Townsville

Townsville was our first stop on our journey down south. It was a long 4 hour journey which was actually going to end up being one of our shorter journeys.

Arriving in the pouring rain we checked in and found out what there was to do. We hopped back into the car and headed to the waterside to feed the turtles and go for a walk to stretch our legs.

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hat evening we cooked a huge spaghetti bologense with garlic bread and an apple crumble for pudding! If the weather picked up, which it didn’t look likely to do, we were hoping to go over to magnetic island the following day so we had an early night in the freezing cold dorm… Freezing as when we first arrived the room of sweltering and we asked them to turn it down to 16degrees (all done at their main office we have no control) … The aircon goes on at 6pm and off at 8am…. I slept in trousers, Tshirt and a hoody and I still froze!

The following morning didn’t look promising to go over to magnetic island so instead we venture around the town centre, very cute and clean but also very quiet. We also looked around the marina then headed back to the strand. As we got there and to the beach the sun burst out making it a very hot day! Fran and I went and played on the free kiddies water park before joining Fergal on the very very quiet beach (we were the only ones there except the life guard!).

Just as the day was getting to it’s hottest point Fergal and I decided it was time to drag Fran up this monster…

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After lots of huffing and complaining we all made it to the top to look out at the beautiful scenes of Townsville.

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After making our way back down we were all very hot, bothered, sweaty and sunburnt so we hopped in the car back to the riverside where there was a hugeee free swimming pool we could jump into.

After all that sun Fran wasn’t very well so leaving her with a dominoes Fergal and I went out for a lovely burger tea and a wander around Townsville. Townsville is a quiet town but with lots of amenities and vibrance about it. We both decided it was a hidden gem and somewhere we could stay if it hadn’t of been so far away from home.

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Cairns

After two flights from Singapore to Oz we landed in a very dull and rainy Cairns. Our excitement for finding my little sister and being in Oz wasn’t dampened though and after dumping our stuff in our new surrounds (a dorm as Australia was far too expensive to carry on staying in hotels and there was the added person which hotels don’t always cater for) we headed off in our water proofs to find the little chicken egg!

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After a happy reunion we went to find food as the silly little sister hadn’t eaten since arriving in Oz over 24 hours ago. We sat in the pouring rain eating pizza and deciding what our plan would be. After, we picked up her huge rucksack and took her to see her new home.

We spent the afternoon planning and sorting before going out for our FREE tea (drink had to bought prior). After, we walked along the strand (pathway by the beach full of parks, BBQ areas, swimming pools, gyms and lots of cool free stuff) back to the hostel for a well needed early night in our bunk beds.

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The following day we had booked to go out to see the amazing Great Barrier Reef. Me being the sensible sister took some sea sickness before leaving… Those little sisters that didn’t found the boat journey out a very big sicky journey.

Under the water was amazing! It was so clear, peaceful and colourful. I’ve snorkelled before in Egypt and Fergal and I have done our own bits in Thailand but this was like nothing we’d ever seen before. There were huge clams, lots of nemos, bright blue starfish, huge strange fish, massive rainbow fish, tiny electric blue fish so much to see under the water. Seeing the reef was definitely a highlight of the whole trip…maybe not for Fran though as all she will always remember it for feeling extremely sick!

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Again that evening we had our free yummy tea before heading to bed super early again at about 9pm!

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On the Wednesday we picked our new wheels…

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And headed off to find some of the natural beauty spots in Cairns. Our first stop was crystal cascades a huge beautiful waterfall. We stopped half way up to play in the waterfall pools until we saw a water snake. We then hurriedly carried on up until the top of the waterfall where we sat and had our first of many picnic lunches. We then carried on in the car to the rainforest in cairns. We wandered around the botanical gardens finding huge spiders, snakes and turtles. We then took a trail to the top of a mountain. We looked out at the view point onto the airport and watched as a couple quickly ran away after finding a snake slithering into their bag!

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That evening we finally cooked our first home cooked food in 10 weeks! We had a chicken and bacon pasta salad and it was worth the wait. After we treated ourselves to ice cream whilst wandering around the very small, and completely different to Thailand, night market.

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The following morning we were up early to start our 1800mile journey to Melbourne.

Singapore

The airport is Singapore is huge and amazing so much to do!
After arriving very early from Bali we headed to the MRT (trams/under ground) to found our accommodation for the night. We were staying in dorms for the first time in the whole time traveling it was smelly dorms, but Singapore is so expensive even a dorm room was over budget!

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The city is so clean and the transport so cheap and easy (defiantly get a tourist pass for the MRT lots cheaper) we found our hostel no problem. The concept of the beds was cool, double bed in your own capsule thing, but the whole sharing a room that size (26 beds!!) is a bit of a smelly nightmare.

After dropping our stuff off and getting a map we headed out to explore the city very tired tho. First stop was a huge shopping mall to find breakfast and for the first time in Asia we had to have a proper rice meal for breakfast!

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We then wandered around the shops before heading out to the botanical gardens where we fell asleep. We did eventually, slowly wander around the gardens before heading back the dorm to sleep.

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That evening we stayed in little India for some tasty Indian food. We then took the MRT out to the bay where we watched a really cool light show on the water. This is totally free and in a brilliant setting right on the bay amongst individual cafés, pubs and shops.

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After a strange sleep in our dorm room we had a free traditional Indian breakfast of pancake with coconut and red sugar random but quite nice. We then took ourselves back out to the bay to see it by day light. After wandering around we treated ourselves to some retail therapy with the last of my birthday money. Not a very traveler thing to do but put a smile on our faces.

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After managing to stuff everything into our rucksacks we took the looong MRT rideS back to the airport ready for our flight over to Oz!

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Bali

My image of bali was lots of colour, spices, markets, beautiful beaches and lots of green areas… I wasn’t far wrong! Bali was one of both our favourites stops. As it was our last big place on our Asia tour we had pushed the boat out and booked into a gorgeous hotel.

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We arrived very late on into the evening on our first day in Bali. We checked in and hunted for food. Finding only a few shops or a sushi bar. Never having sushi we were a bit dubious but we did enjoy it although the meal was very small.

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The weather had predicted rain and thunderstorms for the whole 5 days in Bali but over a delicious breakfast at the hotel we saw that the sun was out and not a cloud in the sky. Taking this opportunity we lay by the pool most of morning into the early afternoon.

We then (stupidly maybe) decided to walk into the town kuta and to visit the beach. In 36degree hear 2.5km is not fun, even if there were lots of stops on the way into the nicely cooled mini super markets hunting down a big bottle of suncream (this was never found only small bottle and all ridiculously priced £9!!!!). Bali is a very spiritual place and they believe that they have to keep a balance between the good and evil Gods so all along the roads we saw these offerings to the Gods.

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One day a year Bali has a day of complete silence, even tourist have to be quiet. Nothing is open, no one leaves their house even the airport is closed. They do this so that the evil spirits will not hear anyone on the island and will pass by. Very different culture but very cool too.

The beach itself was a bit dirty but it’s surroundings and the long stretch of golden sand made the walk worth it and the cool pool and huge run and jump into it when we got back to the hotel was worth the walk back.

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That evening we ventured into kutas night life but with it being low season it was very quiet. We still found a bar with good music and drink though and enjoyed ourselves.

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The second full day we hired a moped…. This was our 5th and I’m terrified of them… Not so much Fergal’s driving but other peoples driving especially those people in Bali… Just crazy!
We drove round the bay of kuta to Jamaran. This was a gorgeous secluded beach that we enjoyed for about an hour before the sky went very dark and the rain pelted down. Fergal loving the freak weather change headed straight out for the huge waves!

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After the rain had died down we jumped back on the very wet scooter and headed to the sea temple Pura Luhur. After being dressed appropriately we followed the crowds destined for the temple. Surrounding and keeping guard of the temple were lots and lots of cheeky monkeys (cheeky as they stole anything they could get there hands on!).

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On our third full day we again lounged around the sunny pool until it got cooler and the clouds came over. We then drove to a temple in the middle of the sea further down the coast called Tanha Lot. The experience here has to be one of the best we’ve had. After wandering around the markets and walking down to see the temple we were lucky enough to be taken through the sea by some spiritual people to the temple. As the tide was coming in the sea was quite high but this added to the excitement and amusement. Once on the temple the spiritual people blessed us with holy water stuck rice on our forehead and a flower behind our ear. We were then allowed on to the temple steps and only to a specific part of the outer temple but it was amazing!

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On our last full day we took the bike to Ubud a very uncomfortable 2 and a half hours away. Ubud is in the centre of Bali and is a very artsy town, lots to see and do. We first went to the sacred monkey forest. The temple there is protected by monkeys, loooots of friendly hungry monkeys that will jump on your head and come in for cuddles. This temple is also deep into the rainforest making it look very cool but making it feel very muggy. We walked down further into the rainforest to the natural springs

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And then through the site to Ubud town. Just as we were walking up the huge hill into the main town Fergal had a panic as he couldn’t find the moped keys…. Retracing our steps through the monkey forest, hoping one hadn’t taken them off the ground, back to the bike where we found the keys still in the ignition!

We then hauled ourselves back through the forest and up the hill, through Ubud town to the ridge walk. The sky at this point was very dark and we were a long way from the bike. The ridge walk is a walk through the rainforest but you’re kind of on top of the rainforest looking down onto it until it turns into the rice paddies. We decided we’d chance the rain. Literally 5 minutes in and the heavens opened and we were soaked through to our underwear! We carried on, barefoot as flip-flops and rain clash, till we saw a glimpse of the rice fields a good 30 minute rain walk on. We then hastily and wettly turned back to do the long trek back to the bike. Luckily the heavy rain stopped but driving back in wet conditions, in the dark, on Bali roads meant we got lost a few times and let’s say that we had many disagreements about the speed of the bike and position on the road. The only time we’ve have disagreements is when driving on those stupid mopeds!

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That evening we went to a gorgeous bakery restaurant and had a feast as a treat as it felt like our last night traveling.

We were sad to leave Bali it had definitely been one of our favourite places!

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Kuala Lumpur

As amazing and beautiful beaches and their small sea side towns are I was craving getting into a big city and wow is Kuala Lumpur a big city! We arrived very late into the humid and sticky night and headed straight to our hotel/hostel (after a 10 min haggle with the taxi man) to have a good sleep.
Once awake and cooled down we headed excitedly (as we love a good buffet breakfast) to find our hotel breakfast… We were sorely disappointed. The “dining room” was 1 big table with plastic chairs around it and breakfast consumed of ceral with warm milk or some stale bread with the cheapest jam the hostel could find. We made the best of it and learnt our lesson bringing bananas and chocolate spread for the following morning.

After our interesting breakfast we headed out into the huge city. We were staying in the popular part of china town and as soon as you left the hostel you were greeted by people trying to sell you something from their market stall. We kept our heads down and directed ourselves to the free bus stop to head to the Pertronas towers, these are Kuala Lumpur’s twin towers and are the tallest buildings in the city.

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After navigating ourselves from the bus, through at least 1 huge and nicely cooled shopping mall,

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masses of over road tunnels we made it to the towers to be told it was quite hazy from the top and they only had tickets left for late that evening. Knowing that we had a few days there we decided to leave the towers till when the weather was hopefully better. Instead we ventured around the Pertronas park….

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Found an amazing sweet shop….

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And worked out how to work the monorail system.

We thought it best that evening as we were staying in china town to try some of the street food. It was sooo good! Expensive enough (in compassion to Thailand street food) for street food but worth it! After we again broke the traveller code and did the very western thing of going to the cinema… We thoroughly enjoyed it, especially as we had a pick a mix 🍭

The next day we were up early to get tickets to the towers and it was a much better day with clear blue skies! We joined the short queue about 11am and managed to get 2 of the last tickets for that day… However we had to wait till 6pm for our visit so we decided to venture out to the botanical gardens. This was a huge expanse of green land filled with exciting things to do such as a free flying bird park and there was a butterfly one, a water park, massive play park, orchid gardens, museums and a planetarium to name just the few things I can remember seeing. It was the best park I’d even seen although walking around it on a very hot and humid day was difficult… A Starbucks stop was definitely needed after!

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That evening we got suited and booted (in traveler terms showered and put clean clothes on!) and headed up the towers. The security was very tight and it was a very structured tour but the views were amazing! The first stop was from the bridge 34 floors up ….

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The second stop was on the 85th floor a mere 472metres above the ground!!!!

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We ate in the popular street food area Jalan Alore before heading further down the Main Street to the bars and clubs… 44RM (£6) for 3 beers and girls drink free, pretty good deal!

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The following day we checked out of the hostel and as we had to wait until the evening for our train to Singapore we ventured around the huge shopping malls eating yummy bits of food and window wishing.

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Overall we both really enjoyed Kuala Lumpur and have both said we would love to come back with lots more money and staying in one of the glorious hotels!

Krabi

We had heard so much about Krabi and it’s surrounding islands but as we were short on time we didn’t think we would make it. However we made a last minute decision to go to Krabi rather than Phuket and boy are we glad! We stayed round the bay from Krabi town in a place called An Nag. It was a really cute seaside town with so many yummy restaurants to try out. We stayed in a lovely little bungalow (I know we said no more but this was one grand) and the owners made us feel like we were at home. The bungalows were set a few kilometres from the beach amongst the limestone mountains but whenever we wanted to head into the town Rit or his wife On would give us a lift into the town.

We arrived into An Nog late afternoon so after checking in we chilled in the late afternoon sun before trying out some of the local restaurants!

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On our second day we were up early to head over to the famous Phi Phi islands. Before leaving we ventured over to a local bakery for breakfast… It was like nothing we’d tasted yet on our travels, absolutely amazing! Phi Phi looked like paradise and exactly like the famous pictures you see everywhere advertising Thailand and it’s islands. We wandered around the tiny cobbled streets, chilled on the beach (although it was far too hot!!) and snorkelled in the clear blue sea.

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That night we ate an another delicious restaurant and decided we would stay another night on An Nag as it was so beautiful.

On our last full day we had another gorgeous breakfast from the bakery, chilled out in the mountain gardens at our bungalow before heading down to the beach. Fergal’s not had much luck with the pavements in Thailand and more than once has nearly found himself face down on the uneven pavement. Today was another one of these infuriating (for Fergal) funny (secretly for me) trips but this time in ended up with a lot of toe blood and a trip back to the bakery for home made chocolate brownies and coffee as a cheer up!

Again that evening we ventured down to the sea front for some yummy food from the sea! We had a few drinks afterwards watching an amazing live band!

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The following day was a long day waiting around for buses and aeroplanes to take us to the next part of our adventure… Malaysia!

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Koh Phangan

A short boat trip away was the party island of Koh Phangan. Some serious sleep and preparation had gone into this 4 night stay but we found as of the evening Thong Sala (a seaside town renown for people staying in for the moon parties) was so quiet! However we did find an amazing food market with lots of local tasty food so instead of drinking we pigged out… Sometimes on not quite cooked chicken urghh.

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On our second day in Koh Phangan we hired a moped and drove through the mountainous jungle to Mea Head beach. This was a secluded beautiful beach known for it’s brilliant and vibrant under water life. It was amazing! With only 2 restaurants on the beach and a handful of huts it was quiet and luxurious. The snorkelling was the best yet with so much to see.

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The following day was the day of the half moon party! In the day we tried to drive to the most southern part of the island where the full moon parties take place, however our bike couldn’t take two of us up the steep hills so we stopped at a restaurant in the mountain side over looking the west coast of the island. With good views and fantastic food it was a well worth while stop.

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That evening we painted ourselves up, put on our vibrant tshirts and drank buckets of rum all in the name of the half moon. The party took place deep in the jungle. It was amazing! Everything was vibrant and luminous, the crowd was chilled out and everyone was having an amazing time… Except maybe the wee blonde boy that had collapsed due to too much drink, he did come round and was taken home by some very understanding friends. We made friends with a Canadian couple and spent the night dancing, drinking, talking and the finally eating. Our only issue with the half moon party is you have to enjoy house music as this was all they played… I don’t think we knew any of it.

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The following day was a right off with not much communicating and eating very Western food… Heinz beans on toast.

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Koh Samui

After doing lots of touring about and moving from place to place quickly we were so excited and relieved to be staying somewhere for a few days and it was going to be near a BEACH!! However, we had to get there first. We left Siem Reap at 730am on a bright Thursday morning heading for the dreadful Thai border crossing. We read and heard that this border crossing could take hours and be costly due to the bribes paid to the authorities and police. We must have caught them on a good day as we were through quite quickly (hour and a half approx) with all our money still. It was waiting for a Thai mini bus to take us to the capital that took hours (or so it felt). We were being presumptuous hoping to make the last train or bus out of Bangkok to Koh Samui at 730pm. We only arrived into Bangkok at 730pm. Tired, sweaty and a bit fed up we dragged our bags through the throngs of people near Koh San road to hopefully find some accomodation. On the off chance we stopped at a travel shop and asked about buses to Koh Samui…
There was one leaving in an hour woo! We had a quick naughty tea of McDonald’s then headed to the bus. We had now been traveling for 14 hours. The bus journey was uneventful and we arrived at the ferry port just before 6am on the Friday morning (23 hours traveling). From the port Koh Samui was the last stop and by the time we dragged ourselves and bags onto the last taxi we were shattered. We arrived at the hotel about 1230pm a whole 29hours after we started our journey. It was hot! After being checked in by a very grumpy lady we made the walk down to the beach very hungry but eager to see the beach. It was gorgeous …

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Very busy but gorgeous. We ate on the beach front and made our way slowly back to the hotel pool to chill out.
At night the town of Chewang was alive and busy with many restaurants, bars and clubs. Though we have to admit that first night we were in and out of the town very quickly and into bed before 9.30pm (remember the 29hours of traveling and not much sleep).

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The following day we spent the day at the beach snorkelling and sun bathing. The sea was crystal clear and having the snorkel made it so much fun seeing what was underneath.

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When it got too hot we went and found a Starbucks and looked through the many shops.

That night we planned to have some food and a few drinks. We made it to a huge arena turned club but the music was terrible so after recommendations we headed to green mango which was a brilliant upbeat club.

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Feeling tired and a bit fragile the next day we headed to the beach to snorkel and catch some rays…. The rays turned out to be too hot and we quickly ventured indoors for food and drink.

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That evening we had a banquet of yummy BBQ food and milkshakes!

We decided that we wanted to see more of the island and so on our 4th day on koh Samui we ventured to a quieter beach called Mea Nam. It certainly was A LOT quieter but it a good way. The hotel we were staying at was amazing with a roof top pool and an extensive DVD list we were happy. On our second morning we hired a bike and found a lovely bakery for breakfast. We spent some time on the beach before touring round the island, we spotted the big Buddha, fisherman village, some gorgeous secluded beaches and some huge hotels. That evening we took a freshly made picnic from the bakery to the beach and ate under the stars… Very cliché but a highlight of the trip.

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Siem Reap

For such a small place the energy and good vibes that pub street gave off made us instantly like Siem Reap. After another long(ish in comparison) bus journey we arrived tired and hungry to our lovely guest house. We didn’t venture far but just to get some food and nosey about. Tuktuk’s drivers prey on quiet travellers and holiday makers here and they pounce on punters consistently! We watched a couple leave a restaurant and be harassed by at least 8 tuktuk drives we thought someone had been hurt or something!
The following morning, after a good long rest, we had a tiny but small complimentary breakfast before going off to find the temple ruins of Angkor Wat (one of the wonders of the world… In the extended list). We hired a tuktuk for the day ($15) and the guy took us to all the main temples. It was pretty amazing, these temples were built in the 13th century… That means there… 800 years old! Angkor Wat itself was very busy but venturing through the quieter temples you could really get lost.

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One of the temples is nicknamed the tomb raider temple as this was where tomb raider was filmed!! This temple had been left to it’s own devices and trees have actually grown through the ruins, absolutely amazing!

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After visiting 7 temples in the scorching heat we were templed out and the tuktuk man took us back to the hotel… We were black with dirt as the temples were very dusty and it was so hot. After showering we ventured down to pub street to get some food and have a few drinks… I actually had 1 alcoholic drink wooo. The first since the terrible hangover in Hanoi.

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The following morning we were up early to catch our first of many buses to travel 725(ish) miles to Koh Samui urghh this turned out to be a 30 hour journey!

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Phnom Penh

Luckily we had no problems crossing over the border from Vietnam to Cambodia. Driving through Cambodia to the capital phnom Penh it is obvious that there is a lot more poverty here. The roads are rubble and dusty, there are a lot of shanty houses and not so many tourist hot spots. Arriving into PP a lot later than expected (again) we quickly checked into our hotel and went in search of food (Mexican!). Again we were only staying here 2 nights meaning the following day was our only full day so we were up early ready to explore. We hired a tuktuk for the day and the first stop was one of the many killing fields in Cambodia. There wasn’t overly much to see but the history behind the killing fields was amazing. Its now a very silent peaceful place but only 30/40 years ago this was the site that thousands of innocent Cambodian people were killed on, many for no reason except the communist president at the time (Pol Pot) felt threatened by them as some may have had a good education or job before his reign or just simply for the fact that he was paranoid that they were plotting against him. Whole families lost their lives here from the very young to the very old no one was safe. It was very sad hearing the story of what happened here but well worth the visit to understand Cambodia better. In some ways it’s still trying to pick itself up from the horror of what happened to them all. 20140227-170657.jpg20140227-171232.jpg

After the killing fields the tuktuk driver took us to S21. S21 was a former secondary school but in the time of the communist period the president turned it into a torturous prison where again innocent Cambodians were kept and tortured until they agreed with whatever crimes were being accused against them… After they “confessed” they were sent to the killing fields. Such an unfair way to live. When it was found out what was happening in Cambodia the army came to help but it was too late for many only 7 people were rescued from S21.
It was quite a lot to take in and after our visit to the prison we called in quits and what for food and a lie down! In the evening we met a friend for tea and drinks.
Before catching our bus to Siem Reap we visited the huge local market. It was colourful, loud and very smelly with fish still flapping about half alive and meat being diced and left to dry in the sun. You need a strong stomach to take in the sights and smells of the local market!
As deprived as Cambodia looks the people seem happy, kids are out playing together, neighbours talk to each other, there is a sense of community. These people work long hard days to help develop their lives and country. It’s quite inspiring.

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