biscuit or Apollo cake
Accommodation : try to sleep in the night bus


walking in Dondet... So blazing hot..


Honestly, the food in Laos are very bad and expensive and few! We usually spend around 8000 kips to 10000 kips (rm 3.5- rm 4) for a bowl of noodle which the quantity is same or less than the quantity of a Maggie mee packet. The ‘famous’ or I should say common food in Laos are Fer (noodle soup with beef), sticky rice (rice which is ‘glued’ together), fried chicken, satay-like stuffs and others. The only food for main dish or the only food that could make us A BIT full were Fer and sticky rice. We had been eaten Fer and sticky rice for dunno how many times. I personally don’t like to eat sticky rice. I got sien (bored) of eating Fer after eating for many many times. We didn’t eat fried chicken and other food because they were expensive (to the foreigners if you know what I mean).  


Sticky rice with some dishes


me and Wen Pin eating Fer in Luang Prabang


The first day we slept at a foreigner’s house for free. Of course, we couldn’t expect much from a ‘free’ accommodation. That was the place where I shivered for cold. The blanket was as thick as a layer of cloth and it definitely doesn’t help in keeping us warm. Anyway, we thanked that foreigner for giving us stay unconditionally and we were sorry for disturbed him. After having bad sleep on that first night, we stayed in guest house every night (sometimes bus). Usually we took 2 rooms and 2 persons per room but sometimes 4 of us slept together in a room if the room is much cheaper that way. The price of the rooms is not expensive coz it’s not a hotel or a high class hotel (it’s not even a low class hotel). But it was pleasant to sleep (probably we were tired).    

Our room in a guest house in Savanakhet 

The people there are friendly. Really.. Laos people are really friendly and polite. They are kind and they are glad to meet us. We greeted them ‘Sa Bai De’ and they would always greet us back. An incident that I couldn’t forget is a lady of age 20 plus fed me beef meat with her chopstick when I asked her what was the food and how much it costs. She wanted me to try the food. So friendly.. You will never see such people in Malaysia. Let ask yourself, if you are a girl and when an Asian guy stranger asked you what is the food you are eating, will you use your chopstick to grab the food you are eating to feed the stranger? Don’t think you will. If you friendly enough, the most you would do is to tell him the name of the food and some details; if you sensitive enough, you might think the stranger wants to do something bad to you. lol.


bought the beef after the kind lady fed me. looks scary but it tastes good. 

Language is not a barrier for communication, or maybe not a very big barrier for communication. We survived in Laos. This proves the statement. But no doubt it is quite difficult to chat with them. I guess almost 5% (maybe less than that) of the local people we meet can speak English, sorry.. not can speak English but can speak only little English. At this time, we realized body language is so important to communicate with other people. And of course, the calculator too. I read travel guide which advises us to bring a real calculator. I didn’t bring a calculator as my phone (everyone’s phone) has calculator feature. However, I overestimate the people there, they don’t understand or don’t like to see or don’t believe the calculator of my phone. Maybe it’s too high-tech for them and they dunno how to use? or they scared I will cheat them with my phone’s calculator? So, a good advice for all of you who want to travel to a country who doesn’t share a common language, bring a calculator… a real calculator!
Evil people
We all know this world has many evil people or bad people. And so is Laos. Remember I said Laos people are kind and friendly. I had to edit that. NOT ALL Laos people are kind and friendly. Those local Laos people who involve in ‘business transaction’ are definitely not kind and friendly but greedy. I wonder how much money we had been ‘chopped’ by the local sellers. They always sold us things in higher price than local people. So angry with that as we couldn’t do anything but could only pay the high price. There was one incident in Pakseh which gave a pretty bad memory to all of us. The price of fishballs is actually 1000 kips but they sell it for 3000 kips. And the transportation of the boat service is 10000 kips but they charged us for 20000 kips per person. We were so annoyed by the price they offered but we had no other ways but to pay them for the boat. This is because the place was very far from town and we didn’t want to stay overnight at a beach on the sand without bed and mattress.  

Dunno la. To me, Laos isn’t a very nice place to visit. The food is expensive and little. The tourism spots are and not really interesting. And the business people like to ‘chop’ us a lot on the prices. However, it was peaceful and the local people who are not selling anything to you are nice and if you enjoy drinking beer, you will like the place. The only place I recommend to go is Vientiane and Luang Prabang (and Vang Vieng if you like to drink). Oh, make sure you bring more money to spend there. You will feel happier. lol

My Indochina Trip Overview


I’ve just finished my 5 weeks (35 days) trip from 2nd Dec till 6th Jan. The countries included in this trip are Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The following is the places we visited and how much time we spent on that particular place:


2nd Dec           : Vientiane (Laos)  

3rd – 4th Dec : Luang Prabang. 

5th Dec            : Savanakhet.

6th Dec            : Pakseh and Donkhone..

7th Dec            : Donkhone, Donkhong and Don Det. 

8th Dec            : Stung Streng, Krati and Phnom Penh. (Cambodia)

9th Dec            : Phnom Penh.

10th – 13th Dec: Siam Reap (& Angkor) 

14th – 15th Dec: Saigon (HoChiMinh). (Vietnam)  

16th – 17th Dec: Mui Ne. 

18th – 20th Dec: Dalat.

21st – 23rd Dec: Nha Thrang

24th Dec           : Hoi An (Christmas Eve)

25th – 27th Dec: Hue  

28th Dec           : Hanoi

29th – 30th Dec: Ha long Bay

31st Dec            : Hanoi (New Year Eve)

1st – 3rd Jan      : Sapa

4th – 5th Jan      : Hanoi

6th Jan             : Malaysia



Will post more on the details of the trip for each of the country later… Yet to get photos from my friend and I will only post them after I get the picture.

My diary on 6th Jan

I woke up when I heard the conversation between Calvin and Wen Pin. I was supposed to wake up at 6.00 am instead. Swt… Unable to back to sleep, I did my last packing to make sure everything was well packed in my big luggage. Today, finally, I was going to leave Hanoi!

After finish preparing, the taxi was already down there waiting to fetch us. It costs us 12USD for the taxi, not too expensive actually despite the distance from the hotel to the airport. Feeling a bit disappointed as I couldn’t eat the Doner Kebab in Hanoi before I left Vietnam. I was thinking how to spend the remaining 15000 Dong (Vietnam Dong) in Vietnam. 


Reached airport. We checked in our luggage. We were so worried that our luggage will exceed the weight limit (15kg). Of course, we didn’t want to pay more if it was over weight. Luckily, all our luggages passed the test. But, imagine, I brought around 5.3 kg from Malaysia to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and returned back with 13.8 kg. Bought too much things I guess.. haha. I spent my remaining Vietnam currency to buy sweets and bread as breakfast. Then we were ready to get on board.


pic with a friendly stewardess in Hanoi Airport

9.00am (Vietnam time, one hour earlier than Malaysia time)

After going through all the customs and departure procedure, we went for a window shopping in all those duty free shops. All of them were expensive. I wonder was it really ‘duty free’. We took a picture with a gentle stewardess before we got in the plane. It was boring inside the plane. Trying to sleep but couldn’t. The seats were uncomfortable for us to sleep. But I shouldn’t complain for it, since we were using AirAsia, the low cost carrier. 

 take a picture while waiting to go back Malaysia 

1.30pm (Malaysia time)
After chit-chatting to get over with the boring moment, the plane finally was going to land. The sudden change on the pressure made my ears very painful. Perhaps I was suffering from flu and thus I was the only one who was in pain. Calvin, Wen Pin and Kylie seemed fine. It was torturing… At last, the plane landed on LCCT and the suffering was ended. However, the effects of the pressure made my ears 50% deaf. (even until now, I am still 75% deaf) I was happy returning back Malaysia. It had been quite sometime I never see any Malays and Indians. And people speaking Malay and Cantonese but not Vietnamese. Glad that I could understand what people were saying. 

I had to get on my bus by 2.10pm. And I was still waiting for my luggage to come out. I plan was ruined. I planned to eat McD before I got on the bus but due to the delay of the flight and some procedures, I couldn’t follow my plan. I ran with my luggage after my luggage was out and said goodbye to my friends. By the time I rushed to the bus waiting spot, it was already 2.12pm. Luckily the bus is still there, it departed LCCT one minute later after I got into the bus. The only sad thing was I had to skip my lunch. 

Oh… what a familiar place. Medan Gopeng, Syuen Hotel, Stadium Ipoh, Tesco, Tesco Extra and finally Bercham, the place I’m staying. After going on for the Indochina trip for 35 days, finally I back home! Happy to see my parents and glad to show them what I have bought from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Unpacked my luggage and ‘set up’ my laptop, my lovely laptop that I miss every single day.

Didn’t have much time to chat as I was going to have my dinner. Long time never ate so much already. So glad I was back home. However, I still couldn’t get used to the weather here. It’s so hot! 

Chat a little bit, and started typing this post. Got quite some number of people welcomed me back. Haha but sorry I didn’t give much response to them as I am typing this. 

I would end it here. Oh~ can’t imagine I had returned home.

I shall revive this blog

After thinking for quite a while, I have decided to use this blog to continue posting.

The reason is because the previous blog site I used ( is pretty slow. I have to wait for quite a while in order to post something. It seems that almost everyone is using the blogspot now and I didnt hear any complain about it YET. I decided to make this site as place to continue posting instead of xanga.

Of course, if you want to know more about me, or read more on the previous posts before I went to IndoChina trip, you could go to this website I have many posts in that site. So, feel free to read it.