Category Archives: Cambodia

TONLE SAP, SIEM REAP CAMBODIA: INTERESTING PLACE MINUS THE SCAMS

Isn’t this beautiful and charming???

Sunset in Tonle Sap
Sunset in Tonle Sap
Sunset in Ton Le Sap
Sunset in Ton Le Sap

Yes. It is pretty… but, I would like to state that the pictures became that beautiful because of my lovely DSLR and of course, some editing… 😀

The sunset I saw here is nothing compared to sunsets that I saw in my country. 😀 The Manila Bay sunset is better and its free!

Although, I must admit that I was amazed on how people can live in a floating village like this:

Well, it is interesting to see these, but I will tell you in another post that the cons outweighs the pros
Well, it is interesting to see these

tonlesap.jpg

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Aside from the houses, you can see a floating market, floating basketball court, floating tourist center (which houses the crocodiles (well it is in a cage, so you don’t need to be worry) and some kids posing with their pet snakes, — “yeah I said it right, pet snakes”) and kids using a wash basin to stay afloat. The tourist center is also where you will wait to see the “spectacular” sunset.

This is the floating complex, which can also be a basketball court.
This is the floating complex, which can also be a basketball court.
This is the "tourist center" where you will see the so called beautiful sunset
This is the “tourist center” where you will see the so called beautiful sunset
And of course the floating market.
And of course the floating market.

Well, every thing is going smoothly and we were having fun. But, the moment we went down to that quaint little floating market, every thing turned sour.

WHY?

Well, this is what it looks like inside that market:

ton le sap floating market
ton le sap floating market

It is where you will be told to buy stuff which will serve as a donation for the children living in the village. Wait, I just remembered, while we were inside the boat, we were being oriented by the tour guide (allocated to us, when we rode the boat) that the children were getting sick because they don’t have anything to eat… that they don’t have anything to drink.. and they don’t have anything to use in school and that they are orphans..blah..blah.. Well, they are trying to appeal to our pity. But, coming from a third world country myself, something like that is not “something new”.  But, it is not something that I can ignore either.

When we were forced. Yeah forced to get down the floating market. We were shoved to meet another “community” guide. Well, again, he was orienting us on how poor the villagers are, and that they need donation. So, we can choose anything from the things sold in the floating market to give to the children.

The things there are:

1. A pack of pencils, ballpens and notebooks.

2. A pack of Instant Noodles, some snacks and juices

3. a box of Bottled Water

4. Sack of Rice

Since the appeal to pity worked on us, we decided to donate. But because we were only students that time (and we don’t have that much money to afford the other things sold) we decided to donate at least the pack of pencils and notebooks.

Well, we are about to pay for it, when the “community guide” told us. “not that, the children needs food more than school supplies”. Well, my friends and I just looked at each other and well then, we decided to donate the pack of instant noodles with the snacks and all instead of the cheaper pens and notebooks. Then we are prepared to pay for it, when the community guide interrupted us again and said that “It is not nutritious, what we need is real food”. I asked how much the per kilogram of rice was, but he shrugged me off and said, “we sell it by sacks”. I forgot how much everything costs, but what I know for sure is that every thing was overpriced!

We ended up not buying anything why??

Although what he said is true or actually makes sense–that the priority is nutritious food, but, what the he**!!! we are the donors and we have the right to choose what to give, and why be so choosy?? Moreover, this trip is purely leisure, and we didn’t expect that we will face such thickheaded person, who only wants to suck the money out of tourists. Well, to tell you, not every tourist is made equal, there are rich tourists and there are budget tourists. My colleagues and I are in the latter. so scr*w it! 😀  Well, it is good to help, as long as it is within my ability. I also help a lot of people in need, but what I don’t understand is that they became so aggressive and so pushy in telling us what to give! damn, I hate them. they ruined my happy disposition during that trip.

But, our dilemma did not end when we get off the floating market. Our guide was literally Pissed-off at us when he realized that we did not buy anything. He didn’t say anything throughout the time when we went inside the tourist complex but he was really talkative when we were just heading towards the floating market. And when we were able to go inside the tourist complex, we realized that he went off by himself, without even telling us his goodbyes. What the F???

Thank goodness our boatman stayed. :p that’s why we gave him a tip (which is actually mandatory). 5USD for the boatman.

Well, enough of the rantings.

BTW. inside the tourist complex. Well, I just named it that way, because I forgot how it is called :p You will see these:

This is the "tourist center" where you will see the so called beautiful sunset
This is the “tourist center” where you will see the so called beautiful sunset
ton le sap girl with snake
ton le sap girl with snake

tonlesapsnakes2.jpg

Crocodiles kept on Ton Le Sap
Crocodiles kept on Ton Le Sap

And from there, we waited for the sunset.

Sunset in Ton Le Sap
Sunset in Ton Le Sap
On our way back to Siem Reap after visiting the water village
On our way back to Siem Reap after visiting the water village

Worth it? Well, I will let you decide

1.  The road going here is unpaved. or is rocky. So going here using a Tuktuk is really not recommended, unless if you want to have your face filled with dust.  Moreover, it is quite far from Siem Reap, around 30 minutes to 1 hour van ride.

2. Sunset is nice, but I won’t pay a lot just because of it. You will pay 25-30 USD for the boat ride, a separate entrance fee of 3-5USD per person (I’m not sure, but this is as far as I can remember, because we were issued tickets), then a van ride which costs us 20-30USD per van.

3. Scams and rip offs. Well, since we were caught off-guard, we were really disappointed and angry of what happened. But, since you’ll be coming there equipped with knowledge about the modus then you will be well prepared of what’s gonna happen to you. And you won’t have any great expectations unlike us who were super swayed by our siem reap tour guide. 😀

4. Mandatory Tipping of 5 USD each for the driver and guide. But since the guide went off by himself, he wasn’t able to receive it.

5. If you wanna save money, you should travel in groups, since the boat is usally rented by groups.

6. A tour guide that leaves his work after being pissed off at you

OBJECTIVELY THOUGH: It is somehow extraordinary to see floating villages like this. So, minus the scams, and if I am ready to pay a huge amount of money, why shouldn’t I give it a try?

CAMBODIA ADVENTURE: MY SEVEN DAY ITINERARY AND TIPS

This is my seven day itinerary with tips in Cambodia:

3 days in Siem Reap and 3 days in Phnom penh

FIRST DAY- arrived Siem Reap at 10pm. Transfer to hostel. There are a lot of vans offering you transfer from the airport to your hotel. It costs 10 USD, well depending on the size of the vehicle, the airport staff will give you a coupon. However, you can opt to use the friendly tuktuks which will cost you around 5USD. By the way Tuktuks can seat up to 6 persons. Don’t be fooled if the tuktuks say that there’s a regulation that say that only 3 persons can seat per tuktuk. 😀

By the way, unlike other countries, such as South Korea, Kuala Lumpur, or cities like HK, where airports are located far away from the city center, the airport in Siem Reap is just a 10 to 15 minutes ride. So, spending a lot in a van than a tuktuk, is not a wise choise, especially if you are just 2 persons traveling together. 😀

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The taxi/van driver will most likely offer you a tour for the next few days. You will most likely say Yes because it is cheap. However, you can save more money if you’ll just hire a tuktuk and bring you to the Angkor Wat, especially if you are in a budget. But, the good side of saying yes, is that the package that the van/taxi will offer you includes a very knowledgeable tour guide. Which, we did, and we were happy with our choice. However, skip the other tours that he will offer you, such as the side trip to the floating village known as Tonle Sap. For your own sake, don’t go there. It is a waste of time and money. (I’ll tell you in another post) 🙂

Since we arrived late in Siem Reap, we went out to eat in a restaurant located in pub street. Well, as the name suggests,  is a party place! 🙂 full of bars and people dancing on the streets.

pubstreet.jpg pubstreet.jpg

SECOND DAY- In the morning, while waiting for our tour driver to pick us up. My friends and I decided to rent a bike in our hostel and to look around the nearby area.  And we saw some mini temples akin to that in Thailand. Well, we learned of it by accident so I wasn’t able to know its name. Though, Siem Reap is so small that you can probably see it if you rent a bike. 😀

Temples in Siem Reap city. Temples akin to that in the neighboring country-Thailand.
Temples in Siem Reap city. Temples akin to that in the neighboring country-Thailand.

We were also able to see the pub street during the morning and tried the infamous Pizza place.

aroundsiemreap2.jpg aroundsiemreap3.jpg aroundsiemreap5.jpg

In the afternoon, we went to Tonle Sap, as recommended by our driver/tour guide (skip this. not worth it! I’ll be writing about it in another post) Just go to Angkor Wat. You can opt to get the 2 day Angkor Wat visit, as there are a lot of Angkor temples other than Angkor Wat.

Well, it is interesting to see these, but I will tell you in another post that the cons outweighs the pros
Well, it is interesting to see these, but I will tell you in another post that the cons outweighs the pros

Tonle Sap is a place full of scams and rip offs. Though, I must admit, it has a colorful and amazing sunset view

On our way back to Siem Reap after visiting the water village
On our way back to Siem Reap after visiting the water village

THIRD DAY- Angkor Temples

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angkorwat.jpg

sunset.jpg

FOURTH DAY- Go to Phnom Penh (6 hour bus ride)

We opted to have a day trip, so we bought our tickets at the night market. Well, the ticket costs around 500 pesos. 😀

FIFTH DAY: Phnom Penh,

Tuong Sleng Genocide Museum, and the Killing Fields– Well, I didn’t realize that I’m really into this kind of stuff. haha. 🙂 Well, there’s an eerie feeling into it that makes it interesting. Moreover, I learned a lot of Cambodia’s history because of it.

I wasn’t able to get a lot of photos inside the Genocide Museum because the thought that a ghost will appear in one of the photos, scared the hell out of me 😀  Well I’ll write a separate post for this 😀

skulls.jpg

SIXTH DAY– Went to the Central Market and then went back to Siem Reap (traveled for 6 hours)

The central market is really a nice place to visit. I don’t know why? maybe of the cheap things that they sell there??

The Central Market in Phnom Penh
The Central Market in Phnom Penh

Don’t ever plan to go to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh using a van. Bus is better. My gosh, the road is really rocky. And riding a van make it worse. And if you are unlucky enough to sit at the back of the van, just get ready for a trip with no nap or sleep time. I’m not even sleeping but I always found myself at the floor every single time. Well, if you cannot picture it enough–think of the time you rode a horse. Yeah, it’s that harsh!

7TH DAY

Just walked around the pub area. 😀

TRAVEL TIPS in Cambodia

1. Well, Cambodia uses US dollars as their currency but they don’t have the US coins, (currency below 1 USD)  instead they use their own money. And yes, it is confusing. Until now I can’t figure out how much is the equivalent of their money compared to USD.

2.  There are a lot of scams going on. Well, not necessarily scams, but they overcharge you in everything. Especially in Siem Reap. Be careful with the Tuktuks, always, ALWAYS, always, I MEAN ALWAYS, HAGGLE. and if you are a group of 4 or 5 or 6 and tells you that you should rent separate tuktuks because of a traffic regulation. No, don’t believe that. During my stay in Cambodia (phnom pehn or siem reap) I always see more that 4 even 8 passengers in a tuktuk. I wasn’t able to get a lot of photos though, but this is one I got:

Do not believe the tuktuk drivers. They just want to earn more income
Do not believe the tuktuk drivers. They just want to earn more income

3. Another thing, please bring your own medicine from your home country. Why? I got sick in Cambodia, and my Cambodian friend told me that I should not buy medicine there instead take the medicine I have from my country. She even went home to get the medicine she got from her husband (who is from a country in Europe) because she said that the medicine in Cambodia, instead of making you feel better, can make you feel worse. She said that they sell medicines even if they are already expired. Scary right?

4. If you plan to visit Phnom Penh from Siem Reap, you can buy bus tickets in the Night Market. There are a lot of travel agencies that sell tickets toward Phnom Penh, or even Bangkok. You can buy it there. But never, try riding a van. It is really a bumpy ride and a good looking van doesn’t make it better.

5. Don’t go to Tonle Sap.

6. Well, as for the sarongs or long skirts whatever. It is not really “mandatory” in the whole angkor complex. It is just necessary in hiking up the main temples in Angkor Wat. But, I suggest that you still wear the proper attire, so that if you opt to hike the temples, then you can do so without a problem. You can buy long pants or sarongs in the “NIght Market” for around 2-3 USD each.

So, here’s my outfit while in Angkor Wat. Yeah, I look so dirty already, and that’s around 4 pm already, and we started touring at around 7am. That’s why I look so “dugyot”. I bought my pants in Siem Reap’s market since I wasn’t able to pack well 😀

yeah, I don't look good. haha.
yeah, I don’t look good. haha.