The end of the big T

Tanya cycling through India

T is for Thailand, but it is also for Tropics. As our time here in Thailand end, so does our trip. For the past 10 months we have spent all of our time in the tropic, from the northern Thailand, northern Vietnam and middle of India. We have also been in the far south, in Singapore nearly straddling the equator. We have seen the season (hot, hotter and wet), and although hot season was hot when we arrived, it is now cold. Hotter is still hot and wet is wet. Torrential downpours have caused small streams to fill paths, make roads more like river instead of roads, and have transformed the landscape from yellow to bright green. The lethargic hot weather makes any task difficult.

Learning at the PDC

Taking our PDC in Malaysia during the hot season was tough, I remember laying on the cement trying to cool down. I also remember working on Grassroots farm during this hot period, hoping for rain just to keep cool. I also remember when it would get cold at night in Hampie and Dalat, having to wear a sweater and a toque (who knew?)

New tastes, Durian, the King of Fruit

We both embarked on this trip in hopes to see something different, and experience something different. Riding a bicycle through India was a great way to achieve this goal. We also wanted to get inspired, thanks to places like Sadhana forest and the Panya project we are inspired. But also to our PDC teachers and everyone else we have met along the way. We have learned so much on this trip. We have learned:

  • How to build with mud

  • How to make kimchi

  • How to make wine

  • How to live in a community

    Learning about biodynamics

  • The best way to find ones way around rural India

  • How to grow food

  • How to cook without a cook book

  • How to cook for a hundred people

  • How to make various Biodynamic perperations

It was damn cold in Dalat

I know there is so much more as well. I never thought that I could get sick of traveling, and although I’m not sick of traveling, I am ready to come home. There is so much I want to try, there is so much I want to do and I’m looking forward to doing it.

SE Asia is full of culture and history

I want to thank all the loyal readers of this blog, we appreciate you dedication and patients. The last couple of months have been pretty inactive (in terms of blog posts). Since the beginning of this trip there has been more then 16,000 views on grannygear, which is pretty amazing, so we thank you all for your support. For those that we met on the road, maybe one day our paths will cross and we can catch up. For the rest of you back home, we are looking forward to meeting up people we haven’t seen in about a year and just chillin. See you soon.

The Killing Fields

The sign you see as you enter the Killing fields

In the late 1970’s there was genocide in Cambodia. As I don’t remember ever learning about in school, and for the large part had no idea what happened. Pretty devastating. According to Wikipedia over 1.4 million people where killed and Cambodia only have 7 million people at the time. The words sad and terrible don’t really sum up what happened. Tanya and I (both of which had very little knowledge on the subject), toured Choeung Ek (where people where brought to be killed) and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (formally a prison).

Both the sites were informative, the museum was definitely the most interesting, and Choeung Ek is fairly far out of town (long tuk tuk ride). Like I said before, the museum was a prison. Before it was a prison, it was a school. You could still the chalk boards on the walls of the classrooms turned prison cells. In some of the rooms you could see the beds where people were kept. Other rooms had pictures of the victims and interviews of both sides of the fight. The sight was nothing short of amazing. It is hard to believe there are people out there that can lead an army to commit genocide. Here are the pictures of prison, and killing field memorial. The images talk for themselves.

Posted from Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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Wat I saw: Angkor Wat, Part 2

Angkor Wat, from inside the outer wall

After two days of looking at temples, not really getting too many shots I was too happy about, I went on the Internet and searched out what the best may have in store for us. I quickly saw how cool this place could be and got a little giddy. I committed myself to wake up a 4am and catch the sunrise the next morning. Tanya (who is not a huge fan of mornings) stayed in bed and I went out to check out the temples.

Some of the faces of Bayon, modeled after the ruler of the time.

I was the first one to arrive at the Angkor Wat, however this didn’t last long. After I had my fill, I walked around back. The place was deserted, not only that, it was a fresh new perspective, enjoying the quietness, and the greenery I snapped some shots. Next it was off to Bayon. Another great place to take some pictures. Ta Prohm was my last stop and my favorite, it was by the coolest, mainly because the forest had taken over and the temple had a neat feel to it. These three temples are the best and are worth seeing. Here are some pictures of them.

Later that day, Tanya and I returned so that she could see the sights. We both agreed that the last sight (Ta Prohm) was the best. We went around 5pm to Ta Prohm and it was deserted, there was only one other couple in there, which was great, no tour groups, no hassels, just us and the super humid air (it had rained earlier that day).

Posted from Krong Siem Reap, Siem Reap, Cambodia
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Angkor Wat: Part 1

While in Cambodia, one must go to Angkor Wat. So we did, we had the hotel booked for a couple of days so we opted for the 3 day pass. Using the strategy of saving the best for last, we say all the outer temple first, slowly making our way to the crown jewels of the World Heritage Site. This is a great way to see the temple as you start on the smaller less impressive ones and they get better and better as time goes on. There will be three posts on this, and this is part one.

 

The temples here are in various states of condition. From completely overrun by plants to restored, each temple has a different feel to it

Day one and day two: without going into boring detail of the names of the temples we went to, I’ll just say that we visited the outer most temples first. Seeing a lot of sandstone buildings worshiping Hindu and Buddhist gods. It was pretty pleasant and the crowds were low (because most people don’t see these temple).

Temple hopping is pretty enjoyable here, you get a tuk tuk, which has the most wonderful airflow, to drop you off at each temple entrance. There kids from the age of 4 try to sell you postcards and books, which is quiet humourious. Just say no about 7 times and smile at them. The kids give up and then ask where you are from. The people here are so friendly. We would walk around the temple seeing what it had to offer and then head back to our tuk tuk.

 

Great Detail

By the time you are done walking around these ancient structures, you shirt is covered in sweat and you are quiet hot, this is where the open air tuk tuk is great. As you move to the next temple you quickly cool down and repeat.

If you only interest is to see some temples (not try to get a ton of photos) and you have spent 5 months in India, only get a one day pass. The temples in India are for the most part bigger, in better shape and more memorable. Saying that, if you haven’t seen your fair share of temples, getting a three day pass for Angkor Wat is well worth the cost and experience, I would just recommend the saving the best for last strategy.

Posted from Krong Siem Reap, Siem Reap, Cambodia
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Cambodia

We arrived in Cambodia yesterday, with no expectations, and no idea what it was going to be like.  So far, Cambodia seems more like India then any other country we have seen. There are differences though. Cambodia is cleaner, more people speak English, and their main Industry is Tourism (pretty obvious when you see the main tourist street of Siem Reap). The rural part of the country feels like rural India, and then people are just as nice. Cambodia does seem to have better value though, hotels seem really nice for what you get, beer is cheap ($0.50/glass) and the food is good.

Down an alleyway

Leaving KL wasn’t too enjoyable. Our plane left from the new Budget terminal from KLIA, but really it should have been called the Air Asia terminal. The budget terminal is probably 70km out of town, making the Edmonton International airport feel like the Edmonton City Airport. What this all means, is the the alarm was set for 2:30am, so that we could catch the bus to the terminal. After arriving in Cambodia, we crashed in our queen sized bed, and enjoyed every minute of it.

A small river cuts the city in half, the banks are covered in green grass, old trees and these pillars.

We pulled ourselves out of bed around 1pm, and checked out the town. As Cambodia has been in the tourist scene for some time and Angkor Wat only being 5km away, there was well developed tourist area of the town, somewhat similar to the of Kathmandu. Walking up and down the streets I quickly noticed a nice sign, $0.50 beer, everywhere. We had lunch, had some ice cream, walked around and spent most of the afternoon sitting in the bar, drinking stupid cheap beer. Go to an ATM around here and you will be asked how many dollars you want, put in a value and you are given the fake looking uninspiring American dollar. There is no need for the local currency here, prices are in greenbacks.

 

You want Homemade Ice cream in Cambodia, go here. Tanya loved the Licorice Marshmallow flavor

After a couple of days in India, I was wondering what other cultures had instead of rickshaws. I knew that Canada didn’t have a cheap three wheeled transportation option, neither did Singapore or Malaysia. To my delight, Cambodia has one. However the Cambodian one has four wheels. They are basically a minuture 5th wheeled trailer designed with seats to carry people and (the best part) fit on the back of a motorcycle. It is cool (lots of wind), not safe, and not very fast (a big motorcycle around here is about 100cc, so carrying three people and a trailer means you can’t go very fast).

One of the establishments we went to

The tourist streets are lined with nice trendy classic buildings

Posted from Krong Siem Reap, Siem Reap, Cambodia
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