Go Off The Beaten Track

In the boat ride to Angkor Wat complex, I was expecting to see the riverine communities with shanty houses on stilts and people fishing outside their homes. All of a sudden, this beautiful white mosque came into view, not long after we left Phnom Penh.

I think it a was at a Khmer Muslim village by the Cham people.

Further up river, I got to see the beautiful biodiversity of rare birds, fishes, amphibious animals and plants. To boot, I was traveling to the world’s greatest temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world, the Angkor Wat.

You will miss all these when you fly direct to Siem Reap as many weekend visitors do. Plan well. The unhealthy obsession with bucket lists is resulting in many people missing many significant and esoteric things, off the beaten path.

Find one of many good hotels in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh at MyCen Hotels http://www.mycen.my/

#mosque #cham #village #khmer #muslim #river #phnomppenh #tonlelesp #siemraap #rtiver #nature #travel #adventure

Journey To The Centre Of Tonlé Sap

Slow boat on Tonle Sap was one very amazing journey, Never would I know that one day I’ll be sailing on the Tone Sap, a lake described as the largest lake in South East Asia in our schools’ geography books. I used to look at the giant lake in Collins, Oxford or was it Macmillan World Atlas with much fascination, Bucket lists weren’t invented then but I hoped one day I’ll get to see it from the shore, To be able to sail on it, was beyond my wildest dreams.

Also shocked to find out later that villagers along the riverbank used to take pot shots at the tourist boat going upriver. It is safe now as many Cambodians surrendered their rifles for money in a gun exchange campaign. Many gave up their hobby to become freelance snipers.

Glad I found out the horrible history later or it would have been a very nervous ride. I did asked the skipper about what looked like old bullet holes in the wooden cabin of his boat, Communication was tough.as there was a French female backpacker sunbathing topless on the front deck.

I cannot remember the name of the hotel I stayed in Siem Reap to go to Angkor Wat. In an amazing development, I spoke to a Malaysian friend and expatriate in Phnom Penh a few day ago.

He was the one who introduced me to his friend and mysterious travel agent in a dark backstreet where I purchased the boat ticket and hotel voucher. I told him the hotel had a helpful Malaysian Indian manager I called Macha.

My friend told me every Malaysian Indian, in Cambodia, especially club DJs is named Macha. I remember there are like million of them there as they were disc jockeys in every club, lounge or disco I visited there. Malaysia’s top export to Cambodia was machas.

Amazingly. my usually inebriated friend recalled meeting the Siem Reap manager at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnm Penh city. What a small world and I doubt my friend can locate him again as hoteliers dont stay long, The hunt for macha goes on.

Find one of many good hotels in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh at MyCen Hotels http://www.mycen.my/

Journey To The Centre Of Tonlé Sap

Because it is so vast, at 250 km in length and 100 km in width, we obviously weren’t able to see any shore in any direction, for quite a while. Is was easy to forget we weren’t out at sea but on a shallow lake. That was what makes it so awesome.

Couldn’t really achieve or tell if it was dead centre as the lake changes shape and size, depending on the state of flow or reversal of the Tonlé Sap.River. We were still some 60 km (about 2 hours) from the touristy water areas of Siem Reap.

With the engines switched off, it was eerily silent, peaceful and the boat was rocking wildly. The odd bunch of water hyacinth plant drifted by like tumbleweed in a cowboy ghost town.

Olympus E-3, ISO 100, f10, 1/640 sec.

#travelphotography #travelogue #travel #landscape #asean #cambodia #tonlesap #adventure

Generic Main Street, Fishing Village.

We drove into this street in Tanjung Sepat by accident. It was very long and is flanked by wooden shops on both sides. My first reaction was “I have only seen such long streets in Cambodia” Alex who recently returned from Cambodia. nodded his head in agreement.

I think it was the seemingly endless Charles de Gaulle Boulevard in Phnom Penh Cty that I rode a motorbike on. Could be another, It was confusing. No romantic colonial name here though. Just plain vanilla Jalan Besar – a common or generic Main Street name in many small towns in his country.

It was the main street of the village, I suppose. Now the village has grown into a town via other parts. Tip: I could still retrospectively find the street name as I captured a shop’s signboard with a name alone. Googling the grocery shop led to an address.

Fascinating that you can buy just about anything under the sun at one of the shops here. There were also temples and churches. Unlike Cambodia, bikers without helmets zoomed about here like many villages in Malaysia.

Photography Tip: Shooting through a car’s front windscreen can destroy the camera’s white balance. The colour balance will be altered by subtle factory glass tinting not visible or apparent to our eyes as we get used to it after a while. A little post processing can fix it usually.

Panasonic Lumix GM-1, ISO 200, f16, 1/250 sec.

#smalltown #village #mainstreet #tanjungsepat #landscape #cambodia #streetphotography #street #road #rural

The Best Iced Coffee In Phnom Penh

In the middle, the comical and diminutive guy is Mr Bunnarith, the famous and friendly owner cum barista of The Best Iced Coffee In Phnom Penh. His signature coffee and stall is like a national institution; so be aware many rivals and wannabes are claiming the same name. Look for the funny man. There exists a Facebook fan page but it is also not by him. When you are at the Russian market, show other hawkers this pic and they will point you to him.

He was running the business for over 30 years and is known by tourists from all over the world, as seen by his collection of pinned magazine and newspaper cuttings from all over the world praising his coffee. Locals love his Khmer coffee too. The milk coffee is made with tins of Cambodian Best Cows brand condensed milk.

I had a long chat with him and he told me he aspired to open an international coffee chain. Ironically, many foreign franchised coffee chains are now in Cambodia. Although an overhanging sign proclaimed “We can speak English”, he spoke halting Hokkien or the Fujian Chinese dialect and we conversed using it. On the other side (camera left), was fellow Malaysian traveler Augustine Gan

I could not remember or find the exact year. I searched my Gmail and found an AirAsia booking dated 2008. Can’t be definite as I have been to Cambodia several times.

#travel #cambodia #phnompenh #khmer #russianmarket #coffee #me