Posts Tagged ‘walk’

Phnom Penh: Colorful Cambodia’s Capital City

Posted in Cambodia on February 13th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 2 Comments

Mom and I landed in Phnom Penh late at night on Friday, February 12th, after many hours of flying. The immigration process was painless; the visa cost $20 and customs stamped a lot of stuff I couldn’t see and took my picture. Unfortunately the official taxi stand closes around 10pm so we had to hire a random taxi which cost $9. From the taxi I saw a guy getting the crap kicked out of him by two other guys on the side of the road. Ouch.

We stayed the night at the Town View Hotel where we had a room with two twin beds, air-con, hot water, mini-fridge, and tv for $17 a night. It was very nice.

On the morning of Saturday, February 13th, we went to the top floor of our hotel and enjoyed the view before walking to a restaurant for breakfast.

View from hotel - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Buildings - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

For breakfast we got bread and jam for $1, Chinese fried noddles with veggies for $1.50, coffee for $0.70, and free tea. It was yummy; the bread here is delicious thanks to the French influence.

Breakfast - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

After breakfast we decided to wander in an arbitrary direction and we ended up coming upon a market full of fruit, flowers, meat, fish, and tons of people buying their food for the day.

Vegetable stall in the market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Meat stall in the market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Fruit stall in the market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In the market there were many beggars. I gave this lady a dollar because she let me take her photo.

Beggar in the market - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

We stopped to look in wedding shop with lovely dresses and over the top tiaras inside. There we met the people who own the shop. The man knew perfect English because he escaped from Cambodia to Australia during the massacre. He told us about the places he had been in the US, and introduced us to his wife and daughter. They invited us in and gave us cold bottles of water and a banana. The wife and daughter are learning English. The wife was too shy to practice on us, but I chatted with the 13 year old daughter for a while and her English was quite good. I exchanged emails with her and told her she can write me and keep practicing her English.

On the way back to the hotel for a rest we passed a celebration for the Chinese New Year. Men and boys dressed in red played music while men in dragon costumes danced into the temple.

Chinese New Year celebration - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Chinese New Year celebration, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

There were lots of locals watching the celebration as well and when the kids saw me taking pictures they wanted me to take their pictures too.

Local kids - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Also I saw this sign near our hotel, I think it’s hilarious:

Rambo sign - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In the late morning we rested before checking out and taking a tuk-tuk ($3) to our new hotel, the Sokha Heng Guesthouse. The guesthouse is near the Royal Palace and the waterfront where the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers meet, a much more touristy part of town. Our room has all the same amenities as the Town View Hotel. I don’t know how much it costs per night because it’s included in the trip cost of the Intrepid Travel tour we are about to start.

Family - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

After checking in, mom and I wandered down to the waterfront to get some lunch. When we passed a Lebanese restaurant called Le Cedre I knew I had to get a falafel sandwich ($3.50) because they’re tasty… and also to make Ryan jealous 😉 it was very good, but I think the ones in Costa Rica were just a tad better.

Me at the waterfront - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Flags - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

There were more Chinese New Year celebrations going on at the waterfront. People were burning incense, leaving flower offerings, and releasing little birds into the air over the river for good luck. We sat in the shaded grass and people watched until it was time to go back to the hotel for our Intrepid welcome meeting.

Fruit seller - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

This guy wasn’t celebrating, just sitting on his motorcycle looking intense:

Man - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

For dinner we went out with our Intrepid group to a restaurant that employs orphaned kids, helps them learn English, and teaches them food service skills they can use to get jobs later in life. I was still full from lunch so I had a small plate of fries for $2 and an Angkor beer for $1. The kids that work there and also the beggar children know our group leader well. One little girl aged maybe 7 or 8 who was selling copied books started making fun of him saying ‘no way you don’t have a girlfriend!!!’ It was too cute. Not cute enough to get anyone to buy a book, though.

In the restaurant were THE most annoying tourists I have ever been around. This drunk middle aged fat Australian guy, along with his obscenely loud and equally pudgy daughter, was causing quite a scene when he very loudly and repeatedly asked the waiter if he could buy a marijuana cigarette from him and got douchy when told no. Apparently they are staying at our guesthouse because as I am typing this they are here in the lobby. His daughter is telling her brother about how he apparently crashed a bar playing music after leaving the restaurant, sat at the drum set and tried to play, then tripped over a stage light, broke it, and refused to pay for it, and finally got kicked out. Now he is eating a banana I just saw him pluck from the Buddhist shrine. What. An. ASS. I am trying to be all Dalai Lama and see this as just an opportunity to practice my patience but man is it hard.

Anyway, tomorrow we are going on a cyclo tour around the city in the morning. In the afternoon we are going on what our group leader has dubbed “the misery tour” where we will see evidence of Cambodia’s very dark and recent past at the Tuol Sleng torture centre and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.

Hike through the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

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

To start the day we were woken up by howler monkeys. They make such a loud noise for being so small. They sound like pissed off bears mixed with thunder. If you heard it in the forest and didn’t know it was just a tiny monkey, you would be very afraid.

Ryan and I decided to take a hike through the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve on Friday, January 29th. We were ridiculously unprepared dressed in flip-flops, shorts (him) and a dress (me). Armed with our bag of pb&j sandwiches, water, and cameras, we set off.

Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

Ryan got bit by a black bullet ant which he said “stung like a bitch.” Afterward we were constantly looking at the ground to avoid more ant incidents. Don’t wear flip-flops in the rainforest, seriously. There were giant black and red ants all over. One red ant sank its huge mandibles into the leather on Ryan’s flip flop, right next to his skin.

Red Frog - Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

The reserve was beautiful with very lush plant life everywhere. It rained a ton and got very muddy. We felt like explorers tromping through the rainforest soaking wet with howler monkeys howling and jumping in the trees around us.

Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

The rainforest is a very dangerous place. There are huge ants, spiders, and wasps everywhere you look, plus poisonous red frogs and spiked caterpillars that can paralyse you if touched. Even the trees have spikes!

Spiked Tree - Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

The danger of the rainforest is balanced with its incredible beauty. There are massive trees with all kinds of epiphytes, bright pink plants, and lots of colorful flowers and  butterflys.

Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

We walked about 8 miles round trip and were muddy and soaked by the time we got home, but in great spirits.

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

Sun, Sand, Sloths, and Sandwiches in Puerto Viejo

Posted in Costa Rica on January 22nd, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

The hot water in our place at Coco Loco Lodge didn’t work and the wifi didn’t reach our room so we decided to move. After looking at a few places we decided on Hostel Pagalú which we moved to on Wednesday, January 20th. We LOVE this new place! for $28 a night we have a clean and nice room with a double bed, ceiling fan, bathroom with an amazing hot water shower, lovely common area, free wifi, and a common kitchen. This is the nicest hostel I’ve seen; I highly recommend Hostel Pagalú.

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Kids - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

On Tuesday, January 19th we spent the day taking a long walk south down the white sand Playa Cocles  and through a forest path along the ocean. We sat and watched surfers for a while; one surfer was doing handstands on his board. We also saw three sloths: one in palm tree, one in a more sloth-friendly tree, and one dead sloth on the ground, with it’s back leg still clutching a branch :(

Sloth - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Island - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

When we returned we went to dinner at Soda Flip Flop where Ryan got a hamburger for 1,200 colones and I got nachos for 1,500 colones. Then we went to the Mega Super grocery store to buy bread, jam, a mango, and beer before turning in for the night.

Forest - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

On the morning of Wednesdsay, January 20th we moved to Hostel Pagalu. After that we went to lunch at a place called Bread and Chocolate which we heard was fantastic. It is. I had a delicious veggie sandwich with a huge salad for 2,500 colones, and Ryan had a blt with fruit for 2,500 colones. We split a mint chocolate brownie for 1,000 colones and it was probably the best brownie I have ever eaten. The chocolate is so good because it’s made locally.

Bread and Chocolate Veggie Sandwich - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We spent the afternoon hanging out on Playa Negra the black sand beach  just chillin and swimming. I found a stick and played coconut baseball for a while,  and a super cute stray bud dog hung out with us for a bit.

Stray dog - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We went to dinner at Soda Flip Flop again where I got a spicy fish taco for 1,450 colones and Ryan ordered spaghetti boloñesa for 2,600 colones.

Then we headed to bed. Tomorrow we are going to rent bikes and ride further south to Punta Uva, supposedly one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Sunset - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Campuan Ridge walk and central Bali tour

Posted in Indonesia on June 9th, 2009 by Vagablonding – 4 Comments

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Today we set out on the Campuan Ridge walk, listed in Lonely Planet. The first section of the walk was uphill in the sun through elephant grass fields. We saw workers cutting down the grass and enjoyed some stunning views.

elephantgrass

The next section of the walk was through rice paddies where we also saw workers. We met a painter named Wayan Rana in Sebali Village and stopped to chat with him for a while. His paintings were much cheaper than we expected – first price 50,000 for a small framed one. A local guy on a motorbike stopped and tried to sell us some carved bone buttons. We politely refuse and he went on his way, hassle-free.

rice fields

rice field worker

houses and rice fields

Then we walk on road back to Ubud and saw some residential life. On the way home we stopped at the big Bintang supermarket and got our first beers of the trip for 11,300. The cashier tried to shortchange me but I corrected her. Ryan resisted buying a 5 gallon bucket of strawberry ice cream for 22,500. We went to a super cheap street in middle of Ubud – Jl Goutama, and ate at place called Biah-Biah where I got Sayar Urab for 3,000 and steamed rice for 4,000. It was so good and filled me up. We were lazy for the rest of the day and just used internet and Ryan ate dinner at Pundi-Pundi again.

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Today we took a tour around the central / eastern area of Bali with a company called Jalan-Jalan for 150,000 each from 9am-4pm. We had a driver and car which we shared with one other american guy who was unfortunately an annoying complainer.

The first stop was Goa Gajah (elephant cave temple) which was alright, kinda lame, not bad as a stop on a larger tour but I wouldn’t make it a destination. There were lots of school kids there, we took pictures with them throwing gang signs, it was a riot.

bali kids

Next we went to Tampak Siring (the Holy Spring Temple) which was prettier and more interesting. There were lots of school kids there again and a group of boys followed us around asking me for kisses! The temple has a hot spring that worshipers bath in. You can see the spring and it looks cool – black sand bubbling up in the water.

On the way to the next stop we went to a local coffee roaster / spice farmer’s place called Sai Land where we sampled some of THE BEST coffee I have ever had. Our favorite was the chocolate and coffee mix but we also tried ginger tea and pure coffee. While there we talked for a while with the owner about the harvesting and roasting process of the regular coffee and the civit cat poop coffee, as well as more personal topics like the upcoming naming ceremony for his almost-3-month-old child! I bought a box of ginger tea from their shop for 35,000 because I thought it was so delicious and I’m sure it will be glad I have it the next time I have a cold.

coffee

After the holy spring we went to Penelokan where we stopped for a lovely view of Mt. Batur and Lake Batur.

batur-volcano

Next stop, Besakih (mother temple), the biggest and most important temple in Bali, located on the slope of Mt. Agung. It was pouring rain the whole time and I was car sick from the windy drive up, but it was beautiful so I enjoyed it. Because this temple is so important only worshippers are allowed inside but tourists can go on the outside stairs and peek in the doorways. There are a fair amount of ‘guides’ trying to scam people around the temple, telling you that you need their services when you don’t, or telling you they can get you in the temple when they can’t (if you do get in you risk being slapped with a huge fine). It’s no big deal, just say ‘no thank you’ to everyone and keep walking.

besakih-temple

temple-procession

After the mother temple we were taken to a restaurant at Bukit Jambul for an amazing view of the rice terraces – and an amazingly expensive buffet lunch (I skipped the food and Ryan ordered something less expensive al la cart).

rice paddies

Our last stop was Klungkung, aka Semarapura, which used to be the center of an important kingdom in Bali. We didn’t see many other westerners here so we were getting some funny looks, but we did see more police and military than we have seen anywhere else.  Here we opted to skip the temple and instead sat on some stairs at the Puputan Monument and watched school kids learning drill-down type exercises and an informal soccer game.

klungkung

We headed home pretty worn out. For dinner we wandered to Pizza Bagus which had fast wifi, a mellow atmosphere, and cheap not so great pizza, but we hung out and split a big Pizza Ricotta Spinaci with chicken added to Ryan’s half for 45,000 and two small Bintangs for 23,000.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

For breakfast at Artini 3 today I had an egg Jaffle which I originally assumed was just waffle spelled wrong, but it’s actually egg or banana between two pieces of toast. It came with fruit and was pretty yummy.

We got a ride to Ganesha Bookstore but didn’t buy anything because it was much pricier than we expected. We walked around and found another bookstore and bought a used copy of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone for 35,000. We needed a book to read because tomorrow we are leaving for a very sleepy town called Amed on Bali’s East coast where we hear there is great snorkeling and diving and… peace and quiet!

We bought a t-shirt each at the market for 35,000 total, and then I bought a beautiful dress in a shop for 180,000 which is spendy for Bali but this dress rocks and would cost a ton at home. It looks fantastic on me so I figured what the hell.

We ate lunch on our favorite cheap street again, this time at a place called Dewa Warung. I got Gado-Gado (mixed veggies with temphe and peanut sauce) for 8,000, Temphe Satay for 10,000 and a coke for 4,000 which turned out to be waaay more food than I needed but I ate most of it because it was delish. The place had a nice expat backpacker vibe to it and the food was great and dirt cheap.

The evening was spent lounging in the pool, doing laundry by hand in our bathtub, and hanging out at Pundi-Pundi drinking coffee for a couple hours while we researched hotels in Amed for tomorrow. We booked the same driver from Jalan-Jalan that we had for the tour yesterday for 250,000 total for the drive.

I have enjoyed Ubud a lot and plan to come back at the end of our trip. Now on to Amed!