Sunday, August 21, 2011

traveling during ramadhan

When my friends know that I’m going to Cambodia on 16-20th August 2011, most of their responds were “What? u are travelling during Ramadhan?” “What you are going to visit temples during Ramadhan?” “How you gonna had Iftar, Sahur, Pray etc”.  It was my birthday on August 16th and this year I decided to celebrate it by traveling, regards of it was during month of Ramadhan.  Well I don’t think it is a problem at all as I’m traveling alone, free and easy, no agent, nothing so I will arrange my activities accordingly. 
2 days before my departure, I surf on internet where to stay, where to eat, how to commute, what to do.  I print out my plan, maps and I’m ready to go!  I just hope I can go to the places i want to go, see and do things I want to do and I am safe.

Took off from LCCT with Air Asia AK280 at 7.00 am.  Flight from KL to Siem Reap took 2 hours.  When I arrive at the airport i saw someone holding my name.  That’s the guy from the Home Sweet Home guest house.  Most of guest houses here offer free pick up from airport.  After check in, I wait no more.  Keep my luggage in my room, freshen up and I ready for Wats / Temples tour.  My mode of transportation for this tour is “tuk-tuk”.  Its more than what i expected.  There are more than Angkor Wat.  Angkor Thom, Bayon, Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, Ta Prohm and Bantay Kdei are worth to visit.  Best time to at Angkor Wat is in the afternoon when the sunshine give the most visual effect.  My tip: wear appropriate outfit because there are a lot of stairs.  Many of kids at each temple are persuasive.  They sell things like postcards, fridge magnets and drinks.  Although they don’t go to school, but they speak good English!   After temples tour, I take a walk at Sras Sreng, a resevoir.  You can see villagers wash clothes here .

Air Asia ; LCCT -Siem Reap (return ticket) : RM300
tuk-tuk from airport to guesthouse : Free
home sweet home (guest house) : USD 6 /night
spring roll : USD 3
Pineapple juice : USD 1
tuk-tuk for temples tour : USD 20
Entrance fee temple tour (1 day) : USD 20

to be continued........

From Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
I took a bus from siem reap at 7.30am and reach phnom around 1.30pm with one stop for refreshment around 25 minutes.   I just told the staff at homesweethome (the guest house where I stay) when I want to go and where I want to stay in Phnom Penh and he’ll arrange it.  A small van pick me up at the guesthouse to the bus station.  When I reach Phnom Penh there’s already a staff from the guest house waiting for me to take me to the guesthouse.  Ain’t that easy?  After check in and had a rest i went to central market by foot.  The design  of Central Market (Psah Thmey) kinda unique and sells a lot of jewelry, Cambodian Silk, souvenirs, food and many more.  Price?  you need to bargain to have a good price.  2nd day of Iftar in Cambodia? I decided to go for Kebab and Sandwich so I went to Shawarma Restaurant by Le Liban, located at #117 Sisowath Quay, near the night market.
Bus from Siem reap to Phenom Penh : USD 10

to be continued.....

I decided to visit and see what my friend call freak show; see human torture human.  There are choices to go around city; by foot, rent motorcycle or bicycle.  Again i take tuk tuk for whole day city tour cuz i have a few places I want to go and hey where else u can find tuk tuk? Whole day Phnom Penh city tour USD15.  
1st destination was Cheung Ek or known as Killing Field.  15 km south from the city, this place was the place where Khmer Rouge took their prisoners from S-21 prison for execution after being abused in the prison. 

Actually there were mass graves  around the country but Cheung Ek is the largest.  The prisoners were men, women and also children from different social class such as artists, farmers and intellectuals.  This place was an orchard before it filled with massive graves.  These graves are left untouched.  Skulls  from the graves are taken and placed in a stupa.  Don’t forget to hit the museum because the story is exhibited here and there’s also video about cheung ek.  
Admission fee : USD2

After watch and read about the brutality, I continue my tour to Russian Market.  Same like central market, you can find a lot of local products and souvenirs sold here.  Stalls selling food and drinks are also available.  
Admission fee: Free

INext, I went to Toul Sleng Genocide Museum which was the S-21 prison.  The bed, room, tools to torture the prisoners and many more are exhibit here.  There are a lot of  posters and pictures displayed so you will get a lot of information such as khmer rouge, the victims and the prison itself.  Somehow I felt that their spirits still there.
Admission Fee : Free of charge

to be continued.......

It was hot.  Superhot. My driver ain't Muslim but he didn't drink or eat as I'm fasting.  So I bought him a bottle of cold drinks.  I left southern part of my tour with their stories and move back to town area.  National Museum in Phnom Penh keep a lot of khmer art for centuries.  There's also video show in the museum.

Not far from museum is the Royal Palace.  It is  is a complex of buildings which serves as the royal residence of the king of Cambodia. Visitors are only able to go around the Silver Pagoda compound and the central compound containing the Throne Hall and Chan Chhaya Pavilion. Other areas such as The King's living area, which actually takes up half of the total palace ground area and royal gardens, is prohibited for public visit.
After city tour, I went back to hotel ; take a rest / pray / freshen up.
Around 1800 hrs I walk to the Halal Restaurant nearby, at 130St. near the Sisoth Quay.  Yes, its name is HALAL and serves halal food.  Own by Cambodian and serves Khmer and Thai Food.  For Iftar that day I had Siem Reap Soup (Fish), cold pandan drinks and hot coffee.  The soup was yummy, I luv it.  The soup come with a plate of rice and also additional a bowl of rice.  It was raining that night so I cant join the line dance at Sisoth Quay.  After that i get a nice foot massage before I went back to the hotel

museum entrance: USD 3
siem reap soup with rice+ coffee + pandan drinks : USD 3.5

The next day. I take a bus again to Siem Reap at 7.30am.  I can't sleep at all although it was a long journey because the driver keep honking.  As I arrieve Siem Reap bus station I felt so tired.  Angkor University just near by the bus station. From the station,  i took tuk tuk to muslim village.  When I arrived, I was greet by someone which I forgot who he was.  I wonder around the mosque and madrasah (school) there.  I was told that restaurant and madrasah are closed during Ramadhan.  Pictures of volunteers and their activities placed at the wall.  The volunteers come from different country such as europe, USA, Malaysia and Singapore.  They teach english, do korban activities, give donation and many more.  I was thinking to myself perhaps I will come here again as a volunteer next time.  That evening I was taken to Ton Le Sap Lake by the ustaz and his family.  I was sunset and it was beautiful.  I also had a chance to see floating village nearby.  Ustaz showed my a floating surau (small mosque) and told me it was funded by Malaysian.  I went in and took a look.  It is made of wood and simple but nice.  Just in front of it there's a bigger mosque but still under construction.  A Malaysian also involve in that project.  That day I had Iftar at ustaz's house with his family.  Communication was so easy because ustaz speaks Malay well since he had come to Malaysia for some courses and such.  There were a lot of food.  His wife and daughters told me the names of the food in Khmer but don't remember any of them.  There were spring roll ,(i luv the spring roll very much. With minced meat and vegetable with special sauce wich was diffrent from Malaysian spring roll) black pepper meat, curry chicken, fish, noodles with green soup. Drinks - grape juice.  Although the food was interesting I still felt something was missing wich were PLain WaTer and Dates... :D.  That night i had terawih at the mosque nearby.  At the prayer room the villagers look at me as they seen an alien.  I felt unease but I just smile back at them.  Normally I just perform 8 rakaat for terawih but that night they did 20 so I just follow them.  That night I just chat with ustaz daugters for a while.  I was full and tired so the best thing to do is hit the bed. :D

to be continued.......

Time to go home....
Good bye Cambodia
AK281 is waiting........ After checked in, i need to pay another USD 25 at the immigration before proceed to the gate.
I had 10 000 Riel left and I manage to buy a souvenir from myself at the airport which is a book mark.....

is Cambodia safe for a solo traveller? I do think so
will i come back to cambodia??? perhaps.... on my indochina trip

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