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Trip 2014 Travels 2014 Travels   All of my travels in 2014. 1. Canada - March (Waypoint 1-5) 2. Malaysia ... Walter Ch (US)
Kambodscha Kanada Malaysia Singapur Südkorea USA

2014 Travels

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All of my travels in 2014.

1. Canada - March (Waypoint 1-5)
2. Malaysia - November (Waypoint 6-13)
3. Cambodia - November (Waypoint 14-23)

  • 28Mar 2014

    1 Hab to See Baseball 28.03.2014 Kanada —

    Ville-Marie, Montreal, Kanada

    Beschreibung

    Being planned at the last minute, I decided to take a trip to Montreal, as I learned that there were 2 baseball games being scheduled there, just a few weeks before. My chance to make up for a missed opportunity in 2000, which was second visit there overall, with the first being in 1990. Granted, there were exhibition games, but I just could not pass up the chance this time, because who knows if this will ever happen again.

    I got up very early, and finish up any last minute packing. Then went to the airport, and was able to get there with plenty of time to spare. I waited until it was time to board. I got in, and was on my way to Canada. This was the first time that I have flown there.

    A short flight, I arrived in Montreal, and went through customs quickly. I bought a 3-day pass. Then took the 747 bus (get it?), which takes people from Trudeau Airport to downtown, and included in the 3-day pass. Getting off at the Berri-UQAM station, I walked to the hostel.

    While there was still snow on the ground, it was raining, and got very slushy. As a result, my socks got soggy very quickly. And slippery too, as some parts of the sidewalk are still icy. I had nearly 2 slip-and-falls.

    I arrived at the Alexandrie-Montreal-youth-hostel, but was too early to check in. This one was not really good, as it did look down. Space is a bit tight, and the computer was really slow.

    So I dropped off my backpack, and headed back out, in the rain, stopping by a McDonald's. I got myself some poutine, though not really the real thing. After that, I headed to the Metro, going to the Bell Centre and Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame. They were connected to the Metro stop, with passageways, so I did not have to step outside once. This was part of the system known as the Underground City.

    I got to the Bell Centre, the home of the Montreal Canadiens, who are the oldest and most successful team in the National Hockey League (NHL). More commonly known as the Habs, they were my second favorite team at one time, and it was how I knew about the city of Montreal. And some of the biggest names in hockey have played for the Habs, like Maurice Richard, Chris Chelios, and Patrick Roy.

    Unfortunately, I would not be able to tour the Bell Centre (due to a Miley Cyrus concert), so it was just the Canadiens Hall of Fame. Good thing that I did not buy the combo ticket for both attractions in advance. Otherwise, a waste of money. So I toured the Hall of Fame. It told the history of the Habs, and contains a lot of memorabilia, from its beginning to the present day. Very interesting for anyone who is a fan of hockey. I enjoyed it very much. There are photos of the things to see in this place.

    After seeing the Habs HOF, I headed out, and decided to go to the Pointe-a-Calliere, Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. I thought that I just stick to indoor attractions, as it was still raining outside. Only one problem... I still had to go outside and get to the museum.

    So I walked to the museum, getting wet in the process. Once I got there, I toured the museum, seeing the archaeological ruins, pirates, and a temporary exhibition on the Beatles, when they came to Montreal. This told the history of Montreal, from its earliest days towards the present day. It was interesting to see, mainly the ruins and the models of the city over the years. Very much worth the visit.

    After touring, I looked at my photos, until my camera suddenly froze, then somehow deleted all of them. I just could not believe that just happened. So I went through the entire museum quickly, retaking all the photos that I could remember. Then I decided to go back to the Canadiens Hall of Fame, and do the same. Even though the museum staff told me that the ticket was not an in-and-out one, they did let it slide this time, and allowed me to re-enter. After going through that one quickly, I went back to the hostel.

    I was hoping to check in quickly, but ended up taking a while, since there was a holdup with the credit card machine. I waited until it printed, and then went to the room, to unpack. But no time to rest, as I went to use the hostel computer, deciding to save my photos on a web site. Since it was done on an old computer, it was very slow and time-consuming. After that was done, I headed out to the baseball game.

    Getting on the Metro, it was very crowded, as I saw a lot of people in Expos gear, as well as some in Blue Jays gear. It only got more crowded as it approached the stadium. Once I got there, I entered the stadium area, which was entirely indoors.

    There was a very long line, which I had to stand in, for will call. And it moved very slow, as those who bought online, could not print out their ticket, and only could pick up at the stadium. Unfortunately, this led to a very huge problem, as the line got a lot longer since I got there. Asking one of the security staff how much longer, they did not know, which annoyed me. I ended up waiting for 90 minutes. Talk about being unorganized.

    After finally getting my ticket, I went to enter, only to find out that it was for tomorrow's game. So I went back to the ticket window, and was able to buy one. Only if I had bother to look at my receipt more carefully, that would have saved me a lot of time and trouble.

    I was able to enter the stadium, and headed to my seat. Only to find that someone was already sitting there. When asking an usher to straighten all this out, the guy did not seem to know any English, and could not find his ticket to find out where his seat was. So he had to move further down the row, and apparently, the rest of the people sitting there, did not take kindly to me. There was a woman who said something to me in French, and when saying that I don't understand her, she gave me this dirty look.

    Still, after all that happened, I was glad to finally watch a baseball game in Montreal. Granted, it was not the Expos, but a game between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets. The Expos played in Montreal from 1969 to 2004. After that, they relocated to Washington DC to become the Nationals. I can always remember some of the great players on the Expos, which I will get into, in the next entry.

    The game itself was scoreless when I got to my seat in the 3rd inning. The Mets jumped to a 2-0 lead, and the 2 teams get trading runs, until it got to the 7th inning, when it was tied 4-4. Then in the bottom of the 9th inning, the Blue Jays had a walkoff hit, to end the game and win 5-4. A good game to watch.

    After the game, I just looked around the stadium, and met some nice fans there. We talked for a bit, and even got into a photo with them. After that, I headed out, and ran into crowds at the Metro. But not as bad, as I got back to the hostel. Once there, I just dried out some things, and used the computer until 1 AM, when I went to sleep.

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  • 29Mar 2014

    2 Meeting a TBer and Seeing History 29.03.2014 Kanada —

    Ville-Marie, Montreal, Kanada

    Beschreibung

    After getting ready and eating breakfast at the hostel, I would arrange a meet-up with Victor (luv2travel77). We been in contact mainly through TB and private e-mail, since my cell phone does not work outside the US. But since I was in Canada, I was able to call him, using the hostel phone. We were able to arrange a meet-up spot at the Metro station.

    I did try to meet him the day before, at the entryway at Olympic Stadium. But it was too crowded and chaotic, plus I had to wait in line for the ticket. So that ended up not happening. But it finally happened this time, as we finally met. He then gave me a ride, taking me to a local Costco, where I could eat some real poutine.

    A poutine is a Quebec specialty, consisting of french fries with gravy and cheese curds. It was very filling, and can be tough to finish, but oh man, was it so good! But I could not have another at that time. And it seemed like Costco makes good poutine, because I saw the locals buying and enjoying it as well.

    I knew Victor from TravBuddy, and did notice one of his profile pics being that of Olympic Stadium. I thought that someday, I would contact him when I came to Montreal. We talked a lot of sports, as he was an Expos fan, and still a Habs fan. After eating, he gave me a ride around the city, then up Mount Royal, which is a little mountain close to the city.

    We ended up at a lookout point, overseeing the city. It was a nice view, as I did see Olympic Stadium in the distance. After looking around, Victor took me to a Metro stop, where I got off, and headed to the baseball game. Very nice of Victor to treat me to some real poutine, and giving me a ride around the city.

    I arrived at the stadium, which was not nearly as crazy as it was on Friday. When entering, the pregame ceremony has already started. I hurried to my seat, and did sneak into some sections to get a quick look along the way.

    The ceremony was to honor the 1994 Montreal Expos, the team that had the best record in baseball until a strike wiped out the season and World Series. And that pretty much killed baseball in Montreal, as it never recovered after that. I can remember names like Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom, and even Felipe Alou, who was the manager of the team. Before that, there were a pair of Tims (Raines and Wallach) and Gary Carter (who was honored on Friday). A banner was unveiled to honor the team. Just a shame with the way things played out back then, as I remembered it very well.

    After the ceremony, the game started, but with no lineup announced. Speaking of which, it was interesting to hear announcements in French at a baseball game. The game was an exhibition one between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets. And boy, it was a game not really interesting, as it was scoreless through 7 innings. No idea who won, and did not really care.

    I made it up my mind to leave early, around 2:30 PM, but later changed it to after the 7th inning stretch. It would have not felt right to not get to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." After that, I left, and exited outside, getting to see the exterior of the stadium. It looked like some kind of flying saucer with a long tower sticking out. Built for the 1976 Olympics, it would become known as "The Big O" or "The Big Owe", because of the financial problems it would cause. The debt was so huge that it took 30 years to pay it all off.

    I took the Metro, and headed for Vieux-Montreal. I was hoping to do some sightseeing there. I ended up walking fast, to the Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum, which also included going to the top of the tower. Well, there was no separate admission for it, so I was not able to do it, and did not want to pay for something that I would have very little time for. So I just settle for looking around the adjoining Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, which was free.

    Built in 1771, the chapel was known as Sailors' Church, as sailors would give thanks to the Virgin Mary for a safe journey across the sea. Looking around, I saw the model ships and the artwork, reminding me of ones in Europe. I need to visit that continent again.

    Anyway, I went out, and just walked around one part of the area, as I was following along the walking tour. Seeing the various old buildings with interesting architecture, like the Bonsecours Market building, I felt like I was at an Old Town in Europe. Vieux-Montreal is French for Old Montreal, as this was oldest part of the city, dating back to 1642, back when it was part of New France, which was what the French colonies in North America were called (I know, very original). It was a nice stroll, though a square like Place Jacques-Cartier, was still covered in ice. I got to the Basilique Notre-Dame, which I had to save for another time, as it was time to head back and leave town.

    So I went back to the hostel, and got my backpack. Hung out there for a little while, then headed to the bus station. I got there on time, and hopped on the Orleans Express bus, heading to Quebec City.

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  • 29Mar 2014

    3 Arrival Into Quebec City 29.03.2014 Kanada —

    La Cité-Limoilou, Québec City, Kanada

    Beschreibung

    Leaving Montreal, it was about a 3-hour bus ride to Quebec City. Not much to see, and I did sleep half of the time. I was taking the Orleans Express, which actually arrived earlier than scheduled, if I remember correctly. I can see it is more like Megabus than Greyhound in the US.

    Arriving there, I had to ask for directions. Then as I headed out, I saw that the bus station was attached to the train station. And noticed the architecture of the building. Looked like I was inside some kind of castle. Then I went outside, and saw the station, Gare du Palais, looked like some kind of chateau. The architecture looked nice, and it looked like I was going to like Quebec City.

    I walked to the hostel, HI-Quebec: Auberge Internationale de Quebec, which was up a hill. More about it in the review here. I checked in, and this was when I learned that Canada has done away with the penny. So the total gets rounded to the nearest 5. A nice place, as each bed has their own reading lamp.

    After checking in, I went to the room, and then had to take care of some things, like unpacking and doing some laundry. And using the computer, this was when my camera had some kind of problem. Not sure if it was the camera or memory card, as I did not have an extra. But luckily, I was able to save the photos before trying any attempts to fix it, because trying to fix it, would result in the photos being deleted.

    Unfortunately, nothing worked, so now, I had to buy a disposable camera, going back to the old ways of taking photos. Not good, in a city like Quebec City. But that would not be the only problem I would face while here, as I was about to get a very rude surprise the next day.

    After the laundry was done, I went to sleep.

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  • 30Mar 2014

    4 Wasted Day 30.03.2014 Kanada —

    La Cité-Limoilou, Québec City, Kanada

    Beschreibung

    Waking up this morning, I looked out the window, and thought my eyes were deceiving me, as I was looking at snow being blown off the roof. I did check the weather forecast beforehand, and it said that it would be a partly sunny day. Well, I should have remembered, that the weather web sites tend to go back and forth, as if they can't make up their mind, when looking about a week beforehand, and not a few days before.

    I asked the front desk about this, and he said that it was not normal for a snow storm to come this late in the year. Well, it did come, as this was a very rude surprise. I went out, to shop for a disposable camera, and get breakfast at a Tim Horton's, which is the Canadian equivalent of Dunklin Donuts.

    After that, I headed back, and did some Nordiques merchandise on sale. The Nordiques were a NHL team in Quebec City from 1979 to 1995, before relocating to become the Colorado Avalanche. They were how I knew about this city. I got back to the hostel, and tried to figure out what to do next.

    I did go back out, and thought, make the best of it. As I walked in the snow, I figure, this can't be too bad, as I have dealt with snow before during my travels. But no, as soon as I got close to the Chateau Frontenac, I found myself going against very strong wind. And the snow felt like needles on my face. It was too much to take, and I quickly went inside the visitor center.

    After getting directions to some museums, I went back out, and tried to go up to the boardwalk promenade, but the wind once again, was too much. So I just walked to the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec. There was a service in progress, so I did not stay long. I went next door, to the Musee de I'Amerique Francophone. This is a museum that focuses on the history and life of the French in North America, with some temporary exhibitions. Only the chapel area was where photography was allowed, but not anywhere else.

    I went back to the Notre-Dame de Quebec, where it was open for people to look around. This was the first Catholic Church in Canada, built in 1647. I just enjoy looking at the church art, like the golden altar and the colorful stained glass windows.

    This was when I realized, that I had my cell phone, which also has a camera in it. Why did I not think of this before? I just wasted time and money on buying a disposable, not knowing how the photos will turn out until they get developed.

    I did go upstairs to the Treasury, but there was admission charged, so I did not go in. So back out, and went to get some lunch in a Subway. And just relaxed for some time, as I kept seeing the snow blowing in the wind. Then back out, and I did make myself go up to the promenade, to see the St. Lawrence River, which was icy, but not completely frozen.

    I went back to the visitor center, and asked about the Citadelle, on how much of it was outdoors. It was half indoors, and half outdoors. Plus it was quite a walk to get there. So for those reasons, I decided to pass on it.

    Back out, I went to see the statue of Samuel de Champlain, founder of Quebec City in 1608. And tried to salvage what was left of this visit. But I gave up, as I did could not take it anymore. So I headed back to the hostel.

    I went to the lounge, and dozed off for a while, as I was so tired. Then went to get my backpack, and back out, going to the train station.

    Still very windy, as I walked down a hill. There were 2 women walking along, and they ended using me as a shield from the wind. Kind of funny, in an otherwise terrible day. I got to the Gare du Palais, which served as both the train and bus station.

    I arrived early, and just waited until it was time to leave. Then got on the Orleans Express bus, and headed back to Montreal. As we pulled out, I could see a break in the clouds, and the sun coming out. I was not happy to see that. Talk about insult to injury! This unexpected snow storm during the only day that I am in Quebec City, and I was not able to do much. It ended up being a wasted day, and a wasted visit.

    Arriving back in Montreal, I checked into a different hostel, Montreal Central. Once inside, the hostel looked like some futuristic place, and looking very new. And each bed has its own reading light, as the rooms are surprisingly not cramped.

    After checking in, I went to get some takeout, and returned to the hostel, to eat my dinner there. Then just relaxed and took care of a few other things, before going to sleep.

    Note - I think you will be able tell which photos were from the disposable camera, and which ones from the cell phone.

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  • 31Mar 2014

    5 Last Slushy Day In Canada (For Now) 31.03.2014 Kanada —

    Ville-Marie, Montreal, Kanada

    Beschreibung

    Getting up, I went to eat the hostel breakfast. Then started packing up, and used the computer to look up some information. Looking outside, the weather was nicer, which meant, there will be some melting, resulting in puddles. So it won't be long until my socks get soggy again.

    After checking out, I went to Berri-UQAM, and tried to buy a day pass from a machine with my credit card. After a few tries, I was told by some guy, that it only accepted Canadian credit cards. Okay, I wished the machine would have told me that in English, as for some reason, it only say it in French, even though I chose the option for English. So I had to withdraw more Canadian money, as I did not have enough cash.

    After all that, I rode the Metro, and went to Vieux-Montreal. Then to the Place d-Armes, which I visited the other day. Looking around at the buildings that surrounded the square, seeing the Vieux Seminaire de St-Sulpice, which was a seminary built in 1680's, and had stone walls around it. Next to it, was the huge Basilique Notre-Dame. Built in the Gothic Revival style in the 1820’s. There were things that were added later on, like the pulpit in the 1870’s. The church art is just amazing to look at, with the statues of the saints on each side at the altar, and the wooden altarpiece in the back.

    After seeing the basilica, I continued to walk around the area, seeing the Old Courthouse, which was built in 1856. And the Place Vauquelin, which was a small square with the statue of Jean Vauquelin. He was the commander of the fleet for New France. Then I went inside the Hotel de Ville, which is City Hall. Looking around, seeing the marble around the place. Then back out, and to the Metro.

    I decided to head to Olympic Stadium, and go up the tower. I arrived there, and went inside the place, but thought I went in the wrong entrance. So I tried to go another way, but no luck there. I went back into the first entrance, and was later told, that it would open around 1 PM. It was 12:30 PM when I was told that.

    I did not have much time to work with, so I debated whether to spend $20 to go up the tower for 30 minutes or not. I decided that it was not worth it. Based on past experiences, it is often more disappointing to rush through an attraction that costs money than not do it at all. So I left, looked around the area, trying to dodge the puddles and dealing with the construction detours around the stadium area.

    I got back to the Metro, and to the Berri-UQAM stop. I stopped by an Italian place, to eat some poutine, which was okay. Then back to the hostel, to get my backpack. I walked to the bus station, to catch the 747 Airport Bus, taking me back there.

    Arriving at Trudeau Airport, I went to check-in, only to find out that my flight has been delayed. But an agent there, told me that I would be placed on an earlier flight, due to leave shortly. So once my boarding pass was printed, I went through security and customs pre-clearance, both of which, were not crowded at all. Customs pre-clearance is basically going through customs ahead of time, which is common in Canadian airports for people going to the US.

    I went to the gate, hearing the final boarding call. So no waiting around, as I got on the plane. Even better, no one else in my row. The plane took off, leaving Montreal, and I returned to Philly. Then headed home.

    I have some leftover Canadian money, and still have to visit the Blue Jays stadium, which means, another trip to Canada may not be far off. To be continued!

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  • 19Nov 2014

    6 Finally Happening 19.11.2014 USA —

    Chicago, USA

    Beschreibung

    I was finally going to visit Southeast Asia, after reading about it, and seeing it on TV a lot. This would be the first time visiting an Asian country that is not Korea (the only one that I have been to, 3 times). I will be visiting Malaysia and Cambodia, each with its separate blog. Excited and nervous at the same time, as this will put my travel skills to the test, as I have only really traveled mainly in North America and Europe.

    Getting up in the early morning, not the fun part. It was so cold outside, but I did not want to wear a coat, since I will be traveling to hot climates. Last minute packing, and having to take the train to the Philly airport. I checked in, but got only 2 boarding passes out of the 3 flights that I have to take. The first one is from Philly to Chicago with United, the second from Chicago to Hong Kong with United, and finally to Kuala Lumpur with Cathay Pacific. I booked online with Orbitz, hence how the reservation was with airlines from different alliances.

    Leaving Philly, and arriving into Chicago, where I had a 4 hour layover. First thing, I tried to get a boarding pass printed there, by calling Cathay Pacific first to see if it can be done at O'Hare. But the answer was no, as I would have to wait until I got to Hong Kong, where I had a layover of only 1 hour, 10 minutes. So I just had to cross my fingers and hope for the best.

    It was weird being at O'Hare, as I did not visit Chicago this year, as my sister no longer lives there. I just walked around, and did try a Chicago hot dog, which was good. I just sat around, and surfing the internet on my phone, until boarding time.

    I got on the plane, and sat in my seat. That was when there was a delay due to mechanical problem. This was not good, as it would cut into an already short layover. But safety first, and I did prepare for the possibility of spending the night in Hong Kong, having looked into some hostels. The delay was 30 minutes, and the flight was 15 hours. Not sure how I survive that, as I had the middle seat. And the headphones did not work, and the staff did not have any extras. So that did make it more difficult.

    I arrived into Hong Kong, which took me into next day. Having arrived later than scheduled, I tried to rush out of the plane, cutting some people off. No time to be nice! I ran out, and hurried to the Cathay Pacific desk. That was when I learned the outcome concerning the flight. So, would anyone be surprised that I would end up missing it?

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  • 20Nov 2014

    7 A Different Way to KL 20.11.2014 Singapur —

    Singapore, Singapur

    Beschreibung

    I got to the Cathay Pacific desk, where I learned that I missed the flight to Kuala Lumpur. And it turned out that I was not the only one, as there were some other people from the same United flight as me, that missed it as well. I thought that I would simply be rebooked on the next flight to KL (short for Kuala Lumpur), which was not until the next day. But to my surprise, I learned that I would go back on the same plane with United, going to Singapore. Then onto Silk Airways to KL, arriving around 7 AM. When really thinking about it, this was better than spending a night in HK, saving the hassle of rushing back the next morning.

    So I just waited around until it was time to board. When it came, I learned that the liquids rule applied the second time around. That meant, it would include ones bought in the airport. How messed is that? I had a bottle of Coke, so I had to finish it quickly. I got on the plane, having the aisle seat. This experience would be the opposite of the previous one, having the whole row to myself, and headphones that actually worked. And I did get to sleep a bit.

    The flight was 3 hours, as I arrived into Singapore. I used to think this would be the first place I would visit in Southeast Asia, assuming it was a good starting point to the region for first-timers. It sort of happened to me, then again, sort of not, as being in the airport only, does not count as visiting. But being around Changi Airport, may make me feel differently.

    I had about a 5-hour layover, and looked around the airport. It felt more like a shopping mall, with the way it was set up. There were gardens to visit, and a computer center, to use the internet. I ended up spending most of my time there, until it was time to board.

    I went to the gate, and got on the plane, seeing other people who had to follow the same flight pattern as me. Flying on Silk Air, we arrived into Malaysia.

    [NOTE - Unfortunately, I lost most of the photos taken in Changi, with only 1 that could be recovered]

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  • 21Nov 2014

    8 Jumping Into Sweaty Weather 21.11.2014 Malaysia —

    Perdana Botanical Gardens, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Beschreibung

    Arriving into Kuala Lumpur an hour later, I was hoping to go to one of the airport capsule hotels, to sleep for a little while. More about the capsule hotel itself, in a later entry. But when talking with other travelers, somehow, I ended up being hooked up with a Vietnamese guy, by another traveler, to go to the city center, as neither of us have ever been to Kuala Lumpur before. I tried to decline it, but he just did not want to listen to it.

    Well, this hookup turned out to be a bad idea, and I'll try to explain the best I can. I wanted to sleep at the capsule hotel, which is time-based. But he did not understand this at all, and kept saying that I just go with him, and check into my hotel. Only problem, is that I booked with a hostel, not a hotel. And knowing how it is with hostels and check-in times, I would not get to a bed for another few hours. Because this guy seemed so helpless and clueless without me, I ended up changing my plan. Plus the fact that I was not sure how to tell him to go away, without being rude. It almost felt like traveling with a family member, and not in a good way.

    We ended up taking the bus, to get to KL Sentral, which is the main train station. That was when we parted ways. Then I walked to the hostel, the PODs the Backpackers Home.

    I had to go through the shopping mall called Nu Sentral, then one block, to get to it. Once there, I tried to check in, but not surprisingly, it was not for some time.

    Even worse, the hostel did not have the air conditioner on from 7am to 7pm. So it was very hot inside, and I knew, coming into Southeast Asia, that I would be dealing with this for the entire trip. I kept hearing how this part of the world is a lot hotter than summers in the Southern US, and now, I can feel for myself why.

    I left my backpack in storage, and took a quick shower at one of the stalls, not too far from reception. Then tried to decide what to do next. I picked up some info, put on sunscreen, and later, some repellent. Then headed to Kuala Lumpur Tower, more commonly known as KL Tower. I took the Metro to a stop, then just walked in a semicircle, getting to the entrance. It was a long and sweaty walk.

    Then there was a shuttle van, that took people from the driveway entrance, to the building entrance. I took it, as it was air-conditioned, and the walk on the driveway was a long one. I went to the ticket desk, and bought one for both the observation deck and open deck.

    Built and opened in 1995, the tower is mainly used to transmit TV and radio signals throughout the city. While not the tallest in the city, it does give a better view and experience than the Petronas Towers (from what I hear). And you get to see the Petronas Towers, though the KL Tower itself is not eyesore either.

    So I went to the open deck first, which was the top level, and outdoors. Hardly anyone there, and I did feel a little whoozy, as there was no fence. After walking around it, as I would see the Petronas Towers for the first time, I went to the observation deck, which was indoors. Walked around that, seeing the city, but in a more bearable enviroment. Plus places to sit down to rest.

    Afterwards, I went back down, and decided to just head back to the hostel. Once I got back there, I was able to check in, and had to get used to having no shoes on, when in the dorm area. But I had my flip-flops on, whenever I went into the bathroom. And I did take a nap, to get some rest and hoping to avoid fall asleep in the meetup later on. But not easy to sleep, as the humid weather was just too much for me to bear. I got ready, and headed to the restaurant, Nasi Kandar, to meet up with other TravBuddies.

    I arrived there, but did not find anyone there. Have to admit, I started to worry a little bit. So I went towards the KLCC. On the way, I would run into some of the TBers, with Jon being the one who recognized me. More TBers would arrive along the way, and we would have dinner and some drinks, and had a very fun time. Even in this hot weather, as I seem to be the only one sweating. And very noticable to everyone else.

    The TBers that were at the restaurant are, in alphabetical order by first name: Anna (Avaria), Bree (BreeB), Brian (Besandri), Greg (greg1976), Hali (halilee), Hayley (hayley_phoon), Jon (northlight), Kanak (kanaknaidu), Masayo (masayo), Rolan (rolanzachary), Soon Thiam (soonthiam), Vanessa (Vanessa_Mun_Yee), Walter (WalterC), Yanti (Aurora78).

    After dinner, everyone was headed to the Aloft Hotel. I was about to get in a taxi, until I thought that I left a pair of glasses behind. So I went back into the restaurant to look, until I realize that I had it all along. Then went back out, and everyone was gone. No big deal, as it allowed me to return to the hostel, to drop some things off, and take a quick shower (little good that does, though).

    Then back out, looking for the Aloft Hotel, which was near KL Sentral. Not easy to find, and I had to stop by a few places for directions, as Google Maps is not exactly clear. I would enter by the parking lot, and walk around the building, until I was able to get inside. Then took the elevator to the poolside bar, where all the other TBers were.

    I arrived there, and met a few more TBers: Darren (DAZMAN50), Jantima (TravChef), Laiza (laichee), Lindy (lindyD), Nathan (nathanshivaliew), Suvani (suvanimokhtar), and a few others whose name I don't remember. I apologize for forgetting names and/or TB screen names.

    We all hung around the poolside area, until it started to rain. Then we all retreated inside the bar, where we all hung out until around 2 AM, when it closed.

    I headed back to the hostel, and in the room, where I became that person making the noise and turning on the light. I was enjoying the AC so much, as it was major relief to me, helping me to sleep a lot better.

    [NOTE - If anyone can help me with the names, I appreicate it very much. Again, sorry that I have forgotten names]

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  • 22Nov 2014

    9 Hot and Rainy Day With TBers 22.11.2014 Malaysia —

    Perdana Botanical Gardens, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Beschreibung

    Getting up in the room, with the air conditioner on, it felt really good. It would turn off around 7 AM, and it was time to get ready for the day. I hoped to visit 3 attractions on this day, plus meet up with TBers.

    After eating a very basic breakfast, I asked directions from hostel staff, and even got a new map, to get to the national museum. But neither were much help, as I got completely confused. I went through KL Sentral, and got out on the other side. I went one way, then the other way, as it seemed the sidewalk would end, making me think that I went the wrong way. Then I decided to go through the Hilton parking garage, and would have to walk along streets with a very narrow or no sidewalk. I was confused, until a local came to help, and showed me the way to the museum.

    I arrived there, and went into one building, which I thought, was a museum. But it was actually a special exhibition, requiring separate admission. So I went to the ticket booth, to pay admission. Then found the entrance to the museum, which is divided into 4 galleries, from A to D. Each one focusing on a different time period on Malaysian history.

    A great museum, and after seeing it, it made me wish that I had more time in Malaysia, as I learned that there is so much more to see than I planned to see on this trip. Only tough part, is getting to it.

    After seeing the museum, I decided to walk to the National Mosque of Malaysia and the Islamic Arts Museum. And oh boy, this was not fun at all. The map that I had, once again, proved not helpful at all. Even worse, was that I forgot to bring a towel with me, mainly used to wipe the excessive sweat on my face.

    I followed a path, which led me to the National Planetarium. I asked for directions, but they made no sense at all. I would go one way, then another way. Until I found a winding, narrow path, that was hard to find, that went down a hill. This wasted away valuable time, as I was dripping sweating.

    Once at the bottom, I found the 2 attractions, but with limited time left, I had to pass on the Islamic Arts Museum, and just visit the National Mosque at this time. When reaching the entrance, it was closed off to non-Muslims during that time. At that point, I just had enough, and headed back to the hostel by train, to wash up again (little good that does for me) and get that towel.

    I went back to KL Sentral, and met up with the TBers there, including some that arrived into town this morning. And ate lunch with some of them in McDonald's there, as we had time until the next train left for Batu Caves. Afterwards, we all rode the train, heading to the Batu Caves.

    Once we got there, we walked to the entrance of Batu Caves. Most of us were visiting for the very first time, and the ones that went the steps. A few others, mainly the KL locals, stayed behind, and waited for us at one of the restaurant. Built in 1891, the Batu Caves serve as a Hindu temple, dedicated to Murugan. There are 272 steps to climb to the top and to the end, passing by some Hindu displays on the side. And going through a series of caves, made of limestone. The art is nice to look, and the huge gold statue is really awesome to look at, in person.

    I remember seeing it on TV a few times, whether it was on "The Amazing Race" or "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations". And now, I finally got to see it with my own 2 eyes. The climb was not easy, especially for this out-of-shape guy. A lot more than the Rocky steps back in my hometown, and the humidity just made it harder for me. Plus having to avoid stepping on puddles along the way. But I made it to the end, and it was a nice thing to do. Going back down was not so bad.

    After all of us reached the bottom, we went to the restaurant, and just hung out for a little while. A good way to relax, even if there was no AC. Then we headed back to city center by train. But I got off a stop earlier than the rest, as I wanted to see the National Mosque.

    I got there, and hoped to see the National Mosque and the Islamic Arts Museum. Unfortunately, it started to rain. Not enough time for the museum, as I did not want to rush through it. So I went to the mosque, and had to wait about 40 minutes until it was open to non-Muslim visitors. It continued to rain, and I had to stand in a dry area.

    But once that time came, I had to take off my shoes, and was able to enter the mosque (finally!). I looked and walked around the mosque. Established in 1965 as a symbol of the newly, independent Malaysia, it was definitely worth visiting. I had to take off my shoes, and wear a purple robe before entering. The exterior architecture was nice to look at. But I was not allowed in the main prayer room, which is only opened to Muslims.

    Afterwards, I went back to the hostel, and decided to do some laundry, and take a short nap. When I woke up, I slept longer than I planned, and had to switch my clothes from the washer to the dryer. Not willing to wait until the dryer was finished, I just left them there, as I headed back out. I knew that I would miss the dinner, and just went ahead the next meeting location, to the SkyBar.

    Getting there was a little bit of adventure. Once I got to the KLCC stop, I went through the mall, and going outside, it was pouring rain. I waited it out for a little bit, then just tried to walk fast (but not run) through the rain. I was able to get to the Traders Hotel, where the SkyBar was. Once I reached the top by elevator, I was able to meet up with the TBers there. Turned out, not all of them were there, as they got separated into 2 groups after the dinner.

    We hung out at the SkyBar. Afterwards, some of us headed to Healy Mac's, while others went back to the hotel. I would walk to there with some TBers. We got there, and met the rest of the TBers. Even got to see Jamal, who I met before, at the Los Angeles meetup in 2012. Since then, he has moved to KL.

    After being Healy Mac's for some time, and hearing some retro tunes, a bunch of us ended up going to another place. I rode in a cab with a few others. But by then, it was pouring rain. I hung around for a bit, but realized it got too late. So I decided to head back.

    With the trains stopped running, I would have to take a cab. I got in one, and the driver would not turn on the meter, instead charging 50 MYR after midnight fare. I was not feeling good about this, and asked him to pull over to get out. But he would not do that, and instead, took me on a joyride around town, taking longer than it should have, to get to KL Sentral.

    When I finally got there, I headed to the hostel, and retrieved my laundry, which have been sitting in the dry all that time. Then had to start packing up a little. Then to sleep.

    ===================================

    The TBers that were on the trip to Batu Caves, are...
    Adrian (adrianpalczewski), Anna (Avaria), Anne (super_otap), Brian (Besandri), Devi, Eunice (yzzinceinue), Haiza (yayai), Hali (halilee), Hima, Jon (northlight), Kanak (kanaknaidu), Masayo (masayo), Maya (mmeymey), Nolan (nolan), Rhea (rheagirl), Rolan (rolanzachary), Roslan (Stupidguy), Soon Thiam (soonthiam), Walter (WalterC), Yanti (Aurora78)

    And would meet more at SkyBay and/or Healy Mac's (in addition to the ones mentioned above)...
    Cathy (CATLIM73), Darren (DAZMAN50), Greg (greg1976), Gwen (jesa145), Hady (hady), Hayley (hayley_phoon), Jamal (Jamal1280), Jantima (TravChef), Karina (KarinaKalinka) and her friend, Meimei (meimei2010), Mira (mnmira), and Vanessa (Vanessa_Mun_Yee).

    And thanks to Nolan and Jon for organizing a great meet-up. And I hope to attend more in the future, as this was a lot of fun.

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  • 23Nov 2014

    10 Leaving KL 23.11.2014 Malaysia —

    Perdana Botanical Gardens, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Beschreibung

    It was time to leave Kuala Lumpur. I had to get up really early, not really getting much sleep. And had to be one of those people making the noise, as I tried to finish up packing and getting ready. Then went to the lobby, to check out and pick up a quick breakfast.

    I went outside, where it was still dark, to KL Sentral. Not wanting to take chances, I decided to take the KL Express to the airport. The train cost a little more than the bus, but it got there a lot faster. I think the trip took about 30 minutes, to KILA2, which is the 2nd terminal of the airport, and where AirAsia is located.

    Once I got there, I went to the one of the machines at the AirAsia, only to find all of them out of order. This was not good, as it was crowded at the terminal. There were a bunch of lines, but all of them seemed to move so slow. Suddenly, I went from having enough too much time, to not having much of it left. I worried that I would be too late to check in, as I read that if I am too late to the gate with AirAsia, then I would have to buy a new ticket, as they don't rebook onto another flight.

    When it was my turn, I was a little late checking in, and had to pay a 10 MYR penalty. Not really clear what the cutoff time for checking in is, for domestic flights. After that, I walked around the airport, which looked more like a shopping mall.

    And I would run into Nolan, Rhea, and Anne, as they were also getting ready to leave KL as well. They were going on a TB trip to Sri Lanka. It was nice to bump into them, but unfortunately, the meeting was short-lived, as departures for domestic and international flights have their separate security lines in different parts of the airport. And I had to get to my gate quickly.

    I went through security, and to the gate, where I got there with 5 minutes before they started boarding. I got on the plane, which seemed to only be 1/3 filled. And I had the whole row to myself. Surprisingly, the plane was kind of comfortable, considering AirAsia is a budget airline.

    The plane left KL, but I was not leaving Malaysia. I was heading to Penang.

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  • 23Nov 2014

    11 Nice Place and Nice Food 23.11.2014 Malaysia —

    Georgetown, George Town, Malaysia

    Beschreibung

    Arriving into Penang, I walked through the airport, I picked up a few brochures, and had to get some band-aids for blisters on my toes. Then to the curb, where I waited until the right bus came, and took me to Georgetown.

    I tend to use Penang and George Town interchangeably in this blog, but did realize that they are not exactly the same thing. Penang is the name of the entire island, while George Town is the name of the city on the island, and capital of Penang. Hell, I am not even sure of the exact spelling of the Malaysian city, whether it's 2 words or just 1.

    Anyway, I had to stand the entire time on an already crowded bus, as the airport stop was not one end of the bus line. The ride took about an hour, and I got off as soon as the bus arrived into George Town, near the KOMTAR building. Then I walked to the hostel, Hutton Lodge. More about the hostel in the review here.

    After getting settled in the hostel, and actually enjoying some serious AC, it was time to head out and experience the food. I have always read and saw on TV, on how Penang is the food paradise of Asia, if not the entire world. And now, I am about to see (or more like, taste) it for myself.

    I came to a place that was like a food court, but the difference is there are food carts instead of stands. Hard for me to describe, as I am not sure of the exact terminology. I sat in the dining area, where it is required to buy a drink there, in order to be allowed to sit there. Then, I looked around at the various food vendors, to see what they offered, as each one specialized on a dish. My first meal in Penang, would be laksa. It is a Penang specialty, a noodle dish in fish broth, which was really good.

    After eating, I considered looking for another place to eat, but then decided to walk around to see George Town. I was heading to the Penang State Museum, and saw some buildings of Georgian architecture. Those buildings date back to the colonial days, when Penang was under British control.

    I found the museum, and while happy to be out of the heat, I was not happy that the AC was not put on full blast, as it was not instant relief. The museum starts off with the history of Penang, from the Malay Kingdom period, through the colonial era, towards the present day. Then the museum has separated exhibitions on the major ethnic groups, which are the Malays, Chinese, and Indians, that helped shape the culture of Penang, which can be seen today, as shown in the city of George Town and the local cuisine. Also, there are exhibitions on the Baba Nyonya (also known as Peranakan) and other ethnic groups.

    After seeing the museum, I continued on, looking at the colonial buildings around it. Some of them include the Supreme Court Building and St. George's Church. Then I decided to head to the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. As usual, finding it was very time-consuming and tiring, as I got lost along the way. I did find it, but would not have enough time to see this place without being rushed. So I decided to come back at another time.

    I started to head back towards the hostel, passing through Little India. At some point, I wanted to try out some Indian food there, but I was not really hungry at the time. And could hear the Indian music blasting on the streets. After passing through that area, I came to the Kapitan Keling Mosque, which was a huge building. I looked around the grounds, but could not enter. So I headed back to the hostel.

    Back to the air-conditioned room, where it was too much of a temptation to leave. I decided to catch up on some sleep, so I napped for a few hours. When I woke up, it was already dark outside. I thought about just staying around, but that was a bad idea. So I went back out, and to the Little India area.

    As it turned out, that area and others were very quiet, as most places have closed down. It was around 8 PM. But when coming up to the mosque, there was a restaurant next to it, that was open. And already, a line has formed, so it must be good.

    I got myself some nasi kandar, which is a Penang specialty, that has rice, chicken, egg, vegetables, and some curry sauce. It was so good, and wished I could have more, but this place was overpriced. Also, it started to rain really hard. I tried to wait it out, but that would take too long. So I just walked through the rain, until I got back to the hostel.

    While I did not get to do nearly as much as I wanted, it was a good day, and I got to try out some really nice food.

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  • 24Nov 2014

    12 Walking Around George Town 24.11.2014 Malaysia —

    Georgetown, George Town, Malaysia

    Beschreibung

    I tried to get up early enough, with some things that I wanted to do, on my final day in Penang (and Malaysia for that matter). After eating the basic breakfast, I would pack up as much as I can, as I wanted to delay checking out, hoping to enjoy the AC as much as I can in the room.

    I thought about going to Gurney Drive, the more well-known food hawker stall, and tried to walk there. But after about an hour, I decided to turn around, as it is just too far of a walk. I headed the other way, when I got sidetracked by seeing activity on a street, Jalan Kuala Kangsar.

    It looked like a Chinese street market, with all the hawker stalls along it. I would stop by the one with all the food stalls, ordered 2 dishes, then sat in the dining area. The first one was Wan Tan Mee, which was a noodle dish with vegetables and pork. It was really good. The second one was Chee Cheong Fun, a bunch of rice cakes in soy sauce. Also very tasty, and another nice eating experience in Penang.

    Afterwards, I walked along the street, seeing the different stalls. Then walked around the block, and headed to the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. I would get sidetracked, looking at some buildings and temples for a short time, but not really go inside of them.

    I thought I knew how to get to the mansion, as I was just there the other day, but no, I would get lost once again. After going back and forth for about an hour, I was finally able to find it. Again!

    I went inside, and started touring the place. I knew about this place after seeing it on a couple seasons of "The Amazing Race", as it was visited during its 16th season, as well as the Asian edition of the show. So I decided to check it out.

    Pinang Peranakan Mansion is a typical home of the wealthy Peranakan people. The Peranakan are the descendants of the Chinese immigrants that moved to present-day Malaysia, dating back to the 15th to 17th century. Also called the Baba-Nyonya or Straits Chinese, they settled and adopted the local Malay culture, while still retaining their Chinese culture. I believe those 3 words are used interchangeably, though I forgotten how any of those words were pronounced.

    I would tour the mansion for about 40 minutes, then had to leave, as I had to go back to the hostel, to check out. I would be allowed back in when I came back later. I was on my way, passing by the same street from before, and saw that it was very quiet, as the stalls just closed up. And it was only around noon.

    Got back to the hostel, finished up packing, and checked out. Also had to print my boarding pass there. Then just sat for a bit, as my feet were really tired. Then headed out, going to the same eating place from the day before, having chicken rice for lunch. Once again, it was really good.

    I returned to the mansion, and finished up touring the place. It was not only a house tour, but also a jewellery museum and an ancestral temple. And I did get to have a nice chat with one of the guides. After seeing this place, I headed back out, going to Fort Cornwallis.

    On the way, I would see more buildings of Georgian architecture, including the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower. I don't think anyone could go inside it, as it is in the middle of a busy street, next to some weird looking silver structure. After looking at it, I went to Fort Cornwallis.

    Started in 1786, and completed in 1810, for the British East India Company, to defend the island of Penang from invaders. Turned out, the fort was used more for administrative purposes than for defense. Considering its history, there was not much to see within the fort. And would see the same descriptions get repeated again, and so disorganized, that I gave up after a while. This place just feels like wasted potential. I could say a lot, but I better move on.

    After seeing the Fort, I walked along the waterfront, and seeing a war memorial for the wars that Malaysia has been involved in, going all the way back to World War I. Then I headed towards Little India, hoping to try out some Indian food.

    After doing some searching for some time, I did come to one restaurant, but that was when I realized that I had little Malaysian Ringgits left. So I had to go to an ATM, to withdraw more. That meant more walking back and forth, figuring out my way around. This was just an unfortunate reminder that so few places accept credit cards, which I often rely on during my travels.

    Once I got the cash, I just stopped by a place that was on the way. And it seemed like some locals were eating there, so it looked okay. I got a vegetarian meal set. It was an okay dish, as I liked some of them, but did not care for some of the other vegetables.

    I started heading back, and it started to rain really hard. I got sidetracked again, this time by the Han Jiang Ancestral Temple, as the exterior had caught my attention. I ran through the rain, to enter the temple. Built by the Teochew people in 1870. The Teochews are one of the Chinese groups in Penang, who have their own culture and dialect. There are enough English descriptions around the temple, telling the history of the temple and the Teochew people, as well as background on the religion of the temple itself. Too bad that I did not have enough time.

    After seeing the temple, I tried to visit the Kapitan Keling Mosque, but got turned away, as it was closed to non-Muslims at the time. So I just headed back to the hostel, to get my backpack. Then walked to the bus stop near KOMTAR.

    Once there, I waited until I hopped on the bus, that took me back to the airport. Once again, I had to stand the entire time. The ride took about an hour, getting back to the airport. Once there, I was able to get to the gate with some time left until boarding time.

    I got on the plane, which took me back to Kuala Lumpur. Once there, I would stay at KLIA2, as I would spend the night at the Capsule Hotel for 6 hours, which was the time that I paid for. And a different type of hotel. I had an early morning flight the next day, which is why I chose to stay here, and it's cheap.

    After showering and getting used to the place, I went to sleep. Or tried to.

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  • 25Nov 2014

    13 Leaving Malaysia 25.11.2014 Malaysia —

    Perdana Botanical Gardens, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Beschreibung

    Getting up in the Capsule By Container Hotel by an alarm. I did get some sleep, though not as much as I would liked. I had to get up, and pack up, and check out. This hotel is rated not by number of nights, but by number of hours stayed. There is the 3-hour, 6-hour, or 12-hour stay, for those who have long layovers in KL and need a place to freshen up and rest. When checking in, you will have to leave a 50 MYR deposit. Or your passport if you are planning to leave Malaysia the next day, which is what I did, as I did not want to withdraw more of the Malaysian currency.

    From the hotel, I would use the rest of my MYR at a Dunkin Donuts, for a couple of stale donuts for breakfast. They did not taste good. Then headed to the gate at the International Departures part of the airport.

    Getting there with enough time, I was able to board the AirAsia flight. The plane took off, as I left Malaysia, and heading to Cambodia.

    It was definitely a memorable time, as I finally made it to Southeast Asia. Originally, I planned to come to Malaysia just for the TravBuddy meetup in KL, but decided to see more of it by visiting Penang. And I am so glad that I did, as I got to eat some great food.

    This was the first time meeting TBers outside North America, and I am absolutely sure it was a lot better than going to my high school reunion (which is a story for another time). The meetup was a lot of fun, and hope to attend more in the future.

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  • 25Nov 2014

    14 A Hot and Light Day 25.11.2014 Kambodscha —

    Sangkat Nokor Thum, Krong Siem Reap, Kambodscha

    Beschreibung

    Entering the 2nd part of my Southeast Asian trip, as I left Malaysia and heading to Cambodia. Landing in Siem Reap, I got off the plane and started to take photos of the airport. But then, got told by airline staff, to stop taking photographs of the area. That was strange.

    I went inside, and filled out the visa application. This was the first time that I would ever get one, as I held off visiting countries that require one. I took the application to be processed, and paid $20, as I had a bunch of American bills from back home. I guess one of the advantages of living in America, when visiting Cambodia. I would learn that the bills have to be in good conditions, meaning no tears or marks on them. Plus an extra $2 for photo, which is cheaper than doing it back home.

    After all that, I got the visa, and headed to the curb, which was a very short walk. The Siem Reap Airport was small and seemed very basic, as I saw only 1 shop. I arranged for a taxi to take me into town. And then got into one, which was a very nice, looking car. I am not a fan of taxis, but this was basically the only way to get around Cambodia.

    Leaving the airport, I noticed the countryside, as if it was middle of nowhere. Then arrived at my hostel, where I got dropped off. But not before the driver tried to get me to hire him for transportation to and from the Angkor ruins. I said that I would have to think about it, as he was very persistent. Eventually, he left as I just walked away.

    I went inside Hak's House Hostel, where I was not able to check-in just yet. And had to get used to the hot weather, as it did feel even hotter than Malaysia. I left my backpack, and looked around the place for a bit.

    There are dorm and private rooms, and both have the option of either having air-conditioning or just fan. The ones with air-conditioning costs slightly more, and very much worth the money. The dorm rooms are cramped, and I find the lighting can be spotty at times, as each individual light for each bed, may not work.

    I would meet the owner, Mr. Hak, who arranged a tuk-tuk to take me into the city center. It would be my first time riding one, as I have seen them on TV, but wow, I'm actually going to ride one. I left the hostel, and headed to the Angkor National Museum.

    Along the way, I would see the chaotic streets of Cambodia, with all the motor bikes, and people driving crazy. I stopped by an agency, where I would pay admission to the museum, as well as the audioguide. Weird way of doing this. Then headed to the museum itself.

    After getting dropped off, I toured the museum, and picked up the audioguide there. The museum is divided into different galleries, starting with the Briefing Room and the Gallery of the 1000 Buddhas. The Briefing Room has a short introductory video on the museum.

    Then comes the galleries that are related to the Angkor temples. Each one of these, focuses on a different aspect of the temples. Like the Khmer civilization, the kings who help build the temples, background on Buddhism and Hinduism, the different artwork on the temple walls, and more. They are good descriptions in each gallery, and a bunch of artifacts on display. I would say, it is pretty extensive, and a lot to take in for an average museum-goer, like myself.

    After seeing the museum, I decided to call it a day, as my feet were hurting, and wanted to conserve my energy for the Angkor temples. So I gave the museum staff a business card of the hostel, so they can call them to have a tuk-tuk pick me up. Then I waited until one came, and take me back to the hostel.

    Once I got back, I went into the room, and saw that it was not the air-conditioned room that I originally reserved. I decided to give it a try. I took a shower, and tried to take a nap. There were fans in the room, but they were not really helpful to stay cool. I decided to change rooms, but that would have to wait for another day. I wanted to get a private, but there were none left.

    I went to the bar area, and was able to get some dinner there. I had to place my order with Mr. Hak, who then relayed the order to the kitchen. Then I received my dish, which was good. Just relaxed for the rest of the day.

    After spending some time on Wi-Fi, I went back to the room, and to sleep early (or tried to). I planned to get up really early to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat.

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  • 26Nov 2014

    15 Angkor Wat 26.11.2014 Kambodscha —

    Sangkat Nokor Thum, Krong Siem Reap, Kambodscha

    Beschreibung

    I got up really early, as I planned to see the sun rise at Angkor Wat. I gotten ready, and went outside to meet with the tuk-tuk driver. Only no one was there. So I just sat around in the front, and read for a bit. Then looked at my watch, and saw that the time has passed. Made me wonder if I made the arrangement for nothing.

    In the meantime, I sat at a park table, where there was a British lady talking away on her phone or Skype, or whatever. And could overhear her refer to me as Chinese. I hate it when people make assumptions like that. Then came an Irish guy, who was just drinking beer and smoking away. To him, I did not sound American. Then the talk of politics came, which I did not really say much, but the other 2 just ranting on about a bunch of things. Too bad that neither know anything about the TV or movies.

    After a while, the time did come, and I find out that my watch was one hour ahead. Huh? I realized this, when one of the tuk-tuk drivers approached me, asking if I was the one going to see the sunrise. Very strange, as I just assumed it was in the same time zone as Malaysia and Hong Kong, and Cambodia is between them.

    So I got to ride a tuk-tuk, going through Siem Reap, and finally heading to Angkor Wat. The streets were quiet, and so dark, as there were hardly any street lights. How the driver and others get around, I guess you just have the "feel" of the place after a while. It got more foresty, and then a stop by the ticket booth, where I bought the 3-day pass. Accepted only cash, and only crisp dollar bills, as one of my $20 bill was rejected.

    Arrived at Angkor Wat, and entered the temple. There was no lights there, so the only way was to follow the crowds of people. Probably one of the few times that I should be glad for crowds, as there were a bunch that carried flashlights. Still, no way to see if you will be going onto a step, which can be a tripping hazard. Also, I did not know at all, that there were ponds on each side of the walkway. I could have fallen into them.

    I arrived at the sunrise spot, and saw the sun rise. I also experimented with my new camera, and tried to figure out the settings. After the sun rose over Angkor Wat, it was time to really explore the grounds.

    Angkor Wat is actually just one temple, of the Angkor Archaeological Park. I would mistakenly refer to the entire park as Angkor Wat, but would later refer to them as the Angkor ruins or Angkor temples. This is the most well-known one, and the symbol of Cambodia (as shown on its national flag). Angkor Wat was originally a Hindu temple, dating back to the 12th century, built during the reign of Suryavarman II's rule. Later to be converted to a Buddhist temple, there were statues of both religions throughout this temple.

    I walked back to the entrance, to see the structure that surrounds the entire temple area. Then walked, seeing the library buildings, then entered the central building. Along the way, there were people trying to sell me guidebooks, but when trying to lowball them (only willing to pay $1), which they obviously did not accept.

    I looked around the building, seeing the bas reliefs, which were carvings on the wall, in the hallways that go around the building. They tell stories of Hindu mythology. After seeing the 1st level, I went to the 2nd floor, which was more crowded. And noticed a lot of apsaras on the walls. Apsaras were the ancient Khmer dancers, as well as the form of Khmer dancing.

    As I walked around the corridors, I got approached by a man, who gave me an incense stick, then dragged my hand to a statue. He lit it, and then we bowed to it a couple times, saying it would bring me good luck. Then expected a $1 donation. I gave 1000 riel instead, which was 25 cents, and could see that he was disappointed. Too bad, because I don't like being dragged and tricked like that. Small way of getting back at the guy for doing that.

    I went to the 3rd floor, and got to see the Angkor Wat area from above and the surrounding forest. Just shows how huge this area was. I came back to the 2nd floor, and there were some people dressed in Khmer costume, including one as an apsara dancer. They all looked like young teenagers,as they posed with tourists for photos, which was taken by their handler. Basically, done the same way as in Disney World. Only this time, you have to pay $1 for it. I had only $20 bills, so I left the area, to get some change.

    I went to the stalls area, and got a few drinks and relaxed. After getting enough change, I went back and did pose with the dancers. A tourist trap for sure, but I just could not resist for some reason. After taking a few photos, I would start heading back out.

    On the way out, I did see some monkeys around, just monkeying around. I did not get close to them, as I hear, they can get aggressive, and even have rabies.

    And I noticed that there was some kind of wedding ceremony happening. I saw some of the wedding guests, some of them in traditional clothes. Not sure who is who, but it was interesting to see, as they became a tourist attraction in themselves.

    Then I headed out, going to the tuk-tuk driver, and went back to the hostel. It was in the middle of the day, but still not over yet, as I decided to spend the afternoon, walking around Siem Reap itself.

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  • 26Nov 2014

    16 Checking Out Siem Reap 26.11.2014 Kambodscha —

    Sangkat Svay Dangkum, Krong Siem Reap, Kambodscha

    Beschreibung

    I left the hostel, as I rode the tuk-tuk, taking me to the Royal Gardens. Next to the Angkor National Museum. Then would walk the way back, as I wanted to check out Siem Reap itself.

    The Royal Gardens just looked like a public park, until I came upon the "Shrine to Preah Ang Chek and Preah Ang Chorm". For a small temple, it has a long name. And across the street, in the middle of it, was a Buddhist shrine. Such an unusual location.

    I would walk along the Siem Reap River, seeing some colorful signs, and crossing the crazy streets. I could not imagine driving on these streets, as there was no rules. Just a battle of wills.

    As I continued walking, I came to a place that had a bunch of colorful little structures, which looked like small pagodas. I did not realize it at first, but when walking around more, I saw that I was at a Buddhist temple.

    Called the Preah Promreath Pagoda, this place is really big, with so much Buddhist art. I walked around, seeing a few giant Buddha statues in different positions, like one sitting, and another that seems to be sleeping. And around the edge of the place, are a bunch of murals of art, probably telling the story about Buddha. There are descriptions, but unfortunately, only in Khmer and no English. Still, they are amazing to look at.

    I looked around some more, then continued along the river, stopping by a few places. Then came upon the Old Market. I went inside it, and oh man, it was really suffocating. The spaces are tight, and not surprising, no air-conditioning. The Old Market has all kinds of stalls, selling souvenirs, clothes, and DVDs. I bet all those DVDs are bootlegs. I came to the food stalls, but none of them appealed to me at the time. So I went back out from the Old Market.

    I walked around an area called Pub Street, which has all the restaurants that seem to cater more to tourists. I did some to an ice cream place, and got myself a magic stick ice cream. It was an ice cream cone in a shape of a hook, which I did like. And I don't normally like cones. Still, very soothing in this hot weather.

    I did stop by an exchange bureau to try to exchange some of the bad dollar bills. But no luck, as they would not do it. So I went back out, and went to one of those touristy restaurants. I got myself a beef lok lak, along with a minty fruit juice. And they all did taste good. A satisfying meal, even if it is nothing to write home about.

    After looking around a bit more, it started to get dark, and I walked back towards the hostel. I did remember the way, recalling the fountain roundabout in the middle of the intersection. Turned out, this would be a mistake, walking back. There was hardly any sidewalk to walk on, plus the street was not well-lit, both of which, made it more dangerous. And it was a long walk.

    I did make it back to the hostel, much to my relief. Then would move into an air-conditioning room, which felt so much better. I took a much needed shower, and just relaxed in the cool room. Then went to sleep early.

    So what did I think of Siem Reap? I thought it was a nice town to check out, but not a must-see. And worth at least a half-day if spending at least 4 days in the area.

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  • 27Nov 2014

    17 Seeing Angkor Thom 27.11.2014 Kambodscha —

    Sangkat Svay Dangkum, Krong Siem Reap, Kambodscha

    Beschreibung

    After getting ready, I gathered most of my laundry, and dropped it off to be washed, as I was quickly running out of fresh clothes. Very unusual, as I am used to doing it myself. I would come back and pick them up by 6pm.

    After eating some breakfast, I rode the tuk-tuk to Angkor Thom. Along the way, I would even notice little kids riding on motorbikes, with no helmets. That does look very dangerous. Passing by Angkor Wat, we went through an narrow entrance arch. Wished I had time to see it, but no place to park a tuk-tuk. So continued on, until arriving at Angkor Thom. The driver would hang a red towel, as a way for me to know which one. Then drove away.

    As soon as I entered on one side of the Bayon building, I could see how crowded the place was. A bunch of tourist groups already there, making it hard to pass by. I passed by them, and went through the place, to the other entrance, to follow a tour in a guidebook.

    But then, I had a horrible realization. I forgotten to bring a towel. This was a huge setback, as you probably know by now, I really needed it to wipe off the excessive sweat. Not helping matters, is that I was wearing a long-sleeve shirt and pants, to try to protect from mosquitoes, and a little from the sun, making it hotter for me. I did have a pack of tissues, but who knows how long that will last.

    I started to explore the Bayon building. The Bayon referred to the main temple of Angkor Thom, the more familiar face of the area, sort of speak. Angkor Thom referred to a much wider area, which included the Bayon and more buildings nearby. Angkor Thom is Khmer for "Great City", and had a bunch of towers of gold during its peak, according to Zhou Daguan (a Chinese diplomat who visited and wrote about the Khmer Empire, and the only first-hand account to survive to this day).

    So I started walking around, seeing the bas reliefs around the temple. These ones told the stories that the Khmer people fought in. Then went to the 2nd level, and came to the towers with faces on them.

    The Bayon has towers, that have faces on all sides. I remember seeing them on TV, but now, was face-to-face with them. No one really knows who those faces are suppose to be, but some guess it may be that of Jayavarman VII of the 12th century, a king. I guess we will never really know.

    After looking at the face towers, I just sat around, as crowds kept passing by. My tissues was running low, as they were worn out from wiping the excessive sweat. Tried to use the last one as long as I can, but it was really soaked. It was becoming really unbearable for me.

    Another challenge was trying to find a moment for me to take a photo with me in it. Very difficult, as the crowds were non-stop. Ended up wasting some time, but did come away with one. Then I left Bayon, and went to look for the tuk-tuk driver, to take me back to the hostel for a towel. But no luck finding him.

    So I decided to check out the stalls, for one. Came to one of them, hoping for a towel, but ended up getting a scarf. I hoped it would save the trouble of going back to the hostel, as I was desperate enough to not bargain as low as I could have, paying $4. But the scarf was a bad substitute, as it did not absorb the sweat nearly as well as a towel. And quickly got slimy, as some sweat remained on my face. Afterwards, I went to a place to eat lunch. Then started to head back to Bayon.

    Along the way, I did come to my tuk-tuk driver, and he took me towards the Bayon. Now, I knew where he parked for sure. I went into Bayon, finished up looking around the faces, navigating around the crowds. Then back out, to see the other temples of Angkor Thom.

    I went to the Baphuon. Fortunately, this one was a lot less crowded. There was a walkway, leading to a multi-tiered building. I would go up some levels, and walk around. This temple started out as a Hindu temple, but later got converted to Buddhist, as it dates back from the 11th century.

    I went back down, and to the next temple from the back. I followed the trail, going through some entrance archways, called gopura. Then came to the Phimeanakas. This one looked more like a pyramid, and only the top one is accessible. I went up the steep stairs, and looked around. This one was smaller than the Baphuon, and older, as it dates back to the 10th century.

    I came back down, and there were more to see in Angkor Thom. I walked part of the way, but then, decided to call it quits. I was just too hot and sweaty, and the scarf was not really doing its job. So I headed back towards the parking lot near Bayon, passing by a large Buddha statue. I got into the tuk-tuk, and went back to the hostel.

    It was the middle of the day, and hated that I was ending too early. But without a towel, it was too much to endure the excessive sweat. I did consider coming back later on, but ended up not doing that.

    I arrived back at the hostel, and moved into a room with air-conditioning. And boy, it felt so good to feel the cool air. I also picked up my laundry at reception desk, which was done. Then ate some dinner, and relaxed for the rest of the day.

    I did feel bad for not going back, as I wanted to see more, and only had one more day left at Angkor. So the next day, I will have to make the best of it. And not forget that towel, which is a necessity for me.

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  • 28Nov 2014

    18 All Day at Angkor 28.11.2014 Kambodscha —

    Sangkat Svay Dangkum, Krong Siem Reap, Kambodscha

    Beschreibung

    Getting up around sunrise, I decided this time, to wear shorts, to be more comfortable. How locals wear long pants and shirts, and don't seem to sweat at all, is just mystery to me.

    Anyway, I went outside, and saw a few eating places. One of them was across the street from the hostel. I saw school kids in there, so I assume it is good, since locals are going to it. So I went to this place, and had a bowl of beef noodle soup. It was good, and not one of those touristy places, which made it a good experience.

    Afterwards, I rode the tuk-tuk, taking me to Angkor Thom. I made sure this time, not to forget the towel. Though I did have quite a scare, when hearing some clanging sound, thinking I dropped my camera. Luckily, that was not the case. I was really scared, as I worried about losing all those photos. Plus I did stop by a bank, to exchange some of the "bad" dollar bills.

    Arriving at Angkor Thom, I walked through Bayon, to have another quick look. Then went to the Elephant Terrace, but was not sure where exactly it was located. I stood on a terrace, but did not realize at the time, that it was *the* terrace.

    I went to see more of Angkor Thom, as there were more temples to see. I can only assume these are not visited by tour groups, based on the number of visitors that I saw, and how surprisingly peaceful it was. I went to the Terrace of the Leper King, which almost felt like some kind of labyrinth, with its walls, and how the wall is decorated with all kinds of characters, like nagas and apsaras. Just amazing to look at.

    Next was the Preah Palilay Temple. I passed by another Buddha statue, and came to a tower of rocks. There was a tree growing on one side, and the temple just looked like a pile of rocks. After that, was the Tep Pranam Pagoda, which was another Buddhist shrine, with a large Buddha.

    There seemed to be more ruins, but they seemed closed off, or not really worth visiting. So I looked at them from the distance. I did sit down and had a drink at the eating stall, to relax for a bit. After that, I did stop by the Elephant Terrace. It was that time, when it hit me, that the columns were in the shape of elephant trunks, and elephant carvings on the wall.

    I continued on, passing by the tour buses. And I actually almost wished that I was on there, since they had air-conditioning. Instead, I have wrapped a towel around my neck, and over my head, as I preferred this over wearing a hat. I went through Bayon again, and went to the tuk-tuk driver, to take me to Ta Prohm.

    Arrived at Ta Prohm, also known as the Tomb Raider temple. I went through the East Gate, and walked through it. This one dates back to the late 12th and early 13th centuries, built by Jayavarman VII. I came to the hall of dancers, probably referring to apsara dancers. It did not look stable, as there was a tree that grew on it, and could cause the building to collapse.

    I continued walking around, and really noticed that this temple was more about the trees that grew out of it, than the history or architecture of the temple. Truly something to see this in person.

    I walked to the other side of Ta Prohm at the West Gate, then walked back, seeing parts that I may missed the first time. Having to navigate through the crowds, as this temple was really crowded. Passing by the rubble and broken buildings, I went back to the East Gate. Then rode the tuk-tuk to a restaurant, having a chicken lok lak for lunch. It was good. Then resumed seeing more temples.

    I came to Banteay Kdei, which dates back to around the same time as Ta Prohm, and looks similar to it as well. The big difference between the two, is that Banteay Kdei is smaller and a lot less crowded. At times, I felt like I had the place all to myself. And there is a tree that grew right next to the temple, but not over it. A short visit, I exited and headed to the next one. But first, I had to sort out a plan, as I planned to see the sunset later on.

    I came to Pre Rup, which looked different from any other temple that I have seen so far. This looked like it was made of brown sandstone, in a pyramid structure style. This was built in the 10th century as a Hindu temple, and dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. Looking around, this one was a nice one to visit. While it has more tourists than Banteay Kdei, it was relatively light. And once again, I get hassled to burn incense, and just gave 1000 riel.

    Climbing to the top, I would get nice views of the surrounding grounds. Afterwards, I came back down, and headed to the next temple. Looking at my watch, I did not have much time left. I hoped to see 2 more temples, before seeing the sunset.

    To Neak Pean (or Neak Poan), where I would see that this one was an unique one. I would cross on a wooden trail bridge, with no rails, across a reservoir. So if people are walking in opposite directions, it can be challenging to pass each other, as there is that danger to fall in the water.

    After crossing the bridge, I came to the island temple, which dates back to the 12th century. Part of this one, is currently submerged in water. And it was believed that this one had healing properties. Seeing the way Neak Pean was built, it was amazing to look at.

    After finishing up, I thought that I could squeeze in 1 more temple. So I went to Preah Khan, thinking it was a small one. Boy, I was way off, as the entrance was farther away from the street than I thought. With short time left, I had to forget seeing this one, as I had to stick to a schedule that I arranged with my tuk-tuk driver, so I can make it to the sunset. So I just took one quick photo, and headed out.

    Passing through Angkor Thom, I came to Phnom Bakheng, to see the sunset. It was already crowded, and I just followed the people up on a trail. The walk was not fun at all, and felt like forever. When coming close to the temple, I had to take a rest to catch my breath.

    Then climbed the stairs to the top of the temple, following the crowds of people. Then looked around, as there were a lot of people already taking up the good spots to see the sunset. Phnom Bakheng dates back to the 9th century, making it older than Angkor Wat. This one looked similar to Pre Rup, with the towers and brown color, as it was built on top of a mountain. I could see Angkor Wat and the Tonle Sap in the distance.

    The sun started to set, and I started snapping away photos. I kept on going until the sun was completely behind the clouds. Afterwards, I start to head back down.

    Have to say, I thought the sunset was underwhelming. Between seeing this and another temple, I would have rather seen another temple. Definitely not a must-see, though the temple itself, is worth a visit.

    Back at ground level, I went back in the tuk-tuk, and headed back to the hostel. Passing by Angkor Wat, and leaving the park, this ended my visit to the Angkor temples. And strangely, I did not feel "templed out", as I wanted to see more. It took a while, but I started to really get into it, but unfortunately, it had to end. At least, I got to visit it, and see the main ones.

    Back at the hostel, I showered and cooled off. I started to pack up a little, and did hang out in the reception area. I also met a guy who just arrived from Phnom Penh, and we talked about that city. I will be heading there next.

    I met some other travelers, and did surf the Wi-Fi for some time. Then went to sleep early, as I had an early morning flight. Probably the only one at the hostel flying, as I could not tolerate a long and bumpy bus ride. Plus save some time.

    NOTE - This has to be the most photos that I ever uploaded for a blog entry. :)

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  • 29Nov 2014

    19 Leaving Siem Reap 29.11.2014 Kambodscha —

    Sangkat Svay Dangkum, Krong Siem Reap, Kambodscha

    Beschreibung

    I had to get up really early, and finish up packing. And made noise in the process, as it is hard to pack quietly, and had clothes in a plastic bag. After getting ready, I went to pay my bill, which I still have not paid for.

    It got challenging, as settling the bill can only be done with Mr. Hak, and no one else. He did live in the hostel, so I was able to do that. After settling the bill, I took the tuk-tuk to the airport. I had the same driver as the day before. While he may know only little English, he has been really good. Just too bad that I forgot his name.

    And would see the countryside along the way. I arrived there, and went to the domestic counter to check-in. Through security and to the waiting area, as it was the only gate there.

    At this point, I realized that I mistakenly took the locker key from the hostel. I considered going back to the hostel to return it. An officer offered to return it for me, but I was not sure if they could be trusted. I decided to mail it off later on. So I just used the computer there, while waiting.

    It was time to board, and I got on the Cambodia Angkor Air flight, along with a bunch of Korean tourists. But the plane was not full, as it was really overpriced. A lot more than the bus, but I was more about saving time and could not deal with the bumpy road for hours. Plus I really needed some sleep, and getting that on the bus, was not possible, according to others who have taken it.

    The flight took about 1 hour, as I left Siem Reap, and arrived into Phnom Penh, my final destination of this trip.

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  • 29Nov 2014

    20 Not a Good Day at All 29.11.2014 Kambodscha —

    Khan Chamkar Mon, PP, Kambodscha

    Beschreibung

    Arriving into Phnom Penh, and leaving the airport, I took a tuk-tuk to my hostel. Right away, I notice how chaotic this city was, when compared to Siem Reap and even Kuala Lumpur or any American city. A lot more noisy, and a lot more traffic. Probably what I should have expected with Southeast Asian cities.

    Arrived at the Me Mates Villa, being located down a driveway, which has tuk-tuks parking along there. Gee, I wonder why? I went inside to check-in, but as usual, could not enter the room just yet.

    I ate breakfast there, and decided to the use the computer there, so I can transfer photos from my camera to a flash drive. That turned out to be a HUGE mistake.

    The computer started to act funny, opening up individual windows for each photo. Since I took so many, that was a lot of windows. I disconnected from the PC, then re-connected, and started to do the same thing. Disconnected again, as it was becoming a pain. When looking at my camera, all the photos were gone.

    That just hit me really hard. I tried to figure out what happened. Looked into the various folders on the computer itself, but no luck there. Looked into photo recovery sites, which required downloading a program. Not all were free, and the computer was so slow.

    After spending at least an hour, I would try to go to one of the places, recommended by the girl at reception. Came to a place, which looked more like a pawn shop. The guy there, got his laptop, and inserted the SD Card from the camera, into it. I had some hope, but once again, no luck there. After that, I just gave up trying. I offered to pay for his service, but he was nice enough to decline. Then went back to the hostel, and decided that the recovery will have to be done when I get back to the US. As a result, I had to stop using the camera, as there is still a chance that the photos are on the hard drive. So for the rest of this trip, I had to use my cell phone as my camera.

    Even with this major setback, I had to continue on with my trip. So I arranged to have a tuk-tuk to take me to the Khmer Rouge sites. My driver's name was Phillip, and he would take me to museum. I thought he would take me to the one in the city, known as S-21, but ended up taking me to the Killing Fields instead. Not the way I planned it, as I wanted to go to S-21 first, then the Killing Fields. I will explain those 2 places more in this entry and in the reviews.

    I arrived at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center (the official name of this Killing Fields), located outside the city center. I told Philip that I would be done in 2 hours. Entering the site, after paying admission, you are given an audioguide, which gives a very good and informative tour of the place. The tour is narrated by a survivor of the Killing Fields, who manages to do it without showing much emotion. That is remarkable in itself.

    The Killing Fields refer to the mass graves from the times of the Khmer Rouge, who ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Led by Pol Pot, they forced all the people to leave their homes and force them to work in the countryside. Declaring that it was "Year 0", everything must start all over, forcing the country to be an agricultural society. Those who were educated, or simply wore glasses, were executed immediately. Same goes for anyone who was "weak". It was literally "hell on earth". By 1979, it finally ended when Vietnamese troops invaded and drove out the Khmer Rouge.

    And now, we get to the more upsetting part of this. The Khmer Rouge continued to get support from the international community, including the US. How disgusting is that? Even worse is that Pol Pot would never answer for his crimes, as he died in 1998, before the trials would begin.

    I walked around the place, and just so hard to believe that something like this, actually happened. I would see the different mass graves, plus see the tree where babies were killed. And the stupa, where a lot of the skulls of victims were stored, as a memorial to them.

    I would spend about 3 hours, so when I was done, I met up with Philip, who was upset that I took too long. I told him that I was not happy he took me to the wrong place first. Then we left, first stopping by an ATM, to withdraw more cash. Then back into the city, to what should have been the first place, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, also known as S-21. I would think, with the word "museum" in the name, it would be obvious. Guess I should have said "S-21". More about this place in the review here.

    So why did I want to visit S-21 first? Because this is where it all started for the victims, when they got rounded up and tortured by the Khmer Rouge, before being taken to the Killing Fields. The KR would find something to charge the people with, and only 7 people, out of thousands, came out of S-21 alive, after liberation in 1979.

    This building was originally a high school, that got converted to a prison and interrogation center when the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. As I walked around the building, I would see the photographs of the victims, along with the torture devices.

    It got dark, and this place does not seem to have lights. So I decided to leave, and come back the next day, to finish seeing it. When meeting Philip again, he was upset again, that I took so long, past the time when he was suppose to be off his shift. He wanted more money, trying to guilt-trip. Well, it ended up working, because by the time we got back to the hostel, I gave a little more money. Just adding to a list of things that went wrong.

    I got my backpack, and to my room, which was air-conditioned. I would meet a few Europeans, including a guy from Italy, who has been traveling for a long time. We talked for some time, and even shared about how I lost my photos. Turned out, it was not as bad as his, as he had his cell phone stolen, which had over 700 photos. I felt bad for him, as he had no chance at recovery, while I still do, once I get back home. But still, it was nice talking to him.

    I went out to get some dinner. I looked at some places, but they were close to shutting down for the day. So I would go to a KFC, and figure, why not, as it was close by. The meal was okay, but not great, as it was a piece of chicken with a mound of rice and some vegetables.

    I went back to the hostel, and just relaxed for the rest of the night. It has not been a good day, for the things that happened. But in a grand scheme of things, after visiting the KR sites, I still have a it great, and should consider myself really lucky.

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  • 30Nov 2014

    21 Walking Around On Last Southeast Day 30.11.2014 Kambodscha —

    Khan Chamkar Mon, PP, Kambodscha

    Beschreibung

    This was the last day of the trip. So I packed up as much as I can, then headed out. After having a bad day with tuk-tuk, I decided not to use them, and walk all the way instead, as I had enough. I did not think it would be too bad. Just have to bring that towel.

    I was heading to S-21, and came upon the Independence Monument, which I guess, commemorates the independence of Cambodia from France in 1953. Then passed by a building with Korean writing on it. Then saw the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea", also known as North Korea. That was a brief scare, as I was literally a step away from stepping onto North Korean territory, as it was their embassy. Then crossed the street to Neak Banh Teuk Park, which had a statue of a guy. No idea who he was.

    I continued on, and stopped by a food cart, to get some noodles with egg. It was very greasy and spicy, and tasted good. Though I wonder if my stomach can handle this. Seeing locals eating at it, it could not be bad. This was my breakfast. After that, I continued on, until I reached S-21. It was a lot more farther than I thought.

    I went to finish up seeing S-21, and saw the Buddhist memorial to the victims. I just hope they are really resting in peace, as this was just too much to handle. And even reading a story of how 2 brothers, who were only kids, could not do anything about a crying baby (which died shortly after), as they were hiding as the Khmer Rouge were being driven out. It was not until they heard Vietnamese spoken, when they knew that it was okay to come out. From what I remember from reading in the descriptions, but very hard to forget.

    After seeing the place, I came to a couple book stands, where there were 2 survivors, who were there to sell their own book. I debated whether to buy the book and pose a photo with them, but decided not to. Still, it was really something, to actually see people who went through the horrors of the Khmer Rouge.

    After seeing S-21, I went to the Russian Market. Not fun getting there, as the sidewalks seem to be used for parking, making me have to walk on the street itself. Plus I was constantly asked if I need a tuk-tuk. No way!

    I came to the Russian Market, which was like the Old Market in Siem Reap. Basically, a lot of souvenir stalls, along with produce, places to eat, and even stalls with car parts. Also called the Toul Tom Poung, it got the name "Russian Market" back in the 1980's, because the only tourists that visited it, were Russian. Now, it is popular with everyone.

    I did decide to get a chicken noodle soup for $1. Seeing it prepared there, and eating it there, was an experience in itself. And the soup was really good, as it was my lunch. After that, I had to go back to the hostel.

    Getting back felt like forever, as it took an hour (I think), to the hostel. Crossing the streets is no fun at all, as if I am playing a real life version of "Frogger". I arrived back, past the checkout time. I got my backpack and had to put it in storage at reception. Then hung out for a bit, and even having a conversation with the girl at reception and a girl from Spain, who was just about to leave for Siem Reap.

    After resting, I went to Riverfront Park, which was 2 blocks away. This park was along the Tonle Sap River, and saw the small temple, the Preah Ong Dong Ar Temple. Then crossed another park, as I headed to the Royal Palace complex, which consists of the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. They are actually 2 separate places, but included on a single admission.

    I entered, and started with the Royal Palace. This was where the king of Cambodia lived, and has been that way most of the time, since it was first opened, back in the 1860's. It was closed off when the Khmer Rouge came to power, and a short time after they were driven out. Starting with the Throne Hall, I looked around the place, seeing the palace buildings.

    After seeing the Royal Palace, I came to the Silver Pagoda. This is a Buddhist complex, with a lot of Buddhist art. This is where the past kings have been buried, in the grey cone-shaped stupas that around this place.

    There was a lot to see in this place, including a museum that is located as I left the Silver Pagoda area. The museum part has a display of a traditional home, along with the history of the ceremony and traditions on the royal ceremony. But I was running short on time, as I wanted to really see the National Museum of Cambodia before it closed. So I ended up hurrying through the place, and skimming through the descriptions. I would leave the place, and head to the National Museum. Luckily, it was only a short walk away.

    I got to the National Museum of Cambodia, with only about an hour to spare. I figure, just see as much as I can. Well, it turned out it was more than enough time to see this place. Turns out, this place is horribly disorganized, and hardly any descriptions on the artifacts. There seems to be potential, but it seems like no one cares. So why should I? Turns out, leaving the Royal Palace was not worth it at all.

    After the museum, I headed back to the hostel. I was hoping to grab a shower, even after checking out. The hostel reception said it was okay, and allowed me into one of the dorm rooms. When looking for a change of clothes, I learned that a pair of pants has been stolen. So now, I don't have a clean pair to wear on the long flight back to the US. In the meantime, I was making a mess, as my things was scattering around the room. When showering, I did try to wash the pair of jeans that I was wearing, but little good that did. Then would wear it, as the body heat would just naturally dry it.

    After packing up, I just waited around, as there was more than enough time. I got to talk with one of the guys, who worked at the hostel. A young guy, we would even talk about the Khmer Rouge. First time talking about that with a local, as I thought it would be a very bad idea doing that. But this guy was really young, and only knew about the Khmer Rouge when learning about it in school.

    After a while, I would arrange a tuk-tuk, to take me to the airport. And turned out the driver was Philip, from the other day. This time, there was no doubt where I wanted to go, and the ride went well. Once at the airport, I paid him and gave the rest of my riels. I know it is very little.

    Turned out, it was too early to check in, as I got there 3 hours ahead of time. The airport was crowded, but the Asiana check-in line was not open yet. So I just sat around, and then decided to look for a place to get some dinner. I hoped to use my credit card, but when going to a Burger King, they did not accept it. That was surprising, considering they are an American company at an airport. So I had to withdraw more money, and went to a Vietnamese place instead. I got to eat chicken pho, which was really good!

    After that, I checked in, and went through security, to the gate. Then just waited around, hanging at the bookstore, until it was time to board. I got on the Asiana flight, leaving around 11:30 PM, which would take me to Seoul. I was going back to Korea.

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  • 30Nov 2014

    22 Long and Short Layovers 30.11.2014 Südkorea —

    Taepyeongno 1(il)-ga, Seoul, Südkorea

    Beschreibung

    The Asiana flight was good, as I slept most of the time. I arrived into Incheon Airport, where I had a 6-hour layover. That would give me enough time to try to get an earlier flight to Tokyo, where I currently have only a 50-minute layover. I did not want a repeat of what happened earlier in Hong Kong.

    I went to a couple desks to change my ticket, but no luck. I was told to try the United office, but that would not open for a another few hours. So I would be stuck at the airport for the entire time, and no chance to venture into the city center. Plus I had to go through immigration, which was no fun. I would kill time by just using the WiFi, and ate some breakfast. When the time came, I went to the United office.

    And guess what? The office could not do anything either. Gee, I wish the agents at other desks would have told me this, to save the time. Talk about a huge waste of time. And I did make the mistake of going outside in the same clothes as I wore in Cambodia, as it was cold and snowing outside.

    I did try the ticket counter, but no luck there. I gave up after that, as it was all for nothing. Just have to cross my fingers and hope for the best. I did stop by a Burger King, to eat lunch. Then went through security, and to the gate.

    I just walked around, and used the WiFi in the airport. Not much else to do. When it came to board, I got on the United flight, which took me to Tokyo.

    The plane arrived at Narita, and I was getting ready to get off. I learned that there were other people in the same position as me, with the same flights. Probably booked in on Orbitz or something. When I got out, I ran out like crazy, through security, and to the gate. The airline staff was very accommodating, allowing this to happen. I was able to get on the plane, though I had the dreaded middle seat.

    And wouldn't you know, that I got a busted pair of headphones again? So I went through the entire flight without any. That just made it tougher for me. This flight took 15 hours, as I was heading back to the US.

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  • 30Nov 2014

    23 Back in the US 30.11.2014 USA —

    Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, USA

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    Arriving at Dulles Airport in Washington DC, I had about a 2 1/2 hour layover there. Just hoped it was enough, though you never know in American airports. Getting off the plane, here comes the real fun part.

    Knowing how horribly unorganized it was going through customs and passport control in American airports, I was really dreaded it. But to my surprise, I was able to scan on a machine, and get a piece of paper, which allowed me to get through all that really quickly. Then going through security, which looked like the one in a transit area. Unusual, as American airports don't have a transit area. And that was fairly quick. Then went to the gate. The whole thing took about an hour, and still had enough time when I arrived at the gate. I'm impressed!

    I boarded the United Express flight, which took me back to Philly. Once there, I hopped on the train, and headed back home. Thus ending my first ever trip to Southeast Asia.

    Yes, it finally happened, as I got to see the Angkor temples, Siem Reap, and Phnom Penh. Despite the hot weather, I did have a lot of fun in Cambodia.

    Now, I would go to a Best Buy, to see if photo recovery is possible, which I really hoped. I think after reading this blog and the Malaysia one, should tell you whether the recovery was successful or not. :)

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