Posts Tagged With: road trip

Kep & Kampot Off The Beaten Path (AKA, What else you can do besides eating crab.)

When most people visit Kep and Kampot, they beeline it to the coast and spend the afternoon sinking their teeth into succulent seafood and reading poolside. As the sun sinks into the horizon, they kick back with a cocktail and plan their next destination of either Sihanoukville, Vietnam, or Phnom Penh. I am the first person to admit that many of my weekends in Kep look like this, but it must be said that there is SO much more.

You could easily kill a week in Kep and Kampot and never do the same thing twice. (Although you might want to.) Back in October, Sean and I spent all of the Pchum Ben holiday along the coast. While we have our local favorite activities, we knew there were a few hidden gems that we had to visit. With a tank full of gas and a map in our hands, we set out to look for all that Kep and Kampot have to offer.

Some of our favorites? The caves. We had no idea there were caves in Cambodia! Not to mention, Phnom Chhnork cave has a 7th century temple inside of it. Another favorite was bicycling along the pepper plantations, home to the famous Kampot pepper. Rabbit island was also a pleasant surprise; a tropical getaway just off the coast of Kep.

I drew up a map to give you a feeling of the area. The red line is the route we drove on our trip last October. I recommend driving this way as it makes a nice loop for the drive to/from Phnom Penh. The limestone hills on both routes are stunning, and you can see them from two different perspectives.

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Also, you’ve got to check out the video Sean made as a mash-up of our trip. Hopefully it will convince you to spend more than a weekend in Kep!

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Walking with Elephants

Happy February! Please forgive me for not posting in the past month. We’ve been absolutely crazy busy with visitors and traveling. My aunt and her friends flew over from Wisconsin for two weeks, and my dad and sister are here with us now. I love having guests visit—when else do I get an excuse to show off one of my favorite countries, visit my favorite restaurants, and play tourist on a school night?

In terms of the blog, the Go Pro is a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse in the sense that we take a lot less photos now, so have less to work with when writing a blog. On the other hand, it’s a total blessing when you have so many hours of absolutely perfect film footage that you don’t even know where to start.

That’s a bit how our photos of Mondulkiri were. Sean took great photos, but even more video. This weekend he took the best of the best and made a stellar film about our trip. I hope you enjoy. I fell in love with the elephants all over again, and groaned at the sight of our poor car being towed by a tree limb behind a van. (Our timing belt broke, and how else do you tow a car 200 miles in Cambodia? Hail a passing van, find a stick and some rope, and cross your fingers.) Take a look, and if you can, watch it in HD.

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Door County, Wisconsin

While my blog normally covers all things exotic and foreign, it is all a matter of perspective.

For all of my non-American readers, today you will experience the exotic culture and geography of the Upper-Midwestern United States. A part of America that is so familiar to me, I can close my eyes and recreate each of the five senses purely from memory alone. We all have places like this—my friends in Ethiopia can taste shiro and injera, and smell the wild baboons in the Simien mountains. My friends in Cambodia can feel the salt of the Gulf of Thailand on their skin and the taste of tangy prahok in their mouth. Similarly, Sean and I can hear the call of the hermit thrush, taste of cheese curds, and imagine the waves of Lake Michigan lapping the rocky shore.

Here is Door County in early June.

DCIM101GOPROThe Holiday Music Motel, a vintage throw-back in Sturgeon Bay. One of the best hotels I’ve stayed at in the US so far. Absolutely fantastic breakfast in a ‘serve yourself’ diner setting.

 

DCIM101GOPROI felt like I was either in my grandmother’s kitchen or a church basement for a Friday night fish-fry. (If you’re from Wisconsin, that sentence makes perfect sense.)

 

DCIM101GOPROOn the shores of Lake Michigan, at Whitefish Dunes State Park.

 

DCIM101GOPROOne of Sean’s favorite places in Door County, Cave Point County Park.

 

DCIM101GOPROPerched on the rocky ledges of Cave Point.

 

DCIM101GOPRODoor County is famous for its lighthouses. This one is located in Peninsula State Park, one of the most popular State Parks in Wisconsin.

 

DCIM101GOPROOn top of Eagle Tower, with Horseshoe Island in the background.

 

DCIM101GOPROHorseshoe Island.

 

DCIM101GOPROHiking the Eagle Trail. Was it difficult? Not so much. Beautiful? Absolutely.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.37.14 PMSean goes spelunking in the caves along the Eagle Trail.

 

DCIM101GOPROIn Sister Bay, Wisconsin, there is a famous restaurant that has goats grazing on their roof. We, unfortunately, visited on a day that they were mowing the lawn. No goats, but certainly an entertaining photograph!

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.33.48 PMWe then visited The Ridges Sanctuary State Natural Area in Bailey’s Harbor. It was recommended for being particularly beautiful and remote, with an active bald eagle nest. As you can see in the above photo (which is actually a screen capture from a video), I became a mosquito-fighting phantom, covering every part of my body from the ridiculously vicious mosquitos that were there!

 

DCIM101GOPROInside The Ridges there is an old homestead from the early 1900’s.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.31.41 PMWe were the only people for miles around. It was a fairy land.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.30.15 PMThen we popped out on the shores of Lake Michigan once again. I never get tired of this view.

 

DCIM101GOPROOn our way home, we found yet another lighthouse. Door County never ceases in its simple beauty.

 

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Road Tripping The Cambodian Coast

It was the spring break that wasn’t.

 

Moving abroad, you shed some of the terminology that you used so mindlessly back home.
For us Americans, college became university.
America became The States.
Vacation became holiday.
Bubbler became water fountain. (For me, at least.)
First floor became ground floor.
And, obviously, soccer became football.

Anyways, calling it spring break means nothing when you don’t teach at an American school. In Cambodia, the second week of April celebrates Khmer New Year, which is when we have our week-long break. Khmer New Year coincides with Songkran in Laos and Thailand, Thingyan New Year in Burma, as well as Sinhalese New Year in Sri Lanka. Clearly, calling it anything BUT a “New Year’s break” would get you strange looks in most of Southeast Asia.

I was lucky enough to have my parents visiting, and we took a gorgeous road trip along the Cambodian coast. We spent a few days exploring the wild, pristine landscape of our country before heading into Thailand and visiting Koh Kood.

Also important to note, today marks a significant change in the format of Angkor’s Away (AlohaKuwait for you veteran readers). Sean and I purchased a GoPro. Instead of snapping hundreds of photos, we are now shooting high-quality video in 1080p.

And now you will come to be familiar with one of Sean’s favorite hobbies: video-making. Here is our first GoPro compilation from our trip along the Cambodian Coast. We drove down through Bokor National Park to a teeny tiny island near Koh Sdach, which is the home of the best lodging in Cambodia: Nomad’s Land. It is in an absolutely stunning–and absolutely isolated—archipelago between Sihanoukville and Koh Kong. It is the most beautiful place in Cambodia that I have seen yet.

Then we hopped over to Koh Kong for a lovely paddle down the river, dined on fresh shrimp, and frolicked on the beach as the sun set. Take a look:

I recommend watching it on the highest resolution possible; the snorkeling footage is fantastic.

Beautiful, isn’t it? After our few days in Cambodia, we crossed the border to Thailand. But that’s another video. See you soon!

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Cambodia’s Hidden Corner

When most people hear “Cambodia”, this is what comes to mind:

1. The Khmer Rouge

2. Laura Croft

3. Angkor Wat

4. Nobody really gets past #3… but if you did, “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. (Even though that was in Thailand).

5. Backpackers

6. Asian Women

7. The Mekong River

8. Not Thailand.

9. The French

10. Sihanoukville 

A valid list, but definitely not accurate. Not in the purest sense of Cambodia. When most people book their tour du monde, their Cambodian stop over generally involves the Killing Fields, Angkor Wat, and some form of Khmer curry.

Hopefully you’ve gained a greater sense of Cambodian geography and culture through the past seven months here at alohakuwait. I’m here today to expand your knowledge a step further. It’s high time I paid homage to that great road trip—from Phnom Penh to the Thai border. Most people speed through on an afternoon bus, in transition from Bangkok to Phnom Penh. They see the stretch from Koh Kong to the Mekong river as a boring, bumpy ride that stands in the way of their Southeast Asian experience.

Well, Cambodia’s got a lot of secrets in her hidden Southwestern passage…

But, since I came from a family of pig farmers, let’s be honest with ourselves.

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The pigs. Stick ’em in barrels, stack ’em on trucks, slide ’em in trailors. There is no modest way to transport pigs anywhere in the world. Any country that tells you otherwise is lying to you.

As you wind your way along highway 4, the road begins to climb through heavily forested hills. The slopes become steeper, and the homes become sparser. It feels as if you have left the populated world behind. Just as you are ready to pull over to marvel at the beauty of it all, a turn off is provided for you.

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And what a turn off it is. I had driven past this specific stopping point numerous times on the way to the beach, and never noticed the troupe of monkeys that live in this stunning valley. Man, if you never pulled over, you would never SEE the stunning valley! There are myriad Buddhist shrines, and the monkeys are not seen as pests but rather positive additions to mother earth. Look at this killer playground they’ve got!

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Nothing says road trip like sipping on a cold soda and watching some monkeys.

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Or were the monkeys watching us? I wonder what they wrote about me in their blog…

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Like I said, this turn off was really pretty awesome. There were monks, chanting, shrines, monkeys, rituals, and of course, tubes of Pringles and fresh-cut pineapple for sale. What more could you want?

By the time we rolled onto the coast,  it was time for lunch. (Isn’t it always?)IMG_1939

So where else do you go but the Crab Chack. Home of the tastiest crab in Koh Kong.

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And while you wait for said crab, you can relax on their swing with your sister, dipping your toes in the water, sipping on a well-deserved Anchor or two. Paradise.

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I have previously blogged about the Rainbow Lodge in Koh Kong, but I have found yet another place of passion. Welcome to Thmorda Garden Riverside Resort. You can lounge on the shore of the river, and kayak in the mangroves all afternoon. The best part? You’ve got this entire place all to yourself.

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And their patio is fantastic.

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Morning in Koh Kong: Such a kaleidoscope of colors. Why rush through on the way to something better? You can’t find a superlative to this.

We did spend a few days in the luxury of Koh Kong and Southwestern Cambodia, and then we moseyed on to Thailand. On the road, my dad (who was visiting with my sister!!!) snapped a photo of something I have so long overlooked: the spirit houses. You see them everywhere, but I hadn’t really though twice about them until my dad brought it up.

IMG_1953Spirit houses are common in Southeast Asia, and are placed in a particular spot of your home, business, or natural area (often at the base of trees). They are a place for the spirits to be appeased—or to reside—depending on who you talk to. It is believed that so long as you keep the spirits happy, you will live a prosperous life. Sometimes spirits is synonymous with ghosts. I recently had a seventeen year old student tell me he was afraid of ghosts. I had to ask around to determine that he was talking about the spirits, which are very prevalent in Thai and Cambodian culture.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it: Take a road trip. Explore your home. Find something new. Stop at a place you’ve never stopped at before. Take a picture of something you’ve seen a million times. Maybe you’ll find monkeys. Maybe you’ll find spirits. Maybe you’ll find love.

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The Iceberg of Siem Reap

Siem Reap has more hidden surprises than just her temples. She is a region of quirks—and I don’t mean the sunburnt expats with a pretty lady on their shoulder. At first glance, it seems possible to “do” Angkor Wat in a day, and then be done with Siem Reap. Which is precisely the itinerary that shapes the majority of visitors.

Upon closer inspection, if Siem Reap were an iceberg, the main temple of Angkor Wat would be the tip.

Do I sound pretentious? Probably. But a blog is less interesting without superlatives.

First off, there’s the hidden ruins of Kbal Spean.

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About an hour’s drive out of Siem Reap, you enter the region of Phnom Kulen. You park your car in a forested area, as food vendors compete for your attention. As you walk through the jungle, ropes dangle in your pathway, begging to be climbed.

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It’s a forty-five minute hike up to Kbal Spean, the “river of a thousand lingas”.

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When you arrive, you find a woman sunning herself on a rock. She’s a bit old, but has a great complexion.

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Then you begin to see the lingas. (In case you forgot, a linga is a phallic Hindu symbol for the god Shiva. As these were submerged in a river since the 11th century, you’ll have to use your imagination to get the full linga effect.)

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The river was seen as holy since it flowed into the Tonle Sap lake, passing through the temples of Angkor on its way.  (Note the more clear lingas on the vertical rock nearest the photo.)

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They were carved by hermits who lived in the area. Have you ever read a cooler sentence? They were carved by hermits who lived in the area.

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For the careful—and patient—eye, Siem Reap has much to offer.

IMG_9271While the carvings are the main facet of Kbal Spean, we were drawn to the waterfall.

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And then I went swimming, as one normally does on a warm winter day in December.

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And it felt good. (Photo courtesy of Abby Franks.)

After Kbal Spean, we visited Banteay Srei. 16 miles outside of the main temple complex, it is often overlooked in the main loop.

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They are carved out of red sandstone, which gives them a beautiful color, unique to Banteay Srei.

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Banteay Srei is Khmer for “Citadel of Women”, because it is thought that women did the carvings. People speculate that they are too delicate to have been the hand of a man.
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This was one of Sean’s favorite temples—if not his favorite. What can I say? He is interested in exquisite beauty.

What else did we do in Siem Reap, you ask? What comprises the rest of the iceberg?

1. Fish foot massages.


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Kyle is thinking of installing one in his house back in Kuwait.

IMG_9479Abby isn’t so sure.

2. Pub Street

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3. Real elephants.

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4. Pseudo elephants.

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5. Headless statues.

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6. Eating crickets.

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7. Hidden places of serenity.

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8. Counting Apsara dancers.

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9. Meeting Apsara dancers.

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10. Warrior stances.

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11. Angkor beer at Angkor Wat.

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12. Road trips and street food.

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As I am a keeper of promises, this concludes our trip to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat.

Will I go back? Absolutely. Will  it be the same? Never.

That’s why I have to build a school on the banks of Kbal Spean and promote Abby and Kyle to executive directors.

UP NEXT: Ten103 Treehouse on Koh Ta Kiev….

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The Best Of Angkor Wat

IMG_9647A very belated Christmas and a Happy Chinese New Year! Friday, January 31 marks the transition from the year of the Snake to the year of the Horse within the Chinese tradition. The city of Phnom Penh is deserted; everyone is out in the provinces celebrating with their families.

As a consequence, we don’t have school today. In case you were wondering, this is what a day off in Phnom Penh looks like:

8:00-11:00, Drink coffee, blog, plan upcoming trips
11:30, Early lunch at the Russian Market
12:00, Get a massage
2:00, Head back to the Russian Market to get ingredients for dinner
4:00, Go for a swim in our pool
6:00, Dinner at home
8:00, Watch a movie of some sort

This weekend we are also renting bicycles and attempting to visit Silk Island—the real one this time. We also met up with friends for a drink last night; we went to the Irish Pub on the riverside for the first time. I had my first Kilkenny in over a year. Yum!

Anyways, this post is about the best of Angkor Wat. I’m not going to do a “Top Ten”, but I want to tell you what makes Angkor Wat simply spectacular. What makes it the stuff of legends. The reason I am dying to go back.

The trees.

Honestly. The trees in Angkor Wat are the pulse of the ancient temples. They are trees like I have never seen.

Let’s begin.

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They completely envelop the ruins, stretching so high into the sky you have to crane your neck. I cannot believe they can support their height simply on a jumble of old stone.

The most famous temple with astounding trees is Ta Prohm, the Tomb Raider Temple. Rember:

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Not going to lie, I might have pretended I was Angelina Jolie a few times. All I was missing was the black spandex and acting skills… right?

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More of Ta Prohm. The trees command the attention of your eyes. I can’t even fathom how they take root.

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Sean pretending he is the one and only Jolie himself.

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And it’s not like there is one famous tree. When you get there, you think to youself, “Oh, that must be THE tree.” Then you walk five feet and see another one. Then you pass through a crumbling archway and see one even greater than the last.
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One reason why I love them so much is that they completely humble the human existence. We are dwarfed in the massive, timeless presence. They have existed since before I was born, and will last long after I am gone. They bring life to dead civilizations. They own the place.
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Some of these photos aren’t even from Ta Prohm. Other temples had trees just as grand. We lost ourselves in wonder countless times.

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This one was in Ta Prohm for sure. The roots have grown so incredibly large that they need contemporary scaffolding.

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The best part is that all of the temples are in protected areas; it feels like you are driving through a national park in the states. The trees dwarf the car everywhere we went, leaving us under a gorgeous canopy.
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Abby and I climbed a hill that was built onto the side of a temple, and got a bird’s eye view of the road—and our car. There were a lot of swampy areas with trees coming straight out of the water.
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Then we found yet another spectacular tree. This one wasn’t even at Ta Prohm, it was at another temple complex.

IMG_9650The trees are not only decorative, but they are functional.

I have one more post devoted to Siem Reap to share with you. Then we head to Cambodia’s coast!

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Bokor Mountain, Kampot

We love Cambodia. We find more and more to love every day. A few weeks ago, we found Bokor Mountain.

As you drive South from Phnom Penh, you begin to enter rolling hills. Pretty soon you come across taller hills, oddly shaped hills, hills with temples on top, hills begging you to explore them. It’s all part of the Elephant Mountains, a small mountain range in Southeastern Cambodia. The tallest mountain of them all is 3,547 feet.

And its name is Bokor Mountain.

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Sean did an amazing job shooting all these panoramas; click on them to open in a new tab. It’s better to see them on a bigger screen to get all the amazing detail.

These are all shot from the top of Bokor Mountain. You can see the ocean, and islands off in the distance. This part of the ocean is known as the Gulf of Thailand.

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Bokor, in Khmer, means cow hump. (Pronounced: Bo-Ko.) You know what I mean; those cows you see in the countryside of certain countries with the massive hump on their back. It is apparently incredibly delicious. Sean has been dying to try it ever since he saw his first cow with that massive chunk of meat rolling between its shoulders…

I’m pretty sure the type of cow see in Cambodia is a zebu, check it out here. They live primarly in this region, and are known for their massive hump between their shoulders, or in Khmer, their bokor.

While doing my research, I stumbled on a fascinating article about the Kouprey, Cambodia’s national animal. It is a species of cattle found only in Cambodia. I had no idea! They are a “wild, forest-dwelling bovine species” in the jungles of northern Cambodia. They are seldom seen anymore due to deforestation and hunting. They weren’t even discovered until 1937! Learn more about the kouprey here.

Anyways, back to our trip to Bokor Mountain…

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You can drive to the top of the mountain and hike around from there. If you look at the left side of the above picture, you can see all sorts of cars and people on picnics. We were there during a holiday, so it was a bit crowded. But that didn’t make it any less beautiful.

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This is the statue of Lok Yeay Mao, also at the top of the mountain. Lok is the most formal version of Mr. or Mrs. You use Lok when speaking to someone of extreme status (like royalty, or someone in a government role). Yeay Mao is an ancient hero and divinity for the Buddhists in Cambodia. She is seen as the protector of travelers. One legend says that she used to be married to Ta Krohom-Koh, literally “Grandpa Red Neck“. (I’m not kidding.) They used to live in the forests, and her husband left her alone once and a tiger devoured her. Another legend has it that she was married to a powerful warrior, and when he died, she took control of his armies and became very powerful. I choose to believe the second story.

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Never miss an opportunity to have someone take your picture! We never have enough photos of us together.

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Near the statue of Lok Yeay Mao there is an abandoned building with some awesome graffiti. I later found out these abandoned buildings were part of the old King Sihanouk’s residence.  So much history on this one mountain!

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If you driver further along the mountain road, you come across an old French church. The French built it during the twenties when they wanted to have a French community at the top of the mountain.

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It’s abandoned now, but makes for an amazing place to explore…


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Inside the church.
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Speaking of abandoned things, the most popular artifact is the abandoned hotel. It was also built by the French in the twenties, but was never finished. It is in excellent condition, and you can explore every hallways and rooftop. There are no railings, security guards, or caution signs, so explore at your own risk!

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Explore we did. This is the view from the top of the abandoned hotel.

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The architecture was really neat, as was how well it is preserved. It was almost eerie…

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Then we found Popokvil Waterfall. IMG_8534

These guys live life on the wild side. They must have amazing balancing skills, because I would have fallen over the edge minutes ago.

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One of the steps of the falls. It was tough to get it all in a picture; they rolled on for quite a ways!


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A Cambodian phenomenon: The amount of people you can fit on one moto.

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Another view from Bokor. That is the town of Kampot off to the left. Isn’t it gorgeous?

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Then we checked in to our guesthouse… or ‘nature lodge’ I suppose. It was thatched huts on stilts in the middle of rice paddies.

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The view from the balcony of our hut. That’s Bokor Mountain. How massive! You could spend a week explore every inch of its plateau.

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Then we headed into the town of Kampot for dinner. I loved the colonial-looking architecture…

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Sunset over the river in Kampot.

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When I woke up in the morning, I saw a woman heading to work…

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I wanted to get a shot the next morning of where we parked our car. We were skeptical when we saw that we had to park here and walk through the woods to get the bungalows. It was the first time I’ve seen a mosque since outside Kuwait!

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Sean in trusty Champee. The sign pointing towards Ganesha, where we stayed.

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The road was absolutely terrible. There were times that it felt more like a swamp than a dirt path!

Genesha4The rice paddies in front of Bokor Mountain.

Kampot is a beautiful place.

…but then we found Kep.

Check back soon for the rest of our weekend adventure!

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Laos: Part One!

So, we bought a car.

It took us a long time. That could have been an entire blog series in itself: “Buying A Car In Cambodia”. However, I like to focus on the frivolous, the fun, and the fantastical. Car-buying in Cambodia is none of those things.

Regardless, we are now the proud owners of 1999, 4-wheel drive, Honda CRV. We are mobile!

As the time wound down to the last final days before the week-long Cambodian holiday of Pchum Ben, we were frantically preparing our drivers’ licenses, ownership titles, and insurance. We wanted our car to be solid, unquestionable, and safe. Why?

We were driving to Laos.

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Charting our route on Google Maps makes it look a bit intimidating. In hindsight, it isn’t. Beforehand, it totally was.

Laos is pretty easy to cross into, so long as you have a Passport, patience, and money. We have heard horror stories of border crossings—people paying $10 to some guy who has to “sanitize their tires”, paying $3 to get their temperature taken or face quarantine, people stuck at borders for hours… we didn’t really know what to expect.

When we got there, it was fairly painless. There was a visa fee, a few “overtime” charges, and some random fees for the car. I had to gulp down my frustration, but after about an hour or two, we were flying through Laos with the wind in our hair.
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As we drove up to Laos, we stopped at a little place called the “Mekong Bird Lodge” in Stung Treng, Cambodia. You can’t see it on the map above, but we followed the Mekong River all the way from Phnom Penh up to the farthest point of our journey in Laos. It is a huge—and long—river!

I really liked the Mekong Bird Lodge. It was the perfect stopping point. Sean and I soaked up a few views on the balcony of our $15 lodging.
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There are two things you can be sure of in rural Cambodia: potholes and roosters. Sean much enjoys taking photos of the latter.
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At the end of our first driving day, we had a relaxing evening overlooking the Mekong.

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A pretty unbelievable dinner table. I had heard the sunsets in Cambodia were divine, but I had no idea.

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In the morning at the Mekong Bird Resort. I loved how leafy everything was!

IMG_7383After we passed into Laos, our first stop was at Khone Phapheng Waterfall. It is the highest volume waterfall in Southeast Asia.

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The region on the border of Cambodia and Laos is called the area of “4,000 Islands”. As you can see, there really are a lot of islands—and these are just big enough to warrant a drawing on Google Maps! In reality, there ARE thousands, especially in the dry season. Khone Phapheng Waterfall is right on the border of Cambodia and Laos, where the Mekong loses elevation as it tumbles into Cambodia.
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There was a really cute garden area set up around the falls. I loved how everything was constructed out of wood. It was so natural and organic. I hate it when property is sold around a beautiful area and the natural flora gets completely razed to build some hideous all-inclusive resort.

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Plumeria is everywhere.

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Here I am in front of one part of Khone Phapheng. It’s very deceiving to get a good picture of it—it’s the highest volume falls, but by no means the tallest. It stretches very wide, but not tall. And I never said the Mekong was blue…

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As you can see, the waterfall just riddled the land with islands, rocks, cervices. It is all-encompassing.

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Me catching up to Anna and Chino at Khone Phapheng.

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You can get a good feel for the swollen, flooded explosion of the falls here.

After we left Khone Phapheng, it was a short drive north to Ban Nakaseng. There we would park our car and catch a boat onto one of the 4,000 Islands, Don Det.


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As we neared the shore of Don Det, we realized it was the perfect choice. There are a few bungalows on many of the islands, but Don Det was beautiful, and so, so laid back.

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So laid back in fact, that Anna, Kampot and I floated around the Mekong for hours, struck by the siren calls of Don Det. I never wanted to leave! (Maybe it was the Beer Lao talking.)
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The bungalows we found on Don Det were perfect. They were called “Mr Tho’s Bungalows”, and had everything we needed—and we didn’t need much! Just a hammock, a place to rinse the sand off our feet, and a fan by the bedside.

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We had so much fun strolling the island of Don Det. This is a Laotian family’s yard. How many animals can you spy?

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We decided to have a drink and play cards on the sunset side of the island in the evening. It was beautiful!

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Ah, yes, the wandering buffalo. From a gift shop in Wall, South Dakota, to Laos.

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As the night rolled on, we learned a few new card games, ate some delicious spring rolls and curry, and spent the whole evening laughing and enjoying each others’ company.

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In the morning we rented bicycles and cycled the island of Don Det.

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We found some men watching (or staging, more likely) a cockfight.

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There was a bridge, linking Don Det to Don Khone, which made for the perfect resting place.

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Anna and I found a lone piglet!

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Cycling through the rice fields of Don Det.

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Sean made a friend…

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And then he made more friends…

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The bicycle path was really just through paddy fields… it was something out of a day dream.

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Next time you eat your stir fry with a side of rice, think of me.

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