Category: Cambodia

Traveling As A Couple: Aud & Tonio

By , April 20, 2011 7:00 am

Without my partner in crime, MeAndFrenchie would not be possible. For those thinking of taking the same plunge, here is the dirty truth about traveling as a couple.

We were told many times by friends that if we could last through this trip then he is the one. While that is partly true, it doesn’t mean it is a good idea to dive into a world trip to test your love. All relationships require work, honesty, communication, compromising without over compromising, and much more. While traveling, you both will continue doing those things, but constantly in new environments. The things you like and don’t like about each other usually take years to realize and accept, but traveling will force it upon you both at a faster rate.

Don’t be intimated by all this because those that work as a team, will find that their relationship will grow stronger and traveling will be one of the best things they did together. Seeing the world and sharing that experience with someone special is blissful.

We will be asking a few couples, who we met along our travels, about how it is to travel together.

Up this week are Aud and Tonio who took the plunge after dating only one month! We had the great pleasure of meeting them on the slow boat along the Mekong River and kept bumping into each other over and over again in Laos and Cambodia.

Aud and Tonio

Aud and Tonio

Relationship Status: | Dating for now.
How long have you been together? | 17 months. Too short.
How long have you been traveling? | We’re on a break with travel now. We’ve traveled 15 months.
How long is your total planned trip? | A lifetime!

How do you organize world travel among the both of you?
Aud: We’ve tried picking countries that none of us has visited before to enjoy discovering them together (or ones that we really loved) and then we just play it be ear and decide as we go. We’ve been reading the Lonely Planet guides too.
Tonio: Aud organizes everything; I am just the follower. Seriously, we discuss each travel plan and make decisions then.

What did you learn about each other?
Well, a lot of things as we were dating only for a month before we started our travels.

Would you do it again? What would you change?
Aud: Definitely do it again. And maybe try and read about the countries a bit more before so we know what we really want to do. It always seems like we could spend more time in each place.
Tonio: Of course. Maybe being a bit more organized and having a joint account from the beginning!

What was your most recurrent disagreement?
Aud: I’m not sure; I don’t think it had much to do with traveling.
Tonio: Huuuuuum no clue.

Do you have any tips for traveling with your partner?
Aud: Patience! And don’t just stay with the two of you. When you’re not travelling alone, you don’t go towards people as much but it’s well worth the effort.
Tonio: Being cool, patient, and meet other travelers to “entertain”.

What was your favorite country you visited? Why?
Aud: Japan, Laos, New Zealand, Bolivia, and Argentina. Amazing people, nature and plenty to do outdoors – love the beautiful landscapes and plenty of trekking to do.
Tonio: Japan, Laos, New Zealand, and Argentina. Respectively for its people, atmosphere, nature, and food.

Batta-(m)-bang!

By , August 4, 2010 9:41 am

In order to return back to Thailand, we decided to go through Battambang. For being the 2nd largest city in Cambodia, we found Battambang to be quite chill and less touristy. We checked ourselves into a guesthouse near the center market. With the market’s convenient location to us, I could not help myself from making daily visits for mangosteens and longans (like a lychee).

We rented a tuk-tuk for the day and explored the city. There was not a whole lot to see other than more temples. It was still nice to see the landscape, pass by the local school children, and talk to locals when we had the chance.

There were a few good eats in the city. Our favorites were Fresh Eats Cafe and H & H Khmer Delight Restaurant.

Fresh Eats Cafe trains homeless children on how to run a cafe business. The service was fine and the food was exceptional. With free wifi and the cafe’s business model, we didn’t mind paying a little more. Our favorite dish was the couscous with meatballs.

The sweet potato soup at H & H Khmer Delight Restaurant was worth a double visit.

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Phnom Penh: Khmer Rouge

By , July 8, 2010 2:56 pm

In 1975, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia with the help of the Vietnamese communists. At first they were welcomed by the Cambodian population, who recently suffered starvation due to extensive US bombing and fighting. Pol Pot’s government soon started moving the population from the cities to the countryside in order to achieve its dream of an autarkic farming nation.

Minorities and intellectuals were persecuted. Populations from the city were accused of being contaminated by western ideologies and thus were given restricted rights. Family unit was not tolerated. Marriages were arranged by officials, mass celebrated, and had only one goal of populating the country. During these 4 years of dictatorship, 2 to 3 million Cambodians died. This was the first auto-genocide in history.

Our main visit to Phnom Penh was to see the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Killing Fields.

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or S-21 was the main interrogation center of the Khmer Rouge. It was a former high school, where almost 17,000 men, women, regardless of age, were tortured and killed.

One of the three buildings was reserved to interrogate prisoners with any political connection. If you were a member of government or had family members part of government, you could have been brought in for questioning. In reality, the prisoners of S-21 were tortured because of the paranoia of the Khmer Rouge.

In the second building, we can see clothing and pictures of the innocent victims held prisoner. The faces were very disturbing to look at, especially of those that were just too young.

About 10 miles from Phnom Penh are the Killing Fields. Infants were slaughtered by smashing their heads against a tree to make sure they couldn’t come back for revenge. Sirens were used to cover up the cries during such killings.

Finally in 1979, Vietnam was tired of being victims of repeated attacks against its border cities, so they invaded Cambodia and overthrew the Khmer Rouge.

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Siem Reap: Living Within Our Means

By , July 6, 2010 4:30 pm

Without hesitation, Boris says, “I wish for a tartiflette.” In return, I say, “I wish for foie gras.” We would go back and forth until we cannot take it anymore and our mouths are covered with drool. The game makes no sense but it helps us remember home.

So the day after bicycling around Angkor Park, we wanted to rewards ourselves. While we could not have a tartiflette, we heard about the rooftop pool at the Terrasse des Elephants Hotel. If you spend $10 each at the restaurant, you have free pool and wifi access. This was a much cheaper option than actually being guests of the hotel.

For lunch, we had chicken curry with white rice. To our surprise, the curry was quite excellent. Afterwards, we walked up many flights of stairs. When we arrived at the rooftop, we were very happy with what we saw.

There was a large pool, garden, city view, and everything looked new. I even peaked into a few of the rooms and they were all carefully designed and each came with its own altar, fountain, or pond. As there were no other guests, we had the entire rooftop to ourselves. At noon, we took a tea break and emailed some friends to join us. It was the best $20 we spent.

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Angkor Wat: Tomb Raiders

By , July 5, 2010 7:35 am

In the 2001 film titled Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Angelina Jolie caught my attention with all those crazy flips and stunts. Even more stunning were the temples that were captured in the movie.

Early one morning in Siem Reap, we rented $1 bicycles and rode our way to Angkor Park. For once, the weather forecast was correct: hot and sunny, low 100’s. Large tour buses and tuk tuks transporting tourists through the park passed right by us. We knew right away we should visit the smaller, less popular temples and then work our way to the popular sites to avoid the large crowds.

Boris and I are definitely not temple fanatics. We have seen a lot of temples so far because there are so many in Southeast Asia. However, we were very impressed with the temples here in Angkor Park. They were well preserved and just magnificent.

As we continued riding buried in our own sweat, there was something surreal about being in the park. There were lots of trees and space around us. The path we chose was quiet and empty. Sometimes we were alone at the small temples and had time to think and take it all in.

However, not everything lasts forever. As we made our way to the more popular temples, large crowds surrounded us.

Our favorite was Ta Prohm temple. It looked small from the front but there was an enormous tree soaring out of the middle. As we entered the temple, the roots of the giant tree were well above our heads. Everywhere we turned, there was another exceptional tall tree. When we finally arrived at the famous scene of Lara Croft, I knew instantly. The site confirmed the movie was real and our next job was to find Angelina Jolie.

We didn’t end up finding Angelina but our next favorite temple happened to be in the same film. Bayon temple is distinct with its 54 towers, each bearing 4 faces. After a while, you forgot where you were inside the temple since all the faces were identical.

There were many other temples we enjoyed. Overall, you had to be in awe at the sight of these large detailed works of art, which were dated back to the 12th century. How did they ever build these structures?

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

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