Archive for September, 2014

Day 2: Temple 5: Ta Som

Posted: September 16, 2014 by randommuzings in Cambodia, South East Asia
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Period: 12th/ 13th century

King: Jayavarman VII and Indravarman II

It has a gopura with a face and a tree growing around it, so it gives a hint of the other temples- Bayon and Ta Phrom.

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Day 2: Temple 4: Bantey Srei

Posted: September 13, 2014 by randommuzings in Cambodia, South East Asia
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This is 1 of the major temples, farthest away from Ankor Wat (about 37 kms) and the current Khmer name literally means “City of Women”. The original Sanskrit name was “Iswarapura” or “city of Shiva as it was a Shiva temple.

It is unique because it was not built by a king but by the counselor of the king Rajnendravarman. The temple is intricately decorated and has been restored to include a vast area around the temple. There is a moat and a water body surrounded it with blooming lotuses where you can do boating.

Day 2: Temple 3: Pre Rup

Posted: September 10, 2014 by randommuzings in India, South East Asia
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Time: Mid 10th century

King: Rajendravarman

Another Mountain temple that in my opinion wasn’t too impressive. Thus if you are short on time, you can skip this.

Day 2: Temple 2- Ta Keo

Posted: September 10, 2014 by randommuzings in Cambodia, South East Asia
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Date: 10th to early 11th century

King: Jayavarman V and Jayaviravarman

Ta Keo means “Mountain with golden peaks”

Steep stairs lead to 5 towers that represent Mount Meru. It has a gallery all around. There is mainly no carving on the sandstone walls as it was left incomplete.

Day 2: Temples at Siem Reap

Posted: September 9, 2014 by randommuzings in Cambodia, South East Asia
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Today I started my 3 day affair with the temples, the main highlight of this trip. Although the temples are influenced by Indian architecture and themes, they are unique in terms of their grandiose size and the fact that they were constructed not as places of worship but as house of God and hence house the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva long with several other deities. To the best of my knowledge, no temple in India is dedicated to the trinity together. So I will cover each temple in separate posts as I have myriad pictures and details to share on each.

Total Cost: 3 day pass: $40 (can be used over a week) +$60 for the tuk-tuk for 3 days

Temple 1: Angkor Wat at Sunrise

Woke up at 4.30 am and met my tuk-tuk driver at 5 am, despite the fact that I was severely sleep deprived from the travel over the past 2 days. We went to Angkor Wat for sunrise. I had thought that how many idiots would have left their sleep to reach the place at 5 am but I was in for a surprise. I think there would be about 1000 people there, all gathered around to watch the sunrise. I increased the count by 1, took numerous snaps and moved on to the next temple.

Day 1: From Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

Posted: September 8, 2014 by randommuzings in Cambodia, South East Asia
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For breakfast sandwich was not available at the hotel, so I_DSC0009 had cambodia_1egg fried noodles with chicken. Cambodian style!! A 4$ tuk-tuk ride took me to the bus stand at the river front, didn’t know if that was cheap or expensive for Cambodia but later came to know that Phnom-Penh and Siem Reap were touristy and extremely expensive. My tuk-tuk driver was a female which took me by surprise.

 

Since I had reached the bus stand early, I decided to take a walk_DSC0015 around. Tuk-tuk and moto drivers hound you for a ride. There are street vendors all over the street, again was reminded of India. Bought a book on Cambodian history written by an American author and later reading it the author had compared Cambodia with America at various points, although I couldn’t see why. It’s sad that mostly for Asia you have to read history written by westerners.

_DSC0019The highway to Siem Reap was another surprise. I believe this would be the main highway as it was linking the main cities together but there was no road almost the entire way (320 kms), only sand and gravel. The bus took us 7 hours to reach, which also later I realized is kind of _DSC0017the minimum time by public transport in Cambodia and also while traveling on public transport you will find more than 90% of the co-passengers are foreigners. There will hardly be 2-3 Cambodians traveling. Not only on this bus but all the public transport I took later as well.

My hostel- Adan World Hostel was good. It was about 1 km away from the main bustling pub street or a 1$ tuk-tuk ride away, thus as per me ideal location. The tuk-tuk driver who dropped me from the bus station to the hotel coaxed me to do the 3 day temple tour with him, starting at 5 am the next day!! He conned me into believing that 60$ was the best rate for the whole 3 days. At that point it was too early for me to realize he was conning me and hence I acquiesced.

 

Day 0: From New Delhi to Phnom Penh

Posted: September 3, 2014 by randommuzings in Cambodia, South East Asia
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The questions I got at the immigration counter at New Delhi Airport.

“Cambodia is visa on arrival? Really?”

“But what is there to see at Cambodia? Isn’t it a lazy country?”

“Hindu Temples”, I replied and he seemed satisfied. Good he didn’t question me further on religion as then my reply would have been “I am just interested in the architecture of the temples.”

Fortunately the flight took off on time and most of the co-passengers were foreigners flying to Bangkok via India.

_DSC0452_02 copyAt Bangkok airport I ran from pillar to post trying to figure the check-in procedure for my onward flight to Phnom Penh and also trying to ensure that they do check-in my baggage but of course for that I had to only rely on their word which did not sound too reassuring. The only icing on cake was that the lounge access was free.

Fortunately my bag did arrive at Phnom Penh, although drenched. I thought something inside might have leaked but couldn’t think of anything that could have and only to discover later that the water was external perhaps from the rain at Bangkok. Anyways I was glad that my bag arrived so wasn’t too bothered about the water.

It was about 11 pm when I reached Phnom Penh. I couldn’t spot a tuk-tIMG_0701uk when I stepped out of the airport and since it was late I didn’t want to waste my time looking for one. Later discovered that there were tuk-tuks just outside the airport, just as the Lonely Planet had said. But anyways I took a taxi Camry that had quoted $10 at the airport but the driver said it was $12. I had no choice but to accept, not wishing to piss off the driver.

Hotel Yolanda where I was staying at wasn’t too close to the airport but was decent. “Wifi wasn’t working”, which I later discovered was quite common at Cambodia and Airtel hadn’t turned on my international roaming despite my request a day earlier. So I went off to sleep disconnected from the world.

 

Please note this was my solo trip so I had nothing planned and nothing booked. Nevertheless I am summarizing my itinerary here. Perhaps my trip wasn’t the best planned but it was interesting and adventurous and would strongly recommend these countries for solo travel.

My Itinerary:vietnam-map(1) copy

Day 1: Arrive at Phnom Penh

Day 2: Bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: (Giant Ibis bus: $18) (the road is extremely bad as its mostly sand and gravel with a few patches of tar in between)

Day 3, 4 & 5: Temples visit (3 day pass: $40)

Day 6: Siem Reap

Day 7: Siem Reap to Battambang: By boat 7 hours, $21 (Highly recommend the boat ride. Much more expensive than bus ($6) but worth it for the numerous floating forests and floating villages)

Day 8: Buttambang

Day 9: Battambanh to Silhounkville: by bus: 14 hours (via Phnom Penh)

Day 10: Sihounkville

Day 11: Sihounkville to Ho Chi Minh: by bus: 14 hours (via Phnom Penh) $25, Mekong Express

Day 12 & 13: Ho Chi Minh

Night bus to Dalat: 7 hours

Day 14,15, 16: Dalat

Day 17: Dalat to Mui Ne: by bus, 7 hours (the scenery on the way is beautiful)

Day 18: Mui Ne

Day 19: Mui Ne to Ho Chi Minh: by bus 7 hours

Day 20: Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh by bus 7 hours

Day 21: Return flight to New Delhi

This is not the usual itinerary for Vietnam. The most common one is Ho Chi Minh- Nha Trang- Hoi An- Hue- Hanoi- Sapa- Halong Bay.

Since it was my first solo trip I did not want to extend it beyond 20 days and after talking to most people I decided to include both Cambodia and Vietnam in the itinerary but I think it was a bad idea because although 15 days are enough for Cambodia you need a month for covering Vietnam and also although they are neighbors culturally they are so different that combining the two dilutes the experience of either country. Cambodia of course has had stronger Indian influence and is culturally closer to India whereas Vietnam has had stronger Chinese influence and is culturally closer to China and hence perhaps it was more interesting for me. Even though Buddhist is the major religion in Vietnam, many people here are atheists as in China.I will talk about other details in the forthcoming posts.