A Travellerspoint blog

Phnom Penh to Kratie

Cambodian Living

Cambodia with all it's wonders captured me and is definitely one of my best loved countries. The Cambodians are all friendly people. Progressing from the era of Pol Pot's reign where many of the people who were considered educated were tortured and killed violently, this country has sinced tried to rebuild itself and opening up for tourist to come as well as external parties to help rebuild the country. Cambodia itself does not have much of it's own cultural heritage left besides it's language which is considered one of the oldest language around. Most things sold around Russian Market and Central Market are imported from nearby country such as Vietnam, Thailand or China.

The place to visit to get to know some history of Pol Pot's regime would be to visit Toul Sleng. Now a museum and once a school, it was turned into the main torture centre for Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge's commander and soldiers. Gruesome photos of the tortured victims, bones, cell blocks where they held the prisoners and torture devices can be seen on display there. Definitely not for those who's heart is faint. The Killing Fields is not much but a ditch and not worth the visit.

With it's recent year's development, Phnom Penh itself has a mall and fast food restaurants and many eateries along the riverside. However, true Cambodian dishes are rarely sold because it's mostly being cooked at home. There are quite a number of Chinese migrants who are living in the city, therefore, you may be able to get by with some Chinese if you speak the language.

We took a ride from Phnom Penh to Kratie which is about 6 hours and crossed many bridges and smaller towns along the way. We took a detour once because one of the route had a bomb exploded earlier which destroyed the bridge we needed to take. The government did not ensure all the mines were dug out and removed. Therefore sometimes, an unsuspecting driver who decides to use uncommon roads may stumble upon one and causes it to explode. The roads are paved only up to the point where the high government officials have visited, paved for their convenience.

Pure unadulterated living can be found in the suburbs villages. Do try travelling along less travelled roads by tourist to experience this. Weather is hot and humid most year round. Travel light because everything is cheap here. You can buy on along the way if you need any.

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Cambodia in Bird's Eye View along Mekong River

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Toul Sleng

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Suburb Roadtrip to Kratie

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Detour crossing a bridge

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Cambodian Food

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The Boat Ride

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Monk on the Walk from Monastery to Monastery

Posted by jokermiss 02:23 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Melbourne City Tour on Tram and Tourist Shuttle Route

Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia. Melbourne's weather is rather cold in June. I stepped out of the Melbourne International Airport blowing out smoke from my mouth without the help of a cigarette. It was 2 celcius that day! You might want to go between November to March if you prefer warmer season with more sunshine. Public transportation is easily accessible in this city. Maps, booklets of travel are also easily obtainable in the airport information centre. Do remember to grab a copy before you leave to airport to enjoy various discount coupons that can be found in the booklets.

I took the Skybus which travels between Melbourne Airport and Southern Cross Station for the price of AUD16 one way. Traffic getting into the city was bad during rush hour but the ride itself was pleasant. The bus even have a place for people to put their bags & lugages onboard. I hopped off at Southern Cross Station and almost got lost there. The place is huge so I asked around to get on the right platform to Flinders Street Station.

In Melbourne, it's very much tourist friendly and they have a Free City Circle Tram for you to hop-on and hop-off at various tourist places. It runs through CBD and other routes which are not covered by the City Circle Tram can be reachable by Tourist Shuttle for Free as well. The bus ride is most enjoyable as I took a 45 minute ride on the bus without hopping off at any point to get a feel and tour of the city. The bus driver happily explains the history and fun points of every tour stops to ensure tourist understands the significance of the places.

Some of the nice places the tour bus and City Circle Tram will bring you are Docklands, Melbourne Aquarium, Parliament House of Victoria, Queen Victoria Market, State Library, Federation Square, Immigration museum, Melbourne Museum, University of Melbourne, Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, etc..

Some of the best sights and feel is best taken on a walking tour across the Yarra River along Eureka SkyDeck and Below the bridge of Federation Square. My favourite must see place in Melbourne City is the old Melbourne Gaol and the Watch Tower Experience which is behind the RMIT university building. When you purchase your entrance ticket, it includes the Gaol Museum & the watch tower experience. The Museum is set in the old prison where the famous Australian bandit Ned Kelly was hanged as well as history of prisoners who was deported from England to Australia. The watch tower experience will let you have a feel of how a prisoner is treated when they are arrested and put in a holding cell. No prizes to be given for guessing who are the prisoners :) Also get your mug shots there at the end of the tour. The Melbourne Museum is worth a visit as well when they hold special exhibitions in their premises. Queen Victoria's Market is a must-see as well but you have to get there during the early mornings. For those who enjoy Italian food, Italian street is just a few blocks away.

Melbourne offers a variety of food and the portions are huge (for me). For Asians who enjoy some friendly faces, you might want to visit Box Hill where many Chinese eateries can be found. I stayed with some friends when I was there and took various train rides to the suburbs which is very enjoyable but time consuming. For those who wants to enjoy the city, I recommend a 3 full days to enjoy most of what Melbourne CBD has to offer.

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Flinders Street Station

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Tourist Shuttle Bus

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Parliment of Victoria

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Federation Square

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Architecture

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A walk in the park

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Suburbs of Melbourne

Posted by jokermiss 00:42 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Life in Mumbai

rich & poor together

Mumbai is a metropolitan city. I was captured by the culture in India with it's places where the poor and rich co-exist next to each other even down a random street. Flying into Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport is truely a sight to behold. The large area of slums populated the whole vicinity surrounding the airport. Dharavi, that is where the recently made famous movie Slumdog Millionaire was filmed.

We had a fun time taking the ride from Airport to our budget hotel. We opted to take a ride on their "Auto" which is a motored 3 wheel taxi that is available at a cheaper rate from the airport compared to the regular car taxis. The weather was hot and humid during this time of the year and we had a tough time locating our hotel as there are too many budget hotels around in East Bandra.

Our first stop after checking into the hotel was the Bandra Train Station. Many poor people make their homes around the train station and their livelihood of collecting rubbish seems to be a norm to the locals as people walk pass them daily to take the train. We lined up for a first class ticket but yet the sign written on the ticketing counter mentioned no queue for first class ticket purchase. We took the first class train to Victoria Terminus (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) just to check out the difference betweena first class ticket and a second class ticket. We were shocked to find that there's actually no difference between them except you get to be separated from the second class travellers. Everything else is the same but you are paying 600% more or the second class ticket price.

We took a walk from Victoria Terminus to the Mumbai Museum which was very far but we enjoyed the walk surrounded by British Colonial Buildings. The Museum captivated us with rich history on display. We paid a deposit for the audio guide and it made our trip in the museum more meaningful. In the evening and night, we went around the Gate of India for a spectacular seaview of the city and walked passed the Taj Mahal Hotel to Colaba streets for shopping and Leopold for food. As we walked down the road, many street peddlers asked if we were Japanese because not many Asians come by to India. Bargains were good at Colaba area, you can easily shop for a wallet for USD5 or costume jewellery between USD3-15. Shawls selling for USD3-5. Bargain at least for half the price if you dare. Not to worry, you can just walk away if the price is not good. Even though they might say no but when you start to walk away, they'll pull you back and sell it to you at your desired price if they manage to make a profit at your price. So don't be tricked easily to back down.

The next best place to visit is the Haji Ali Mosque. I remembered we were on a taxi and i saw this narrow stretch of land extension around 500meters from the coast, many people were walking towards the mosque in the hot sun. We went to visit the mosque the next morning which is cooler compared to mid day, along the walk there we were greeted with waves of water splashing on the walkway and beggars begging for money. Nothing much to see in the mosque but I do adore the walk and the scenary.

Food is easily found in Mumbai. if you are concious about hygiene, you may want to opt to eat at restaurants in a hotel. But if you plan to be more adventurous, you can try at restaurants alond the streets as you go on your adventure. Must try the Pani Puri, Bhelpuri, Briyani with long grain Basmathi rice at Elco Restaurant. Do try drinking "Chai" their usually milk tea and thumbs-up (India version of Coca Cola), mango juice at Leopold.

You can try taking a train from Victoria Terminus to Goa if you have a few days to spare.

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Auto Ride. You'll pay according to the meter.

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The usual sight along railway stations

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Children playing along the water supplies

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Colonial Buildings

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The busy train station

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Taj Mahal Hotel

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Gate of India

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Haji Ali Mosque

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Elco's Puri

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Briyani

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Mango juice at Leopold Cafe

Posted by jokermiss 00:48 Archived in India Tagged people culture mumbai dharavi Comments (0)

Shangrila, China

香格里拉, Zhongdian, Yunnan

sunny 15 °C

The name of the place sounds like "Garden of Eden", having gone through from an elevation of the valley within 12 hours in a sleeper night bus from KunMing to an altitude of 3200m gave me some bad altitude sickness. Basically, my head was pounding away with discomfort and I felt like vomiting. We were later advised by the locals to travel from KunMing to Lijiang before accending to Shangrila in my future trips.

We went during the height of summer in Shangrila, however the weather is sunny but cold. I would advise some shades for shielding your eyes from the strong UV rays of the sun and a lot of sun block to prevent your skin from being burnt. We stayed in Shangrila oldtown at the square area. The local hotels/bed & breakfast are very decent and clean. Amazingly, the place has developed for the past 3 years and the Shangrila Newtown includes modern shops.

The oldtown possess the characteristic of traditionally dressed chinese local minorities as well as tibetan people. The square at the oldtown has a nightly dance by the locals from 7pm-8pm. Anyone can join is as well. We went out to the Tibetan villages to enjoy some pure local cultures and was served with the local tibetan yak butter tea and "papa", an unleavened bread eaten generally as a meal by the Tibetans. Tibetans at the outskirts usually bathe twice a year. Once when they were born and once when they die. So, don't be surprise not finding any bathrooms if you are looking for a shower. Bring along wet wipes would do the trick of keeping yourself clean because the weather is dry and cold. A simple "Ja Si Di Le" would be enough to put smile on the local Tibetan faces when you greet them in their local language.

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Typical Tibetan houses at the outskirts of ShangriLa

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The livestocks that roam the villages

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The Monastery

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The Evening sky at the village over a Tibetan house

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The friendly Tibetans

Posted by jokermiss 20:18 Archived in China Tagged people culture Comments (0)

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