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.


WanWan said...

I been to Siem Reap and Phnom Nenh last May.. Between these two city.. I prefer Siem Reap...

I still r'ber arrived at phnom nenh our hotel.. the staff warn us to bkful of our belonging espcially our bag.. seems like very dangerous.. hehehe..