Today is the day we leave Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

22 January 2008

Rise and shine… Our holiday is almost over. Mr Lee actually took the effort to wake up at 545 AM to watch the sunrise but unfortunately the sun was overcast and… he went back to bed… I stayed out patiently waiting for the sun. Don’t want none of ’em clouds on our last day… true enough the sun is always brighter in Cambodia!

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As usual, we started our day with a nice breakfast. This time around we tried Kiwi bakery. Recommended by Lonely Planet and deffo recommended by moi. It’s located at 199 Sisowath Boulevard. Prices ranges between US$1.50 to US$5. I had their tuna croissant with french fries… tasty french fries EVVAAA! Mr Lee had a delicious fish porridge AND a chicken pie… YUMMEH! Jeff had a big American breakfast and Mel had something… I forgot what it was, but she was satisfied!

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You know… I realize something… Jeff takes his food orders seriously… like SERIOUSLY!

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From top left: Jeff at Kiwi Bakery, Jeff at Raffles hotel Le Royal, Jeff at Veiyo Tonle, Jeff and Mel at Ponlok, Jeff at Ecstatic Pizza… before he became ecstatic! Hahahaaa… the man really treasures his food! It took him twice longer than the rest of us to choose his order WHEREVER we went!

After breakfast we went straight to The Royal Palace… It has a super mouth-full name: Preah Borom Reach Veang Chatomuk Mongkul… From now on I will only refer it as The Palace! Smart right! Anyway… It’s the principal residence oftheir Majesties the King and the Queen of the royal family… that means I’m most welcome there! I’m Madam Queen Goddess of the Royal Highnes… you may vomit now! hehehe.

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The majesty’s crib is HUGE! There are some restricted areas, but you have plenty of places that you can check out. The entry fee is US$6 and it opens from 8 – 11 AM and from 2 – 5 pm and they are very strit about it OK, so you betta get your arse down there on time so that you can make use of the moleh you spent on the tix.

The first joint you will see is The Throne Hall or Preah Tineang Tevea Vinichhay, since I’m SOOO GOOD WITH NAMES, I will now call it as… The T Hall! ooohhh Three snaps for me! It’s Da place where they held all the official ceremonies. Pretty neat the way they decorate it. Unfortunately nobody’s allowed to take pics inside, so you have to see it for yourself.

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I dig the architectural design… simple but yet divine !

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There’s also The Pavilion of Napoleon III… this one doesn’t have any funny name so I shall let it be. Napoleon presented this crib to king Norodom.

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Wat Preah Keo Morokat (picture shown below) … is also known as the Silver Pagoda or The temple of the emerald Buddha… I shall call it the Bling B.

It draws its name from the over 5000 silver tiles which cover the floor. The emerald Buddha was well… super bling… It’s pure emerald! There is another Buddha statue there… It’s made of gold, encrusted with more than 2000 diamonds ! Now THAT IS MAJOR BLING! They have other barang-barang on display from the Angkorian and Buddha period there as well.

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There are plenty of stupas for you to take pictures with =)

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What is vforviatch without a song and dance number!!!

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“Mari kita ra’yat Singapura sama sama menuju Bahagia…”

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“Why do birds… suddenly appear… Everytime… you are near… just like me… they long to be… Close to you…”

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“Pose for the camera now flick flick flick… You want my body… Won’t you get me bodied”

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“I’m bringing sexy back… yeahhh…. ’em other boys don’t know how to act… yeahhh”

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“I’m Starting With The gurl In The Mirror … If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place… Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change…” NA NA NA NA NA NAAAA NAAAAAAAA

Aiiiteee after the Palace we head down to the National Library… Why do you ask? Well am interested to find out more about the architectural of the building cos it has the blend of French and Angkorian influence… plus the loud and proud N.E.R.D Mr Lee himself would like to check it out… I told you his nerdiness goes back since Pre-Angkorian period!

You need to take a Tuk Tuk to reach there cos it’s quite far away from Sisowath Quay. It cost us US$2 to get there. Plus there’s another French-influenced building located nearby that we wanted to check out, Raffles Hotel Le Royal.

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There’s a statue of Vishnu holding a conch shell on his upper left hand, which represents creativity; chakra held by his upper right hand, symbolizes the mind; a mace held by the lower left hand, which represents individual existence; a Lotus held by the lower right hand, which represents liberation or dispersion. So he deffo represents higher learning!

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While we are playing around with the camera (by we I meant me!), Mr Lee has managed to secure himself in “the shortest internship program that has ever been created, not even the Donald himself could have ever thought of it”.

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He had the taste of becoming a librarian! Yes take a look at his proudest moment! And guess what he’s doing behind the desk while waiting to serve someone… browsing his facebook profile… well well well… ain’t that a surprise!

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After tired of fooling around at the library, we moved on to Raffles Hotel Le Royal. Wow the hotel is so SICK! and I haven’t seen such greenery ever since we arrived at Phnom Penh. This is La Grand place K! We cruised around and finally hang out at The Elephant Bar!

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Posing at our imaginary hotel right in front of our imaginary pool

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Apparently all the glamor has inspired Mr Lee to dwell into his emo side…

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Madam Queen GODDESS of the royal highness and yes you may kiss my feet says: “Mr Lee… I approve! You are officially Knight of the shining Emo… You may kiss my feet now!”

We went back to the hotel and gettin’ ready to check out and to have our last dinner. While I was having my last Bayon Beer, I saw this funny little incident that I think was pretty funny. Out of nowhere came this elephant who took his time walking along Sisowath Quay. Check out the havoc it had created!

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HUAAAAAAAA LAST MEAL AT CAMBODIA ALREADY! Time does fly when you’re having such a good time! Let me leave you (and myself… to remind me how good the trip was) with our last meal pics…

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Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my Cambodia trip as much as I did writing about it =)

To Mr Lee and Jeffissa… Thank you for all the memories! Love you till eternity and beyond!

 

 

 

 

 

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Good Morning Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

21 January 2008

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Like I said before, I made sure that I made used of the moleh that we spent at Hope & Anchor. I woke up at 530 AM to catch the sunrise and it was absolutely gorgeous. I saw the locals go about doing their morning routine. Exercising, getting ready to open their store or just hanging around the riverfront. It is so peaceful in the morning. The noise pollution is almost non-existent during this hour. I just sat there at the balcony until around 615 AM and then I went downstairs to the riverfront. I saw the fishermen making their living for the day… It was a lovely sight. It’s worth the pain of waking up really early! =)

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We checked out at around 8 AM and check in at our new guest house. The friendly Mekong Palace Hotel at Sisowath Quay.

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And then we head off to do our tourist duty… First stop… fill in the increasingly bulging tummy. We had breakfast at this local noodle place somewhere near the National Museum. They have English-speaking staff there and the food was really cheap! We had rice vermicilli soup with beef and it was simply delicious! They had this special sauce along with it, it was spicy and sweet… the sweetness actually tasted like brown sugar/gula malaka… SHIOK!

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After we got our tummy fixed, we head off to the National Museum. They display Pre-Angkor, Angkor and Buddhist statue there. Pretty cool. US$3 entry free and I suggest you to hire a guide, it’ll cost you US$5 extra but it’s worth it. Your guide will put words and meaning to the statues and by the end of the tour, you can differentiate between Pre Angkorian and Angkorian era statues AND you can even tell from which century it came from! hehehe… before you know it you’ll be as nerdy as Mr Lee! wakakkakaka… I kid … I kid Mr Lee, you know I love you… xoxo bitchy V.

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The self-trained tour guide with two gangho door bitchess… you betta dress like a tourist before you enter the museum bitch!

Before you know it… it’s time to… fill in our bulging tummy again… LUNCHHHHHHHHH!

We went to the ever inventive and creative in naming their sandwich shop place call… THE SHOP! It’s located at Street 240 #39. I’m really impressed with the Cambodian’s ability to make pastries… they really know what they’re doing, the French sure left something right to their colony. The price ranges between as little as US$ 1.5 to US$8. I had a mushroom bruchetta with parmesan…. YUMMEH!!! The portion was little though and I was hungry again by 4 PM 😉 Oh and they served these funky juice drinks that are deffo worth for you to try!

Infernal affairs agents seen entering “The Shop”

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After lunch off we went to The Russian Market for a little bit of shopping because it was too early to visit anything. Places are open from 730 – 11 AM and then 2 – 5 PM. So we took tuk tuk to take us to the Russian Market, The Killing Fields (Choeung Ek Memorial), S-21 (Toul Sleng Genocide Museum) and then back to our hotel. Take note that these places are quite a distance away from the riverfront. It’s not like the National Museum or the Palace which are in walking distance. But do bargain if the Tuk tuk dude says it’s gonna cost you US$20. We managed to hire him for US$10, be human and don’t be too thrifty when you bargain cos it’s fuckin far.

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Beware, the following post will be more serious. There are gruesome pictures but it’s very important to know Cambodia’s history to understand where they are right now… Cambodia was ruled by the Khmer Rouge, it’s a communist political party that came to power in 1975 – 1979 and let by the infamous Pol Pot. During those years blood were shed and injustice occurred. The Khmer Rouge followed a radical form of agrarian communism where the whole population had to work in collective farms or forced labor projects.

The Khmer Rouge regime arrested and eventually executed almost everyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals. It’s their way of “cleansing” the Cambodians.

All over Cambodia, researcher had estimated there were more than 1 million people killed.

The Killing field (Entry charge US$2) is 15 KM southwest of Phnom Penh. It is the biggest location where the Khmer Rouge regime executed and mass buried their victims. There were more than 17,000 men, women and children buried here. These kind of mass grave were found all over Cambodia.

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We moved on to S-21 (Toul Sleng Genocide Museum) [entry charge US$2] where the Khmer Rouge interrogated and torture their inmates. Toul Sleng was actually a high school and they turned this building into a prison! It is now lies as the witness of all those lost souls.

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You can see pictures of the inmates on display, there are never ending rows pictures of men, women and CHILDREN! And you can tell from the look in their eyes that they have surrendered their faith in the hands of their torturer! Some men have deviant look in their eyes, some gave in, but the women… the women have the helpless look in their eyes… it’s just heart wrenching… It’s as if they know… they are going to die… The younger children don’t know what’s going on… but the older ones are scared… you can just tell by the look in their eyes…

The Khmer Rouge ruled the country for only four years and they managed to create such causalities that it was unbearable to comprehend. And to think that this inhuman act happened only less than 30 years ago…

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This picture of a woman and her baby really touched me. I took this picture from two different angles and it created such an effect that I feel her gaze just follow where my camera was pointing… Her eyes… I couldn’t take it after seeing this picture that I had to get out to catch some air…

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This was their torturing chamber and they displayed the picture of the victims found dead in that chamber in 1979.

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Pictures of the dead victims.

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After that very depressing visit, we went back to our hotel to clean up and take a lil’ rest and regain our happy juice… It’s our last night in Phnom Penh so we wanna check out the night scene there. You don’t have to worry of running out of bars cos at Sisowath Quay, there are so many of ’em.

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We decided to have a Khmer meal at this restaurant call Ponlok. It’s located on 319 Sisowath Quay. We had fish amok and crab meat fried rice, stir fry veggy and some local sour soup. The Amok was served inside a coconut… fawkin cute! Excellent meal y’all! It’s pricier for a local restaurant but as long as you don’t buy the seafood, it’s still affordable.

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My coconut shake bring all ’em boys to the yard… THAT’S RIGHT IS BETTA THAN YOURS! I can teach you but I have to CHARGE!!!

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After dinner we had some drinks and hang out for a while at this cozy bar call Corner Bar accross the street from Hope & Anchor… and then we called it a night…

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Tuesday, 22nd January would be our last day and we made a stop at the Palace!

Expect the unexpected at Phnom Penh

In between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh

20 January 2008

We went to Phnom Penh on our fourth day. We took the 1230 PM bus from Siem Reap. We used Mekhong Express and it cost us US$10 per person. They have two scheduled bus, you can choose to take the earlier bus which departs at 730 AM but we decided to re-lek’ jek’ first at the hotel. The ride took around 6 hours. It was really an enjoyable bus ride no hurdle at all, I fell asleep most of the time… surprise surprise 😉  A little bit of advice… when you book the bus, request for A&B seats Ok, don’t take ours which were C&D cos the sun shines at C&D side! Seriously I should have known that it was a sign that I can’t escape from the sun… later I’ll tell you why!

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We reached Phnom Penh slightly after 6 just in time for the sunset…

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The moment you see lots of run down houses stacking side by side, you know you’re reaching the capital city of a third-world country… The same scenery can be seen in rural Jakarta as well.

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On our first night, we stayed at Hope and Anchor, a guest house at Sisowath Quay facing the Tonle Sap river. It’s actually quite a cozy place, with a balcony overlooking the river, but it’s overpriced for the facilities and the owner is a burly old Brit dude who was rather nasty. He charged us US$40 per room, but we asked for a discount and he finally gave in and gave it to us for US$30 per room. Mel and Mr Lee were really good at doing this! I kept quite, am useless at this cos I know we were on the losing end… We had made reservation already and agreed upon the price… oh well… Mel & Jeff went around to look for other rooms earlier and they had found a nice guest house with a lot friendlier service and better price as well! It’s mekhong guest house and it’s still facing the river… minus the balcony… . So we moved out on the second day. Mr Lee and I shared a US$20 on the highest floor – the 5th floor, Jefissa shared a US$15 room on the ground floor. I guess the Hope & Anchor owner charged the balcony separately, like US$20!

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Hope & Anchor

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After all the drama in our lives, we went down to check out where we can eat, and we were cravings for food other than Khmer foods=) We went to this nice little cozy place call Veiyo Tonle (Number 237 Sisowath Quay) that serves Italian food, burgers, fish n chips and also some Khmer food. The Small size Pizza cost around US$5 and it tastes really good. They have plenty of pizzas for you to choose from! No… they don’t have any special ingredients that will make you feel ECSTATIC cos this restaurant is actually a day centre that helps and train orphanage and disadvantage kids. They have dance performance there on selected days (Mondays, but you have to check with them for other days). Too bad we didn’t manage to catch it.

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Sorry no pizza pics… way too famish to take pics cos we skipped lunch!

Afterwards we walked around the area to check out the scenery. We walked towards this shady alley where there were zero angmohs and plenty of locals… and let me tell you Cambodian are big on Karaoke man! hahaha… We saw this little cafe somewhere in the dark alley It’s call  Sakhanda Cafe. It was so nice and cozy and we only saw one old angmoh couple and they charge in real! The coffee is good and you should deffo check it out. It’s at No. 77 Oknha Inn (St 136)

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My personal agenda tom… to make use of the US$20 balcony and catch the sunrise!!!

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