Travel Journal #1

We’ve been on the road for three weeks now and still so much more to come. We must admit that everything changed when we arrived here. All these months of looking forward to this big trip, five months would go so quickly. When we arrived I really had to get used to the idea of traveling for so long and the different feeling you get compared to a ‘normal’ holiday, 5 months traveling is pretty daunting! But, the main goal of this trip was to do whatever we wanted and for five long months and to enjoy every single moment!

We’ve found it’s best to stay flexible on the road, we’ve changed and adjusted our plans a fair amount from our original plan, which is not necessarily a bad thing. We’ve decided to travel slower and live and travel more day by day, having to move hotels and hostels every day or two is pretty tiring plus traveling can be exhausting sometimes.

We started three weeks ago with our big adventure in Bangkok. Neil has been here ore or less fifteen years ago but for me it was the first time in Thailand. We stayed on Khaosan Rd, but it wasn’t as mad as expected. Maybe that is because we were already used to the madness of Delhi last year! It’s extremely touristy but for our first destination that’s not too bad.

Wat Pho - Bangkok - Thailand
Wat Pho – Bangkok

We relaxed at the swimming pool on the roof and visited the Grand Palace, where we were surprised by all these giant busses full of Chinese tourists who walk around in huge all-consuming groups. We had to buy our first temple outfit since they are extremely strict on what you can where inside. Of course, we ended our days with delicious food and cold big beers on Rambuttri and Khaosan Rd.

Our original plan was to go to the east into Cambodia, so that’s what we did. We took a minivan to the border of Cambodia and who would drop us off in Siem Reap. As naive tourists we were, we fell straight away in two scams at the border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia. It really didn’t make us feel very welcome in Cambodia or feel very trusting of the locals, which was a huge pity.

Luckily our view of the locals changed within a few days when we noticed that there are a lot of lovely Cambodians.

Our hotel in Siem Reap was lovely, cheap and relaxing. Outside the tourist area in a local neighbourhood which was amazing to get into contact with the real Cambodians. One evening we didn’t want to go to the tourist part so we thought about visiting a local restaurant, one with a small table and a few seats, with a BBQ outside. There was a little boy who spoke really good English, and because the rest of his family didn’t speak a word, he tried to help us the best he could. We asked him what the sauté was made of and he said it was chicken.

We can handle that is what we thought and ordered four, it smelled delicious. While we were waiting until it was BBQed we saw that he also sold snakes, lizards and strange blown up frogs! Luckily, he made our order to go, because when we tried it in the hotel room it was certainly no chicken! It definitely didn’t look like it and didn’t taste that way either. Until today we still have no clue what it was that we’d eaten!

Angkor Wat - Cambodia
Angkor Wat – Cambodia

We choose a one-day ticket to Angkor Wat, because there is a small trick which makes it possible to go there on two days with that ticket. When you buy the ticket at the end of the day at 16:45, you’re allowed to go into the park already and to watch the sunset for that day. Unfortunately for us there was no sunshine on the evening we went, but it was very exciting to see the temple and the jungle around it already, just a small starter for the next day!

The next day we started the day with a delicious banana pancake breakfast and set off to visit the most well-known Angkor Wat temple. Not only are the temples are stunning but also the scenery around it is worth enjoying also. We arranged a tuk-tuk with the hotel and he waited for us when we were visiting the temples. There is a small route you can do in one day and a bigger route if you have the three or seven-day pass. You can even rent a bike to bike around yourself, but it is extremely hot during the midday hours, so make sure you bring enough water and take a good break during lunch time.

Angkor Wat is much more than one temple and the hundreds of temples will make sure you won’t get bored. We started with the famous Angkor Wat temple which is also shown on the Cambodian flag. It’s gorgeous and the amount of details of the towers and hallways is impressive. Afterwards we went to the Bayon temple. Personally, I loved this one a lot, all those giant faces on the towers make it look like a big friendly and welcome temple to visit.

Ankor Wat Temples - Cambodia
Ankor Wat Temples In Cambodia

After this temple you walk around by yourself trough the jungle and explore some extra temples. We climbed a big temple which let us overlook the jungle. After a delicious lunch and chill out we continued to the temple what is also known of the Tomb raider film. It’s incredible to see how the jungle reclaims it with all the tree roots weaving in and out of the temple ruins. How much I liked the Bayon Temple, this Ta Prohm Temple is our favourite.

After some relaxed days in Siem Reap it was time to move forward with the sleeping bus, 100% bed is what they told us! We were both very surprised to find out that is true and even Neil could almost lay flat! It was a bumpy ride but even though we had enough hours of sleep and the 10hour ride to Sihanoukville went very fast.

Sihanoukville is a beach town in the south of Cambodia and the start point to some of the Cambodian islands. We just wanted to relax for a bit and decided to go to Otres Beach which is outside of Sihanoukville. In Sihanoukville you see the big Chinese building companies building huge Chinese resorts and we’ve seen and heard that they are building a full china town at Otres Beach. Such a waste because it will turn this lovely natural beach into a big touristic destination!

Sihanoukville - Cambodian Beech
Sihanoukville – Cambodia

We enjoyed a few days at the beach, walked to Otres beach 1 and 2 because we stayed in the village and enjoyed some western food after all the rice and street food. We stayed in a beach guesthouse including pets like ‘Lizz’ as we named the lizard in our room, guess we must get used to seeing more reptiles in our cheaper rooms.

From Sihanoukville we took the minivan to Phnom Penh, we thought this would be relaxed and more luxury than the big busses. Unfortunate the minivans have an extra row of seats in it then what it is designed for. Even I had trouble fitting in, so imagine Neil in this minivan!

Phnom Penh is the capital town of Cambodia. In general, you can say that Cambodia is 30 years behind on the western world. But in Phnom Penh you definitely see how fast Cambodia is growing and there’s a lot of potential. We love Phnom Penh with it’s lovely people and delicious street food!

We did a tour to the Choeung Ek killing fields just outside of Phnom Penh. What an horrific history, showed in an impressive way trough this memorial museum. Unbelievable that 3 million Cambodians were murdered of a total population of only 7 million! You walk around in between the graves in the silence with only the birds singing, listening to the history facts and witness descriptions on the audio tour.

Human Skulls at the Killing Fields - Cambodia
Killing Fields – Cambodia

Horrific if they describe how the soldiers of the Kmer Rouge killed the babies to save bullets and to dump the bodies of the mums naked in a mass grave. Imagine how un-respectful this is for those women who don’t even wear a bath suit on the beach!

Afterwards we visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, this is where they kept the prisoners before they escorted them to the Choeung Ek killing fields. A big impressive historical day! A brutal history of not that long ago which we should never forget!

We enjoyed Phnom Penh, visited some temples, did a river cruise, went to the market and walked around before we flew back to Bangkok. We changed our minds about the way we wanted to travel and arranging visas took to long, so we decided to leave Laos and Myanmar for what it is and to head south a bit earlier than expected. Which gives us more time in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. In Bangkok we stayed two nights, which was long enough to see some extra sightseeing and to be ready to leave. Seeing more of other cities and other parts of Asia made us feel happy to leave Bangkok. On our way to Kanchanaburi!

Death Railway - Kanchanaburi - Thailand
Kanchanaburi – Thailand

Kanchanaburi is 150 km west of Bangkok and known for it’s Death Railway and beautiful nature. We took the train, which was a nice and relax way of traveling. We stayed in a very clean and nice guesthouse from where we could visit the Bridge over the river Kwai, the cemetery and several museums on our bikes. Hard to see all those British and Dutch graves at the cemetery and to realize that for that 415 km long railway there is one sleeper for one dead body. We also visited some waterfalls and had a nice swim in them to cool of from the heath we sometimes still suffer with.

Writing this we are arrived in Hua Hin, the oldest beach town of Thailand. It’s a little cloudy, we haven’t been to lucky with the weather on beach destinations! But luckily the sun tries to break trough the clouds. Ready for some relaxing beach time! Speak to you soon!!

3 thoughts on “Travel Journal #1

  1. Really nice Mandy and Neil! I’m curieus if you’ll ever find out what you guys ate! Haha did it taste like chicken at least? ?
    Enjoy the rest of Thailand!!

  2. Wow still in the process of reading right to the end, for someone like myself who has yet to step onboard a plane your adventure is breathtakingly wonderful , i wish you both more amazing adventures and eagerly await your next diary all my love to you and Neil xxx

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