Cambodia, kratie, Travel

Kratie and the disappearing dolphins

March 31, 2017

It’s thought that there are only around 80 Irrawaddy dolphins left in the Mekong river.  Tragically this is believed to be largely due to unmanned gill nets.  While the use of these nets was prohibited by Cambodia’s government, this is not the case in Laos where the population has decreased to only 3 dolphins.  Back in 2012, 5 fishermen from Kratie town representing their communities, public expressed their commitment to protecting the dolphins and in a ceremony celebrating the importance of the creatures as a national treasure of Cambodia. Locals believe the dolphins to be sacred and have vowed to treat their living environment with care.  The Irrawaddy dolphins also provide an important source of income through dolphin watching tourism.

We were apprehensive about visiting such a delicate ecosystem but after lots of online research concluded that the best way to conserve these animals was to give money to the local boat drivers who had promised to look after them.  Without visitors coming to see the dolphins, there would be less incentive to defend them.

Kratie really is quite out of the way and you have to really want to see the dolphins to make the effort to get there.  We are those guys, so we took an uncomfortable 8 hour bus journey from Phnom Penh to spend some time out on the water with absolutely no guarantee we’d see a single dolphin.

We stayed at River Dolphin Hotel and this was pretty much the only place we saw any other tourists.  One night, while eating dinner, we even had the pleasure of seeing one of them throw up on the floor.  We were then lucky enough to be able to look at it for a good quarter of a hour before anyone thought it a good idea to clean it up. That said, it was a nice place to stay and our room was surprisingly cute, with several thoughtful and homely touches.  The hotel manager was incredibly deadpan (we think) and we liked her a lot.

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Cambodia, Koh Rong, Travel

A Slice of Paradise on Lonely Beach, Koh Rong

March 31, 2017

It’s not often that we have to be in a certain place at a certain time.  When we need to catch a flight, Tom insures we’re there about 8 hours early. If we need to catch a bus, there’s usually another one we could get if we were to miss it.  There was however only one boat heading to Lonely Beach on the island of Koh Rong on the day we were headed out there and so it was kind of important we made it on time.  We’d stayed overnight in the anything but charming city of Sihanoukville so we could catch a boat from the port which was about 20 minutes away.  We arranged for a rickshaw to pick us up from Dao of Life, a wonderful vegan restaurant and one of Sihanoukville’s redeeming features. (Note: we really did not spend enough time in Sihanoukville to properly review it but first impressions were that it was an extremely touristic built-up purpose-built city lacking the soul of everywhere else we had the pleasure of visiting in the country.) After a hefty stack of pancakes we jumped into a van/rickshaw hybrid and headed out to catch our boat. IMG_7217

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Cambodia, kampot, Travel

We love Kampot

February 26, 2017

Kampot was beautiful.  Kampot IS beautiful. You know when you go somewhere and you just get that feeling of contentment? That feeling that this is exactly where you’re meant to be and that you have everything to be thankful for?  Well, Kampot was that place for us.

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Cambodia, phnom penh, Travel

An Emotional Visit to Phnom Penh

February 22, 2017

Phnom Penh was a tough one.  It hurt our hearts.  Clawed away at our faith in humanity.  This is a place that makes no secret of its brutal past.  Instead, it puts it all out on display as a reminder to the rest of the world of just how dangerous it can be when power to falls into the wrong hands and as a way to honour the millions of people who died under the regime of the Khmer Rouge.

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Battembang, Cambodia, Travel

Battambang

January 3, 2017

Battembang hadn’t been on our radar until pretty much the day before we went there.  It’s kind of on the way to Phnom Penh and having heard a few good things about it, we decided to tear ourselves away from Caryl and Paul’s place in Siem Reap and head towards Battembang via a very beautiful 3ish hour bus ride.

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Angkor, Cambodia, Siem Reap, Travel

The Temples of Angkor

November 29, 2016

While some people choose to spend several days exploring the many beautiful ancient constructions strewn across the archeological site of Angkor, we opted for one day, which in the sweltering heat was plenty for us.

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Depending on which website you visit, Angkor Wat is either one of the seven wonders of the world, an honorary eighth wonder of the world or a new seventh wonder of the world.  Regardless of its official ranking, it’s pretty easy to see why this place is regarded as one of the most fantastic places on the planet.

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Cambodia, Siem Reap, Travel

Siem Reap – A delightful Stay In A Local Neighbourhood

November 20, 2016

We do try our best to take the most environmentally friendly routes while we travel and while it often results in long uncomfortable journeys, we reckon it’s worth it.

Our journey from Koh Phangan all the way to Siem Reap in Cambodia looked something like this

Truck – boat – bus – overnight train – hostel – train – rickshaw – bus – minibus – rickshaw  BOOM.

We followed this incredibly helpful guide and although it took us a long time, it was definitely worth doing.

First impressions of Cambodia were good.  Really good.  We came across quite a few other travellers who had merely dipped into Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat, however we had nowhere to be and planned to take it slow.  We booked a couple of nights in Siem Reap and decided to see how it went.

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Our month in Thailand had been beautiful, but we were well aware that we were following a well trodden path. Although we came to accept the hoards of travellers and the often slightly skewed impression of Buddhism and daily life that are presented to visitors, we hoped that Cambodia would provide a more rugged and authentic experience.  As a backpacker, you can hardly complain that other travellers are making a place too touristy when you’re there with your camera snapping away, but what we hoped to get from Cambodia was what we had had a taste of in Thailand, real life just ticking along, with tourists as an afterthought.

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vegan, vegan Koh Phangan, Vegan Thailand

Koh Phangan – Our 5 Favourite Places For Vegan Food

October 27, 2016

There is so much good vegan food on the beautiful island of Koh Phangan.  As we expected, a lot of it was geared towards western tourists, i.e, people like us.  However, we embraced the fact that in many ways Koh Phangan was a holiday from Thailand and we enjoyed some insanely delicious and healthy food. Here are our 5 favourite places.

Koh Phangan - Our 5 Favourite Places For Vegan Food

As with a number of other places we visited during the rainy season, several restaurants were either closed or had mysterious opening hours that we couldn’t get our heads round.  Even so, we had plenty of options!

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Koh Phangan, Thailand

Koh Phangan

October 19, 2016

We never really expected we’d end up going to Koh Phangan.  Before coming to Thailand, all we really knew of the island was that it hosted full moon parties and was hugely popular with foreign tourists who wanted to get absolutely smashed.  Those who know us will know that we’re not really about the giggle water. However, the more we looked into it, the more we read about Koh Phangan essentially having two sides.  A kick-you-in-the-face-pee-in-your-bacardi-bucket-and-dance-like-a-flourscent-starfish side and a hey-man-can-i-get-a-gluten-free-vegan-avocado-and-sandalwood-infused-carrot-with-my-down-dog side.  The latter was definitely more our style.  We had also read that the north-west of the island was particularly beautiful and that we’d be able to get some pretty nice accommodation for a good price, since we’d be there during the rainy season. Turns out everything we read was true.

After a long journey through the night from Ayuthaya, via Bangkok, our boat finally docked at the tropical paradise that is Koh Phangan, where we were picked up by a lady who worked at Ling Sabai Bungalows, where we had booked in for 5 nights. We jumped in the back of her truck and off we went.

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A room with a view is what we wanted and that was exactly what we got.  Ling Sabai Bungalows are up a dirt track and nestled between the trees and many of them, like ours, have an amazing view of the sea.

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Ayuthaya, Thailand

Ayuthaya

October 17, 2016

We needed to head back towards Bangkok from Pai so that we could make our way over to Koh Phangan, so we headed back to Chiang Mai for a few more days for some comfiness at Kittawan Home and Gallery and cuddles with Bobby the dog, who looks like this, in case anyone had forgotten <3

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We decided to make a stop off at Ayuthaya, instead of heading straight to Bangkok as we had read lovely things about the historic city.  Although it was hard to understand the bus timetables and to find a bus that actually seemed to be going to Ayuthaya, we were told that certain buses headed for Bangkok would stop along the way and let us jump out.  Everything sort of went to plan, although we were literally dropped in the middle of a busy dual carriageway and everything seemed a bit ominous at first.

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