We truly loved Bali……..not so much the boils but man Bali is a special place in this world and in our hearts. If we ever revisit Bali we would definitely take some kind of water purification. We are now carrying water purification tablets. Live, learn and love……..all the joys of life.
We flew from Bali to Jokgakarta in Java. A 1 hour flight turned into a 3.5 hour flight. Our plane couldn’t land because there was a heavy rain storm happening. The air control asked us to circle and wait for the storm to pass. Apparently we didn’t have enough fuel to keep circling and had to fly to Surabaya to refuel. The storm passed and back we flew to Jokgakarta. It is just another part of our wonderful adventuresome travels. You never know what the day will bring.
We were looking forward to touring around Jokgakarta and going to Prambanan and Borobudur (2 very old historical temples) We had met people and they really enjoyed Java. It’s not on the popular tourist trail but they say it was worth going to. Unfortunately we had to cut our trip short and didn’t get to see Prambanan and Borobudur. I had yet another flair-up of a staphylococcus inflection and we decided it was time to go to Malaysia and get things checked out.
The little time we spent in Jokgakarta we found refreshing away from the hawkers of Bali. In Jokgakarta you didn’t feel like a tourist. The locals left you alone to do your own thing unless you looked lost and then they would ask if you needed help. We had fun wandering around the local market and the interesting streets. I bought a bracelet for 10 cents. Things were so cheap there, mind you most of the clothes you wonder who would wear them. You didn’t see the locals wearing them…..so who bought them?
Off we go back to one of our favourite cities, Kuala Lumpur. KL is a good hub for us. It has good medical facilities, easy and very cheap to fly in and out of. Plus we love the city so full of good food, tons of culture and always something new to discover. We went to the doctors and everything got cleared up with yet another round of antibiotics. We hung around KL and discovered different areas by teaching ourselves how to use the public transportation system. Lucky most of the directions and signs on the pubic transit were written in English as well as Malayan. We wanted to stay until we felt healthy again and KL is a great city to just hang out in.
After a couple of weeks we decided to move along and fly to Cambodia. We had heard mixed things about Cambodia from other travelers. Some people said it was too expensive and you didn’t get much for your money. Other people love it. So we decided to go and see for ourselves. Cambodia uses 2 currencies, the Riel which is not a hard currency and the good old USA dollar. The ATM’s give you American $100 bills. The money exchange charges you a dollar to change the hundred into smaller bills. But you can usually get a restaurant or your guesthouse to change them for you. Ahhhh, banks you gotta just love them……
We flew into the capital, Phnom Penh. It’s too funny because they asked us to circle again. This time it was because the King was landing. We circled for a half hour and then landed. We stayed for 6 nights and wished we could stay longer. I had booked a room in Sihanoukville and it was non refundable. Sometime I’ll book a non refundable room because they are on a cheap sell off…..always looking for a good deal. We will have to leave the rest of our exploring of Phnom Penh for another time. It’s one of the most attractive cities that we have seen so far. It has a lot of different areas to discover. We stayed in a old French colonial style guesthouse which was owned by a French gentleman. It was in the very touristy Riverside area right by the Kings Palace. We had a drink at the famous FCC (foreign correspondents club) that over looks the Tonle Sap River where it joins the Mekong River. We went to Central Market that is famous for it gold, silver and jewels.Talk about bling……
After that we went to see the Russian Market which is the most interesting market we have seen in SE Asia. It had everything from used motorcycle parts to hand crafted soaps to jewellery to all kinds of food and everything in between. Phnom Penh we love you and will return to discover more of your treasures.
The main reason we came to Cambodia was to find an apartment to settle down for a while. We are hoping to use it as our home base. One reason why we chose Cambodia is because it has an easy long term visas program. It is also a great central location for traveling to other countries in SE Asia. We thought we would have a look around Sihanoukville (aka Snook) and see if it was someplace we could live for a while. Snook met a lot of our requirements and the list goes something like this, on the ocean, nice beaches, islands close by to explore, coastline to explore, reasonably priced apartments to rent, good restaurants and food, other areas to visit for a few days and a safe place to live. Snook was ticking off all the boxes.
Snook is a four hour bus ride from Phnom Penh. We stayed in Otres Village about 6K outside of Snook. The people in Otres Village were super friendly and extremely helpful. It’s full of wonderful expats that have opened businesses like guesthouse and restaurants. The village itself is very small with a beautiful beach. We thought we had found our place. We looked around for a place in Otres Village to hang our hat but couldn’t find anything that met our needs. We went into Snook to have a look around. That was a huge disappointment. I must say Snook is one dusty, dirty, crappy sprawled out town. For the next few days we were in Otres Village we were wondering what we were going to do. We thought if we have come this far, we should have a good look around and decide what our next move would be. So booked a place in Snook for four days.
We decided that if we could get an apartment close to the beach we would stay and have fun going to the islands, beaches etc. In our opinion, close to the beach is the nicest part of Snook. The rest is really a dump……sorry (people of Snook) but it’s true. We looked at couple of places and decided to take one. The place we rented has two buildings, one is a six storey hotel and the other is a four story apartment building. They have just put in a new swimming pool……sweet.
We are looking forward to settling into our apartment for a while. The downtown area might not be that great but it has a lot other things going for it. Snook is full of Russian and French expats, therefore you can get good cheese, French wine, borscht here , perogies, etc….
We decided to go and see Kampot and Kep for a few days before we moved into our apartment. Kampot is a lovely old French colonial town situated on the Kampot River. It is by far a more attractive town then Snook but a lot smaller. Kampot like it’s name is chalk full of potheads. It’s a strange, wonderful and unique place. Some expats go to the local bar for a beer, some go for a joint and some go for both. There are other drug problems throughout Cambodia and the police are starting to crack down.
Kep is an old French colonial town that was bombed in the late ’70s by the Khmer Rouge (Pol Pot) and then abandoned. Today, Kep is an up and coming posh French tourists destination. There isn’t much of a town centre, just mainly nice hotels spotted here and there along the coast.
We rented a tuk tuk and driver and had a very enjoyable day touring the countryside on the drive to Kep and back. On the way there we stopped to see Elephant Cave, named because the stalagmites that look like an elephants head. There is also an older Buddhist Temple on the same site. Then we made our way to Kep Crab Market and Kep Beach.
There was a three day National Holiday when we were visiting Kampot and Kep. It is in celebration of the end of the rainy season and like most cultures the Cambodian like to go to the beach on their holidays. It was packed so we just crawled along through the traffic in our tuk tuk.
Kep is famous for it’s crab…..don’t get too excited, the crab is nothing like we are use too. They are small sand crabs which are not very tasty. But the Cambodians love them and the market was packed full of locals enjoying the crab and other seafood. We walked around the market for a while taking in the lively spirit of the place. Then we travelled on to Kep beach which was also packed with Cambodians swimming and pinicking. It was so crowded with some people just pinicking along side of the road. On our way back we stopped to see the salt fields. We also drove by a typical fish village on the banks of the Kampot River. The houses were on stilts along the river banks.
So far we are really enjoying Cambodia and the people. Both the locals and expats seem really nice. It is a refreshing change from the over-populated countries we have been visiting. For example Bali has 800 people per square kilometre and Cambodia has 80 people per square kilometre. We the love the Balinese but man there is a lot of them. What a relief not to have the hawkers and totes always yelling at you to buy something or trying to quilt you into helped their family. Cambodian people are very gentle and instead of pushing things on you they are more apt to ask you if you need help with. Sure Cambodia has it’s own set of problems but there isn’t a place in the world that doesn’t. The people on a whole seem to be happy and making their way in this crazy old world and for now we are going to call Snook our home.