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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Milei.vencel CC

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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The Life and Times in Pai

Pai, Thailand, Travel, trip

20170920_132715After Chiang Mai I went up to a little place called Pai. It’s not exactly off the beaten track but it still is a nice place to go see. Some people have gotten totally stuck there and it isn’t that hard to see why.

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Pai is a 3 hour roller coaster of a ride by bus from Chiang Mai. The ride is very windy and the drivers are equally as twisted. However it’s survivable and you know they are thinking about your safety as they go into the wrong lane doing 60 around a corner. I was told the trip used to be 2 hours but since there were too many accidents the drivers were told to slow down. So now we have a 3 hour ride, much safer!

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Pai itself is basically a small hippy town. It is really relaxed, things move slowly here. There are more tourists with dreads here than there are roads.

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Pai was once a quiet market village inhabited by Shan people (ethnic Tai) whose culture is influenced by Burma. Today, Pai primarily thrives on tourism. Well-known among backpackers for its relaxed atmosphere, the town is full of cheap guesthouses, souvenir shops, and restaurants. In the environs of the town are spas and elephant camps. sauce

|The real magic of Pai is whats outside of it.

There is not a whole lot to do in town except walk around and check out the random markets that pop up during the day or the night market that’s always around. Or you could check out one of the many cafes around if that is your thing.

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However, being what it is, Pai is very relaxed. Time moves very slow and the people are all relatively nice. It is an easy place to just do nothing for a few days. Which is great because I got sick and was glued to the room for the better part of 3 days.

The real magic of Pai is what is outside of it. Jump on a bike and just drive.

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The countryside is extremely pretty and peaceful. There is just a lot to see. Fortunately, I had all the time in the world to see it. There are a number of waterfalls in the area and since they are free, they are all worth seeing. There is a viewpoint that goes through china town that is also worth seeing too. The road up is a pretty narrow one that winds its way up through an intimate small town on a hill.

20170920_12350020170920_124548There are also a few hotsprings but they charge for them which is lame so they’re avoidable. The coolest place was probably Lot cave. At least the travel to the cave was sweet. It was about an hour long. The road went through the mountains and got pretty windy. The drive was actually really fun and scenic too.

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Unfortunately, the cave was partially closed due to rain. There are like 3 caves total but 2 of them were closed because the water basically floods them. Because of this I could only see one of them. The best part was jumping on a bamboo raft and being pushed to the other side of a pool. The cave itself was massive. Like very huge, it was crazy how much space was there.

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On the way back from the cave my bike got a flat tire! So I had to spend what seemed like a helpless time trying to flag down trucks to pick me up. Luckily one did and they helped me load the bike on the back and drove to town. They also stopped by a shop and in a few quick minutes it was back to normal. So mystery thanks to those people who helped me out. I have no idea how I would have gotten down without them.  ♡

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There are not many places I have found with the same atmosphere as Pai. It is a great place to get stuck in, and many have.

September – China Stop 1

china, Travel, trip

 

It feels like a long time but it has only been a month! On sept 4th I left Korea and started my trip. So far it has been pretty fun if not most importantly relaxing. It did feel a bit weird to leave Korea and no matter how much I knew it was coming leaving still felt a bit sudden. Especially when I landed in the airport in Beijing. Which I wasn’t totally prepared for. So it did take a while for me to get into everything again and not being a grouch that I left. Did find the groove eventually. I am going by myself on all of this so it has been a bit different than pretty much all my other trips where I have been with someone.

I started off my trip going to Beijing and have ended up now in Kho Phi Phi in Thailand. In between I haven’t done a whole bunch though. So far I have stayed in China and Thailand only. I’ve been in Thailand for almost the whole month doing what I assume is the usual circuit for people who come over here.

I can say Thailand for me has been a lot more fun than China was. I stayed four days in Beijing and then three in Shanghai. Beijing I wasn’t the biggest fan of for a few reasons. Some might just have been my attitude at the time but I found I just wasn’t enjoying myself as much as I would have liked. If i were to find excuses it would be the hostel that I stayed at was pretty abysmal. It was dirty, unfriendly, didn’t really offer anything and worse case didn’t have a chance to meet anyone there. The location was ok I guess, it was central so I was right next to Tienanmen square and the forbidden city. I  was able to see them everyday. However nothing I saw in the city really seemed that cool except for the summer palace. That place was pretty sweet and would recommend it. The square and forbidden city were pretty boring, the history sure is there but to look around it’s all kind of lame.

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The city was dirty and I developed a terrible cough that unsurprisngly went away after I left the city. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the aesthetic there either.  However it was interesting how hard they tried to reconstruct the traditional feeling of the buildings and keep it in line. For the capital city of one of the wealthiest countries on Earth I was expecting a lot more modernity and just better infrastructure. Instead it felt like I was in a bigger Vietnam all over again.

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Jesus Christ

One of the strangest things I experienced was just the checkpoints in the subway. While I guess it makes things safer and it never really took extra time just the thought of it felt way too imposing. It felt like I was in a really dangerous area and was super uncertain how safe the place actually was. Going through the metal detectors and having to put your bags through screening just to use the subway seems a bit much. Instead of feeling safe it made it seem a lot more dangerous.

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However the food was pretty good and the people were all fairly nice. I don’t think my few days in Beijing were totally representative of the city though. I didn’t push myself to do to much and I’m sure that maybe I missed the good areas or fun things. So I’m willing to accept it if someone want’s to change my mind. That being said I found the sites that I saw to be pretty boring and wouldn’t go out of my way to ever see again.

 

 

 

A huge fan of those dumprings, and finally got have duck which I’ve wanted for years after seeing it in London. So it’s been a long wait.

I spent the first day going to the summer palace which was really cool. The palace parts are as same and undistinguished as any other palace or temple you can see so that wasn’t that great. Also a lot of these places have giant walls which make the place seem very grand in scale, but rather boring to look at since it’s just a giant blank red wall. SO pretty bland. The whole compound of the summer palace though is what made it cool. There is a giant lake that it surrounds and the scale of everything is really impressive. It is also very relaxing and nice place to just sit down. That is until some parent lets there kid take a piss in the middle of the walkway. Still there was a lot to see and just enjoy for the most part. The only upsetting part was realizing I had to go back to the center of town again.

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Which reminds me, the subway stations never seem to be in the right place ever. Always a block away from where they need to be.

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On a good note I did do a tour and did a hike of the Great wall. That was worth it and was actually really cool. We walked for a few hours along the un-restored portion of the wall. It was really great to see and there were views everywhere so it was a good time. The guide was a pretty entertaining guy too. He was very adamant the he buy us Snickers for some reason. He also was very distraught when we didn’t really want to eat the 7/11 sausages that had been cooking in our bags for like 4 hours. The wall is unsurprisingly massive like you can see in pictures, but it was a bit more epic seeing it in person and actually grasping the scale of it all. Unlike everything I had seen in China so far it was large and impressive. Don’t know if I would go back to see it, but if your in the area it’s a must. 20170907_103315.jpg

 

 

 

Plus i got take love shots with the tour guide with what was probably just gasoline. Whats not to love!

With my time in Beijing up I ended up going to Shanghai for the weekend which was a sweet change and really made China great again.

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After being delayed for half a year in Beijing airport I flew into Shanghai. Finally the trip was taking off! I met up with a friend in the airport, after that the number one priority at the time was to take a shower and finally get clean again. It was a smashing success and my hair had never felt better, thanks to some Korean shampoo goodness.

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The next day we went to an old town which was really cool. Finally had all the food I wanted and gorged myself on lamb and everything else on a stick. Tried some stinky tofu and might have had too much than what I could have handled. I got pretty stuffed after everything. Except for maybe one thing I don’t think I had something that was just tasted bad in China and it stayed strong here too. The whole area was really nice and had a good atmosphere. It rained a tiny bit but never really got annoying.

 

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We then went to another area which I have no idea where or what it is called so I know it’s a great help. Either way it got even cooler there. There were really Chinese looking buildings and narrow walkways going through them. There were tons of touristy shops there which wasn’t too crazy but the way the buildings just loomed over the alleys was awesome it made everything feel so cozy and like the last place the atmosphere was just there.  For whatever reason it reminded me a lot of Spirited Away.

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Shanghai was definitely more active than any of my time in Beijing. After this we just walked around to the river and saw the well known skyline. I’m not the biggest fan of the giant round 80’s looking space ship but I think I can live with it. I really enjoyed the mixed in European architecture and feel of the whole area too. We walked around a bit trying to find a place to eat. I’m pretty happy where we ended up too.

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So the place we ended up was like nothing like the commercial, but I still felt like it had a similar vibe. Everything that I saw in the streets and in the restaurant was exactly what I thought china would be like.

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Things in the restaurant were bustling and what I thought was cool was everything was it’s own stall/booth. Ambiance through the roof! We ordered quite a lot and none of it was bad. Although the best thing I had my entire time in China was from here and it was only beans we ordered as an afterthought. Like seriously they were great beans I still miss them.

 

Just look at that goodness

After that we just went out to meet some people, and then Shanghai was pretty much done! Actually before leaving I finally got to ride a proper fast train.I wanted to ride a bullet train in Japan but I missed my chance. So when we took the Maglev train to the airport I was more than happy.  I was happy with all of Shanghai actually.

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After Shanghai the next stop was off to Bangkok and Thailand!

I’m still in Thailand now and will do another write up for it probably in a couple of parts.

Also feel free to comment if you have any ideas for what you want me to do next. ^^