Monday, 29 July 2013

Tha Khek

Barely anyone goes to Tha Khek, just a few intrepid (read: crazy brave) people doing 'the Loop' which involves 9 hours a day riding motorbikes through mud in a country where 11 year olds ride mopeds, chickens regularly cause accidents and there are almost no hospitals (or people like us taking a break after 12 hour bus journeys). Apart from a few caves in the surrounding mountains, there is barely anything to do. It took us a while to tear ourselves away from the fluffy duvets and power shower at the gem of a hotel that we found (and their kitchen, which has genuine parmesan, gasp) and go to see one of the only caves that hasn't been completely flooded by the recent torrential rain. Cue us having to bribe a fisherman into letting us in his boat to get to the cave, a group of tuk tuk drivers all shouting in Lao about the "huge falang" that were going to sink said boat (that would be us), an entire village (including miscellaneous babies, chickens, goats and a pig) coming to watch the spectacle, and Ryan wetting his trousers. Bearing in mind that even 5'4 Kat was a foot taller than this fisherman, and Ryan (80kg) weighs "the same as FOUR Lao people!" it seemed a cruel twist of fate that the racing river was bursting its banks and the only boat around was half submerged before we'd even gone near it. We eventually talked the poor man into taking us across, on the conditions that we go one at a time and bail like our lives depended on it (this wasn't a huge leap of the imagination). Ryan only got a little bit wet when he capsized the ailing vessel (but heroically saved the camera) and the fisherman even let us back in his boat to get home!


Sunday, 28 July 2013

Being resnopsible in Kratie and Si Phan Don

^ anti-littering strategy in Laos

^ Liphi Falls

^ we're tempted to say that this burger place wins, purely because they have Jenga

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Angkor Wat

Instead of getting a tuk yuk our a guided tour, we decided to rent bikes and do the Angkor complex at our own pace (i.e crazy fast because we'd slept in) and apart from being REALLY hot and REALLY far (our guesthouse lied about how far from the ruins it was, by about 15 kilometres). We had a beautiful day and found smaller temples that weren't on the big tour itineraries, which we think were actually much nicer than Angkor Wat itself and Ta Prohm; much less scaffolding and not crawling with obnoxious Chinese tour groups. (We saw a Dutch girl very nicely ask a Chinese girl to move a few steps so her friend could take a picture of her and the Chinese girl stayed put and posed!). After all that cycling we felt we deserved a proper Italian pizza at Il Forno, which even uses actual cheese! An upside of Siem Reap being so full of tourists is the really good Western food everywhere for such occasions when pizza is just plain necessary.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Siem Reap

The drive to Siem Reap (apart from the non stop Khmer karaoke videos playing on full volume) was beautiful, through little villages full of kids playing with water buffalos and sunset over bright green paddy fields. Once we'd got there, we went out for a crocodile barbecue to celebrate surviving the karaoke, did yet more burger research and Kat got her toes eaten by the biggest pedicure fish we have ever seen. 

^ the Burg Kalifa... ha ha ha (and yes Ryan ate the entire thing)

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

There isn't really anything we feel we could say which would do justice to the memories of the people who suffered at Tuol Sleng apart from that we simply couldn't believe that this was allowed to happen so very recently. Tuol Sleng was a school before it was converted into a prison and torture facility by the Khmer Rouge, and the bright yellow floors and cheerful blue paint are a horrific contrast to the terrible things that happened here. The prison has been left exactly as it was, as though everyone had left just before we walked in; we spent a very sobering morning here before deciding we couldn't bear to go to the Killing Fields.

^ We were quite glad to see this sign, as Kat had nearly punched 
a group of Chinese tourists who were doubled up laughing in 
front of a torture exhibit at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh