Budget Wise :: Cambodia

13 01 2009

Cambodia was a bit more confusing than our other destinations when it came to traveling on a budget. A year or two ago, I’m not certain of the exact date, the Khmer people suffered a massive inflation due to rising gas prices. Unfortunately for them (and the tourists) the cost of living didn’t fall back down with the gas prices. Now what looks like, feels like, and should be a very budget friendly country is surprisingly not as friendly as it once was. This doesn’t mean that Cambodia is charging European prices, but it was actually more expensive than it’s more developed neighbor Thailand. Read the rest of this entry »


Kampot Evac

3 01 2009

Kampot, Cambodia

Since the coast of Cambodia appeared to be more our style than the rest of the country, we decided to just keep sliding down the coast until our visa ran out. The next stop down the line was Kampot, a lovely little town on the banks of the Teuk Chhou River. Our minibus dropped us on the outskirts of town and I called our guesthouse owner Thary, a sweet Cambodian woman who spent the last several years with her husband in Belgium and Switzerland, before returning with him and their adorable son to run a guesthouse in her hometown. We tromped off to the local taxi stand where we were set to rendezvous with Thary. We fended off the regular shouted offers from moto drivers and tuk tuks as we walked. Getting closer to the taxi stand, cars started pulling over and shouting at us from their windows, “Phnom Penh?” “Sihanouk?” It slowly dawned on me that these regular looking cars were supposed to be the local taxis and they were assuming that the two white kids with packs on were looking for a ride. Just as three taxi drivers were literally running for us, Thary pulled up in her pickup truck like a knight in shining red steel, and drove us to her little oasis, the Hang Guesthouse. Hang is just a few meters off the map of Kampot, but years in Belgium have given the hoteliers a healthy respect for bicycles which they lend to guests for free, making everything in Kampot easy to reach. Being off the map just means that Hang guests can enjoy quiet seclusion. Read the rest of this entry »

Culture Shock :: Cambodia

2 01 2009

Remember when I said that in Thailand everything was different? Well scratch that. I was wrong. We’ve now been to Cambodia. During our month here I’ve come up with many metaphors and stories that could help you understand what it’s like in this country, but in the end I don’t feel right using any of them, because the more I learn about Cambodia, the more I realize I’ll never understand it. Thailand is as familiar as Europe compared to the land of the Khmer people.

Below are some of the quirky things we’ve noticed. If you want to get a deeper knowledge of Cambodia, you’ll have to read some books and visit the country, because they’re still figuring it out themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Seeing Sihanouk

30 12 2008

Sihanouk Ville, Cambodia

Perhaps this is going to be a controversial statement, but if you only plan to spend a week in Cambodia, forget Siem Reap and head down to the coast in Sihanouk Ville. Yes, I know, I’m encouraging people to ignore a world heritage sight and one of the wonders of the world and that just doesn’t seem logical. There are plenty of people who will not be deterred by stories of hordes of tourists and endless scams and those people will flock to Siem Reap and have a lovely time. But if you want to be just a little bit different and see a part of Cambodia that plenty of people miss, head to the short but glorious coastline of Sihanouk Ville. Read the rest of this entry »

Phnom-enal Crisis

27 12 2008

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

We showed up in Phnom Penh with little idea of what we were going to do in town. After doing all of the temple touring in Siem Reap, we were all toured out. We would have probably spent a lot of time lazing about in our room at the Grandview Guesthouse if it weren’t for the fact that it was more like a closet than a room. The place had only room for one big bed and a 3’x6′ walking space, so it induced more feelings of claustrophobia than comfort. I couldn’t even get a picture to capture the size of the place. Of course at $4 a night we hardly had room to complain (or move). Read the rest of this entry »

Ancient Angkor: Part 2

25 12 2008

Siem Reap, Cambodia

First thing in the morning (aka 8am) we drove out to Banteay Kdei, a short, cleaned temple with a few different sections to wander through. Gage chafed at the various fallen stones that had been stacked back up and placed in the middle of a courtyard, making the ruins look more like a colorblind kid had attempted to stack some Legos. There was an awesomely gigantic tree in one courtyard that consumed one temple wall and dwarfed everything around it. The only other noticeable feature of Banteay Kdei were the various kids wandering about trying to sell postcards, scarves, table clothes, and drinks. Although we would soon find that that was at every temple. Read the rest of this entry »

Ancient Angkor: Part 1

24 12 2008

Siem Reap, Cambodia

The fun started as soon as we pulled into the harbor. Gage and I looked up to the riverside and saw a horde of tuk-tuk drivers hauling in the direction of the dock. Before the boat was even tied off, drivers were jumping on board and quizzing people down about who needed a ride. Having made reservations we were unintimidated and safe. Or so we thought. Due to a slight miscommunication our hotel had failed to arrange a pickup at the docks. We looked for our name on a sign board but saw nothing. After a few minutes of pushing the drivers away and saying that we had arrangements for a ride with Mandalay Inn, a young driver magically appeared with a Mandalay business card saying he was there for us. Yeah right. Where is the sign with our name on it? Oh, he was late and decided to forgo the sign in order to get to us quicker. Being the scam-hardened travels we are, I plucked the business card from the boy’s hand and called Mandalay. No, that kid was not associated with him, but the manager of the hotel spoke with the kid and arranged for him to take us. When the kid got off the phone, he explained that he would take us to Mandalay…if we used him to take us around the temples. We told him we’d think about it. He said he didn’t believe us. The kid was surprisingly ashamed when we pointed out that he was the liar. A little more chatting with the manager and chastising from us and we were on our way. Welcome to Siem Reap, the heart of Cambodia. Read the rest of this entry »