30 Jun 2012

Cambodia: Land Of Smiles (Part One)

The people I met and passed by in Cambodia had one thing in common: they smiled.  Everywhere people are smiling and laughing, the happiness is infectious!  I remember walking along the Mekong river one evening in Kampong Cham, the air was warm and the streets were bustling with people, and every single local we passed gave us a brilliant, wide smile.  You can't help but grin back giddily!

27 Jun 2012

Bangkok to Siem Reap

I think that train travel in South East Asia is great for one reason only: it provides a smooth ride.  Buses and cars out there don't have the best suspension and the roads are scattered with pot holes, so the best way to travel is by train, especially if you want to catch up on some sleep.  After our disastrous attempt at catching a train up to Kota Bahru in Malaysia, we were now more determined than ever to have our train journey!  Dave had gone on to Vietnam and we had left the beautiful Perhentian islands.  We planned to catch a train from the border straight up to Bangkok.  I was a bit apprehensive about heading back to Bangkok, because the first time I went backpacking in 2010 this is where we began and the culture shock was huge.  We arrived on the day of the Thai Queen's birthday so the city was even busier than normal and all I can vaguely recall from that first evening is walking down Ko San Road in a daze with people from all angles shouting 'Tuk tuk!' at me.  Nevertheless I decided to give the city a second chance, maybe we just got off on the wrong foot.

We treated ourselves to a hotel in Kota Bahru and ate dinner at a local night market.  In the morning our omen appeared in the form of poor old Mick being a tad unwell.  It's always funny to begin with when someone gets the travel bug (pardon the pun), but amusement soon turns into pity!  We still got to the bus station on time and found the correct stop.  Naturally, the bus for our stop parked up at the opposite end of the station.  A local Muslim lady who saw us looking a bit confused very thoughtfully asked us where we were going to and pointed out our bus, we thanked her and did the 'I'm going to miss my bus' jog over to the coach.

The journey was hot but short and we arrived at border control about an hour later.  We were really excited and smug - we were finally going to be getting a train and could tease Dave for missing out when we next saw him.  Went through the border and basked in the excitement of being in a new place and entering the next stage of our adventure.  The tourist information office was close by and we bounded in to happily ask where the train station was, our answer from the lady at the desk was this:

'No train today, bomb!'

Kay and I laughed, and so did the lady behind the desk!  Mick didn't, can't really blame him.  We learned that our best option was to get a bus to Bangkok, it was an overnight journey and would take about fifteen hours but it was a good price.  We all agreed and headed outside to get a taxi.  The only taxi service available was moto-taxis.  I avoided hiring a moped the first time I was in Thailand because I thought it was very dangerous, but this guy clearly rode these things every day so I thought sod it, let's go.  It was good fun actually, I can see how riding a moped could actually be safer than driving a car because you have so much more control and ability to weave around obstacles.

25 Jun 2012

Landslides and how to overcome them, literally.

During my globe-trotting escapades last summer with my partner in crime Kayleigh, we encountered a wide variety of challenges.  I've already covered our monstrous journey from Taman Negara to the Perhentians, but there's plenty more to tell!  After a few days in paradise and a difficult journey up to Bangkok (I'll tell you about that another time ...) we planned to travel through Cambodia and Laos, finishing in Luang Prabang where we would meet back up with Mick.  Dave was by this point travelling in Vietnam and we had hoped to all meet up in Thailand but realised we would be cutting our visa time allowance too fine just before we flew home, so it was going to be the three of us in Laos instead.

14 Jun 2012

Selamat Datang

One of the best (or worst, you decide) things about backpacking is the fact that you are completely and utterly dependent on circumstances way out of your control.  You have to accept this and go with the flow because, well, what else are you going to do?

11 Jun 2012

Food glorious food

I've been meaning to write about food since last September ... yeah, I've been procrastinating just a tad.  I feel that one of the best ways to learn about a country and a culture is to eat their food.  It gives you an insight like no other into the traditions a society is built on.  The ingredients they use, the way they prepare their meals, and the way they eat reflects their whole ethos.