Adventures in East Asia

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Chiangmai Streets
I was looking forward to visiting Chiangmai since it sounded more relaxed and leafy compared to busy, urban Bangkok. Linh and I had just come from a varied ten days visiting Bangkok and then Siem Reap in Cambodia before flying there.


Chiangmai is meant to be the start point for many a trek or excursion out to the hill tribes, mountains, or animal based attractions and for this reason, it seems to be criticised for being too touristy.

Angkor Temple Ruins Excursion Costs and Summary
I went to Cambodia with little expectation, partly helped by the minimal planning required after choosing to book a tour guide. Visiting during peak season meant that it was the coolest part of the year in December, though still hot, and without risk of a monsoon. Linh and I found the people to be friendly and the whole experience in Cambodia to be superb.


The people in Cambodia seemed to face a wide gulf in wealth compared to tourists that visit. However, they were always friendly and polite and we were hardly ever bothered for money. There were plenty of children out selling their souvenirs to tourists and they could be persistent, but I admired the fact that they were at least working for their money.

Cambodian Country Roadside Housing
Since we weren't used to it, riding open air for long periods in a tuk-tuk was sometimes a little tough, but at the same time, we wouldn't have had it any other way. When the weather was hot, it was a refreshing way to feel closer to everything around us in Cambodia. The view was wider and more open and great for taking photos.


Out in the rural areas, we passed plenty of housing (on stilts, similar to Longhouses in Malaysian Borneo) which although looked more primitive than the town houses, still had an appeal about them.

Roadside Cambodian Children
Linh and I spent alot of time on the road being ferried around in our open-air tuk-tuk while visiting Siem Reap. One of the lasting memories I have, are of all the children that just seem to be everywhere, from walking or cycling along the roads to just playing on the floor beside them.


If they were cycling, we'd sometimes see that the kids were way too small for the bike and it would almost be comical to me if I didn't think that they had any other choice.

Cambodian People Carriers
I'm all for cutting costs, but Cambodians really know how to tighten the belt. I'm slowly getting used to seeing overloaded vehicles now in East Asia. This is coming from a country (the UK) where (I believe) the police stop cars that perhaps carry one or two extra passengers over the allocated seat space. Well, stop these!


The Child Sales People of Angkor
If there's one thing that isn't on the attractions list of the world famous heritage of the Angkor temples in Cambodia, it's all the kids touting their tourist tat. It's an understandable sight for a country that thrives on tourism and whose local people have livelihoods to uphold.


I found it to be equally heartbreaking and admirable at the same time. Heartbreaking because these kids should be at school but instead face the daily, difficult task of selling to nonchalant tourists who were also sometimes rude to them.

Photographing Monks in Cambodia
Around Cambodia (and also Thailand), monks seemed to be fairly common around the temple sights and town streets. There's no reason why not. At Angkor Wat, we were told that some live there, as well as in Siem Reap town, and visiting temples is as much a pastime for them, if not a little more spiritual, as it is for tourists.


However, its fairly obvious after spending a short time in the country that tourists love to photograph monks. It may be because in our own countries, they're simply not as common, and the striking orange robes are certainly photogenic. I can't say any different for myself though, as I took plenty of monk subjects when the opportunities arose. The orange is a great colour against the backdrop of the ruins.

Cambodian Two Wheeled Transport
Like their Vietnamese neighbours, the Cambodians use their wheels to carry all sorts of stuff. Ok, well, the ones that I snapped didn't always use two wheels, but sometimes four. I suspect it will take a few days of staring before I finally stop finding these transporters to be compelling viewing. I mean, look at all these bananas!


Nature Overgrown - The Beautiful Beng Melea Ruins
Beng Melea is an Angkor Wat style temple about forty kilometres east of the Angkor temple complex near Siem Reap in Cambodia. It was also to be our last temple visit and an amazing one it was which proved to us that Beng Melea was one of the more beautiful Angkorian sites.


Since it was much further away from town than the other complexes, Beng Melea turned out to be a more peaceful place to visit, though we weren't the only tourists there. We didn't have our guide with us, just Marom, the tuk-tuk driver who happily dropped us off and waited while we walked around for almost two hours.

Tonle Sap Lake, Fish Market, Crocodile Farm and a Floating Village
On our fourth day in Cambodia, we took a (comparatively expensive) day out to see a floating village and the Tonle Sap Lake, and the Beng Melea ruins. Both were the furthest destinations from Siem Reap that we visited and we got to the floating village after riding in the open air tuk-tuk for one and a half hours (driving at over 50 kmph).


We chose to go to a distant floating village as opposed to one that was closer since it would be apparently less touristy. The result was a "quieter" experience, though devoid of any buzz, hustle and bustle that comes with a tourist destination.

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