Posts Tagged ‘bus’

Sihanoukville’s Beaches

Posted in Cambodia on February 26th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 2 Comments

In Kampot on the morning of Tuesday, February 23rd, there was a giant monsoon rain storm with super loud thunder and a lot of rain that flooded the streets for a while. Mom and I trudged on to breakfast anyway. I can’t go without coffee! We went to a guesthouse called The Magic Sponge. They had a restaurant/bar, free internet, and minigolf. Weird, I know.

We took a short 2 hour minivan ride to Sihanoukville. 20 minutes after leaving I realized I had forgotten my computer charger in the hotel room 🙁 Alan, our group leader, called and arranged to have it sent to our new hotel on another van that was about to leave. It showed up in the afternoon and only cost me $2, how awesome is that? Thanks so much Alan!

When we arrived in Sihanoukville we had an included lunch at the Starfish Cafe which is part of the Starfish Project, an NGO that provides access to social services to Cambodians in need. I had some fantastic fruit salad with muesli and yogurt for $3.50. Best I’ve had so far. I also bought a shirt for $6.

Monk - Sihanoukville, Cambodia

In the afternoon mom and I went to Ochheuteal Beach which I have decided to rename Guilt Beach. It is very crowded, like Hawaii crowded, and you are constantly getting hassled and harassed by kids and adults selling crap. It’s not an enjoyable place to hang out, at all.

Ochheuteal Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

The next day, Wednesday February 24th, mom and I took a tuk-tuk to Sokha Resort’s private beach. We hung out there for an hour an a half till we were kicked out. The beach was nice, but definitely had an uppity resort vibe.

Sokha Resort Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sokha Resort Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Next we took a tuk-tuk to Independence Beach which was AMAZING! It’s a lovely wide white sand beach with plenty of lounge chairs, very few people, and a nice restaurant where we had lunch. I highly recommend this beach. We spent the rest of the day there, swimming, sunning, and reading.

Independence Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Independence Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Independence Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Independence Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Independence Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Independence Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

For dinner we went to a place called Moon Shack III where I had bbq tofu with fries, salad, garlic bread, peanuts, and 2 beers for $3! It was very tasty and so cheap because there’s a bit of a restaurant price war going on.

Tomorrow we are boating to some of the nearby islands!

Spider Eating and Kampot Countryside

Posted in Cambodia on February 26th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 2 Comments

We had a looooong travel day on Sunday, February 21st. First we took a 4 hour bus ride to Phnom Penh, the highlight of which was me eating a fried spider and washing it down with a beer mom bought me cause I earned it 🙂 They taste just like weird greasy french fries. Kind of good actually.

Fried spider - Cambodia

We had a 3 hour break in Phnom Penh and mom and I spent it at the FCC (Foreign Correspondents Club), an excellent but expensive place to hang out. We had a nice lunch of beers, rice, vegetable spring rolls, and free wifi. We were back on the bus for another 5 hours to Kampot.

On Monday, February 22nd, we went to nearby Blissful Guesthouse for breakfast. Finally, a big cup of coffee!

The rest of the morning and the afternoon was spent going on a tour of the Kampot countryside with an insufferable tour guide that could not stop repeating himself. First we saw some salt fields but there wasn’t much to see as they were flooded from the rain we had that morning.

Salt fields - Kampot, Cambodia

Next we went to the Phnom Chhnork caves. Inside one of the caves is a well preserved brick temple that was built in the 7th century.

Phnom Chhnork Caves, Kampot, Cambodia

Temple - Phnom Chhnork Caves, Kampot, Cambodia

We had a herd of preteen schoolboys following us around during our hike to and from the caves. It was cute, but they were just following us around trying to be our tour guides so we’d pay them money. One picked me a flower, how sweet.

Kids - Phnom Chhnork Caves, Kampot, Cambodia

Kids on a Tuk-Tuk - Phnom Chhnork Caves, Kampot, Cambodia

The view of the countryside from the cave was nice, but I’m sure it’s much better on a sunny day.

View of the countryside - Phnom Chhnork Caves, Kampot, Cambodia

Next we went to a pepper plantation. Kampot is known for it’s pepper, and back when the French were in control every restaurant in France had to have Kampot pepper if the were to be consider of any quality. By this part of the tour some of us were getting fairly hot, hungry, and irritable. I tried to liven it up by eating a raw pepper seed off the plant. It tasted like pepper, surprise! Mom was so sick of the tour guide by this time she said “If I had a gun I’d shoot myself.”

Finally we went to Kep, a deserted old resort town that was quite the place for Cambodia’s rich back in the 50s. It has since been mostly abandoned and there are crumbling buildings everywhere. The beach isn’t very nice either, but apparently it never was. Back in its heyday white sand was shipped in from Sihanoukville to make its beaches nicer. We had a large included lunch here that was quite tasty. I spent the rest of our time in Kep reading in a hammock.

Beach - Kep, Cambodia

In the evening we went on a boat ride down the Kampot River and watched the lovely sunset.

Kampot River, Cambodia

Kampot River, Cambodia

Kampot River, Cambodia

Kampot River, Cambodia

Sunset - Kampot River, Cambodia

Living on the river doesn’t mean you can’t have DirecTV!

Kampot River, Cambodia

Afterward I got a Seeing Hands massage for $5. Seeing Hands trains blind people to give massages and you can find one or two in almost every city. It was better than the massage I got in Siem Reap for sure.

Battambang to Siem Reap via River Boat

Posted in Cambodia on February 17th, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

Wednesday, February 17th, was mostly spent in transit via boat from Battambang to Siem Reap. At 7am we boarded a little boat with 2 rows of seats, a roof, and a tiny 4 foot tall squat bathroom so precarious I was the only one that dared to use it, which I did twice. I have good balance. We floated down the Battambang River for 5 hours; it was much more fun than I was expecting! We’re probably the last Intrepid group to go to Siem Reap by boat rather than by bus this season because the river is getting very low and we got stuck a few times. From our boat we saw a side of Cambodian life that few tourists get to see. The people that live on the river live in either little huts on stilts, floating huts, or their boats with rickety walls and a roof. They bathe in the river (which is filthy), wash their clothes and dishes in the river, and fish in the river to get their food.

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Gas station - Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

Battambang River, Cambodia

There were lots of ridiculously cute kids along the river that would run up to the edge of the water to wave at us and yell “bye bye!!!” I got quite the arm workout from all the waving. I’d post pics of them but I think I would get in trouble with the law since most of the kids were half or fully naked.

After 5 hours on the river we got to the Tonle Sap Lake. Tonle Sap lake is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, and it is the reason the ancient Khmer civilization was centered at Angkor (and why the temples were built there). But from my vantage point on the boat, Tonle Sap Lake was large, brown, and boring. I took a picture for posterity.

Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

We crossed the lake in about an hour and were soon at the docks near Siem Reap.

Siem Reap docks, Cambodia

We got off the boat and onto a bus that took us to Siem Reap proper. I was tired so I spent the rest of the evening sleeping. Tomorrow is temple time!

Smokin’ Pot in Battambang

Posted in Cambodia on February 15th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 9 Comments

Smokin' Pot Cooking School - Battambang, Cambodia

The morning of Monday, February 15th, was spent riding the public bus for 6 hours to Battambang. The air-con was on full blast so it was freezing and there was a tv blaring loud hilarious music videos of teenage Cambodian boys singing American rap songs in Khmer. But thanks to my anti-nausea medication I was able to sleep through most of it.

At 3pm we went to the Smokin’ Pot Thai-Cambodian Cooking School. We were going to make 3 dishes: Vegetable Amok Curry, Lok Lok Veggies, and a Spicy Cabbage Salad. Mom and I made ours vegetarian but the other people in our group made the first dish with fish and the second with beef.

First we went to market and bought all the ingredients.

Market - Battambang, Cambodia

Market - Battambang, Cambodia

Then we walked to the Smokin’ Pot restaurant to cook. It was incredibly fun. We ate each dish as they were finished and by the end I was so full I gave the rest of my salad and mom’s salad to a begging girl and her baby.

Vegetable Amok Curry veggies:

Amok curry vegetables

Vegetable Amok Curry spices:

Amok curry spices

Cooking the curry:

Cooking Vegetarian Amok

All done! Yum 🙂

Vegetarian Amok Curry

Now for the Lok Lok stir fry:

Lok Lok vegetables

Lok Lok

And finally the spicy salad:

spicy cabbage salad

Surf break in Puerto Viejo and going home via Alajuela

Posted in Costa Rica on February 5th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

I was still really sick on Monday, February 1st, so after arriving back in Puerto Viejo via the bus and checking back in to Hostel Pagalú we took it easy for the rest of the day, swimming at Playa Negra and enjoying falafels from Ali Baba for lunch. By the end of the day I decided it was time to go ahead and medicate with immodium, pepto, and lots of water.

Playa Negra, Costa Rica

On Tuesday, February 2nd, we rented surf boards from Sunrise Backpackers for $10 for 3 hours. This was a way better deal than anywhere else in town. One place wanted us to leave $100 or our passports as a deposit! Sunrise Backpackers only asked me to leave my driver’s license, a much better deal.

Road - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We surfed at Playa Negra and had a great time! It was my second time surfing and Ryan’s first so we didn’t do very well but we had tons of fun. I could definitely do this every day. Later we went back to Playa Negra for sunset and saw wild horses again!

Wild Horse - Playa Negra, Costa Rica

Sunset - Playa Negra, Costa Rica

We had to head back to San Jose on Wednesday, February 3rd, because our flight home was leaving at 7am on the morning of the 4th :(. We took the bus which cost us 4290 colones each and took 3 and a half hours. The bus was stopped at a police checkpoint between Cahuita and Limón. We all had to get off and have our passports checked before we could get back on the bus.

Police Checkpoint, Costa Rica

When we got to the bus station we hired an official red taxi to drive us to Alajuela (the town closest to the airport) which cost $25 total (talked down from $30). There are much cheaper ways to get to Alajuela, but since we don’t know spanish we figured a cab would be the easiest way.

In Alajuela we stayed at Hostel Maleku. It was alright. We had a double room with a shared bath and a communal kitchen for $35 a night. After checking in we went to McDonalds and a grocery store where we bough coffee cereal and I had cafeteria food for dinner. Then we got ice cream from the McDonalds stand outside. Yum.

On the morning of Thursday, February 4th, we took a free taxi ride to the airport provided by the hostel at 5am. Ryan felt ill in the morning and got progressivly sicker throughout the day, making the flights very rough. By the time we got home he had a high fever so we just went to bed. Not a good way to end our trip, but we had such a great time overall that we are planning on going back in a few months 🙂

Street - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Check back later for posts from Cambodia!

Marvelous Manzanillo

Posted in Costa Rica on February 1st, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

On Thursday, January 28th, we had a delish brunch at Bread and Chocolate (I got an everything bagel with spicy chipotle cream cheese… it’s spicy!… for 1,000 colones) before hopping on the 11:45am public bus to tiny Manzanillo. The ride took about 40 minutes and cost 490 colones. It stops a lot; this is how locals get to the grocery store if they don’t have a car.

Manzanillo is a dinky 2 block town that is quiet and empty on the weekdays, and suddenly turns into a bbq beach party for locals from all over on the weekends. Manzanillo has about 200 residents and the town is centered around Maxi’s bar/restaurant near the fantastic white sand beach. There’s a school, a few sodas, 2 grocery stores, and a handful of places to stay in the town.

Playa Manzanillo, Costa Rica

We stayed at Cabinas Faya Lobi where we had a double room with a hot water shower, mosquito net, communal kitchen and free bottled water for $25 a night. There is no internet in the town, only one computer with a dial-up connection that seems to be perpetually down at a Cafe Ooh-La-La.

The afternoon was spent swimming in the ocean and walking south down the beach into the forest on a trail where we immediately saw 2 howler monkeys!

Howler Monkey - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

Not far down the trail you can find Punta Manzanillo which provides a fantastic view.

Punta Manzanillo, Costa Rica

After refueling at our hotel we  headed to Maxi’s restaurant for dinner. I got the vegetarian caribbean plate of onions and peppers in a tasty sauce with cabbage salad, rice and beans, and fried plantains for 2,400 colones. It was way too much food for me. Ryan got a chicken with rice dish with salad and fried plantains for 3,250 colones. The 10% tip and 13% tax are not included in the prices. It was ok but we didn’t think it was worth the price when we can just use the kitchen at Faya Lobi.

Street - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

On the way back we stopped at the grocery store to buy beer and a bar of soap (460 colones). The evening was passed drinking beer and playing chess. We met two other travelers from Portland who are on the first leg of what will be a 7 month trip. There was a rock ice limon beer left in the fridge so we tried and it was nasty! It tasted like a glass of salt water with lemon, or a tequila shot gone horribly wrong. Awful.

Sunset - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

On Friday, January 29th, we hiked through the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve. Here’s a post just on this mini-adventure: Hike through Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

We were sort of worn out from our hike in the Reserve, so most of Saturday, January 30th, was spent hanging out on the beach. It’s much more crowded on the weekends because a lot of locals drive here to picnic, bbq, and enjoy the beach. For dinner we made guacamole and I chopped up a huge carrot to eat it with instead of chips. Not peeling or cooking the carrot turned out to be a mistake; it made me sick for days.

Playa Manzanillo, Costa Rica

By Sunday, January 31st, Ryan’s toe that was bit by the ant had swelled up like a sausage (see the post about our hike in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve). He also discovered 4 massive mystery bug bites on his arm. I’ve never seen bug bites so big, they were like 50 cent pieces! Ryan was buying himself these mini ice cream sandwiches every night from the same store. The first night they cost 200 colones. Then they cost 300 colones. Then 350! That’s a 75% price increase in 4 days. That’s what happens when you shop at local stores; the prices are never marked so items end up costing whatever the clerk feels like charging you.

Sunday was our last day in Manzanillo. It was a good last day because we got to see 2 toucans from our hotel, as well as some kind of firefly-like bug at night!

Toucan - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Posted in Costa Rica on January 18th, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

Ryan and I made a last minute decision to take off to Costa Rica for 18 days. So far I think we made the right choice 🙂

Beach - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We arrived at the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica on Sunday January 17th at 7:30pm. After some searching, we found the driver of the shuttle that we had arranged to take us to our hotel, the Costa Rica Guesthouse, for $22. We only spent one night. The single room with a king bed and private bathroom cost us $45. The rooms were clean and nice, but we were very itchy in the bed. The shared bathrooms looked nice and clean and if I were to stay here again I’d save money and go with a single room with a shared bathroom.

We were supposed to get up early on the morning of Monday, January 18th to catch our 6am bus to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. I set our alarm to wake us up at 4am, but then we slept in until 5:10am. Oops. I rushed around throwing our things back in our packs while Ryan went to the front desk and managed to convey to the clerk in his very limited Spanish (far better than my non-existent Spanish) that we needed a taxi. The taxi arrived at 5:30am. The driver had a fast and crazy driving style and we flew to the bus station in about 10 minutes. I had a huge shit-eating grin on my face the whole time because I love an adventure! After paying the $3 cab fare, we bought two tickets to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca for 4,290 colones each.

Out the window of the bus we could see some stunning lush scenery, including vast cloud forests with waterfalls and rivers. This is truely a gorgeous country. The bus ride took 4 hours and we managed to sleep for a bit of it. The buses don’t have bathrooms but we did take a 15 minute break in Limon about halfway through the ride. The public buses look pretty similar to Greyhound buses inside and out, but without a bathroom in the back.

At 10:10am we arrived in Puerto Viejo on the southern Caribbean coast. The weather here is sunny and fairly hot, but definitely bearble. Our accommodations here are at the Coco Loco Lodge where we have a clean one bedroom bungalow with a full kitchen, double bed, bathroom, and porch with a hammock (yay!). The room is $55 a night which is more than we’d like to pay but since this is high season most places are booked up so we have to take what we can get.

While waiting for our room to be cleaned we took a stroll around the village. The highlight of this walk was the momma sloth and baby sloth we saw chilling in a tree right outside the place we got lunch! I was so excited; sloths are my favorite animals. Our lunch was excellent too: falafel sandwiches for 2,000 colones each.

Sloth - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

After our walk we went back to our room and got ready to go to the black sand beach. The ocean is too rough to snorkel but we had a blast alternating laying in the hot sun and playing in the waves to cool off. Unfortunatly, laying in the sun was so comfy we both fell asleep and got a little sunburnt. Oops.

Beach sign - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

When the sun started to set we headed back to our room to clean up and then went to dinner. Ryan got a slice of pizza from Pizza Boruca for 875 colones, then we went to Soda Flip Flop where I got a grande red bean taco for 1,500 colones and we split a plate of chips with some delicious guacamole for 1,500 colones.

We hit up the Super Mart gorcery store on the way home to buy juice, a mango, beer, and water. Everything except fruit products are more expensive here than they are at home. You’re not supposed to drink the water in Puerto Viejo (which I found out after already drinking some earlier in the day, oops AGAIN, hopefully I don’t get sick), though the water in San Jose is safe to drink. But, of course, beer is always a good choice. Travelers should note that there is some forced recycling in place here: you can’t buy bottled beer without bringing in an empty bottle to exchange for it, so if you don’t have a bottle either pay the steeper price, or go find one!

From Gili Air to Ubud via Perama boat and bus

Posted in Indonesia on July 13th, 2009 by Vagablonding – 2 Comments

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Happy birthday to me! I’m 23 today!

We woke up before sunrise, had some mango, pineapple, protein bars and coffee soda for breakfast before getting on our cidomo for a ride down to the jetty on the south end of the island. We boarded a local boat at 7:15am which took us to Bangsal. From the boat we could see where they harvest the pearls!

lombok pearl farm

perama boat sign

In Bangsal we walked on the main road to where the Perama bus picked us up to take us to Senggigi. You can tell which road to walk down because it’s where all the horse carts are waiting to offer you a ride. You can get a ride on a cidomo or a motorbike if you want to, but the walk down the road isn’t bad and going by foot saves you money. The bus stop is on the left side of the street before the tattoo shop. You will know it by the baby blue painted pillars, but otherwise there are no signs indicating that it’s the bus stop. We walked right past it the first time!

bangsal perama bus station

bangsal perama bus station

The bus to Senggigi goes along the coast and the views from the road are lovely. Lombok definitely has some stunning beaches and I am coming back to explore this island for sure someday!

perama bus

view from lombok road

view from lombok road coconut trees

Once in Senggigi, we took a local boat to the larger Perama boat, which left at 9:00am. A breakfast of coffee, banana pancakes, bananas and pineapple was waiting for us onboard. The boat was practically empty compared to the packed Perama boat we came on 12 days ago. The ride was much smoother and I read and napped for most of it. Lunch was served onboard at around 11:30am and consisted of rice, veggies, tempe and peanuts, fish, and watermelon. We arrived in Padang Bai at around 1:00pm. There we waited for the bus to Ubud.

perama boat and public ferry padang bai

The ride to Ubud took about an hour. We were dropped off at the Perama office where I waited with our bags while Ryan walked around trying to find a hotel that still had rooms available. We ended up staying at a place called Puri Gong Cottages on Jl Hanoman. We got a room with a double bed, air conditioning, and a view of the pool for 225,000 a night. The walls are rattan and are very thin with peep holes poked through them! We stuffed some toilet paper in the holes to keep out any prying eyes. Because the walls are so thin there is pretty much no noise barrier which makes sleeping well a bit difficult.

puri gong peep hole

After getting settled in our hotel we went to the market for some sunset-priced shopping. Everything is always cheaper at the end of the day because the shopkeepers get desperate if they haven’t made enough sales for the day. Then we had dinner at Biah-Biah on Jl Gootama.