China town Okay, so i’ll admit that being late for my first post doesn’t bode well for the rest of the year, but it’s been a hectic couple of days!
Our trip started off pretty badly. With my flight from Edinburgh being delayed and having to actually get a £15 black cab to terminal 4 – it wasn’t the most relaxing beginning. Either way, my perfect record of never missing a flight (touch wood) is still intact and we managed to get to Bangkok all in one piece.
When we walked out of the airport, the wall of water hit me like a steam train and I knew that for the next 6 weeks, i was just going to be damp. Being the poor students/travelers we are, we got the bus into town (only 60BHT! thats about £1.50). After getting to the hostel and having cold shower, we headed straight to the infamous to Khoasan Road on a mini bar crawl. Although we ended up quite drunk (starting at 4pm is never a good idea!), it was pretty tame. We were drunk enough to buy some horrific bracelets, but I won’t repeat what they say on here, trying to keep it PG.
We slept in quite late the next day, but at least we got over the jet lag pretty easily. After finally getting up, by a stroke of luck we found ourselves by the river at a “hop-on-hop-off” boat stop which took us to all the main attractions.
We first headed to China town and by this time it was about 1:30pm and we were starving. Nia was so hungry that she felt sick, she seems to have a bizarre condition where if she doesn’t eat and the proceeds to drink a lot of water, she vomits. After wandering around for 20 mins and failing to find anywhere to eat, Nia decides that a sprite is going to be the answer to her problems. 5 minutes after the ‘life-saving’ sprite, she delightfully throws up – first in her mouth, which thankfully she swallowed back down, giving us time to empty a plastic bag for the main performance. It was pretty lucky that only a little bit dribbled down onto her bag and that we managed to not get it everywhere in a very small and crowded alley. I’ll admit I awkwardly spilled orange juice all over this woman’s table, but I don’t think its as bad as Nia putting the green sloshing bag into her bin.
After that, we thought it was probably best if we headed back to the boat to get off at the next stop. We then went to see Wat Arun. I will admit we didn’t actually go into it because we had shorts on, but it was beautiful from what we could see… We then got a ferry to the other side of the river to see Wat Poh, again, stunning from the outside.
In the evening we just chilled in the hostel and then went out for a bite to eat and a beer. With a 6am flight to Phnom Penh in the morning, coming in at 2am steamin’ drunk just didn’t really have the same appeal it had the night before.
Hostel:Sabye club hostel – it was alright but rooms were quite warm and the hostel was quiet. Good location though, 10-minute walk from Koahsan Road.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
It was an early start to get to Cambodia but the journey was pretty painless. We couldn’t check in yet so decided to get some of the sightseeing done while we waited.
We got a tuk-tuk city tour to all the main attractions – the guy driving us was really lovely and ended up just being our driver for our whole time in Phnom Penh.
We first went to the local market as we had to kill some time because the Grand Palace didn’t open till 2pm, so after doing a little bit of shopping, we just wandered around the market for about 20 mins. It was so hot and so busy, and the smell of the food bit of the market was almost a bit too much! Next, we visited Wat Phnom – this temple was in a really nice park, so we got our steps in walking around and managed to kill some time as well. The tuk-tuk driver then took us to a small restaurant by the Grand Palace while we waited for it to open. We weren’t really hungry but decided to share some fried rice, and it as probably some of the best-fried rice I’ve ever had (accompanied by a cheeky beer). When we finally got into the Grand Palace, it was stunning, but it was so so hot and I was wearing Nia’s hoodie as I was only wearing a vest so I basically nearly died from heat exhaustion. Finally, after a long day on about 3 hours sleep, we got into our room, watched love island, and napped. It was such a good nap.
After we got up, we had dinner and played some cards in the hostel restaurant, and then made our way up to the bar because there was a free punch from 8pm. Once we got to the bar, it was actually pretty busy! We got straight on the punch and sat down. We saw a South African guy – Adrian – who we’d met in our room earlier, sitting on his own so invited him over. He was great chat and we ended up spending most of the time in Phnom Penh with him. One of his friends, George, then joined us (driest man on planet earth) and we all ended up playing a very competitive game of beer pong – I’ll admit that Adrian and I lost and Nia and George were crowned victorious. As the beers flowed so did the conversation and then the hostel took us all to a club – it was a really good night. I did, however, managed to lose my ecig between the hostel and the club, not ideal for day 3.
The next day we went to visit the killing fields with Adrian and one of his friends. Just in case you didn’t know, Cambodia had a mass genocide in the late 70s due to the Khmer Rouge regime. It’s leader, Pol Pot wanted to get rid of all social institutions and transform the society into an agrarian one. This regime led to widespread famine, forced labor and segregated communal living, arrests and mass killings. They arrested and eventually executed almost everyone ‘suspected’ of having affiliations with the former or reign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals. There was also an ethnic cleansing element, focusing particularly on Chinese or Vietnamese and their descendants. In most cases, if 1 person in a family was arrested/executed, the whole family would be too. Nearly 3 million people, a third of the population of Cambodia, were murdered and dumped in mass graves.
We visited the Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre, where around 20,000 people were brutally executed. We walked around and listened to the audio tour, it was a really emotion place, you can see the thousands of skulls on display and learn about the genocide. It was the details of the killings, for example, they would just grab babies by the leg, slam them against a tree and then throw them into a mass grave, which made the experience a sombre one.
Next we went to S21, a once girls school which had been shut down – like all schools during the Khmer Rouge regime – and turned into a prison. People were arrested for no reason and then tortured until they falsely confessed to an act of treason of some sort, and then eventually executed. Only 7 people out of 14,000 known to have entered survived.
The outside of one of the buildings and a cell in S21
After that heavy day, especially on a hangover, we decided a beer was probably in order. We ate and drank a beer, and while the boys could head back to their nice aircon room for a nap, we just had to sit in the restaurant and kill time until our bus at 11pm.
Hostel: Mad Monkey – This hostel was great. They had a bar, the restaurant was 24 hours and the people were great. Would definitely recommend!
Siem Reap, Cambodia
The sleeper bus was actually amazing, it had proper beds, wifi, and charging points. We passed out as soon as we got in and woke up in Siem Reap, albeit at 5am. This was probably the best night’s sleep I’d gotten so far!
Seeing as we couldn’t check in till 2pm, we decided to head straight to Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples. I don’t need to tell you that the whole thing is pretty damn impressive. Angkor Wat is the largest temple in the world and is about 900 years old… how they created it with only elephants for help baffles me.
Once we’d checked in, and after a well-needed shower and nap, we headed to the bar. We were approached some really annoying and battered 19-year-olds – repeating our names and where we’re from 20 times was not really what we were in the mood for if I’m honest. Thankfully it didn’t take long until we met some decent people. The hostel had a sky bar, so we headed up there and ended up having a 2 beer tower game of ring of fire. It was a really fun night but by 2am we were pretty shattered and headed for bed.
The next morning we allowed ourselves a good lie in and then went to see some temples in the afternoon. If I’m honest, we were pretty templed-out by then and were doing them at rapid speed. Even the tuk-tuk driver said that people normally stay about an hour at each temple, we were at each one for 20 minutes max. It was quite embarrassing, we even did laps of one temple just to kill some time and get in our steps, but I bet the driver didn’t mind, he was getting paid for the tour no matter how long it took us.
After that we headed back to the hostel and decided to chill by the pool, we sat next to one of the boys – Liam, who we’d met the night before. The beers started flowing pretty early and we started doing the hostels signature shots – overloads. These consist of a vodka shot with joss in it – a powered energy substance banned in every country apart from Cambodia and Indonesia… healthy stuff then! – the joss shot is then followed by a jager bomb. These things set your heart rate through the roof and the hostel had a rule that if you had 5 overloads that you got a free T-shirt, safe to say we got them!
Second night in Siem Reap – Nia, Cameron, Liam and Me
As we were getting ready to head out, we met some boys in our dorm, Lewis, and Marcus, and invited them to dinner with us and Liam. It was ‘Gender bender’ night at the hostel, so Nia and I very kindly lent the boys some of our dresses and we headed up to the sky bar in their long shorts and shirts. Boys clothes are boiling by the way! It was a really good night which ended with a egg and bacon roll at 4am.
I had never been so glad to have nothing on the next day. We slept solidly until about 11 and only left the hostel to eat. We chilled by the pool most of the day and I was so hungover I couldn’t even speak – bloody overloads.
After dinner with some of the boys, we then went to the sky bar for the ‘cocktail party’ – $5 and you can drink as much of this pre-made punch as you wanted for an hour. Those things were lethal, especially when paired with piccolo – an extremely unforgiving drinking game on your phone.
Hostel:Funky Flashpackers – Actually such a great hostel. It had a pool, 24-hour bar and restaurant and the people were absolute nutters. I mean, if you want to sleep this probably isn’t the hostel for you.
Bangkok, Thailand (again)
It was safe to say the 8am bus was less fun than the night before and we were not even close to being ready to leave Cambodia, but Katie had arrived in Bangkok and we needed to go meet her. Thankfully Nia and I pretty much slept the whole way there.
We met Katie in the hostel and went out to Koahsan road for food and drinks. We had a couple of buckets and I ended up getting a compass henna on my shoulder – possibly a future tattoo idea? – and a blue braid. Nia got a purple one and Katie got a dread (gross).
Katie with her dread and me with my braid – Bangkok
Nia was knackered so headed back to the hostel, Katie and I went into ‘The Club’ – yes thats literally what it was called. We didn’t stay long though, it wasn’t great and I was so so tired. On our way home we stopped in this dive bar, had a beer and drank some thai wiskey – it was disgusting, I don’t even like normal whiskey. Finally, by some miracle I managed not to smudge my henna and we remembered the way home and collapsed into bed.
Hostel: Mad Monkey – We decided stay at a Mad Monkey again because of the great time we had in Phnom Penh. Its brand new so it’s super clean and has a nice bar and pool. The rooms are small (4 bed dorms) so you need to meet people in communal areas but I would stay here again.
So that was week 1! Next stop Chiang Mai.
PS. You can watch a terribly put together GoPro video from this part of the trip: https://www.facebook.com/abradie/videos/10155457844722988/