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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.



55. From Temples To Breakfast

In The Middle Of The Morning

After witnessing the glorious sunrise at Angkor Wat and spending some time around the area, I walked back, found my driver and said I was ready for breakfast. He seemed surprised that I wanted to go back to the guesthouse. Maybe others usually just continue on with the temple visiting and eating breakky along the way. Anyway, I hopped back in and as we made our way back to Siem Reap, enjoyed the wonderful sights on the way.

Building Design and Architecture

Above: Architectural Styles
a) Top left is the Angkor National Museum which I thought looked striking. The minaret type domes and the pillars at the arched entrance combine to add a certain flair.

b) If it weren't for the fancy gold detail and Siva with Nandi on the front gable, and the Malaysian flag, you could be forgiven for thinking this building on the right was photographed back home in Australia, or indeed any number of countries.

c) The BBQ buffet and Picnic Station is just before the Museum and had I had time, I'd have gone there for a meal.

d) D'mouj is a handcraft and carpet gallery which specialises in hand-made South Asian crafts and objects d'art. The building reminded me of similar ones down on the Mornington Peninsula at Sorrento. (A seaside holiday place in Victoria)

What I found fascinating was such a diverse style of architecture in Siem Reap which is really quite a small place. It all adds to the atmosphere - modern, architectural brilliance alongside humble, timber sheds and market stalls with corrugated iron awnings and colourful umbrellas and canvas verandah shades.

Food, Glorious Food!
I loved the colourful shops and road stalls with their colourful umbrellas and striped awnings - they seem so full of life and have that special something which is sometimes lacking from western countries. It's Joie de vivre come to life.

Above: Local Shops and Vegie Stalls

a) The lass in the top left photo is washing some green vegetables, and no, I couldn't quite see what they were,

b) Next door are what appear to be pineapple, Svay prum`saen, a type of tropical mango and Svay Kchei (baby mango) which is used for snacks and pickles and Lahong Kchei (green papaya).

c) Here we have cigarette machines - two of them, and an assortment of dried and packaged goods along with the inevitable bottles of water. Just about all food type shops sell water. The stall keeper has removed her lilac crocs and is resting her feet while she takes a break.

d) An assortment of different goods are on offer from fresh fruit to cooking pots and baskets.

Have Wheels Will Travel
It was such fun seeing all the modes of transport. You may recall I mentioned in an earlier post that bicycles and motor bikes are the main method of travel here in Siem Reap.

a) Below is my (second) tuk tuk driver - Mr. Zolar. On his tuk tuk are written the words "Zolar Power" (solar power) which is across from where I was sitting. Like my other driver, Zolar was also pretty nifty at passing slow coaches along the way. "Slow coach" is slang for someone who is moving at a snail's pace - in other words, going too slow! In this photo we had just arrived back at Two Dragons.

Above: Local Transport
b) The photo on the right (top row) is one of my favourite - it shows the marvellous street scenes that are to be found here. A dad taking his daughter to school - no helmet of course, (most passengers don't wear them), in her school uniform and pretty pink and red backpack. A man on his bicycle with an assortment of goods for sale - brooms, bamboo rods, feather dusters and cleaning products, and the inevitible tuk tuk, this one with bright red upholstery. If you look closely, you will see a lady in the far right wearing a hat and scarf around her face, her feet enclosed in gumboots. She is one of the numerous people employed to keep the streets clean.

c) And here we have - The Local Coppers! Yes, it's a Police truck in a brillant shade of red. I thought it was a fire truck at first (all the fire trucks in Australia are red) and was delighted to see this Police vehicle. Police vehicles in Australia are white with blue stripes.

d) Easy Rider - bikes, bikes, bikes. If you take a closer look at this photo - see the blue sign in the rear of the photo on the right? Well, that's where my guesthouse is located - you turn left up that street and it's on the right hand side just a few doors down. I came to recognise the blue sign you see, so if I had had the time to stroll around town, I wouldn't (hopefully) have become lost. Just look for the blue sign. It's an ATM sign btw and just up from here is a local supermarket. (I didn't know about the supermarket at the time because, as I said, I didn't have enough time for walking in town. I only realised there's a supermarket here after looking at my photos!)

Back at my guest house, there is a food stall just opposite which has chickens hanging up outside and the aroma of cooked chicken was nostril-twitching.

Above: Dinner!
This black rooster was running around outside that chicken place acrosse the road from the Two Dragons, and this was the only shot of him I was able to get. He may think he's cock of the coop, but I feel sure he will one day end up on someone's dinner plate!
Coq au vin, anyone?

Breakfast In Cambodia - Please Sir, I Want Some More
I loved the local food and was determined not to eat western food while I was in Asia, but I couldn't quite come at eating rice, noodles or pancakes for breakky. (Breakky is a slang Aussie word for breakfast.) The breakfasts on offer at Two Dragons had bacon and eggs on the menu and this I decided I could not do without. (I just love a good breakky of bacon and egg)

Above: Breakfast
On the breakfast menu was "Two Dragons Breakfast" which from memory included a few eggs, four rashers of bacon, several sausages, mushrooms (I think) and several pieces of toast.
Then there was "Mini Two Dragons Breakfast" - two eggs, two (Or was it four) rashers of bacon - a smaller version of the first one.

Lastly we had "Small Two Dragons Breakfast" - this was the one I ordered. (I forgot to take a photo, so have used this one instead). I thought two eggs, two rashers of bacon and two toasts would be all that I'd be able to eat. Cost was $2.95 and when it came, I saw that the bacon was over-cooked and dry looking and all shrivelled up. I thought Oh, how disappointing. I was so disappointed, but, of course I couldn't complain - that would have been rude.
But...let me tell you - that bacon was the most beautiful bacon I have ever eaten. The taste was wonderful I have never had bacon as delicious as that bacon I ate at Two Dragons, and I've eaten bacon many times in many places. I loved the taste, the texture so much, I very badly wanted to say to the girls, "Please, could I have some more?" I was reminded of Oliver in Charles Dicken's tale Oliver Twist saying at the parish workhouse, "Please Sir, I want some more."!

I can almost taste that bacon now and I find my mouth salivating at even the thought of it. When I go back to Siem Reap, I will definitley be eating bacon - and next time, I'll ask for a plateful of it. Yum.

What's With All The Tea Leaves?
After my delicious breakfast, I decided to try some Chinese tea. I had had Chinese tea at the Chinese Garden of Friendship when I was up in Sydney last year and really liked it. When the girl brought it to me, I sat looking at it. There was this lovely china "thing" with no handle and a lid. I lifted up the lid and saw - stacks of tea leaves. I sat looking at it, wondering how the heck I was supposed to drink it without getting a mouthful of tea leaves. This was a major problem. A mouthful of tea leaves wasn't my idea of a nice hot cup of tea.

So - I sat. And looked. And thought. And looked. As if by looking inspiration would suddenly dawn.☺ I didn't want to ask (I thought they'd think I was a bit of a dill if I did that). The girl came over and asked if everything was alright? Yes, thank you I'm just having a bit of a rest.

Finally, I re-lifted up the lid and gingerly tried to move the tea leaves to one side, it was then that the idea of maybe, just maybe, the tea leaves lifted out somehow. It did. What a dill I was - the whole thing came out, as you can see below.
Above: Chinese Tea
The tea holder (on the right) lifts out of the cup. I was so glad I hadn't asked or said anything - I'd have felt a right Royal fool. I did in fact feel like a right Royal fool anyway. I'm laughing as I write this - as if you'd be served tea and be expected to swallow the leaves. Well, we live and learn eh? So - should you ever find yourself presented with an unfamiliar tea cup, just lift the caddy thing out.


54. Angkor Wat - 2. Scenes

Around Angkor Wat
Below is a snapshot of some of the area around Angkor Wat.

Above: Around Angkor Wat
a) The top two shots are of part of the area to the south of the causeway, next to them the scene is facing the entrance (west) before sunrise.

b) In the middle row the pink lotus flowers were in the pond just in front of Angkor Wat where we sat and waited for sunrise. The other two are of the moat on the northern side of the causeway facing east.

c) The third row shows people walking back to the entrance after the sun had risen. I have included both the close-up shot and the long distance shot to give you some idea of just how big this place is. If you look closely at the picture on the right which was taken before sunrise, you will notice a balloon to the right of the entrance towers - people in a hot air balloon floating in the sky to watch the sunrise.

Above: Silhouette in doorway
This doorway faces east and is under repair. Note the window balusters either side. You can see a figure walking down towards the entrance.

Above: Lions and nagas flank the steps down from the causeway

Lions and naga-balustrades border the cruciform terrace.

Above: Devatas
Devatas are female divinities - sort of like guardian angels and there are around 2,000 of them at Angkor Wat, where they appear in groups or individually.


53. Angkor Wat -1. Sunrise

In the middle of the night

I woke at 2.00am, went back to sleep, then woke at 3.00am, had coffee on the balcony. Couldn't sleep. I seemed to be wide awake. I think it was the excitement that made my brain work in over-drive - today was the day - the day I would spend at the temples starting with watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat. I was too excited to sleep, so I just mooched around doing nothing, although I did go through countless cups of tea and coffee.

Numerous teas later and enough ciggies to start a fire, it was time (finally) to get ready and set off. I'm sure my stomach was sloshing around like the Pacific Ocean, I'd drunk so much!

A new driver
Going downstairs I looked around for my driver but didn't see him. A fellow came and introduced himself to me, telling me his name was Zola and he would be my driver today. I asked why, where was Pookeah. His answer? "Mr. Pookeah busy at home today." I thought this cryptic answer rather strange and felt some trepidation getting into a tuk tuk with an unknown fellow. I questioned him further but he didn't elicit any more information other than "Mr. Pookeah is busy at home today and cannot come." (I did wonder if Pookeah was annoyed with me for staying so long at the Silk Farm yesterday and changed drivers because of it.)

5.30 and all's well
So used to call the time keepers of the 18th century - we left at half past five, the morning air was lovely and cool - well warm actually but very pleasant and coolish with the wind fanning my face. We made our way along that long avenue where I'd been driven the night before, and turned left. The moat on the right was hazy with early morning - that time between night and dawn.

Zola pulled over and said he'd be waiting "Over there" to pick me up. I made my way slowly along the long causeway.

Above: Angkor Wat before dawn
This was my first visit to Angkor Wat and I was struck with the wonder of it all. I was here - here at Angkor Wat where so many other thousands of visitors had stood and walked. It was one of the most amazing feelings in my life. In the middle (well almost) of the night - hundreds and hundreds of other souls just like me here to see the sun as it comes up over Angkor Wat.

Where's the best place to see the sunrise?
I didn't have a guide (I didn't want to fork out US$25 for some bloke to walk around with me saying see this, see that) - I preferred to do it at my own pace. Walking and mingling among the people, I noticed a few guides with their quarry and tried to listen in. Eventually I asked a man where's the best place to see the sunrise? He pointed to my left and said, "Over there, in front of the water."

I slowly made my way down and saw many chairs all placed in a semi-circle on the left hand side - the front row almost touching the water's edge. People had breakfast and drink bottles, people were sitting on the ground, so I found a spot, sat down and waited.

Above: The sun shyly peeps over the horizon
In the interval between sitting down and the first glow of a new dawn, the colours of the sky changed - blue, pink, mauve and as the sun shyly peeped over the tower it was awesome. Everybody stood entranced to the exclamations of "Oohs" and "Aahs".

You could hear a pin drop, so quiet was it. Faces focused to the east, all with the one intent - to witness the dawning of a new day. The glorious colours and hues of the sun, the sky and the shimmering reflection in the water.

Above: Changing sky colour
There were many shades of pinks but this was only time the sky was filled with a golden glow.

Above: The sun between the towers
The sun's reflection in the water was like a fiery beacon amid a sea of pinks - pink sky, pink water.

Above: Sun between the second and middle tower
The sun gradually moved and appeared between the towers of Angkor Wat.

Above: Sun behind the middle tower
You can see the sun just peeping around the middle tower.

Above: Sun between the middle and the fourth tower
As the sun rose higher, the sky colour deepens and the brilliant rays emit a vivid orange/red.

Above: Sunrise
The sun has risen - let us rejoice. A new day has begun.
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