Tag Archives: Southeast Asia

Thanks For The Memories

This is it guys. My last post here in Southeast Asia before I set off for the next half of this extraordinary adventure around the world. I can also finally say that I have accomplished something that most backpackers traveling throughout Southeast Asia for a long period of time have not done. And that is, not getting sick! I got motion sick a few times but I can’t really help that. I’m talking no colds, no coughs, no fevers, no vomiting, no stuffy noses, none of that! I had a great run in Asia. Here’s how I spent my last couple of days…

The day after Rob and I went biking, we didn’t do too much besides relax and eat all day. Us, along with Lulu, Schunk, and Toni went out to a Mexican restaurant near pub street that night. Leticia was supposed to meet us but unfortunately she was stuck at her volunteering organization. I have been craving some good Mexican food ever since I left the States and this restaurant didn’t disappoint! Afterwards, Rob went back to the hostel but the rest of us stayed and enjoyed 50 cent draft beers and pizza. I taught them how to play a fun card game I learned in South Africa last year called $hithead, which they caught onto quick and even beat me in a few times. Soon, we called it a night and went back.

The next night, as Lulu and Toni went to Angkor Wat, Rob, Schunk, and I pretty much ate, played cards, and lounged all day. It was exhausting! ;). Once the girls came back, we all went upstairs to the Sandbar for one final night of fun before everyone departed in the morning.

Rob was supposed to leave two days ago, but never could time his buses and flights properly, but this morning he would be leaving for sure. I never met any other person in Southeast Asia or even at home that could eat as much as I can! Whenever we both finished off a meal at a restaurant, we always decided it was a great idea to both order another full dinner! It was easy to be a pig when I had a buddy who was a pig just like me. And ever since we’ve met in Phnom Penh, we have been on the same page with everything. He’s been a really great traveling buddy and someone I know I’ll visit in the future. He was on his way back to Holland for a couple of weeks before he started up a year of Uni in London. Safe travels home Sean Connery! I say that because every word that started with an “s” he pronounced with a “sh”, sounding like Sean Connery. Next, I said goodbye to the three German siblings. I literally only met them a couple of days ago but we all hit it off very fast. They were on their way to Bangkok and straight to the southern islands. I’ve already traveled that route so I was able to give them some useful tips. They are frequent visitors of Oktoberfest so they told me whenever I’m up there, to let them know! This is a picture of Lulu, Schunk, and Toni below.

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All of my friends were gone and I was now by myself. I could easily meet more people around but I chose to recluse myself because I had a few things I needed to do. Respond to emails, laundry, and most importantly, catch up on my blogs. For my Facebook friends, you may have noticed that I have been posting more frequently the last few days than usual. Thats because I wanted to be entirely caught up before I start the next phase of this trip in Africa.

I’ve met tons of unique and awesome people in each of the four main countries (Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia) that I’ve been to. Even though I left home alone, I was never, ever alone here. Lucy, the volunteers, teachers, and students in Saigon. Kimmie and Ibriham in Hanoi. Alison, Abbie, Tristan, Megan, Claire, Alys, Josephine, Si, Meg, and Lauryn in Laos. All the crazy Brits in Chiang Mai. Björn, Kevin, and Viola in Pai. Clint in Bangkok. Leonoor, Thom, Jack, Kevin, and the two German friends in the islands. Rob, Leticia, Luke, Schunk, Lulu, Toni, Djoeke, Lianne, and Other Dan in Cambodia. It was them and a host of other random zany backpackers and locals alike that made this trip even better than what I could have imagined! I’m sorry if I’m forgetting anyone significant. I met SO many people out here!

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And to my main traveling buddies that were there with me through the long haul: Lucy, Björn, Kevin, Viola, and Rob. You guys are all great! Thanks for sharing in the memories.

Initially, Malaysia and Indonesia were supposed to be a part of the Southeast Asian excursion, but I spent so much time in each country I visited that I couldn’t fit those two in. I’d have to save them for a different trip in the future. I spent my last two days completely resetting myself in preparation for the next three months where I will cross continents and go back to Africa.

🙂

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Ride Away

About 13km away there is a river filled with floating homes and markets. Instead of taking a tuk-tuk or bus, Rob thought it would be better if we rented a mountain bike for 24 hours and explore the area on our own. Sounded great! But before we did that, we had to take care of a little problem.

My bed in our dorm is on the top bunk and Robs is directly across me but on the bottom bunk. The morning before Angkor when I woke up around 8 am, I remember looking down and staring directly at Robs camera which was sitting right on top of his red bag. I must of been deep in thought while I just stared at the thing for no reason whatsoever. I snapped out of my trance and turned over in my bed. The guy above Rob woke up and started packing. He was running late so he rushed out of there. Soon, Rob woke up and noticed his camera was wasn’t there. “No, I saw it right on top of your bag.” I told him. “I was staring right at it.” “It’s not here!” he said. He kept looking around and we came to the conclusion that the guy above him has stole it. As a traveller, arguably the worst item you can lose is your camera. Not necessarily the camera, but the memory card inside the camera, full of photos and memories. Passports, credit cards, phones, cameras – those are all replaceable. But a memory card with photos is not. Fortunately, Rob backed up most of his pictures onto his tablet the day before. He also has traveler’s insurance so he would be able to make a claim. He just had to get a police report which proved to be more of a hassle than anything.

We rented our bikes which costed $5 for 24 hours, and rode to the tourist police station, about 7km away. The “officer” who was dressed in regular local clothes gave Rob an annoyingly hard time. He told Rob he would need to question all of the people in the room at the time which was impractical and impossible because most of the people, including the guy we think stole the camera, has already checked out and left. “Well what do you expect me to do then?” asked the officer. How about a different career…“The chance of me getting my camera back is almost impossible.” said Rob. “I just need a police report to show my insurance.” The officer treated this stolen camera like it was a murder case, to the point where he asked me to wait outside so they could talk in private. It was laughable at how serious the officer was over a simple camera. After more than an hour, Rob was finally let go and he would have to wait to get a police report later while the officer thought about it. It wasn’t even my camera and I was frustrated. It took so long at the station that we postponed our bike trip for the next day, which was better because the weather proved to be much more clear…and hot!

We left around 11 am and first went to grab food. We found a nice Indian restaurant where Leticia joined us for a quick bite. Soon after we headed down the road towards the floating villages. After a few kilometers, it turned from a busy city to a more of a village through a jungle. As usual, I was sweating my face off from how intensely hot it was. A few more kilometers and the road went from paved to unpaved and the surroundings became more rustic.

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Soon, the jungle started to disappear and we came to an open field, flooded with water. We could see the floating village in the distance. We were getting closer!

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As we rode along, we saw numerous tourists getting an easy ride on tuk-tuks and tour buses. I was so tempted to latch onto the back of one of the buses and get pulled along on my bike. I was literally drenched in sweat. Fortunately we didn’t have much longer to go and then finally we made it to the floating villages.

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I’ve seen other floating villages and markets before, so we decided to roll along further to the boat station and see what it had to offer. We looked around and saw the route of the little boats for tours. It went in a giant circle and most of the tourists were older. You know, the iPad welding, fanny-pack kind of crowd. Nay a backpacker in sight. It also would cost us $15 per person for a ride. We’ve both been on these types of boats before (me during the Mekong trip in Vietnam) so we weren’t really bent up on going. Instead we chilled out at the boat station on comfy lounge chairs and gazed along the river. And I have to mention, the clouds in the horizon were as big as mountains! I’m a big fan of clouds!

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We decided to hit the road back to Siem Reap but along the way, stopped at a restaurant made of bamboo, elevated above the river. What caught our eyes were the hammocks which were practically calling our names. We knew we had a long haul ahead of us in the hot temperature, and we were in no rush, so this became the perfect place to wind down for a little while.

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We remembered we had to return our bikes by 4 pm. So before we could of easily fallen asleep on the hammocks, we decided it was best to head back through the villages, back to town.

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We returned our bikes and went back to our hostel. After a much needed shower, I went out in the lobby to catch up on blogging. There, I overheard three backpackers booking a tour for Angkor Wat the next day. They came to sit down and I asked them how much they paid so they didn’t get ripped off. They paid a bit more because they had a tour and were going for two days instead of one. From there we introduced ourselves and made chit-chat. They are three siblings from Germany traveling together; two older sisters, Lulu and Toni, and their younger brother Schunk. We became fast friends so I invited them to come upstairs to the sandbar later for some fun and games, along with Rob. It seemed like most of the backpackers in the hostel were up there that night and we all had a really, really great time!

Before I knew it, I realized I only had a few more days left here in Siem Reap before I left Asia to begin the next phase of my trip. The bittersweet end was just ahead. Time has flown by so fast!

Mad Monkeys

With just half a day left here on Koh Rong, I could not wait to leave this place! But why Dan? it sounded like you loved it? While I did love the beaches, the bars, and the people, I hated my bungalow. I’m a pretty easy going, go-with-the-flow guy; I’ll sleep on a cement floor if I had to. But I can’t really handle sleeping when it’s blazing hot at night with no fan or air conditioning around. Not only dripping in sweat, but dripping in sweat under a moldy mosquito net, on a mattress that smells like wet dog, and barking dogs, crying babies, and an obnoxious rooster belting out right outside my hut every morning at 6 am. I got little sleep each night there, which resulted in a crabby Mr. Sellers. The others were fine though. Kevin said that Germans don’t really have air con in their homes, so they’re used to it and Rob…well, he sleeps like a brick no matter where he is! My net was the only one with black mold all over it so when I went to ask the front desk if they could change it, they simply replied with “Oh sorry sir. We have no more.” Great.

Our ferry finally arrived and Rob, Kevin, Björn, Leticia, and I hit the sea. I was thrilled! Luke stayed behind as he still had to make up his mind of where he was going. The sun began to set which was a fitting end to our time on the island.

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Once we arrived in Sihanoukville, we immediately took a bus to our next destination, Siem Reap! Siem Reap is one of the more popular cities in Cambodia thanks to it’s energetic Pub Street, loads of outdoor night markets, and of course, the mother of all temples, Angkor Wat! Also here is one of the most popular hostels in the country, The Mad Monkey. If you recall, I stayed in the one in Phnom Penh and loved it so we all decided to stay at the location in Siem Reap as well. It was a great choice because this one was same, same, but different. On the roof of this hostel was a chilled out bar where the floor was covered with sand. My dorm room was shared with 12 other backpackers, including Rob (the others opted to get private rooms). The hostel staff initially gave me a bed in the center of the room, but I asked to move to another vacant bed right underneath the air conditioning :). Best choice. For our first night in Siem Reap, I didn’t really do much. I was tired and had to catch up on blogging. The next night, Rob, Leticia, her friend Lianne, and I decided to see what the famous Pub Street had to offer. But first, we went to an Angkor Night Market in the middle of town. I didn’t buy anything here because things here were a little bit pricier than what they were at the Old Market right across the street. Instead, we went to a restaurant right in the middle of the market where I conformed to a typical westerner and had a burger with fries. Once in awhile, I like to enjoy the comforts of western style food to keep my belly full, because sometimes all of these rice and noodle concoctions weren’t cutting it! Afterwards, we hit up pub street and found that almost every bar offered 50 cent draft beers all night long. You really cannot beat that! So we decided to chill there for awhile.

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I noticed there were a few children walking around the busy streets trying to sell things to all of the tourists, mostly bracelets and roses. Whats worse than a local adult trying to heckle you to buy things you don’t need, are children who try to heckle you to buy things you don’t need! One, their English is usually much better than adults, so it’s harder to play stupid with them. Also, kids are cuter and it’s not as easy to say no to a cute kid working hard in the middle of the night. One little girl came up to us, chatted up a storm, getting to know us and then offered her bracelets for us to buy. Her tactics worked. We all ended up getting one.

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After a couple of hours, we went right across the street to a happening place called The Temple Club where we played a couple of games of pool and tore up the dance floor! Then, right back across the street to a place called The Angkor Wat. Not the real Angkor Wat, but a club version I guess. We all had a pretty great time!

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The next night, Rob and I took it easy because we planned on waking up at 4 am to visit the insanely massive temple of all temples in the Kingdom of Cambodia…

Angkor Wat!

Björn To Be Wild!

After more than a week on the blissful islands of Thailand, I never thought that I would be living the island life for a second time during this trip. But low and behold, here I go again, but this time to the Cambodian Islands of the south. Björn and Kevin ran the idea in my head so we all decided to go. Rob would join us, but first we had to go pick him up from Sihanoukville. He left a little before us the morning before. We were headed there that evening on a sleeper bus that ran from 1 am to around 6 am. As cozy as this sleeper bus was, my seat was next to a girl who was all over my side of the bed and she hogged all the blankets. Plus, the bus smelled like urine, so I couldn’t wait to get off of it! We finally made it to Sihanoukville, where I had to wake up Rob who was deep in slumber in his hostel, so we wouldn’t miss our scheduled ferry to the island of Koh Rong.
The four of us were regrouped again and made way to the dock where a ferry roughed it through a short rainstorm for two hours, before finally docking at Koh Rong Island.

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My first glance of this island, it reminded me of Koh Tao, but once I stepped foot onto Koh Rong, I saw just how different it was from the previous islands. You have the coast lined up with bars, restaurants, and bungalows ran by westerners on one side of the dock, then on the other you have the smaller food stalls ran by only Cambodians. There aren’t any cities or towns in the center of the island; just a big jungle filled with six different types of venomous snakes. There are little Cambodian kids running around everywhere and the beach itself isn’t so clean. However, the vibe was nice as pie and everyone was here just to wind down and relax. There wasn’t much to do as far as water-sports were concerned besides a little kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The four of us booked two bungalows at a place called “Coco Bungalows”. It looked pretty cool! Elevated bamboo huts in the middle of the jungle, with a hammock to accommodate each hut. However, I didn’t care much for the actual room. My mosquito net for my bed had black mold all over it, and my bed smelled like a combination of basement and wet dog. We were told that the island cuts the electricity off every night so no air con or even a fan in any of the rooms. I’ll get more into it later. But for now, we wanted to explore the island!

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We walked along the coast and saw that the beach was cleaner, the sand turned whiter, and the coast became more appealing the further we went down. Once we headed back we went to the bar/restaurant of our bungalow and saw that there was going to be a beer pong tournament held tomorrow evening. Once we saw that sign, Rob and I immediately knew we had to partake in it. He and I were partners previously at Phnom Penh and we smashed the competition! Kevin and Björn would partner up. A couple other people we met would also play. Rob met two backpackers from his hostel in Sihanoukville who came to the island also. Their names are Leticia (Brazil) and Luke (England) and they would be partners. Also, Djoeke came to the island later on to and partnered up with another backpacker. Rob and I were confident we’d make it far, even to the point of winning, because most of these backpackers have never or rarely played in their lives. I guess it’s more of an American thing.

Once the tournament began, we watched a couple of other teams battle it out. By the way, the rules here are so much different than back home. There’s too much running around involved with this one. But anyway, it was finally me and Rob vs our first random opponents…Björn and Kevin. Psshh, we got this. Björn has never played before and I wasn’t sure about Kevin but I assumed the same.

I don’t know what happened but Rob and I were off our game. To the point that we lost the first round. I was a bit crabby after that because I HATE losing. Even worse, losing to two people who never play, ever! I know it’s a stupid game, but I went in with the mindset that I’d go far. Björn and Kevin actually ended up winning the tournament! I couldn’t believe it! Props to them. They won a bottle of Cambodian whiskey for their efforts.

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The next night, the same bar at our bungalow was holding a toga party and the best dressed would win a bottle of whiskey.

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I had no interest in the prize and no one in my group seemed interested in participating. All of a sudden, a bright idea popped into my head. Let’s just dress up one person, deck em out, and have them be a viable contender for the toga contest! My idea was to dress up Björn, since he resembles a Julius Caesar, or at least what I pictured Caesar to look like in my head. Björn wasn’t sure about it at first, but I was confident I could whip him up in something. I went around the bungalows and found leaves, twigs, and other things I could borrow from Mother Nature and made a wreath for his head, two arm bands made of plants, and I put long green petals around a belt I had. I did some damage to the property in the process of scavenging for the perfect materials …whoops! I managed to find some gold spray paint and sprayed the wreath all gold. I don’t know how I did it but once my creative juices get flowing, the sky’s the limit! However, when it came to the actual toga, I had no idea how to make one or what to use to even make it. YouTube is the best when it comes to tutorials so thats what I did. But there wasn’t a white sheet in sight! I had to forgo the impossible search for a white bed sheet and decided to just use my red bed sheet as his toga. Luckily, I also had a bronze liner that Shiv gave me way back in Chiang Mai that I could use as well. I went and grabbed Björn who had no clue as to what stuff I had for him, but he was pretty excited. After a few minutes getting everything on and adjusting properly, it was like magic!

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He played to the character of some kind of Greek God, an authoritative figure with a regal presence. I even made a fan out of big leaves for his servant to cool him down, which I suppose that servant was me.

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And just like I hoped, Björn ended up winning the contest thanks to all the details I put into it. So he won ANOTHER bottle of free whiskey. He tried to share it with me but I wanted none of it. I just wanted to win. “Drink up man! Have fun!” I told him. Most of my group left the toga party, including myself because I was really tired, while wild Björn stayed and went all out with the other togas.

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Make that two nights in a row Björn won the respective competitions. Let’s see what kind of competition there would be tomorrow? Make it a three-peat! Björn was game…until we saw what the next competition was. Ladies Night. Which meant the best dressed guy in women’s clothing would win a bottle.

Well…two out of three competitions ain’t bad!

Wiped Out!

Every kid growing up in the early 90’s has dreamed of participating in Nickelodeon’s Guts and Legend of The Hidden Temple, and also my personal favorite, American Gladiators. Game shows where you test your might and strength by traversing through numerous obstacle courses and compete for the best time. Nowadays we have shows like Ninja Warrior and Wipeout, which I would still love to participate in both pretty much. I forgot who I heard it from, but rumor had it that there was a makeshift Wipeout course somewhere on Koh Phangnan! If that was true, I had to find it!

I googled it before I actually tried to find it and yup, it’s a real thing! An imitation course on a lake somewhere on the island. It’s a lot smaller than the real deal but still looked awfully entertaining! It had the rolling barrels, an inflated mountain, monkey bars, a swing where you leap into the water, and most importantly, those infamous giant red balls! The day after the Full Moon, we said our goodbyes to Jack who was going to Phuket, Kevin who was going to the island of Koh Samui and the two Germans. Viola and I took a taxi to a lake where apparently this course was laid out on the other side of the island. We were one of the first ones there. Actually, there were other people but they were just sitting around. Why?! I think they were waiting for others to guinea pig their way through the courses first. Viola and I were glad to be those guinea pigs!

We put on life jackets because we were bound to be exhausted doing some of these obstacles. The first hurdle we had to go through was swinging our way into the lake to kick off the course. Pretty simple, yet extremely fun!

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Swim across to the first obstacle where we had to make our way across two giant inner tubes, with a bunch of smaller floatation devices in the middle of them. Those floats in the middle didn’t look stable at all, so I went around the big tubes themselves.

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Next up were monkey bars. A picnic.

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After that were the rolling barrels. Easier than it looks. Just don’t stop moving or you’re doomed!

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Soon was the inflated mountain. Just climb up this bad boy and jump from the top. The first time I climbed it, I went to the top and accidentally slid right off into the water! It’s mighty slippery.

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Finally, we came to the giant red balls. Just climbing up to the balls was a task in themselves. Once I was up there, I figured the best way to approach it was to just try and run across. I immediately failed! I went back up to the balls and tried running again, and again, and again.
It seemed impossible. I saw on the tv show, the few contestants that made it, hopped on their knees one at a time. So then I tried that…Didn’t work for me. I think I tried going across the red balls about 30 times and only made it as far as the second ball.

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I wasn’t the only one who had issues!

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Viola and I tried the course as a whole a few times, getting a little quicker with each attempt. Viola even tried the launch pad. She laid on a giant inflated bag, then two guys jumped on the other end, launching her into the air!

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She did an unintentional backflip! I figured I was too heavy and wouldn’t launch that high so I skipped that and concentrated on conquering those red balls. I tried my best, but eventually I felt like I just got the living crap physically beaten out of me. Same with poor Viola. We left after a few hours of a horrible defeat.

As great as this day was, it was also bittersweet as this would be my last full day with Viola before we part ways in the morning. For old times sake, we went to the night market and pigged out some more. It was easy to stuff ourselves here since the food was so good and best of all, cheap!

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The next morning, I woke up early and headed straight to Viola’s bungalow where we planned to have one last breakfast together. Traveling with Viola since Pai, all the way down to the islands was unexpected but has been an absolute pleasure. She has been game to do anything and everything with nothing stopping her! She only has a few more days left in Thailand, in which afterwards she heads back home to Holland. She has big plans to travel again immediately, either in Peru or South Africa (both are great choices) in the near future. I’m pretty certain I’ll be seeing Viola again in the future. Viola if you’re reading this right now, I just wanted to tell you that you’re disgusting, annoying, creepy, and not possible 😉 and all I wanna do is have some fun. Also, you were right, it’s a guy and not a lady that sings that song, although I still find it hard to believe! And this photo of you is the best!

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I departed the island and took a ferry back to the Thailand mainland and from there took a bus back to Bangkok. I waited a few hours until the bus for my next destination arrived. And that destination would be a brand new country: Cambodia.