A Travellerspoint blog

Hello India!

sunny 28 °C

As I type this I'm seated firmly above the clouds some 4 kilometres above sea level, looking down across the vast landscapes of towns and cities in the eastern side of India. There's about two more hours until I land, where I should be greeted by someone from my volunteering program to take me to Jaipur. I have some mixed emotions, as of course I am excited, but also nervous. I'm nervous about my ability to fulfil my volunteer duties - I've chosen to work with street children in Jaipur, which as I understand it entails teaching English and games, as well as some hygiene awareness and encouraging families in the streets and slums to participate in our community programs. I'm not sure if that's a correct assessment but I guess I'll find out when I get there. I'm also nervous to meet all my fellow volunteers, as I'm stuck with them for a month or so, and hope to make a good impression. It's pretty much the feeling you get on the first day of school. Regardless, here goes. 

On Thursday night after my last post in Myanmar, I decided to visit the Shwedagaon Paya - the most renowned religious symbol in Yangon and perhaps all of Myanmar. After a bit of travel in SE Asia, I've become a bit 'oh great...another temple...', but this truly was something beautiful, and much more than I expected. 

From pictures, the Shwedagon had looked like a very large and pretty golden stupa, but when I entered the temple area, I found that there was much more - it is surrounded by several other temples and shrines. Furthermore, the time of our visit coincided with the Shwedagon festival, so the area was really alive. When I arrived in the afternoon it was quite busy, but by night time it had completely transformed. People were EVERYWHERE, monks, families, people young and old, had come to worship and view. It was really fun to visit as the Paya is still active, and it's great to see how the locals interact with these spaces and not just tourists like in Angkor. I had a similar perception of the caves we'd visited on Sunday. When you find something in Lonely Planet I expect it to be all tourists, but it's impressive and interesting to see locals. Additionally, because of the festival, beautiful coloured lights decorated all the surrounding temples, making the place really come alive. It was like Christmas time on Maple St, Lugarno 10 years ago - but shinier and on steroids. As I was walking around taking it all in in the afternoon, a young Burmese boy came up to me and started talking to me, telling me a lot about the temple. He knew many many facts and I learnt so much I had no idea about - from the bottom you can't see the diamonds or the bells on the top of the Paya, but he told me that there were something like 79,000! Not even mum has the same calibre of carats as were on display at this place. 

While we were chatting we also bumped into Anna, a German girl I'd befriended at breakfast, and it turns out we we're born on the same day - Monday. In Buddhist religion, you worship the god of the day of your birth (Monday to Sunday and Wednesday has a separate morning and evening ritual). These 8 shrines are located surrounding the circular Paya. Our new friend pulled out a date book to show that we were on Monday, which was the day represented by the tiger and our planet was the moon. We went to the shrine where you pour cups of water over each part of your statue, with a certain number of cups allocated for each part. 

After this, our new friend started to show us around, telling us many facts. I began to get suspicious that he was a bit of a tout and would expect payment but it was difficult to get out of, and I figured he just had a keen interest in the temple, wanted to practice his English, and was just another example of Burmese generosity.

We also found that by night time (probably visible during the day too) if you stand on four certain points surrounding the temples, you can see a shining diamond which reflects green/blue/purple. It's pretty cool when you get the right position, though unfortunately my phone camera has terrible zoom. 

We walked around for another hour or so, meeting a few people and visiting various sites within the Paya area. Eventually we sat and somehow the conversation turned to the political state of Myanmar, as I asked about his view on the upcoming elections. The conversation took a strange turn and our friend was beginning to show a weird character (he had been for the latter half of the 'tour'). He began saying that the US was the best country as Hilary Clinton visited and the US takes interest in Myanmar, whereas Germany is -15 and Australia is -25 as we do not help. I obviously don't take these things to heart but felt offended at his mannerisms, and also the fact that this is plainly false (I did research on Australian-Burmese relations after to confirm) so I pretty much just showed disinterest in the conversation and tuned out. 

Anna stook it out a bit longer than me, but eventually she stood up exasperated from his strange views and we went to leave. He then had the audacity to ask for a donation, so we reluctantly found him 1000K (about $1.20) but he would not accept - either because it was too little, or he didn't want to take it when we weren't happy to give it to him. I really hate when people pretend to be your friend then expect a payment, as foreigners are seen as walking ATMs. I expected that in Cambodia, but it was my first experience of this in Myanmar. 

That night Anna and I went to dinner at the first restaurant I visited in Yangon. It was delicious but unfortunately Mimin or his beautiful son were nowhere to be found. Next time. The lovely young waiters were still there being cheeky though. 

The next day, Friday, was a lazy day, packing and preparing for our flight. I was next to a kind German woman who was very interesting to talk to, and the flight was short so soon enough we were lining up at the heinous Bangkok immigration lines. Riley tried to convince me that there are sophisticated methods of choosing the best queue, and I told him of an article I read which said basically not to worry cos on the whole some days you win some, some days you lose some. Riley disagreed, arguing for factors like height and calculation, so I let him off on his merry way to speed through the queues. Oh, the satisfaction when I was sitting on the other side waiting for 20 minutes already with both our bags and Riley was literally one of the last people through!

We decided against our original plan of sleeping at the airport in favour of a nice shower and nights sleep back at Saphai Pae. We shared our room with a group of Pakistani men on their 25th year high school reunion trip. They were really really nice and Pakistan sounds beautiful, I only wish it was a bit more tourist friendly. Maybe in a few years. 

Today I got up early and prepared all my stuff for the flight - which was lucky as I hadn't changed my clock from Myanmar and could have been half an hour late. The immigration queues were terrible again but I made it eventually, and soon boarded my plane. And now I am in India!!

As I write this last part of my post, it's 3.17am and I'm in a hotel room in Delhi with two of my volunteer colleagues. I was picked up at 4pm, where I immediately met Catherine, an 18 year old girl from upstate New York. We were told the other girl would be arriving at 11.30 and we would wait at the hotel, but the plane was delayed so we are spending the night here. An hour ago Sasha arrived, a 22 year old girl from Amsterdam. They both seem super nice, which I'm glad about, and I'm excited to meet Elena - a Spanish girl I found on the Sankalp Facebook page who arrives on Monday. 

Anyway, now I shall get some sleep because we leave at about 7, and I'll update you once I get to Jaipur! So far all I've seen of India is the nice airport and the streets around this group of airport hotels. It's dirty and noisy as expected, but I can't wait to really see the country. 

Ps my flight from Nepal - Kathmandu was cancelled so I'm considering changing some parts of my trip and maybe visiting Sri Lanka or Bangladesh or something! We'll see. 

X

Posted by georgiaellen 13:55 Archived in India Comments (0)

Myanmar the Magnificent

sunny 27 °C

Ming A Lah Bah!
Greetings from Myanmar.

I haven't updated the blog in this past week primarily because internet is fairly average in Myanmar and secondly because I've been too distracted with all the amazing things going on around me! It's now Thursday, and I'm back in Yangon, getting ready to fly out to Bangkok tomorrow and to Delhi on Saturday to begin the Indian leg of my adventure.

As it's been about a week since I last wrote on Thursday, I have quite a lot to write, but I don't want to leave out any detail either as this country is completely amazing and I'd like to be able to reflect back on my first experiences here. Read on if you can be bothered! :)

Thursday
On Thursday night we arrived the very short flight from Bangkok - flying with AirAsia was much easier than I thought may be. Our hostel had a bus to pick up all its passengers and as we drove through the city I couldn't wipe the smile off my face - head out the window, hair blowing, wide grin and tail wagging. Everything I saw I loved, and everyone I smiled at smiled back.

That's actually one of the most prominent things I have realised from just a month in South East Asia: the power of a big toothy smile. I've smiled more in this past month than probably the last six in Sydney, and not because I am permanently ecstatic here or nor because I was depressed in Sydney, but rather I suspect it is because 1) it defies language communication barriers, and 2) Sydney-siders (myself included) take themselves too seriously and are a bit too self-important to smile at strangers. Virtually every time I smile at someone here, it is reflected back at me graciously - only wider and with authentic kindness. Maybe we're just not as happy as these people...which seems backwards considering how little they have in comparison to us.

Anyway, my first impression of the city of Yangon was in appearance it was very similar to other Asian cities, but for me it held some air of excitement. Many people wore 'longyi', which are like a type of skirt for both men and women which twists at the front to fit. Lots of people also, mainly women and children, wore a type of pale yellow facepaint, either all over of in parts of their face. It is a very curious culture indeed.

We arrived at Motherland Inn 2, which I would recommend to guests not because of the facilities but because of the staff - everyone is quite friendly, happy to arrange onward travel and there is a great free breakfast included. Anyway, we got settled and met a German guy staying at our hostel named Ben who had been working in Myanmar for a year and a half for an NGO. We got some great advice from him, and exchanged our USD into kyats with him for a great rate which is good. Currency in Myanmar is quite funny - you pay for accommodation and some buses/boats etc in USD, however these must be PERFECT. No folds or creases, tears or marking, they often check the serial number (I'm not sure what for), and one girl I met even had her note rejected as Benjamin's nose was 'too shiny'. The rest of things you pay for in kyat (pronounced chat). The rate you get is higher if you exchange $100 notes, and lower if you exchange small denominations like $20 or $50. So there is no set rate. But by changing with Ben we got the highest rate I've seen (810kyat/$1) as he simply wanted to get rid of some of this kyat. I also got his email and may see about getting involved with the NGO he was working with here, as it sounds quite interesting.

Later that night Riley and I wandered up the street to get some food and had a great meal, served by some funny little local boys. Halfway into our meal I could hear a man next to us trying to coax his young son into saying 'hello, how are you', which I thought was very cute, so I went to sit with them and Riley soon joined. The man's name was Mimin, and he could speak English, Thai and a bit of Korean, and was very warm and generous to us. His son was wearing an adorable Pikachu outfit, and we discovered that the facepaint is made from a wood and is used to keep the skin nice and healthy and young. After an hour or so speaking with him we left, but were given his address and will hopefully visit him tonight or some time before we go.

Friday
On Friday morning I woke up early, as usual, and Riley slept in, as usual. I went for a short walk to get a feel for the town and was impressed by beautiful little nothings. A young girl came up to me and said hello, but it was clear she couldn't speak much English so we just walked together. Eventually she built the courage to ask where I was from and 'Name?', but we couldn't do much more than that. It was just another friendship built on a smile.

I was quite worried about accommodation for the trip as I'd heard it can be difficult to get and had wanted to book early, but Riley assured me there would be local guesthouses we can stay in. As usual, the lady was right, and I spent about three hours in the morning with a very generous and patient young lady at reception organising our trip. We decided on visiting Pyin U Lwin, Mandalay and Bagan, and hopefully Mt Popa and Pakkoku as side trips, although they didn't eventuate. I actually quite enjoy planning things so it wasn't a burden at all, and was satisfied when it was all sorted - we were to board the overnight bus that night.

During the day we didn't do much, but met some people at the guesthouse who were ending their trip and got some advice, and even scored a free Lonely Planet Myanmar guidebook which has been awesome. We also went for a walk to see if we could get a good rate to exchange some more money (though gave up pretty swiftly) and just had a peep around the streets. Some boys were playing a game on the side of the street and one kept following Riley, who started trying to teach him how to whistle, it was pretty cute.

The rest of the afternoon we just hung out in the hostel, and I changed all the stuff I'd need into my very small backpack and a handbag - which I am SO grateful for. I completely underestimated the benefits of travelling light, but it really does make things so much easier and I'm not looking forward to using my big bag again (which the hostel kindly minded for us)

Late in the afternoon we got a taxi to the bus depot, got some food, and eventually we boarded the bus, which was surprisingly spacious and comfortable (as far as an overnight bus goes). After a few hours had a stop off. Funnily, I went to look for a bathroom and when entering a cubicle a lady quickly whisked me out and directed me to a 'western style' toilet rather than the hole-in-the-ground ones. Of course I don't mind either way but it was a funny and cute gesture - the people here are very kind and thoughtful. For the first few hours of the bus they were playing a Burmese TV show, which, although I didn't understand a word - was HILARIOUS. The actors are absolutely terrible and it appears they've tried to imitate typical Western TV shows - guy is player, then meets a girl he actually loves, and is caught in all sorts of sticky situations when it appears he's cheating but is not. It was classic, and funnily since then we've seen the main actor everywhere - posters, billboards, other TV shows etc. Very fun. One thing I will say about the bus though is it gets FREEZING. We'd been warned about this but I had not expected the extent of the cold - at about 10pm they just shot the air con up completely and it was so cold.

Saturday
At about 4am we arrived in Mandalay (not even close to the 7am they'd suggested) at a big bus depot, with absolutely no idea where we were. Our main agendas were to book a boat to Bagan and to find a way to Pyin U Lwin. It was surprisingly easy, as we found an agent and a moto driver and sorted it all out within an hour or so, and were soon on our way in a shared taxi up the hills to Pyin U Lwin, about two hours away.

For some reason which I cannot explain, Pyin U Lwin (pronounced Pyin Oo Loo) was probably my favourite place we stayed. The hotel was quite nice (Bravo Hotel) - a bit pricey at $25 between us, but everywhere else was booked out due to our late booking. There was a wait before we could go to our room, so we went to a tea house around the corner and played cards and ate delicious samosas. The people working there were really friendly too, and I don't think they get foreign visitors that often. Riley fell asleep when we got into the hotel (I really don't understand how he sleeps so much - I think he's been asleep for 60% of this trip!) and he continued to sleep for 8 hours! But I was happy with that as I enjoy exploring on my own. I went for a few walks around town, interested in the beautiful architecture and relaxed feel of the area. It was an old British colonial town, and there is still much evidence of this in the church-style buildings, clock tower and horse and carts all over town. There also appears to be a much higher Indian-Burmese population in this area than there had been in Yangon, which I think must have something to do with the British using Indian troops in their colonisation efforts of Burma.

On one of my walks I came across a beautiful little boy, though he was quite dirty, who was begging with his mother and grandmother. I have a bit of a problem with giving to beggars in Myanmar as I believe it will encourage it and possibly foster an environment similar to Cambodia - which I would hate, but I couldn't help giving his mother 500K and the little boy 200K of his own (which probably equates to about 90c). I still couldn't get their beautiful faces out of my head so I bought a bag of nuts and loaf of bread and gave them to him and he ran off to share it with his family. I don't really know the best way to help these people but I guess I'm just trying to do little bits where I can.

That evening Riley finally woke up at about 7pm, and after a brief encounter watching The Princess Diaries and Twilight on local Burmese TV we decided to go to an Indian Restaurant called 'Family Restaurant' for dinner. There was an interesting array of food, which was pretty good, though I soon found out this was not conducive to solving Riley's diarrhoea issues, which he seems to have no problem discussing with me in detail unfortunately.

Sunday
The next morning we woke up quite early as we had a busy day ahead, and had some average breakfast on the roof. We had organised motorbikes to drive us around for the day which was really fun and convenient. First stop was the Strawberry Farm near Pyin U Lwin. It was just as it says; a strawberry farm, but more idyllic than you could imagine. Rows of colourful flowers, trees and strawberry plants, birds tweeting and butterflies flying round, all set on a hill with a valley backdrop. It seemed quite set up for tourists, however when I drove past later in the day I only saw locals sitting at the huts there drinking coffee (and I assume eating strawberries) so maybe it's not as touristy as we'd suspected.

Next we made our way down deep into the valley to the village of Myaing Gyi on our way to Peik Chin Myaung - an amazing area full of extensive caves which house hundreds of colourful statues of different gods and stupas. It's truly amazing and gets more and more interesting the further you go in. I took numerous pictures but they don't really do it justice, but it was very cool. There were many Burmese tourists there which indicates to me it may be some important area of worship. At one of the main areas of worship, where mats were set in front of a shrine, was a small family sitting around. A young girl named Zhong (I don't know how to spell it but I think that's how it was pronounced) came up to me, who spoke very good English. She was very interested in talking to us, and apparently her mum said I was 'very cute'. She'd studied law in Yangon but was working in Dubai airport Duty Free Store and was being placed at Singapore, and had traveled a bit in between. I think she's probably the first Burmese person I've met who has traveled abroad. Her dad took a photo of us with her sisters, and we had a nice chat, but I wish I'd got her email or something and been able to keep contact with her, she seemed really interesting. Maybe next time I'm at the Singapore Duty Free store I'll meet her again!

After this we headed back through Pyin U Lwin to Anisakan Falls, which is down towards Mandalay (though my driver had to stop a few times as Riley and his moto were too slow compared to us speed demons). When we got there I remembered reading that it was something like a 45 minute walk down the mountain to the waterfall, and started to question my choice. A big Burmese family including grandmothers walked up puffing and smiling at us, and it looked like walking up would be a total bitch, but I figured if they could do it - I can. When we finally made it down it was well worth it. The shrubbery and rocks along the walk had not lent any hint of a look at the falls, and so when they were revealed in their full glory it was spectacular. The water was the only blue water I've seen in all of South East Asia, the waterfall was big and tall, the rocks a rich yellow sandstone, and a golden stupa was beside. It was really beautiful. We hung out there for a few hours and met an English couple, but most people there were big local families. I desperately wanted to swim in the blue water, but it appears it didn't even cross the locals minds and I think it may be considered a bit disrespectful. Eventually we mustered the courage to start the walk back up, and although I'd anticipated it to be difficult, it was much worse than I'd though. Due to sheer stupidity we were walking back in the 1pm heat, and I had only had about half a bottle of water all day. I felt sick and dizzy and as if I'd vomit, but luckily Riley was patient and allowed me to stop every few minutes. There were a few stopping points and at one I laid down where there were a few local boys carrying bags of what I assume is rice down the bottom (there was a small food and drink stall at the bottom). One of them saw that I was sick and gave me a frozen lolly type thing - they were disgustingly sweet but the ice was so nice on my face and they were so kind. Riley tried to give them 400K (50c) but the man would not take it and ran back down the hill. Riley eventually slipped it in his pocket when we were back up the top, but the man looked almost offended - these people are incredibly generous.

We got back on the motos to the main road where we left our drivers and hopped on a 'pick up' to Mandalay, which is basically a Hilux ute where they stick wooden planks for seats on the ground and far too many people. On our pick up were two young girls, probably about 12, who spoke no English but were pretty interested in us foreigners. Something I've noticed about Myanmar is their obsession with Justin Bieber, particularly 'Baby', and I discovered I had it on my old iPod (don't ask why it's on there). I gave them earphones and played it for them, which I think they loved, and in return they gave Riley and I dried fruit sweet type things. One girl also pulled out some photos, which I discovered had been taken at the caves we had been at earlier today! We couldn't communicate this, which is unfortunate, but it has inspired me more to learn Burmese.

About 2-3 hours later we landed back in Mandalay and the driver found our hostel, AD-1 Guesthouse. Riley had a nap (of course) and I went for a walk, getting some street-side chipati and some ice cream at a shop that had been recommended in the Lonely Planet - man I miss ice cream. That night we went to see the renowned Moustache Brothers, who are a comedy trio (two brothers and a cousin) who are famous for their risky political comedy. Two of them have been jailed for I think six years for making jokes about the government during a show at Aung Sun Suu Kyi's house in the late 90s, and again in 2007, however part of their release conditions is that they can only perform to foreigners in their home in Mandalay - I guess the government appreciates the money they can receive from tourists. The show was very interesting and funny, sort of slapstick style, with many depictions of traditional Burmese dance by Lu Maw's wife and sisters. His adorable grandson (about 2yo) also featured in the show, which was absolutely adorable!

After the show we got an trishaw back to the hostel and then decided to find some food. It was late and most things were closed, but we stopped at a street side restaurant, and although the food was very average, we met the most lovely man ever. He was the owner of the shop, named Kimng Win (pronounced Kimmo Win I think), and I think that foreigners mustn't visit him very often, and he was very keen to practice his English and make sure that we liked his food and had much to eat. We spoke to him for a while, helping him with his English by writing things down, and he appeared genuinely sad that we were only in Mandalay for one night. He wondered why we came, and he couldn't understand so I wrote 'We want to see your country. Myanmar is very beautiful. I love Myanmar'. He was very touched and it highlighted to me that these people really appreciate foreign contact and knowing that other nations have an interest and care for their country. We promised to visit his restaurant some time in the next few years, and he wanted my number though it doesn't work in Myanmar, and we gave him our emails. If you ever visit Mandalay and don't mind sacrifice a not-so-delicious meal for some beautiful company, go to the corner of 26th and 86th street at night. But bring mosquito spray - as Kimng Win will apologise profusely about them as if they are his fault! When we left he gave Riley a packet of Burmese cigarettes and his young son gave me a type of leaf-wrapped cigar type thing. I'd tried one of these at the Moustache Brothers show, and didn't really like the flavour, but it was quite luxurious and very sweet of him to do. Riley felt bad and wanted to return them the next day or something, but I think it's important for them as they like to give gifts and have this strange sense of offence if someone will not accept a gift willingly. It's strange and kind of difficult to be faced with generosity when we have so much more than them, but it's just evidence again of their incredibly selfless and kind spirit.

Monday
On Monday we were up early again and got some breakfast at the hostel before getting on a moto to the boat pier. The boat tickets we bought were pretty pricey at $40, but I couldn't scope out any alternative (there are slow boats for $10 on Sunday and Wednesday but these are government run and slow, taking two days or so - the fast boat is about 11 hours as it is!). As such, only tourists were on the boat. Funnily, a few people we'd seen at the Moustache Brothers show were also on our boat. I spent most of the time trying to sleep or listen to music, taking photos and relaxing as I wasn't feeling very well. The overpriced food on the boat made me feel even worse, but having a day of doing nothing wasn't too bad after the busy day before. There were only a few highlights. One was a large headland we passed covered in temples and stupas. It was really beautiful and looked like and island, but it may have just been a jagged shore of the mainland. Either way, it looked idyllic and almost what I imagine Santorini to be like except golden and pointy instead of blue and rounded.

At one point after I'd dozed of I woke up to some excited screaming from outside the boat. Out the window were about four or five older ladies holding bunches of bananas, trying to selling them to tourists on the boat. It was amazing and mesmerising and the lady threw me a bunch of about 14 bananas and I threw her 1000K - I don't know any woman who would get waste deep in water to throw bananas at people and then swim after $1.10 floating down the river. I didn't even want them as I already felt ill, but the desperation and determination of these women was incredible that they at least deserved something.

When we finally got into the dock at Ngaung U (the area of Bagan we were staying) we got picked up by trishaws, paid $10 for entrance to the 'Bagan Archaeological Zone' (the government) and got to our hostel (May Kha Lar - would recommend except you have to pay 4000K for Wifi - not actually that bad but I was disappointed as I was under the impression it was free...I kind of conned my way into getting the password and a refund anyway). I felt even worse than before and stayed in the room, while Riley went out. It was good to have time to myself, especially when ill, and after a sneaky little chunder I felt much better and was able to sleep quite well through til about 5 or 6am.

Tuesday
I woke up not feeling 100% again, but decided to ignore it and take an easy day anyway. I honestly can't remember doing anything eventful except going for a couple of walks around the street, but no where too adventurous. I tried a few meals at local restaurants, but Burmese food leaves a lot to be desired and their take on Western food ain't great. Riley rented a bike and later in the afternoon we bumped into each other at a tea house. A beautiful monk was sitting opposite us and had the kindest eyes I've ever seen. He didn't speak a word of English but seemed to absolutely adore Riley and kept filling his tea cup and lighting his cigarettes. I took a few photos of him which he looked at and laughed at and for some strange reason just thinking about him and his hairy little chin and gummy grin makes my heart warm.

Later in the evening Riley showed me an Italian restaurant he had been to the night before where we got pizza and pasta. It was expensive and personally I thought it was pretty crap, but I guess it was nice to have something a bit different. Not feeling great again, and just generally tired, I went to bed early while Riley went out with a Polish guy he'd met the night before.

Wednesday
Yesterday morning we were up bright and early at about 5am to see the sunrise at the Bagan temples. We got a horse and cart out there, which looked pretty luxurious and had been on my to-do list, but wasn't quite as comfortable as the mattress made it look. Still, it was fun - and of course Riley manage to sleep even on the 10 minute ride. We went to a temple to climb on top of to watch the sunrise. We were the only ones there and the only people I could see for miles, other than our driver and a small family that lived in a shack at the bottom of the temple. It was quite cold and we had to wait about 15 minutes for the sun to rise (of course Riley slept in this time - on top of a freezing temple). I stayed for a while and took a lot of photos. Riley couldn't handle the cold and saw that the family at the bottom had a fire and went to sit with them. I stayed for a while longer until most of the fog had cleared, before joining him. There was an older man and woman, and small child playing with a broken plastic truck. They didn't speak any English but got us pieces of wood to sit on on the ground around the fire, boiled us tea and gave us sweets. Yet another example of Burmese hospitality, and they expected nothing in return except for us to sit and smile.

As it was early, other temples weren't open yet, and we got some mohinga (their national dish - a weird noodle/egg/sauce thing) for breakfast - which didn't sit too well with me unfortunately. A man came up to us selling sand paintings, and Riley bought one (although I maintain that he really doesn't have the money to burn, but I think it'll work out fine). A young boy was also selling 'postcards' - pieces of paper with drawings of monks/elephants etc. The looked very kitsch and cute, but in hindsight I'm thinking that they were probably made by adults and just sold by cute kids with sympathetic eyes. Either way, it's pretty funny.

Our driver took us around to a number of temples in the Bagan area, many of which were beautiful and had great views when you climbed to the top. Simply going through Old Bagan was cool anyway, as there was a number of small restaurants like a little village. One large temple we visited, Ananda Phaya, had some small stalls with shelves lining the entrance and people selling puppet, knick-nacks and lacquer ware, which Myanmar is apparently renowned for. I wasn't interested in buying anything but began speaking to this lady, who had quite good English. She said she wanted to give me a bowl, which due to the various tactics I've heard of employed in places like Cambodia, made me sceptical, but she was really just wanting to give me a gift. It's a small heat-proof, bendy bowl made from horse-hair. It doesn't have any intricate design like the other ones they sell but it was absolutely sweet of her. I went for a look inside the temple, which contained an amazing enormous golden statue, and on my way out spoke to her a bit more. She told me about her children, who were studying at university, and apparently her son collects currency. I insisted on giving her some Vietnamese Dong and Cambodian Riel that I'd kept, and reluctantly she accepted. She also said if I want to learn Burmese, to come back and meet her some time. Maybe I will!

We saw a few more temples, and at the last one we visited (I forget the name) I was feeling pretty crappy, but there was a man wanting to show us around. As I understand it, each temple has a caretaker that open and close the temples and look after them, and the caretaker here was particularly attentive. There were great views across all of the 2400 temples of Bagan (there were originally 4500 but many were destroyed in an earthquake I think is 2008). I ended up buying a sand painting from him. I'd wanted to stay away from handicrafts, and went from looking at the smallest cheap ones, but ended up with the largest most intricate ones. It is a colourful depiction of an elephant with 7 heads, as 7 is a lucky number. I think it'll make a great addition to my home one day, and for now will send it with Riley to my mum to give her new properties luck!

When we got back from the temples, I was sick again and rested for a while, reading and relaxing. Late in the afternoon I got some lunch, as I'd been craving a chicken burger - but it was absolutely terrible. I've settled that Burmese really can't do Western food. At 6 our night bus to Yangon came and we piled in. This one seemed fine as well (though the terrible videos were of child stars with terrible voices and dance moves to match), though after about 10 minutes down the road the seats were filled, and then chairs were folded down from the sides into the aisles and the aisles were filled too. Economic, but funny. Tourists were only put in the side seats and locals in the side or aisle seats, and I was a bit apprehensive as there was a baby on the bus. Adorable, but babies on night buses aren't always a good idea - however another thing I've noticed in South East Asia (particularly Myanmar) is how well-behaved children are. Babies rarely cry and children don't have tantrums. It's quite perplexing really.

Thursday
And here we are! The bus got in at about 4am and we headed back over to Motherland 2. Of course our room wasn't ready and I slept on the wooden chairs in the foyer, until one of the kind workers pulled a fold-out stretcher/cot for me and I slept well. At about 7 or 8 I kind of realised that I was a sleep right in the middle of the foyer of the guesthouse and quickly moved to a less central location. And since then I've just been chilling. I just found out our room is ready so I'm going to go have a shower (it's been a while...) and probably a nap. This afternoon we're going to the renowned Shwedagon Pagoda for sunset and then sadly tomorrow we leave! But hey, I have India to look forward to!

I'll update tomorrow or the next day, and hopefully it won't be such a long post you have to endure! Congrats if you made it all the way through.

x

Posted by georgiaellen 19:52 Archived in Myanmar Comments (0)

Bya Bangkok

sunny 33 °C

I'm currently sitting at the hostel which I moved to with my friends using the public computers as unfortunately my laptop screen mysteriously broke last night. I guess it's just part of travel but it's a pain in the ass, especially as I just got a bunch of movies on there to keep me entertained on long flights - I suppose that's payback for abusing hostels free wifi.

For the past two nights I've stayed at Saphai Pae, which is in the Silom area as well, but closer to the action which is nice. The hostel itself is great, and I'd probably recommend it more than WE Bangkok. It is enormous, modern, clean, and has plenty of facilities, although the internet is crappy. It doesn't have the homely feel of places like Miss Long or Bun Kao's guesthouses, but it's a great base for Bangkok and suits the city well if you just wanna hang out.

On Tuesday afternoon I eventually got into contact with Riley and walked to the hostel, as it was only about 10 minutes away. Of course as I left I saw my old friend the security guard, who told me his name was John (though I doubt it...), and he gave me a loving kiss on the cheek and sent me on my merry way. On the way was a large school and it appeared that class had just been released, as the small alleys were filled with children and mobile stall holders selling toys, ice cream, snacks, and even bags of goldfish. I eventually made it to Saphai Pae and met up with Riley and Holly, and to my surprise Andrei too, and we had a big catch up about all their adventures from the past five weeks. We just hung out for the rest of the afternoon and had a potentially dangerous four-way spoon on the small single top bunk and let time pass.

That night Andrei's friend Nick also joined us and we headed to Patpong nightmarkets for something to do. It was crazy as always with plenty around to buy, particularly sex shows. We got some beers at 7/11, and saw bottles for 24baht, but were warned in broken English that they weren't quite real beer. Everyone stuck it safe with Leo or Chang, but I figured I'd give the 24baht mystery drink a try, as I'm renowned for my love of cheap yet disgusting alcohol back home. All I can really say is, despite the bottle, it definitely wasn't beer. I didn't think it was all that bad, but it was like a vinegary goon and I couldn't finish it. We got some great street food at the end of the market and eventually got a cab back to the hostel. We just hung out and had some more beer and I was taught (for the billionth time) how to play 500 until 4am or so when I eventually headed to bed. Don't tell Riley, but I'm actually beginning to enjoy it.

The next day I woke up annoyingly early, as always, and walked around the streets for a while and entertained myself for a few hours until the crew crawled out of bed at midday. Holly, Andrei and Nick were flying out that afternoon so we just had some lunch together before they got on the train to the airport.

Riley and I were sitting outside playing Go Fish when, by pure coincidence, the hostel staff started setting up some cooking equipment and we discovered they were holding a cooking class. We made some rather delicious Tom Yum Gai, which was quick and easy. I think this is the recipe, though my memory may be lacking somewhat, so if it's disgusting then I apologise.
Ingredients:
Chicken stock
Lemongrass
Kaffir Lime Leaves
Galangal
Straw mushrooms
Chilli paste
Chicken breast
Lime juice
Fish sauce
Caster sugar
Evaporated milk
Diced chilli
Cilantro
The quantities are very much dependant on personal taste, but the method below should serve 4 people small portions.
Method:
Put four ladels of chicken stock in a pot on medium heat until simmering. Add lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves (probably about 1-2 tablespoons of each). Interestingly, the lime leaves aren't actually really for taste but rather just smell.
When the broth is simmering and you can smell all the flavours, add the straw mushrooms (I like mushrooms so I'd put 1/4-1/2 a cup). Add chilli paste, which is dependant on flavour, but I put 1-1.5 teaspoons.
Add diced chicken breast, once again the amount is dependant on how many people are eating it and how much chicken you feel like - probably 150-250g would be more than enough (they definitely wouldn't use that much for 2 people in Thailand, but mum I know you like to stock Micko up with protein!).
Once the chicken has cooked through, add 6 teaspoons of lime juice and 6 teaspoons of fish sauce and stir in. Add 1-2 teaspoons of caster sugar at this time as well.
Turn the heat off and add about half-a-ladle worth of evaporated milk, and once stirred through you can add your cilantro and chilli to taste, ready to serve!

During the cooking class I met some cool people from Japan who actually majored in Mongolian and Hindi languages, so that was cool, and I also ended up speaking to a medical student from Manchester. That was pretty interesting and we talked about lots of interesting medical cases. I went for a walk, had a nap, and in the night met a cool Australian guy from mining town Mt Isa. Eventually Riley awoke from his 7 hour nap and we got some dinner before I headed to bed.

And here we are - freshly bathed and preparing for Myanmar! I've been researching different routes you can take, but we have a pretty small amount of time so I don't know how much we will be able to fit in. Ideally I'd go Yangon - Bagan - Mandalay - Pwin U Lwin - Mandalay - Inle Lake - Yangon, and spent one, maybe two nights in each place. I don't think this is plausible given the travel times for these places, but I'm sure we'll at least get a taste for Myanmar!

I don't think internet access will be very plentiful over there, nor will mobile phone access, so I may be difficult to contact, but if I'm not able to post before then I'll be back on the 2nd of March!

x

Posted by georgiaellen 19:06 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Welcome to Thighland.

sunny 31 °C

Hurrah! I'm alive. I survived the much-anticipated bus trip from Siem Reap to Bangkok with relative ease, although I must say it was completely exhausting and I only got about 2 hours sleep within about 32 hours, so I was very glad to arrive in my lovely hostel.

After I finished my last post on Saturday night, I had expected my night to be highly uneventful. I'd been craving the traditional Khmer Beef Lok Lak for dinner, which had been my first meal in Cambodia, but stumbled across a nice looking restaurant which offered a dish that was called something like 'Khdao' or something (I can't remember the actual name, I just know I couldn't pronounce it), and they also had mango sticky rice for $1, so my decision was made. The waitress looked at me with a concerned expression and warned me that the "Khdao" was very spicy, but I figured I'd just try it. It was actually pretty good, and the spice wasn't unbearable, and I was sure the sticky rice could ease my tongue after. But then! Horror of horrors - they had no sticky rice left! Deeply saddened, I went for a walk to see if I could find some, but the only place that I could find was a very posh-looking restaurant that had it for about $3.50, so I figured I'd give it a miss. (Although, on this walk I did see a Virak Buntham VIP bus go past, which is the one I was catching, and was relieved to see that it didn't appear to be a death trap).

Eventually I decided that I'd settle for crepes, as I'd seen them on the menu at my favourite place (Star Rise) and had wanted to try them. To my surprise, when I arrived I heard my name being called from a table of four Cambodian men sitting round sharing a meal - it was Savorn, the tuk tuk driver I met from my first night! I ordered banana and nutella crepes (they were amazing) and shared beers with Savorn and his friends for the a while. They were very polite and included me in the conversation as best they could, and just like the conversation I'd had with Savorn on my first night, it mainly revolved around issues in Cambodian politics and the democratic system. These four men were very passionate about the topic, and Savorn is hoping to keep working hard to raise money so that he can create a strong political campaign for the democratic system in Cambodia. To help with this endeavour, I ask that if any of you are ever planning on travelling to Siem Reap, you should contact him and let him show you around be your tuk-tuk driver (email: vorsavorn@yahoo.com, tel: (+855) 12 91 07 95 OR (+855) 90 61 23 92). I'm sure he'll give you a great price and show you some really interesting things around the city!

Anyway, I left Savorn and his friends at around 11, and after much insistence that he needn't drop me back to my hostel around the corner on his moto, I walked home to wait until my bus at 2.30am. I was watching movies and relaxing, but at around 11.45 one of the staff at Bun Kao told me that the minivan was here to pick me up, as they were picking someone else up from the hostel for an earlier bus and that I would wait at the Virak Buntham office. It was pretty boring, and tiring as I didn't want to sleep with all my valuables around me, so I just watched movies and chilled out. Eventually the bus came and we all boarded on; I was lucky enough to have two seats to myself as the bus wasn't full. I watched another movie and got about and hour and a half of sleep before we stopped somewhere close to the Thai border. More people got on our bus, who had journeyed from Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City, and some people actually had to stand, but luckily the trip wasn't long. We got off at the border and all lined up at the Cambodian departure queue (which was a bit of a pain in the ass). The bus operators really didn't give much instruction so I just kept an eye out for people I recognised from the bus and tried not to get lost in limbo between Cambodia and Thailand. Eventually made it across, and through the Thai border, and we kept walking until we reached another office where minivans were waiting. About 12 of us squeezed into a tiny bus, and thankfully I wasn't at the front because there was a high stack of everyones bags that wasn't secured to any extent, ready to take the two poor souls sitting next to it out. I was one of the backseat bandits and met a really great guy from Seattle named Bob. We had a good chat about travelling, and American politics (which since my conversation with Alicia I've taken a bit of an interest in...or at least I'm not as clueless). It was particularly interesting because he pretty much had a republican viewpoint, whereas Alicia was very very much a democrat, so I got a bit of a new perspective (though I didn't really agree - I like Obama). Also, Bob was a veteran of the Vietnam War. Everything I've learnt has made me very much anti-US in the context of Indochina, as I do believe they had no right or reason to be there, yet meeting a really great guy who actually fought in it for purposes other than the governments intent really got me thinking. He believed the work he was doing was helpful, such as building constructions in the south and 'protecting' the Vietnamese, yet at the same time understood that many of the decisions by key political players were not implemented for the welfare of the Vietnamese, but rather their own (irrational) fear of communism. It was an interesting conversation, and I also met the people he was travelling with which was cool, and I may end up visiting them in Seattle later in the year! Hopefully I'll have many stories to tell him by then :).

As far as the journey itself went, the ride to Bangkok was certainly not as comfortable as the one had been in Cambodia, and I actually got airborne a number of times. It was actually pretty fun, like some sort of rollercoaster where I can't see where I'm going, but I was pretty glad when we were finally dropped at Khao San Rd. I hopped in a taxi, though he didn't speak much English...at all.. and when we finally got to the road the hostel could not be found. The communication barrier raised tension, but we soon realised that the hostel was just a little bit further round the bend. I felt a bit rude for raising my voice...but at the same time, I wasn't going to pay him to leave me in a completely random street in the middle of Bangkok.

I'd booked two nights at WE Hostel Bangkok, which was a little pricey (a bit over $11) but is a really really nice hostel. It's very modern in design, clean, has great internet, lockers, and each bed has its own reading light - which is great, as trying not to disturb dormmates when they're sleeping has always been a concern of mine. I met two lovely Malaysian guys in my dorm who work at top shop and were on a holiday, and then went for a bit of a walk to see what was around and get some food. To my dismay, my hostel isn't in a particularly great area; it is in the heart of Silom, which is kind of considered the 'Wall Street of Bangkok'. Google maps shows that it's only about a 15 minute walk to Siam Square, Lumphini Park and Patpong, but I really haven't had it in me to venture very far after my journey. I couldn't really find food either, as most of the restaurants were very expensive (the streets are surrounded by big businesses and embassies, and a few fancy hotels), but by some stroke of luck I wandered down a side alley and found a great little kitchen restaurant and got some chicken pad see ew for $1! I also got some ice cream (the first of many in the past two days - I have had a completely gaga craving for sugar, particularly ice cream and chocolate!). I wandered back to the hostel and fell into blissful slumber, only waking at about 11pm to a message from Rach, who I then skyped, and went back to sleep at about 2.30.

The next day also proved to be a bit of a waste of a day - though in my opinion, you need a few of them every couple of weeks. I slept in a little and then found a stall on the side of the road which also did $1 chicken pad see ew. There was a man in a government-style security uniform standing around (I believe he was security for one of the big buildings near) and he took a keen interest in me, I suppose as the 'token foreigner'. I could probably understand about 15% of what he was saying but just kept smiling, nodding and saying 'yes, oh really? wow'. It must've been a somewhat appropriate response because I saw him later that afternoon and he remembered me and wanted me to visit the next day (today). I did a short walk, probably got some ice cream, and went back to the hostel, where I met a nice English guy in my room and had a brief chat. Later in the day I went for another walk and returned to my favourite alley-way restaurant, this time trying the basil chicken (which was freaking spicy). Side note; one thing that I have noticed when I've been walking around is that in Bangkok a surprising amount of the kids are very overweight. I've noticed quite a few school kids from probably ages 10-14 who are really overweight, which is obviously surprising in an Asian country which is kind of renowned for its very skinny girls. I haven't noticed that at all in Vietnam and Cambodia, and don't remember it from last time I was in Bangkok, so perhaps it is because I seem to be staying in a relatively wealthy area where the kids may be very well fed? I don't know, but I just thought it was interesting. I basically didn't do anything too exciting for the rest of the day except lie around and watch street food being cooked and Thai life going by. Late that night I wanted to get some dinner but most things were closing near me, and I didn't have the energy to go to Patpong, so I found myself wandering through side alleys and small streets, looking at peoples one-room houses and small shops until I got a snack and fell asleep in the hostel.

This morning I did much the same, and have spent a bit of time researching uni courses for when I return (I know it's very very far off, but my brains been ticking). Basically I'd like to be multilingual, and maybe one day open up a chain of hostels, so I'm thinking of studying International Relations at ANU and maybe doing a diploma in Business or Business Administration at TAFE by correspondence while I'm studying. I guess we'll have to see. I went out this morning and stopped at a small street-side kitchen which I'd seen the day before. The ladies spoke no English whatsover and I just said 'Pad Thai?'. She pointed to a bowl of noodles which looked like flat rice noodles (like pad see ew) and I just nodded, and ended up getting a soup which contained a number of mystery meats, these noodles (which actually tasted more like gnocchi pasta than rice noodles), some herbs and a very flavoursome stock. It was pretty good, though I wasn't daring enough to finish all of the meats, but as I looked up I saw the lady pulling three cows worth (or who knows what animal) of what looked like intestines from the bowl containing the broth. I know it's a bit princess-y, but I'm glad that I'd finished my meal before seeing that.

The past two lazy days have given me time to reflect on a few things, and I've narrowed down a couple of things that I miss most (other than of course all of you guys - but there's skype for that).

1) Western plumbing
I cannot tell you how much I dream about a toilet that I can a) actually sit on and not have to squat for fear of diseases, b) be able to flush the toilet paper down the toilet and not put it into a bin, c) doesn't smell like weird sausage at certain points of the day. I'd also like to be able to control the temperature of my shower, properly shave my legs, and brush my teeth with water from the tap and not a bottle. I know I'm being a total princess, and it really isn't that bad, but when you've grown up with a certain standard it's hard to let go of. At least I haven't been sick yet. God help me in India....

2) English-speaking taxi drivers
Sometimes my favourite part of a big night out is the lengthy discussion with the taxi driver from Hurstville station, where vodka allows me to suddenly become incredibly insightful, wise and philosophical. I love talking to taxi drivers and asking about their night so far, their family, and very often their home country (as most drivers in Sydney are rarely from Australia). Unfortunately, with my experience so far taxi drivers (and to a lesser extent tuk-tuk drivers - they often speak English) in south-east Asia haven't been very chatty, and can't understand when I ask how their day has been. Obviously that's not their fault and it's simply cultural differences, but it's still something I miss.

3) Pepsi max
I guess because everyone is so skinny over here, most restaurants and stores only sell coke or pepsi, and rarely diet coke, coke zero or pepsi max. However, despite the lack of sugar, I genuinely like Pepsi Max best. If they do by some chance of luck sell 'coke light', it's always 25c-50c more expensive for some reason. Strange. I also really miss Smiths salt and vinegar chips! 'Bacon and seaweed' chips just don't really cut it.

Now I've packed and checked out and am just waiting at the hostel until I hear news from Holly and Riley, who are flying in from Hanoi right now, but communication has been difficult with them so I'm not sure of the plan. We may move to Khao San Rd or find a new hostel somewhere. Super keen to see them!

x

Posted by georgiaellen 20:28 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Flutterbies

My last two days in Siem Reap before I board the bus to big bad Bangkok!

overcast 28 °C

The last two days have been spent in Siem Reap, meandering about and just enjoying being lazy. As such, this may not be such a long post as I don’t have too much interesting stuff to describe.

I checked out of Bun Kao’s this morning but I remain here while I wait for my bus, which is to come in about 8 hours at 2am. True to his kind nature, Bun Kao was happy for me to stay here and leave my stuff until the overnight bus to Bangkok came, and even offered to let me use his downstairs shower before I leave if I so desire. He reminds me of Miss Long in the warmness of his never-fading smile, which I’ve found to be a really nice thing while travelling. That being said, I hadn’t liked this hostel so much because people hadn’t been so friendly and it was very quiet (though that was kind of nice in itself) – but there was a particularly notoriously creepy Australian guy in my dorm who just skulked around all day drinking beer, playing computer games and not being very polite or friendly, which I think made a bit of a downer in our room. Last night a couple more girls came which was nice, and I also met a great lady this morning who is quite a bit older than most of the crowd here but, in vocabulary similar to her own, she is ‘absolutely fabulous fabulous fabulous darling!’. She’s had quite some interesting travels and I’d urge you to check out www.backpackinggranny.com as she’s got some great photography.

Anyway, I’m just rambling now and I’ll get back to my chronological self! Yesterday I woke bright and early at about 4.30am so that we could watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat, which is apparently a bit of a ‘must-do’. The lovely Sun Lee was our driver again and after meeting Matt downstairs we departed shortly after 5. There were a number of people with the same idea as us and Angkor Wat was a hive of activity. We were there pretty early and I got a great spot right on the edge of the moat/lake type thing on what I thought were freely provided mats – though these were removed once I refused to buy coffee from a lady walking around. I was waiting there for a good while just taking a number of photos as the sky got lighter and lighter, but became quite confused as the shades evolved from black to navy to blue, with very few hints of brilliant pink or orange that I’d been expecting. Unfortunately, the morning we’d chosen to go was particularly overcast and there was no amazing sunrise to be seen – although I still think I got some nice photos regardless, particularly with panorama mode. I considered coming back this morning or for the sunset, but Angkor Wat has certainly been my most expensive endeavour on this trip (a 3 day pass is $40 and a tuk tuk for a day is $15, though this cost can be split). I guess this just gives me another reason to return to Cambodia some day, which I’m sure I will.

After exploring Angkor Wat for a while, I got a ‘mystery baguette’ which I think contained pork and got back into the tuk-tuk to explore the temples on the ‘small route’ which we hadn’t seen before. I forget the names of them – but the first one I really enjoyed, I think it might’ve been Banteay Kdei but I forget as I wasn’t paying much attention to the names. I think we also visited Ta Keo, and of course Ta Phrom, which was great and intertwined with many trees, or ‘choked by two trees’ as the legend goes. However it was full of tourists and there was a lot of reconstructive conservation work going on so there were big part blocked out with scaffolding. Many of the parts were destructed so I think it’s good that they’re doing conservation work, but hopefully next time I return I’ll have a bit more luck. We finished off with visiting Prasat Kravan, which is just a small temple shrine near the exit of the Angkor area. I was more interested in the horse randomly chilling next to the temple, though I don’t think s/he liked me too much.

We finally said goodbye to Angkor Wat, though certainly not forever. Although I’m not really into temples, I do feel like this visit was just a bit of a taster and now that I have a better idea of the temples (I really had no idea what to expect before), I’ll be able to come back and do it properly another time. Possibly bike ride, as a few people have said they’ve done, though it really is a massive distance and I think maybe even just the ride out of the city centre would kill me!

When I got back I had a rest and then went and got some lunch and went for a walk around town. I also found a small shopping centre, which I found strangely relieving. Most of the stores I’ve seen around for the past few weeks have been in marketplaces and small shops and so it was quite nice to walk into an air conditioned supermarket and look at all the stuff they sell. I really enjoy looking at foreign supermarkets and see all the strange things they sell – although this supermarket was surprisingly not very cheap unfortunately! Nothing all that exciting occurred for the rest of the day, though as I mentioned I met some cool people in my hostel, watched some movies and ate too many peanut butter oreos.

This morning I’d wanted to sleep in as I knew it’d be a long day waiting around for the bus, but I just couldn’t, and finally let myself out of bed at 8am. I came down and walked around the streets to see what breakfast was on offer, but Bun Kao’s proved the best value once again and I returned. I’m glad I did, as this is where I met backpacking granny, Geraldine! I eventually packed and tried to have a shower, however the shower stubbornly decided to simply not work for about 20 minutes, so I awkwardly hung out in the hostel room in my towel with a sleepy French guy. I spent the rest of the day with Maisy and Gerry and we went and got some lunch, and I had my first taste of Western food in a while – a chicken burger really did the trick. I’ve been trying to stick to local food, but nothing on the Khmer menu at the place we went to look great.

After this I went for another walk and eventually got some ice cream – yummo! – and finally returned to the hostel about an hour ago. And here I am, waiting for the bus. I’m pretty nervous about this trip as I’ve heard some horror stories about the Cambodia – Thailand route, with twenty people being cramped onto minivans that seat ten and bags being gone through and ransacked under the bus. I tried to avoid the company that I’d heard the worst about and booked the ‘Virak Buntham VIP Nightbus’. I’m still quite worried but it was $13 compared to the $200 airfare, so I guess wish me luck! If I don’t update this in the next few days then either a) I was squished to death on a mini van or b) my laptop and all my possessions were stolen.

Anyway, now to play the waiting game… (with my fingers crossed).
x

Posted by georgiaellen 04:12 Archived in Cambodia Comments (1)

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