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Malaysia and Cambodia


This is about my upcoming trip to Malaysia and Cambodia. The first part is pre-trip - information about flights, itineraries, accommodation and all the things that you need to do to plan an overseas holiday. This is my first trip to Asia and I hope it may help others. Comments are very welcome and anyone who has travelled to Malaysia and/or Cambodia, please feel free to comment and offer any advice or tips that you think would be helpful. As of today ( 28th February) , in exactly 11 days (minus 30 minutes) I will be in Kuala Lumpur.

I had the most amazing time and hope you enjoy reading about my trip. Each post is numbered and I'm doing them in order from start to finish - a little like a diary.



52. Phnom Bakheng - Sunsets & Elephants

The phases of the setting sun
After seeing the sun peeking through overgrown trees and not being able to see much, I moved around a bit and found a spot where you had a good view - the space between the trees was wide and the misty haze surrounding the distant hills and forest was like something out of a children's fairy tale.

Above: Sunset at Phnom Bakheng
Rather than post up seven different photos. I've made them into a collage which not only takes less space but also makes it easier to see the different stages. I haven't numbered them as this would detract from the pictures, they are from the top row going from left to right - 3, 5, 1, 7, 6, 4, and 2.

At the beginning the sky was a light pink with a touch of blue which deepened to a darker shade of pink with a purpley mauve. As the sun sank lower this changed to a pale apricot, with shades of light yellow deepening to a fiery golden orange. I long for the day when I can afford a really good camera which captures the bright orange ball which is the sun and show the brilliant fiery colours I saw.

Above: Elephant riding
As people started leaving, I looked around for my elephant - where were they? Walking along to the right I saw a sign and turning left went towards them. Showing my ticket I was led to "my" elephant. She is a female, aged 42 years old and her name is Tao.

Remember the children's song we used to sing?
Heidi, Heidi, Ho,
The great big elephant is so slow,
She swings her trunk from side to side
As she takes the children for a ride.
Heidi, Heidi, Ho,
The elephant is so slow!

Above: Coming down the mountain
One of the things I really, really wanted to do was ride an elephant, I've ridden Harleys and camels, and an elephant was a "must do" - well for me it was. Now, you might think that sitting on top of an elephant like a British Memsahib from days of yore in colonial times, gently swaying from side to side while you look down and around you from your wondrous height would have you feeling like some Duchess, n'est-ce pas? - but think again.

A 1200 - 1400 pound (that's 545 - 635 kg) elephant plodding along a flat path is one thing, but a 1400 pounder going down a very steep hill/mountain is an experience to remember! With every heavy step thumping down, I was at a forward angle and each time we moved I found me rear end slid forwards - almost off the seat. How embarrassing if I should go zoom, woosh, splat! With arms out-stretched, I held onto the wooden sides. It felt like my arms were coming out of their sockets some of the time - but Oh! It was a wonderful experience, and yes, I'd do it all over again given the chance.

There were wonderful views coming down that hill, trees so close I could have touched them (well I could have were it not for me arms hangin' on for dear life to the wooden sides of me elephant basket) - through the trees I could see Angkor Wat. First it had greenery around it, then later as night drew in it was dark blue and grey - as you can see in the collage above.

Make sure you wear cotton clothes - don't wear shiny, silky pants - they don't have very good grip!☺

Above: The "Book" Salesman again!
Remember how I said in the previous post (No. 51) that the local people have memories like an elephant, and I'd explain later? Yes, well...

When we reached the bottom, I thanked my driver and looked around me - there were people everywhere, and the "book boy" rushed towards me wanting me to buy books, and the lady I called in my mind "The Scarf Lady" - both of them were jabbering (in English) for me to buy this scarf, buy this book - "You said you'd buy this when you came back and I waited for you. You say you buy, I wait for you now you buy." Oh mama mia - this was when the rule of "Never say maybe later" hit me. To us, it means just that, but this boy (and the woman) thought I meant I would definitely buy later. Well, I like to think that's what they thought and not that they deliberately misunderstood on purpose - if you know what I mean. (Sigh).

Well, anyway, as much as I didn't want to buy a scarf - I didn't like the ones she had anyway, and I really didn't want to buy something straight away, they sort of made me feel obligated to buy something. The young lad wanted US$25 for one book and $15 for another one - he had an assortment of them. I told him I'd think about it and perhaps tomorrow. His reply? "But tomorrow I go to school"

Hmm....he kept asking $25, I kept saying no, he offered $20, I shook my head, the scarf woman was on the other side buy my scarf, buy my scarf - I flipped through the pages of two books, he offered two for $15, I said no, (I didn't like one of them) so....I looked him straight in the eye and said, "I'll give you $10 for that book" Then it was buy both for $15, etc etc etc, but I'd offered ten - after both of us dancing around and skirting the issue of "two for $15" and "$10 for that one" he looked at the woman who nodded her head slightly, and it was then I realised she must have been his mother.

During all this exchange, I spoke softly and smiled as I spoke. Even if you've been accosted and asked for the 500th time if you want to buy a bottle of water (or whatever else it is), don't raise your voice and show your annoyance, you'll lose all respect and the people won't think very much of you. Just smile, shake your head and above all - be polite.

Above: The way back
After having had my first exchange at "bargaining" I climbed into my tuk tuk and we were off. The night air was pleasantly cool with the breeze fanning my face and it was quite dark. This was my view - or one of them. The back of my driver as we motored through the countryside the sounds of night around us.


JM said...

It has been great reading all the posts I missed here. What a fantastic journey, I envy you! :-)

BlossomFlowerGirl said...

Hi JM, yes it was a fantastic journey, truly amazing. And you know something? Doing it by yourself without escorted tour groups means you not only save heaps of money, you get to see things at your own pace. I find I see, really see, so much more.

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