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Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap

10 day Mega Blog

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View SE Asia Summer 2009 on Yeebles's travel map.

Right, I haven't blogged in ages so here is a monster blog. Also spelling mistakes are even more likely as part of this is being typed on an iPod and the usually rubbish keyboards.

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Firstly, the cookery course. We got up nice and early to go across town to the Vietnamese culinary center. The menu for today was crispy Vietnamese spring rolls, spicy and sour soup and caramel pork with coconut steamed rice.

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Making spring rolls were fairly easy as long as they were rolled tightly. The chef was impressed by Rob's tightly wrapped spring rolls. We then moved on to the other dishes all of which were quick and easy to make but then again the ingredients had already been precut. At the end we all ate our early massive lunches at 11 and were presented with certificates and recipie books. After that we headed to the re-unification palace former hq of south Vietnam and where the flag of the north was hung when 2 tanks burst through the gate leading to the fall of Saigon. It was interesting and I finally got a picture with Uncle Ho (Chi Minh).

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The next day we headed to China town to look at pagodas and try and find dim sum. We failed at mission objective 2 so caught a taxi to the dong koi area. Over there we went to the war remnants museum which had some truly harrowing pictures of the victims of the American war. We then headed to the Internet to sort out Rob's clearing place. I learnt I had to send a form to student finance as I was going to my insurance choice. I quickly printed and filled in the document and headed to the stunning post office at 8:00 as it closed at 9:30.

The next day we were off to phnom penh, leaving the country we had spent so long in. The bus was fairly comfortable and the roads were smooth, unlike they had been in previous years. Also, more surprisingly the border crossing was very quick.

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When we got to Phnom Penh we got a tuk tuk to the lake side area. We went to number 9 guest house. It was on the lake (which seems to be being filled in) and had a nice bar/resturaunt. However, the room was not that nice compared to what we thought we could get for that price. However the real problem was that although it was in a good area for backpacker bars and resturaunts, it was ages from the centre or any sights. So we headed into town to get a curry and then looked at Royal Guesthouse which was supposedly better. We went to this family run hotel. The first room showed to us had 1 double bed which we didn't want. The second room showed to us had a double and single so we agreed to pay for the larger room with a real bathroom for only $2 more per person than number nine. We then chilled at the bar.

The next day we moved to royal guesthouse where our room had 2 double beds and was much bigger and nicer than the one we saw. We wandered around the town and booked a tour to the main sights in and around Phnom Penh.

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The next day we started by going to the killing fields where there was a massive monument filled with skulls, craters and pits where the mass graves used to be and a museum. The whole experience was moving and an eye opener to the attrocities committed by the Khymer Rouge. We also wento the Russian Market where they sold a wide variety of goods. I bought some ray bans for $7. We then went to the S21 genocide museum which was a high school converted into a prison by the khymer rouge. Political prisoners, women, children, babies and anyone who were not pure enough for the khymer rouge were held, totured and ultimately killed.

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Rob wasn't feeling very well so he was dropped of at the hotel. I went to the national museum where I got to learn more about cambodia's ancient and more peaceful past. After that I went back and after a small lunch we were taken to the royal palace where the king lives and silver pagoda. After that we went back. For dinner we went to a pizza place where I decided to try a happy pizza.

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The next day I didn't feel to well but we went to this pagoda on a hill. It wasn't that impressive but what made it for me was that there were loads of monkeys wandering around the area.

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We then went to have look at the independence monument and then went to the Vietnamese liberation monument commemorating Vietnam's help in liberating Cambodians from the Khymer Rouge. We then had a streetside haircut for $2.

The next day we caught a bus to Siem Reap. The bus was ok in comfort terms. We then got a tuk tuk to green town guesthouse. We also aranged with the tuk tuk driver to go to Angkor Wat for sunrise. We then wandered around town.

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The next day we set off at 5:00. When we got there it was still dark and crowds were building as sun rise approached a massive cloud filled the sky. We then had a look in Angkor Wat and got some amazing views of the temple.

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We then were tuk tuked to Angor Thom and the Bayon temple which was amazing as it had loads of intact fours facing buddah towers. We went to many other temples and climbed many steep steps up to the towers and roofs of the temples. Due to our early start we finished at eleven. We then lazed about for a while.

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The next day we decided to cycle on the great circuit of Angkor. We rented bikes from next door to ou hotel. The bikes were ok if a little uncomfortable. We then headed off to Angkor. Barely out of Siem Reap Rob's bike chain fell off. Luckily a local passing woman demonstrated how to put the chain back on. The chain fell off 2 more times before we turned back. Rob then got another bike which had gears. It was decided that I would benefit more from gears. However the bike was cleary weang for a child as the handlebars were so low you had to essentially be in crawling posistion to ride it and to top it the hears didn't work. After I got to Angkor Wat 20 minutes after Rob we swapped as he was a better cyclist and more likely be able to cope. We looked at many temples. Preah khan stood out as it seemed like proper jungle ruins. This is intact where they shot one of the scenes in the original tomb raider film where lara croft wanders through the jungle. After Preah Khan we were greeted by loads of women trying to get us to have lunch in their stall. We eventually picked one who had made all the prices on the menu $2 as long as we ate there.

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We then headed to other temples along the circuit. The ones that really stood out for me were ta som and bre rup which were stunning in their enormity, designs and in tactness. Also it was good as there were barely any tourists here. Overally I preffered this experience to the popular ones we saw yesterday. We then had a painful cycle ride back in which we cam across some monkeys. 

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Today we went to the Battam srey and the Rolous group with our tuk tuk driver from before. Battam srey is a bit out of the way and the only one in that area so unsurprisingly there were quite a few tourists. I was stopped at the ticket checking point as apparently the picture on my Angkor pass looked older than me. I eventually used my passport as proof it really was me. Battam srey was impressive mainly due to it's moat.

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We then headed down to the rolous group in the east. These temples are the older ones and as they were really out of the way there were barely any tourists. They were truly stunning. On going to one of the temples a truly gold moment happened when 6 drinks sellers crowded around the tuk shouting various words about buying a cold drink.

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We then went back to town and bid our driver farewell. After lunch Rob decided we should go to a temple near Anhkor Thom on a hill in which we could see the Wat from a Birdseye view. He also wanted to cycle there weirdly. We did cycle there but this time the bikes were much better my bike had working gears and semi decent height handlebars. We cycled there and climbed a hill then up some monstrously steep steps. The view was worth it and breathtaking.

The cycle back seemed to be going fine. Rain seemed to be coming so we agreed to meet at the hotel. As I aproached the Wat I noticed a poking sensation in my foot. It turned out that the plastic pedal was cracked causing the metal rod that it pivots on to stick out. I turned the pedal round and continued on my way. As I left the Angkor Wat temple area the pedal fell off. I hammered it semi on with my fist and kept going. It worked for quite a while but then 4-5km from siem reap the whole left pedal fell off and I couldn't get it back on. If I was wearing trainers as opposed to flip flops I may have been able to ride in a mal coordinated way but I ended up having to wheel it. After a while a local on the motorbike pulled alongside me bemused in why I was pushing my bike. I then showed him the pedal in my bike grease covered hands. He then tryed to signal me to put my bike on his motorbike and me get on behind it. I had truly become a local in the way I used motorbikes. The mountainbike lying perpendicularly on the saddle made the motorbike fairly wide. He drove me all the way to the hotel. Wanting to thank him for his act of kindness I looked in my wallet for some dollars to give him. I only had twenties so I gave him one which he seemed very happy with.

It then began to rain heavily. Eventually as the downpour died down we decided to take our bikes back into town to return them. I had to wheel it. However with the help of some down hill I manger to get enough momentum to pedal with one flip flopped foot although it strained my thigh muscle a bit. After returning the bikes we then had dinner of crocodile burgers.

Tomorrow we are off on the bus to Bangkok our final proper stop. In Bangkok the internet should be good enough to put pictures up so all pictureless posts like this one should have pictures soon. Sorry for the typos but this post was typed entirely on an iPod touch. Night got to get some sleep :)

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Posted by Yeebles 23:38 Archived in Cambodia Tagged tourist_sites

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