A Travellerspoint blog


Siem Reap, Cambodia

sunny 50 °C

Hello pals!

Here we are in Siem Reap, where we spent quite a lot of time, seeing Angkor Wat and volunteering at a local orphanage. Welcome to our Angkor Wonder adventure!

We had quite a cheerful greeting as we arrived in Siem Reap. Two chaps from our hostel - Angkor Wonder - came to pick us up in tuk tuks. They drove us to the hostel where we met the owner, Mr Why Not. So named, as any question you ask him, the answer will be... why not?!
After a detailed discussion of where we wanted to go for our 3 days in Angkor Wat, we went for a meal in the town. We were back on the tasty fresh smoothies with avengence.

The next day was Angkor Wat Day number 1! Our tuk tuk driver drove us around some of the outer temples of AW. Part of our tuk tuk deal was that we all got free bottled water, which was amazing! He had a little cool box with ice in at our feet and refilled it every time we emptied it, which was about every time we got back in the tuk tuk.
One of our face AW past times was shooting scenes for Parra Croft - an epic film starring Emma Parr on a Lara Croft theme. We got some cracking body roll shots.

That evening we sat at the top of the Pre Rup Temple to watch the sunset. It was really beautiful and all you could see were palm trees for miles. Again, we got some cracking shots.
For dinner we enjoyed some local dishes, such as lok lak and Cambodian BBQ, along with smoothies. We strolled around the night market, which sold so many lovely things. We could have quite easily bought the whole place. Then we went to the Angkor What? Bar on Pub Street, as we heard if you bought two buckets you get a free t-shirt. We got 3 t-shirts that night.

The next day was Day 2 at Angkor Way. Today we asked our driver to take us to the Landmine Museum. This was run by a man who used to lay landmines in the Vietnam War and was now trying to make his country safe again. He had safely removed thousands of landmines and kept them in the museum. He also opened up an orphanage and school for children affected by landmines. It was an inspiring morning.
That evening we went to the Green Star restaurant and had a tower of beer and some cracking food. We went to bed early, as we had an early start the next day.

We woke up at 4am on Angkor Wat Day 3. We wanted to see the sunrise and so had to leave at 5am. The temple was really crowded, but the sunset was lovely. We sat on the wall and lay by the pond watching the sun come up. Quite randomly, there was a pig running around.

We went to visit the temple at the top of the main Angkor Wat building. Sadly, Alice and Louise weren't allowed to go up as they weren't "appropriately" dressed and the officials wouldn't allow sarongs. Quite a general issue of our trip really. After another morning of ruins, we went back to Angkor Wonder to meet Papa Tom. Tom was an old English gent and a long-standing guest of the hostel. On his check-in details it said "In - 2nd Feb. Out - in a box!" He had promised to take us to an orphanage so we could enquire about some volunteering.
Papa Tom took us to CDO, an orphanage just down the road, and introduced us to 'Mom', who showed us around. She said she would love to have us volunteer, as some people had just left. So we stayed that afternoon, sitting in the classes and playing hangman with the children.

We came back the next day and between us taught 2 classes in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. Chris, one of the volunteer teachers, was really helpful and provided us with worksheets to use. Rob, the other teacher, didn't turn up. At least we gave him a break.

Why Not had told us that as we were staying longer in the hostel, he must show us around Siem Reap and Tom told us to be ready that night at 5pm. So, after volunteering, we showered, changed and waited in the hammocks of the reception. Eventually, Why Not appeared and took us to his friends house in a village outside of SR.

The family cooked us food, supplied a huge bowl filled with cans of Angkor Beer and told us stories about Cambodia. After dinner, Why Not told us it was time to go snake hunting and so, armed with torches, we all trooped out into the night. It was pitch black in the fields, apart from an occasional bust of lightning from a storm in the distance. Every now and then, one of the men would pull a snake from a tree, with a shout of Papa! Tom would then pretend to eat it.

When the snake hunt was over, some of us went back to Pub Street for more buckets and t-shirts. We all returned home that night a little bit merry.

The next day, Saturday, was quite luckily a no school day, and we were all feeling a little bit sorry for ourselves. Some of us made it to lunch, some didn't. We retreated to our air con filled rooms and watched TV. Sunday was a lot more productive. The group, sadly minus a poorly Louise, went to a cooking course at a local restaurant. After walking through the market, we each made a three course meal, which we got to eat at the end. Between us we made mango salad, papaya salad, spicy prawn salad, amok curry, lok lak, and sticky mango rice for pudding. Delicious.
Later that afternoon, Luca and Alice went for a fish spa, whilst Lucy watched, laughed and took photos. The fish were hilariously big and clearly hungry. For dinner we all went to a vegetarian restaurant, which was top notch, although most of us were still full from cooking.
The next day we were back at school. Another volunteer, Desi from America, joined us, so we let her take the class so we could work more one on one with the kids. At lunch, we cycled off in search of sandwiches and returned back, for another session of classes. That night, we went back for some more street food and smoothies.

Tuesday was our last day at CDO - quite a sad day really. Halfway through our first lesson a group of American high school kids and their teachers came, bringing loads of food and toys for the children. Funnily enough, lessons stopped and the children were running around playing with the balloons and other toys. They all sang songs, including Justin Bieber, for the Americans, which was very sweet.
We all waved a very sad goodbye to CDO, leaving notebooks and pencils. It wasn't a happy last cycle home. That night, Chris from CDO took us to a Mexican restaurant and then to a Cambodian funfair, which Papa Tom called 'the real Pub Street'. We went on a number of fun and life threatening rides and were introduced to probably every insect in Cambodia. Cracking night!
The next morning, we woke up early to catch the bus to Thailand. Siem Reap had been such a brilliant chapter of our trip - we were sad to leave it, and Why Not, behind.

Next stop... Bangkok!
Love The Mascotios x

Posted by lucyjfrench 23:43 Archived in Cambodia Tagged beaches bridges birds boats hot really sweaty Comments (0)

When is a lake not a lake?

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

sunny 40 °C

When is a lake not a lake? When the government filled it in and lonely planet didn't tell you.

Hey guys!

Welcome to our first blog of Cambodia. We spent a few days in the capital and this is what occurred.

We arrived at the riverside in Phnom Penh and managed to squeeze all five of us and our luggage onto our tuk tuk. We were staying at Nomad's Hostel, ran by Martin who was originally from Chippenham (not far from Louise, Alice and Lucy's home town).

As it was a stifflingly hot day, we spent a lazy afternoon in the hotel after lunch. Martin provided one fan per person, so we all took full advantage of that.
We had read about a lake in PP, which was surrounded by nice places to eat and generally sounded like a good time. So that evening we set off in the thunder and lightning in search of this place. After a while, a helpful chap told us that it had been filled in! Distraught, we had our dinner in his restaurant and he told us about his country.

The next day, after a breakfast buffet, we went to visit The Killing Fields and S-21; the prison during the Khmer Rouge. The Killing Fields were very well done and, we think, a fitting memorial to the thousands that died under the Khmer Rouge. The prison was a lot more harrowing and harder to see. There were picture after picture of men, women and children who had been kept in the prison before being sent to the Killing Fields. We found we couldn't stay there long.

We travelled back to the city for smoothies. As we were drinking them, a small boy came over to try to sell us bracelets and postcards. We ended up buying him a smoothies, whilst he watched the TV in the corner. When we left the cafe a few of his friends followed us down the road - lesson learnt here!

That night we had a few beers and went to a fancy restaurant and all had amok - a Cambodian speciality. It came out shaped in stars and hearts, and the staff were really sweet. Lovely evening.
The next day was our last day in PP and we had a lunchtime bus to Siem Reap. Therefore, after a quick breakfast, we decided to visit the palace. We knew we'd have to cover up, but the officials rejected our sarongs, so Lucy and Alice had to buy a hideous white tshirt to be allowed in. We walked around for a little while before finding ourselves locked out. We definitely paid too much money for not a lot of palace! Ah well.
We then eventually made it to our bus and started the journey to Siem Reap, to see Angkor Wat. Next blog soon :)

Love The Mascots

Posted by lucyjfrench 23:35 Archived in Cambodia Tagged fans hot warm sweaty amok mmmmmm smoothy Comments (0)

The Gayest Hostel Owner in the City

Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam

sunny 38 °C

Good day to you al!

Welcome readers to te latest edition of our blog. This is our last few days in Vietnam, which is sad, but then we're in Cambodia, which is good. Cracking.

After arriving in HCMC on our sleeper bus, we fought through the crowd of tuk tuk drivers and walked the short distance to our hostel - MyMy Arthouse. The hostel owner was quite brilliantly camp and often giggled like a school girl. Once we had completed our shower and nap ritual, we had a reviving cold drink in Georgia May's coffee shop. We were ready to visit the war museum.

The museum was a slightly one-sided but very moving insight into the Vietnam War, and Agent Orange. I think we were all very moved by what we learnt here.

That evening, we walked through the night market and ate dinner in one of the side street restaurants near our hostel. We returned back to MyMy and climbed the million flights of stairs to our rooms, Lucy banging her head multiple times on the way.

The next day was Cu Chi Tunnels day. Before the tunnels, we visited a Vietnamese monastery, and watched the ceremony for the midday prayer. The building was built in the shape of a unicorn - not our idea of a unicorn, in Asia it means a mix between a dragon and a horse. For lunch, we were taken to a nearby restaurant for sweet and sour chicken and rice. Under our table were some horrendously cute puppies and on the other side of the restaurant was a small mongoose like creature. We thoroughly enjoyed our zoo lunch. Our hilariously brilliant tour guide (who's knowledge tended to centre around Lady Gaga) ushered us out, and on to the tunnels.

Our time at the Cu Chi Tunnels generally consisted of each us squeezing into different holes. Our guide told us about all the different booby traps including one which apparently made him a lesbian. We still don't understand that joke. We were allowed to crawl through a section of the tunnels as well. Luca, Emma and Alice went in together, but Lucy and Louise were a little bit scared. They soon plucked up the courage and ran through them in a crouchlarge_DSCN0988.jpged position. It was then time to head home.

That evening, we tried to find a restaurant similar to a place we ate at in Hanoi. It wasn't quite the same - no random waiter made our food for us at the table - but it was still good.

The next day, we sat in our favourite nearby bakery for a few hours planning the rest of our trip. Afterwards, armed with sandwiches, we strolled around the city - by the river, through a shopping area and stopping at an 'eco' cafe for smoothies. The smoothies were atrocious, tasting of either fish, ham or cheese, not papaya, jackfruit or avocado. Luca enjoyed his brown rice ice cream though.

For dinner, we had our last Vietnamese pho, and some of the group indulged in some more fro-yo. We sadly waved goodbye to two of our favourite foods of the trip. Last night in Vietnam, but on our way to Cambodia tomorrow!

To get to Cambodia, we got a boat through the Mekong Delta, stopping at the floating market, and finishing in Phnom Penh.

At the floating market, we saw people making rice papar, popcorn from rice, and coconut sweets. We had some rice wine, which was truly vile. We sailed down a very shallow river, and walked through a village to a place where we had our lunch. We didn't notice til we left that a massive python was casually residing in a cage nearby.

Then we boarded a bus which took us to Chau Doc where we stayed in a floating hotel. With no air conditioning, and ridiculous hear, it was an interesting night. Especially for Alice, who screamed and ran out the room after a small bird flew in on her. After a walk and a snack, we watched Scrubs and went to bed.

The next day, it was back on the bus to take us to the boat to take us to the boarder, and then on to Phnom Penh. On the way, we stopped at a fish farm, which was mildly interesting. The boarder crossing was long and dull as usual, but we got upgraded to the fast boat for a fraction of the normal price.

And so to Phnom Penh! Stories from there coming soon

love The Mascots x

Posted by lucyjfrench 19:25 Archived in Vietnam Tagged people animals birds boats tunnels puppies bakery Comments (0)

Waterfall = Mudbath?

Nha Trang, Vietnam

sunny 35 °C

Hello fellows!

I bet you are dying to hear about our most eventful bus journey to date. Well, chaps, the wait is over!
There were some disputes over the comfortableness of the bus. For example, Louise was constantly on the brink of falling out of her bunk and Emma generally had someone's feet in her face. But Luca slept superbly. However, early in the morning, not far from Nha Trang, whilst we were all casually sleeping, a massive bang occurred. It was right next to Alice's bed and, as she scrambled away from it, dust showered the bus. Incredibly, the driver didn't even stop, even with us girls screaming "excuse me, your bus has exploded!" Eventually we stopped and found out that the tyre had burst. After a while, we very slowly drove to a nearby town and watched a small man change the wheel. We were on our way again, hurray!! After a stupid taxi ride, where half of us were dropped slightly near the hostel, we arrived. They offered an upgrade which included air con and towels, so of course we said yes! That afternoon, we went to the beach and spent the hottest part of the day in the shade of a palm tree. After a lovely dinner at Lanterns cafe, we had (another) early night.

On our first full day in Nha Trang we decided we wanted to visit the 'fairy waterfall' in the jungle that we'd read about. To start our journey, we hailed down a taxi and he said he would take us to the waterfall. After a few minutes in the car, we sensed we were going the wrong way. The fact that we were following signs to a mudbath and spa really gave it away. Arriving at the spa, we decided to get out the taxi and take a look anyway. A 'communal' mudbath and swimming pool pass wasn't very expensive so we went for it. The mudbath was actually well nice! We reclined leisurely in our own personal mudbath, then baked in the sun for a while, then washed ourselves clean. We then got blasted with cold water and sat in our own hot spring bath. Thoroughly wrinkled, we made our way to the swimming pool area. Floating around a shady pool was an excellent way to spend the afternoon.

That night, we decided to have some western food and treated ourselves to a delicious Italian at Olivias. Well good. Then bed - we needed as much sleep as possible for the next day.


The next morning dawned and we awoke ready for our 'Booze Cruise'. It seemed pretty tame at first, we were sailing through different islands, until we stopped and all went snorkelling. Afterwards we returned to the boat for lunch. Then the 'entertainment' began....

The crew kept mentioning the best boy band in Vietnam and we still believe that this is a true fact. This band consisted of a quite talented guitarist, a drummer with a drum kit of different plastic pots, and a singer. The crew took it in turns to sing, but the definite star of the show was a hilariously dressed lady boy. He had a flower in her hat and upside down sunglasses. The band sang many a hit and dragged up different members of the audience and got them to sing a song from their country. We all handily forgot where we were from at this point.

Next, we had a floating bar with free drinks! It lasted about 5 minutes though, which was a bit of a let down. We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing on a shady island drinking beers. Bliss.


For dinner we met up with a couple of people from the boat trip and a few of their pals. After the burgers, beers and cocktails, we had some drinks on the beach. Then came the drinking games and then a few bars, and then Alice and Lucy treated everyone to a display of roly polys and backwards rolls.

The next day, we mooched around until our bus to Saigon that evening.

Keep your eyes peeled for our last portion of adventures from Vietnam.

Much loving, The Mascots x

Posted by alicepops 07:47 Archived in Vietnam Tagged waterfalls beaches people parties sky night boats Comments (0)

Luca “throw you in the” Pool

Hoi Ann

sunny 33 °C

Vietnam - Part Three. Again, we arrived in style (by bus) in the baking heat. We were ready for adventure! :D

Buses have a lovely habit of stopping at their pals hotel, rather than a handy bus station. This happened in Hoi An, so someone was sent on the back of a motorbike to find our pick-up bus for the Sunflower Hotel! They eventually found us and took us to the right place.

Amazing hotel - it had a pool!! And a breakfast buffet!! We were in love. We had a pool side lunch, complete with incredible fruit smoothies and then a superbly cooling swim. Lush.

That afternoon, we visited the market and bought sophisticated items, such as t-shirts with stereotypical slogans on. After a nice meal, we took the shuttle bus back to the Sunflower. Alice went to bed (a tad poorly), whilst the rest went to sit by the pool for pancakes and more smoothies. As we got up to leave, Luca kindly picked Lucy up and jumped in the pool, with her screaming the whole way - much to the amusement of the other guests. Lucy was not as impressed.

The next day we fully made use of the buffet breakfast and delicious it was. Yummy yum yum. That day we hired bikes and cycled down to the beach. We had a glorious day of swimming and dozing in the shade. The fact that we all got rather sunburnt was only a minor issue.
We had a lovely lunch in a riverside cafe, and that afternoon we cycled back to the hotel. This was quite scary, as I don’t think any form of Highway Code exists in Vietnam. But we made it in one piece.

That night we went into town for pho (noodle soup - dish of Vietnam) by the river, ice creams and drinks. The host of this bar seemed intent on showing off his slight cockney tinted English accent, which was hilarious and very odd. “Lovely jubbly!” The rest isn’t suitable for this blog...
The next morning we buffet breakfasted lightly, as we had an all day cooking course. I’ll tell you now, it was fantastic. Firstly, we went to the market to buy all the different ingredients we needed. Then we got a boat to our cooking paradise. Before we started, our guide took us around the village and showed us all the different steps of turning rice into a liquid to make crispy pancake-like things (not unlike poppadoms), which we got to try - scrummy! We were also shown THE MAGIC TABLE! This was a table that could apparently read your thoughts and turn of its own accord. Eg, it you thought left, it turned left. I don’t think anyone was too amazed - even our guide was just laughing!

And so the cooking began. We made beef stock (complete with a chicken head) for our phó, fresh spring rolls, Vietnamese pancakes, beef noodles and all the sauces inbetween. We got to eat everything we made and the best bit was we got given glasses of passionfruit juice, which were always refilled after drinking. Delicious.
That night was our next sleeper bus - 12 hours to Nha Trang. We bought lots of snack and prepared ourselves for another fun journey.

More about Nha Trang soon!
Love The Mascots.

Posted by lucyjfrench 08:34 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

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