Note to self: listen to your gut.

One of the things I need to be better at is listening to my gut feeling. That strong feeling you get when you are about to do something, and that little voice pops up telling you not to do so. I’m not talking about going against your fears, but the decisions in your everyday life. On this trip I’ve ignored it twice, trying to shake it off, only to end up «why didn’t I listen». The first time this feeling came up was when I got my tattoo of the pineapple and coconut on my arm. I wanted to tell the tattoo artist do not put background colour further up, but I didn’t do so and inside the voice was screaming for me to tell him to stop, but I stayed quiet. The background colour on the tattoo was too strong for my taste. Also one of the reasons I haven’t posted a picture of it. Second time I ignored it was the day when I arrived in Hanoi. I met two other travelers, Isabella and Joseph. We had just spent the night traveling on a night bus from Hue. After an hour on the bus I started sneezing, feeling like I was coming down with something. Completely convinced that I was going to get the flu, I tried to sleep as much as possible. When we arrived  Hanoi, a rash started to appear on my arms. I thought it might be because I drank a green ice tea with lemon, due to my citrus allergy. It doesn’t always act out but I was sure this was it, what else could it be. We sat down on a café trying to decide where to go. Isabella really wanted to go to Cat Ba, after all we had all these plans squeezed in my last days in Vietnam. From Hue to Halong bay and Cat Ba, kayaking, spending time on the beach and hanging out with my new cool friends, to ride bikes up north to Sapa to stay with two grandmas who would trek in the mountains with us, and Isabella would teach me how to drive a scooter, and then be in Laos right before my birthday. What plans I had ahead of me! Right before the taxi came, this nagging feeling started to come, that I should stay behind, but I ignored it because I didn’t want to be boring. This could be a fun adventure, and this whole trip was about going out of my comfort sone and cease the day right? I ignored it and went on to travel another 6 hours to Cat Ba. While riding the second bus this rash became worse. Right before we got on the ferry to take us to the island, I realised that this was bed bug bites from the hostel I was staying in Da nang, and not a rash, from the way the rash was forming. It only got worse. Apparently I had a really bad reaction because of my allergy against histamines and bed bugs. By the time I came to our hostel I was in so much pain. My skin felt like it was burning, bites appeared everywhere, and it was so itchy! When you have an allergy against histamines and such, you will feel very ill, like your whole body is in shock which it kind is. You will also feel a prickling sensation, short of breath, and like something is crawling on you, all while dealing with burning skin and extreme itching. Not everyone reacts the same, some won’t even get any reaction at all, but no, not me. Apparently the second time you get bed bug bites, you might have a worsened reaction than the first. Just my luck.

I threw everything, including my backpacks and everything made of fabric to be washed. After a quick shower I looked myself in the mirror and the bites were huge, red and everywhere. I looked like I had a disease. That night I didn’t sleep, the itch was intense and burning. The day after the bites had worsened, the biggest bites was almost 1 cm, spreading all over my body. Even under my feet! I looked like I was carrying some kind of contagious disease. I told Isabella and Joseph to go do sightseeing stuff without me, just because being outside with the heat seamed to make the pain worse. I popped so many antihistamines and painkillers, put on cortisone creme without any relief. While lying in bed in my hostel I knew what my next days would look like, confined to a bed the last days here in Vietnam. I had to leave the country on 1.august anyways, so I started checking for plane tickets to go back to Bangkok which was my initial plan before meeting Isabella and Joseph. The only flight not costing me a fortune was the same day, or else I’d had to wait until Sunday. I really just wanted to go home to my grandparents. Therefore I hurried down to the reception to get my stuff back from the laundromat, so I could catch the bus 12:30, and reach Hanoi in time for the 20:50 pm flight to Bangkok. I got my stuff back, did a super quick packing, took a shower and hurried out the door with 10 minutes to spare. Now I’m back in Bangkok, or as I like to call it, home. I’ve been here two nights, and I’m starting to feel a lot better, except for last night when I got food poisoning from the pizza I ordered. Just what I needed, like itchy burning skin wasn’t enough, now I just needed to spend the night in the bathroom too. Well at least I feel better today. I’ve been eating minimal food to not upset my stomach, napping to catch up on sleep and relaxing in an air-conditioned room to not irritate my skin. What did I learn about all of this? Don’t ignore your gut feeling. If I just said, look guys I’m just gonna stay here in Hanoi, I wouldn’t have had to spend so much extra money going back and forth in one day, and I wouldn’t have had this tattoo I’m not completely happy with it. Your gut feeling is there for a reason, even if it’s the slightest stupidest little thing, just follow it. Or you’ll end up causing yourself unessessary stress, like I did. Now I’m back in Bangkok, and I’ll stay here for a little while to get all better and to just relax a little. I mean traveling is great, and I really wish I loved a full packed schedule, but to be honest, it was too much. I’m not really there in my life where I want to rush through things anymore, to see as much as possible just because I’m there. It kind of takes away the magic with traveling, at least for me it does. Even though Cambodia and Vietnam isn’t my favourite countries, I do wish I didn’t speed through it the way I did. So lesson learned, stop ignoring my gut feeling and slow down a little more. Life is not meant to be rushed, it’s meant to be enjoyed. One last lesson before my birthday, I’m turning 25 in two days. I’m actually excited to do absolutely nothing, spending time with my dear grandparents and eating a whole lot of cake. Well, I might do a little shopping and get a massage (if my skin is healed up), just because I deserve it. Have a wonderful Sunday everyone.

Oh hoy from Hoi An

Whenever in Vietnam there are some places that you should not miss. Hoi an is one of them, this UNESCO World heritage site is incredibly well preserved. The old city is absolutely charming, with it’s architecture and colourful lanterns above your head. Every little nook and corner is a perfect photo op. Hoi an feels very much like stepping back in time to the 1700th century trading port. If you’ve had enough of temple gazing and doing day tours, then this is exactly what you need. It’s different from anything I’ve ever seen, and I understand why everyone stops in this little ancient town. What is there to do? Well the obvious is to stroll around and take it all in. But Hoi an is great for getting some tailored clothing made. Here you will find some of the finest tailors, not only good quality but they work incredibly fast. Almost everyone coming here get’s at least one item custom fitted. Other fun things to do, enjoy some coffee in one of the adorable cafés, go for a boat ride or paint a paper mask. One day wasn’t nearly enough time, but because I only have 15 days here in Vietnam, and I was too late to extend my stay at the hotel. I will absolutely come back to get some tailored clothes, some time before the end of my trip. I’ve always wanted a pair of jeans that will fit perfectly without being too tight over the hips or too loose around the waist.

My hotel the corner riverside villa, was located 700meters from the Japanese bridge. There isn’t any hotels in the old town, so the closest you will find is around a 5 minute walk to town. You can either choose to walk or ride a bicycle. I chose to walk, I’m trying to walk 10 000 steps everyday and then I can listen to more music. Which is my favourite thing to do while I gaze upon things. Before entering the old town, you need to buy an entrance ticket that costs 120 000 VD. You can visit 5 places within the ancient town. I entered only one temple, which you can see in the pictures below, and the rest of the day I walked around and took pictures, painted a mask and got to know two Aussie brothers traveling Vietnam for 2 weeks.

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When I couldn’t extend my stay, because it was raining really hard I just booked a ticket to go to Hue. Which is where I am now. On the bus I met a girl, Isabella, who I will be traveling with to Hanoi tomorrow. That is the great thing about traveling, you meet all these cool people, and introductions don’t really happen until after you’ve been talking to this person for 6 hours, realising you don’t know their name. So Isabella’s dad sent her a picture of a news article saying that the tropical storm Sonca is gonna hit central Vietnam, which is where I am right now. I did check up on that, and it’s not that bad. Sonca is something in between a tropical depression and tropical storm according to wunderground.com. Anyways, tomorrow we are taking the night bus to Hanoi, together with a friend of hers, Joseph. Hopefully the weather will be better further up! Tonight I’m just gonna relax under the covers and watch Stranger things which I started watching today. I’m very intrigued. Have a beautiful night everyone.

Da nang and lazy beach days

Think lazy bikinis, tall palm trees giving of beautiful shade pattern, soft white sand under your toes, and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Over the rainbow playing in the background. To me that’s what Da Nang felt like. A piece of asian paradise I longed for, but didn’t get due to rain season in Cambodia. Da nang is a big city, and the closest airport to Hoi An, one of the World Unesco sites. My flight was delayed 5 hours, but it didn’t bother me too much. I had just discovered that you could now stream and play Netflix offline. I know, I should be out partying or something, but when you move around as much as I do, you need something to keep you sane. For me that is binge watching Netflix shows and staying in a private room a couple of nights every month. A girl needs her privacy. Plus I don’t drink anymore, so the party scene ain’t really my thing no more. Anyways, I arrived very late in Da Nang, and the first hostel I stopped at just weren’t doing it for me. Because I’m a female traveling solo I just like to take proper precautions, like not walking alone late at night with all my stuff. But this time I needed somewhere else to stay. A quick check on hostel world showed Travelers Nest hostel received a 9 point star, and was a short 5-10 minute walk. Yeah I could do that. As paranoid as I was, I remembered before I left Oslo my friend gave me a pepper spray which I carry with me, but have never actually taken out of my backpack. All that talk from my mom about how dangerous Asia could be was messing with my head. If I should ever need it, this would probably be a good time to take it out. So I did, just so I could feel a bit more safe. You can say I felt very silly, considering 3 different, very nice and friendly people stopped me to ask me if I was OK, and to let me know that the hostel I was headed towards, were right around the corner. It was like they could sense the uneasiness in my soul haha. A quick shower and change to my pyjamas, I face timed with a dear old friend, also named Christine.

Next morning I awoke rested and ready to hit the beach, I was not disappointed. Just take a look at the pictures below. And yes I’m traveling solo, so I had a full on photoshoot on the beach, using a tripod and self timer haha. I mean, it was too gorgeous not to. A little awkward to begin with, especially because the security guard kept staring at me, and my tripod wasn’t in the mood to cooperate. The beach was so beautiful, palm trees as far as the eye could see. Almost no people, white golden soft sand. The beach was so clean and the water felt amazing! A stop to Da Nang beach is a absolute must for any traveller who don’t want the hassle with taking a boat to an island. If you go early in the morning there will be almost zero people, all the locals don’t come out until after 4 o’clock. You will have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the calmness of the sea, before the crowd sets in.

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“Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly. And the dreams that you dreamed of. Dreams really do come true” – hummed a chilled out Christine under the palm tree.

A day through Ho Chi Minh city

When I first got to Vietnam I was sure I would hate it after the day I’d had, but I needed to give it a second shot. Therefore I decided to stay in HCM for 3 days. Not a surprise that this country is growing on me, from all the great stuff my fellow travellers have told me. HCM might not be my fav city, it’s too chaotic with crazy traffic that makes you feel like you are going to die every time you step out on the streets. Here they don’t just drive like crazy people, but they also drive on the sidewalks. Just be sure to keep your eyes up at all times so you don’t get run over by a scooter.

While having breakfast, I planned my day walk to see all the typical must-see-tourist-stuff. Midway through my breakfast, I remembered that I  forgot to charge my camera and gopro, and had to go back to my little capsule room to recharge. God forbid if I don’t document everything I do right. What happened to the good old days when you would leave your phone in the hotel room safe? I miss those days, and yes it’s all my own fault that I have this need to document everything I do. I have thought about it, to go completely off the grid for a year, quit this blog, get rid of my cameras and smartphone, just live out my adventure with only a diary as proof of my traveling days. But I’m far too fond of the visual memories, and one day when I’m old and someone’s grandma, I can proudly show my grandchildren pictures and videos off my traveling days as a 20-something-year-old, living out my best days on some beach in Fiji, to inspire them to go off on their own adventure when they’re old enough.

Here are some photos from a days stroll through Saigon. I followed the map that came with my lonely planet book, which covered almost all the places I wanted to see. First stop was Ben Tanh market.

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Benh Tanh market is much like any other market here in Asia, but with Vietnamese merchandise. Since I started traveling I don’t really have the need to go shopping anymore, less is truly more as more becomes too heavy to carry. The only thing I bought was a Vietnamese hat, the one you can see so many old ladies and street vendors wearing. It’s perfect for shade against the sun, and I honestly thinks it looks really cool. I paid 60 000 VD for mine, which is 21 kroner. Not bad for a badass hat!

IMG_5951P1050399Next stop was the fine arts museum. I love stopping by museums wherever I go, you get a much better understanding of the country’s history, and a better grasping of the culture of the people. When I look at art I become so inspired to start painting again, or draw something. It’s like my own personal muse. The museum buildings are worth a picture itself with this gorgeous architecture. It felt like a different time era.

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After the museum I walked a little more, to the people’s committee building, saw the municipal theatre, Caravelle hotel, central post office, Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central mosque and a couple of other places I didn’t photograph. One thing is for sure, Ho Chi Minh is truly a beautiful city. I never expected Vietnam to be so well developed, and beautiful. And the food, oh mah gaad the food here is amazing. I should write a whole blog post about the delicious food, because you will have a foodgazm almost everytime you eat. I’m very glad I gave this city a second chance, I am not disappointed!

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Check in: Vietnam!

19 hours later and I finally made it to Vietnam. Man I am so tired, I boarded the bus thinking that it was a one way ride. The bus looked great, it was a sleeper bed, and that meant me having a bed all to myself. It was surprisingly comfortable, maybe I could travel this way all the time? It would save me one nights accommodation right? Yeah turns out my beauty sleep didn’t last very long. Around 1 am the bus stopped in Phnom Penh, everyone going to Ho Chi Minh had to get off. I thought this meant we had to change buses you know. 5 girls and 5 guys, we all stood waiting a bit confused as the bus drove off without us. Wait what? Oh no, I had read about this. People having to sleep in the ticket office, and with my luck this is what was happening. 10 minutes later a tuktuk came to pick us up to drive us to the ticket office. Guess where I slept last night? Yep, on the floor. With cockroaches running around me, with the doors wide open. At first I crashed in the chair but it was impossible to get any sleep, so I just sucked it up and went to sleep, on the floor. Sleep didn’t last very long, at 3.30 am another bus dropped off a whole bunch of Chinese tourists outside. They were so loud, with no regard of all the people trying to sleep. It was like a backyard party with music and everything. I don’t know how many of them you’ve ever met, but if you have you know exactly what I mean. I know Norwegians and every other country have their bad side, it’s just some take it to the extreme. I tried to ask them to quiet down, but they just stared at me, and one person tried to shoo me away like I was the one being crazy. You can’t judge a whole country based on some few, but I’m sure I’m not the only one getting frustrated. 20187021_1713333422027473_844048365_oThis was the sleeper bus we got kicked off of

20180403_1713336235360525_1866566866_o(As you can see I was pretty fed up, and tired after not having much sleep)

Eventually they got picked up by another bus, thus I managed to get 30 minutes of more sleep before our bus came to take us to Ho Chi Minh. When we got on the bus, a guy took our passports, this should be interesting. The bus ride was another 7 hours with border control. Somewhere between me sleeping on and off, there was a guy sitting across the other side who kept starring at me, so I stared back. Suddenly he gave me the look like I was tripping. Could this day get anymore weird? The border control went mostly smooth. The bus guy told us to get off, we walked 10 meters, and got back on. 10 minutes later we’re told to get off again, but this time immigration needs to scan all our bags. The moment we got our passports back, stamped and everything were such a relief! You never know if you all of a sudden get denied access. But it was all good! Another couple of hours and we arrived in Ho Chi Minh. I was so used to being surrounded by a bunch of tuktuk drivers getting off, but today there were none. No taxi drivers, no motorcycle drivers, no tuktuk drivers. No one. Huh? We all stood and just scratched our heads, trying to plot our next move. A short walk to the street, 10 minutes wait and we managed to get some taxis. Me and 4 british girls I met on the bus were gonna stay at the same hostel, Phoenix Hostel Saigon. It had a 9 star rating on hostel world. The 4 girls got in one taxi, and I got in one by myself. But my taxi driver didn’t speak one word english, and dropped me off at the wrong location. 5 minutes back and forth of discussing in hand movements, he insisted I was in the right place, and threw out my backpack so there I was. I had no idea were I was going, my phone had no more battery so I had no way of checking google maps. After the 19 hour journey I was so exhausted, and my backpack felt heavier than ever. I walked around for an hour, every hotel I asked charged 26 dollars a night. 26 dollars is just too expensive when you are living on a budget. Finally I sat down on some steps outside a hotel, exhausted, frustrated and I wanted to cry. I cursed this day, my bad luck and this country’s lack of english speaking people. After a good 5 minutes of feeling sorry for myself, enough was enough. Time to find somewhere, anywhere to sleep. I had rounded the whole block without any luck, and so I decided straight forward must be a good way. A lot of westerners were walking from that direction. A guy had seen me walking back and forth a couple of time, we made eye contact, “this is a really cool hostel, it has capsule beds, and it’s cheap” he said. SOLD! I walked in and asked for the price, 8 dollars for a capsule in a dorm. “I’ll take it”. The hotel I’m staying at is called Kaiteki hotel. It’s clean, you get slippers, a towel, privacy in your little capsule and a duvet. You can charge your phone, lock up your valuables, and do your makeup in peace.

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I grabbed a quick shower, and gave all my clothes except the one outfit I’m wearing, for laundry. All my clothes are dirty, after my Island stay there weren’t anywhere to wash as the rain were coming down hard every day. I’ve gone 4 days commando without underwear, it’s time to start putting some on. Yeah, sometimes traveling will make you want to rip out your hair in frustration and start crying. Just take a 5 minute break, breathe and calm down, then start working that brain of yours. There is always the same amount of good luck as bad luck in this world. Hadn’t the taxi dropped me off in the wrong area, I wouldn’t get to sleep in a capsule. And right around the corner, I had the best comfort meal I’ve had in a long time. Waffles with peanut butter, bananas, matcha icecream, and mint chocolate milk tea with some type of brown jelly thing all asians go crazy for. Maybe Vietnam isn’t that bad, I just need to give her a second chance.

Paradise is still paradise even though it’s monsoon season

After 3 days on what felt like a version of the movie The Beach, I’m back to civilisation. There were barely any cell service on the beach, and only electricity during evenings. I stayed at Driftwood hostel recommended by the manager at Boho hostel. This was the place to be if you rather stay away from the party scene. After a short 40 minute boat ride, I was the only passenger getting off at my stop. “Enjoy having the whole beach to yourself” said the guy unloading my backpack to the pier. I started looking around, my eyes were met with crystal clear water with a soft hue of blue. White, golden sand stretching as far as the eye could see. He was right, I had the whole beach to myself! Last time I saw something so beautiful was in my vaycay to the Maldives last summer. All I could see was two people swimming around the pier, but they were day-trippers. I walked further on, a 5 minute walk to the lounge/reception area. Below the lounge were 6 other guests chilling on the beach, in the hammocks or the swings in the water. The walk up to the lounge with 20kgs++ backpacks in total, made me realise I need to unload a ton of shit when I get back to Bangkok. In all fairness I’m carrying around a lot of tech, but still. It’s time to downsize my stuff. Heaving for air like a mad man trying to catch my breath, everyone working there greeted me with a smile and a friendly “I feel you”. Lola assigned me to bungalow 1, bed nr 10, and off I was, another 5 minutes to walk to the bungalows located at the end of the beach. There are so few guests here in the low season, every night there is a family dinner where everyone eats together. Which is such a nice thing, combine that with the lack of cell service, and you actually spend quality time with people who become close friends over the night. No distractions, just good ol’ conversations.

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Since it’s monsoon season and all, there is no shortage of rain and Koh Rong Samloen were no exception. The first night when going back to the dorm, the rain came down so hard it felt like being whipped, but by thousands of raindrops. We got completely soaked, my book were almost destroyed, after 3 days it still hadn’t properly dried. I could wrangle my dress and underwear like it had just been soaked in water. It was like this almost all the time, raining non stop. It became depressing. We had this absolutely gorgeous beach which I only got to enjoy the day I arrived and the second day. Confined under a roof playing cards from morning to late afternoon. Cards is fun but when you play it for 3 days straight, you get bored and frustrated. The last day we went for a walk back and forth to the bungalows. Neither of us wanted to go upstairs, and the rain had stopped for a little while. We sat with our rain ponchos staring out into the vast ocean, admiring it’s beauty. Eva was the first to run into the water and swim in the rain. When the rain came down hard we still didn’t budge. The urge to run in the water grew stronger, so we said fuck it, threw off our clothes and ran into the cold ocean and swam under the rain. The water were so cold and the raindrops hurt, but maaan I felt so alive! And that feeling is a feeling I wanna keep having for the rest of my life.

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The day we left the speedboat couldn’t come because of the bad weather, so we had to take the slow boat, which takes about 2,5 hours. During times of bad weather you might not be able to leave as the speedboats can’t always make it to the pier. But it’s monsoon season so you never know what you might get. Just bad luck I guess. But I can imagine this place being gorgeous during the dry season. Should you choose Driftwood, just bring a bunch of snacks from mainland, as everything is quite expensive here, with very few options. But beware, there are rats, so if you do bring snacks or food, don’t leave them in your room. Also bring strong mosquito repellent, the mosquitos were relentless and I have a whole bunch of new bites. I’m scratching like insane all over. This is the jungle after all, there will be huge spiders everywhere. The windows and doors to the bungalows is open at all times, bring a sleeping mask to calm them nerves during the night, and try not to look up in the ceiling. The first night I didn’t sleep very well, like with any other environment I don’t feel completely safe in. But there are no poisonous spiders or snakes here, so you should be good. Just throw on that swimsuit, and enjoy the fact that you have an entire beach to yourself.

In a short hour my pickup to Ho Chi Minh is here. I’m taking the night bus from Sihaounkville. The bus ride is 15-16 hours with a short stop in Phnom Penh. The bus is a sleeperbus apparently, so that’s a first. Hopefully I’ll get a full nights sleep but I highly doubt that. I’m gonna binge watch on shows, and eat my margarita pizza I just ordered, until I’m so tired my eyes can’t stay awake anymore. I would love to stay longer in Cambodia, but it’s actually really expensive compared to other asian countries, as the currency is in dollars. Wish me good luck, and yeah, Vietnam here I come!

Sihanoukville and some boho lovin’

My Cambodia adventure has been nothing less than hectic. In fact I’ve made it to my 4th destination, Sihanoukville in under 10 days! Every day has been packed with full day tours, from the early morning sunrise to the late afternoon. Moving from one place to the next. Cambodia is such a diverse place to be, all depending on what you want to do. Temples, a walk through history and the aftermath of Khmer Rouge, living lazy days off a beach or go hiking. There is no shortage of things to do. I’ve managed to squeeze in too much in a very short amount of time. My body and mind is exhausted, and it’s telling me to slooow down. I can feel the flu creepin’ in if don’t stop and just relax for a couple of days. What a better way to relax and enjoy life, than on a beach? I made it to Sihanoukville yesterday, and spent a night in a super chill hostel, called Boho hostel. And it truly lives up to it’s name. Everything is bohemian with wooden tables, the most gorgeous turquoise colour on the interior. It reminds me of what my pallet sofa looked like on the balcony of my old Oslo apartment. This place looks much like my future home one day. Colorful, chill and artsy with a hint of bohemian! The hostel is owned by a french woman named Emily, and managed by a friendly english guy named Henry. Cool cuban beats are playing during the day, and old jazz Aretha Franklin songs in the afternoons. This spot has everything you need, and when the pool is finished, I’m sure this will be THE hot spot for backpackers and tourists alike. Boho hostel fits perfectly in the slow chill vibe Sihanoukville has going on. For the price of 5 dollars a night, you get a clean nice room, a beautiful bathroom with gorgeous tiles. If it weren’t for the fact that you sleep in the same room as 5 other people, this would not feel like a hostel. And did I mention the food is amazing? There is a very playful kitten you can play with all day long, so eat your heart out animal lovers.

fullsizeoutput_2756fullsizeoutput_2757fullsizeoutput_2763fullsizeoutput_2765fullsizeoutput_276afullsizeoutput_2768fullsizeoutput_2767fullsizeoutput_2769And the best part, it’s located only a short 5 minute walk to otres beach. The beach has beautiful white sand, the water is so clean, and you basically have the whole place to yourself, there is almost no people here. As I mentioned in my previous post, in 10 years Cambodia will look amazing. This little piece of untouched paradise will not last forever. So if you can overlook the fact that there is a lot of trash in many areas, you will have an amazing time wherever you go. Don’t forget this is Asia, not all countries have the luxury of being as clean as Japan. Cambodia has endured so much destruction, the country is very poor, and it takes time to rebuild a whole country. Many children do not get to go to school, they have to help their parents work. In a perfect world there wouldn’t be any plastic, garbage, pollution, poverty or animal cruelty, but we don’t live in a perfect world. All we can do is educate ourselves, try to do what you can to help others and help save the environment. A thing I have started to do, to reduce my impact on the environment, is to say no to plastic, plastic bags, plastic straws, bring my own water bottle to refill whenever possible, and feed the strays I can. It’s easy to walk around all high and mighty, and judge upon people’s way of living, but judging will help no one. Through gaining knowledge we are one step closer in helping this planet, the people living in it, by spreading the word about what we see, hear and learn. That is why travel blogging is such a great way to communicate to friends and family about what to do, and what not do.

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Last night the rain was pouring down, I awoke shivering and cold only to realise I left my birkin sandals outside, on the footsteps to my dorm room. The sandals were soaked, and cold. They did need a proper washing though, but when you only have one pair of shoes that’s not flipflops, wet shoes will be a very unpleasant experience. Hopefully the weather will clear up, because I’m going to Koh Rong Samloen today, for some much needed island R&R. I’m staying at driftwood hostel, a bed in a 16 bed dorm room only cost 12 dollars for 3 nights!! I can’t believe how easy it is to get used to sleeping in hostels. According to Henry, who were the one to recommend this place, said this is the perfect spot if you are looking for a relaxing time away from the party scene. There is no wifi, so I’ll go incognito for some days. I do have 3G on my phone, but I might just turn it off and be at peace with the beach and the ocean. Now I gotta go check out of my room, my pickup is at 2 o’clock and I need to start planning my trip to Vietnam. Have a absolutely beautiful day everyone!

A walk through Cambodias history

When in Cambodia a visit to The Killing fields and Tuol Sleng prison is a must to get a proper understanding of this country’s history, and what these people have endured in the past. The Khmer Rouge massacred and killed 3 million people, all for the sake of purifying the nation and bringing back the country to the stone age, to rebuild from scratch. Cambodia had already felt the destructiveness of war, because of the bombs from the US during the Vietnam War, landed in Cambodia. To this day there are still areas where you cannot step foot due to land mines. The Khmer Rouge destroyed so much of this country, and ever since it’s slowly rebuilding itself. Cambodia feels like a never ending industrial project, but when you start reading up on why, you fully understand why the country can feel a bit dirty and poor at times. The history of what these people have endured is very long and I won’t elaborate too much, I will add this link for you to read if you’d like. Which I truly recommend you do, so when the day comes and it’s your turn to experience this country, you know the backstory. I’ll add a link here
for those interested in learning more.

A day trip tour with tuktuk cost 25dollar, and I managed to split the cost with Drew, a 31 year old project manager, who were staying in the same dorm room as me. The hostel I stayed at in Phnom Penh, Lovely jubbly Villa, arranged everything with the tuktuk driver, which were great. We didn’t need to worry about being abandoned at one of the stops, because the driver worked for the hotel. First stop were the Killing fields, Choeng Ek. Choeng Ek used to be a Chinese graveyard, until the Khmer Rouge turned it in to a mass graveyard. We left the hotel at 7am, the trip to the Killing fields took 45 minutes, so we had 15 minutes to spare before we could get the audio guided tour. It was really interesting to hear the stories, and history of everything that took place here. Also heartbreaking to listen to, one of the stories were about a woman, she got killed by one of the guards because he thought she stole two bananas.
fullsizeoutput_2732fullsizeoutput_2733fullsizeoutput_2734P1050084fullsizeoutput_2735After the killings field, Tuol Sleng prison was up next. Also known as S21 where prisoners were brought, and tortured into a false confession. While you walk around you can still see blood on the walls, on the floors. The horrific events that took place here is beyond words.  You are not allowed to take any pictures here, some people do, but out of respect you should not. This is a memorial site, so just put the camera down and listen to the stories. The only pictures I took was of the gathering of the monks who come here to pray. I didn’t know that this event took place the same day, so that was a wonderful thing to experience. Hundreds of monks chanting around the monument in the middle. Absolutely beautiful.

fullsizeoutput_2737fullsizeoutput_2738fullsizeoutput_2739fullsizeoutput_273afullsizeoutput_272fP1050105Bou Meng, one of the remaining survivors of S21 prison were here to great everyone that came this day. I bought the book with his story, and he was kind enough to sign it. When I get to Koh Rong Samroen I’m gonna hit the beach, and catch up on all my reading including the story of Bou Meng. There isn’t any wifi so I’ll be offline for a couple of days, and do some true R&R on the beach.

After the prison we headed over to the last stops of our day tour, Wat Phnom and the Royal Palace. We were exhausted after the full day, so we dropped the Russian market and the central market, headed back to the hostel and jumped in the pool to cool off from the days heat.

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When you walk around in Cambodia, you hear all the stories and you learn about the history, it really puts everything in perspective. My first world problems don’t seem so bad anymore. Having to rebuild an entire nation after a genocide, due to one mans mad beliefs, that is a real problem. In 10 years this country will be amazing, and I can’t wait to come back and see how much it has changed.

 

Bamboo train ride

You better hang on because this is going to be a bumpy ride! Well it was a bumpy one but not that bad. The bamboo train is just one of those experiences you’ve got to try before it’s too late. We started Sunday morning 8 o’clock to beat the heat, and the crowd. Before we drove to the bamboo train station, my tuktuk driver showed me the old railroad station as you can see in the pictures below. After the civil war broke out, the railroad fell victim to the damage caused by the Khmer Rouge. In 1980 some services were resumed, but after decades of neglect, this train station stopped completely in 2009. Now it stands there to show what used to be of this magnificent city.

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On the way the driver explained that the name Battambang, comes from the legend about Preah Bat Dambang Kranhoung, who was said that his stick protected the city from it’s enemies. One day he lost his magical stick, that’s how this city got it’s name. Battambang literally means loss of stick. A 5 minute drive further away and we reached the bamboo train station, and so the fun began! I had so much fun just shooting down the railroad on this rather uncertain looking bamboo raft on wheels. I payed 10 dollar, and had the whole raft to myself, except for the way back when I shared it with this cute elderly Cambodian woman. LI put together a little clip below so you can see how I enjoyed this scenic trip.

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PS: Don’t forget to put it on full HD if it don’t automatically do so! 🙂

A stroll through Battambang

Old and rusty but oh so many cute little nooks and corners. With my backpack, and music in my ears I walked around town a couple of hours, to experience the scenery myself. Where I’m staying it’s not very beautiful to say the least, but after a 5 minute walk the famous building pops up everywhere. I understand why this city is so popular amongst expats and travellers. You can’t really type in this area in the GPS, so what I did was google the Governors house, and all these beautiful buildings were on the way. I ended up drinking a mango coconut smoothie at this gorgeous café called Jaan Bai. Jaan Bai café had beautiful paintings on the outside, with lots of green plants. You can see it amongst a good collection of shots from todays stroll.

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So many great locations to shoot pictures, baah some times I wish I weren’t traveling alone this summer. I know I could just whip out my camera tripod, but it’s such a hassle.. Tomorrow I’m doing the bamboo train and I’m soo excited 🙂 I added this video so you can check it out! It looks so fun!! I might just share with the locals, someone might bring a goat and you know me, I love me some animals! Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone 🙂