Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cambodia and Thailand!

Alright so I have quite a bit of catching up to do starting with Dori and my trip to Cambodia and Thailand. In one word the trip was AMAZING! It was everything I was hoping it to be and more and everything worked out so well.

Our trip began the day after the badgers lost in the Rosebowl (bummer, but was a good time regardless). We flew into Phnom Phen Cambodia and arrived around 10 at night. We were greeted by the warm smiles that seemed to be permanently fixed on all of local Cambodian’s faces.. as well as warm weather J (PS. Asian airlines are awesome! Every flight that we took, even if it was less than an hour, served foo!) It was a great start to a great trip.

I loved Phnom Phen. Its this little city on a nice riverside which has a cool promenade with lots of bars and restaurants. In Cambodia, stuff is SO cheap, and things are listed in and they accept USD everywhere so it feels really cheap too.  Meals were maybe 2-4 dollars and these were for nice meals! In korea you can get tons of cheap meals, but they feel kinda like cheap meals. In Cambodia, you can eat really really well for next to nothing. Although the food was so cheap, it was not the same for alcohol (maybe $4ish a drink).  Also, massages were SO CHEAP! Like $6 for an hour massage (we probably got one almost every day of the trip) and there were massage places on every corner.

But anyway, we were staying at this nice little place along the river which was perfect for walking along the main strip. To get around to the other parts of the city we took tuk-tuk which were just mopeds with carriges on the back of them. These guys were everywhere and would take you most places for just a dollar or two.  In our one full day in Phnom Phen we hired a tuk tuk to chauffer us around to the major attractions, which was great.

We went to the killing fields first which were pretty horrifying. So much senseless death.. walking around the fields had a similar feeling to a concentration camp.

After the fields, we went to the Egyptian Market which was just this big market. It was cool.. I got some shirts and that is where we discovered sugarcare and mangosteen!! Both of these are now at the top of my favorite things to eat list and I will most definitely eat as much of them as I possibly can whenever available.

Later that day we checked out the royal palace which was pretty cool.. but honestly you get kinda jaded by all of the crazy but similar architecture. That being said, it was still a pretty sweet place to walk around. After that, we got Dr Fish foot massage!!! I had heard about this a while ago and have been wanting to try it and was glad to finally have the opportunity. Dr Fish foot massage is where you stick your feet in a pool of these little fishes that eat the dead skin off of your feet (or something like that). At first it was honestly a little bit nerve racking and when you first put your feet in the water it takes a lot of restraint not to squirm because it feels so weird/ticklish.. but after you get used to it, it is honestly kinda nice.

Overall Phnom Phen was AWESOME and I would love to go back sometime. The next morning we headed to Siem Riep.

We got to Siem Riep in the afternoon and were pretty burnt out from the long ride so we decided to have a pretty chill first day and just explore the city. Siem Riep was also so cool! They have this Pub Street area which is pretty much a street filled with bars/restaurants and at night they make it pedestrian only so you can walk from bar to bar with your drinks and its no problem. It felt like a SE Asian Beale Street. So our first day in Siem Riep we walked around, got a cheap massage, and got dinner and drinks and hung out around Pub Street. That place gets pretty wild at night and we had a really great time.

The next day we hired a tuk tuk to take us around the major temples in the area highlighted by Ankor Wat. All of the temples were really really cool and crazy and amazing to see but Ankor Wat was definitely the coolest. We climbed around and explored different temples for the morning/afternoon and by the time we were finished were ready to relax by the pool and have another enjoyable night around Pub Street. Also, at one of the temples we rode an elephant!!! That was one of the things on our to-do list and it was definitely an experience. After our ride, we got to feed and pet the elephant which was really really cool.

Overall Cambodia was amazing! I am so glad that I got to go there and experience it! Everyone is so nice and everything is so cheap and its just a great place to see. The next day we took a flight to Bangkok.

That afternoon in Bangkok we went to the Royal Palace which is home to the Emerald Buddah. It was cool to see and to walk around the gardens and stuff but again, you kinda get jaded by all of these temples and palaces.. but it was still cool.
That night Dori wasn’t feeling well so we just hung out at our hotel and went to bed early.

The next day we woke up and took a flight down to Krabi en route to Ton Sai Bay on the SW coast of Thailand.  To get there, we took a cab from the airport to Ao Nang bay where the only means of getting to Ton Sai is by longboat.  We decided to go to Ton Sai on the very very very high recommendation of a good friend of Dori’s.. so needless to say our expectations for this beach were very high.

We arrived and checked into our hut which was just a few minutes walk from the beach and very soon learned what a gem Ton Sai bay really was. Its pretty much this stip of hippie beach filled with rock climbers (Ton Sai is knows for its rock climbing) and people rocking dreads. It was not touristy at all and the food was cheap and the music good and this place was about as close to paradise as anywhere that I have ever been. Its really just this amazing strip of beach scattered with restaurants and bars in the Thai jungle.  I can not do this place justice at all by describing it, it was just that cool.

While we were there we spend our days eating pad thai, mango and sticky rice, tom tum, playing in the water, playing chess, watching the rock climbers and monkeys and just chilled out. One morning I played with some boatmans pet monkey which was SO COOL! I know this seems obvious, but monkeys are crazy good climbers and it was so fun to have them climbing all over me.

One afternoon we hiked through a bit of jungle that separated Ton Sai with the more touristy Reilley beach. The travel books raved more about Reilley beach and when we asked anyone on Ton Sai about it, all they would say is that it was ‘touristy’. I didn’t even know what they meant by that but wanted to see it for myself. So we hiked through the jungle separating the two beaches (which itself was amazing.. one of the many highlights of the trip) and arrived at Reilley Beach to find it… touristy. It was more crowded with more obnoxious chachke shops and more expensive and compared to Ton Sai was just annoying. We grabbed a snack and smoothie there and then quickly heaed back to Ton Sai. On our way back, instead of climb through the jumgle we decided to swim which ended up being really cool as well.

Our time in Ton Sai was really really amazing and we were really sad to leave it.. I could not be happier that we chose Ton Sai out of the many many different beaches in Thailand and would love to return and just bum around there for a while some day. But alas, after our few days we headed over to Ko Samui which is an island off the east coast.

Getting to Ko Samui was so obnoxious.. a longtail ride.. a cramped thai taxi.. 2 annoying bus rides and a ferry later we arrived at our place on Ko Samui. The only nice thing about this journey was on the ferry to the island we got hour foot massages for just a few dollars J The whole transit though was annoying and long.

Once we arrived at our beautiful place, all of our tensions were gone and we were back in paradise. Our place on Ko Samui was really really relaxing. A lot of nice meals and walks on the beach and just enjoying the beach and each other. The reason that we chose ko Samui as our other place to go was because of the famous full moon parties which take place on the nearby island of Ko Phagnan every full moon and we had heard were the wildest parties ever. The full moon didn’t happen to coincide with our trip, so we opted for the half moon party (not as cool as the full moon party but still quite an experience.)

There were supposed to be ferrys  running from Ko Samui to Ko Phagnan hourly throughout the evening and night, so we were planning on taking an evening ferry and coming back whenever we felt like it in the middle of the night. But, our hotel informed us at around 6 PM that because the half moon party was smaller than the full moon party, only normal ferrys were scheduled which meant the last ferry to depart was at 630 PM and the first ferry in the morning was at 7AM. We quickly decided that despite this, we still had to go to this party. So we quickly got our stuff together and raced to the port and made the final ferry over to Ko Samui.

In Ko Samui, we grabbed dinner and walked around and got another massage to kill time before the party started. While we were walking around, we also found out that there WERE ferrys running throughout the night which was a huge relief to us because we didn’t really want to have to wait until 7AM to go back to our place on Ko Samui.

So eventually we head to this party in the jungle with tons of cheap buckets of alcohol and neon lights everywhere and drank and danced and enjoyed until we decided we were tired and wanted to begin our journey home. Overall the party was cool, but from what we gathered not quite as cool as the full moon party. It was still quite an experience though.

We hardly slept that night and spend our last day in Ko Samui just lounging around and recovering from the night before. The next day we departed for one more day in Bangkok.

We arrived in Bangkok in the aftternoon and walked around the city and just explored. I really liked Bangkok, it was pretty cool. That night, for dinner we went to this nice restaurant on like the 30th floor of a building that had amazing views of the cit. After we went to the red light district and bar hopped and had a really fun last night in Thailand.

Then we had a really nice few days back in Korea before Dori left to go back home L.  The trip was so so so amazing just as was the time with Dori. Everything was as good or better than I ever imagined.

Back in Korea things are really really good. Ive only had to work in the afternoons which has been great. It seems the longer I am  here, the more I am enjoying Korea. It is such a cool and hilarious country and I am so happy with my decision to spend the year here. Korea has been, and continues to be just a great experience that I am sure I will look back on positively for the rest of my life.

Now I am en route to Hong Kong for the lunar new year for another adventure. Hope all is well back home! I wrote this on the plane ride to HGK so sorry for not putting pictures on here.. there are a bunch up on facebook if you want to check them out!

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