The temples of Angkor were supposed to be the last real highlight of my journey which by that point already lasted more than 10 months. As my funds were running low, I realized that the time to think about my return had finally come. So far, I had been able to successfully suppress these thoughts about the inevitable but they were persistent and kept creeping back without mercy. No more running away, I had to face it – within a couple of weeks I would probably touch European ground again. After having been on the road for that long, having enjoyed the sweet taste of freedom and having experienced adventures of all kinds, it almost felt unreal to finally plan my return. One thing was for sure, the upcoming days would bring a lot of a lot of “last times” …. Continue reading
My original plan was to enter Cambodia from Laos and then cross the whole country before going to Vietnam. But when you travel long-term, things and itineraries tend to change every once in a while and here it all happened very quickly. Due to a rather spontaneous decision to leave Cambodia early in order to meet up with my Belgian friends Dolf and Chris in the Philippines, I ended up returning to Cambodia five months after my initial visit. But this circumstance actually made for a very interesting experience as I had left the country during absolute high season, with the country being arid, dusty and hot and returned to what felt like a different country. At the end of wet season, I found a country of lush scenery, green fields and a pleasantly mild climate. As different as these two stays were, as different were the adventures I experienced. Continue reading
After a month of traveling Vietnam, I left the border town of Chau Doc by boat and went down the Mekong to enter Cambodia. It would be my second time since my rather spontaneous departure more than three months before. After my memorable jungle adventure in Mondulkiri and the Mekong Discovery Trail, there wasn’t much left on my list but the all time Cambodia highlight Angkor Wat and a short stay in Battambang. The border crossing was quick and I was on my way to Phnom Penh, a city which I associated great memories with. In preparation of my Philippines journey, I had spent a good week in Phnom Penh before and this time I just felt like returning and spending a couple of days in the city to regroup and revive and then head for the ancient temples of Angkor. Continue reading
A few weeks back and thanks to a hint by one of my blog’s followers, I submitted some photos for the annual Garuda Indonesia World Photo Contest. I haven’t heard of this award but apparently it is pretty big and by now a bit prestigious as well. At least that’s what I was told. The contest features three categories, people, nature, culture and every participant was allowed to submit a total of 15 pictures. I think the majority of mine was people with the exception of two landscape shots. My hopes were pretty low as I saw the incredible quality of images photographers from all around the world had submitted. It is really amazing and admittedly also a little intimidating, to see at what level people are photographing these days. BUt today the top 1000 for each category were anounced I found out that actually one of my images it. Top 1000 in the people category – among 74,782 photos submitted from 15,478 participants from more than 100 countries. What an honour and such a surprise.
The funny thing about this is that I didn’t think that this picture would have any chances to make it. Actually it was among the last that I had chosen for submission. I also liked most of my other submissions way better than this one. I guess one of the judges must have like it the more. Whoever it was, thanks a lot. And if you want to know the whole story behind the picture, just click here … and here is the link to the picture in the contest …
Before coming to Phnom Penh I got back in touch with Chris and Dolf from Belgium whom I had traveled with in Laos. They entered Cambodia a few days before me and were on a tight 10 day itinerary for that country. Their plan was to go to the Philippines afterwards and they asked if I wouldn’t like to tag along to share fun and costs. I originally wanted to travel the Philippines in March and June. Thinking about it for a while, the idea of going there earlier with the guys sounded very appealing. I not only would have some great company but also could avoid the chance of getting stuck in a typhoon since the season starts as early as June. I could also come back to Cambodia after my planed stint in Vietnam to visit the rest of the country.
A lot of good arguments so there it was: The first major change of my original itinerary. Beforehand I had to arrange a few things though. I went to the embassy in Phnom Penh to arrange the extended 59 days visa, had to book both flights and my first night of accommodation. I can say it was a little bit of a hassle but it all worked out well and here I am in Manila together with Chris and Dolf – The BLC Crew reunited.
The next updates will come soon as we already did an awesome trip to the North. Stay tuned….
Having finished the Mondulkiri Trek, my next stop would be Kratie, a sleepy town by the Mekong. The town has not a whole lot going on. Most people just stop for a day and head either North towards Laos or South to Phnom Phnom Penh. However, I heard that the surrounding area was supposed to be really beautiful. My plan was to go on a bike again and explore the region for a day. The regional government developed a very interesting tourism program called the Mekong Discovery Trail. It consists of several loops and trails, short to very long, which you can do by motorbike or bicycle. It’s aim is to opening up some of the more remote stretches of the Mekong River to community based tourism and to support local communities.
During my stay in Laos I heard a lot of good things about jungle trekking in the far east province of Mondulkiri in Cambodia. Since my last trek was rather mediocre, I wanted to give it another try and the plan was to cross the border, go to the Mekong town of Kratie and then continue into Mondulkiri. Besides an extended stay at the Lao – Cambodian border my plan worked out well and I arrived full of energy in the regional capital of Sen Monorom. The city is far from anything, very dusty and has a very special and rough charm to it. There is not so much to do besides the trekking so I started to ask around if there were groups going the next day. To my surprise there was no one going for a three day trek which I was looking for. Only one day tours and maybe a two day trek with another couple. It took me almost 2 days to come here and now this. What to do? I finally decided to get a guide for myself and head into the jungle right the next day.
I am way behind with the Pic of the Week category again. My apologies for that. I selected two great pictures representing the Pic of the Week 6 and 7. This time no temples, no sunsets and no people. It’s all about the animals. Here you go!
This was taken during my lengthy stay on Don Dhet, Laos. There is one big herd of oxen which lives on the island. I never found out who they actually belong to, but they roam the island completely free and can feed wherever they want. Sometimes you can even spot them around the bungalows and walking in the village.
One day I rode my bicycle around the island in search of some good picture opportunities. I was on my way back to my bungalow when I suddenly saw the herd taking a collective bath in the Mekong. It was so funny since you could really tell that they were enjoying it a lot. They sometimes completely submerged, holding their breath for more than a minute. I had some more encounters with these guys but this one was by far the funniest.
This one was taken in Cambodia, where I am at right now. I don’t want to say anything about it right now to keep it a little bit mysterious. I will explain in the article after the upcoming Laos Roundup. Stay tuned.