Posts Tagged With: tuk tuk

Last of Cambodia and a rice wine welcome to Vietnam!

Once we returned from Angkor Wat, I had just a short time before I was to depart for my next stop.

He are some random shots I took as I walked the streets of Phnom Penh. I wasn’t looking for anything specific, just moving about with my eyes open (and realizing… You just don’t see these things every day).

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Last edible surprise dishes turn out to be sweet treats. The first is what looks like pomegranate seeds (they were squishy, not crunchy) with jelly noodles, a soft grain in coconut milk with ice. As refreshing as it sounds, it was fairly tasteless. The following is some type of sea noodle-like items with pumpkin and coconut milk. I prefer the darker noodle bowl as it was warm, savory and sweet!

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I return to work on my last night with all of the lovely ladies that have made home away from home. Popcorn toss, a party hat and great conversation was the perfect way to end my time here.

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What’s this? An adorable detailed list of suggestions from Mel in regards to my next destination… Vietnam! Thank you sweet girl, the time and effort that went into this puts the lonely planet book to shame!

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With that said, here is me, Mel and Semhal on the day of my departure. Miss you already girls!

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No way! It’s our buddy in the pink tuk tuk again! “Lady lady!” He says. I smile like a little school girl (and probably squealed like one too). Off I go to the airport… In style.

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A quick flight and hour drive sends me to Hanoi, Vietnam. The hostel of choice was Tony’s Hotel due to its prime location and quirky description of the hospitality. Sure enough, I arrive to be greeted into a game of cards complemented with the local beverage of choice, rice wine. Side note, it has no similarities to wine… at all.

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What do you get when you mix rice wine and a group of backpackers? A Japanese guy arm wrestling a local Vietnamese, refereed by a German while being viewed by the Spanish and captured on camera by an American girl. Gotta love the hostel life!

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With only a few days here, tomorrow will bring a day on foot getting lost through the city!

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Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Angkor Wat – exploring the city of temples

Angkor Wat – “Temple City” is a historical site that lies just outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia. It’s been referred to as the Machu Picchu of Asia and is the largest religious monument in the world.

Tickets are necessary and run $20 for a one day pass, $40 for three days and a seven day pass is $60. You can trek in on a bicycle, hop a ride on a tuk tuk or pay for a tour and bus. (Bicycling was our first choice but due to a back injury, we opt for the tuk tuk). Guess who our driver was? The same smile that picked us up at the bus station!

A familiar face, two tickets and a nice ride to the city was a brilliant start for a gorgeous adventure.

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When approaching the main entrance, your driver will drop you off at any temple you’d like and will patiently wait until you’re ready for he next. First thing to catch my eye was the peaceful orange robes that made their way across the path.

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The length of the main entry is long and gives you plenty of time to take it all in. It also allows a pause for an upside down handstand shot (in respect for the entry way).

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Here are some photos in no specific order as we explored the sandstone grounds of Angkor Wat.

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Although there are many tourists, it still doesn’t take away from the wonder of what these walls have seen. With the broken path ways and stressed stones, I can only imagine how many sets of feet have made there way through this area.

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This specific scene stopped me in my tracks and struck an emotional note in my heart. Was this her first time here… after many years, did she finally make it? Or was this an annual thing and today was her visit of 2013? Would if she comes here every day to pray? No matter what the scenario, the unconditional support she got from the young man and the help that came along was priceless.

My gratitude for health, life and love just jumped another notch. Thank you gentle example that was set before me!

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Following the steps of that delicate scene, we entered what seemed to be a shrine in which some were kneeling at and others observing from a distance.

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I could hardly pass up the opportunity for a blessing and a red string bracelet from this kind smile. Depending if you’re following Buddhism, Hinduism or Kabbalah the meaning varies as well as which wrist to wear it on. According to traditional belief, generally it eliminates unwanted energies in a person’s life to make room for positive ones… I like that.

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We jumped tracks a bit and left the crowd when I spotted out these stacked rocks. If you’ve seen some of my other posts, you’ll know this is one of my favorite out doors scenes. How neat to find it here!

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Who else was enjoying this view? It was one of the friendly guys that assisted the elderly woman! With a nice conversation and a photo, we now have new friends to catch up with!

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Who wouldn’t want to climb a stair case that looks like this?

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The reward was a beautiful view and a couple fun silhouette shots!

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What goes up must go down!

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Another view that welcomed a great handstand photo.

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If you choose to stay in the city for an extended amount of time, hunger is bound to present itself and your options range a bit.
Along the path of the souvenir stands, there’s the typical cooking pots that are usually full of pork or chicken with rice and seasoning.
Next you have several restaurants that are all called by different names, but will offer you the exact same menu as their neighbor with identical prices.
The other option, and our choice, is located in the back alley behind the restaurants where we found all of the local employees eating… Jackpot! My buddy knew where we were headed!

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We took a seat on a tiny chair at a miniature table and kept our fingers crossed for what was about to be served. Fish soup with a mound of rice next to a plate of sticks, greens and flowers, all complimented with a raw garlic hot sauce. The jug on the table was all you can drink light green tea, perfect for our hot day.
For a grand total of $0.75 each, we got all of the above, smiles from our table friends and a genuine “thank you” from the chef (or we just gave them free entertainment each time we smelled a bite and swapped spoons). Either way it beat restaurant prices and I’m sure it tasted better than the “pot of surprise” across the lot.

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So we’ve seen the Siem Reap Night Market and donated at the Angkor Children’s Hospital.

After exploring Angkor Wat, it’s time for the bus ride back to Phnom Penh to finish up my stay in Cambodia.

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Trains, planes and a tuk tuk equals an emotional high!

If you’ve been following this blog from the beginning, you’ll know that my experience has ranged from volunteering in small villages to helping out in grand hotels. Ive gotten to live in a tree house, van camp, hitch hike and lets not forget the random events of spoiling myself during “holiday” with friends from home. I’ve crossed paths and reunited with many other backpackers and have stayed with numerous friends from around the world. All of these events lead me to realize that I’m extremely (fill in the blank here with any positive word that represents or resembles lucky, blessed, fortunate, kissed by karma, etc).

After enjoying a luxurious month in Japan with my cousin, I’ve decided to return to my solo backpacking and spontaneous volunteering adventure that I started this whole expedition with.

I packed a small bag, bought a one way ticket and boarded a flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia… Butterflies included.

To give you an idea of where I am and what I felt getting here, I’m going to take you on a quick 24 hour journey from a train station in Japan to the very bed I’m sitting on as I write this.

“Hey Brandon, would you mind giving me a hand please? So, Ill be back in…. Hmmm, probably just… Well, I’ll let you know”.

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First flight served up Japanese noodles with sauce and seaweed sprinkles, a tomato based spicy seafood pasta, what I think was a shrimp potato salad, bread and butter next to some orange juice. Complimentary red or white wine was also an option.

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The snack of the morning was hot tea, a bag of peanuts, a mini snickers and a triangular rice patty stuffed with salmon.

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My layover in Kuala Lumpur, brings me a smile and the first new friend of this trip. Meet Rochaq, born in India, raised in Australia and currently on his way to surprise his mother near the Himalayas. Over hot milk tea, (thanks again for that treat!) we had an in depth conversation of health and fitness followed by the usual travel wishes and stories. I joked about having different currency to tip with and just as quickly, he matched my pile. Combined, we money from India, Malaysia, Japan, Australia and the USA. Our time together ended with info exchange and a “see you again…somewhere…sometime”.

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Who’s this? It’s the glowing smile that sat next to me on the flight from Malaysia! Bree is from the states and is now traveling from Bali to Cambodia. I think the most beautiful part of our conversation was the undeniable energy we shared trading opinions of yoga and backpacking to living a life with an open mind while maintaining a conscious awareness. Considering our Asia map has similar destinations, maybe… just maybe Ill see this sweet girl again!

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Landing in Phnom Penh gives me a sense of freedom. I’m not sure why, but either way, my heart is racing with excitement while my shoulders drop a notch with each step. I feel at peace.

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Why do I look like a giggling rabbit? Instead of taking a bus or cab, I opt for the $7 tuk tuk ride to my first volunteering home. A tuk tuk (dependimg on the type and location are also known as a Samosa, tempo, trishaw, auto, rickshaw, autorick, bajaj, rick, tricycle, mototaxi, baby taxi or lapa) is a motorbike with an open air carriage attached to the back for its passengers. The obvious choice for financial and entertainment purposes.

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Backpack between my legs and my bag tied around my shoulders, I’m ready to hit the road!

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Rather than describing each photo, I’m going to highly suggest that you actually take a moment to look at each one. You’ll see mothers with children on their laps, locals hard at work or hardly working and abundance of other random sights.

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By this point in the journey, I’m fighting back the lump I feel in my throat and trying to keep my focus on the vibration I feel in my body (and I’m not talking about the motorized bumpy tuk tuk ride). These emotions can only be expressed as the deep appreciation I have for being exactly where I am at this very moment in time.

I am so grateful for my life.

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Upon arriving to my new “home”, I’m instantly invited out for lunch by one of the house roomies. Ill introduce you to that cozy place and the others soon. For now, I hop on the back f her scooter and head to a vegetarian restaurant.

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She ordered an egg sandwich and I had a mushroom patty with cucumbers and soup. In the middle we shared fried tofu with black pepper and lime juice. Including the warm tea, all together this lunch bill totaled $5 (in USD). Kind of pricey for these parts (sarcastic giggle) but we got to sit at a table, with silverware and additional sauces. Amazing!

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We arrive back and I’m shown to my room which is where I sit at this very moment writing about my last 24 hours.

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It’s only just begun…

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