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Angkor Wat & Homeless on an Island…

Dec. 2011

…Cambodia Adventure Continued…

It’s really a different world in Cambodia, it’s like Thailand was perhaps 30+ years ago.

After our eventful 3rd Class train journey we were ever so happy to get into an aircon bus en route to Siem Reap.

We stayed at a cute hostel which kindly helped us organize a private tuk tuk service to the Angkor Wat sites.

Recently we learned that the Angkor Wat and the surrounding temple ruins are the largest religious monument in the world, with the site measuring 162.6 hectares. For more info check here:

Our private motorbike tricycle was happy to get going as soon as we finished breakfast. We were concerned that we would get hot, but actually the weather was quite pleasant and a bit chilly. During the 2nd day we actually brought some blankets and pillows from our hotel so we could have a cozy nap while traveling between the temple site

Wow! The ruins were more beautiful than we imagined and we wandered around taking a million pictures and exploring all the nooks and crannies we could climb onto without ruining anything.

Here are some of the pics we took:


Apparently they have found more ruins, of not just temples but of massive cities showing that the Cambodian “empire” was more vast and developed than first perceived. I guess we’ll have to visit again to see the newly unearthed ruins 🙂



Our private motorbike rickshaw…too bad we didn’t get our kind driver in the pic…






The magnificent trees slowly reclaiming the ruins to the jungle were so beautiful!



Goofing around in Angkor Thom the site where the Tomb Raider movie was filmed


We probably could have stayed longer,  but after  3 days we felt that we had seen the main temple sites and decided to travel to Phnom Penh.  We heard that the best and fastest way to get there from Siem Reap was by speed boat–so off we went!

The speed boat was a fairly modern large catamaran and they an air-coned area with comfortable seats. But we opted to stay on the deck so we could enjoy the breeze, watch the fishing villages appear and disappear as we zoomed by. While we were on the deck we also thought to get some tanning in, but Stefan forgot to wear suncreen and was red as a lobster by the time we reached Phnon Penh.

Phnom Penh felt a bit more modern than Siem Reap. It’s a quaint city with a vibe especially along side the river. We enjoyed sitting in the cafes to people watch and we found that their is a lively outdoor night life. Small groups of folks were singing and dancing right along side the little stalls set up for the night market.

We didn’t stay in Phnom Penh city long as we heard that the beach town of Cambodia was Sihanoukville. To get there we rented a big bike (an old but decent Honda Super4)  and stashed our suitcases with our accommodating bike rental guy.

Our rented Honda Super 4...

Our rented Honda Super 4…

200+ kilometers later we found ourselves in Sihanoukville but while stopping for coffee we had seen an island off the coast and we were curious! We decided then and there to be spontaneous and head off to the island called Koh Rong

The island looked pretty big on the map so we figured that the boat heading there would be pretty big too. We asked the captain of the boat  if we could bring the motorbike to the island and he started to laugh. Apparently the island was not very developed and that there were no roads, only dirt paths and buffalo trails to get supplies from the pier to the 5 “resorts” on the island.

We were a bit worried about our rented big bike, but we were determined to check out this “new” island so we paid a guy at the pier to take care of the bike (about 20 dollars per day)  and we jumped on the boat without a clue as to what we were going to find on this island.

We had never heard of this island before so we figured not many people had either. We just jumped on the boat and figured we would find some place to stay when we got there.

Boy, were we wrong!! The entire island was packed for the New Years holiday, even the maids rooms were rented out. As there were no roads and barely a bar of cell phone reception it was almost impossible to find out if the resorts across the island had any rooms for us.

We hung out in the bar for like 2 hours while the helpful bar staff tried to see if they could find a place for us. We also walked up and down the beach trying to find a place to stay for the night but nada…there was nothing to be found!

Out of desperation and frankly disbelief that we would be homeless for New Year’s Eve I (Marie) befriended some guys who had a diver’s bar/hangout.

I told them about how spontaneous we were that we ended up on an island without a single spare room and they laughed and told us if worse came to worse we could crash in their place as it was going to be closed that night as everyone was going to the main resort for the New Year’s Bash.

Well, it was getting dark and no one could find a place for us so we accepted that we would be sleeping behind their bar on New Year’s Eve. By now, I think everyone on the island had heard of the crazy homeless couple and the resort on the other side of the island found a spare mattress we could sleep on.  And it was no small feat getting the mattress to us, 2 teenage Cambodian guy had to trek about 2 hours following the buffalo trail to get it which made our make shift “behind the bar” accommodations that much more special!!  ?

We freshened up using a small bucket of fresh water right there on the pier. Got dressed for dinner and joined the New Year festivities.

It was a night/New Year’s to remember! –And it’s crazy experiences like these that made us realize that traveling and seeing new places is what we both love doing.

Some folks’ dream is to buy their own home, have kids or make lots of money.

We’ve found that ours is to TRAVEL and EXPERIENCE the thrill of seeing something new. Our world is so beautiful it’d be a shame not to see most of it before our time is up…

But our Koh Rong adventure didn’t end there!

The next day we heard that Survivor was being filmed on the other side of the island and we decided that we wanted to take a peek. We asked around and they said it was about 2-3 hours hike following the “red” buffalo trail through the jungle.


I guess the buffaloes could just climb this trail, us poor humans had to climb up using ropes…


Proof that we got can see the blue paint making the rocks…we were supposed to be following the “red” trail…heheh ;P

We set off with another couple we met on the beach earlier that day. 3-4 hours later we found that we had completely lost the “red” trail and were lucky we found a tree house bar in the middle of no where. We had some much needed water and coffee and decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea to still be wandering around when it got dark, so we started to retrace our steps.

We never did get a peek at the Survivor TV team, but we did find a most gorgeous beach. The sand was pristine white and the water was clear as glass…it was amazing!

On the gorgeous beach we found...actually this little "boat" is the only way they can get supplies from the big boats to the small resort we found on this side of the quaint no?

On the gorgeous beach we found…actually this little “boat” is the only way they can get supplies from the big boats to the small resort we found on this side of the island…so quaint no?

We would love to go back to this island anytime!






3rd Class Train Ticket to Cambodia (Flashback #1)

December 2011



We thought let’s be adventurous and take the cheap 3rd class train tickets. The train was going to leave early in the morning so we thought we would survive the no-air conditioner trip as we would arrive at our destination just before the hottest time of the day. We always took the semi-private booths (1st or 2nd class tickets) so we figured to try the “real” local experience for a change (…OR it could have been my stingy Dutch guy instincts kicking in… :P)


THIS IS NOT WHAT WE HAD..this is what we chose NOT to have…LOL!

Ok, traveling with the 2nd class or 1st class tickets you get a cushioned seat which can be folded down into a bed at night. The night porter comes around and folds it down for you, he puts crisp white sheets on and tucks it in perfectly so it doesn’t wrinkle or come off in the middle of the night—you even get a little pillow. There’s also a little curtain you can pull out in front of your “bed” and wallah…you have a little bit of privacy!
We decided NOT to have that comfort when we chose to buy the 45thb or so 3rd class ticket Bkk to Aranyaprethet and boy were we in for a surprise!


We did NOT take this picture, credit goes to sadly we didn’t take any pictures while we were on the train because we were too busy trying to keep our seats 😛

We boarded the train and were lucky to find a seat. All the seats were wooden benches and there was absolutely nowhere to stash our luggage. We didn’t bring much, but we had these little roller suitcases and they wouldn’t fit in the overhead racks. We ended up wedging our stuff in between our legs and hoped the train wouldn’t get too crowded.
The train stops quite frequently, possibly at every town it crosses and more and more people climbed on. We thought they would eventually turn folks away, but no, so long as they could squeeze into the train they were good to go.
Folks with baskets of fruit, fish, chickens, farm equipment, large cans and stuff we didn’t recognize were dragged in and fit into any available floor space. Chickens, backpacks and another smaller stuff were put into the luggage racks.
We noticed we were the ONLY farangs in our booth and we were sort of figuring out why…
At first it was am using to see all the variety of locals and cargo board the train but after an hour on our wooden bench our bums started to get a bit sore. We were starting to wish we brought our luxurious travel pillows with us, not for our necks, but to use as a bum cushion.

Just when our bums were getting numb and we thought surely no one else could fit in the train, I found myself getting roughly scooted to the side of my bench by a rather confident local. She just knew that she could fit in the 3 inches of wooden bench visible beside me. This lady was by no means on the lean side, she was a Big Mama, and I was amazed she managed to squeeze herself in and just to make sure she was extra comfortable she leaned to the side, closed her eyes, put her bare, smelly feet on Marie’s lap…dirty toenails and all!

Marie didn’t want to seem snooty so she very gently slipped her lap away from the feet, but no, this lady needed her feet up and she managed to find a way to get her feet in Marie’s lap every time! She pretended to be asleep the entire time so it was kind of awkward to point out to her that she was casually using someone as a foot stool.


I guess we felt so out of our element that we decided not to make a scene and do our best to stay away from the feet without directly confronting the lady that most likely didn’t speak a word of English. *** Maaaan, I wish I took a pic of the feet in the lap, I think we were worried if we pulled out our fancy phones or camera someone would have been tempted to steal it..I mean we were traveling with folks only spending 45thb!!!

Between the chickens, the perfume of fish, the constant jostling into some stranger’s body, and the feet in the lap, we didn’t get an ounce of comfort…but we looked on the bright side!
We were WIDE AWAKE the entire 6 hour trip so we got to see every inch of the beautiful countryside. We also were very thankful we had seats, standing for 6 hours in that crowded, uncomfortable environment would have been even more trying to say the least!!!

We arrived at Aranyaprethet a bit after 1pm and while we didn’t quite regret our choice to try the 3rd class train travel experience, I daresay we WILL NOT be doing it again…


The only thing that we went like any of our expectations was that there was a strong enough breeze from the open windows to keep us for sweating uncomfortably. It wasn’t exactly a cool breeze..but it was a breeze. I’m not sure how the trip would have been if it started raining though!
We decided then and there that basic comfort and hygiene while traveling is important and something that we didn’t want to do without! 😀


Cambodia Adventure to be continued…