After hearing about the tree houses and monkeys in Khao Sok National Park, we were intrigued. We decided to make a stop there on the way back from our visa run in Ranong. Continue Reading »
Patong is not a place we would choose for a vacation – its main attraction is the beach, but sex tourism comes in a close second. We chose it deliberately as a place to get some things accomplished with ADSL internet in our room, few sites to distract us, and a beach within ten minutes walk when we needed a break.
We were surprised by Patong’s overdevelopment. Many areas had been rebuilt bigger and “better” after the tsunami (2004), as if no one learned any lessons about responsible planning and building. It looked more like the New Jersey shore than Thailand, save the tsunami evacuation sign on every corner. Continue Reading »
Every major city in Southeast Asia has a backpacker ghetto – Khao San Road in Bangkok, Pham Ngu Lao in Saigon, Boeng Kak Lake in Phnom Penh. For those of you who have spent time in this region, you know what we’re talking about.
No matter the country, the scenery is the same: Continue Reading »
If you refer to the statistics on Cambodia – poverty is widespread, as is AIDS, the country is still recovering from the Khmer Rouge (and has yet to put anyone on trial for war crimes), corruption is institutionalized and entrenched, health care is lacking, there are still an estimated 6 million unexploded land mines, indentured sex workers are common (children too), and the list could go on – it seems like a pretty hellish place. Yet, why is it that for many of the travelers we talked to, they (and we) put Cambodia at the top of the list of favorite countries visited? Continue Reading »
Thais love their street food and seem to snack all day and all night. As a result, the streets of their capital, Bangkok, are flush with food stalls and street-side restaurants to suit just about any taste. If you are wary of “Thai spicy”, just let the person know to go easy on the chili peppers when preparing your dish.
Condiment racks often sag with all manner of sauces and toppings to hop up, spice or otherwise customize your dish. Even a basic stall will likely offer dried shrimp, peanuts, hot pepper flakes, peppers in vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sweet and sour sauce.
Bangkok cuisine can be outstanding and almost criminally cheap. Here’s just a sample of what you might find, even if you don’t look very hard. Continue Reading »
There are two ways to get to Battambang from Siem Reap: 1) bus on reliable roads, 5 to 6 hours or 2) boat on less than reliable waterways, 5 to 10 hours. We chose the boat option, having read that the journey along Tonle Sap Lake is the best water trip in Cambodia, where beautiful scenery and active floating villages accompany you most of the way. Continue Reading »
First the Bugs
Curious, Dan struck up a conversation with a table of people enjoying their late afternoon snack of bugs and sugar cane juice near the river in Battambang. After inviting us to sit with them, he received a proper – and unexpected – lesson in art of bug eating. Step 1: remove the wings and legs. Step 2: pop them into his mouth, Step 3: chew a long, long while, Step 4: chase them with a healthy gulp of sugar cane juice. Step 5: Pray your digestive system approves of this curious new protein. Continue Reading »
Spending a day on the back of a motorbike going around the villages and sites near Battambang is one of the best ways to take in Cambodia’s countryside while getting a bit of an adrenaline kick. This trip proved one of our personal travel hightlights in Southeast Asia. Continue Reading »
While visiting Battambang, we hired motorbike drivers for a day to take us through the surrounding countryside. Our day with them yielded an authentic look at Cambodian country life. Our drivers also shared glimpses of their own personal stories with us. Their stories were typical of many Cambodians and serve as a collective memory of a country that lost half its population during the rule of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. While the scores of smiling children we encountered throughout the day still bring smiles to our faces, the day underscored how thankful we are for the fortunate lives we’ve had until now. Continue Reading »
There’s no better way to comprehend a cuisine than to cook something for yourself. To that end, we signed up for a Cambodian cooking course with Smoking Pot Restaurant (yes, clever naming). Along the way, we also picked up some more Cambodian history. Continue Reading »