Monday, June 2, 2008

Lawatan Sambil Belajar

I have been meaning to write about my trip to Cambodia ever since I came back, but last week was just too busy for me to sneak some time to blog. Things are just going to get more busy, so I might just as well blog now.

People kept asking me, why Cambodia? Read on if you have the time and you might find a reason for you to go too. I'll do it chronologically, so here goes:

Tuesday - Left home, hitched a ride with The Journo (TJ) and HR-holic (HR). Then waited at the KL sentral's foodcourt for The Programmer (TP), Grammar Plugin (GP) and Orang Kapal (OK). It was GP's idea to take the last bus to LCCT and not risk missing the 1st bus instead (which is at 3.30am). In the end only 5 of us took the 10pm bus since GP can't make in time and will take the 1st bus later instead. So we brand him Judas, aka Izrin Iscariot (bukan nama sebenar). We planned to just lounge at McD for a few hours before looking for a corner to sleep. But our luck was rotten, McD closed down from 12am to 3am for some routine maintenance. So we headed towards the foodcourt and ate and chatted until we got bored. Then we all headed to the surau and slept until 4am.

Wednesday - Checked in and boarded the plane. 2 hours later we arrived in Siem Reap. Mr Proeun (we had problems pronouncing it, OK simply called him Mr Prawn) was there to meet us at the airport and take us back to Mahogany, where we'll be staying. Put down our bags and soon were back in the van heading towards the Angkor Wat complex.

First up was Preah Khan. It's quite a stroll, about 2-3km to get through the whole temple. Then we went to see Ta Prohm, the famous temple with trees growing on it's walls. I do mean huge huge trees, not the flimsy type we usually see hanging on the walls. But it rained while we were there so had to skip the rest of it.After that we stopped by Elephant's Terrace before heading up Phnom Bakheng to watch the sunset. But then, sunset was not due in 3 more hours. Tired feet and exhausted body says go home and sleep. So we obeyed. Sunset? Err...

That night we went out to see the Apsara dance at a huge restaurant. The place has got it's own stage and everything, very proper. But of course, they charge you USD12 for the buffet dinner and show. It would've been alright if most of the food were edible. Since we can only eat fish and veggies, that striked out 70% of the spread. The dance was superb. There's several scenes/acts and the final one was the best. The costume and moves are similar to Makyong and the Thai traditional dance, same roots I guess.

Thursday - Woke up super early to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. We left Mahogany at abt 5am (!) to make sure we got a good spot. Other people were there even earlier it seems. We got a good enough spot thankfully, and snapped away while waiting for the sun to rise. After sunrise, we toured the Angkor Wat itself and had breakfast in the inner courtyard. Judas, I mean, GP brought bread and tuna in his bag. Trying to atone I guess, hehe.

Then it's on to Bayon, the temple with many faces of King Jayavarman VII (if I got this wrong, blame it on Kim San, our guide). It's an amazing feat of art, I'd say. As usual, took pics and moved on because we're heading to Banteay Srey which is some way away from Angkor Wat area.

Banteay Srey is a temple for ladies only, and it is made up of pink limestones (sandstones? tak ingat lah) hence the different tone of the stones (compared to grey stones at other temples, it's earthy red here). We left to head back to Ta Prohm to continue where we left off due to rain. Then it's back to Mahogany to shower and catch a nap before a late lunch and shopping spree at Phsa Chas. Had hot fudge at Le Grande Cafe, a French colonial building turned into a nice and cosy cafe. We can't help but laugh when the waiter keep saying 'hot fuck' everytime he confirms our order.

Friday - 4 of us went back to Phsa Chas to shop some more while GP and TJ went to FCC Angkor instead. We had brunch before boarding the Mekong Express Limousine Bus to Phnom Penh. Don't let the name fool you though. It was hot as hell since the a/c wasn't functioning properly. There's a steward cum tour guide on board, but we can't comprehend 90% of what he's saying. Yes it's in English. That's the best bus available btw, so can't really complain. Stopped halfway at Kampong Thom or someplace, for 15 minutes. That's where I got to fulfil my dreams of eating weird stuff in Cambodia. There's a roadside peddler selling crickets, roaches and assorted bugs. So all of us besides HR tried some, and found it to be tasty! so we bought some to snack on the bus. The result, some injured mouth due to the insects' sharp points. My mom squirmed when she saw pics of us munching the damn critters, hehe.

Arrived in Phnom Penh at about 6pm and made our way to the Royal Guesthouse. What I can say is that it's like an oasis. The whole area is very dodgy, yet the guesthouse is surprisingly clean, well lighted, and with all the amenities we required and more. This time we took the rooms in accordance to our respective houses. Sulaiman, in R10 and Idris in R5. Ahmad & Mohd Shah bell sebab tak join. So me, TP and OK in one room and RJ, GP and HR in the other. That night we walked in search of Maybank Cambodia, but it was closed. So HR took quite a bit of stick from us since he's in Maybank. Dinner was at this halal Indian/Bangladeshi joint, and so we had chicken and lamb - what joy! 2 days of fish and veggie was enough for us carnivores.

Saturday - Headed first to Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, then onwards to Choeung Ek Genocide center aka Killing Fields. No fun to see evidence of human cruelty, but it's not as disturbing as our next stop. But first, we dropped by Russian Market for some more shopping and lunch. No, there's nothing Russian about it (no vodka, no matryoshka, no Sharapova), not sure how it got its' name though. After that we visited Tuol Sleng Prison aka S-21, the Khmer Rouge's equivalent to Guantanamo Bay (or ISA for that fact, only much worse, is it?). Tuol Sleng means Strychnine Hill, apt name for the place. Formerly a high school, it was converted into a prison aka interrogation (read: torture) center. I can only take a few pics there before a wave of nausea got to me.

Went back to the guesthouse and showered and rested until dinner time. Dinner was at FCC Phnom Penh, where we celebrated HR's birthday a coupla days in advance. Played cards until FCC closed down and headed back.

Sunday - I stayed back with TJ while the rest went to Central Market to shop some more. I packed and whiled away the morning while waiting time to check out and head for the airport. The flight was delayed for about 30 minutes, but it was smooth sailing all the way home.

For me, the trip was great. I needed the break sorely, and it did not disappoint. Tiring, yes. It was scorching hot over there and I sweat by the bucketloads. But I had a whale of a time. We had the combination of good company and luck to make the trip memorable.

To the guys, let's look forward for Vietnam!


kue said...

"hot fuck" lol.. lidah pendek

tok upload gamba ko? excited nok tgk aksi fear factor.. hehehe

The Banker said...

"hot fuck for you sir?" memang sah2 la kena gelak..haha

almost 600 pics taken, nk upload semo letih laa. will upload the bug-eating pics soon!

pemerhati jauh said...

What does the word meean? Mis- pronouned or in local dialect?

The Banker said...

he was confirming our order, it was supposed to be "hot fudge for you sir?", but it sounded like the above instead.

but then most cambodians we heard spoke english with a funny accent. if you watch the movie 'killing fields' you can hear the peculiar slang. kinda hard to understand too at times.

pemerhati jauh said...

Tak keja ke...Cepat jawab... I forgot the story line of `Killing Fileds'..must had seen it ages ago..

|1f34|-|1r3 said...

fuh..cambodia siap...tgh sengkek skang ni..tunggu aku kaya skt..aku join pegi jejalan

The Banker said...

pemerhati jauh: the comments are sent to my email at work so i can immediately reply if i'm not too busy, hehe

life4hire: ape la eja susah2 kau nih. jom ah gi bangkok skali beb, so far baru 3 org nih

Anonymous said...

berapa orang lagi perlu?

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The Banker said...

anon: oh thanks, that's a very nice compliment ;)

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