Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Travel Help

as you are aware, we do travel often...... and it is not always easy to find the right hotel or where to go at a particular time of the year etc.

Here are a few websites that will certainly help you plan a trip that you will remember for a long time:

When comparing hotels and prices or where to stay, certainly go to HOTELS COMBINED, where you can find a hotel or resort to suit your pocket and your needs. The following was 'lifted' from their website: allows users to:
  • Conveniently search multiple hotel reservation websites simultaneously to find the lowest prices - in one search and on the one website. searches the hotel websites directly and in real-time ensuring you receive the latest prices and availability.
  • Compare prices and availability from all major accommodation providers on the same screen. We search the world’s most popular hotel reservation websites allowing instant comparison of hotel details, rates, taxes and availability information on one simple web page. Compare online travel agents such as Expedia, Travelocity,,, Priceline and the websites of popular hotel chains including the Intercontinental Hotel Group and many others.
  • Search over 900,000 global hotel deals from over 30 merchants, and access over 1.5m consumer reviews, 3m hotel images, 2m hotel descriptions and maps is free to use. We do not alter the rates in anyway: we are not involved in the pricing process and we do not change the prices displayed by the reservation websites. We are all about finding the best deal for your preferred hotel!

Trying to decide what time of year to visit your preferred destination then log on to a site called BEST TIME TO GO.

....... and what they say on their site is: We provide travelers the answers to the primary question of Where and When to go on a vacation. There are very few websites in cyberspace that are really designed to do that. (Actually, we couldn’t find anyone other than ours that went right to the core of that question.) After all, those two questions should be the very first that vacationers ask themselves.

Down to the serious business of money ...... if you are looking for a good website for currency exchange you cannot beat XE Universal Currency Exchange!

The above should at least get you started. Over the next few months I will be adding hotels and places to THE BLOG where we have stayed since living here in Singapore.

Hope it will be of help to you!

Monday, 27 April 2009

a hard earned riel

the people of Cambodia work extremely hard to make a living. The above image shows two young men scraping and cleaning cow hide to make "beef jerky". It is a long and slow process for little return.

one Singapore dollar equals 2,764.00 KHR (Cambodian Riel)

below is a large pot of Palm Sugar boiling away to make palm sugar pieces, tastes like fudge too.

this lady is preparing it for sale by wrapping each piece in a piece of palm leaf.

Everybody does what they are capable of, we saw young women working in the Silk Factory, they are squatting from 7.00am till 6.00pm working on fine silk every day.....

in another factory we saw workers carving wood (photos later) and we see women on the side of the roadway selling food, beads, bags and anything else they could possibly sell. The men are sweeping the streets or working as tour guides, many women work as domestics in the hotels.

The cleaners in the hotels earn approx $60.00 USD per month...... but we cannot compare the USD with what they are earning, we cannot compare our Western way of life with how they live, though we should have compassion for these people and to be aware of how blessed we are to live the lives that we do.

The riel ( Symbol ) is the currency of Cambodia. There have been two distinct riel, the first issued between 1953 and May 1975, and the second since April 1, 1980. In Cambodia, the U.S. dollar is also widely used. Between 1975 and 1980, the country had no monetary system at all.

Friday, 24 April 2009

a Cambodian Village

these few images were taken in one of the rural villages we visited while in Cambodia last week.

The poverty in these area's is unbelievable, certainly to us it was an eye opener, yet everyone we met including the children, were happy and constantly smiling. It seems to be a case of "what you don't have - you don't miss", But you do have to be very careful not to think of or compare western 'standards' when visiting such an area.

This first image is of one of the walls of a home we visited ..... it was made of palm leaves:

This next one was like a mansion!

this is a kitchen, they cook here and prepare the meals.....

here are the front steps into a home where you are made to feel very welcome....

cooking is also done outside......
here are a few young men having lunch:

we walked away from that village with heavy hearts but open eyes.

If your schedule allows, set aside a day or three to get out of the Siem Reap Town/main temple area and into the countryside.

The vast majority of Cambodians live and work in the rural countryside and a countryside tour or even a day trip to a remote temple ruin can provide a glimpse of ‘real Cambodia’ - picturesque, bucolic scenery, rice paddies and water buffalos, countryside pagodas and little villages filled with traditional stilted houses... And there are a number of ways to see it: by 4WD or dirtbikes, ATVs, bicycle, ox cart and more.

Our tour guide (Ly Heng) took us to a rural village not too far from Siem Reap. The following websites will give some more insight into Cambodian Village life.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

a Cambodian picnic - part three

as you have probably read parts one and two by now, you will know that we are packed up and ready to head back to Siem Reap after our Cambodian Picnic and a visit to the waterfall.

here we watch one family - a large family - all clamber onto the truck for the trip back home....
we lost count of the number of people climbing on, but once they were all on the truck I doubt they could have fitted anyone else!
here is the driver putting on a bottle of fuel to make sure it will go the distance.....

Fuel (petrol) is sold in plastic one litre bottles along the side of the main road or at the villages rather than going to a petrol or fuel station.

closing up the truck and then they slide another long bar across the back area before the truck departs...
all aboard and they are on their way .....
..... back home to the local village or perhaps to Siem Reap!
bye everyone

we had a great time at Koulen National Park on our Cambodian Picnic!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

a Cambodian Picnic - part two

please read previous post - part one - first.

at the end of "part one" we left it at the point where we set off to find a quiet spot for our picnic with Ly Heng our guide and Phanna our driver......
we walked past many of these hut like structures that some of the families that had arrived early were lucky to secure.....
Phanna walked ahead of me to try and steady the swing bridge while I crossed the river .... didn't help though as the children thought it funny to watch the foreigners crossing on such a wobbly bridge so made it even wobblier - is there such a word??

we found a spot - maybe not so quiet - but at least there was space for the four of us .... John sat on one of the carved rocks for awhile, that is until the bum became numb!
I don't think I have ever seen so many people at one place at any one time. We couldn't possible estimate the numbers, except to say it ran into the thousands. They were everywhere, in the water, on rocks, in tree's, sitting on fences and mats.... anywhere a bum could fit, someone was there!

even a wee baby got to have a nap - squashed in with the dad though!

and then we walked down towards the waterfall..... here is the top section of the falls where everyone wanted a turn at standing underneath the water. Everyone was having such fun..... not one bad tempered child or adult did we see or hear, everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves.

then Ly Heng took us to the foot of the falls ...... would love to see this when there is not so many people there .... it really is a beautiful part of Cambodia.

I should mention here that it was extra busy with people as it was part of the four day holiday period for the Khmer New Year ..... we were there on Friday April 17 right in the middle of all the celebrations!

next posting will be on our way back after the picnic!!!

a Cambodian Picnic - part three!

a Cambodian Picnic - part one

am sitting here trying to think about how to (or where to) start on this 'posting' to my blog.

It was such a full day of doing and seeing different things that it is difficult to know where to actually start.....maybe I should call this "part one" which will describe where we are going and what it is about!

Well the first part of the day was getting up at 4.00am to leave by 5.00 so we could watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat, which you can see on the previous posting.... after that we went back to the hotel for breakfast and for the kitchen staff to put together a picnic hamper for us to take to Koulen Mountain where our destination was to be.

Koulen Mountain locates at Districts of Svay Len and Va Rin in 48-kilometer distance from the provincial town of Siem Reap by Short cut or in 50 Klm distance from the provincial town of Siem Reap via Charles De Gaulle Road.

The hills beyond Banteay Srei Temple were the original home of much of the sandstone which the ancient Khmers used to build Angkor Wat. Blocks of stone were somehow moved to the temple complex, probably using the Siem Reap River.

Successive kings of Angkor built shrines to appease the gods in the hills, and they had dozens of linga carved into the riverbed, in order to thank the gods for allowing them to carry stone from the hills to Angkor. The carvings at Phnom Koulen are remarkably well preserved and, to see them properly, you need to wade in the river. A walk through the forest takes you to Preah Ang Thom, where a reclining Buddha statue lies on top of a huge natural rock (approximately 50 m high).

From the top of this rock, you can enjoy views out over the surrounding forest and plains. You can also visit a few caves with Buddha statues nearby. A short forest walk takes to you a waterfall, with more impressive stone carvings in the riverbed. This is a popular spot for Khmer people to come and picnic at the weekends.

and on a tourist site I noticed this:

Note: Adventurous tourists now visit this site.

that must mean us!!

Though I didn't see the above sign till AFTER I walked on the carvings!

The waters from the spring which feeds the Siem Reap River, wash over the lingas and cascade down to a lovely waterfall. Ancient carvings of Hindu deities and animals dress the stones and hundreds of brightly coloured butterflies complete the scene.

..... and this is why the Cambodian people come here to picnic and lay in the water.... their belief is that the water washes over them and down into the sea bringing them good luck and washing away any troubles.... you will see many photos of them in the water in the next posting as in "part two".

Siva means auspiciousness and linga means a sign or a symbol, Hence the Sivalinga is regarded as a "symbol of the great God of the universe who is all-auspiciousness

after a bit of a 'paddle' in the holy water we took the path thru the jungle to another area where John decided to drink from the water and of course caught a bug.... he has been quite ill for the past three days. We are told constantly to drink only bottled water, but John thought "one mouthful" would not hurt!!
Tread carefully and always stay on the path.
There are still an estimated 1 million landmines in Cambodia
now we start to get our picnic together, though John and I still had ours with us from the hotel, but our driver and guide needed to buy theirs....

There are many stalls around the river and mountain area for people to buy what ever takes their fancy, from fruit .....

to bananas cooked over hot coals on a piece of guttering!

to a FLAT chicken that has been cooked over coals and now held here by Ly Heng our guide...

or perhaps a few dried fish?
or these two slowly baked over the hot coals?
maybe a waffle or two to finish off with?

and we are on our way to find a nice quiet spot for our picnic.....