Tag Archives: g adventures

The end of my G Adventure

7 Jan

Well here I am sitting at Ho Chi Minh Airport waiting to fly to KL and feeling a little bit emotional about leaving the fantastic people I met behind as I go on to my next adventure in Indonesia.

The last few days were pretty busy. We crossed the border to Chau Doc in Vietnam and spent the afternoon napping in the hotel before taking a motorbike ride up Tam Som mountain and sitting in hammocks with beers watching the sunset. Afterwards we had dinner in a floating restaurant on the Mekong before an early night watching some trashy TV.IMG_5568 Chau Doc was a city which was nice but nothing incredible as it is mostly a transit town for tourists heading to the Delta and HCMC from Cambodia. The next morning we left early again (at 8am) for what was supposed to be a 8 hour drive to HCMC. Luckily our bus driver thought he was a Formula 1 driver and we made it in 5. It was a really interesting drive through the Mekong Delta (well it was when we weren’t asleep) and we really got a feel of life along the Mekong. We also crossed the Mekong on possibly the most dangerous ferry I have seen where we sat on the roof and there was no safety rails at all. IMG_5574

Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City we set off on a walking tour. Some of us girls walked for a little bit before spotting a coffee shop and spending an hour sipping iced coffee in the shade pretending we weren’t in a hot Asian city. After this I took us for the rest of the walk (it’s only been 8 months since I was last there) and we saw the Reunification Palace and did a bit of retail therapy buying some incredibly touristy tshirts in Ben Thanh Markets.IMG_5578

We met the “newbies” who were carrying on the tour that night before heading to the welcome/farewell dinner at a Mexican restaurant which was surprisingly good although the cocktail prices were a bit of a shock after Cambodia. There was a lot of reminiscing of things we had been through together on the trip before we headed off for the Rex Hotel for more cocktails on the rooftop bar and hitting a few of the bars in what ended up being a rather late night.IMG_5582

My last day of the tour consisted of a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels and War Remnants Museum. Although I’d been there before the plan was to spend as much time with the group as possible and we had an amazing lunch at Pho 2000 (where Bill Clinton eats when he is in town) and trying to all pack our stuff with 5 of us girls in 1 room and a lot of sad goodbyes.

It was very sad saying goodbye to the friends I had met. I got to travel through 3 amazing countries with 15 incredible people from across the globe. From Australia, America, Austria, England and Narnia (Guernsey) I had a fantastic time and the people on the trip really made the trip what it was. IMG_5610

So that’s it! The Cambodian Adventure is over and I’m now back in what is kind of my second home Indonesia. I stayed in possibly the worst hotel in the world in KL and having checked into the new place it is rather nice. Time to go out and probably just go to the mall and get a hair cut. Will have to suss out somewhere I haven’t been (which will be difficult) for tomorrow.

Courts xx

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New Years in Phnom Penh

5 Jan

We left Siem Reap in the afternoon to head for the capital which meant a 6 hour bus ride on a public bus. The bus was generally uncomfortable and I struggled to get much sleep but we had a good chat and listened to some music. We also stopped in a town for a bathroom break which generally was a bit ugly and made us feel uneasy. When we got back on the bus our group leader told us it was the birthplace of Pol Pot which made us dislike the town further and needless to say we were happy to leave. We arrived in Phnom Penh (or PP) at 7pm on New Years Eve and after checking in we headed out for dinner and tried to find something to do for the countdown.

While not the biggest New Years Eve I have had, we walked up to near the Victory Monument where all the locals were and there were bands and a big countdown and a huge fireworks display. We were pretty much the only westerners there. It was a good night and we slowly walked back to the riverfront yelling Happy New Year at people before a few of us girls checked out a club for a drink and headed home at a respectable 2am.IMG_5486

Next morning we got to sleep in before going on a walk around town with our leader. We went to the Victory Monument and past the Grand Palace and also did a bit of shopping at the Central Market. We were running out of time for lunch but ended up at this back alley local place where they completely messed up our order but lunch was good!

We went to our hotel where we got on the bus which would take us to Tuol Sleng (S-21) and Choeung Ek- The Killing Fields. There is nothing that can compare you for these places. The genocide statistics are absolutely horrific with 3 million out of a population of 8 million killed over the course of 4 years for reasons that are really difficult to understand. The places you see make you feel sick, angry and incredibly sad and I think most of us cried at one stage or another.

S-21 was a prison used during the regime and out of 20 000+ people imprisoned there only 7 survived. You go into the rooms which are exactly as they are when the Vietnamese liberated it. In one of the rooms you can even still see dried blood on the ceiling from where the prisoner was killed with an iron bar. The things the Khmer Rouge did here were sickening and our guide was incredibly knowledgeable having survived the regime himself and telling us stories about being in a labour camp at only 6 years old and losing his parents and many of his siblings. One thing which really stood out at S-21 was where we got to meet one of the 7 survivors. It was really moving and he talked to us (through a translator) and showed us the scars of where he was tortured. IMG_5506 He’s 80 now but comes back to the prison every day to share his experience with visitors so we can understand what it was truly like. Meeting him was a real honour.

We then followed a path which would have been quite similar to those imprisoned at S-21 to the Killing Fields. I remember learning about the Cambodian genocide in high school but still didn’t know what to expect. We went through the entrance and the first thing you see is a huge stupa (Buddhist temple) filled with the bones of the remains. What is even more shocking though is walking around the area you are constantly treading on and seeing bone fragments and clothing scraps of the victims. This is because every time it rains the remains come to the surface and the site has not been completely excavated. They haven’t finished the excavation as after already exhuming at least 7000 bodies they feel that that is enough. Records indicate that there are probably over 20 000 bodies at the site and there were hundreds of these places in Cambodia. After hearing all the stories of torture, rape and murder we sat under a tree to reflect. There are a lot of questions you ask yourself most of which can’t really be answered. The whole place has a really strange uneasy feel about it which isn’t pleasant so I was quite happy to get on the bus and leave but I’m glad I went.

That night to lighten the mood a bit, the guide from the Killing Fields told us about a Cambodian kickboxing fight on that night which a few of us went to check out. It was incredibly cool. We saw 3 fights of the 6 fight card and the boxers were amazing athletes. It was very similar to Muay Thai with knees and elbows and also take downs allowed. The crowd was electric and we were the only foreigners there and were promptly offered ring side seats (which we refused but took up the offer of seats a few rows back from the front). IMG_5498 In the first fight we thought the guy was dead because he got hit so hard for the KO. The second fight was 2 girls and they went hard really laying in some strong clean hits and had the crowd on their feet yelling. The last fight the guy I was going for lost on points despite his opponent having blood pouring down his face for the last two rounds. Yes it’s brutal and some people don’t like it but it truly is an art. There is a strong spiritual aspect with boxers performing a dance before they fight and a lot of respect between fighters and a traditional band was playing the whole time through the fights. Following this we went out to dinner before finally having an early night as we had an early start the next day to go to Sihanoukville.

Courts xx

n.b there is a huge lack of photos from Phnom Penh sorry. I couldn’t bring myself to take photos of the Killing Fields and the S-21 one is one of 2 that I took as a memory. Then I forgot to take my camera to the boxing. Sorry