On the Move in Cambodia

Hello Friends and Family,

We want to thank you all for the continuous support, comments and messages. We love hearing from you all. Many of you have mentioned that you can’t leave a comment on our post because you don’t have a gmail account. We apologize for that. Apparently, Blogger will only allow gmail users to leave comments. Boo! 

Here's an update from Cambodia.

It was a short flight from Bangkok to Phnom Penh. We decided to fly instead of crossing by land in an effort to save some time. We had planned to travel throughout Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam for six weeks before heading to Nepal. After one day in Cambodia, we liked it so much that we decided to change our plans. We will now travel throughout Cambodia and Laos for five weeks, head to Kuala Lumpur for two days (flights are cheaper out of there) and then onto Nepal a week earlier than we had previously planned (flights are cheaper in September). We will explore Vietnam in November after trekking in Nepal for the month of October. That’s the beauty of being flexible.

So, back to our travels in Cambodia.  Most people have some knowledge about the terrible history of Cambodia and are at least familiar with the killing fields.  Cambodia has a tragic past and everybody in the country has been affected by the events that happened after the Vietnam War. Cambodia is beautiful, heartbreaking, disgusting, unexplored, overexplored, fascinating, scammy, etc…  Some of the things we heard here were unbelievable.  Did you know you can shoot a rocket launcher at a cow for $200?  For a little bit more you can hire a tank and shoot a mountain! You can't make this stuff up.  With that build up we’ll move onto what we did for our first couple of weeks.

Phnom Penh 

The National Museum - You were only allowed to take pictures in the garden and outside the museum so these are our only pictures. 

We stumbled across a sushi/soup restaurant for dinner. There was a conveyer belt with all types of soup ingredients including fish heads!

Josh was so excited because it was all-you-can-eat for $7.80!  Not cheap by Asian standards but this was the first time we felt full in quite a while. This place was packed!

The Killing Fields - One of the most tragic events in human history happened in Cambodia when approximately 3 million people, or a quarter of Cambodia's population, were killed through genocide.  We could go into the history of the event but that would take too long for us to explain.  It was not a fun day but something that we had to experience.  Believe it or not, we actually thought about skipping this.  When we left the place we felt empty and depressed but the events that happened here should never be forgotten so in the end we were glad that we decided to visit.

This was one of the saddest exhibits. We debated including this picture but we wanted to capture just how heartbreaking and catastrophic these times were for Cambodians. The torture that these men, women and children endured was unimaginable.

There was a man standing outside of the compound begging for money so we decided to give him a few bucks and talk to him.  After speaking to him we found out that he lost his leg from a land mine.  Even after such a horrible thing he was still able to smile.

The Royal Palace - after leaving the Killing fields we visited the Palace in hopes to lift our spirits with history from the other end of the spectrum.

This sweet girl gave Leanne her t-shirt to borrow to enter the Royal Palace. The Palace does not allow women to cover with a shawl. She wouldn't take any money for helping us, she just wanted us to buy two waters for 50 cents. She was so sweet!

After Phnom Penh we took a "short" four and a half hour journey to Kep in Southern Cambodia.

Kep - this town is known for fresh crabs

Of course, we had to try them. Yum!

We spent one of our days hiking around Kep National Park. Even though it says not to take a photo of the map we did it anyways. It's a good thing too because we referred to this picture several times during our hike. You have to be extremely careful not to deviate from the marked trails because there is still the threat of land mines.

Six hours later we were sweaty messes but still happy because the landscape was captivating.

The next day we took a boat over to a small island called Rabbit Island. We met a new friend from Paris by the name of Erwan. We spent the entire day walking around and exploring the island and enjoying each other's conversation.

While hiking around Rabbit Island we ran across a few local children playing.

Fishing for crabs and recycling all in one!

One of the local children and her grandmother.

Looks like a good haul!

After hiking around for a few hours we returned to our starting point.

The next day, back in Kep, we explored many of the old French colonial vacation houses that were abandoned.  Families are now living in the houses that were left behind from 1975-1975 during the Khmer Rouge regime.

We visited a pepper farm.

After the pepper farm we rode over to a cave that was in the area.  Children followed us on bikes in hopes that we would want them to show us around.

Random monkey shot!

We teamed up with Erwan again for the day and did some cave exploring. 

Our initial plan was to go to a few places but we ended up staying at the cave all day and played with the children. They taught Leanne how to make bracelets out of flowers and she showed them how to make necklaces out of the same flowers. This was one of our favorite days of our trip and we didn't even do much.  One of our hopes of visiting Cambodia was to volunteer at an orphanage but we later found out that it has become a corrupt market taking advantage of children who have no idea what is going on.  This day was really special for us because we actually had a chance to spend time with local children.

Leanne gave one of the bracelets she bought in Myanmar to this beautiful girl.  Note that this girl is only 14 but the same height as Leanne.

Group photo time!

The children played games with their shoes while we watched. Who needs toys when you have flip-flops?

This is one of our favorite pictures from the day.  These adorable little ones were so excited to see us driving by on the tuk-tuk. It's not every day that you see children playing in rice fields. 

After Kep we were bound for Kampot. We decided to splurge a little and spent $3 more traveling by tuk-tuk instead of a bus. It was a great way to see the countryside. We were greeted with smiles, waves, hellos and goodbyes. It is amazing how much a simple smile from a stranger can make you feel so good. Smiling is a universal language.  

While in Kampot we took a tour of Bokor National Park. It was a cool, rainy and windy day. Since Josh's hand was still on the mend, he had to cover it with a plastic bag. We are classy travelers!

The oldest Catholic church in Cambodia.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Ha ha...that was a cheesy comment! (It's 1:30 am while we are writing this blog so we are a bit delirious.)

The best part of the day was seeing this waterfall. We expecting some small rapids but it turned out to be quite impressive.

Leanne carefully protected our camera during the day by wrapping it in several bags so it didn't get wet. At the end of the day, we took what was supposed to be a sunset boat ride down the Mekong river. It was cloudy so there really wasn't a sunset to witness. As we boarded the wooden boat, Leanne accidentally dropped our camera. It fell underneath one of the boards and yes, it broke. We've learned during our trip not sweat the small things in life. This was one of those small things that we just had to accept. Besides, we budgeted for at least two cameras during our travels. The unfortunate part was that we were not able to get any pictures of the Mekong river or of the owner of our guest house that we stayed at for four nights. He was a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime. He told us one of the saddest stories about his wife and his current wife's husband being killed. Our hearts ached for him and we learned a lesson: never ask a Cambodian about old pictures hanging on their wall. We truly enjoyed speaking with him and helping his grandson improve his English. We wish we could have taken a picture with them but that will be one for the memory banks.

The bad part about breaking the camera was that we had to back track and take a bus to Phnom Penh. We spent the day running errands and buying a new camera. The trip actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we finally found the same brand of razors that we stolen from Josh's bag in Thailand. We looked for months for those darn razors. As a reward for nothing really we allotted ourselves $20 each to spend on something fun. Josh found a bottle of Maker's Mark and almost did cartwheels in the aisle. He bought the bottle before we had our new camera so we weren't able to capture this happy moment.

Leanne got her hair cut and dyed at a local salon. It was a three hour process which included a facial, shoulder and neck massage and some sort of weird hair pulling technique that was supposed to stimulate hair growth. She could have done without that part but it was the best $20 spent at a hair salon. As an extra bonus, she was the only Westerner that had ever been to that salon. They actually took pictures with her. Josh had to capture the moment too.

Early the next morning we caught a bus to the southern coast of Cambodia. This sign made us laugh but at least they were concerned for our safety.

As always, thanks for following. Until next time...

Leanne & Josh