A Travellerspoint blog

The failed tourist

We woke up this morning all excited and motivated to go for an elephant ride at the Ankor Wat Temple. We weren’t sure what we were doing so the lovely Davy organised a driver to take us to the temple. He was a lovely guy but couldn’t speak a word of English. This fact is important for later! We get to Ankor Wat and are immediately beset by people offering to be tour guides. We ask one lady where we go to ride elephants and she tells us it is at the other temple and we need to catch a Tuk Tuk to get there and of course she has a friend who can help us out. He drove us for miles another part of the Ankor Wat temple.. it is huge!
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I had no idea how big it was. About half way there the tuk tuk driver tells us that he thinks the elephant rides are finished for the day! I was like oh now you tell us LOL. We get to the place where the elephant rides are and see the beautiful elephants but are told by the very amused attendants that you need to book at least a week in advance to ride the elephants. They gave us their phone number and I will get the beautiful Davy to organise it for us before we leave. On the way back from the elephant ride place we noticed some roadside markets and so asked the tuk tuk driver to pull over so we could check them out as we have fallen in love with the very comfortable “happy” pants that all the tourists wear over here. Everything is so cheap so we bargained happily with the stall holders and bought some clothes and carried on back to the main temple. By this time we were hungry and so asked our tuk tuk driver a good place to eat. He took us to a great restaurant where we had a beer and some yummy food. The food in Cambodia is awesome I am going to get so fat if I don’t do any exercise!!
After lunch we decided that we had pretty well wasted most of the day and as we had bought a 7 day pass to the temple we would come back another day when we had more time to explore it properly and to go back into town and get a massage and have a look around. We were about to get our new tuk tuk driver friend to drive us in when I looked up and saw our driver from this morning looking very worried as he couldn’t find us! Oops we thought we had made it clear that he could go home and that we would work our own way back but the language barrier meant that he stayed there the whole time waiting for us! So we said goodbye to our tuk tuk driver who upon finding out that we were not just tourists but volunteers gave us his phone number and told us to call him when we were to come back to the temple and thanked us for being volunteers. It was very sweet. So all in all our day of being a tourist was a bit of a failure.
We managed to communicate to our driver that we wanted to go to the market and when we pulled up he asked a tuk tuk driver on the street to interpret for us and we told him that he could go home. Poor guy I think he looked relieved. As it happens we pulled up right outside one of the nicer massage places so we wondered in and got an appointment for an hour long aromatherapy massaged for the princely sum of $22. This is quite expensive for Cambodia but so worth it. First they scrub your feet and then you go upstairs and have a nice hot shower before getting a full body massage that was just divine. After the massage we went to a local mini market to pick up some snacks and drinks. Bottles of beer $1 Vodka cruisers $1.40 each, Pringles, coke, magnum ice-blocks.. there is everything here you could possibly think of. Siem Reap is built for tourists and is nothing like the rest of Cambodia.
We grab a tuk tuk back to the guesthouse and then put our laundry in to be done down the road $1 a kilo! And grabbed a simcard for our phones as the wifi is good but we would like something for when we are out and about. We got heaps of credit from the local guy for $11. He gave us the locals rates instead of the usual tourist rates. We teased Ashlee it was because he thought she was beautiful. He told her that she looked like a Hollywood movie star haha.. poor Ashlee was so embarrassed. We then had showers and got dressed had a beer before heading in to town for dinner. We decided to go to the triangle bar as you could go upstairs on a balcony and see the whole street and Lauren wanted pizza. It was a great place, again the food was delicious and the drinks were cheap. I ordered a jug of beer ($3) and Lauren got a Singapore Sling. The manager came out to make sure that we were being looked after as Sophie had ordered a cocktail in a coconut and he was so lovely and talked to us. The staff were friendly and fun. I took a photo of the manager and one of the staff tried to photo bomb the photo – we all cracked up. Lauren is so little that after one cocktail she was tipsy.
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After dinner Lauren and Ashlee told us about a bar called the Yellow Submarine which was a Beatle’s themed bar so we decided to check it out. We quickly figured out it was a gay bar but the guy who was the manager seemed thrilled to have some girls there and was very quick to make sure we were ok. The highlight was when Lauren said why is this bar gay the beatles weren't gay hahahaha we all cracked up. I had a few more cocktails and we had a lovely time talking and laughing and in between I went shopping with Tara and bought a dress hahaha for $5.. everything is so cheap here it is ridiculous. After drinks we had crepes. Lauren and Ashlee had enough and went home but Sophie, Tara and myself were keen to have a look around. After a while we decided to try walking back to the guesthouse, we spotted a bottleshop on the way and Sophie and I grabbed a roadie. Tara was pretty confident she knew where to go I on the other hand had no idea! After a while we began to second guess ourselves so flagged a tuk tuk driver to take us but he had no idea either and took us into a dodgy looking part of the city we were trying to get him to stop and Sophie was prepared to defend herself with her beer bottle but we finally got through to him to stop. He then had a pee break and took us to our guesthouse. It turned out Tara knew what she was doing and we were so close to home that it was ok 
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Posted by sonya13 03:18 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Welcome to Cambodia

sunny 29 °C

Our first 24 hours in Siem Reap have been wonderful. We arrived off the plane and met our wonderful host Davy who owns a guesthouse in Siem Reap. The rooms are beautiful, clean and have air-conditioning.. we are pleasantly surprised as we had prepared ourselves for primitive conditions and would have been happy with that.
cambodia_081.jpg We were all pretty shattered from the plane trip but were keen to check out the famous Night Markets and get something to eat. We went to a restaurant and ordered some food and while we waited did some people watching. We couldn’t help noticing a pancake stall right across from the restaurant and made a decision to give it a go. Can I tell you chocolate and banana pancakes made from a cart are one of the most delicious things I have eaten
cambodia_072.jpg By the time we had done all this we were pretty tired so headed back to the guesthouse and went to bed. I slept surprisingly well but already know I will need an extra pillow (I know, I know I am soft) Today was full on we meet Billy, Jim and Lisa who all have ties to the school we will be volunteering in. We also met our translators Kan and Pech.
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They gave us a briefing on Cambodia’s past and Siem Reap today which although I knew some of the history was fascinating especially when Davy gave us some personal perspectives on what her family had been through. We then visited the Angkor Hospital for Children which is a wonderful organisation doing some great work in reducing the horrifying statistic that 1 in 15 children under the age of 5 die in Cambodia. They have a website so be sure and look into it and see if you can help. After the hospital visit Davy took us to lunch at this fabulous restaurant called “Neary Khmer” which translates to Lady Khmer. Davy told us that the lady who owned the restaurant started in small humble restaurant and now owns three of the best restaurants in Cambodia. The food was delicious and I had a coconut and banana milkshake that was to die for.
We went back to the guesthouse to freshen up before our visit to the Spitler School which was so amazing. Jim and Lisa showed us around and we got to meet some of the children. Cambodian children go to school 6 days a week in Cambodia and they are so keen to be educated. These children were just wonderful, so happy and friendly and full of energy, I would love to share photos with you but it is not appropriate to show photos of kids on the internet so you are going to have to trust me when I say they are wonderful. I am so excited to be teaching at this school as the teachers and staff are so dedicated and wonderful and their commitment to the children is so obvious that I feel privileged to be a part of it. The problem with being here is that you know there is only so much you can do to help.
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We have decided to donate blood next week and we are all going to ask friends , family and our local community to contribute some money to be able to buy much needed resources.
After the school we visited a local market which only has local charitable organisations selling things and it had some wonderful things. I didn’t buy anything other than this potent coconut flavoured rum that packed a punch.. figured it might come in handy over the next month!
After the markets we got ready for our welcome dinner at this huge restaurant called the Amazon that had a buffet full of fantastic food and then presented a show of traditional Cambodian dancers which were extremely funny.
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Highlight was guessing the nationality of the tourists based on appearance and demeanour alone 
We then asked Davy to drop us off at the famous Night Markets of Siem Reap where we explored the shops, got a foot massage, lost two of the group, found the two we lost, forgot where we were staying remembered where we were staying and grabbed a tuk tuk home.
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I bought a pair of Dr Dre headphones for $15.. winning!

Posted by sonya13 17:39 Archived in Cambodia Tagged school reap volunteer abroad siem spitler antipodeans Comments (0)

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