In Transit: KH +VN in pixels

February 24, 2017

"I'm ready to conquer the temples today!"
the statement that I said to myself as I walk outside the hostel around 6am to catch the golden hour at Angkor Wat. The day started beautifully as I had my first glimpse of  the hues of Siem Reap. Burnt Siennas, Ambers and Clementines. The entire road has been a feast to my eyes until I tried to capture them on film. Yep, my camera failed me. It screwed up just in time for this trip. I was already crying inside. I feel so powerless without my camera. But I got no time to sulk. I just have to pat my self on the back and look at this an opportunity to seek other ways to enjoy those four days without my comfort blanket. Surprisingly, this has been my favorite trip so far. I've learned a lot. 

One of those is to rely on what's left: most of the time, my eyes and memory. 
But hey, I still got few snaps from my phone. 

s i e m   r e a p  
Who won't be mesmerized by the beauty of this ancient marvel? I can still remember the moment when I entered the complex. It was surreal. But then "touristy feels" happened. People are flocking trying to take their best photos. Long lines going up the temples. I feel like I was in an amusement park sans the rides. 
I just felt the need to get away from them. So I just went around to find a peaceful spot to stay and thank goodness for the ruins of small temples. 

Aside from Angkor wat, I really have no idea where to go next. As a poor backpacker, I had to look for activities where I won't be spending that much. Walking around the area, away from the tourist trap, is one of options. I also visited the Silk Farm because the tour and shuttle trip is free. Haha!

p h n o m   p e h n
That Saturday,  I left Siem Reap to take the night trip going to Phnom Pehn. I had a mobile accommodation care of the Night bus of Giant Ibis a.k.a bunk beds in transit. Arrived at the city around 5am and it was still dark. I was supposed to stay at the terminal but to my surprise, it was still closed. Most of the establishments were still closed. Decided to hire a tuktuk . Asked the driver to take me to a cafe where I can stay until 7am since the places that I am gonna visit will open by that time.
Behind the serenity of this place is a dark past.

This lake is inside Cheung Ek also known as the Killing fields. Yes, you've read that right. This site is a former orchard and currently a mass grave of the victims during the Khmer Rouge regime. It has been a huge part of the history of Cambodia. During that time, one-fourth of the population of the country has been wiped off  by the command of Pol Pot. Go read about it. 

Their ways of killing people is too brutal and barbaric. 
On this photos is the trunk of the tree where kids' and babies' head were smashed. 
Yes, of those innocent people. 
Khmer Rouge's leader said:
 "better kill an innocent by mistake, than spare an enemy by mistake"
Is this what a person can do for his utopian dream? 

After vising Cheung Ek, I went to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum a.k.a S-21.
Here is where the prisoners were kept and tortured being sending them to the killing fields. A former school turned into a concentration camp and now a museum/memorial. 

The classrooms were turned into interrogation rooms and cells. You can still see the blood stains on the floor. 

That experience is just too depressing. I'm not sure on which is heavier, my backpack or the feeling while walking on the corridors of the buildings.

To balance it out, here's the other image of the city.

h o   c h i   m i n h
from Phom Pehn, it took me another 7 hours via van to cross the border of Cambodia and Vietnam.
Arrived at the hostel around 10:30pm. I only have an entire day to roam around and I have no itinerary. I only got few things on my list and then I just let spontaneity take me wherever.

this was my favorite among the three destinations. I realized I really am a city person.
I love the vibe! I don't feel lonely even I'm alone.

I like their street life. It varies depending on the road networks and districts. With a good mixture of passive and active. 

Believe me, all sorts of activities- including this:

The route that I took falls perfectly on what I planned to do.  From the hostel, passed by the market to buy pasalubongs. As much as I wanted to hoard coffee, I have to limit it on what my backpack can accommodate. 
I bought postcards for my friends and planned to send them out to "experience" Saigon's Central Post Office. Along the way, I was looking for a cafe where I can rest and write the letter. 

 You really won't expect any chic cafe in this alley. 

but then upon going up the stairs...

is this hidden gem.
the place is just so cozy.

Spent an hour here before I continued roaming.

time to send out the post cards. 
"Sakaling hindi makarating" Ho chi minh edition.

Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon

You can really see the French influence in this city. From planning to the buildings. I like how the al fresco seats were oriented towards the street. Perfect for people watching- my most beloved hobby. 

There you go.
I tried (with the help of  the trusted phone) to share to you how I've perceived those places. 

I do encourage everyone to go on a solo travel. Life skills will be put into test and it's challenging. But definitely worth the experience!


So, where to next?
(Tsss. Haha! Who are you kidding, you human being? You have to save up, remember? remember?)

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