More temples, more shopping, more cocktails…..but no more time!

Well if we didn't see enough temples yesterday, we still had more to come today. We started with a 37km tuk tuk ride out to one of the temples and then saw a few more closer to town, again will just pop in a random collection of some of the temples below.

Our tuk tuk driver gave us some umbrellas to use, mine was a tourist umbrella from Rio de Janeiro, brought back memories of that trip a few years ago.

Back to the hotel by lunch time and we both feeling very templed out, got a few shots of the countryside as we bounced along in our tuk tuk, not an easy task I might add.

Next was a swim, unfortunately the weather hasn't been on our side last few days and after 30 mins by the pool it started to rain…..oh well time for some pampering instead, Claudia got another massage, I went for a manicure and pedicure. As a side note, longest and worst I ever had!

Out into town for dinner on our last night, oh and of course a few cocktails and of course some shopping.

Wake on our final morning to blue sky….typical, but it did mean a few good hours by the pool this morning before heading home later this afternoon.

Went back into town for lunch and a teeny tiny bit more shopping, I promise not more scarfs, the sun was out so got a few shot of the town.

Returned to the hotel to TRY back our bags, mmmmm just a little bit extra to try fit in. After a few attempts I managed to fit it all in and so sadly we called for our tuk tuk driver to take us to the airport.

Goes without saying that I am sad that the holiday is over and from all reports have to return to Melbourne which is freezing cold at the moment, going to be a big shock to the system.

Hope you have enjoyed the blog, see you all very soon

 

 

Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor

Stuffed our b'fast down in 5 mins and rushed to the bus station, got their 7 mins before bus departure time, but the bus was running late, so after an hour baking in the heat we finally on our way, a much less dramatic bus trip this time. However, our tuk tuk ride from bus station to hotel was just as a storm rolled into town, meaning the wind picked up all the dirt on the roads and blew it into our faces, next the rain, while this stopped the dirt, we had to pull over and put down the walls of the tuk tuk, they didn't actually meet up or tie down properly, so the dirt in our faces and hair was now in risk of turning to mud….I guess some people go to an expensive spa for this sort of treatment.

Went to the night markets in town and may have purchased some more scarfs……I think I am addicted.

Early start today to head off to see some of the Temples of Angkor, the area covers some 400km2, and has numerous temples all in different states of ruins or repair. The most famous is Angkor Wat where we started our day, which also appears on the Cambodian flag.

We then went on to see a number of other temples, such as Bayon and Baphuon, but might just pop in a random selection of photos.

By far the best temple we saw today was Ta Prohm, this temple has trees and tree roots growing on top, inside and all over it, was awesome looking through this temple. This temple was used in the Tomb Raider movies, I haven't seen them, but I might have to now. The tree below is actually on top of the ruins, it's roots are on the other side.

Amazingly enough you are able to climb up a number of the temples and all over the ruins, made for some interesting and step stairs and great fun exploring the ruins.

All this climbing and walking meant a much needed swing in a hammock was needed…..ahhhhhh this is life.

We got back to the hotel and went for a swim in the pool, while it was overcast today, it was still hot and very humid, so a dip was very welcomed. As too was the 60 minute Traditional Khmer massage we both had at our hotel, which can best be described as a physio and yoga class with the lady pulling, pushing and stretching your entire body, felt great afterwards, and all for $10……me be back for another type of massage tomorrow.

 

Bumpy trip to Battambang

The bus ride to Battambang was very bumpy, we in a mini bus, which instead of taking 6 hours like the big bus, we told this one only 5….. Well our speedy/crazy driver did it in 4 1/2 hours, his speed topped over 140km…..on roads filled with pot holes, buses, cars, trucks, tuk tuks, bikes, scooters, cows and people! Lucky for me I had my iPad and caught up on Revenge….not looking at the road was best.

Battambang is Cambodia's second biggest city, it didn't feel like a big city, could get across town in 5 mins. After arriving in the evening the night before, we started our next day in Battambang by the pool, we deserved it after our bus ride.

As its the start of the rainy season here, our time by the pool was short lived so we headed into town to check out some temples and walk around the streets. Hard to see in this photo, but the hotel gave me a VB umbrella.

Mmmmm 5 star tuk tuk……unless its got a mini bar in there my thinks, same same

All the bikes lined up upside the local school, we could hear them reciting someone as we walked past

This statue welcomes you as you arrive into town

This man was doing some fishing with a net in the river next to the town

Next we got our tuk tuk driver to drive us out to the bamboo train, basically it's a very gimmicky tourist attraction where you sit on a bamboo platform and fly along some very bumpy train tracks.

 

As it was only a single track if another train came the other way, one had to get off and give way, this meant dismantling the train, which wasn't hard at all.

At the end of the tracks is……of course locals trying to sell you stuff, local kids all hang around trying to take you on a tour of the brick factory….mmmm pass.

Starting the engine required a ratty piece of string being wound around the motor and pulled really quickly, think lawn mower.

We then got our tuk tuk driver to drive us out to Phnom Sempeau which is a temple upon a mountain. Also in this area are killing caves from when the Khmer Rouge killed the Cambodian people, you could go into them and see all the skeletons of those people killed. Along the way, we could see houses of some of the locals, often up on stilts.

We had to walk up the mountain……but was worth it for the view

A number of monkeys where dotted along the path…..really wish dumb tourists wouldn't feed them human food!

At the bottom of the mountain is a cave that according to locals has approximately 5 million bats in it, and at the exact same time in the evening they all fly out together to search for food. So we sat and waited, and waited, and waited, but eventually they did……literally they flood out continuously for up to 40 mins, we didn't stay that long but it was staggering how many we saw, in just the 5 mins we watched. Not a great photo, but you can get an idea at least.

On the bus again tomorrow morning to Siem reap, the finally spot on our trip…sniff sniff.

 

Cross the boarder into Cambodia

Our bus from HCMC took us across the boarder into Cambodia, once in Cambodia you could start to see the differences between the two countries. We had to do a river crossing, our bus and other cars got loaded onto a boat to get across.

Over 5 hours later we arrived in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, as we don't have long here, we set of to explore the town. Started at the central market, similar to many others in what they sell, but a pretty building. Was starving after the bus, so had some very yummy noddles to eat, cooked right in front of me at the market.

They use tuk tuk's in Cambodia to get around, they pretty cheap, plus was pretty hot so perfect way to get around town, putting you right in amongst it all.

Went to Wat Phnom, which is a temple, inside the temple you could see locals praying and making money offering to all the statues, and lots of it to, lots of monks where walking around the temple gardens.

Next was the Royal Palace, this was unfortunately closed when we arrived, but we could still see some of the buildings, was really pretty.

Everywhere you look in this city you can see beautiful buildings or temples.

Phnom Penh is on a river, and has a number of restaurants along the water front, so we stopped for a drink and watched the world go by, turned out to be the queens b'day (we think) and so they had a fireworks display on the river, best $.80 beer I've had.

Next morning, we headed off to Toul Sleng Museum, which used to be a school before it was used as a prison by the Khmer Rouge, during that time, 20,000 people where brought into this prison……only 7 made it out alive. It goes without saying that this was a really sad place to visit, unbelievable that this happened so recently. The conditions they kept the prisoners in was appalling, let along the manner in which they tortured and killed the people. One of the survivors was at the museum signing books, can only imagine what it must have been like when he was a prisoner here, but to come back and sit in the grounds everyday, chilling.

Not far from the prison was the Russian market, haven't actually worked out why it's called the Russian market, but was much better than the central market, but was ridiculously hot inside.

As well as all the normal stuff, they also had some great word work.

But was a little disappointed with the number of hats on sale…..

Time for a beer, it was past 12 somewhere in the world, so why not

Am totally loving it here, and given this countries recent horrible history, it's amazing how friendly and lovely all the people here are, don't feel like people are trying to rip you off cause your a tourist and everyone smiles and says hello, really love this country. Catching a bus to Battanbang this afternoon, another 5 hours on a bus…..wooo hoooo!

 

 

Millions of people on millions of scooters

Ho Chi Ming city is literally filled with scooters, something like 6 million, you see them all lined up at the lights, they totally outnumber cars, and totally understandably, when a scooter costs up to $2,000 compared to a car costing $50,000, and that just for a Toyota corolla, so only the rich have cars, plus, it would take ages to get anywhere in a car, scooters is definitely the way to go.

You get a pretty good idea from these photos above, but they don't truly show it, it's actually amazing, especially in peak hour, when heading out of town we saw literally 1000's of scooters heading into town, they filled 3 lanes and went back a few km's, they just keep coming.

As scooters are the only form of transport for most Vietnamese people, this means they need to use them to transport everything, and trust me we have seen it all, 5 people is rare, but 4 is common, whole families on the one scooter, including kids of all ages, including infants, (see the chair the kid is on below). Then today, Claudia saw a women on the back of a scooter breast feeding…..what ever you do in your car, they do on a scooter.

We did a trip out to the Cu Chi tunnels, about 70km out of HCMC, this is an area where the Vietnamese used tunnels and guerrilla warfare to fight the Americans during the war.

They asked for a volunteer to get into one of the entrances to the tunnels, so naturally I put my hand up.

Was pitch black once I closed the lid and not much room

The tour showed us many of the traps that they used to defend themselves against the Americans, all very crude, but effective, the one below was a trap door, that once you stepped on it you feel into bamboo spikes covered in poison…..ouch!

They then took us to the shooting range where we could shot some rounds from a number of different guns from the war….mmmmm yes please. So our weapon of choice was the AK 47, had a bit of a kick, you could smell the gun powder as you fired them…..was awesome!

Next was a chance to actually go through one of the tunnels, they certainly didn't make them for big people, the section we went through was only 3m underground, they dark and humid, but extremely effective in avoiding the enemy above.

Sadly we leave Vietnam tomorrow, have a lovely 6 hour bus ride across the boarder into Cambodia, while I have enjoyed Vietnam, I am really looking forward to Cambodia.

 

Exploring Ho Chi Ming City

After our overnight bus and very eary arrival into Ho Chi Ming we headed out to do some sight seeing. First was the Ben Thanh market, much like all the other markets we have been too, but we did purchase some coconut candies which are popular in this area, and depending how many I eat I may or may not have some left when I get home.

Next we did a cyclos ride around the streets, and true to their reputation the drivers tried to rip us off, after we agreed to original price, instead of 50,000 they then tried to charge us 250,000. Bit shit really cause you enjoy the ride but then have to argue afterwards, so ruined it a little bit!

Next was the Independence Palace, was like going back in time, and didn't really look much like a palace. They did a tour in English, was ok, you saw the standard rooms, like dinning, meetings, a cinema and the presidents office.

They had on display some presents given to former presidents, including some elephant feet….mmmm ok!

Best part was when we went down to the basement and into the boom shelter. They had rooms with maps that the president could follow what was happening, and secret passages that the president would use to get to bunker.

Next on our list was the Cathedral Notre Dame and then the post office.

Below is the Bitexco Financial Tower, as we got to it it started to rain so we popped into a cafe for some food, the weather can change pretty quickly here, 10 minutes before this, the sun was out.

 

Nha Trang – cocktails, beach and Russians

We thought we should do some sight seeing while in Nha Trang, and plus the weather today is a little overcast so we headed off to the Dam Market, it's in a circle, with areas selling the same stuff together, 10 shops of the same stuff, same same…..but not different!

As you walk around, literally, as well as avoiding every single trader trying to get you into their stall, you also have to avoid scooters, as people ride them through the market shopping as they go.

Anyone need a pair of shoes…..

Or some spices…..look at all that garlic, yummmm

Most of the shops are jam packed with stock, so if you don't like what's on display they find other options to show you, or run to another store to get it, anything for a sale

Next on the sight seeing trip was Po Nagar Towers, which are temples up on a hill

 

 

Mmmm, time to go back to the beach, overcast or not, we are lying on the beach, still beats being at work!

The view from our hotel room looking away from the beach, and looking down on the hotel pool

Nha Trang seems to be the holiday spot for Russian's, everyone you see is Russian, all the signs are in Vietnamese and Russian, as too menus at restaurants. Apparently I look Russian as I have had a number of Russians start talking to me in Russian……..based on Russians poor fashion sense and strong facial features, I haven't taken this as a compliment.

We had some cocktails at our hotel before heading out to the Sailing Club, a very cool and trendy place for both locals and tourist to go, it didn't disappoint, nor did the cocktails.

 

Sadly its time for us to leave our 5 star life style and head back to the real world……and trust me when I say going from the Sheraton to a Vietnamese sleeping bus, certainly is going from one extreme to another. Unfortunately the night trains sold out and so we had to catch the sleeping bus, only cost $10, but you get what you pay for. Yes I am on the top level in the middle of the bus, it felt like I was suspended in the middle of the bus, was very weird.

After a very long night, with little sleep, lots of horn beeping and some major pot holes, we have arrived in Ho Chi Ming City, our last stop in Vietnam.

 

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