What to see in Cambodia

Kid riding water buffalo in Koh Rong

Besides the Portrait of Cambodia that I’m writing, I promised before a post about things to do as a tourist in Cambodia. I’ve spent more than two weeks working full-time on it, but hopefully it will be worth. About my opinions of tourist places you can be sure I’m not going to tell you that something is awesome if I think it’s a fucking shit. I really hate those websites that say how impressive and wonderful is a touristy place just because everybody says that. When anybody talks exaggeratedly about how amazing is anything we use to nod and confirm what was said. So even when we think that it’s not so special, we’ll enhance those virtues up to the point of convince ourselves that what in other moment we thought it was silly it’s indeed amazing and we must recommend it to everybody.

And following this line of thoughts I repeat what I’ve already said once about the tourism: we don’t live our own experiences, but a commercialized copy of other people’s experiences.

 

Warning: No, it’s not a short post, it’s a tourist guide about Cambodia adorned with my Navarradas, that is with my own feelings and experiences. The main objective is not only that you read it (maybe in several days) to know more about what I’ve done here, but you also keep it as a reference and share it with your contacts and in the social networks. So with your permission I’ll elaborate on it grin

In order to make it easier for reading I let you here an interactive index/summary. Continue reading

The 4000 islands of Mekhong

Si Phan Don

Short, very short was my time in Si Phan Don (literally 4000 islands) named after the numerous islands in that part of the Mekhong, the last one belonging to Laos. Just a couple of weeks ago I was looking forward to leaving the country and now, despite a bad experience in the first island we slept, I feel sorry for not staying more time here enjoying the relax.

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Pakse loop, where the coffee is grown

Coffee beans. Coffee flowers on the background

Although we left Thakhek hitchhiking, the last kilometers we had to take a local bus since it was already dark and we preferred to reach Pakse that day. There we’d perform a similar motorbike loop to the one in Thakhek but only for 2 days and, in my opinion, more interesting. The Pakse loop goes around the Bolaven Plateau, a plateau formed millions of years ago after the eruption of an ancient volcano. This region is famous for its waterfalls and for its coffee (mainly Arabica and Robusta, planted during the French colonial times) which is worldwide exported and it’s an important income for Laotian families. It was mid January and the coffee plants had flowers so driving through the fields we could smell its delicious aroma which reminded me to the sweet jasmine at first. Besides the good moments with my friends in Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang, this would be with no doubts the best part of my trip around Laos.

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Calm after the storm

It was 6 in the morning of the day I decided to leave Luang Prabang and I still didn’t know what to do. Anya and Liam left the day before back to their respective countries. Poor Elena was sick but I was looking forward to leave and Casey and the Finnish girls came the day before keeping her company. I had two options: head towards south and leave the country ASAP or continue further north to explore less touristy places, the villages in the north of Laos. What kind of traveler would I be if run away when I don’t like a country instead of exploring it more? Later in Cambodia I would find out that the problem is not the country or the people, the problem is that we always do what other people have already done because we’re afraid of getting really lost or something bad happens to us. So eventually we don’t live our own experiences but a commercialized copy of other people’s experience.

6:30AM, backpack ready, something to have breakfast on the way and 2 hours walking out of the city to hitchhike. Direction: North. Continue reading

Luang Prabang, holiday city

Jumping to the turquoise waters of Kuang Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang

Some years ago there was a TV advertisement in Spain that says “Marina d’Or, holiday city” to promote a holiday resort at the Spanish east coast. And that’s Luang Prabang, a holiday city for families and retired people. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m glad families and retirees have a place for holidays but honestly, despite its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Luang Prabang is pathetic. Laos is one of the least developed countries in the world, however Luang Prabang (the center) looks like any other western summer city. An island of opulence which badly contrast with the local poverty. Only some few Laotians benefit from that, the rest still scrape by in the outskirts while westerns multiply business focused on westerns maintaining a community not integrated at all with the social and cultural reality of the country.

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Being swept away

Phu Ruea

Sometimes nothing happens as one expects, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Attitude is important and one must know how to let oneself be swept away.

The travel drive kicked me off the western comfort of Pai and I was heading to Isaan, the Northeast region of Thailand, the most rural and less touristy. But exactly when I was starting to hitchhike I began to feel something wrong in my stomach. Around Pai there was a kind of virus and everybody was a whole day throwing up and with diarrhea. Damn it! It wouldn’t be very nice if I throw up and shit to the road from a pickup stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes But I could manage it well, and after a couple of vomits, nothing to eat in the whole day and sleep a lot I woke up next day fresh as a daisy muscle

After a couple of days hitchhiking towards Loei, in a village whose name I do not care to remember, the local postman insisted on I couldn’t get a lift there and, with all his kindness, drag me to the police station and convinced the policemen to take me to the previous (bigger) village to take a bus. And that’s how I hitchhiked a police car and had to buy a bus ticket to Phuruea (or Phurua or Phu Ruea, you’ll see it written in different ways).

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