A Travellerspoint blog

Motorbike Tour through the Central Highlands

all seasons in one day 27 °C

We were picked up from our hotel at 8 am in Nha Trang and take to get the bikes. The owner of the company let us know that we had picked up another Aussie bloke for our tour. Matt decided that he wanted to ride his own bike instead of being chauffeured like I was planning. Matt never having really ridden a motorbike decided where is a better place to learn. I mean they don’t have road rules here do they… He actually did really well.

Day 1. The bikes are loaded and we are ready to go. I think I spent more time looking back to see if Matt was doing ok than I did looking at the stunning mountain views as we made our way to Dalat. We see water falls and gorgeous valleys. It rains and then is doesn’t. We stop for Vietnamese coffee regularly (which I am actually coming around to) and chat. Matt and I pick up a few words in Vietnamese from out tour guide Bang. After a full day on the road we arrive in Dalat. It is cool. I am wearing a jumper and Im not hot. It is crazy. Dalat is a beautiful place. High in the mountains it was built during French rule as a place to holiday and get away from the heat of Saigon. As we came into town there were the most amazing French inspired houses. We arrive at our hotel and are pleasantly surprised at what we are getting. Matt goes out for a walk and I attempt to remove all the filth that had stuck after a day of motorbiking.
For dinner we head down to the night market and had Pho at a restaurant. We bought a bottle of Dalat red wine and had a few glasses. It was incredibly sugary. The Market….. It is cheap and sells a lot of winter cardigans. Unfortunately for us by the time we had finished dinner things were winding down and no one seemed all that interested in bartering or even selling for that matter. We picked up a few things and they went back to bed wishing we had more time to explore this stunning town.

Day 2. We get up nice and early and head out to the ‘Crazy House’. It is a house that was designed by a Vietnamese woman that spent a lot of time in Russia. You can stay at this place as it doubles as a hotel but you will need to get used to all the tourists there in the day time. It was certinaly crazy. It reminded me if Alice in Wonderland. All the rooms had a theme and there was even a kangaroo room. The steps were winding and the beds all crazy shapes. There were mushroom steps and huge log steps that I would not want to try and climb after a few drinks. There were mermaids and glitter. A lopsided teahouse and hidden pathways through the trees. It is the kind of place that turns everyone back into a kid and into a land of imagination. I will put some photos up but I don’t think that they will do the place justice.

On the road again we stopped and met some ladies that were flower farming just outside of Dalat. I saw a coffee plant for the first time and learnt about the harvesting process. Next stop the silk factory!! I was so excited until I learnt that they boil the silk worms while the are still in their cocoons so that they can remove the silk thread. As horrible as that was the whole process was pretty interesting. The way the looms work and the extraction methods. There was a shop attached and given more time I would have spend a lot more money there..

We spent the majority of the rest of the day making our way through the mountains. Lunch was amazing. We stopped in this little road side restaurant and let Bang order for us. He had let us know that it was only going to be 30,000 dong ($2) each so we weren’t expecting much. Out came about 9 dishes. There was an omelets, 2 fish dishes, soup, 2 chicken dishes, barbequed pork, pumpkin flowers in garlic, huge bowls of rice and iced tea. It was a feast and so tasty. Even Matt was impressed and when it comes to food he is a hard man to please.

We had one more stop to make before we arrived in Lak Lake. It was a factory where they produced the ethnic fabrics. The person who came up with these looms was a crazy person. They were incredibly complicated and when we asked one of the girls how long it takes to thread one and get it ready to work on she said 4 days!!!! And even then they can only produce 1 metre of fabric for every 8 hours worked. They had a different kind of loom that they were able to produce about 5 metres a day and that was impressive in a completely different way.

Not too long after that (after going down the worst hill full of potholes) we hit a section of the road that was all mud and huge puddles. Bang was a bit concerned at how Matt was going to go with getting through and he stopped when we made it to the other side on the only bit of dry land. Matt stops in the middle of the road with his feet in the mud struggling to keep the bike upright trying to tell Bang to get out of the way and let him move. Bang was too busy telling him to go slow to notice but I finally got him going and we all made it across without ending up covered in red mud.

We all arrive exhausted but safe at the resort. Matt and I are shown to our room and once again were very impressed with the accommodation provided. Taylor (the guy that is travelling with us) comes over to our room and we have a few drinks before dinner. Matt has been carting around a bottle of Vietnamese whiskey + spirit (which is what the bottle says although no Vietnamese person could elaborate on what this spirit is)that he and Taylor were drinking. Matt seems to get drunk immediately off the fumes of this stuff. It is incredible. He can sit there and drink 6 beers and be coherent but 2 glasses of this stuff and he is a bit of a spectacle. Needless to say dinner at the resort that night was fun for a lot of of people. There were a lot of other riding groups in the restaurant including the British couple that I met in Nha Trang. It was his birthday so he invited us to join them for cake. After a few more beers Matt and this drunk Vietnamese guy were daring each other to eat chillis. There was a dish of chopped chilies on the table and they halved it. The rules were that 1. You had to chew it before swallowing 2.The loser is the first to leave each other’s site or to drink any form of liquid.
Down the hatches… Matt’s face is bright red and the others guy is just looking worried. The waitress walks over and asks Matt to pay the bill as we had moved tables. Matt got up to leave and the Vietnamese guy yells out that he loses because he got and then he promptly runs to the bathroom and stays there for about 20 minutes. Matt is pretty smug in a sweating, my mouth and face are on fire but I won kind of a way. I convince Matt that it is time for bed and to also leave the remaining whiskey at the hotel…

To be continued........

Posted by katbet123 05:43 Archived in Vietnam Tagged motorcycle Comments (0)

Nha Trang

Paradise with no power

sunny 40 °C

Nha Trang
Nha Trang is on the coast about an 11 hour drive north of Saigon. It is absolutely gorgeous. The day we arrived we found a hotel and were then informed that there was no power…. Anywhere in town until 6pm that night.. It was about 7am. We wandered through the scorching town and found ourselves on the beach. It’s beautiful. You have the swaying palms and the blue ocean and the islands in the distance. There is old women on the beach barbequing fresh crabs and we got 3 for about $1 each. Pretty impressive. We keep wandering and find the best and worst thing possible. A microbrewery on the beach with a pool and lounges and a massage centre and most importantly they have power which means fans!!!. It imports all its hops from Australia and is amazingly well run. The beer was awesome and we spent way too much time there.
I quickly made friends with the receptionist who worked at the hotel that we were staying. Her name is Fi and she is the happiest person that I have ever met. We spent quite a lot of time downstairs having a few beers and trying to translate Vietnamese into English. It was good fun and she brought lots of fruit that even Matt ate (I should have taken photos!!). They are pretty hard workers over there I must admit. They work 24 hour shifts, 7am – 7am. There was a girl and a guy who alternated days and as far as I can tell they don’t really have weekends.
It was Fi’s day off the next day and she came and picked me up at the hotel and took me down to the market. On the way though I joined a club!! The 3 people on a motorbike in the middle of town club!! We had to pick up her nephew on the way to the market and drop him off at a house somewhere. By the time I get there I am completely lost but the people are lovely. There was a woman who seemed hell bent on making me a gourmet feast in the 10 minutes that I was actually in the house for. It was sweet. I was given the hammock in the lounge to sit on (Hammock in the lounge room – how cool is that!! It was drilled into the wall and everything) which seemed to be a big deal. Anyway off we headed to the market. It is very different going to the market with a Vietnamese person as opposed to going with Matt. I didn’t get grabbed at. They didn’t try and rip me off. A few times they got a bit aggressive but Fi soon put them in there place. It was really cool and if I didn’t like what they were showing me she would promptly tell them no and they would listen.!! This has never never happened to just me.

We wake up nice and early the next morning to the air con turning off in our room… It is 6am. The room immediately heats up. We go downstairs just to be told that every second day from 6am – 6pm the town is without power… I was a bit worried about eating at places that didn’t have generators as they wouldn’t have any refrigeration but I sucked it up and didn’t die!! When there is no power the only real place to be is the beach with the nice breeze.

Matt and I had booked a half day snorkeling trip and when we made it onto the boat we were told that we were the only snorkelers. There were 3 other guys who were diving. It was a pretty cool cruise out there and when we anchored at the first site the boys all jumped in with their gear on. Matt had commented that there were a few jelly fish down there but I couldn’t see anything. I waited a bit - Matt was already in the water and swimming around. I leap in and try adjusting my mask. I had gotten about 3 meters from the boat when I felt stinging all over my body. I put my face in the water only to be confronted with about 3 feet of tiny jellyfish floating on top of the water. I immediately swim back to the boat. I am truely panicing. I tell the man that I can’t swim in that water. He gives me a wetsuit and I get back in. It’s no good, they are stinging my hands and the gaps in my flippers and if dare to put my face under the water they would go to town on that. Matt lasted a lot longer than I did in the water (about 15 minutes) but it even got too much for him and he headed back to the boat. We asked the guy to pull the divers as they had only just gone under but he wouldnt so we had to wait on the boat before heading to the next dive site..... Unhappy...

We decided to give the boat trip another go when Fe told us that she would come with us as well. It was a four island tour that went all day and cost $6. We all got picked up from the hotel at about 8am. Fe had decided to bring her 2 nieces and her nephew and we had all convinced a few Chinese guys to come along. We get to the boat and it is packed. Everyone scraping for shade and due to that lack of space we are soon all pretty good friends.
Our first stop is the Aquarium. It is housed in a huge concrete boat and has a huge fish farm attached to it. We only had 40 minutes here but if was pretty cool. They had the biggest fish that I have ever seen. The turtles and sharks were pretty impressive as well. I will post photos of them when I can. Next stop is just offshore of an island. We are told by our guide that we have time for swimming and snorkeling here. It is so cool. We all get to jump off the boat and they will throw you out rubber rings to sit in and give you a few beers. Despite Fe and her family growing up in a sea side town none of them can swim. Nonetheless we get them all into the water except the older girl who unfortunately is suffering from sea sickness.
Third stop is for lunch. We are in the middle of the ocean when these other boats appear out of nowhere. The throw on ropes and tie us all together and are soon having a huge communal lunch. One eating has finished there is an announcement that ‘the best boy band in Vietnam’ will be playing aboard our boat. People from the other boats pile on and our very crowded boat becomes a floating mosh pit. They were pretty fun (but not good). They played a few Vietnamese songs but then played a song for every nationality present onboard. We had a Dutch girl get up and sing with them. A very enthusiastic British girl had a go. We had Canada present and a lovely rendition of the Land Down Under by a very tall Aussie. There was a large group of New Zealand tourists on aboard and when they were told that they did not get a song because Australia and New Zealand are the same they went a bit crazy. So up 3 men get and do a laughable Haka. Only one knew how to do it so the other 2 just pulled to facial expressions to try and go along.
Once the ‘gig’ was over and we had all had our laugh they sent a man out in a floating bar filled with fruit wine and threw us all back in the water. We all swam over and were fed terrible tasking wine by the glass. It was fun though. Everyone was happy and smiles were everywhere.
Our final stop for the day was at a beach. They dropped us off at the pier and off we trotted. The beach wasn’t that good and they only thing I managed to take from there was a hole in my big toe but there were semi waves that we all could frolick in so it was still fun. Absolutely exhausted we headed back into shore and to our hotel.

There was just one more day in Nha Trang before we headed off on our 6 day motorbiking trip through the central highlands and what better way to spend it than at the brewery on the beach after getting Matt the best lobster lunch in the world. I think I spent about 7 hours there. Met a nice British couple who were heading in a different direction to us and chatted for a few hours. It was a perfect lazy day.

Posted by katbet123 05:37 Archived in Vietnam Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Ho CHi Minh / Saigon

semi-overcast 34 °C

We made it to Vietnam!!! We arrived here on Wednesday night and found a pretty cruisy guesthouse in the backpacker district and then walked for what seemed forever looking for a restaurant that is supposed to be amazing but we have come to the conclusion they have knocked down. Any how at this very moment it is 5am and I am sitting on a midget sized bed on a bus with a birds eye view into the toilet. Welcome to Asia!! We are on our way north to Nha Trang but at this time I will be blogging about our time in Ho Chi Minh.
Our first day here we had our first taste of Vietnam. We found a restaurant call Pho 24. Pho is a noodle soup and you can choose to have either chicken or beef. Matt and I both ordered the chicken. We get a plate of herbs (Lime, chilli, culantro and Thai basil) that we can add as we want to the soup. I love it. It is my kind of soup. Matt and I are going to take a cooking class at some stage during the Vietnam leg of the trip and I am going to make sure that this is part of the menu. It is truly yummy! We bummed around a bit and wandered through a local market and hung out at the room. It was a pretty laid back day.
Day 2 we went on a mission to post some things home (as our packs were bursting and weighed a tonne). We caught a cab to the post office which is this gorgeous stone building and found the correct counter. After filling out around 43 forms and giving them all of our money they smiled and promised to get our stuff to Australia in a slightly more tattered state but on the up side they said they would not accidentally drop it in the ocean. Lovely People!! The whole process was actually cheaper and easier than I thought it would be. They also have these cute little air conditioned ATM booths so you can withdraw money in comfortable privacy
We have started to see the beginning of the wet season over here. Its not too bad though. 2 or three showers a day that last between 10 minutes and half an hour. In fact I think they are great as they cool everything down. So anyway it started to rain and we dashed for a building in front of us. It was a shopping centre called diamond plaza. An upmarket department store that puts the prices in our department stores to shame! Needless to say we didn’t buy anything except lunch.
We had decided to go to a water park called Dam Sen. So we caught the worlds most expensive taxi there (I am pretty sure they had fixed the meter) and bought tickets and headed in. After a bit of confusion about where the lockers were (The westerners had free private locked lockers in a different area of the park) we were ready to hit the slides. Now I haven’t been to the water parks in QLD so I cant compare but this one was awesome!! They had the coolest slide that you went down with 2 people and it was pitch black with a few strobe lights going. They had the usual slides that every water park has and some different ones. Matt is going to do a more detailed blog about it if he ever decides to get motivated. We snagged a cab on the way out of the park and all seemed to be going well. We were happy as Larry and chatting away when our driver turned around and said that he was going to have to let us out here (We wernt even half way through a 15km journey). He said his friend called and he needed to go and see him. Then he promptly pulled the car over and we got out. Feeling a bit bewildered and confused we just stood there. The driver got out and organized a new car for us though and let them know where we were going. We eventually made it back and it was much cheaper than our original trip in. 
Cu Chi tunnels. We had organized a half day trip out to the Cu Chi tunnels. The tunnels are where the Vietnamese guerillas lived and fought from during the war. They were insanely tiny! Matt went in through the ground in one of the tunnels that had been widened for us fat westerners. They were pretty fascinating though. They were really well designed with different levels and around 250km of tunneling done. There were also parts where the entrance of the tunnel was wide enough for an American to fit in. But when they did manage to squeeze in the tunnel suddenly got smaller and they were stuck. Too far in for any help. They also had a pretty big display of homemade booby traps that they had set up throughout the forest. They were nasty looking. Pretty much all of them involved being speared numerous times with bamboo stakes. There was a shooting range and Matt went off to shoot an M16. It was too loud down at the range for me to go and he said that the ear protection was pretty poor so he will have to give the details about that one.
After the tunnels we were dropped off at the War Remnants Museum. It holds a lot of US war vehicles and paraphernalia. They also have a war photography exhibit on. They are the most amazing war photos I have ever seen. The journalists really got up and close during the fighting. It was incredible. They were just real people in a horrible situation. There is one that really stick out in my mind. A person lying on the ground in the bush looking up at a Viet Cong solider. He had a gun pointed at him. The caption read ‘Viet Cong solider prepares to execute prisoner after interrogation’. It is pretty confronting to have that snap shot of such a heartless moment in front of you. The look of absolute terror on this guys face was extremely evident. Also the cold, hard look on the solider’s face was horrifying. There was also a photo gallery that was devoted to the rest of the world trying to put a stop to the war. They had photos of protests going on in pretty much every country in the world including Adelaide. Matt had ventured outside and found an attached prison that I did not know was there. He said it was pretty horrific. Worse than anything we had seen in Cambodia.
We had met some cool kiwi guys on they bus heading down to the tunnels and organized to have dinner with them. We had pizza and beer (Fosters beer). Real Vietnamese food for sure. It was good though. The boys were a great laugh and running amuck wherever they were. They had brought along some cobra wine. It was in a small bottle and the snake inside looked menacing. The restaurant owner brings out 5 shot glasses and we pour it out. The snake is too big to fall out. The liquid in the glasses is a murky yellow. Apparently the murky slime stuff is supposed to be an aphrodisiac. It smelt terrible. 1,2,3 down it went. It burns. Beer chaser and all was good.  It must have had a pretty high alcohol content because I was pretty happy after it and I hadn’t had that many beers. They boys managed to get the snake out of the bottle and proceded to scare pretty much everyone on the street with it. One poor girl fell over trying to climb the gutter and I caught her just in time. Her boyfriend wasn’t too happy about it all. I thought it was highly likely that one of the guys doing it was going to be seriously hurt after trying to scare the wrong person.
We hit a few bars and played some cards and then something amazing happened….. We stumble across a local Vietnamese street restaurant that was serving beer. It about midnight by this stage. We ask how much the beer is. ‘10,000 dong’ the woman replies holding up a 1 litre container!! Now 10,000 dong is about 67 Australian cents. So about half way through our trip we have already found (drum roll please) THE 30 CENT BEER.!! Matt was pretty impressed. Oh and the beer tasted good too. We finished the night off with $1 beef noodles which were of course fabulous and came complete with fried egg!
Market day was upon us. We went out to a market called An Dong and spent some time there. It is a Chinese based market. It was then we realized that the haggling system seemed to be a bit different. They didn’t want to do it. At all. They were not a whole lot of fun. I am sure that I got ripped off on a few things that I bought. There was a Chinese woman there that was trying to sell me freckle removal creams and skin bleaching lotion. She was actually physically dragging me around her stall. In the end she got a bit full on and left without buying anything. We were feeling the effects of the night before and so we left the market scene. We caught a cab and asked him to take us to a cinema. We wanted to see the new Karate Kid movie. We get dropped off and found out that they only have 2 movies playing at one time. So we saw a film with Matt Damon in it.
Feeling a bit better after a couple of hours in air conditioning we wandered through the town and eventually stumbled upon the night market. It was awesome. They had amazing food and both Matt and I bought up a storm. I walked away with 3 different watches and the coolest necklace I have ever seen. Stumbling home around 11 o’clock we promptly crashed.
We knew we were leaving on this last day so we checked out and bought bus tickets to Nga Trang. I really wanted to catch the train but it was triple the price so the bus won on that front. It was a 10 hour trip… of 400km. I am sure they drove at about 20km the entire way there except for the bumpy bits. They would speed up for them. The bus was pretty cool though. It has 34 beds (bunk bed style) in it as opposed to seats. Matt and I are in the back of the bus. The only half sized bed in the entire bus. They crammed an extra bed in where they didn’t have space. All in all a pretty cool concept.
And there I will leave it with further adventures to come
xoxo

Posted by katbet123 03:37 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Market Madness

sunny 42 °C

Market Madness
The markets in Phnom Penh are insane!! There has been a bit of a bump in the road when it comes to our Vietnamese visas (i.e. We thought we could just get them at the border and we can’t – Thank God we actually looked into it again right) so we have been stuck here for a few more days. Which means more shopping - which brings me back to the crazy rabbit warren markets that they have here. After hitting the central market (which I will mention more of later in the post) we wanted to take a look at the Russian market. They are supposed to have a lot of authentic designer clothes that lets say didn’t quite make it to their destination. And they do have A LOT of clothes. It is 42 degrees, no breeze. Clothes piled high in tiny stalls with the merchant perched on top with big smiles ‘Sister buy something from me’. The walkway between the stalls is about 1 meter wide and jam packed full of people. You can’t stop to look at something without causing a traffic jam. It was incredible. It was like being in a mosh pit but for clothes. Matt and I managed to get a few things and try to head back over the craft section. They have everything imaginable at this market. They had a huge and I mean enormous section of the market dedicated to motorbike parts. This of course meant nothing to me but it was still pretty impressive. Matt starts going on about how he wanted to build a motorbike. I laugh…
They have huge silver stands (which looked like they actually had real silver) and craft stands selling everything from prints and purses to floor lamps and furniture
Back to the central market - this seems to be where all the party clothes are kept. Nice dresses and shoes. Not so many designer things but a lot of sparkly things. Now if only they had normal human sizes. I don’t know how they do it. Everyone in Cambodia seems to wear the same size underwear and clothes. That size = SMALL. Tiny even.

I found so many things I liked in the markets and I have asked the vendor if they have it in a larger size. Even though they only have the one size and they know it is much much too small for you the lure of a sale is just too much. ‘No no it will fit’ they say as they stretch it out as far as it will go. ‘One size fits everyone’. As I stand there looking dubious they finally grab me and pull me into the stall. “See sister it will fit, you will look very beautiful’ as they stuff and squeeze me into a size 2. The result…. We are both much sweatier than when we started and I look utterly ridiculous. ‘See sister! You fit’ I look at her. She starts laughing and I can’t help but join in. Its takes me a further 15 minutes to get out of the dress and I am on my way again to go through it all again…….

Posted by katbet123 23:30 Archived in Cambodia Comments (1)

Phnom Penh

Where flannelette pj’s are high fashion

sunny 40 °C

Well I have gone out and bought a mini notebook computer thing to make this whole blogging experience a lot easier (I am sitting in the airconditioned comfort of our hotel room as I am typing this). I have been having issues with the how slow and unreliable the internet is at the internet cafes. With all the wifi that is available these days it should make it a bit easier and allow us to update more often.

We get off the bus in Phnom Penh. It is 7pm and we haven’t organized any where to stay. Once again our bags mysteriously end up inside a travel agents office with the rest of the westerner’s luggage (The Cambodians left to struggle to get their own out of the bus) and we are surrounded with ‘helpful’ people wanting to help us find a place to stay. Matt and I Have decided that this time we would find a place of our own accord and look at a few before committing to one. We start walking leaving one Tuk Tuk driver almost in tears talking about his family. I feel really bad but I am sick of being ripped off. We walked down the river and found some really cool looking restaurants.
I swear walking down the street with your backpack on is like having a sign on your chest saying ‘even though I say I say I don’t want help in finding a hotel I don’t really mean it. You should ask me at least 3 times. All of you!!’. Every corner there is about 7 drivers. After about 4 blocks I was getting a bit over it. Matt was talking to one who said that he would take us to a place and if we didn’t like it we didn’t have to pay him. I relented. I just didn’t want to have to deal with it anymore. They really have it down to a fine art. Another thing. It is like I don’t exist. They won’t listen to me when I say ‘No’ they just look through me and then to Matt and ask him. Annoying.
We get to the hotel and Matt runs inside to check it out. It’s ok but cheap. We have over spent our budget the last few weeks so we are trying to do it a bit cheaper. So we pay the Tuk Tuk driver and take the room. There goes my determination to find a room unaided.

Phnom Penh is a huge city. Poverty is rampant in most areas and very visible. I couldn’t count the amount of women who have asked me for milk with babies in their arms. I have been told that this is a scam though. Apparently they have deals with the store owners of the stores they are standing in front of who pay them commission when they return the milk after you have left. Still it is heartbreaking though.
There is beauty in the city though. Matt has made friends with the Tuk Tuk drivers out the front of our hotel. He bought them beer and they now think he is the bee’s knees. Every time I leave the hotel alone they always yell out to me ‘Where your friend lady’. Matt loves it. He has his own fan base. Bought for only 3 dollars!!! In all seriousness it was a really nice thing he did. They have been sitting out there for days asking us every time we have left the building. They have never been too pushy and they have been super polite. They deserved a reward of some kind.
The Tuk Tuk drivers seem a bit more desperate here than Siem Reap. On our first day we went to a shopping centre and wandered out at about 7pm. We were swarmed. About 8 tuk tuk drivers standing in front of us all talking at the same time and all wanting the job. We eventually take the one who will give us the best price naturally. But sometimes we have asked for a price that we believe is fair and it has taken a while for the driver to come down to it. When we have reached our destination we realize that maybe we should have offered a bit more (Although I do have my suspicions that they have taken the long way to make us feel guilty).
The first couple of days here were spent shopping and wandering around getting to know the place (I am determined not to get overly ripped off in the first few hours in a new place) and hanging around the hotel watching movies (so lame I know but I feel like a need a little break from holidaying sometimes).
We decided that we were not going to make the trip out to the killing fields but Matt really did want to see the prison S-21 where the people were held before they were sent to the field. I am a bit on the fence about this stuff. I find it really hard to deal with. I am all for the knowledge of what has happened in our history but seeing the exact torture devices that were used on thousands of innocent people is just a bit too gory for me – I am more of a fuzzy animal and waterfall kind of girl. However we came all the way to Cambodia so I agreed to go.
We got a tuk tuk there and when we pulled up we were confronted with a 7 foot fence covered in razor wire. As we walked in the gate and looked around you can really tell that is used to be a high school. They still had the different height bars identical to the ones that I played on in primary school. I walked slowly over to the first building and see 14 graves outside. They are the people that were found already deceased when the place was raided. We go into one of the ‘torture rooms’ and see a bed with the smallest shackles laying on it and some other horrible looking device. There was also a picture above the bed with the device being used. I didn’t stay in there long. Matt was taking his time so left and stuck my head in a few rooms. They were all identical but with different pictures and different devices. I waited outside for Matt to finish. The whole place is eerie. It started to rain and it felt fitting. We made our way through the buildings until we came to the one with all the photos. It was horrible. They all looked dead already. Some of them would have only been 13. Men and women. Some of the photos were place next to ones of their corpses. They were mangled – both shoulders ripped out of their sockets, starved and bruised. I feel like throwing up at this point. It is unbelievable the amount of evil that seems to be almost tolerated by large numbers of people. Even when these people were run out of the country they were still trying to and succeeding to torture the Cambodian people.
We saw the tiny cells where people were kept and the barbed wire that coated the front of the building so that people could not commit suicide by jumping off. They were determined that these people suffer for as long as possible. They turned former play equipment into torture devices. When I walked into a room full of skulls which I was not expecting at all I was a bit over whelmed. The skulls in the cabinets labeled ‘Unidentified male aged between 20 and 30 years. Cause of death – blunt force trauma to the rear of head’. What I couldn’t get around was that these were people. With lives and personalities. And now their remains are on display. I was all too much and I decided to wait outside.
On a lighter note we went out for dinner one night and met a couple of Australian brothers who told us about a casino that was not far away. We were about 8 beers in and so naturally we thought it would be a bright idea to go down and check it out. We go with the brothers and walk into the most luxurious building I have been in here in Asia. They had huge chandeliers beautiful furnishings. We walk into the gambling area and I am surprised. Compared to Crown they have basically no security. But they do have free beer… Dangerous. The two Aussie boys wanted to play Blackjack and since Matt had convinced them that I was a seasoned player they wanted me to play with them. We changed some money over and I headed to the table. I gave the guys a quick rundown of the basics and off we went. I didn’t lose any money. I was pretty proud. Matt made up for it though playing Baccarat. We lost a day’s budget. We got back to the hotel. Matt had continued drinking at the casino – I hadn’t. He was pretty drunk.
We woke up the next morning and as expected he felt like he had a tonne of bricks had fallen on his head. We slept late and I left him to wallow in his own self pity and went off to find a cup of half decent coffee (which I found - YAY). I came back hours later only to find Matt in the same position. In bed. After hours of convincing him we go out for some dinner. Matt doesn’t eat. We even catch a tuk tuk the 5 blocks back to the hotel. Matt looks green. I am starting to worry. He doesn’t normally have hangovers that affect him this badly. He gets a fever. I start to get more worried. He is so hot and I start to think that I am going to have to call an ambulance and then there would be airlifting (I tend to get a bit overdramatic sometime and think the worst). I know there is nothing I can do until morning. I make him comfortable and settle in for a very broken night’s sleep. At about 4am he wakes me. He feels much better and his fever has broken. I immediately feel better myself and manage a couple hours of decent sleep.

We have found that the street food over here is a bit unobtainable. We can’t seem to order anything and when Matt tried it was horrible and he was laughed away. However….. We found these stalls that were selling grilled chicken and it was awesome. They put it in a bag with some lime and seasoning and we found a park area to sit in. This is the kind of thing I love. There were kids running around and having fun. Music was playing and the mums were in a group doing aerobics led by a very flamboyant looking man. The grandmothers were sitting and watching the kids. It was like a scene from movie. Almost too perfect to be true and definitely too perfect compared to the poverty covering the rest of the city. I am pretty sure we are in the middle class part of the town by this stage. Anyway the moment was perfect.

A day at the markets will sum up this entry. They have this market called ‘Central Market’ which is a huge Art Deco building that was built in the 1920’s. It is supposed to be the best example of Art Deco architecture in South East Asia and it is pretty impressive. The stalls are pretty impressive too. We walked through the florist’s part of the market and they had the most amazing rose bouquets for around 15 - 20 dollars. I swear they were about as big as me. We had fun haggling with the Cambodian people and got a couple bargains and a couple not so bargainy. Our backpacks are now beyond bursting and we are going to have to ship things home as soon as we hit Vietnam.

Tomorrow we are hoping to do the Russian market and the Grand Palace and heading off the Vietnam on Monday.

More photos to come soon

Love to everyone

xox

Posted by katbet123 07:16 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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