Category Archives: Cambodia

Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

“From the four walls that currently surround you to the infinite potential of space, this week we’d like you to show us your take on room, rooms, or a room.”

Not one for being obvious, I didn’t want to fill this challenge with lots of photos of great hotel rooms. Instead I chose a few of my favourite “rooms”.

Athens

Athens

Ok I just said I wasn’t going to fill up on hotel rooms, but this is the view from my favourite hotel room overlooking my favourite city in my favourite overseas country. Whenever I can see the Parthenon sitting proudly atop the Acropolis, I feel happy….and very much at home. I’m sure I must have been Greek in a former life!

 

 

 

 

Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class

One of the biggest gripes that travellers have is the lack of room offered by airlines. Maybe one of reason why this is so is because Singapore Airline’s stole everyone’s extra space and added it to Business Class on their A380. There is so much room it can fit 2 champagne drinking passengers.

Moet et Chandon Cellars

Moet et Chandon Cellars

Speaking of champagne…..(nice segue) this stairway leads into the room that I discovered that I actually do like champagne, when you drink it at the source. This stairway leads to the Moet et Chandon tasting room which is at the end of a labyrinthine network of underground tunnels and cellars. After a tour of the cellars the corks were popped, the bubbles fizzed and my tastebuds did a hallelujah dance. The French sure know how to make champagne. Up to this moment I had only given a polite smile through gritted teeth whenever I had to have a glass.

Belvedere Ice Room Whistler

Belvedere Ice Room Whistler

Speaking of drinking… (another nice segue) one of the strangest rooms I have ever been in is one made completely of ice. The walls, the bar, the shelves, the seats were made of ice. It was called the Belvedere Ice Room and served ice-cold vodka.  On a trip to Whistler I found myself in this room tasting vodka after being kitted out in a heavy fur-lined jacket. It was great fun. The downside was that due to the freezing temperature, you can’t stay all night in the room, even though the cold spirit is warming you on the inside.

Bayon Temple Campodia

Bayon Temple Campodia

There are many different type of spirits (yep, another segue), some alcoholic and some spiritual. On a recent trip to Cambodia, while exploring Bayon Temple’s many rooms I was surprised to come across this buddha . Despite believing that the temples of Siem Reap were abandoned, it was obvious that I was wrong. The Buddha had been cloaked in a bright saffron-coloured sash and surrounding the seated figure were many offering. Some of them were recent offerings proving that this was still an active place of worship.

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In their day, the temples of Siem Reap would have been considered opulent, (here comes another segue) but nothing like the opulence experienced at an exclusive dinner in the Hall of Battles, one of the majestic rooms in the Palace of Versailles.  Believed to be the first dinner staged at the Palace since Napoleonic times, it was a privilege to feel like a privilege member of French Royalty.

Speaking of privilege (ok enough with the gratuitous segues), I have had the privilege and pleasure to have this as my view from my Santorini room.  Really don’t think there is anything more to say…just open a bottle of ouzo, nibble on some grilled octopus and just enjoy.

Santorini Greece

Santorini Greece

The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the weekly photo challenge, but with the added twist that every photo has to have a travel element to it. Enjoy! #postaday

 

 

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Sunrise vs. Sunset

Sunrise vs. Sunset

When visiting Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, is it best to do a sunrise or sunset tour?

Sunrise at Angkor Wat was definitely more crowded than the sunset. That is unless you go up to the mountain to get the classic sunset shot.

In the morning there were a few thousand people all crammed around the “reflecting pool” all trying to get the best shot. There was telescopic lenses to match the telescopic tripods, plus quite a few telescopic elbows as people tried to shove you out of the way as if they had the only right to the magic shot.

As well as people, there was a lot more mosquitos around at dawn. So wear bug repellent and long pants – maybe that’s why everyone is wearing harem pants???

The temperature is a lot more bearable in the morning than in the afternoon. In fact it was almost cold. Almost.

You do need a torch to find your way to the right spot to catch the sunrise. It is pitch black as there is no lighting whatsoever. There isn’t even any street lighting on the way to the temple.

Going in the morning means that you then can stay to explore the temple, but once the sun goes down you have to leave as you cannot see anything. While there are a lot of people there to see the sunset, most tour groups then heard them back onto the bus to head back to their hotel for breakfast, which then gives you the temple almost to yourself. Almost.

Arriving at Angkor Wat in the late afternoon gives you a “free” day as it doesn’t count as part of your allowance on your 1 day or 3 day pass so you can get extra temple visits in, if that is your thing.

The late afternoon heat can still be a bit oppressive and there isn’t much in the way of shade in and around the site. Bring plenty of water.

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Either way you will get the same photos, but I think it also depends on if you are a morning person, as a 4am start can be a bit tough.

The Don’t Forget Travel Group

Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

Running a bit late for this week’s photo challenge that I nearly abandoned it!

I have seen a few abandoned things and places in my travels.

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Angkor Wat is probably the most famous of all the abandoned temples in Cambodia.

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Machu Picchu was abandoned by the Incas until it was “rediscovered” again in 1911

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Jiaohe – one of the once great cities on the Silk Road in China.

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Delphi was once the home of the Oracle dished out advice to the ancient Greeks

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Situated on a high dune overlooking the Nile is the Temple of Kom Ombo

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The Treasury Building at Petra in Jordan was famous even before Indiana Jones

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The abandoned buildings at the former convict settlement at Port Arthur is a moving experience.

Pt Arthur Tasmania

The Venetian fortress of Bourtzi, is just one of the abandoned fortress in Nafplio, Greece

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An abandoned church near the Temple of Poseidon at Sunio south of Athens

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Cool graffiti on an abandoned warehouse

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Some abandoned mannequin legs found discarded on a street in the Chinese city of Guangzhou

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The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the Weekly Photo Challenge, but we’re adding an extra twist as we’re going to try and adapt the weekly theme into being “travel related” somehow! This week’s theme is: ABANDOMED.

#postaday

 

Happy Pizza, Happy Place

Went to my Happy Place….I think?

All in the name of client research, I tried a Phnom Penh Pizza. While it may not sound very “local” or Khmer, it’s not just an ordinary pizza, it’s a happy pizza.

In Cambodia, marijuana is illegal to smoke, but not illegal to use as a herb in cooking, apparently, so these happy pizza have a sprinkle of happy herbs on them.

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Down the road from the hotel there are 3 in a pizza restaurants row, Happy Herb Pizza, Pink Elephant Pizza and Happy Pizza. Ok, I decided to give it a go and I picked the restaurant in the middle, The Pig Elephant as they offered “super Happy Pizzas”. The menu said “Non Happy, Mildly Happy or Very Happy”. I didn’t want to be maniacally hysterical so I went with mildly happy ham and pineapple.

What arrived was a thin crust pizza with sprinkles of green herbs on top. Enough that you could see them, but not enough to make you worried. The pizza itself tasted quite nice while the marijuana tasted a bit like, dare I say it, grass! The weedy flavour (there I did it again, the puns are flowing) was not strong enough to really add any additional flavour to the pizza.

After lunch I went to the nearby Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda. I certainly wasn’t tripping, in fact not sure I felt anything at all, other than mildly happy. IMG_0343Stopped off for a coffee and all of a sudden a wave of pure exhaustion overcame me mixed with tingles and a slight hint of paranoia. I had lost all motivation and all I wanted to do was go back to the hotel for a lie down. Did it have anything to do with the happy pizza, or was it due to the fact that I had been up at 4am that morning to catch my flight?

I can tell you one thing, I certainly haven’t experienced an attack of the munchies.  In fact it has been quite the opposite as I haven’t felt like any food since lunchtime 10 hours ago.

Would I do it again? Probably, only because the pizza was very nice, it didn’t feel sleazy, but it really isn’t my thing.  A Johnnie  Walker soaked pizza base,  now you’re talking.

The Don’t Forget Travel Group

 

Siem Weep

After what may have been a dodgy cold roll (which unlike the name suggests, wasn’t very cold) and wandering the  steamy Old Markets that traps the heat like a pizza oven, and then the Night market (oddly it was day time!) I really needed a bathroom. I also really felt like a coffee, a real coffee that wasn’t made with condensed milk.  Priorities! Like a moth drawn to a red flame I was drawn to the red Illy sign. illy

My theory being that at least the ‘Cambodian Latte’ will start with the right ingredients. Cafe Central is diagonally opposite the old market on the corner of 9 Street and 11 Street and very close to Pub Street. It’s a bright airy place with massive windows on two sides. It’s tastefully decorated and has 26 overhead fans keeping the heat to a pleasant level.IMG_3449

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After ordering a Flat White (obviously used to Australians – potentially even owned by an Australian as I see for breakfast you can get vegemite with your sourdough toast) and with some trepidation I went to the bathroom. If you have ever been forced to use a toilet outside your hotel in some Asian countries you will understand the hesitation.

The well-known mantra is ‘ do not do number 2 if you want to keep clean shoe’.

Ok I made that up. But I’m sure it was running through my mind as quickly as the uncold roll was running through my lower intestines. What a shock. I made the bathroom in time and also noticed how clean it was. Spotless Cleaners could not have made it more spotless! And with plenty of toilet paper as well. This toilet is cleaner than my 5 star hotel room. Cleaner than a pre-Wrecking Ball Miley Cyrus video.

The coffee was excellent as well. I ended up having two.

In unfamiliar surroundings, everyone needs to know where they can get a good cup of coffee and a clean toilet.

While it may not have been traditional – I like to call it Khmer Contemporary- I think if I was staying in Siem Reap for longer this would be my daytime go to place.

Footnote: the local Angkor beer is 1.25!!!!!

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http://thecafecentral.com

The Don’t Forget Travel Group

 

RUNNING AMOK AND TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF

Today I fell in love!

After being recommend by my cousin to try this restaurant in Siem Reap, and without any other researched options, I thought I’d give the New Leaf Book Café a go. After all, how bad could it be? I was assured that my cousin knew the person who, as recent as 6 months ago, established this cafe that gives 100% of its profits to education based projects in ordeImager to

“provide sustainable income to support the development and growth of the disadvantaged and vulnerable in Siem Reap”.

Apparently this former banker based in Singapore had decided that making obscene amounts of money was no longer fun.

 What ever his altruistic motivation, I had a philanthropic hunger the size of Greece’s debts.

Despite being quite close to my hotel, I took a tuk tuk, which turned out to be a good move as the cafe wasn’t located where I thought is was. New Leaf Book Cafe was just around the corner from Pub Street away from the chaos in a peaceful little side street. The “book” part must come from the fact that you can buy pre-read, pre-travelled pre-owned books. It seems that Robert Ludlum, Clive Cussler and Joan Colins still rule the tourist’s book-list.

This is where I met my new love of my life, which happens to be Cambodia’s national dish, Amok. Amok is a dish of steamed fish cooked in coconut milk in banana leaves. Three parcels of goodness arrived at my table to complement the Angkor Beer that I had already half consumed. One mouthful and I was hooked. My tastebuds were doing a Khmer cancan – sheer delight.Image

It was all I needed. That, and another beer, plus a sweet condensed milk latte (that might take some getting used to). While my tastebuds were surprised, the other surprise was to my wallet….the total bill was $12!!

So the next time you are in Siem Reap and if you are ever in the neighbourhood, I thoroughly recommend New Leaf Book Cafe. You will be doing not only your tastebuds and wallet a favour, but also helping out the disadvantaged local population. Everyone wins.

The Don’t Forget Travel Group