Saturday, 31 October 2009

Finally Some photos.

I am finally back home and enjoying cooler weather. I have 1000 photos that I am sorting through. Below is a slide show of the first 2 days really. Most of the photos have a comment so if you can't see the comment you may need to click onto the photo for it to open in a different screen. If you are going to leave comments please leave them here on my blog rather than the slide show website.


Sunday, 25 October 2009

Day 8

The sunset last night was lovely and we got some good views from the Tuk Tuk. Yes that means we didn't make it to the balloon so crazy me decided to go for sunrise instead. My Tuk Tuk driver picked me up at 4:50 am. With all the tourists I had seen yesterday I kept praying that there wasn't a bus load waiting to get on the balloon. Prayers work ... I was the only one. The balloon is not a standard hot air balloon and it is tethered to the ground. The sunrise wasn't that special and Angkor Watt was sort of hidden by the morning shadows. The view however was stunning. I got to see the landscape from above and managed to get some good shots.

The ride was over all too soon and I asked to be taken to Angkor Watt itself. The place is huge so I didn't go all the way in. Only some of the way. The air was kinda smokey which added to the mystery of the place (especially with the sun behind it). I did get some good shots of the wall and some buildings in the grounds though.

Once I got back to the hotel I ate breakfast with Gwen and family and then we left for the long drive back to Phnom Penh (6 hours). This afternoon Gwen and I are going to the markets for some final shopping (well at the markets anyway). Gotta sign off now as she needs the computer.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Day 5-7

A couple of days ago we piled in the car and drove the 300+ km to Siem Reap which tool 6 hours or so. The hotel we are staying at is relatively new and normally costs $200 a night but Gwen got us a good deal. The place is called Sojourn and has 9 villas. The staff are wonderful and I would recommend this place to anyone coming here. It is a short trip out of town but still close to everything. The rooms are lovely and airconditioned too. After a swim in the pool we went into town to a buffet restaurant that had traditional dancing. I managed to get some video so hopefully it will upload here.

Yesterday Gwen and I went to Bayon. We actually rode in on an elephant, one each. The men guiding them sat up behind their ears. My guy decided to try and race Gwen's elephant at one stage.

Bayon is the Temple with all the pillars of faces. It was very hot and the stairs in the temple were so steep. A photo would not do them justice but lets say each step was only 10-15cm in width and the height to the next step would be close to 50cm. Despite the moist moss growing on them it was relatively easy to get up ... it was the going down I was not sure about.

From there we came back to the hotel for some brunch and in the afternoon we set off to a floating village. I will tell you more of that when I get the photo's up. It is too hard to explain and the photos do better talking.

Last night Gwen and I went to the night market and spent way too much money. I also had a fish massage. I have seen it on documentaries where fish will eat your dead skin. Apparently it is very therapeutic. Gwen didn't want a bar of it so I gave her some money for a massage of the human kind around the corner. Anyway for US$3 I got 15 mins of little fish nibbling at my feet. In fact I started a fish fight. Two fish wanted the same place so while they were arguing over it another fish got to it. It actually felt like I had put my foot in a foot spa. The nibbles didn't hurt or tickle, they were very gentle. My feet felt so smooth when I got out. In fact while I was there I had the fish to myself but as I got out a lot of Americans turned up and asked me if I would recommend it. Suffice to say there were 10 pairs of feet that went in after me. Thank God I was there first.

This morning James and I went out to Ta Prohm (better known to most westerners as the Temple where the first Tomb Raider movie was made). There were so many people there I am surprised I managed to get the photo's that I did. After this we asked our Tuk Tuk driver to recommend one. Now most of the Temples are within about 10 minutes of each other but our driver took us a long way out through the country side to Banteay Srey. This temple had a lot less people there and was really old. It was still in relatively good condition to as far as ruins go.

Well I must sign off as James and I are heading out to Angkor Watt for sunset and hope that we can beat the tourists to the balloon flight.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Day 4

Hmmm where to begin. Sivon arrived in his Tuk Tuk and drove me out to the Killing Fields. I am telling you this because the story needs to be told. People need to remember. This time in Cambodian history is as bad, if not worse than that of Nazi Germany.

In the 80's the river flooded and eroded a lot of the top soil that exposed the mass graves. There is a designated walking track around the area (just the ground dirt) and every now an then my guide pointed out teeth and bones that were making their way to the surface. There are also old clothes everywhere, some above ground and some still half buried. My guide is 37 years old and was brought up during that horrible time. He was lucky because his parents were farmers where as the Khmer Rouge were killing all those who were educated so they could not take away his power. Around 9000 bodies have been discovered so far. Many are still underwater. Not one of these people were shot because the bullets were too precious. Farming equipment was used to kill them. Khmer soldiers who betrayed the leader were also taken to the killing fields however their death was painfully long. As an example to others who would choose to go against their leader these soldiers would have their heads cut off with a banana prong (the spiky bit of a banana leaf). There is a banana tree there and I felt the prong, it is not razor sharp. The irony of this particular Killing Field is how beautiful the area is.

After lunch I went to the prison where they tortured the people for 12 months before sending them the killing fields. There is row upon row of faces (mug shots) of the people who had been there. Many of them had no expression at all. Only a handful had fear or anger. Some of the cells that held the elite had images of the last person found in there, still in their gruesome death pose. In one of the many halls of photo's there was one image that will haunt me forever. It is of a woman who was the wife of a Khmer leader turned traitor. It was because of this his whole family was to be killed. The two photos of her showed her front on and profile. The profile shows the her up against a machine that emitted an electric charge to kill them. In this photo you can see a tear running down her cheek. In both photo's she is holding her sleeping baby.

There is much more that I can tell you but I won't until I can load the photo's (don't worry they aren't the gruesome torture ones).

On a light note the rest of the day was quite fun. I just did some shopping with Gwen and had a pedicure for US$1.

Tomorrow we drive to Siem Reap. It will take 7 hours and I am not sure if Gwen will be taking her computer so it may be a few days before I can update the blog.

Day 3

Tried to upload some photos but unfortunately the Internet connection here is only a tad faster than dial up so it's not going to happen while I am here in Cambodia.

Today Gwen and I had grand plans to go see the Palace but unfortunately it was closed (some foreign diplomat was there visiting). We will go another day. Instead we went to a lovely western style restaurant and had something for morning tea. It was nice there and her 19 month old son Beecher decided to put on a floor show and danced on the table. They were coffee tables.

Next door and upstairs to the Cafe was the old bar where journalists used to hang out in the 70's. Some of their photo's were on display so I went in and had a quick look. The one that stood out for me was taken of a soldier from behind. I assume the soldier was a Khmer fighting for his freedom. The camera focused on the gun that was slung over his back. He also had a lot of bullets slung over his shoulder and looked like he was walking through the forest. The thing that stood out amongst this image of war was the peace sign painted in white on the handle of his gun.

We actually went by Tuk Tuk which is much better than the car. I love the Tuk Tuk. Gwen had to go to work so her Tuk Tuk driver decided to hang around and wait for when we went out in the afternoon. Considering he was being paid for the day I made use of him and got him to take me around the poorer area of Phnom Penh. One road we drove down was so filthy. It was the road to the dump (Gwen will be taking me there later to give food to those who live on the dump) but we didn't go into it. I actually felt like a rich snob riding down there and seeing how the people lived. I tried not to be too obvious taking photos. Luckily for me my camera has a view screen that pops out so it really doesn't look like I am taking a photo when I am.

This afternoon Gwen and I went on a special trip for me to have a special photo taken. I won't say much because I want to wait until I download it. All I can say is I felt like I was getting makeup done for a Cirque Du Soleil show, or at least the painted lady at a circus. Fake eyelashes are not fun either. I had so much glue keeping these eyelashes on that I could barely open my eyes. I mentioned this to my mum tonight while chatting with her and she told me to suffer. I think it was because I won't tell her what the photo is.

Tomorrow Gwen's Tuk Tuk driver (Sibon or Sivon) will take me to the Killing Fields. Gwen has told me some stories already so I am preparing myself mentally for this place. The area itself has been untouched since the 70's and apparently you can see clothing and human bones in the field. She also told me of a tree where children were beaten to death. She thought it was with a stick but apparently if the child was small enough it was picked up by the legs and I won't say any more on the matter. Suffice to say tomorrow will be a soul searching day I think.

Well it is time I headed for bed as it will be a long day tomorrow and an even longer one the next day as we are all driving down to Siem Riep. The roads are much worse than here in Phnom Penh and I was nearly car sick yesterday so cross fingers I will be fine on the 7 hour trip.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Day 2

Life has been interesting in the last 24 hours or so. It is probably easier to put it in point form.

1. After posting yesterday Gwen and I were taken by her friend Julie to a day spa type place where we had a one hour massage for US$18. This is very expensive here. The massage was deep and when I say full body lets just say certain nether regions were gotten a little close to! My muscles were so sore and the girl went soooo deep. I felt like I had done a few rounds at the gym. I kept telling myself through clenched teeth that I would be thankful in the end. After the massage we went out for lunch. for US$7 I had a huge plate of different salads that were really yummy and some chicken. Oh we got to the spa by Tuk Tuk and went home that way. It was a great way to get around. I love it. The breeze blowing through it is better than the aircon in the car.

2. In the after the family and i headed off to the Russian markets. They have so much there and you can barely move in the place. It reminded me of the main markets I went to once in Seoul. It also reminded me of the tented tiny shops around areas of Egypt selling tourist gimmicks (of which I am well known of purchasing). It was so dark though but it was a great place. I have some photo's but until I get a card reader then I won't be able to show you until I get home. Oh and yes I did buy a couple of things yesterday.

3. This morning Gwen had to work so James took me to Healthlands where he works. They make the yummiest healthy food that I have ever tasted. Can't wait until they can export to Australia. Unfortunately I was not feeling my best this morning. I think the massage caused a lovely headache which, coupled with the potholes in the road that could swallow a car, caused me to feel a little ill. After Healthland we went to Phnom Watt which is one of the more popular temples here. There are a lot of trees and beautiful grass there so I was able to cool down and the walk did me good. We went into the temple and i was allowed to take photos. They have decked it out with neon type lights and looks nothing like what you would find in Korea. It looked very commercial actually and not a place of worship.

4. There are a lot of Monkeys around the Watt and we bought some lotus seeds for them to eat. They are fat little things and are cheeky. When one Khmer woman turned her back on the peanuts she was selling a little monkey went up and grabbed them. Also at the Watt is Sambo the last surviving royal elephant. Apparently when the Khmer Rouge took over in 1975 all the Royal Elephants were left to starve to death in the Palace grounds. Somehow Sambo survived and now takes tourists around on her back. She even wears I suppose the elephants version of flip flops. I didn't have a ride on her because I am going on one when we get to Siem Reip.

5. The rules of the road here is that there are no rules. They only need lessons for one month and then from there they are supposed to ride around (unassisted) for a short period of time before they sit an oral exam, which you can only pass if you pay, so consequently everyone is still driving around on L plates. Rear view is not used. You worry about what is in front, what is behind you is not your problem. Even walking across the road ... you can't wait for a break in the traffic you just have to step out and let your intentions known, they will just go around you and some polite ones will slow down. It is too hard to explain but driving on the wrong side of the road and going through red lights is apparently not against the law here, but more a survival skill.

4. This afternoon the rain came down so hard and flooded the back, or should I say front yard. When I have the capability to do so I will download some photos.

Well signing off now. Still have my headache, probably not drinking enough water, and Gwen is going to the supermarket so I will go with her. I have also promised her daughter I will help her make a paper doll after I finish typing and she is getting a little impatient. LOL

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Day one

I am here and I have arrived safe. Not sure if I will ever use Thai airways again and my travel agent neglected to tell me a few things such as the stop in Phuket and the fact that you needed a photograph of yourself for your visa when you arrived in Phnom Penh.

The flight from Perth to Phuket was delayed an hour and was freezing. In fact I started a blanket riot. As soon as I asked for one, everyone asked for one and they ran out in 5 minutes. Someone then had the bright idea to turn sown the aircon.

At Perth I had been given a pink transit sticker to wear. Given no other instruction I thought this was for when I was in Phuket. You see to go from Phuket to Bangkok I was on the same plane in the same seat (which explains why it did not show on the itinerary). Once back in the plane I took the sticker off and threw it away. Who would have thought I would need it in Bangkok!! It was kaos getting off the plane because there was another plane's passengers exiting at the same time into exactly the same tunnel and ground staff trying to direct people with various stickers. I got told off 3x for not having mine within a 10m distance. Suffice to say I got to where I was meant to be.

Gwen and her family are really lovely and I think I made Jame's day by bringing him his favourite magazine. I went to bed with a ceiling fan going and floor fan. In the middle of the night the floor fan decided it wanted to blow up. Luckily James heard the warning sounds so came out switched it off before the front went flying off it (as it has done in the past).

Not sure what today holds other than a luxurious massage. Can't wait for that.

Let you know more later.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Skipping the Country

Yes that is right, I have my passport in hand (well nearby) and I will be making my way to the airport in the wee hours of tomorrow morning to catch a flight to Cambodia. I will be meeting up with an old friend (Gwen) whom I have not seen since we graduated in '95.

The dilemma lies in what to take. Firstly I have to take my Cpap Machine but do I risk packing it in my suitcase or do I take it on as cabin luggage (it has it's own bag). I normally take my camera equipment as cabin luggage but when I combined the 2 together in January I was told I had too much weight.

There is also the bum bag dilemma. From previous travels my camera bag has always given me a shoulder ache and has been a pain when climbing things. I don't want to take a back pack because Cambodia is so humid I will have enough sweat pouring off me without the added layer. So I bought myself a camera bag that wraps around your waist. My dilemma is purely vain. I am the size of a house already and add a chunky camera bum bag to the picture...! It does have shoulder straps but that is more awkward than the standard camera bag. Anyway I have bought it and I shall use it. Any photo's taken of me will not include the added baggage.

What else do I have in my suitcase? Well a seasoned traveller such as myself, knows to pack light so I have enough clothing to last me 3 days plus bathers and swimmers. I also have a lot of powder because I don't do so well in humid areas (and of course it happens to be their wet season right now - well timed). I should have 3 books in my luggage for Gwen but 2 of them have gone AWOL in the post and will arrive sometime next week. I also have treats for Gwen, Licorice allsorts and Minties. The licorice alone is adding a kilo to the mere 20kg that can go in my suitcase. Not complaining though. Means there is room for me to bring back goodies. Now do I take my own pillow ... I am so fussy with pillows.

I have to change planes in Bangkok. I am greatful I am not stopping there. Between my Doctor and my Naturopath I have 7 different tablets I am taking. I am contemplating taking one container with a mix of them but what happens if I get searched? :) Apparently Cambodia is not so strict going into the country but is very strict when leaving it. Stay tuned to the news, you might see me on there being interviewed from my prison cell. LOL

Well I am going to try and post while I am over there to keep you up to date with my trip.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Finally

I have finally got down to work and created my Etsy store. I have to wait to

put any items up for sale until I can get an idea of postage. I tell you the guide on the Australia Post site is so confusing.

On another note it appears we have a fairy ring in our back yard. Is this good or bad luck? What happens when you step into it?