23 February 2015

Vientiane - small but nice

Time was running out and the street between Phnom Phen and Laos apparently was under construction, so we decided to take a flight from Phnom Phen to Vientiane. That means that we skipped the 4000 Islands, but it also saved us a good 30 hours of bus rides.

The arrival in Laos was smooth, as Swiss people get two weeks in Laos without visa. We resisted to jump into an official Taxi that would have cost us quite a bit and so we walked towards the gate of the airport. Half way out suddenly a Taxi that we refused to take before approached us and asked what we would like to pay. We named the price Fabs and I agreed on before and the guy immediately said yes. In a hurry he put our backpacks into the trunk, hid the Taxi sign from the roof and we drove off. Not really legal but a lot cheaper and maybe the last chance for him to get customers that day, as it was already rather late.

15 February 2015

Phnom Phen - the underestimated capital of Cambodia

Phnom Penh riverside
"You will get mugged!", "It's a very ugly place", "I hate Phnom Phen"! - these are just a few quotes of what we heard about Cambodia's capital before we arrived there. But after our jungle adventure we were just hoping for a nice hotel room with a real shower and no bugs all over our stuff.

What we found, at first sight, was not too inspiring. A typical SEA big city, it took us quite a while to get to the hotel from the bus terminal, through narrow, dark, smelly streets. The hotel room was small but clean, however the bathroom was huge with a real shower, warm water and enough water pressure. The perfect relaxation and cleaning for us.

10 February 2015

Areng Valley: modernization, the Cambodian way?

The Areng Valley from above
After visiting some tourist hot-spots like Bagan and Angkor Wat, I wanted to go a little bit more off the beaten track. By accident, I stumbled upon a short mention of the Wild KK Project on wikitravel. I checked out their well made homepage. The project has been founded by a Cambodian NGO named Mother Nature to support the communities living in the remote Areng Valley in their struggle against a Chinese conglomerate intending to flood the whole valley to generate hydroelectric power.

3 February 2015

Sihanoukville or the Côte de Cambodia

Beach restaurant in Sihanoukville
When we were in Siem Reap, a „hotel bus“ where you can actually lie flat for the twelfe hour journey to Sihanoukville sounded really nice. So we booked it for 17 USD (14 EUR) each. The double bunk (if you're travelling alone you might prefer a reclining seat instead of sleeping next to a stranger) was too short for my limbs, but still quite comfortable, expecially if you like cuddling tight with your (travelling) partner and your hand luggage. The 14 hours on the bus were truly bone rattling. Most of the road between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh is a construction site and the bumpyness wont let you get much sleep.

2 February 2015

Siem Reap - Angkor What?

Angkor Wat
A tourist's paradise. Siem Reap consists mostly of hotels. It looked a bit like Las Vegas to me at first sight when we drove into town. The mass tourism of Angkor Wat has positive but also negative aspects, that is nothing new.

When we landed in Siem Reap we were a bit concerned how the visa process is going to work out, but that was unnecessary. I have never seen a more efficient immigration process. Everybody stands in line, you can calculate abot five to ten seconds per person to hand the passport to the officer and pay. This one takes it, hands it to the next officer who does something with it and hands it over to the next one and so on, until you get it back about five minutes later, everything done.