A Travellerspoint blog

March 2014


bring your cash and plenty of it

MONDAY 31ST MARCH 2014 (DAY 212)

Today I had another active day planned. We are going home tomorrow and this is like the last holiday activity we are doing. Today we are heading to Sentosa Island - small island attached to Singapore main island by a bridge and supposedly the holiday resort island.

There are numerous attractions, flash hotels and swimming beaches on Sentosa. We had never been before so had planned on a visit this trip.

After breakfast, a little earlier than previous mornings, we were out the hostel door just before 10am - a new record!!! Walk to the MRT station where we had to change once to get us too Harbour Front where there was now the assorted options to go over to Sentosa Island. You can catch the Sentosa Express (monorail), cable car or walk via the Sentosa boardwalk. As we decided we would catch the cable car back, the boardwalk was the next favourable option for us.
The boardwalk is 670 metres long and can be traveled for most of the distance along escalators, which is what we did of course, saving our legs.

No matter what form of transport you use to enter the island there is a S$1 entry fee for everyone, which we could pay using our Ez-link transport card. As I said there are numerous attractions on the island once you get there and of course every single one of them has an entry fee. We had a couple circled that we wanted to do and it worked out cheaper for us to purchase a Choice Play Pass at a cost of S$44.90 each.

The whole island seemed to be almost deserted, the fact that quite a few shops/restaurants were actually closed or empty, and a lot of what looked like maintenance work was going on did not help, I hope for them that weekends were busier. This is why I chose a Monday and not a weekend to visit, hoping there would not be any crowds, but the small number of people around was not going to make any difference to us. Singapore Universal Studios is located here on Sentosa and that is the only place where we saw any significant amount of people lined up to get in. We headed towards our first chosen activity.

Segway. Our pass allowed us to a 5 minute fun ride on a segway. As we had never tried this before we thought it might be fun to give it a go. Before we were even allowed anywhere near the machines we had to sign our life away via an indemnity form. I did not read the whole A4 typed sheet we had to sign but I think it generally stated that if we injured ourselves in any way or form the Gogreen Segway were in no way liable. Next we were given a quick 2 minute instruction of how the machine was operated, we had to circle a coconut tree to demonstrate we could operate the segway. Then the was another form to sign, saying we had received extensive demonstration and training in the operation and use of segway. Hahaha what a crock. Then we finally got to ride the machine by ourselves around a 3 minute fun track, negotiating corners, tree roots, tree stumps, holes in the dirt track and warning signs every 2 metres instructing us not to tailgate or ride too fast. It was fun although short, but at least now we have tried riding a segway. BTW no photos were allowed, only the official Gogreen staff took and then tried to flog off for S$15 each.
Gogreen 3 minute fun ride = S$12/person

Luge. If there is a luge in the vicinity we must ride it. This is my favourite thing and I have been know to drag Lyn to cycle around lakes in strange countries (ie Hungary) to ride a luge. One ride was also covered in our Play Pass so that was our next activity. It was only a short track that took but 2.2 minutes (I videoed the ride so I know how long it took) but it was a lot of fun. And this was the first time Robyn has ridden on a luge - disgraceful, considering it was invented in her home country of New Zealand.
1 Luge ride = S$13/person

It was time now for a swim and we walked to the closest beach which was Siloso Beach. It was nice enough and the water was clean and cooling. It's been overcast here during our stay in Singapore but today we have a blue sky and it's quite hot - always humid here. So a swim and a cool off was nice. We walked the short distance to the other beach - Palawan, where there was a rope bridge that took us over to the southernmost point of continental Asia. We shopped for a swim there too. On the way over we had looked for somewhere to lunch but of the few places that were in fact open nothing really took our fancy so we stopped and ate oranges we took from breakfast this morning, before our swim.

With two options left on our pass, we caught the free shuttle bus up to Imbiah Lookout where the cable car would take us over to Faber Mountain and off Sentosa Island. Before we did this to use up our 4th option Lyn went up the Tiger Sky Tower for a birdseye view of the island and surrounds, while Robyn and I chose to enter the Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom. Only a handful of butterflies, some very colourful exotic birds and a very handsome iguana inside the enclosure made for a very poor display.
Tiger Sky Tower = S$15
Butterfly Park = S$16

Our last option on our pass was kept for the cable car, this was the most expensive attraction so made the pass worthwhile for us to purchase.
Singapore Cable Car = S$26/person one way

All in all, I found Sentosa Resort Island to be a bit of a ripoff! And the fact that a lot of places were closed down, or attractions not operating. Also the ones that were are way overpriced, I mean S$12 for a 3 minute segway ride - bit over the top, but welcome to Singapore. This is the riches country in Asia and it shows.

We rode the cable car all the way to Faber Mountain to find that no buses come up there to take us back down the bottom to a MRT station or bus stop. Only option is to get a taxi or walk. As it was all down hill we chose to walk and it was pretty easy mostly steps all going down and leading directly to a MRT station where we boarded a train and headed home.

It was 5pm by the time we were nearing our street to return to the hostel so a food stop was warranted. Again the local food hall was visited. Food in these places even is expensive, or is it just that we have eaten so very cheaply for the last months while in Cambodia and Thailand. I guess one thing Singapore has done is prepare us for the soaring prices of everything back in Australia. Because if we stop and really think about it, Singapore is probably on par with Australia, maybe even a little cheaper when you eat in the local places.

It was a big day today, and the end is nigh!!





Posted by Cindy Bruin 23:19 Archived in Singapore Comments (1)


our extended stopover is just prolonging our trip home.

FRIDAY 28TH MARCH 2014 (DAY 209)

Well 2 very late nights in a row certainly caught up with us and we slept late, making it downstairs only just before breakfast was finished at 11am.

It's been a long journey this whole travelling caper and I should be starting to get my body clock back to 'normal' working and waking hours but not happening just yet.
It was after 2 before we ventured out today, again without any real plan or destination. Instead of the bus, we opted for MRT(mass rapid transport) train travel today. Just a couple of stops and we stepped out at Bugis Street, which unfortunately these days is just a ugly large shopping complex and the street market is made up of overpriced crappy quality rubbish. I sadly missed the hay day of Bugis Street when it used to be filled with outside plastic table and chair bars to sit and watch the passing traffic of transexuals. Yes you read correct, back in the 60's, 70's and early 80's Bugis Street (fondly nicknamed Boogie Street) used to be the area where transexuals and transvestites used to hang out and parade around in their finest for all to see. This was a huge tourist attraction that the Singapore government did not want to promote and 'cleaned up' the area in the 1980's replacing it with retail therapy outlets. Seems the Singapore government have a motto, when it doubt get rid of it and build a shopping centre. There are already hundreds here, more being currently built and more in the planning. So gone the charismatic Bugis Street, and this is what happened to the old Chinatown too I think.


From Bugis Street we went walking looking for Little India and not quite sure if we found it or not. Definitely found an area that was overpopulated with Indians, where we saw women dressed in colourful saris, but not sure if it was the centre of Little India or the market place area. Anyway it was getting dark so we walked back to the train station, it was really peak time now and we had to stand up our 4 stops.


As it was dark as we walked back we stopped at the food court from last nights walk to have some dinner before returning to the hostel. It's still hot here even at night, there seems to be very little temperature change, the only difference is the sun is not shining down on us to make us even hotter.



Again we slept late! Is it the weather? Is it comfortable beds? Is it the air con room? or are we just so exhausted from it all??

We hung around the hostel using their internet until the afternoon. I have managed to catch up to real time on my blogs to am happy about that and may actually get to do a closing statement at the end of the trip.

We did have intensions of heading our today but it seems to be very difficult to get my travel companions to move. Lyn is sitting with me here in the common room reading and Robyn I think is up stairs laying on her bed. All this travel has finally caught up with them and luckily we will be home in a few days as I don't think they are able to go on much further or much longer. Hard to motivate them and I'm just about over trying.

We finally did head out and walked to the MRT station, I'd suggested we head out and take a look at IKEA Singapore. Most of the other sights of Singapore we had exhausted on this or previous trips anyway so lunch and a look around IKEA sounded like a plan. We had to catch the train to Trampines shopping centre and from there I read on the internet there would be a free shuttle bus to IKEA. Sure enough after we got off the train and headed to the bus stop a long line was spotted and I asked if it was the line for the shuttle bus. Yes, it was so we joined it and only had to wait about 10 minutes before we were on a air con bus heading to another shopping centre.

Yes IKEA is exactly the same everywhere in the world. This is the third country where I have been to one and can confirm this. We had lunch - overpriced and then roamed around the maze of the shop as it is everywhere. We did not buy anything only a couple of IKEA carry bags as souvenirs, but it had killed some time so that was an achievement for us. While there we had a quick walk around the Giant supermarket and bought some supplies for an easy sandwich dinner back at the hostel. Outside, we then lined up again for the shuttle bus to take us back to the MRT station to get the train home. We spiced it up a bit and caught a different shuttle which took us to a closer MRT but on the same line.

The evening was spent watching video movies at hostel.


SUNDAY 30TH MARCH 2014 (DAY 211)

Well, we were very active today. After the normal hostel breakfast of toast and coffee, and after receiving some instructions from the hostel staff, we headed to a bus stop along the main road. Following instructions, bus number 2 took us to Changi Port Ferry Terminal where we caught a bum boat over to Pulau Ubin (Ubin Island). The bus took a route we had not yet traveled so there was a little to see on the way. Traveling through more affluent suburbs, noticeable by the calibre of housing and automobiles parked in driveways, we also drove past Changi Prison and the Singapore Army barracks, which seemed to have higher security measures to keep inmates in than the prison.


The boat to the island cost S$2.50 and took about 15 minutes. Not sure why they are called bum boats, perhaps because when the dock up they go in bum first and passengers get off at the back of the boat. Short walk off the jetty and we were met by the numerous shops that were renting bicycles to explore the island. This is the main or perhaps the only reason to come over to Ubin, to go for a ride. It was a Sunday so a few people around, not many, but enough to see it was a weekend and families had come over for a day out. Some had bought their own bikes over from the main island on the ferry, but of course we had to hire some if we wanted to go for a ride. And of course we did, that was our reason for coming also. Big signs announced a hire price of S$2 per day (which is the price Lyn and I paid back in 2009) but of course this was not the case anymore. S$2 bikes were tiny bikes for children, adult bikes were S$15 each. This seemed a little steep a price for us to pay for what would be no more than 2 hours joy ride, so we looked around a bit more and found some that were a little clapped out but only S$6 each. Much more suited for us, and we are used to riding older cycles. The main thing is they worked and got us moving will minimal effort. Well mostly minimal effort, accept when we came to the slightest incline and we all three were out of the saddle and pushing the bikes up the hill. To thing just a few short months ago Lyn and I were riding tens of kilometres a day, now could hardly go 1/2 km without being exhausted. But I guess it was almost 7 months ago!! And there has been a lot of lazing and cocktail drinking in between those times.


The day was a little overcast but still quite warm, but nice that the sun was not beating directly down on us. All things considered we did ok on the bikes, and broke the ride up with a 1+ km boardwalk stroll around the coast and mangroves.

Approximately 2 hours later we rode back to the village for some lunch at one of the mudflat side restaurants. It was a late lunch, around 3-4pm, and by the time we had finished the long line up for the return bum boats was gone and we headed back to the jetty, returning the hire bikes on the way.

Our #2 bus was just pulling away as we approached the bus stop, but the wait was only another 15 minutes for the next one to take us back to Joo Chiat. On the walk back to the hostel we stopped and bought a cooked chicken at the supermarket S$6 to have for dinner later with the breadrolls left over from yesterdays dinner. We know once we get inside we will not want to venture out for food again.

Another night of movies before bed.



Posted by Cindy Bruin 22:43 Archived in Singapore Comments (2)


Famous food walk tour conducted by Tony Tan owner of Betel Box Hostel.

Food Walk Tour: this is operated through Betel Box Hostel - conducted by the hostel owner Tony Tan. This tour comes highly recommended and widely praised on the internet. Other visits here have not coincided with the correct day so this time I purposely planned our stay so we would be here to join the tour. And because we are staying at the hostel the tour was supposed to be free as advertised on the website, the only thing we had to pay for was food along the way.
It was a bit of a shock when the 'free' tour suddenly turned into a S$30 per head pay up front tour. They had changed it from pay up front for food rather than pay as you go. This upset me a bit and we ummed and arrred about still participating in the tour. Others, not staying at the hostel, turned up to join the tour and they were made to pay a tour fee of S$80, so our S$30 was a saving of S$50 and starting to look pretty good. The fact that the reviews on the internet were so good tipped the scales for us and we did decided to do the tour.

OMG so glad we did, it was amazing. Tony, our guide, was as reported, fantastic. He knows and shared vast information about Singapore, covering every and all subjects. The tour started at 6.40pm with a talk at the hostel and then we went out into the street. Tony took us up 17 storeys to see the view from a public housing block. The information just flowed, he was very knowledgeable. Then we walked a short distance to a food court and the food started, and I mean food, food, food, food. It was incredible, there was 16 in our group and every body ate amply of lots of assorted things that I cannot even remember the names of. But that was not the end as we were informed, eat up we need to move to the next restaurant. I wish he had advised this before I ate my fill here. A short walk with a stop at a fruit stall we were sat inside another restaurant and again more food came, and then more and more. It was fabulous. The assortment of food and different taste sensations was just too hard too describe. I was past thinking whether we got our S$30 worth or not. With the food and the information the tour was easily worth the S$80 the other had paid. By the time the food intake was completely exhausted it was close to 11pm but this was not yet the end of the tour. We walked the streets for another 2 hours while Tony explained to us all aspects of Singapore, and being a Singaporean. Every subject was covered, house, sex, drugs and even corporal and capital punishment. He was happy to answer any question the group asked. We were back at the hostel about 1.30am, totally exhausted, full to the brim still from all the food and so happy we had decided to pay the money and join the tour.
I would highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Singapore and even at S$80 you definitely get your moneys worth.

Tour details are on Betel Box Hostel website www.betelbox.com


Posted by Cindy Bruin 23:09 Archived in Singapore Comments (1)


Bangers to Singers and we are off and running, Raffles, River walk & Chinatown.


Singapore is an hour later than Bangkok, so we gained an hour. The flight was only 2 1/2 hours, which made it just before midnight when we landed. The flight departed about 20 minutes later than schedule time. Captain advised ground temp in Singapore even at this late hour of the night was 31 and balmy.

We walked for miles through Changi airport to clear immigration and collect our luggage. I was chosen for random luggage check and I prayed that they did not want me to open our large suitcase that we had plastic wrapped. Luckily the random check just involved another scan through the extra machine, where the only problem was me trying to lift the 27kg bag onto the belt to go through while smiling at impatient randoms lined up behind me. All clear, I exited and met up with Lyn & Robyn. In the mean time Lyn had gone to price who much it would cost to store our extra large bag at the airport rather than drag it to the hostel and back. But at S$10 per day we decided we could drag it. It would only have to be moved once, getting it there and then getting it back to the airport. The remainder of the time would be spent under the hostel pool table where luggage is stored.

At this time of night the only option we have is to get a taxi and quite frankly it was the only option we wanted. Bags loaded it was only about a 25 minute ride to the hostel. Taxi fare was not too bad, certainly not Thailand prices, but still relatively cheaper than in Australia. Actual fare was only just over S$10, but there is a 50% surcharge for all fares after midnight and then an airport fee also which bought the amount we paid up to an even S$20.

Betel Box Hostel is the place we always stay when in Singapore, we now know the location and am comfortable staying here. We usually book the private room, but this was already booked out so we had booked 3 beds in an 8 bed all-female dorm. Not the most ideal of accommodation, but Singapore is so expensive and at S$25 each per night this is the cheapest option I could find for us. Still with this costing us S$75 per night for 3 I could not find a comparative room in any other hotel for a similar price.

We didn't go to bed straight away, sitting having a coffee first, so it was well after 1am before we had showered and crawled into our bunk beds. One thing in our favour is that we are the only ones in the dorm tonight which meant we were able to nab bottom beds in the bunks.


Understandably, we slept in this morning. The bed and air con room was comfortable enough and we all slept like logs after last nights flight.

Breakfast of toast with coffee or tea is free at the hostel and served until 11am so we were just in time for that by the time we all got out of bed. Just looking outside you can see it looks hot and humid so we were not in a hurry to move, lingering at breakfast and hanging out in the hostel.

We did eventually venture outside and confirmed the heat as soon as we stepped out of the air con hostel. The 7/11 store a few doors up sold us a transport card each. Ez-link card works as a swipe on, swipe off card on buses and trains etc. Much easier and cheaper than having to have correct change for bus drivers, especially when we have no idea about prices or any clue exactly where we are going. The card cost us S$10 each, which gave us S$5 for fares and S$5 you paid for the card which is good for 10 years, so we will be able to use it again during future visits to Singapore.

Remembering from last time the bus stop we needed to walk to was just around the corner we strolled in that direction and basically got on the next bus after a little instruction from and local person at the bus stop. Not really having any plan of where to go exactly we aligned the bus about 15 minutes later and walked a short distance to the famous Raffles Hotel to have a snoop around. A few years ago Lyn and I went to the overpriced high tea here and were bitterly disappointed. Besides the fact it had cost us almost $100 for the two of us we had actually gone to the trouble of bringing dresses and proper shoes and dressed up for the occasion. We should not have bothered as most people were in shorts and thongs and it was a buffet style where we had to help ourselves - not served at the table. So we are not going to do that again. And to pay S$20 to have a famous Singapore Sling cocktail after all our $2 cocktails of the last month just was not going to happen either. So we had a walk around, were shoo'd away from the front door and left.

We walked towards the river, yep it's hot here. The buildings here in Singapore are amazing. The old ones that have been kept and restored and the new amazing sky scrapers that have been built are works of art. I like how a lot of the huge brand hotels that have built multi multi storey hotels still go to the effort of not just putting up a large box, but have created pleasing designed building incorporating lots of outside gardens. Many that can been seen from outside, soaring at great heights. As far as a sky scraper city goes, Singapore has kept it interesting and pleasing to see all these tall structures reaching for the sky.

Special mention goes to the Marina Sands hotel - same owner as Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. It is truly amazing and can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. 3 x 55 storey towers that are topped off with what resembles a giant boat that houses a pool, restaurant, bar and observation deck. I googled it find out more and discovered it costs S$23 to go up to the deck, so can only imagine what a drink or a meal would set you back. The cheapest room advertised was S$379 which I did not think was too bad - especially for Singapore, but it was the cheapest room. Google also advised it was the most expensive hotel in the world to build at US$5.7billion. wow!!

Making it to the river front, we were greeted by a much welcome ice cream man who sold us slabs of ice cream served in a pink and green slice of bread for S$1. He was crowded with school kids so it must be good, good enough for us to try at least. And yes it was very good, and a welcomed coolness in our mouth in this heat.

Continued walking around river front opposite the old shop houses which are now converted into expensive seafood restaurants. Views are great, but crab at S$6 per 100gram including shell is way over our price range. So was the beer at S$6 each. Looks like this little stopover is going to be a sobering one as we cannot afford the expensive alcohol in this country. Probably a good thing after our last month or so of cocktails in Cambodia and Thailand.



Behind the river front we walked to Chinatown which had changed so much since our last visit that I did not recognise any part of it at all. Gone was the real Chinatown, now replaced by a 'what the tourist expect Chinatown'. Shame! but that's seems to be progress here in Singapore. The growth is amazing, and this is not a cheap country to live or holiday so there is a lot of money here.
We did find a nice enough place to stop for lunch, more because we were tired of looking any further and we were hungry. It ended up being a Penang (Malaysian) restaurant, which was fine as of course Malaysians are one of the 3 majorities here in Singapore, the other 2 being Chinese and Indian. (Interesting fact: Singapore's population is just over 3 million of which 42% are expats living here as PR = permanent residents.)

It was now time to head back to the hostel as it was after 4pm and we are joining the Food Walk leaving from the hostel at 6.30pm. A walk along the main road until we found a bus stop that was showing the bus we wanted to get back home. It was a short wait and luckily we managed to get seats for the journey back as it was now peak time.

Arrival back at hostel was in plenty of time to join the tour.


Posted by Cindy Bruin 22:58 Archived in Singapore Comments (1)


Quick stop in Bangers before we start to head home, goodbye to Dolly.

MONDAY 24TH MARCH 2014 (DAY 205)

Another early start, we were at breakfast by 8am. Just had it at POP's for convenience. Songtaew arrived at 9.30 to take us to the bus station for our 10 am bus. 20baht = 70c each.
Today's journey, about 290 km to Bangkok is supposed to take 5 1/2 hours. Ticket cost 265 baht =$9 each, not a bad deal I guess. The sights along the road in Thailand are not as interesting as the ones in Cambodia so I spent most of the time trying to catch up on lost sleep with little to no success. The trip was slow and boring, with a stop for lunch at an overpriced unexciting toilet stop.
The bus's arrival time was an hour past the scheduled time when we finally pulled into the eastern bus station. Not to worry we were not on a time schedule and now just needed to find a taxi to take us to our hotel, New Siam 2. Taxi sharks met us as we got out of the bus and I gave them a card for the hotel so they knew where to take us. Driver looked at me and said yes ok 150 baht = $5.20 for each person in the taxi. What the??? since when do you pay per person in a taxi?? I laughed at him and said no way we use the metre. He said no metre, so I said good bye. Ladies we will get a taxi on the street.

This was easier said than done, we flagged down about 6 taxi's and while some quoted 500 baht = $17.50, most just said a flat out no or drove off when I said I wanted to use the metre. No idea why no one wanted to take us to our chosen destination. We think perhaps it is because they would have to drive close to where the protesters are camped, but I would think everyone is used to them by now as they have been there so long. Eventually we got a taxi to stop and after reading our hotel card quoted a price of 200 baht = $7, but still did not want to use the metre. This was the best and really only offer we'd had so we loaded our luggage into the boot and climbed inside.

Traffic was heavy, but this is normal for Bangkok at any time of day or night. Two blocks after we drove off the driver put on the metre and just before we reached our hotel he quickly turned it off as it only read 90 baht = $3.15 and our end fare would be way below the 200 baht we had agreed to pay. Taxi drivers here are a rip off, not if you get one to use the metre but this is near impossible. We have not had any luck in recent visits finding a taxi driver that will give you a metered ride, all want to agree on a fixed price. The drivers know what the price should be for any distance that is why they don't want to use the metre, instead they quote double or triple or whatever they think you are stupid enough to pay. As a rule the price they quote will be at least double what the metre would read. I know taxi fares are much cheaper here than at home, but to be so blatantly ripped off all the time is not fair, and hopefully this will soon come to a head when or if tourists start complaining about the system. Or just refusing to go unless metre is used, hard to do I know if you want to travel around Bangkok.

Anyway we were delivered to the hotel and they of course had rooms for us for the next two nights.

We emptied our bags of all clothes to be taken to the washing lady. A good machine wash will be so nice.

Because we are creatures of habit, after dropping off our washing at mama-son the washing lady we always use, we walked directly to our kerbside bar for cocktails. The waiters greeted us with big smiles and the bar man looked at me and said hello pina colada!!

We ended up having two drinks before finding an alley way restaurant to have some dinner at.


Up earlish for a 9am breakfast, we went to the usual place that we go when in Bangkok, now fondly known as 'the office' due to the fact I spend a lot of time there using their free internet. And the breakfast is ok too.

We returned to our hotel for a shower after collecting our clothes from the washing lady and were able to put on clean machine washed clothes. What a luxury!! About to venture out again when we heard outside a huge downpour of rain. We waited out the precipitation for about an hour and discovered outside to be again hot and muggy, but at least the rain had settled a bit of the dust and street grot.

Wandering over to Khao San Road, we browsed the market stalls looking for unneeded things to spend our last bahts on. Lunch was at a pad thai kart set up right outside of McDonalds and at 50 baht = $1.75 for chicken pad thai a much better option than the same soggy burgers that were being served inside Ronalds house. Although I must admit we end go inside to enjoy the air con while finishing our meal with a 9 baht = 30c (15 baht = 50c for choc top) Macca's cone.

The problem with sitting in air con is that you really feel the heat again when you step outside into the humid street. But we did not want to be inside the whole day so we braved it. Our next objective was to find a place where we could all get a pedicure. We found several different salons or massage places and they all charged the same price of 200 baht = $7, so we just went for the one with the most comfortable looking chairs. Yes the chairs were good, but the staff were the most stoney faced Thai girls we have every seen. Not that I would be very happy to be tending to well travelled old western feet either, but they were being paid for a service which I guess did not come with a smile. Smile or no smile the pedicure was very satisfactory so that was the main thing.

We walked back to our hotel to drop off a few purchases that had been made and then headed out again as we had decided to go have a look at the market at Patpong Road. Again I was forced to do the task of finding a reasonable price for our transport there. These other ladies don't know how to haggle or speak (or use it as a way of getting me to do it every time) and after a few laughable quotes I found an air con taxi to take us for 150 baht = $5.50. Of course none of them wanted to use the meter as they know the fare would only be half this amount.

After a 20 minute drive through the Bangkok traffic we were being let off at the Patpong Market. During our journey we teed up the taxi driver to take us to the airport tomorrow at a reasonable price and fingers crossed he shows up.

We walked up and down the uncrowded rows of the markets, which were very similar to the markets in Chinatown Kuala Lumpur. Lots of knock off designer handbags, watches and surfwear. I was surprised at the lack of people, there seemed to be no one there and the stall owners were pushy, rude and prices were just flat out ridiculous. We bought very little, and could not find anywhere we liked the look of to eat so jumped in another taxi to take us back to our regular stomping ground. As luck would have it we managed to find a taxi that was happy to use the meter and proved my theory correct when the fare to our destination was only 75 baht.

We had our last Thai dinner in one of our regular road side eating establishments. I had crispy pork on rice with a mango shake, not going to get much more Thai than that. Didn't realise it at the time but it was about 10.30pm by the time we were having dinner. No wonder there was not much food left there. One of the waiters was having a birthday and there was an ice cream cake that was shared around with us also. Nice little dessert to end our meal.

We returned to our hotel for our last night in Bangkok.



9am breakfast at the office was a quiet one. This was our last breakfast together as a quartet and no one was talking much. I think we were all in our own little world, thinking about what we still needed to do before we fly out this evening.

Back to the hotel to sort out our final packing after Lyn and Robyn had been to retrieve our stored suitcase. We have to re pack everything and see if we have enough checked luggage allocation or if we need to send another box home by post.

Soon it was 11am and time for Dolly to leave us. She is going to be spending a few days in Bangkok with her friends who have come down from Chiang Mai before returning to CM and then to the hills to do some volunteer work with the hill tribe people. She will be there until the beginning of June. It was an almost tearful goodbye but we were happy to see her go. Hahahaha just kidding Doll, who are we going to have a laugh at (oops I mean with) now?? You'll be missed Dolly and everytime I see cucumber (or someone having a slash on the beach) I will think fondly of you, as we all will I'm sure. lol

Ok time to get back to the packing. Lyn and I worked out we should be able to take everything back with us with the luggage allowance we have, so it was all loaded into the old black suitcase, zipped up and held together with a wing and a prayer. As soon as we arrived at the airport we had the bag plastic wrapped so at least it would stay together during transit. We packed the clothing and misc things we will need for the next week in our back packs and were relieved when checking them in that we still have 2.5 kg's to spare (just in case we buy something in Singapore??) Lucky they did not weigh our carry on cause I think we may have exceeded the 7kg limit as we are carrying some crockery that we purchased back in Morocco which is just a little weighty.

After sorting the luggage out we went out again to all get hair cuts. At 150 baht = $5.50. It was a bargain, although I paid an extra 50 baht = $3.50 to include a shampoo as well. We came out beautiful, not a bad hair cut at all. We returned to the office for some lunch, then back to the hotel for showers.

Having booked the taxi last night for 4pm we headed down to the hotel foyer to check out. We had to pay a 1/2 day room rate for the late checkout but at least we were able to have showers before departing. True to form the taxi did not show. I was just about to start looking for another taxi to negotiate with, but to his credit he did phone the resident cabbie outside our hotel to take us for the same price we bargained for yesterday.

Traffic was heavy as usual getting out of the city and I'm glad we left early enough to allow plenty of travel time without causing any stress about being late for the flight. At the airport we plastic wrapped the big suitcase for 150 baht = $5.50 and Robyn wrapped hers also for some protection and we checked in. No stress.

Smooth sailing through immigration and customs, except the took our water bottles after bags went through the xray machine. We even had enough time to sit and eat the chicken and salad rolls we'd had the hindsight to buy at lunch time today.

Next it was 7.05pm and time to head to the gate which of course was about three miles away from where we were sitting. No problem we still make it to the gate before boarding had started. Looks like we are the only westerns on the flight. Mostly Singaporeans returning home I guess.

We are travelling on Scoot so no food (good thing we just ate) and no entertainment - maybe might catch a few winks.


Posted by Cindy Bruin 22:26 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)


We are enjoying every moment as we can now see an end to the bliss. Last days at the beach, then we cross over back into Thailand.

FRIDAY 21ST MARCH 2014 (DAY 202)

Breakfast again was taken at our hotel. It's not very exciting, but it's cheap and it's close by and today we seemed to be very lazy first up. Breakfast lingered on well into the morning. The day was a little overcast but still warm, however it was still after 12 before we ventured across the dirt track to the beach for a swim.

As usual the water was lovely and warm, at the same time being refreshing and cooling. We were not alone in the water today as floating all around us were thousands of little jelly fish type creatures. Only small the size of an ice cube and actually once you held one out of the water in your hand it looked like a little thin wormish creature trapped in a jelly ice cube (see photo). Not sure if these little things bite or sting we did not stay in the water very long - it was a little creepy swimming with them too. When I showed a little Cambodian girl on the beach one of these little animals she said to say away from them as they bite and make you itch, lucky we did not seem to have been biten during our swim amongst them.

Lazying on the sun beds belonging to a resort, that we were just using until we were told to move on or purchase a very expensive bottle of water to stay, the beach hawkers pounced on us. These sometimes annoying women and young girls make offers of massage, pedicure and threading. (For the uninitiated: threading is where they remove the hairs from your legs, thighs, underarms, bikini line - anywhere really - with a cotton threat that is twisted snapping off the hairs at skin level). Lucky for this bunch of vultures - I mean hawkers - as my 3 lady friends did want some de-hairing. A price was agreed on and the hair snapping off begun, I opted to keep all my hair, although perhaps I was due for a little of a less hirsute look, but the whole process does not appeal to me. I just happy to keep my hairy bits as they were and I was happy I was not down wind from all the hairs being snapped off and flying into the air belonging to my companions. I just lay on the sun bed enjoying the clouded over sun shine and listening to the thunder that was rolling in. Did I say thunder?? Yes thunder - maybe rain was coming.

When the de-hairing was complete, Lyn suggested we go for a ride to the next beach down Otres 2 to find some lunch and have a look around. It was only a 10 minute ride up the road to #2 and we did a drive by past the newly built resorts looking for a place to stop and eat. Our decision was hurried along by the fact it was starting to rain and quite heavily and we needed to find shelter. Just as a place was found, and we were just a little damped by the shower we ran through, the heavens opened up and it absolutely bucketed down. Of course with this heavy rain the power went off which made our lunch selection an easy one - baguettes with chicken and salad it was as this did not require any cooking.

The rain pelted down for a good 45 minutes and we sat eating, hoping it would ease. Although we were not far from home, it would be impossible to ride back in the heavy rain. Eventually about an hour later it did ease off quite a lot and we managed to get on the bike and ride it back to the hotel. However it was still raining a little so we were all drenched by the time we arrived at our rooms. Hot showers were welcomed, and we had a good laugh about our rainy experience. This is the first rain we have in weeks. I think the last time it rained was back around xmas in El Nido, so we have had a pretty good run of it.

By 5.30pm although everything outside was still soggy and the dirt road now muddy the sky was clear and the threat of rain total over and gone. We headed out up the beach just before 6pm to watch the sunset and locate some happy hour cocktails. Managed to find success on both counts. Sunset was beautiful and we returned to the Bamboo Shack (first place we'd eaten at when we arrived at Otres) where we discovered the cocktails of the trip! It was called Special Bamboo Shack and consisted of coconut shake (this was the place that boasted the best in Cambodia and we agreed) a shot of dark rum and a shot of Baileys. Yes it was good, one of the most expensive we have paid for at US$3 (usually US$3.50 but discounted 50c for happy hour). It was so good we had to have 2.

Dinner here was good also, Lyn and I had the prawn amok (same as I had for lunch here last time). Again one of the best amoks of the trip, Robyn had fish amok and Dolly had spag bol. By the end of it we were all completely stuffed, full to the brim. Good value though, 8 cocktails (2 each) and a great meal for a total of US$41.50 - amazing.

Waddling back along the beach to our hotel, the water was still very warm. I looked up into the sky which was full of bright stars, which meant the sky is clear and tomorrow will be another lovely sunny day.


As we still had some bread and cheese left over from we used the sandwich toaster for breakfast. This looks like the last time this will be on any use as it has been broken in my pack and I really am not going to carry it any further.

Last day for the motor bike hire so we rode into Sihanoukville bus station to price a ticket to Koh Kong where we can cross the border into Thailand. I had also priced a ticket from near our guesthouse so we could compare. Bus ticket only was US$8 each and tuk tuk to get us there was US$10, and to buy a transfer/bus ticket combo was US$10 - saving US$2!!!

Our ride continued out past the port and through an rustic fishing village which smelt like, you guessed it fish. We stopped at a pristine white beach where we were the only occupants. The water crystal clear, calm and warm, we all went in for one of our last swims.

After the swim we turned back and returned to Independence Beach to have lunch at the same restaurant we had loved the other day. Lyn and I went for a swim before the food was served and the sea had a bit of wave action happening here. Actually a lot of wave action, with big enough waves to body surf if you had the ability - we clearly didn't. Rough enough that Lyn got dumped a beauty on the way out. Funny how the other beach was flat as a pancake, yet here the surf was up.

Our food was served and it was as good as the other day. It started to rain during our meal, not a down pour like yesterday, but enough for everyone to come scrambling up from the beach to take shelter. The rain did not last very long and after we'd finished eating it was dry to ride again. It was time to get the hire bikes back so we returned to Otres Beach and the Bamboo Shack for their delicious coconut shake. Yes by far the best in Cambodia just like they boast on the blackboard.

Our passports returned we walked back down to our end of the beach. Around sunset Dolly, Lyn and I walked across to the beach to have a last massage. We only paid US$5 so did not get a full hour but it was enough, and what a magnificent location.

We managed to work out our money so none of us had to draw out any more US dollars from the atm. Putting aside what was owed at the guesthouse, we had enough for dinner. Again after a big lunch we just had a cheap local meal at a tin shed on the track. We had passed this place dozens of times in the last few days and it was always full. Now see why, the food was ok and it was very cheap.

Our last night in Cambodia.

SUNDAY 23RD MARCH 2014 (DAY 204)

Up early this morning, Lyn was bashing on the door at 7am. We are crossing the border today, leaving Cambodia for Thailand. Quick breakfast of baguette and bacon from the hotel before our transfer pick up at 8am. A quick pack of my backpack involved just everything being stuffed in. As soon as we get to Bangkok everything is going to the washing lady. After almost a month of hand washing clothes nothing is really clean - all needs a good machine wash. I had a little more room in mine as I am leaving the broken sandwich toaster behind. Sad to see it go, but really it was not a practical thing to be carrying anyway.

Our pick up was in a car, not tuk tuk as expected, so it was nice comfy drive to Sihanoukville town to the bus stop. The driver spoke very good english as was a very cheerful and chatty young man.
Only had to wait about 10 minutes before our multi coloured air con coach arrived. After stowing our luggage we took our seats and the bus departed dead on time at 8.45am. However, it only drove the 3 minutes to the bus station and stopped. No idea how long it was going to linger here, but happy when the engine started up again at 9am and we were on our way.

Last glimpses of Cambodia as we headed west towards the border. A quick 15 minute toilet stop at about 10.30 where we tried some sweet potato chips. I had seen the young girls out the back near the kitchen slicing the potatoes and presumed they were to be made into chips. Cheap enough at 3000 riel = 75c for a packet, but thinking they were sprinkled with salt had a taste bud surprise when they were actually sprinkled with sugar. Bit of a weird thing, expecting a savoury taste and getting a sweet one.

A few hours driving through the countryside, the road was pretty bad in places. It was obvious there was work being done as we drove on rough dirt stretches of about 100 metres and then back on tarmac. The road used to be there cause we saw it piled up along side our track.

Early afternoon and a 5 minute stop at Koh Kong town where we were told to stay on the bus if we wanted to go to the border. Only anther 10 minutes and we were there. Sharks, sharks, sharks everywhere. They boarded the bus and immediately started the hassle to show us to the border, to the immigration office and to Thailand, all of which were blatantly obvious just 50 meters in front of where the bus stopped. I had read about these sharks and were not having a bar of them, we were quite capable of finding our own way to Thailand and as there were hardly an people crossing here the line was short, except the locals who seem to think they don't need to line up behind us and just push in at the counter window. Well only one got away with that, they may not understand English but the understand sign language get to the end of the line and an angry face.

The sharks also tried to sell us minivan tickets to Trat for 250 baht = $8.80 each but I thought it must be just as easy to buy them over the border once in Thailand.

Stamped out of Cambodia, we walked the 100 metres through no mans land and I gave our last 600 riel = 15c to a busker who only had one leg.

It was about 2.30pm when we entered into Thailand, which was as painless as usual. Just fill out a form and we are given a 15 day visa.

Minivans were lined up and the price to get to Trat was only 120 baht = $4 less than half of what the sharks were asking. We just had to wait about 20 minutes for it to fill up and we were on our way. Trat is only 100km about an hours drive, we had a driver with a death wish for all of us, very bad.
Conveniently dropped at the bus station, I straight away purchased our coach tickets to go to Bangkok tomorrow. We wanted to break up the trip, that's the only reason we are staying the night in Trat, had a day up our sleeve so decided to do it.

Songtaew driver tried to rip us off to get to the centre, but I told him 20 baht = 70c each and then he did not want to start driving until we had paid him the 80 baht. You never pay taxi's upfront, never. We remained seated in his vehicle and told him to start driving, finally he relented. Crabby old bastard. He took us to POP guesthouse where we paid 600 baht = $21 for air con, hot water, flat screen tv, fridge and two double beds x 2.

It was about 4 by now so we ate at POP's and it was not the most exciting meal. Not a good entrance meal back into Thailand, it had me missing Cambodian amok already.

A bit of a relax and we went out again at 6.30 for a walk to the night market. It was a bit of a non event also, but had a nice noodle soup for dinner for only 30 baht = $1.05 each.

On the walk home, Lyn saw a hat she could just not live without for just 110 baht = $4.
How the hell she is going to get it home we have no idea, will have to wear it on the plane as it is massive (see photo).

Watched a few movies on tv back in our room.


Posted by Cindy Bruin 21:41 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)


A quick overnight in Kampot on the way to Sihnoukville for some beach time.


We rode the hire bikes down to the waterfront for another delish breaky at the Crab Kitchen. I think half the staff were still sleeping in bed (they live on the premises) when we rocked up at 9am.

Bellies full we rode back to the hotel where the bikes were collected around 10.30. We checked out of hotel and they phoned us a tuk tuk at 11.30am to take us to the bus station. The bus was on time arriving at 12 noon. Luggage stored underneath we were on our way by 5 past.

Kep to Kampot is only 25km and the bus took just under 30 minutes to travel the distance. This must be the shortest leg we have traveled in our journeys so far. But we wanted to do just one overnight in Kampot to have a quick look around before we head back to the beach.

It was immediately noticeably hotter in Kampot than it was in Kep. As soon as we were off the air con bus we felt instantly exhausted and we had done nil. Tuk tuk drivers were there to hassle us and one lucky guy was chosen to take us to a hotel of his choice. The first one we were taken to was too expensive and he was quick to drive us around the corner to a more reasonable place. Rooms here were US$15 for fan, US$17 for air con. As it was hot and humid here we splurged out and paid the extra 2 bucks per room to have the air con. Wow extravagant are we not? Unfortunately for us the only hotel in town with a pool was actually outside the town and as we were only here for one night we did not want to have to travel into the centre.

There was a small supermarket type shop in the lobby of the hotel that was selling cold drinks so we bought a few and sat in the door way trying to cool off. It was too hot to go out exploring at this time of day so after our few cold bevvies we can in our rooms in the air con for a little watching TV.

Just after 4pm we braved the outside, Lyn, Robyn and I hiring bikes from the hotel for US$1 and doing a quick lap of the town. Not a great deal to see, we rode up along the river to the new bridge, crossed it then rode back along the other side, returning over the old bridge. Continuing along the river, stopped for a quick shop, continued riding until we came across a supermarket where we stopped again this time for an ice cream break. Hard going this push bike caper!! So now it was getting a little dark so time to return to the hotel and think about going to dinner.

Some one at some time had advised us to go to a rib joint if we made it to Kampot. I had looked it up on the internet and it looked too good to be true. Amazing reviews and the pictures were enough to entice us into having ribs for dinner. Dolly had gone earlier in the day and booked us a table, good thing as the place was crowded. It was 7pm and a lot cooler than the day, with a nice breeze blowing into the restaurant.

Unfortunately, the over bragged about ribs were somewhat a disappointment. Plenty of meat, but again we should not compare western meals to what we would expect to get at home. All that said it was an ok meal and at a cost of US$4 each we could hardly complain. Dessert seemed like a good idea afterwards and we walked a short distance up the street to find a place that had some kind of apple tart/cake thing served with purple ice cream for US$2 which hit the spot.

Again, bellies full we returned to our rooms to watch a bit of TV in the air con which really did not work up to standard but was better than the outside temp.


After walking around the block to find a place for breakfast we finally settled on a place up the next corner from our hotel. Different kind of shakes on offer here and I had a bacon and cheese toasty which looked like a baguette with bacon and cheese than had either been forced into a sandwich toaster flattening it or laid out on the hot bitumen and run over by a steam roller. Either way, the taste was good so that's the main thing.

Today we head further along the coast. Not much to see here in Kampot and it's so hot so we want to move on and get near the sea and cooler weather. After pricing the minivan from Kampot to Sihanoukville we discovered it was going to cost us US$5 each and then about US$10 to get out to Otres Beach where we want to stay. Sihanoukville is 100km away, travel time of about 2 hours. Our other option was to hire a private taxi which would cost us US$35 door to door, picking us up from our hotel door in Kampot and delivering us direct to Otres beach. For just a couple of extra dollars this was the winning option for us.

A battered old Camry and an Englishless driver collected us outside our hotel at 11am and after an exciting drive (all drives in Cambodia are exciting) we were deposited outside an Otres Beach side restaurant just 15 minutes after 12 noon. The driver was pretty good, spent most of the time with his hand on the car horn warning everybody and roadside animal that we were approaching from behind and were going to overtake them no matter what was coming in the opposite direction. I was in the front seat and funny how this kind of driving no longer scares me. Think I have survived too many of these erratic driving experiences to know any better now.

As soon as we aligned from the car the beach sharks started attacking us. Come inside here, you want bungalow, drink, food. Once seated and drinks to cool off ordered, the lady beach sharks started their attack - you want massage, manicure, threading?? What's your name?? You remember me lady to do you. Arg... all we wanted was a little peace to have our drinks, but it's hard not to be rude to these women. I know they are just trying to make a living but sometimes you don't want them in your face as soon as you hit the beach. I'm not sure which is the most rude reaction to ignore them or tell them to fuck off, both are ineffective as they smile and say you remember me I come back later.

After what might have been the best coconut shake of the trip Dolly and I set off to look at a couple of bungalows. We viewed a couple and all seem to be offering the same facilities: bed, toilet, shower and fan, at an assortment of prices ranging from US$15 to US$35. Wow prices sure have skyrocketed here in 5 years, but it's also obvious the whole area has progressed and there are now lots more bungalow accommodations available. We picked a place that seemed to us to be the best of what we had viewed and returned to the others to report back. A quick check on the internet and our chosen hotel had many reviews relating to rats that share the room with you. Yes rats as in the rodent variety, now these fellows are not only revolting, but the little bastards don't pay their way either. So we scratched that place and decided to have lunch and then have another look around.

Out again this time on motor bike we had hired for the next 3 days we were able to venture a little further down the beach and again found a reasonable place. The price was a little more at US$20 per room but it claims to be air-conditioned. We will see how good that is after the first night. Also this new place was down the end of the beach and away from the main cluster of bars and restaurants which may be a little too noisy for us old chooks.

It only took 2 trips on the bikes to ferry our luggage and passengers to our home for the next few days and again we were settled in within minutes.

The beach is just across the dirt track, about 1 minute walk and we are in the sea. A 4pm swim in the warmest waters we have had so far and we sat watching the sun trying to set passing through the fast moving clouds. Here also we do not see the sun sink into the ocean, as it disappears before it hits the water. But there is a nice breeze and we return to our room for a hot shower (some other places only offered cold showers) and the room does seem cooler so the air con must be doing a little something.

As we'd had a late lunch, we also had a late dinner and it was after 8pm when we ventured out to find a place to eat. All the beach restaurants looked pretty quiet and we ended up eating at the place that had the rats at their accommodation. The rooms and the kitchen were far enough apart for us to feel save they would not be serving up something that may have slipped into the pot.

I had a mystery dish called bon bon chicken with sesame souse - a mystery because when I ordered it as the waiter did not have enough English to tell me what it was exactly it was a mystery. Yes there was chicken loaded up on a bed of sliced cucumber with a sweet sticky sauce on top. Taste was more than satisfactory. Robyn's fish amok was a bit of a let down, this dish which is a typical Khmer dish has been served up to us in numerous different ways. Sort of same, same but different. Lyn's vegie curry was good and spicy and Dolly's mushroom soup (she has a bit of a tummy today) was full of mushrooms. We had a quiet one today - not a cocktail in sight!!


Breakfast at the hotel them morning, we had baguette with bacon. A little shy on the bacon but the baguette was pretty good as half was had with vegemite. Mango shake was ok too.

Off we set on our hire bikes. I seem to be coping very well being a driver this time round as Lyn doubles Robyn and I double with Dolly on the back. I must admit I still prefer to be a pillion to driver but as the other 2 ladies don't ride at all I had to brave it. It's been a couple of times now and all seems to be going well, we have not fallen off or had any near misses with traffic so all good. Having a motor bike sure gives you the freedom of going where ever we want without having to pay for a taxi or tuk tuk.

This morning we headed along the coast to check out some of the other beaches. Seems the accommodation that we stayed in last time was now gone. There is a lot of construction going on in this area, mostly of expensive looking hotels as the cheaper guesthouses get demolished. Our first stop was at Ochheuteal Beach were we stopped and had a swim. We all agreed that the water did not seem to be as nice here as it was at our Otres Beach. It was still pretty clear, but there was a lot more sea trash (weed) in the water and also a bit of human trash (rubbish) floating around also. However, it was good enough to cool us off as it was already a hot day.

Rode on towards Sokha Beach which does have a very small public area but most of the beach seems to be claimed by a huge resort that is right on the beach. We rode on.
Next stop was at the beautiful Independence Beach - a cold drink and a swim were needed. Here the water was absolutely amazing, crystal clear and warm as a bath. We had an enjoyable swim and a cool drink, and a lounge in their comfy papa-son chairs. I even had a quick 40 winks.

Time to continue on we were looking for a fishing village that Lyn & I rode to last time we were here on a bike. Passing Victory Beach at Victory Hill and it's many casinos, led us to Sihanoukville Port.
Here the fork in the road offered a choice of heading to Phnom Penh or back into Sihanoukville town or back the way we came. Must have missed the turn off, so we headed back the way we came and back to Independence Beach for lunch.

After we had ordered and received our food we were very glad of this decision as the food was fabulous. Not exactly Cambodian - but after seeing mashed potatoes on the menu and on a meal that was being delivered past us we all licked our lips at the thought of them. I ordered schnitzel with mash and salad, Lyn meatballs and mash, Robyn cordon bleu with mash, and Dolly ordered just a plate of mashed potatoes with gravy - much to the amusement of the waiter. All our meals tasted delicious and we were chock a block after eating and needed time to let in settle in our stomachs. A little rest and then it was time for a swim and a lie in the sun before we rode back to Sihanoukville town.

Went looking for a optic shop so Dolly could get the screw on her glasses fixed. Opposite the glasses shop was a large supermarket that we had a stroll around. Found cheese, ham, tomato and sliced bread and thought after such a large meal at lunch, toasted sandwich might be nice for dinner. Yes I am still carrying around the toaster and times like this makes it worth while.

Half an hour later just after 6pm as the sun was sinking we were back at our hotel and ready for a couple of cocktails to see out the day. Unfortunately, cocktails were off as they had no ingredients - bummer. We all took showers instead as all too lazy to go looking elsewhere for happy hour.

We did finally venture out just before 7pm but not many of the bars were doing happy hour that late anymore. The best we could find was a place that gave us 50c off $3 cocktails so we took a seat and ordered. I had a Black Russian and the others tried the Pina Coladas. Both were a little disappointing and not worth the US$2.50 each we paid for them.

Only had one drink then strolled back to our hotel to make toasted sandwiches for dinner. Pulling out the toaster from my pack I discovered it had been broken, must have been when my pack was rammed into the bus at some time. Bugger, it still worked ok with a bit of coaxing, but I think this will be the toasters resting place as don't need to be carrying around half broken electrical equipment. Dinner was just fine and all that was needed as we were still digesting the huge meal we had at lunchtime.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 21:28 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)


Chillaxing on Rabbit Island - small paradise. Back in Kep exploring around on bike.


Today on Rabbit Island we did absolutely sweet F.A.

Weather was fantastic, we swam and lazed around reading all day. Caught a lot of sun yesterday so most of the day was spent in the shade.

The furtherest we ventured was to another restaurant within 100 metres for food during the day or to take a few steps to plunge into the refreshing sea for a swim to cool off. This is the life, a very lazy life but nice for a few very lazy days.

To top the day off we had a sunset massage right on the beach - bliss and what a luxury at US$7 for an hour long massage.

We had power when we returned to our bungalows after dinner, but after such an exhausting day did not last long after 9pm anyway.

SUNDAY 16TH MARCH 2014 (DAY 197)

We woke a little earlier today, after breakfast we took up position at the beach again. Wow what a habit to get into. We are leaving Rabbit Island at 1pm to need to make the most of the beautiful day we had here.

More swimming and lounging until it was time to get on the boat and wave goodbye to another paradise.

Back at the boat pier we stopped for lunch at the same place we had breakfast before going over to the island. Another good amok dish.

The transfer tuk tuk took us back to N4 guesthouse and we spent the rest of this afternoon catching up on internet and world news. Injected with a swim in the pool here at the guesthouse.

Dinnertime came round and we walked the short distance down the road to the crab market and back to The Crab Kitchen restaurant. We'd had a great meal there a few days ago and with US$2 cocktails and great food it was enough to get us back. The lady owner was happy to see us again.
Again the food was excellent - probably the most expensive restaurant we have been to in Cambodia with meals average US$7 each - but they are sooo good they are worth it. The cocktails are good too.

We caught a tuk tuk home and watched a bit of tv before bed. Tomorrow is another day we are going to explore around.


MONDAY 17TH MARCH 2014 (DAY 198)

Our hire motorbikes were delivered to the hotel at 9am as requested last night. For breakfast we headed down towards the crab market as we didn't want to get caught up in the pool and tranquil surroundings of Kep Lodge.

We rocked up to our favourite place the Crab Kitchen and although they did not actually serve breakfast the owner was happy enough to go purchase ingredients for us if we were willing to wait a few minutes. We did and it was so worth it. One of our better breakfasts of bacon and eggs and only US$3.50. The fruit shakes were good too at US$1.50.

Today we just went out exploring on the bikes, wanted to find one of the salt farms and after a bit of a tiki tour took our chance down a side dirt road and actually drove straight into one. Not much activity going on, I guess it was at the stage where they were waiting for the water to evaporate. After a bit of a walk around and a few photos we found a shed that was piled high with the white gold. Now this is salt at it's rawest state and after a quick taste, I confirmed yes it was very salty. Lyn grabbed a handful and took it away in a plastic bag, let's see if customs lets that into Australia.

We continued our ride around the back streets where the old abandon French villas were in various states of ruin or totally demolished leaving only 6 foot high very impressive stone walls and fences. We imagined this area in it's height of occupation must have just stunk of money and fois gras!! Must have been a beautiful haven for the rich. Of course they were mostly destroyed by the Khmer Rouge and the rest due to abandonment and neglect. Not quite sure who actually owns any of the remaining ruins or land - but I bet they are worth a pretty penny now. Apparently only 2 villas in the area have been totally restored and are now used as guesthouses.

Luck was on our side and we managed to locate 2 of the ruined villas that have graffiti by ROA on them. ROA is a world famous graffiti artist from Belgium who is mostly commissioned for his graffiti and it can be seen in many countries all over the world. So we found 2 of the 3 villas he has drawn on here. One a giant centipede the other a giant praying mantis.

Back to the hotel for a quick swim then we headed down to the crab market for some freshly cooked crabs for lunch. Again the little buggers are tiny but very sweet and enjoyable. Continuing around the waterfront road we were in search of 3rd ROA graffiti but never seemed to be able to locate it. We stopped and asked tuk tuk drivers but they either didn't know what we were talking about or tried to direct us to the one we had already seen. As we were close to the bus station we stopped to buy bus tickets for our trip to Kampot tomorrow.

Lyn and I wanted to go and visit the Tree Top resort as it was the place we stayed last time we were in Kep 5 years ago. At the time the resort was just about to open and we were the first guests. Wow the place had really come ahead and was now well out of our price range.

Just up the hill from our N4 hotel was the Veranda Resort. Very nice and expensive place, but our Crab Kitchen lady had suggested we go there to watch the sunset from the bar. Much to our excitement they had happy hour cocktails 2 for the price of 1. The cocktails here were a little more expensive than what we usually pay at US$4.50 but at 2 for 1 they worked out at only US$2.25 each, and they were some of the best we have had to date. The view more than made up for the extra in the cost and we sat there sipping luscious liquor while dreaming of a time when we might be rich enough to stay in a posh place like this. At least the happy hour cocktails are affordable for even us backpackers.

Having watched the sun sink and downing US$18 worth of cocktails (that's just 2 each) we start up the bikes to discover that the headlights did not work. Ah fun fun, now just to ride down a dirt track with a pillion on a bike with no lights after 2 fantastic cocktails. Needless to say we made it home with the aid of the indicator lights blinking and suppling intermittent light.

After a brief stop in our rooms, we climbed onto the blinded bikes again to head out for dinner. Lucky for us and on coming traffic the Crab Kitchen is just a short distance away and a good portion of it was lit up by street lights.

A last enjoyable meal at the Crab Kitchen. We got talking to Russian couple that were also at the same restaurant last night and although their English was limited we still managed to have a few laughs. They live in Siberia and from what we could gather the middle of Siberia - the middle of nowhere. They even bought us a round of pina coladas which was very nice.

Before taking the dark ride home again we purchased some of the famous Kampot pepper from our lovely hostess. Lots of places are selling this black stuff, so we may as well buy it here as we'd had such a nice experience dining the last few days.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 21:14 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)


Our main objective for coming to Cambodia was to visit the coast line and beach, finally we make it down there and have a great week. First stop KEP.

Hello Readers,
Again I am going to fast forward to catch up time. I have only one day in Bangkok and want to be current so I do not loose the last week and you have no idea how it all ends. This is what usually happens and I am determined for it not to happen this trip.
The following blogs have not been proof read, so please excuse and mistakes or typos or just stuff that makes no sense. Also I am not going to load many photos as this takes too much time and all photos are on my Facebook page.
Cheers, Cindy.


The last breakfast in Phnom Penh of course had to be had at our favourite Feel Good Cafe. And of course the food did not disappoint. Breakfast this last week has been pure indulgence and throughly enjoyed, I'm sure a memory we will keep of our time in Phnom Penh.

There was no rush as we had to wait at the hotel for our 12 noon pick up for our 12.30 bus to Kep. So a relaxing morning we had and come 12.15 our minivan pick up finally arrived and we were transferred to the bus station, and shuffled onto a big air conditioned bus that started to pull out as we took our seats. It was running a little late, no doubt due to our late arrival, which was due to our late pick up. Anyway we were soon on our way and fighting the heavy traffic of Phnom Penh.

Crowded streets and horrendous road work made our exit out of the city very slow indeed. At one particular road stoppage I counted 8 lanes of traffic trying to all file into 1 single lane. This coupled with the hundreds of overloaded motor bikes riders who make their own lanes, it was an hour plus before we were out of the city limits.

The roads out in the countryside were not much better. We had a short distance of nice sealed road, but most of the day was spent driving on dusty, dirt tracks where roads are being repaired, resealed or redone. Anyone who lived roadside also lived with a constant layer of dust and dirt on everything from their homes to every bit of plant life on their property. I think if a person stood in one spot for more than 10 seconds they too would be dusted in a covering of reddish brown dirt.

We stopped about half way for a lunch and toilet break. After the slim pickings of our last bus lunch stop I had the hindsight to organise something more appetising for us to eat this time. A few days ago when we visited the big supermarket I bought a couple of tins of canned fish in tomato sauce. This fish teamed with the fresh baguettes I bought this morning before our transfer pick up was a much tastier lunch than watch might have been on offer at this stop.

The distance from PP to Kep is only 165km but our journey today took almost 5 hours. Of course the one hour delay at road works did not help. Actually it was not the road works that held us up but the pig headed drivers - our bus driver included. We were driving along a particular stretch of under construction road, when suddenly the one lane of usable road that was being used for both directions of traffic came to a stand still. One lane and traffic coming in both directions did not work. Our coach was a the head of the line travelling one direction with 2 other coaches behind us and head on was a line up of about 10 minivans packed to the hilt as they are. When both lines of traffic came head on it just turned into a Mexican stand off, with neither row of drivers backing off. It got ridiculous as time dragged on no one moved, literally no one moved. There was no discussion or even any arguing of who would have to move out of the way to let the others go by. It was mental, how could a solution or clear pathway be achieved if all drivers just stared at each other as if a staring contest was going to determine a winner. Coming up to an hour of this crazy behaviour we thought we would be settling here for the night. At least the bus driver kept the motor running and the air conditioning pumping otherwise we would have all perished waiting for their stupidness to subside. Eventually the minivans gave in and some pulled off the road into a driveway while the remainder backed up just 100 meters to clear the road. Such childish behaviour, I could not help but notice our bus driver with a triumphant smirk on his stupid stubborn face. I have no idea who was at fault or who should have moved but the fact it took almost an hour for anyone to react was the dumb part. These are grown men! Had I thought any of them would have understood me I would have got out the bus and advised them of the solution earlier. I wonder how often this scenario occurs.

Just over an hour later we arrived in Kep, thankfully it was still light. Tuk Tuk touts swarmed the bus as we exited and I engaged the first one to approach me. We needed a place to stay and they are willing to assist so why not use them. Mr Pon was advised of the accommodation we required and loaded up his tuk tuk with our luggage and us and we sped up the road. We had requested a hotel with a pool and the first he took us to was N4 guesthouse which had bungalow twin rooms US$12 for fan and US$20 for air con. They looked ok, especially for the price, but the restaurant at the hotel had not staff so was not open. Mr Pon said he knew another place, which he was happy to drive us to. The other place turned out to be double the price and also did not have an operating restaurant to we went back to the original place. Of course there were no US$12 fan rooms available so we had to settle for an air con room - still cheap at US$20 per night.

After dropping our luggage at our rooms, Mr Pon drove us down to the waterfront where we just missed the sunset but did enjoy a cold beer. Not wanting to eat seafood from the overpriced restaurants there, we took a nice stroll back to the place where the bus had dropped us. I guess this was Kep centre. We had a mediocre dinner in a restaurant and then caught a tuk tuk back to our hotel.

A bit of tv and internet catch up. Tomorrow we are hoping to hire a couple of motorbikes to go exploring.

THuRSDAY 13TH MARCH 2014 (DAY 194)

After a good sleep, I went to reception to organise motor bikes for the day. As this hotel does not have a functioning restaurant we have to go elsewhere to find food. While waiting for the bikes to be delivered I jumped in the pool for a quick swim - water was lovely and warm and I dried off laying on a sun bed. Then it was time for breakfast.

We rode (Dolly on the back with me, Robyn on the back with Lyn) over to Kep Lodge to have breakfast. Lyn and I spent some time at this hotel during our last visit to Kep. We did not stay here we stayed at the place next door, but if you eat there you can use the beautiful pool. It really is a lovely setting. Breakfast was ok, a little overpriced, but that just seems the norm that food here in Kep is more than what we have been paying in other places in Cambodia. Still breakfast for just under US$6 per head is not too bad. We then took advantage of being able to use the pool - glorious.

Again we lay in the sun drying off a little before heading off on the bikes to explore a little. Just down the road past the roundabout, down to the water front and we were at the crab market.

This is where you can buy the tiny little sand crabs and the ladies pull them out of the water where they are kept alive in bamboo crab nets. You can't get much fresher than that. With the aid of a Cambodian who could speak English we managed to order a kilo of crabs for US$5 and the cost to steam them was 2000 riel = 50c. The crabs were taken from the nets over to where the cookers were. Here another woman killed the little wrigglers by stabbing them with a fork prong and then they were dropped into a big pot and put over a cement hole. A wood fire was built under the pot and about 10 minutes later we were handed the hot little cooked crabs in a plastic bag.

We were able to use one of the tables provided if we purchased a drink and a softie was only 3000 riel = 75c. These crabs may have been tiny and undersized by Australian standards, but the tasted devine. Sweet and delicious and like I said you can't get any fresher than this as just 15 minutes before we were eating them they were still alive in the ocean. Yum!!

Contented with our snack we got back on the bikes and continued along the road. Photo stop at the giant Lorelei statue and the ocean looked inviting enough for a swim and to wash off the crab juice from our messy eating. Since our last visit to Kep they have moved in pristine white sand from a beach further around the coast and I must admit it looks pretty good. Better than the brown slush that was there last time. The water was clean enough that we went in as did handful of other tourists along the beach. The sea water was luke warm in temperature, but still refreshing enough to cool us off.

Refreshed, back on the bikes we headed to the pier where the boats leave for Rabbit Island. We purchased tickets for tomorrow and paid for 2 nights accommodation on the island. This is very basic island bungalow accommodation and I think may be a bit of a shock for some members of our party. Most of this trip we have been staying in higher comfort (more expensive) places to what Lyn and I usually do and these island bungalows are more like what we are used to. But with no air con or fan or tv or power (except between 7pm and 10pm) or internet, I think some may be feel out of their comfort zone. However, this is all that is available if we want to stay on the island so we are going to have to 'rough' it for a few nights.

That organised we climb back on the bikes and continue on. We drive about 10 km out of Kep to visit a couple of pepper farms. Luckily the highway that we had come in on yesterday in the bus was not so busy with traffic and it was only 3km before we had to turn up and ride 4km along a dirt road.

Of course this area is world famous for Kampot pepper farming. We stop at an organic farm and are given a quick 10 tour and told about the 3 kinds of pepper they produce here. Black, red & white. All from the same pepper plant just processed in different ways to get the different colours and strengths. All the pepper is picked by hand when the little corns are a mixture of green and red. The two colours are separated (by hand) and the green peppercorns are boiled for 3 minutes and then are left in the sun to dry for one week, turning them black and a little shrivelled looking. The red ones are boiled for 5 minutes, then dried for 1 week - they maintain their red colour. To get the white pepper corns they boil the red pepper corns for 10 minutes and then the red is rubbed off, leaving white corns to dry for 1 week. We had intentions of purchasing some of the pepper but it seemed to be very expensive at $40 a kilo. We will have a look around in the markets to see if we can get a smaller amount.

Racing down to the water front just before 6pm to watch the sunset while enjoying a beer, we still managed to miss it. Reason being the last half hour of the sunset is lost in the clouds on the horizon. I recall the same happening last time we were on the coast of Cambodia. Never really saw the sun sink into the water back then either. Since we were down there anyway we decided to have the drink and found a nice little restaurant that was serving happy hour cocktails for US$2 - had us in straight away. This is really turning into a cocktail hour tour!!, but what the hell.

We had a drink and decided the food on the menu looked ok so we ordered food and another cocktail and thoroughly enjoyed both. I had prawns cooked in green pepper - fitting after the day we had and Lyn had the same with squid, Robyn the same with chicken. These meals were very tasty may be the most expensive we have had at US$7 each, Dolly had battered prawns at US$5.

Feeling happy we rode the bikes back up to Kep Lodge where unfortunately we missed their happy hour and also could not book any rooms there for when we come back from Rabbit Island on Sunday, as they were too expensive for us. We will try to get rooms at our current hotel N4 for when we get back.

A fairly active day was had today, but also a very enjoyable one. Weather is fantastic and looks like it is going to stay with us for the duration of our stay on the coast.


FRIDAY 14TH MARCH 2014 (DAY 195)

Our tuk tuk to take us to the boat pier was right on time at ten minutes to eight. Early morning for us, but we arranged for an early pick up so we could have some breakfast before our boat ride to Rabbit Island.

We were able to store our bags here at the hotel and just take a minimum over to the island with us. The next couple of days were going to be spent on the beach so we did not need to take much. Togs, which we wore, jammies and a dry change of clothes to change into at night to go to dinner in. And a towel/toiletries and that was about it.

Breakfast at the pier was ok and on time at 9 we were loaded into a small long tail boat and soon were zooming across the bay. It was a smooth journey as the water was as flat as glass. Boat ride took about 20 minutes, the boat pulling up straight into the beach in front of bungalows.

Home for the next 2 nights are very basic bungalows which have just a large double bed inside (nothing else) and a very basic ensuited bathroom. Cold shower and no electricity but who needs those on an beautiful tropical island. We dumped our bags, did a quick tour of the two tiny rooms of our bungalow and hit the beach.

This is where we wallowed for the remainder of the day. Moving only to cool off in the lovely warm sea only to resume our lazing positions on the very uncomfortable wooden sun beds on the beach.

Movement again for lunch time and we were pleasantly surprised at the price of food was not over the top considering we were captive customers on an island. Fish amok very tasty!

Back to the beach and we did not move again until about 5pm when it was time to find happy hour cocktails, which we did manage to find for US$2. The actual cocktails were somewhat disappointing, but the magnificent sunset and ambiance made up for the lack of cocktails skill of our bar keep.

A short walk up the beach to another restaurant for dinner and to try another cocktail, also disappointing but the food was good.

There is no electricity on the island so each accommodation has their own generator to run the one light bulb that was in our bungalows. However due to the fact that no one was eating or drinking at our place the owners decided on a early night and we had to make our way to our bungalows and inside our bungalows in the darkness. No light calls for an early night and we were all vertical in bed by 8.30pm. It's hot and humid here, hopefully the breeze will come in our window to make it a little bearable.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 21:01 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)


Hotel is comfortable and we are not yet ready to move on, another day in the capital. A pleasant bicycle ride in the countryside turned into a heart stopper as we had to dance with the traffic coming back into town.


Of course we had breakfast at Feel Good Cafe and hung around for an extra couple of hours - just lingering, chatting with owner.

There seems to be some kind of celebration day today as all the tuk tuk drivers outside our hotel are sitting in their vehicles drinking beers. Love it when one of these guys comes up to me and asks with beer in hand 'you want tuk tuk?'

Today we are going to be a little more active than usual and hire some bicycles and go for a bit of a ride around. Well 3 of us are anyway, Dolly is using the excuse that she has to go back to the Thai Embassy to collect her passport, but we all know she has no intention of ever getting on a bicycle. By the end of the day we may just applaud her wise decision.

We walk the short distance to the river front to a travel agent that hires bicycles. We passed it the other night and took mental note of the location and since we did not see any other places that had hire bikes this was the one. The bikes looked good enough and we were quoted a price of US$4 each, however since we were taking 3 bikes the price was reduced to US$3 per bike. Cheap enough for a couple of hours recreation.

While at the travel agency we priced bus tickets for tomorrows destination and they were US$4 cheaper than the price quoted by our hotel so we bought them there and then. This means we will definitely be leaving here tomorrow.

I guess starting out on a bike ride at 1pm in the afternoon is not the smartest thing to do as it was pretty hot, but really it's pretty hot here for most of the day and we'd had a nice leisurely morning.

Traffic here on the river side road was chaotic as usual, so we started our ride on the very wide cement board walk. There were not many people around so ride the bikes on this area was not a worry. We followed it along the river as far as it went and then had to ride a short way on the busy road before turning off down a street that led down to the river where there was a vehicular ferry that travelled to the other side of the river. This is where we wanted to go - to the other side of the river - away from the city and traffic. We were stopped at the gate and paid the 500 riel = 12c fare each. Small price to pay to take us and our bike across the river which took about 15 minutes to motor across to the other side. The Tonle Sap (River Sap) and the Mekong River meet here so it was quite a wide crossing.

On the other side we rode off (or more like pushed bikes off, because there was a steep hill) the ferry into a little village with a rocky, dusty road. With no idea which direction to go we just more or less rode in any direction and had nice ride on a dirt track that run parallel to the river that we could glimpse every now and then through vacant land lots. Here there was a mixture of local housing, wooding houses on high stilts, and very expensive looking mansions, with high barbed wire security fences. These houses seemed to be happily living side by side.


Riding past rice and crop fields, every second dwelling seemed to have a big white beast of the cattle variety tied up to a tree in the front yard. These were obviously animals used with cultivation but the ones we saw were being watered and fed at moment.


Yes it was pretty hot riding and we stopped a few times for water drinking breaks. Lyn spotted a sign for a hotel that offered a pool and we rode towards it hoping we would be allowed to cool off in their pool if we had lunch there. We found the hotel and the pool looked beautiful and very inviting. We ordered lunch off the menu and although the prices were a little higher than normal we were happy to pay if we could use the pool. I asked the waitress if we could use the pool and she advised we would still have to pay a US$5 fee to use the pool, even if we had an overpriced lunch. Yeah, right, not us, US$5 to use the pool was a rip off and we cancelled lunch and rode off. Sure we were hot and the pool would have been glorious but we were not about to be ripped off. Robyn thinks they heard us say we had to swim in our underwear because we did not have swimmers on (except for Lyn) so they were making us pay in the hope we would not strip off. Well their bluff worked and we just wet out singlets under a tap and hit the dusty road again.
Pedalled back to a different vehicular ferry that crossed only the Mekong side of the river and deposited us in the bit of land between the two rivers. This one was only 300 riel = 7c each and after they packed the barge to capacity with cars, tuk tuks, motor bikes, pedestrians and us it took less than 10 minutes to reach the other side. We would just have to ride across the peninsular and over the bridge and we would be back in Phnom Penh town.

Again a steep climb off the ferry and we were met by market stalls. It was after 3pm and a good time to start to look for something to eat for lunch. A little up the street I saw a women at a street stall with a charcoal bbq cooking something on a stick. After identifying the meat, making sure it was not some kind of offal we took the chance and ordered some skewers of beef? and a fresh baguette each. The stall next door was selling fresh coconuts which were kept in the fridge so we ordered 3 of those also. All this was managed without the shop keepers being able to speak or understand a word of English. There was a guy sitting next door that did help us out a bit but most of it we managed with a bit of sign language and a lot of smiling. The coconut milk was cold and soooooo refreshing - absolutely yummy and they cost 3000 riel = 75c each. The skewers were a bit touch and go - fat, gristle and a little meat but at 4000 riel =US$1 for 3 sticks and a baguette it was a pretty cheap meal.

After lunch we rode the long way to the bridge, which was only about a 2km detour. Chruony Changvar Bridge (Japanese Friendship Bridge) built from grant aid from the people of Japan as a token of friendship and cooperation between Japan and the Kingdom of Cambodia - 2005.

So this is where the bike ride got a little hectic and manic. The traffic on the bridge was full on, 4 lanes of car, bus and truck traffic and a narrow bike lane that was used by the hundreds of motor bikes going up and over the bridge. To top it off it was a slightly steep climb to the top of the bridge. I managed to ride it to the top, getting beeped at by motor bikes trying to pass which also trying to stay upright and avoid big gaps in the paved pathway. Lyn gave up half way up the incline, having trouble with her bike seat not being very compatible with her bum, and Robyn started pushing the bike from the bottom fearing a collapse halfway up and being run over or causing a pile up. But this traffic was nothing, there was worse to come.

We glided down the other side of the bridge, downhill along the walkway keeping clear of the motor bikes and as there were no pedestrians this was no problem. At the bottom of the bridge we had to join the traffic and this was where it became a little frightening. We just had to blend and weave and try not to get killed alongside the other traffic on a huge round about. It was mighty scary as we were the lowest form of vehicle in the mix which meant we received the least respect and were expected to give way to all and sundry. But, if we did not push through the traffic and go forward we would still be sitting there on the bikes trying to get somewhere. Certainly stuff to get your heart starting, but really very dangerous cause one slip and it could be the end.

Thankfully we made it back to the travel agency without any incident or accident and with relief handed back the bicycles. It was just after 5pm - so we had only been out 4 hours - plenty!!

We had an appointment for massages at 5, and were running a little late. A short walk got us there and we were told Dolly had been there but had just left to go back to the hotel. This was very odd that she did not wait around for us, especially since she left an almost full glass of beer behind.
We waited around until 6pm thinking Dolly would return, but when she did not we just went ahead with the massage. It felt deserved even after just a short ride.

The massage was heaven US$8 for an hour and we felt much better after it. Hopefully it will avoid any muscle soreness tomorrow. It had been a few months since Lyn and I had been on the bikes and today was a nice reminder of our earlier travels.

Finally met up with Dolly for dinner where we heard her abrupt disappearance had something to do with a toilet emergency - no further explanation necessary. I had a great dinner of Amok fish, the food is so much better when we go for local cuisine, instead of try hard western dishes - well I think so anyway.

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped for US$2 cocktails (as we do) to celebrate our time spent in Phnom Penh.




Posted by Cindy Bruin 20:43 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)


This is a little, big city that we enjoyed at a slow leisurely pace.


Bugger, these cheap hotel rooms, the building noise from across the street that was not supposed to start until 8am, started well before 7am and I woke with a bad headache.

Looked at the buffet breakfast on offer at our hotel for US$5 and decided it was not such a good deal. There was a cafe just next door called Feel Good Cafe that looked ok and the smell of the coffee was enough to win me. Turns our the food was amazing!!! It may have cost us the same as the buffet would have, but it was much better. And the staff were very smiley and friendly. We lingered here in the lovely atmosphere and free wifi.

Dragging ourselves away, we again walked up to the water front to see what it was like in the day time. Yes a lot of work had been done to beautify the area and it was pleasant strolling along.
We went looking for information on a bicycle tour around the outskirts of town, but at US$39 we decided it was too expensive.

Time to go back to the hotel and take advantage of the roof top pool as it was as usual a hot and muggy day. On the way back we stopped off at a dentist and Lyn stopped to get her teeth cleaned. Very cheap here, even cheaper than Thailand at US$10 for a scale and polish. I wanted to have the same but due to still having a bit of a headache that was the last thing I wanted to do today. I would go tomorrow.

The pool was lovely, water refreshing and we spent a little time up on the roof having a dip and a sun bake.
Later in the afternoon we had a walk up a couple of blocks to the central market.

Home made cocktails on the roof with the bottle of Malibu, some pineapple juice and coconut milk. Pina Colada's ala Lyn were enjoyed as we watched the sun set.

We found a much nicer place for dinner tonight that served pork loin wrapped in bacon with mash potato, not exactly Cambodian cuisine, but nice for a change.

Out and about around town and central market:


Breakfast again at Feel Good Cafe, again a great breakfast to start the day. Staff happy and welcomed us back.

Robyn is feeling sick today and has stayed in while Lyn, Dolly and I go for a walk to the nearby shopping mall for a look around. Nothing fantastic, but it killed a few hours.

Rest of the day we lazed by the pool, we are getting spoilt with hotel with pools, hard not to have now.

For lunch Lyn and I bought some little quails from a street stall that was roasting them on the road side. We bought a baguette from the bakery and found a bar to sit and eat them. Dolly braved a baguette with jam. They were happy for us to do this as long as we had a drink, so it was washed down with a cocktail.

Later in the evening we walked to the night market which ended up being a bit of a fizzer, so we stopped and had a beer while watching the street traffic go past.

Simple dinner of ham roll.

Out and about:


MONDAY 10TH MARCH 2014 (DAY 191)

Yes, again, breakfast at Feel Good Cafe, did not disappoint.


After breakfast Robyn headed off to the museum (the rest of us had visited it last time we were in Phnom Penh). Lyn and Dolly went off looking for an ATM that supposedly had no fees to withdraw from. All the atm's we have used so far charge US$5 every time you make a withdrawal and will only let us take out US$500 at a time. They did find the bank but atm was not functioning.

As for me, I went off to the dentist for that clean I was going to get the other day. 2 hours later I left the dentist office and had paid a total of US$50 for a scale and polish and 2 minor and 2 major fillings. Hadn't been to a dentist in a very long time accept for last year when I had the emergency fix up in Morocco.

We all met up again at the hotel and went for a swim to cool off. Had a baguette with ham for lunch.

Sunset cocktails on the roof, we finished off the bottle of Malibu with Lyn's Pina Coladas again.

Then a short stroll up the street to have the best foot massage ever, then a very enjoyable dinner.

We seem to be enjoying the city life and are managing to fill the days.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 10:46 Archived in Cambodia Comments (1)


We bus to the capital of Cambodia for a few days of city living. Some of the sights on the way were typical Cambodia - overloaded vans, cars and motor bikes like they can only achieve here.


We braved breakfast at the hotel again and today they got Dolly's eggs just right, so lesson learned there.

A tuk tuk to the train station cost us just US$2, which turned out being just the ticket office. Once there we were crammed into a mini bus that took us to where the big bus was. Lucky for us we were early to buy our tickets yesterday and were allocated the front row seats of the big bus which cost US$7 each. The bus departed just after the scheduled time of 9am.

We all sat comfortable enough in our front row seats, but before long the bus was filled to more than recommended capacity as Cambodians filled the aisle of the bus sitting on plastic stools, cardboard boxes, huge sacs of rice or whatever else was loaded into the bus.

When we stopped for the lunch break I could not believe the amount of people that filed off the bus. Did that many get on? Not that I saw, there seemed to be more people inside than what I had seen get on. The food on offer was not much and we ate a stale baguette with boiled egg.

Lots of interesting sights were seen while travelling in the bus today and I took a lot of photos out the bus window.

Later in the journey there was a toilet stop where the bus was washed by several broom and hose welding young chappies. Without much delay the bus arrived in Phnom Penh at approximately 4.30pm.

A tuk tuk driver / hotel tout drove us to a hotel with pool as requested but the price was a little out of our league. Just around the corner we were taken to a couple of other hotels but they were not that much cheaper and did not have a pool. Maybe we could just go back to the first one and I could see what sort of a deal I can barter. And a deal I did make - pretty good if I do say so myself, managed to get twins rooms down from US$49 to US$25 per night as long as we paid for 3 nights in advance. This was fine as we had planned on staying at least for 3 nights. There was a building across the road that was currently being built and the noise coming across was one of my arguing points to get the rooms cheaper.

It was dark by the time we went out looking for food, heading up to the riverfront and walking along in the balmy night. We soon started to recognise places we had visited and seen from our last visit. Years ago this water front area was all under construction and even in the dark it looked quite good. A nice walking area that was busy now in the early night and I'm sure will be during the day also.


Made a bad choice for dinner, the food was a little crappy, but we were tired of walking and just picked a place to sit and eat.

Just up the street from where we ate we found a nice bar that offered US$2 cocktails which made up for the unsatisfactory meal.

Here are some of the sights we saw today from the bus:


Seems that the blog is back to working just fine, after all the trouble I had with it in Siem Reap. Now there is still the big task of trying to catch up to date, but please stay tuned I will get there eventually.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 08:07 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Battambang, hot dusty and where the hell is it?

To hot to do much and we are battling fatigue and illness.


I woke up still feeling a little illish after yesterdays upset and lingered in bed until 11am when the hotel staff came up to move us down a few floors to a cheaper room at US$20. We should have stayed in the flasher room for the extra $5 but I was too ill to try and sort this so just packed up and moved from one bed to the other.

It was late afternoon by the time we left the hotel for some food. The other ladies had been swimming I think. Found a restaurant not far and ordered food. I was feeling much better and ready to eat something a little more substantial, when suddenly Lyn got up and said she was feeling dodgy and was returning to the hotel, please bring her meal back when we come.
On our return, Lyn was asleep and slept the rest of the day. Seems to be a weird little bug is going around us.

It's very hot here in Battambang and we all seem to be a little weary and lethargic. Robyn and Dolly are still both fighting off colds they have had for a few days, so we all just had a rest in our rooms for the rest of the day.

Later in the evening Dolly & Robyn went out and bought some snack supplies that was our dinner. Hope we are all feeling a little better and brighter tomorrow.


We had breakfast at our hotel this morning. Dolly was not happy with the eggs she was served and due to a lack of communication available in a common language, decided to go into the kitchen and cook her own. And to show them how to cook sunny side up eggs for the next guest who may ask for them. Robyn had scrambled eggs to avoid the same fate.

Lyn was still feeling a little off, so she stayed in while Robyn, Dolly and I ventured out to have a ride on the bamboo railway. We paid a tuk tuk driver who was stalking us in the hotel lobby US$5 for the return journey to where the train started its round trip. When we were here last time the bamboo train was actually a transport that was used by the locals to get around. Now it seems to be a tourist trap, that leaves and returns from a set spot. The only others we encountered on the tracks were other tourists, which was a bit of a shame if this mode of transport has been taken away from the locals. Last time when Lyn and I rode the rails, we were the only tourists and all the other carriages were occupied by locals moving from one place to another.

However, it was still an experience and I guess not bad at US$5 per person for a 20 minute each way journey on this unique form of transport. And we did get to see the disassembly and reassembly of the bamboo carriages. The ride took us through the countryside at a speed fast enough for our hair to be flapping in the wind. Also fast enough to cause a bit of a welcomed breeze to aid with the heat off the day. The one way ride finished conveniently at a small group of shops where we managed to do a bit of retail therapy. I bought a singlet top advertising the bamboo railway and a dress bargaining heavily with the tiny sales lady until we agreed on a price we were both willing to accept.

On the way back to the hotel our tuk tuk driver stopped to buy some super glue to fix my shoe. The sole of my sandal is coming away and I asked if he knew where I could buy some glue. Not only did he buy the glue for me, but took the shoe and fixed it there and then as well. All with a smile, great service. We also asked him to take us back via the bus station so we could purchase bus tickets to go to Phnom Penh tomorrow and he did this with a smile also. Nothing is too much for these guys and he was happy with the US$1 tip we gave him at the end.

It had been a very hot day and a dip in the hotel swimming pool was very refreshing for us after being out on the railway.

We had our last dinner at White Rose Restaurant, Lyn managed to come out and eat. But now Dolly was bed ridden as she has managed to through out her back riding on the unsupported bamboo carriage.

There is a lot more to see in Battambang, but we seem to be too hot and fatigued staying in this town so we are heading to the capital.


Posted by Cindy Bruin 04:38 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)


We must be the only tourists to visit Siem Reap and not visit Angkor Wat. Then rode the death boat to Battambang.


It's pretty hot here in Seim Reap and times like this I am grateful we are staying at a place with a pool.

Robyn and Dolly were up before light this morning to head out to Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise. Good on 'em I say. Lyn and I did the whole temple thing last visit, and although yes it is amazing and all that, we still didn't feel the need to do it all again.

Lyn & I had a much nicer time having an enjoyable breakfast at the hotel at a civilised hour and then spent the rest of the morning relaxing by the pool waiting for Robyn and Dolly to return so we could venture out for some lunch. Actually they returned a lot earlier than expected and met us at the hotel at 12.30, which is when we walked out to find somewhere to have lunch. They had seen all they had wanted to or had the energy to see and were exhausted by the heat and the very early start.

We found a place to have a simple lunch and poor Dolly fell asleep in her chair while waiting for the food to be delivered. Not the at service was that slow, just that she was knackered. After lunch we had a bit of a walk around then back to the hotel to relax the afternoon away.

Darkish we came out again and had a foot massage before getting a tuk tuk the short distance to the Viva Hotel for happy hour beers. Dinner on the way back to the hotel.

This is where I had major, major problems with the blog. I was not able to open or add or save or basically do anything. Have to say I had lots of support and suggestions from the help desk at Travellerspoint, but we think it was all due to server problems, because as soon as we moved to another town all was well again..


Another slow day in Seim Reap. More advantage was taken poolside as it was another hot day. We had breakfast at the hotel and cooled off in the pool for the rest of the morning and early afternoon.


Finally the call for food drove us out at 3pm and we went to a restaurant that sold frog. We had seen the menu yesterday and wanted to try it. Not much to write home about. We had eaten frogs legs before but this dish served the whole frog body and legs. Unfortunately it was deep fried and was pretty dried out.
A bit of walking around and shopping and before we knew it we were stood in front of pub in Pub Street just on happy hour and 50c beers are good for you in this hot weather.

A bit more walking and shopping and we managed to find another happy hour with 50c beers before we had dinner.




Time to depart Siem Reap, our hotel arranged our boat tickets to Battambang for US$23. Last time we were in Cambodia Lyn and I did this boat journey SR to B and I found an old blog in which I wrote: "Very tiring sitting in a boat all day praying we actually make it to our destination and at the same time praying for it to be over. Don’t get me wrong glad we did it, another tick off the list, but I never want to see that boat again!!"
Mmmmmm, never say never. How bad could it be? the journey is part of the experience, right? And I wanted to share this experience with my fellow travellers who had yet to experience this boat journey. So we went.
The alarm woke us at 5.30am for our 6am breakfast so we'd be on time for our 6.30am pick up. Breakfast was served at 6.20am and our tuk tuk pick up did not arrive until 7.30am. These transfers are never on time. The tuk tuk drove us to a minivan which then drove us the 30 minute distance to the boat dock. Unbelievably the boat did actually depart at 8.30am, which I think was the correct scheduled time.


So the boat, man things had changed. This boat was nothing like the death trap we travelled in last time. I guess the boat itself was the same but what they put in the boat was totally different. To start with the wooden bench seats were lined with thick vinyl covered cushioning. Wow - luxury. And where were all the locals and their overloaded bags of stuff and the live chickens and the overcrowding of tourist passengers?? All these things that made our last trip hell were not present so this was going to be a much more pleasant journey across Tonle Sap Lake and up the river to Battambang. It still took hours as we did not reach Battambang until just before 4.30pm but the comfort was much better and with the padded seats it was a much more enjoyable trip. And there was even room for us to have a stretch out and a nap during some stage in the day. Totally recommend this little boat trip to anyone now, although we were told it would take 5 hours and it took 8 hours, so pay no note to estimated travel time given.
Crossing the lake we pass floating villages where the houses are on pontoons and are sitting in the middle for the water. Once in the river many villages line the river banks where kids still run out to wave and yell hello at passing white folk in boats. Here floating markets are real, as we see small boats filled with different wares move from house to house along the river and shore line. It was a good day, still a long day but a good one, and I withdraw my statement from my last experience.


Only in the last half hour of the boat trip, as we neared Battambang, did I start to feel a little queazy in the stomach. I put in down to not having any lunch - not real appetising was our lunch stop.

The boat just pulled into the bank of the river, not really at any kind of wharf, just a spot where there were steps that led up the steep bank to the road side. Of course this spot was also heaving with tuk tuk drivers come hotel touts. Touts can be your friend when you need transport and a place to stay for the night, so why not take advantage of them. They all had pictures of the hotels they were happy to take us to and I just said we wanted a place with a pool and he smiled and nodded as he knew just the place. Good. Take us there.

Of course this hotel, the only one in the town limits with a pool, only had the most expensive rooms left unoccupied. The VIP room, which were $30 a double and which I talked down to $25 a night as we were taking 2 rooms. They said they might have cheaper rooms for us to move into tomorrow.

As soon as I walked into our room I ran to the bathroom and vomited. Now this had nothing to do with the room as it was lovely, but my stomach just had enough and wanted to evacuate everything in it. Which was actually nothing, considering I had not eaten all day. Anyway I felt much better after the purging and a little later we headed out for dinner.

We walked the short distance to the White Rose restaurant, a place we had remembered from our last visit. Food there was good back then, and still was now. The shakes were a particular favourite here and they did not disappoint again. I just had a pancake for dinner as I felt I needed something thick and stodgy to put a lining back on my stomach.

Slow walk back to our hotel after dinner, we were all weary after our long boat adventure today.


Posted by Cindy Bruin 08:27 Archived in Cambodia Comments (2)


After the worst sleeper train experience to date, we recover in Bangkok before heading over the border into Cambodia busing all the way to Siem Reap.


It wasn't morning when I woke the first time, or the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th time. It was still dark every time when I woke during the night. And what a horrible night it was. Usually on the train we all sleep like babies being gently rocked from side to side with a calming clicketty clack noise from the under carriage. But this train ride was like a ride from hell. It felt like we were being thrown from one side of the bed to the other, rather than gently rocked. Robyn commented this morning that she had the feeling that she would be thrown from the top bunk to the floor below several times. Not sure why this particular ride was so rough, perhaps because we were the last carriage #10 on the train? It sure felt like we were being waved around like a tail at the end of an animal. Needless to say none of us had a fitful sleep last night.

And of course just when you don't want it to, the bloody train is running on time which meant that we were being woken before sunrise to be served breakfast. 120 baht = $4.30 for a sandwich, cold fries and coffee, mmmmm delightful.

It was light by the time we finally arrived at the main Bangkok station and we were only about half an hour later than scheduled arrival time, a record for our train travel so far. It did not take too long to organise a taxi, we have given up on trying to get a metered taxi and are happy to pay 200 baht = $7.15 to take us to our usual hotel. Still the driver had a bit of a go as he stopped the car at a dead end in a street and said we had to walk from there. The dead end was due to road closure caused by the protesting going on here in Bangkok at the moment. We still have not really noticed any of the trouble while we have been in Bangkok before, but just in the last few days we heard while in Chiang Mai there had been bombs let off and several people were killed. Unfortunately, the country is going to go down the tube because many trade countries are now pulling out and want nothing do to with Thailand and it's unhappy political situation. And we have also heard that many governments are telling travellers and tourists to stay away from Thailand. If this continues the country could be in real strife. Anyway, I knew where we were when the taxi stopped and it was way too far to walk to our hotel. The driver insisted on increasing the fare to 250 baht = $8.95 to drive around the road closure. Obviously another scam - taxi sharks taking advantage of the protesting.

Spewing later when we bumped into some ladies that we met on the train who had managed to find a taxi that would use the meter and the price was only 70 baht = $2.50 to approximately the same place we were taken to. Piss me off!

Arriving at our hotel New Siam II, I enquired whether they had any available rooms for us. Lucky they did but we would have to wait until about 10.30 for them to be cleaned. This was fine, we stored our luggage and headed out to a restaurant to have a drink, use the free wifi and wait the time until we could get into our rooms.

Showers all round was the first thing when the rooms were ready, then we headed out to our stored luggage. No not to collect it but to add to it. lol. We stopped at a few ticket kiosks to price tickets to our next destination and then went to lunch to make the final decision when we would move on again.

So tomorrow we will take an early morning minibus to the border of Cambodia, cross the border and then hopefully get another bus that will take us to Siem Reap. This could be a 10-12 hour traveling day, depending on how long the border crossing takes. Ticket price for transport is only 200 baht = $7.15 each - bargain.

We returned to our rooms to enjoy the air con, relax, watch a bit of telly and some caught up on a few lost winks.

Come 5pm it was cocktail hour and we headed out to our favourite kerbside bar. The staff remembered us (fancy that) and the bar tender immediately started to make 4 pina coladas. Ah it's nice to be remembered! We could not sit in our usual seats as they were already taken so took up residence on the other side of the bar which had almost as good a view point as the front. Dolly was feeling a little poorly and said she would only stay a little while and have one drink. 3 cocktails later, we'd adventurously veered away from the Pina Coladas and tried an assortment of coloured alcoholic mixtures with ridiculous names such as 'zombie' and 'summer kisses' , we were getting hungry so decided to head off to find some dinner. Dolly now really was feeling poorly and skipped dinner heading straight back to the hotel and to bed. Robyn, Lyn and I went to one of the soi food places and shared clams cooked in garlic, a squid dish and crispy pork with kale all for the sumly total of 200 baht = $7.15 - love this country.

On the way to our happy hour we stopped and purchased our bus tickets for tomorrow for 200 baht = $7.15 each. Small price to pay to get to another country, Thailand to Cambodia, although we do still need to pay for a Cambodian visa at the border which will cost anything between US$20-30.

Early night tonight as we have an early start in the morning and a very big travelling day ahead.



I was woken up at 7am by Lyn knocking at our door, time to get up. We were clever enough last night to buy some sandwiches from 7-11 that we toasted in the sandwich toaster this morning for breakfast. Yes I am still carrying the sandwich toaster that we purchased in Koh Pangyan and times like this we are all thankful of the fact that I am carrying around a most unusual item when backpacking.


Anyway, breakfast in the room with a coffee made from our kettle saved a lot of time and we were in the foyer checking out of the hotel just before 8am, the time we expected our pickup. Poor Dolly is not the best today. Her cold has taken hold and she feels like shit, not a nice day to be travelling for her, but she managed to sleep most of the way.

The van was on time and loading up our luggage and finding empty seats (we were the last pickup) we were soon on our way not long after 8am.

Morning Bangkok traffic was at its peak and we spent the first hour of the journey just getting out of the city centre. It was about a 4 1/2 hour drive to the border with a 20 minute toilet stop half way at a petrol station where the van filled up with gas while it's passengers used the facilities. This seemed to be the designated petrol station as about 25 vans passed through the petrol bowsers just in our 20 minute stop.

Just after 12.30 we arrived at the 'lunch stop' just before the Thai / Cambodia border. This is where we found out why the bus ticket at 200 baht = $7.60 was so cheap. Here is where the bus company con it's passengers into paying them to get your Cambodian visa for US$30. Now I had read online that the actually visa at the border was only US$20, but the bus guys counter acted this by saying that it was very difficult to get at the border, much better if they get it for us with no hassle. This of course was a con and we knew it and did not want to give in to it, but in the end had no choice. We were told that if we do the visa on our own, there would be no bus representative to help us through the border and to guide us to the bus that would take us from over the border to Siem Reap. He just said we would have to take care of ourselves and make sure we were at the bus station by the departure time of the bus. If we missed this bus we would have to purchase another bus ticket which would cost a lot more. Of course we were told it took a long time to get our own visa at the border and the chance the bus would be gone was a chance we should not take. If we took the visa service we were told there would be no waiting at the entry and therefore all a lot quicker experience for us. Again, I did not want to believe these guys as I knew it was just a money spinner for them, but I also did not want to be in the position of missing our paid bus and having to pay a lot more for another bus ticket. In the end we made the decision to bite the bullet and pay the US$30 each and that way we were sure to be on the bus.

So as we ate an overpriced last meal in Thailand, our passports were taken to the local consulate and visas were entered. Nice little money earner for them - bloody sharks.


We were then driven just another 10 minutes down the road to the border where we were handed over to the Cambodian rep who would escort us across the border. We had to walk a short distance with our luggage and through Thai immigration where we were stamped out of Thailand.
A fairly long walk (about 300 meters) through no man's land on a busy street, where there are several gigantic casino/hotel buildings. Such a strange entrance into a third world country.


The next hour was spent in a line, that was moving at a snail's pace, waiting to get an entry stamp into Cambodia. I have no idea why it took soooooo long, there were 4 windows open, but it still took sooooo long. It was very hot and the fans provided did little but move the hot air around. We were talking to a Finnish guy behind us in the line who advised he had paid 600 baht = $21.45 just for the bus trip. He was cunning enough to do his visa himself which did only cost US$20 without any problems (although they did ask for a tip - which he did not give). So even with our rip off visa
price we still got a cheaper deal as the bus was so cheap.
Eventually we made it to the front of the line and our visas were stamped and our finger prints were electronically taken (although for some reason Robyn was not asked for fingerprints), finally we were officially in Cambodia!

A short wait for everyone in the group to be stamped in and then we were shuttle bused from the border to the bus station 3 minutes away. At the bus station we were herded into an air conditioned bus which would take us the 155 km to Siem Reap. I did notice the price of tickets per person for buses (US$9) & taxi (US$12), so it would have been a costly endeavour had we missed the bus we had already paid for. However, because we sat waiting in the bus for almost an hour for it to fill up I really don't think it would have been an issue. At least they did have the air con running so the wait was comfortable enough. 4.10pm was the time the bus pulled out of the station and we were on our way.

The road was pretty good, completely sealed just a few pot holes here and there that the driver managed to swerve and avoid. Just before 6pm we stopped at a restaurant where we could have some dinner and use the dunny. Back on the it was getting dark and in this last leg of the journey the road had deteriorated somewhat. Now the driver was all over the road trying to avoid not only potholes but big chunks cut out of the road where they were in the middle of repairs.


The bus station (if you could call it that), more like the place where they park up the buses for the night, was in the middle of nowhere. The bus company obviously had a deal going with the local tuk tuk drivers as you needed transport to get to anywhere from this drop off point. The fact that it was pitch dark, down an dirt alley way and we had no idea where we were all served in favour of the circling sharklike tuk tuk drivers.

Although they circled us we told them that our hotel would collect us and we did not need their services. Of course then they started with the old story of 'no hotel will collect from here, best you come with me' or 'oh your hotel is closed this late, no one will come, you must ride with me' and the bullshit continued to flow, which only served in me not believing them even more. I had booked two rooms at Bun Linda Hostel yesterday and they had emailed me advising they provided a free pick up. I phoned the hostel and after giving the phone to some old guy who could tell them where we were they advised they would be there in 20 minutes to collect us. Only then did the remaining sharks retreat as we were the last ones standing at the bus station.

Less than 20 minutes later we were being piled into a tuk tuk (the tuk tuks here are different to anywhere else we have seen them and comfortably sit 4 passengers, although the luggage was a bit of a struggle) and being driven to our accommodation, which was about 15 minutes away. I found this hostel and booked it on the internet, chose this place because it had a pool, and opted to pay an extra US$2 to have air con not just a fan. So it's not really a hostel, more like a hotel as we are in twin rooms not in a dorm. I actually thought it was a little flash for us with air con and pool and all, funny the first thing Dolly said was 'it's a very backpacker sort place isn't it!'. So upmarket for some of us and down market for others, but at US$20 per night twin room its a pretty good deal as it's walking distance to the market and lots of food places.

It had been another long, drawn out day and after checkin we were ready for bed. Dolly was still feeling the torture of being sick and having moved and waiting all day so hopefully a good nights sleep will speed her recovery.


Breakfast at the hotel was wonderful, we are back in a country which was once run by the French and good on the frogs they left behind the baguette legacy! Any country where the French have been you will always find good bread and for this I thank the French whole heartedly! So breakfast was 2 poached eggs (done to perfection) served with a mini baguette - and it tasted wonderful! A potato hashie of sorts and a couple of slices of hot salami - bit of an odd combination but all tasty just the same and for US$2.50. Yes, Cambodia is still using mostly US currency. The bus guys yesterday told us the new king is pushing for their own currency (riel) to be used, but so far everywhere is still quoting US dollars. And we were told the ATM's are still spitting out US dollars.

We had a relaxing morning hanging out around the hotel, it got pretty hot during the day and we did not want to wander out into it. Still resting up from the long journey yesterday.

By 2.30 we had no choice but to walk the short distance into the market area because we all needed food! Yet it was an hour later when we were finally seated and being served food. On the way we had to find an ATM which was easy enough there are plenty around and they do still give only US dollars. We then found a money exchange to get some local riels to have also. But we were to to find out that everywhere quotes and takes US dollars.

Lunch was at a place called the Golden Coconut where we tried a few local dishes - I had lok lak beef US$3.00 (which Dolly said tasted like old leather) welcome to Cambodia where the beef is probably old water buffalo. But I thought the sauce was yummy anyway which is made with a combination of lime juice, sea salt & black Kampot pepper. This is a common dish here in Cambodia and can be served with different meats of choice. I remembered it from our last visit and liked it then also.


After eating we browsed around a few shops and some of the market before finding a nice pub on the corner that was perfect for people watching and happened to be serving 75c draft beers. We sat there for a couple of hours watching the passing tourists and locals go up and down the busy street as we enjoyed a few very cold beers.




We made a move again about 6.30 when we ventured over the river to the Siem Reap Art Centre Night Market, which was hundreds of stalls selling pretty much the same stuff as in the day market. What was noticeable was the lack of tourists buying anything. Because there are not many buyer around it makes the sellers even more attentive to the point where they are a bit annoying and it get tiresome when someone pounces on you the second you look in the general direction of their merchandise. Guess they are all trying to make a living.

Slowly we make our way back to the direction of our hotel, stopping again to have some dinner. The place we chose turned out to be the same place as where we had lunch, just a different location, must be a franchise. This time Lyn & I shared a squid dish, a clam, dish and a baked potato. Here the draft beer was only 50c and our meal was a total of US$7! Still not bad. Robyn had a sweet and sour pork meal with a shake for US$4, Dolly chose not to eat she was not hungry and is still feeling a little off colour so she opted for a 30 minute foot massage for US$2.

All happy we headed back to our hotel via the smelly canal, I had a quick jump in the pool to cool off, but we were all in bed fairly early as tomorrow is another day. Robyn and Dolly are visiting the temples tomorrow, leaving early enough to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. Lyn & I have chosen not to go see them again, as we did last time, but we may hire bicycles and go for a bit of a spin around town if its not too hot. Foreigners cannot hire motor bikes here in Siem Reap otherwise we would be on a motorised bike tomorrow.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 09:45 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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