A Travellerspoint blog

Crazy China

37 °C

Ni hao everyone!

I've nearly finished my trip. All together now, ahhhhhhhh!

Well, what an incredible journey it's been. A crazy 6 months that I'll never forget.

I've spent the last four weeks travelling through China and it's been a fantastic
way to end this odyssey. And I've made some great friends.

As you know I arrived in Hong Kong with a nasty cold, which did unfortunately put
a bit of a damper on my five day stay there. I had a bit of a burn out after travelling
so long, and probably a bit too quickly. I was exhausted and felt under the weather
so I spent much of that time in the hostel. Also the weather wasn't great, raining
or foggy most days.

I stayed on Hong Kong Island, one of the 263 islands that make up Hong Kong, along
with the mainland Kowloon Peninsula. I spent a day in the main throng on the
island which I didn't really like. It was a cluttered mish mash of huge dull skyscrapers,
shopping plazas and very ugly 'sculpture/art', crammed together into a very small space.
I took the little tram up to Victoria Peak, which I was disheartened to discover had yet
another shopping mall at the top. Horribly touristy, and a sadly semi-obliterated view
hiding behind the smog.
I also visited a 200 year old temple and got a free tour from one of the young students
who attends it. Then I walked back along Hollywood Road where there were supposedly
some interesting antique shops, but most of them were closed. Hong Kong is a mad
place, built into the hillside and therefore quite steep in places. To help people get around
there is an enormous escalator running through part of the city!
On another day I had a better experience as the weather temporarily perked up.
I headed over to Lantau Island to visit an enormous bronze Buddha erected ten
years ago near an old temple. It's also very geared towards tourists, but the cable car ride
from the train is fab with amazing views over green countryside.

On my last day in HK I headed over to Kowloon where the joining hotel for the tour I had
booked was located. I checked in and found a spotless twin room with a gorgeous en-suite,
which was heaven after the crappy hostels I'd been staying in. I then took a train to a
place called Sha Tin. I had heard about the 10,000 Buddha's. Basically, you walk up a steep
path lined with fibreglass, erm I mean 'golden' Buddhas to a temple where there are
loads more Buddhas! It was an ok way to spend an hour or so but nothing special. Prior to
that I needed some food, and unaware that there was a restaurant at the temple, the only
place I could find was another shopping mall, this time dedicated to homeware. I ashamedly
enjoyed Swedish meatballs in Ikea! A bizarre experience in the middle of Hong Kong!
It had rained almost continually that day and a grade 1 cyclone warning had been put out.
I was slightly worried until I found out that number one is the lowest severity, and by the end
of the day it had passed without hitting HK. Phew.

That evening I met my room mate Ellen, and the rest of the ten-strong group. They were mostly
English with one Swiss girl and a Canadian couple. Our group leader was Niko, a young
Chinese woman who turned out to be brilliant fun and a great guide. We had dinner together
in a noodle cafe and then started our trip to the China border the following day. Although HK
had been handed back to China from the British in 1997, it is still like a separate country which
is a bit strange.

Our first night train over with, we arrived by bus in Yangshuo, a great little town nestling
right in the mountains. Here we spent three days and I can't believe how much we managed to
cram in. A raft cruise down the Li River, a bike ride through the countryside, caving in swimsuits
and exiting the cave over stunning rice paddies (after a soak in an underground hot spring and
a full-on mud fight!), a breath-taking outdoor theatre performance with light show, tai chi,
calligraphy, and cookery classes, watching birds being used to catch fish (just like on that DVD,
Marcus!) and loads of Chinese meals!

Only three days in and China had already blown me away.

After another night train, this time to Chongqing, we had traditional hotpot for lunch. This was
revolting and the worst meal I've had here. You cook your own food in a communal pot of boiling
grease, loaded with Szechuan pepper. However, I did eat eel for the first time, which was nice.
We then boarded a cruise boat and stayed on this for two nights whilst we floated down the
Yangtse River through the Three Gorges. Stunning scenery, a(nother) dreadful massage, an
hilarious cheesy tourist show where I laughed til I cried at Chinese people doing karaoke and
some nice chill out time. We also learned to play Mahjong, a traditional Chinese game using
special tiles, to which I am now addicted (I can play with you now Helen!). Fun was had by all.
After alighting the boat we took a trip to the Three Gorges Dam which is absolutely enormous
and fascinating. There is only one other bigger reservoir in the world, in Egypt, but this is the
winner on electricity production. They had to relocate 1.1 million people to make it!

In Yichang we had delicious clay pot rice dishes for lunch and then boarded our next night train
to Xi'An. I loved this city. It's very Chinese, with a huge boundary wall which we walked along
on the second day. We also ate a fantastic dumpling banquet, shopped in the Muslim Quarter,
looked around the traditional old Bell and Drum towers, and of course, visited the Terracotta
Warriors. Wow! A definite highlight. Thousands of life-sized clay men (all different) and horses
made to protect the Emperor Qin's tomb 2000 years ago, uncovered in 1974.

Our penultimate night train was to Shanghai. Now this is a big city. Apparently there are almost
as many people here as in the whole of Australia - 23 million - just in Shanghai!). There are huge
skyscrapers which you might think I would be currently typing moans and groans about. However,
I did like it. It's much more spread out than HK and the architecture is really interesting which
makes for great sky lines where ever you look. We took a trip up the Jin Mao tower which was
great, even with a hazy view. We walked along The Bund, which is basically the waterfront
designed by Germans, alongside old European-looking buildings. We were were all completely
done in by the heat and humidity. It was horribly oppressive and even Niko said she hadn't known
it that bad before.
After a yummy meal we went to watch an Acrobatics show which was eye-poppingly brilliant.
And I ate sweetcorn ice-cream which was a food highlight. Mmm mmm!
The next day I went round the fab Shanghai Museum with Ellen, and we all went to the Yu Garden
for lunch and shopping.

We were all glad that the next night train was to be our last. They are really good fun and I
personally liked them all except this one. I don't know if you know this but the Chinese have
to be the noisiest race on the planet. They shout at all times, whether they need to or not,
and most of the time they sound like they're having huge rows when actually they're probably
just 'chatting' about where they're going on holiday this year.
Well, that morning we were woken by a three-generation Chinese family who decided to
get going with their family banter at 5am (we weren't arriving at our destination until 10am)!
Even ear plugs couldn't compete with that, so I gave up on sleep and read my book until we
burst into our final destination, Beijing!

And that's where I am now. We had three days here at the end of the tour which finished on
the 5th and I have four more days until my flight home next Wednesday.
Up to now I've seen the Forbidden City (an ancient Emperor's palace built for him and his 2000
concubines), the Temple of Heaven set in a lovely park where retired people go to dance and
play games (a lovely atmosphere), Tian 'anmen Square and a jaw-dropping Kung Fu show.
I also tried toad in one of our dinners which was good, and obviously we had to have traditional
Peking duck (duck pancakes), too! Last night we went to a street where they were
selling wierd animals to eat including scorpions (sadly skewered on sticks and put on show
before they were killed - nice). I tried snake, well, I thought I was trying snake until I ate it and
realised it was a complete con. We all agreed it tasted and felt destinctly like chicken!

But the best bit of China for me was our trip to the Great Wall on the second to last day of the
tour. It really is unbelievably good. We got a cable car up and then walked for a couple of hours
along the wall. For the first time in the whole of the China tour we had beautiful sunny weather
and blue skies. It was cripplingly hot but the views were magnificent. It was a wonderful day.
And we got to toboggan back down from the wall which was great fun!

Most people have flown home now but there are still four of us clinging on to the last few
days of our trips. We're chilling out and gonna do a bit more sightseeing before we leave, and
it seems everyone is counting down the days til we see our friends and families. One couple
have been travelling for a whole year.

Due to technical complications I have to wait til I get home to put up pics, so sorry about that.
I'll do it as soon as I arrive (well, after a long sleep!). I'll let you know in a final post when I have.

Well, looking forward to seeing you all, some of you in less than a week!!! Yay!

By for now.

Lots of love,
Mel xxxxxxxxxx

Posted by ExplorerMel 01:15 Archived in China Comments (0)

Quick hello

34 °C

Hi all!

Hope you are hunky dory wherever you are.

I'm in China, and having a wonderful time. My group are fab, my cold has gone
(finally after two weeks), and China is already living up to it's crazy and amazing
reputation. I'm so glad I decided to come here!

Just wanted to let you know that Facebook/Twitter/YouTube are banned here, so I
can't use FB.

As I only have three weeks left I'm not going to post another blog until the end,
and I haven't managed to get a SIM card yet so am not able to phone/text anyone
yet either.

Just wanted to let you know I'm alive and well, and I'll see some of you very soon!

Lots of love,

Mel xxxxx

Posted by ExplorerMel 07:16 Archived in China Comments (0)

Thailand - the land of smiles

33 °C

Hello people!

Hope you're all okely dokely.

I'm in Thailand, feeling decidely under the weather with a stinking cold (where does that
phrase come from?!). Yuk. Where's Lemsip and blackcurrant Soothers when you need em?
I went to the pharmacy earlier for painkillers to try and dull this sinus headache.
Paracetamol was available but I asked if he had anything stronger, like co-codamol for
instance. He offered me Tramadol! I plumped for paracetamol. You can buy anything here.

Guess what, it's 1 month exactly to the day I fly home! Eeeeee! Travelling is an amazing
thing. So different from normal life, different from your average holiday. I feel like I've
acclimatised to life on the road, it's become the norm for me. Hearing lots of different
languages every day, even learning bits of different languages, never knowing who you
might meet and what you might see tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that.
Unusual sights and wierd creepy crawlies have become daily occurances, and I'll miss
the laid-back craziness of Asia.

However, all the things you have to do differently from normal life start to take their toll
after a while. To give you an idea, here are the things I'm looking forward to having back
when I get home (I'm sure all you travellers out there will understand this!):

1. Clean toilets that flush without you having to pour in a pan of water after use. And
soap and loo roll everywhere!

2. Understanding what is being said to me, and being understood, without any effort on
either part.

3. Cool, clear air to breathe, in temperatures less than 25 degrees celsius.

4. Not having to work out where I'm going to sleep for the next few days/weeks/months.

5. Being able to pay for something by looking at the price and handing over the money,
instead of calculating the exchange rate, bartering and haggling for the actual price (and
then someone still trying to rip me off by short-changing me!).

6. Picking up the phone and having a chat, without first working out what time it is in
the UK, and/or arranging a slot with said chattee.

7. Cereal with chilled soya milk and fruit for brekky, in bed.

8. The people I love.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, here's what I've been up to since I last wrote.

The bus from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Bangkok was largely uneventful, with the
exception of a very loud explosion-like bang as I was queueing at the Thai border. I spent
the rest of the time in the queue working out where I ws going to run and hide in case
of a terrorist attack. Nothing else happened and everyone carried on as they were, so it
was probably just an old knackered lorry with a blow out!

I stayed in a hotel, same one as Flo, but this time on my own as she was meeting her
boyfriend here. After a couple of nights I knew I had to get back to the hostel environment.
You don't meet many people, living alone in a tiny single room! However, I did at Smile
Society, a hostel in Silom. In fact when I arrived I discovered a group of lovely people,
all single travellers of varying ages. We all gelled immediately and got on like the
proverbial house on fire for the next three days. The only thing I can liken it to is my first
year at uni, in P-block halls of residence (P-blockers, you know what I mean). After lots
of sightseeing, I was ready for some night time madness, and I certainly got it in Bangkok!
I'm not ashamed to say that I saw nothing of the tourist attractions during the day, but
instead simply went out and drank, danced and laughed until the sun came up! Of course
I'm paying for it now, you don't bounce back at 37 quite as easily as when you're 19!

After a few days I knew I should see something of Thailand. Aiming to avoid the touristy
beaches of south Thailand, I booked a night train to Chiang Mai, little town in the north west.
Myself and a French guy, Fred (I seem to attract French people!), went together and
stayed in the same hostel. We spent the next few days together. Chiang Mai is a nice
place, with lots of beautiful temples, markets, and artistic shops and cafes. It was Buddha
Day, a public holiday, the day after we arrived. There were lots of people visiting the
temples and the air felt happy and festive.
There was also a night market where I tried eating insects! First I had some little
grasshoppers, which were ok, sort of like little crisps. Then I tucked into a huge
beetle, which may have been an enormous cockroach, I'm not sure! Anyway, it was
gross. I only ate the head before giving up and throwing the whole lot in the bin.
It didn't help that Fred said they smelled like fish food, and although he photographed
me, he could barely look as I ate them. Suffice to say he didn't share my snack! I had
wanted to try tarantula, but the only place selling them was a transport cafe on the
road from Siem Reap, and they were covered in flies! Not wanting to have my head
stuck down the bog at any point in time, I didn't go for that.

One night we decided to see some Muay Thai boxing. It was mainly young lads, some
looked as young as ten, I felt bit sorry for them. Not sure how kosher it all was, although
I know they do start them young in boxing.
Out of the eight fights there was also a female fight, a comedy fight (six older lads blind-
folded and punching whatever they could, including the ref!) and finally what appeared
to be a real professional fight at the end, which was brutal and impressive. It finished
quickly when the loser was knocked out half way through the second round.

The next day we went to a Thai cookery school for a day of learning how to make
the truly wonderful food they cook here. Honestly, it's edible heaven, Thailand!
Not being much of a cook myself, I thought it would do me some good to learn some
skills, but I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it. I find kitchens stressful places and as most of
you know, I'd always always rather be cooked for! Anyway, we had a brilliant day.
I enjoyed every minute of it, partly because we ate everything we cooked! We made
seven dishes and rolled out of the door at 4 o'clock! Hopefully I'll be able to recreate
some of them for you when I get home, with the help of the book they gave us at
the end of the day.

On my third day in Chiang Mai I joined a girl called Sarah, and a guide, for trekking
through the Thai jungle. We started in a Hmong village where we met some local
ladies making traditional clothing, then we hiked through forest, swam at a waterfall,
ate fried rice (our packed lunch) wearing bikinis in the pouring rain (!) and floated
down river on a big wooden raft, past elephants and more locals (now fully clothed!).
I really enjoyed it but could tell I was coming down with something and was glad to
get back to my aircon room with it's huge bed. The first two nights at the hostel had
been fairly sleepless as there was no aircon in the dorm, and even with the window
open and the fans on, it can't have been less than 30 degrees. I just laid there
covered in sweat listening to the noisy road outside. The only thing that got me through
was the hilarious Peter Kay biog I was reading! Before I went insane I had
to move rooms. I ended up paying more than four times the price but it was worth
it. The dorm was two pounds 70 a night, the private aircon room... eleven quid!
Obviously by our standards, both are incredibly good value, but when you're on a
travellers budget you need to get the cheapest available.

I'm now in a tiny town called Pai, where I have my own bungalow (albeit with
shared bathroom) for 3 pounds per night. It's in a gorgeous peaceful field right
next to the river with the mountains in the background. There's a shared kitchen
where everyone socialises, and a short walk to loads of cool bars and restaurants.
Unfortunately, due to my poorly state, I've seen little more than that. There are
some sights to visit, so as I'm starting to feel a tiny bit better, and I've recently
met back up with Carole (Borneo), I hope to maybe get to some of them
tomorrow. That's before the bus back to Chiang Mai on Tuesday, the night train
back to Bangkok that evening, and a flight to Hong Kong on Wednesday!
I'll be sad to leave Thailand as the people here are friendly as. Will deffo be
coming back here on holiday.

So, I'll have five days in HK before joining the China tour I've booked, on June
18th. I'm very excited about not having to work out where to go and where to
stay as it'll all be sorted by the the tour company. And for 18 days I'll be in a
group of the same 10 people. If the dynamics work well, it could be great fun,
so keeping my fingers crossed I get a good crowd. If I don't, it could be a long
two and a half weeks! After this I have 5 days in Beijing before flying home
on July 10th (arriving July 11th!). Yippedy doo da!

A lot of people have told me that t'internet can be elusive in China, so this might
be my last post before Beijing. If you don't hear that much from me in the
next month don't worry, I'll probably just be eating monkey brains or some
non-descript blob out of the sea, in the reputedly mad world that is my final
destination, China!!

Apologies again for the big blog. It won't be long before I'm home and I can
bore you in person instead, ha ha!!

Lots of love and hugs,

Mel xxx

P.S. Thailand pics are up. Still no KL or Cambodia ones though. Will work on
that when I get back to Sheff.

Yum - not!

Yum - not!

Posted by ExplorerMel 03:33 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Kuala Lumpur and Cambodia

37 °C

Hello everyone!

How's things? Sounds like the weather in the UK has perked up, nice one.
It's stupidly hot here. A very humid 35-40 degrees during the day and 25
degrees minimum at night. Sweating aplenty!

I had a request to make my blogs a bit more frequent and therefore a bit
shorter, but I have to apologize again, without my own laptop to hand
it's impossible to do. And to put in enough detail to make it interesting,
I have to write a fair bit. You might have to read this one over a number
of sittings!

Since I wrote last I have explored a bit of Kuala Lumpur, and some of
Cambodia which has been interesting to say the least.
After a day of rest in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, I caught a flight to KL. I didn't
realise quite how much the mountain climb had taken out of me, and I
was stil feeling flat as a pancake, so I did virtually nothing for almost three
days. But I certainly chose the right hostel to recover in. Some of you
who've travelled to KL might have heard of the posh backpackers hostel,
Reggae Mansion. I don't know what the reggae bit is all about, but the
place was certainly a mansion in hostel terms. It's a large three-storey
1930's building which has been renovated beautifully, with two courtyards
for socialising/eating, two great bars (one of which was on the roof top)
and excellent, good value food. The dorms are made up of little individual
booths each containing a roomy mattress, mirror and cupboard, light and
electrical socket (luxury as most hostels only have one or two for a whole
6/8 bed dorm), a curtain to give you privacy (heaven!) and a big locker
under the bed.
The interior of the hostel is modern French in style with nice light fittings and
armchairs in the common areas, and it wasn't even that much more expensive
than what I'd been paying elsewhere. The icing on the cake was a mini
cinema next to our dorm. For 7 ringgets, about 1 pound 40 (there is no
pound key on Asian keyboards!) you could pick a film and get a can of pop and
some freshly made, warm sweet popcorn! I got together with some girls
from the dorm and we had a movie afternoon which was ace, great
for recovery purposes!
When I finally dragged myself out of there and had a look round KL, I saw
the Central Market, the Merdeka Square, a little museum about KL and the
Petronas Towers. I'd had a tip off to not go into the actual towers (it costs
50RM and you can't see the towers from inside!), but to sneak into the
posh 160 pound-a-night Traders Hotel opposite, just before sunset, go to
the bar on the 33rd floor and order a drink. I got the last table by the window
and watched the lights come on. The view was fantastic!

KL, being the Malaysian capital, is a huge, dirty and busy concrete/steel jungle,
and after spending three weeks in the real jungle I felt like Mick Dundee
trying to cross the roads! I'm not keen on spending a long time in big cities
anyway, so I was ready to leave after five days. I took a flight to Phnom
Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Also dirty and busy, but a very different city.
I spent the next three days with a Malaysian chap called Ameer which
worked out well. We were glad of the company, as the first thing the hostel
owner said to us was about safety. "Don't carry a bag if you go out in the
evening as it might get snatched from your shoulder by a passing
motorcyclist, and don't go with people who invite you back to theirs to
play cards as you can end up losing a lot of money!"

You may know about the recent horrifc history of Cambodia. Between
1975 and 1979, the country was run by the communist Khmer Rouge,
lead by a horrible man called Pol Pot. During this time, mass genocide was
committed by him and his followers. An estimated 3 million people were killed -
over a quarter of the population. Many people were captured and tortured
in an old school they called Security prison 21. There is now a genocide
museum there, and we visited it. It was not a nice experience, I cried the
whole way round. People were tortured here for months, before being
moved to what is now called The Killing Fields (you might have seen the film),
to be executed in ghastly ways, bludgeoned or hacked to death (bullets
were too expensive). We also visited this after the prison.
There are mass graves here, from which many of the bodies have been
exhumed, but there are still many left in the ground and it was shocking to
see small bits of bone and clothing poking out of the soil. Each time it rains
more is exposed.
The Killing Fields and the prison have been set up to raise awareness
of what happened, and to remember the victims. It's a very organised
arrangement, with audio guides and lots of information. As you can imagine
it was a difficult and emotionally exhausting day, but I was glad I'd
gone to learn about their history, and felt it a necessary part of visiting
Cambodia. The perpetrators are still being trialled for these crimes now,
but Pol Pot got off lightly as he died after having a comfortable life, before
being brought to justice.

The next day I had a day off to do jobs, get a haircut (3 US dollars! - they
use dollars here as well as their own currency, Riel) and stock up on
insect repellant and suntan lotion for my coming week on the beach.
I had been recommended a massage place called Seeing Hands, a charity
that employs blind people to do the massage. I was looking forward
to it but instead layed there in varying degrees of pain! Khmer people
are not good at massage, they use their thumbs to bore into your
flesh, and it wasn't in the slightest bit relaxing! The hostel owner said
that it can't have been an authentic Seeing Hands place as they are
usually very good. Shame! There is fakes of everything here!

I've also learned whilst being here, that although Khmer people are
generally a positive (amazing as they have all lost relatives to the
Khmer Rouge) and friendly race, Cambodia as a country, is one of
the most corrupt places in the world. Bribery is rife, from the street
sellers to the government politicians. There is an election here next
month but everyone knows that the ironically named Cambodian People's
Party wil get in, simply due to bribery and corruption. Also, as in India,
sweatshops are a huge problem here. There are many factories
employing hundreds of people for less than a dollar a day, in terrible
conditions.

I spent a week on a little castaway island called Koh Rong, which
was also interesting! This is a very new resort based on one long beach.
At one end is a little Cambodian community which is squalid and full of
litter. Further along is a cleaner area with three sets of small wooden
huts or bungalows. Mine was cute, with a double bedroom area and
a little bathroom. I shared it with a plethora of wildlife including
loads of little lizards, a huge brightly-coloured gecko called a Tokay,
and a scorpion which I found sitting on the window shutter - eek!
The lizards and geckos are great (if a little noisy) as they munch on
all the mozzies and flies, but I had been warned about poisonous
snakes and scorpions, so I had to look where I was putting my feet
every time I took a step anywhere, inside or out!

I had a really good mozzy net so I could get a restful nights sleep,
except for on the second night when I woke with nasty stomach
cramps and severe squits! I starved myself for almost two days and
lived soley on bottled water and rehydration powders, and I felt
ok after that. However, it became apparent that the kitchen hygiene
was a little on the dodgy side, as I had the runs for the whole rest of
the week (too much information?!), which miraculously disappeared on
my return to the mainland!

Despite the medical hitch, I did actually enjoy the white sandy beach
and crystal clear sea for the last few days. It was so nice just to lay on
a sunbed on the beach or in the hammock on my porch overlooking
the sea, and just read and swim. One night I went for a
night swim with the girl from the next bungalow, to experience the
magical phosphorescent plankton. This makes the water glow in the
dark with what looks like bright green fairy dust around your body as
you move. It's so cool, if you haven't seen it in real life you might have
seen it on the film, The Beach.

Whilst on Koh Rong I met a French woman about my age also
travelling alone, who was going to the Angkor Wat temples after
the island, as was I. We decided to meet back up in Phnom Penh
in a few days and go together.
So I have just spent the last three days with Florence, exploring
the temples of Angkor, one of the most amazing things I've ever done.

Angkor Wat ( Wat means temple) is the biggest and most famous
of many ancient temples spread across a huge area of northern
Cambodia. To explore them you stay in a town called Siem Reap,
about 6km south of the main Angkor park, and visit the site each
day by bicycle or tuk tuk. There are quite a few in the park area,
which was actually a town back when they were built, but some
are up to 60km away.

On day one we used bikes from the hotel, and did a big circuit
of about ten temples. It is mind blowing. The temples were built
between the 8th and 12th centuries and some are in superb
condition. My favourites though, were the ones which were partially
broken down and had huge trees growing around and inside them.
There are exquisite carvings on much of the stone and each
temple is different from the last, meaning you don't get templed-out
too quickly! Some of the temples are vast and sprawling, and take
an hour or two to explore, so by the end of the first day we were
done in, and we still had to cycle the last few kms back to the
hotel. To top it off it began to rain, and we were so saddle sore
and hungry by the end, we were ecstatic to get back to the room.
We'd been on the go for 11 hours!

On the second day we did our own thing as I didn't want to cycle
and Flo did. I got a tuk tuk to one of the farther out temples, and
then came back and did two others. We arrived back around the
same time, earlier this time, and headed straight for our hotel pool,
a necessity in this heat. And we had it all to ourselves as we were
the only ones staying in the Green Garden House, it being low
season here.

Yesterday, the third day, we cycled together again and did the
obligatory 5am pilgrimage to Angkor Wat for the unfortunately
none-existant sunrise (it was cloudy so it just got light!).
We explored Angkor Wat and the famous Bayon temple, and a few
others, and decided we'd had enough by midday. Back to the pool!

Angkor is an unbelievabley exciting, fascinating and sometimes
eerie place, so if you are at all interested in history or ancient
ruins, I urge you to go. It was one of my absolute trip highlights.

In conclusion, Cambodia has been one of the strangest and most
intriguing places I've visited. It's certainly not without personality
that's for sure. Tomorrow, I'm getting a couple of buses across
the border to Bangkok, in Thailand. I have two and a half weeks in
Thailand before moving on to Hong Kong and my China tour, at
which point I'll have only four weeks left of my odyssey!

I have to say, I'm really looking forward to coming home now.
I'm even starting to look forward to going back to work - blimey!

There's one last thing which might be potentially gutting. I think I
have a major problem with the memory card I've used for the last
three or four weeks. I've just tried to copy my photos to disc and
upload some to my blog, and neither works. It looks like my
memory card might have a virus or has been damaged by the
heat/humidity.
Am gonna be really upset if I can't access any of my pics, escpecially
the Angkor ones. I'll have to leave it for now but I might try and get
some help in Thailand. So sorry folks, but for now, and possibly not
ever, I have no pics to go with this blog. :o(

Take care all, ta ta for now.

love Mel xxx

Posted by ExplorerMel 02:39 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

A quick message...

35 °C

Hello!

To anyone who has tried to contact me on my new Cambodian SIM,
or a few days before on my Malaysian one, I am not receiving any
texts or calls. I don't know what's gone wrong with this phone but
I can only send texts and make calls, I can't receive them. Sorry
about this.

I asked the English guy who runs the hostel I'm currently staying
in and he just said, 'don't try and get it fixed here, you'll only make it
worse!', referring to the typically useless Cambodians! He wasn't
being mean (he's married to one!), just realistic. There is also
the language barrier too, which is harder here.
He suggested I wait until I get to Thailand, but that's gonna be about
three weeks away. Feeling a bit cut off now, but will manage. I'm
managing to check my email regularly so please email me if you want
to get in touch, especially if it's something important. Only thing is I'm
off to a castaway island tomorrow, for a week, so will have to pick up
any emails up after that.

Mum, Dad, Marcus, I have some credit so will try and call you for a
quick chat whilst I'm there. But, if you don't hear from me, don't worry.
It's likely there won't be any signal. I'm staying at the Paradise
Bungalows on Koh Rong (a little island off South East Cambodia).

Hope you're all shiny happy people, will be in touch soon.

Take care,
Love Mel xxx

Posted by ExplorerMel 02:09 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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