... a new entry :D
Sorry for no keeping this updated in the past weeks, I was way too busy ...
I will just try to write about the most interesting things that happened, which still is a lot...
There is my first night sleeping at an airport to begin with. I went from Pai via Chiang Mai to Bangkok to catch my flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia, which meant 15 hours on buses but getting the way done within one day. I arrived at Doung Muang Airport at 1.30 a.m. and thought about sleeping for a couple of hours at the airport hotel (heard they had simple rooms for 10 euro), but the only room available was supposed to cost 120 euro... not an option with a flight at 10 a.m. I get the impression that I'm getting better at making decisions like this - saving the money and accepting to sleep on a bench at the airport. Not complaining about the lack of comfort or considering this to be inappropriate - just shrugging, making the best out of the given situation and doing what my needs tell me to do (I felt the need to sleep and no need to stay awake for 7 hours just to wait for my flight, so this was the most useful way to spend the time).
I tied my backpack to the bench with a steelwire lock and used my daypack as a pillow, put in my earplugs and dozed off for the next three hours. Not the best sleep of my life, but refreshing. When I woke up, I realised that I left my passport photos at home... and I needed one for my Cambodian visa. So I had something to deal with for the remaining 3 hours before the flight left, trying to find a shop to get new pictures. Worked with the help of some locals (probably the worst pictures of me that exist :D) and I learnt later that arriving in Cambodia without a photo just costs an extradollar for the visa... but wouldn't have taken the risk of being turned away.
So I left Bangkok feeling well prepared and arrived in Siem Reap without problems.
Cambodia is completely different than Thailand! Many people speak english, local people make a more or less happy and kind impression, though being obviously poorer than people on the other side of the border. What was a bit annoying in Siem Reap is that you are often asked to take a tuk tuk (a "No thanks" usually ends up in the question "What about tomorrow?") buy a massage and stuff. In general a "No thanks" isn't accepted, people usually try to discuss the matter and don't care about politely meant apologies like "Maybe later". Which probably always has the exact opposite effect than they try to achieve. Entering a market has nothing to do with a relaxed shopping stroll. Never the less the atmosphere in Siem Reap itself wasn't as touristic as in other places I've been to before, it was basicly reduced to the places that many tourists visit.
I decided not to make use of the tuk tuk drivers' offer to take me to the temple (which was pricy in my opinion), but to rent a bicycle and go there by myself. People told me it would be far away. When I asked how far it was, the reply was "7 kilometers". Well... no comment necessary I guess :D
The first day I got a bit lost on the way, driving on roads off the main route to the temple. Which was a really fascinating experience, since I could see with my own eyes how the local people live - most of them in bamboo huts without electricity and running water, children playing on the sandy roads between dogs and chicken. Many of them were waving at me, greeting me with a cheerful "Hello" I felt welcome, a bit like a VIP when a mother tried to teach the small boy on her arm to say "Hello" to me and just enjoyed the ride. Got to the temple area a bit late, chose not to buy a ticket for that day and decided to come back the next, a bit earlier.
I chose the three day ticket for the temple complex (it's not just Angkor Wat, the ancient city of Angkor consists of many different temples, non of them alike and it's a shame that even in those three days I only managed to see a part of it).
Angkor Wat is a blast. The temple in Bayon aswell and those were the only two I could see on the first visit (it was f**** hot and exhausting).
On my way back to the hostel I got caught in a heavy monsoonlike rainpour. Usually being on a bicycle in a downpour like this isn't that much fun, but I grinned and laughed all the way back :D it was the warm water from all sides, being soaked to the bone within seconds (it took 10 minutes until someone offered me a raincape - which made no sense at that point anymore) and the locals in the streets on motorbikes that were laughing with me, nodding in respect or offering me raincapes over and over again.
I spent the second day at the hostel until the afternoon, then went up to the temple on the bicycle again to watch the sunset from a temple on a hill - THE place that is recommended for sunset hours - but I didn't like at all. It wasn't that much to see from up there, the place was packed with Chinese that were climbing over the barriers and standing around in every scene that I chose to take a picture of. I left the place before the sun was down and chose other places, which turned out to be the best decision I could make.
Unfortunately I stayed a bit too long in the area around Bayon and when I decided to head back to hostel, it was almost dark... not the best moment to realise that the lights of the bike weren't working. I felt rushed suddenly and made a huge mistake... I didn't bother to store my camera properly in my pack and it took just one bump in the road that I couldn't see in the dark and the camera jumped out of the bag and fell onto the street :'(
I already felt that this was a killer, which turned out to be true later - obviously nothing broken, but releasing was impossible... I made it back to the hostel without problems though riding through the dark without light (at least I wore a white shirt) was more excitement than I could enjoy. And the problem of a broken camera without a store around to get it fixed in one of the most stunning places in the world spoilt my mood for the day.
At least I had my pocket camera that I could use on my last day in the temple area. Not the same and the camera cannot cope with the lightsituation of an overcast sky like the dslr can, so the pictures were a bit unsatisfying but better than none.
Did a couple of smaller temples that day and the so called Tomb Raider temple (scenes of the movie were taken here) and well, with all the trees growing over the place, this one has the greatest atmosphere in my opinion. I couldn't make it through the temple before my camera ran out of energy and while I was storing it in my bag another tourist ran into me... the result was that the camera fell into a mudpuddle. Two cameras in two days, what an average! -.- The red sand was on the lens and the sound the camera emitted when using the zoom told me that it got into the fine mechanics as well... so the only camera left was the one in my phone. With even less satisfying quality than the pocket camera I made it through the rest of the temple quickly, in a worse mood than the day before... I tried to clean the camera as best as I could, which made it return back to life at least. But the missed opportunity of taking beautiful pictures in the evening hours with a decent camera was upsetting me.
I left Siem Reap the next day, accompanied by one of the nicest persons I have met so far, Henrik from Sweden. One of the persons you can just sit together with until 4 in the morning, talking about this and that, far beyond the common traveler chats. Well, we had one of those chats until 4 in the morning on the last night in Siem Reap and I thought I could just sleep on the minibus from SR to Phnom Penh, a 3 hours ride that left at 7 a.m. I couldn't have been more wrong, The road to PP is under construction and the bus was more jumping than driving all the way to the capital. Impossible to get sleep but with a very nice scenery all the way.
The capital has a different atmosphere than Siem Reap, less touristic but still a lot of people offering you a ride. This place wasn't mine. When we walked back to the hostel the first evening, we took a parallel road to the main road and were faced with ruins and places that seemed like the red light district, always thinking about just taking a taxi back. Compared to Siem Reap this place felt less friendly and less safe.
We stayed in a 22 bed dorm, something that I would never ever chose again, cause people in a dorm of that size don't give a shit. It was 11 p.m. when you heard the noise of people throwing up in all bathrooms on our floor and it was the night when I finally witnessed people having sex not only in the same room but in the bed above mine, At half past five in the morning. Loudly. While the guy in the bed next to mine asked them to be louder and wanking off... disturbing experience. I was glad to have Henrik with me... someone to talk to about what happened (he heard nothing), which made me just laugh about it - and that felt relieving.
The time in PP wasn't very eventful, except for the last day when a big ceremony was held for the former king that passed away two years ago. I had to remember my excitement, when I saw a monk the first time, in Thailand. Now the whole area in front of the Silver Pagoda was packed with hundreds of them! :D And they lit up the Independence Monument, which extended my way home for hours, trying to capture the beautiful sight with the pocket camera.
I chose to go on to Saigon afterwards to get my camera fixed at a Nikon service store while Henrik decided to move on to Sihanoukville. So we went separate ways, trying to catch up later in Saigon.
I asked at the hostel reception for the different options to get to Ho CHi Minh City aka Saigon. I had heard about the possibility to go there by boat and I loved the idea of crossing the border by floating down the Mekong River. I chose a tour that contained a minibusride to the border for about two hours, a boattrip on the Mekong for about two hours and another minibusride from Chau Doc in Vietnam to Saigon for another 2 hours.
In fact, the whole trip turned out to be a f****** nightmare. It was hard to hear from others later, that simply going by bus would have cost 30% of the price I paid and would have taken me to Saigon within the promised 6 hours. But at least my route was more adventurous, but this shall be part of my next entry. Though this entry contains a majority of mishaps and things that I would like to have avoided, I enjoyed my time in Cambodia and won't forget about the nice things that happened and the lovely people I met.