Monday, January 23, 2006

adventure cambosky - day 1 (continued)

hey people...i'm back. =)

apologies for not being able to do live updates while i was in cambodia...i guess i overestimated myself. i brought everything that i could possibly use to blog on my, laptop, power cable, extra batteries...everything except the usb cable that links the camera to my laptop...sigh. but to make myself feel better, i will just say that there wasn't really a lot of time to access the internet there...oh well. but i DID take like a million pictures (actually 352 to be exact) in the 4 days that i was there...but i cut that down quite a bit for this blog, as you can imagine, for the benefit of those with low speed internet...

background: my good friend, cambo jo, is currently working in cambodia...he's overseeing an office in phnom penh (which makes him some sort of big fuck)...but he has always wanted us to visit cuz it can get quite lonely up there (in all senses) jason and i decided to do the honours...5 day 4 night trip...

so here it is log book for my trip. part one. enjoy...i know i did. =)


0730hrs: inside jet star asia plane, flight 3k591 headed for phnom penh (pp)...feels like heaven:


heaven 2?

0805hrs: supposed time of arrival at pp international airport. still airborne.

0810hrs: pilot approaches runway 1, but has to abort landing number 1 due to low clouds, and is advised by pp control tower to use runway 2 instead. pilot makes big round, reassures everyone that there is no need for alarm. apologises for inconvenience caused.

0820hrs: pilot approaches runway 2, but has to abort landing number 2 because runway 2 is congested. pilot advised by pp control tower to use original runway. pilot makes big round, reassures everyone that there is no need for alarm...again. apologises for inconvenience caused...again. promises to land within the next 5-10 minutes.

0845hrs: plane lands on runway 1. moby stops writing will.

0900hrs: moby applies for visa. queues up to hand in form. hands in form to cambodian visa officer 1. officer 1 scribbles something on the form, hands to officer 2. officer 2 scribbles something, hands to officer 3. repeat till officer 9. officer 9 hands visa form to officer 10, who holds up passport and shouts: "hello?! who?!" to a group of waiting passengers. moby steps up and hands US$20 bill to officer 10, who examines the note, keeps hold of passport, and asks for a "new note"...apparently moby’s $20 bill was too worn out. wtf. moby very patient and hands him a new note. officer 10 looks long and hard at new note, and reluctantly hands passport with visa to moby. moby runs off.

0905hrs: moby and jason see cambo jo and driver at arrival hall. well done.

0930hrs: moby, jason and cambo jo reach bougainvillier hotel in pp. check it out:

bougainvillier hotel room

looks almost exactly like the other photo that moby posted, except for the extra bed. cool. =)

*end third person storytelling...back to first person...tiring lah...*

after we checked in and settled down, we met up with heam sokhorn, our personal driver for the day:


note: heam has gone through a lot in his life as a cambodian. his father was one of the fatalities during pol pot’s he’s taking care of his mother, younger brother, nephew and another half-brother (who’s going through university)...working as a driver and clerk. he only has primary school education, but had enough motivation to learn english in a private school to make something of himself and to support his family. throughout our day having him as our driver, he was very good in introducing and explaining the different places that we went to.

thanks heam. if you ever come to singapore, i’d be more than happy to show you around. =)

cambodian traffic is quite crazy...not in the sense of jam-like-no-tomorrow-as-per-bangkok-or-jakarta, but as in there-are-no-rules kind of crazy...but unlike most other countries, the cambodian car horn is really more for warning other drivers that the car is going to overtake theirs, so watch out...rather than for scolding people / venting all works out pretty well i must say. especialy when there are traffic junctions that don't have any traffic lights...everybody just seems to be able to understand each other...the basic rule of cambodian traffic: small vehicles (motorbike / cyclists / pedestrians) give way to big vehicles. makes sense right? if it ain't broke, don't fix it right? haha. and it's right hand drive there too...but left hand drive cars are also allowed...go figure. haha.

right hand driving

traffic lightless junction

oh yeah...and the roads are pretty bumpy to say the least...

cambo road 1

cambo road 2

heam then brought us to our first cambodian breakfast:

cambo beef noodle breakfast

the russian market, locally known as "phsar toul tom poung", has a wide selection of souvenirs, curios and silks. this place used to be frequented a lot by the russians when this place was a communist state back in the 1980's, hence it's can find almost anything here...

russian market 1 (household goods)

russian market 2 (buddha replicas)

russian market 3 (chinese new year goodies)

russian market 4 (motorbike spare parts)

russian market 5 (chainsaws???)

cool stuff...i think i bargained quite well for my buys...with the help of heam that is... =) but strangely enough, they still didn’t wanna accept my old US$20 note...the sales girl insisted on a new one...even after giving me the bargain...what is it with these cambos and new notes? sheesh.

after shopping, we decided to go to my least favourite place in phnom penh...the toul sleng genocide museum...apparently, before 1975, toul sleng was actually a high school...but after the khmer rouge came to power, it was converted into a prison and interrogation house of horror. out of 17,000 people who were "detained", only 7 had survived the tortures and mass executions when the vietnamese army finally liberated phnom penh in 1979. the building was preserved to act as a memorial and testament to the khmer rouge regime, and the atrocities that it committed during the madness of that period in cambodia’s history. i was very disturbed by the place and found the experience profoundly depressing...i only managed to take 5 pictures during our visit to the complex. but at the same time, it’s a fact that those horrendous events occurred, and i think that people should be more aware of what has happened, and is happening around the world...away from the sheltered boundaries of singapore. i don't regret going.

toul sleng 1

toul sleng 2

toul sleng 3

toul sleng 4

toul sleng 5

the central market, aka "phsar thmei" for locals, is a dome-shaped building where they sell a lot of different types of goods...apparently it lays claim to being one of the world's biggest this is where we went after the genocide’s slightly different from the russian market cuz they have more electronics and stuff...and it's much less stuffy. haha.

central market dome 1

central market 1

central market 2

central market dome 2

central market 3

i always like to go to places where there aren’t too many tourists loitering makes it very difficult to see the locals get on with their everyday i requested heam to drive us to this place that i read about, which was a bit on the outskirts of phnom penh...this place called kien svay about 30 minutes outside of pp. it’s basically a place with a lot of wooden picnic platforms which float on a lake (something like this place in thailand):

kien svay 1

kien svay 2

kien svay 3

local kien svay life

we had to rush back into the city in order to visit the royal palace and "silver pagoda" before they closed for the day...and it was well worth the high speed drive and sore ass i had for the explanation of what each picture is of, i'm sure that any lonely planet guidebook can do better than me, so i'll let you all read up for the meantime, check out the photos:

preah tineang tevea vinichhay (throne hall)

phonchani pavilion

throne hall lightning arrestors

picturesque door mesh

stupas 1

stupa 2

stupa 3

king norodom statue

stupa 4

stupa 5

"silver pagoda"

monks & "silver pagoda"

waterlily flower

cambo kid fishing


we were pretty tired by the time we finished walking the whole palace, so jason and i decided to head back to this place called riverside bistro which was near our hotel. this was my first taste of cambodian locally brewed beer:

angkor beer

some impromptu pictures:

yo what's up 1?

yo what's up 2?

chill guys

after bossing around at work, cambo jo joined us for dinner...but he was awfully late cuz this was causing a major jam in downtown pp:

election rally

so by the time cambo jo came around, jason and i were famished...btw, before our trip, cambo jo said that he would pay for all our meals in cambodia...and he didn't disappoint by bringing us to this place that serves authentic khmer food:

khmer surin

dinner companions

i was so hungry that i forgot to take pictures of the crab in lime juice, salted fish omelette, khmer style fried beef, seafood mixed tempura, etc etc...but it was good...believe me. don't you just love the decor at the restaurant??? there was even a live band playing traditional khmer music in the background. and the total bill came up to only US$20. superb...

we left for some more drinks at the riverside bistro, (where cambo jo claims has the chioest waitresses in all of phnom penh fyi)...before heading on back to the hotel for some well-deserved sleep...

stay tuned for more adventures on day 2...cheers. =)


mooiness said...

Excellent photos as usual.

And true what you said about atrocities in general, to know about them is to know how good most of us have it.

Ting said...

Welcome back! Wah, so fascinating so far... Love the Central Market Dome and Stupas! Kien svay is interesting too. So, were the waitresses the chioest at riverside bistro?
BTW, that's a beautiful waterlily. Don't worry, most people would think it's lotus too.

moby sky said...

mooiness...thanks...and yeah, i think that when you live in singapore for a long time, you tend to take some things for the whole experience of this cambodia trip was like a back-to-reality-call thing...

ting...haha...i somehow knew that it was wrong...i was just waiting for you to correct me lah...haha...thanks =) (p.s. - the waitresses were so so only. haha.)

blinkymummy said...

I also want to go!!

BTW, is it really hot over there?

rationalneurotic said...

swee... swee...

Jo said...

errrr.... i think somebody said one of the waitresses looked like Ade lor....

actually hor... the restaurant, khmer surin, serves khmer & thai food. So not really 100% authentic also...

Trivia: Khmer Surin are Cambodians staying near the Thai border. They speak both Khmer & Thai. One famous Khmer Surin is Tony Jaa, the crazyasskicking muthafucka in OngBak & Tom-Yum-Goong...

FYI: The oppposition party that jammed up the roads that nite lost... bloody waste of time & resources...

moby sky said... was pretty hot...kinda like singapore now in fact...with lots of sun too. you sure cannot tahan one. hahaha. =)

rationalneurotic...thanks. =)

jo...i never said ade hor...everytime anyhow wonder you purple bomberman lah. haha.

furfur_angel said...

hai yo... finally you are back....

been waiting for the daily account...

great pix! I also wanna go...

but cam safe or not? always give pple the impression of riot everyday...

moby sky said...

furfur_angel...cambodia is pretty safe nowadays already...especially if you know a big fuck like my friend cambo jo there...haha. his driver is armed and dangerous ok...haha. anyway, let me know if you going, and i'll ask my friend to escort you around. =)

Apollo Chocolate said...

Ah yes the good old Russian Market... my Dad fainted there once (he was working in Cambodia a few years back) and when we went down to Cambodia to visit him, he was quite the "celebrity" in the market. The fainting guy hahaha.

Liked the Russian Market more than the Central Market and was totally blown away when the people conversed to me in Teochew!