Cambodiaaaaa

Cambodia, south east asia, Travel, trip

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So from Thailand I went back to Korea for a week. I think I covered that place enough recently so I will skip the coverage in favor of the trip to Cambodia. I was supposed to go to or at least originally planned to go to Laos, but I decided I want to go to Angkor Wat so I went to Cambodia instead.

As in most places I have gone to I didn’t really know what to expect. I went straight to Siem Reap because that was pretty much the whole reason why I went here in the first place. It didn’t take me very long to realize that I made the right call.

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Siem Reap province is located in northwest Cambodia. It is the major tourist hub in Cambodia, as it is the closest city to the world famous temples of Angkor (the Angkor temple complex is north of the city). The provincial capital is also called Siem Reap and is located in the South of the province on the shores of the Tonle Sap Lake, the greatest sweet water reserve in whole Southeast Asia. The name of the city literally means Siamese defeated, referring to the victory of the Khmer Empire over the army of the Thai kingdom in the 17th century. Sauce

20171019_214309The hostel was pretty accommodating and almost right away I met some fun people that I could talk and hangout with. Better yet there was a pool too. The hostel had a really relaxed feel. Not only was it possible and easy to meet people it was also a good spot to get things done and really had a good mix between social vibes and letting other people do their thing. What took me off guard was just how under developed it was in the area. IMG_8643

Now Thailand isn’t broke but that was pretty much my measuring stick in these situations. However I just was unprepared to how under developed it was.Driving or walking down the street there would be various building but nothing ever really got going to forming a metropolis or really just a coherent town. It had some areas to be sure but it was mainly some random strip of random buildings followed by long empty strips then another row of random buildings. Coming from the airport made me feel like I was going through a distorted Vegas. There would be massive glittery hotels then absolutely nothing closer to 5 minutes to it. Siem Reap has at its center a French core that unsurprisingly is pretty well kept and is where a lot of activity can be found.

Countless looters have and still come and snatch the heads off of the statues.

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Cambodia is cheap, and I mean cheap. Which is great for me, but also mildly depressing for the actual country. Cambodia has had a rough history. What I didn’t really understand before going there was just the extent to which Pol Pot and his regime devastated the country. Now it isn’t purely on his shoulders and problems and the decline of the country started way before him, but what happened under his rule is just tragic.20171020_124219Now I spent most of the time visiting the temples in the area. Apparently back in the day each ruler started building temples under their rule so there are tons of these things around the area. I was lucky enough to meet some cool people so I spent the whole day going around with them.

Either way the temples were all pretty neat. They were definitely different than what I was used to seeing. What is definitely worth noting however is the condition they are in. Yes they have entire families trying to sell you magnets for a dollar, but that’s not what I’m talking about. If you look at the picture below and really look close you can start to make out that the wall on this bridge is actually not a wall. In fact it is lined with a ton of headless statues. This unfortunately is prevalent all around the area.  Countless looters have and still come and snatch the heads off of the statues. Here is some more reading about it if your interested. 20171020_13515220171020_12543020171020_123537

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Is it a picture of my sandals or the stone?

20171020_14231720171020_150120IMG_8603We nicknamed this the water temple from Zelda. It was actually pretty unique. We had to cross some small walkway spanning a shallow swamp to get here. Then like the picture above shows it was just a small tower in the middle of what is basically a pond.20171020_152324

We spent what seemed like forever waiting at the last temple to watch the sun set. While we were waiting it sure filled up.

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The next day I was by myself so I also went to see Angkor Wat which was pretty cool. The amount of area it takes up is pretty massive. I have seen so many pictures of this place. So it was cool to finally see it in person.

20171021_11524920171021_11475320171021_115810There are a few walls decorated like this and they all tell a different story. From fighting brothers fighting demons to the Khmer marching off to fight the Vietnamese. 20171021_12045320171021_12150520171021_12172820171021_122847

Looking at all of these temples and learning a bit more about the country of the past couple days the thought of  “what happened” kept popping up in my head. These structures all pretty impressive and if you look at the extent to which the old Khmer kingdoms stretched it was fairly large as well. What made it all collapse? Like always there is an answer. Colonization did the country no favors either.

I went to myriad of other temples too, at this point I was totally burned out from temples. However I paid to see them all so see them I did!

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Not really sure what was going on here but there were faces on everything. Large faces. IMG_8717IMG_8688

Now I ended up staying a pretty short time in Cambodia. I had some friends returning to Thailand so I went back to see them. In the future I would definitely go to for longer. Not to disparage either country but it seemed like a more relaxed Thailand. The places I would like to visit should surprise nobody. They would be Phnom Penh first. I regret not seeing the killing fields. I’ve heard it is one of the most sobering things out there. Then next is Koh Rong because, well, beaches.

Next up, a quickie on Chiang Mai!

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September – Thailand Stop 1/Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, Thailand, Travel, trip

If you want some recent updates about where I have been inbetween blog posts, please check out my FindPenguins page! Links at the bottom of the post.^^

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I’m on my way to Thailand! I was a little unsure how my trip was going when I was on my way to Bangkok.

I didn’t spend very long there. After taking a day to relax, I then promptly go out of there and went up north to Chiang Mai.

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[Chiang Mai] the largest city in northern Thailand. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province and was a former capital of the kingdom of Lan Na (1296–1768), which became the Kingdom of Chiang Mai, a tributary state of Thailand from 1774 to 1899, and finally the seat of a merely ceremonial prince until 1939. It is 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkok and is situated amongst the highest mountains in the country. Source

I’ve been following the usual track for backpackers visiting Thailand. The only difference really is where on the route you start and the order you go in.

I started by going north to Chiang Mai headed upwards. Then I plan to head down south and visit the islands. I’ve met plenty of people who did the islands first then went up north. So, I’m doing the north to south route with Chiang Mai as my first stop. Yay!

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Every shirt is the exact same….actually, everything is the same

Chiang Mai as a place is fairly decent. I was pretty surprised the amount of infrastructure in the city. I haven’t explore everything but it has become one of my most traveled areas.

Chiang Mai has a tourist feel for the most part. Can you get away fromthat? sure, but it can be unavoidable in some areas. The city is a lot smaller then Bangkok, which is no surprise. Most of the buildings are only a couple stories tall. The tallest places by far are the hotels which tower above pretty much everything else. I’m not sure how to exactly explain how it looks and feels other than it’s like a small city with small buildings but it seems pretty chaotic just because I understand pretty much nothing.

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This map doesn’t show the whole city but it shows the main parts that I find relevant. I first stayed pretty close to the Warorot Market on the east side. What I find the most interesting is the square in the center of the city which is where the moat is and the city wall was. It’s cool to have such a distinct border in town. Surprisingly I don’t have any great pictures of the area.

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For the most part walking around is fine, and with time you can get pretty much anywhere. In some places it can get a bit hairy and you’ll have to share the street with cars or dart across traffic to get to the other side of the street {cross walks please}. If your not in the mood to walk you can also take a shared taxi. These are red closed top trucks where you can just jump in with other people for 30 baht and go where you want. So in a way it’s kind of like a small bus. I didn’t realize this for so long and always wondered how people got in those things. Uber does exist here though, and so does a taxi app like uber called Grabtaxi. However, unlike Uber there are promotions on Grabtaxi and you can get rides for literally free. If your in Thailand and want to use Uber I recommend giving Grabtaxi a spin first.

Chiang Mai also is home to a university named CMU. I’ll let you guess what it stands for.

has a strong emphasis on engineeringscienceagriculture, and medicine. Its instructional mission includes undergraduate, graduate, professional and continuing education offered through resident instruction. Its main campus lies between Chiang Mai downtown and Doi Suthep in Chiang MaiChiang Mai Province.

The university was the first institution of higher education in northern Thailand, and the first provincial university in Thailand. source

I was able to drive around the main campus in the west earlier, and the thought of going there did run through my mind.

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When actually getting to the city I didn’t really have any idea what to do so I signed up for a trip to see some elephants. Elephants were cool and really really weird. I’m very glad I went to see them because it was really interesting. The most exciting thing that happened with them was when I got trucked by Dumbo the little baby Elephant. He got a good swing in there with his head and sent me flying! Afterwards we ate a ton of watermelon and then went to mud up and wash the elephants down.

 

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Seriously though, they are some weird creatures. Cool but strange. What I thought was most impressive was how they used their trunks. I guess it’s really no surprise they can use them like hands, but still, I can’t use one hand with as much dexterity as them. What set it apart was the deliberate actions and obvious intent on their parts to strip all the stalks clean of leaves. So that was cool. Other than that, their mouths are very freaky and the tail was not at all what I was expecting feeling a lot more like nails than hair. How much extra sin they had was also quite different. It’s so saggy and baggy but at the same time so rough and funky.

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The best part though was the baby elephant Dumbo, who not only hit me but also chased one of the Thai guys up a tree. He also was rough housing with his brother in the water. We spent the whole afternoon listing for his bell and staying alert of where he was.

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Dumbo chasing the guys. He couldn’t go up the hill.

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The little devil^^

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I met some really nice people there too and we ended up going out later to see a rady boy cabaret show. That was entertaining for sure. Luckily we had good seats and didn’t get pressed into service of the show, or approached by anyone. So we could comfortably sit back and laugh at everyone else’s misfortune.

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The next day I again had nothing to do so I went to a cooking class which was meh, but hey better than doing nothing. Funny story I just met someone in Cambodia who did the same class I did. Coincidence? I made stir fry and a couple other things which was some of the most cooking I’ve ever done in one sitting.

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I made sure to drown it in oil

The people were nice enough but it was a different crowd than usual.

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20170915_151316Trying to figure out what to do next I went zip lining, never done it before so I wanted to check it out. It was fun. Meet a nice couple from Portugal and we did our thing. They were friendly and made it a good time. Especially since the two Chinese girls were not being super enjoyable. It was nice to do at least once. Would I do it again? probably not, but it was nice to do for at least once.

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wheeeeee

Since that time I have come back to Chiang Mai two more times actually. This makes it my most visited place! *clap* *clap* My internet is laughable right now and for the sake of being in order I’ll talk about them later. I’ll use the following picture as a teaser though. Oh and the main image, that’s totally from today.

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After I did all those few things I rode a bus out to….

PAI!

Where only good things awaited.

Also since I realize that these posts are pretty long and delayed I started writing on FindPenguins. So while you wait for these posts, if you want some up to date and quick posts about where I have been please check out my page! HERE

 

What did you think of Chiang Mai? Or what do you want to do there? I look forward to hearing some stories.