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.
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.
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.
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).
Well, almost 5 fantastic months later, we’ve made it to our last day in India. We ended up going on a bit of a roadtrip with a friend from yoga, Viola from Vancouver, and her friend Prashanth from Mysore/Bangalore. All of us feeling like we needed a break from the city, we hopped in a car (with a driver of course – it is basically essential here) and took off.
We were going to go to an area called Coorg which is in the Ghats, but being India, things ran a bit slow and we didn’t have time. So we went to some waterfalls, about 2-3 hours drive from Mysore, off of serveral small and bumpy roads.
At first I didn’t think I’d go in the falls, but thanks to the heat it was too tempting to pass up! It was really fun because, unlike Canada where you would be freezing under a waterfall in 30 seconds, you could sit in the waterfall for like 30 minutes and be totally warm!
India has been great, and tonight we are off to South East Asia!
We treaded ourselves to a couple of days of house boating. We decided to go with the American couple on the houseboat (you save money that way) and we went for two days not one. It was great. Our boat was huge, the bedroom was very nice, the crew was friendly, the beer was cold, the company was superb and we had an upper deck (costs extra, but worth it).
Our houseboat left at 11:30, we got on and the first thing we really noticed was how many other boats there were. The locals claim that there are 400 boats, and I would believe it. From the upper deck of our boat all you could see was the roofs of other houseboats. We got settled and were off. At about 1pm we were served lunch. No real warning, it was just there, which was great because everyone was hungry.
The food was tasty. We spent the rest of the day chatting with Aaron and Jessie (the American couple we split the boat with). Around 5 we docked for the night.
The backwaters a really neat. I always try to imagine what it was like before people were here, making levies and dikes. There are hundreds of canals running throughout this area. The top of the water is about 1 meter above the ground, which is really important.
The ground is covered in rice paddies, and when the rice needs some water, they open a culvert and let gravity fed water soak the paddy. There is a very complex irrigation system in place which works with no power and provides an amazing amount of food. The backwaters provide a great way to see the landscape and this crazy place.
We had only planned on staying one day, and if it was really good, we would stay another day. We stayed for 2 days, and it was worth it. The food was amazing, the scenery was always changing and different. It was so peaceful. The water was teaming with life from all trophic levels and it was great to see how everything lived in this ecosystem. What a great experience.
I would recommend people do this if they get a chance.