It was a nice day down around the parks and riverside in Phnom Penh. Temperatures in the 90s. Blue skies. What could be better? Oh. The beer! Then a hamburger at a favorite place by the river. Enjoy the day!
It was a nice day down around the parks and riverside in Phnom Penh. Temperatures in the 90s. Blue skies. What could be better? Oh. The beer! Then a hamburger at a favorite place by the river. Enjoy the day!
I had wondered about getting done with the 4 months of exploring some of Cambodia and then getting back to Phnom Penh for a few weeks. I spent a month here in September seeing the city but this time is different. I have a set of things I want to do around the city. Like today I’ll get my hair cut and beard trimmed at the Tokyo Barber Shop after visiting the Aeon Mall for awhile and then walk back to the hotel in the afternoon. Tomorrow I’ll get over to the camera shop to see my friend Johnson there and then visit the Central Market for awhile and also see the neighboring shops and stores. The area around the market is a huge shopping zone here in the city and there are upscale shops, little neighborhood stores, souvenir places. In case you are wondering, there are lots of food and coffee places too. Many people stop while investigating the market for a latte or frappe or a smoothie or something or carry it with them through their shopping tour. I went to the Russian Market yesterday which is smaller but yet so diverse on what it offers. Both markets are fun to visit and there may be some overlap in that you can find decent clothing or backpacks at both but since the Central is bigger the chances are you will find more shops that have certain things. For food, I like the Russian Market better inside. There are some really good food stalls to stop at there!
The Tokyo Barber Shop to me is the place I would always go in Phnom Penh to get my hair cut and beard trimmed. I just trust them and they have a really nice customer ethic there. It costs a bit more but I feel like I’m worth it and I enjoy the time spent on the massage, the hair washing, detailed cutting and beard trimming. From there I’ll walk home which will take about an hour so should get back in the later afternoon and will have a few hours until dinner. Last night I had beef fried rice down the street which is always good. The meal with the beer was $3.60. Tonight it may be Dumplings down the street or BBQ. By tomorrow, I will probably be ready for a dinner downtown somewhere. Perhaps pizza at this place I know or even Mexican food. Its easy no matter what to get a Grab tuk tuk to wherever.
I don’t have a set agenda or places I have to go so the time is spent more in relaxing and unwinding and doing less besides the walking each day which is not optional. Phnom Penh is one of those cities of neighborhoods where one is almost without tourists but if you go down a bit you will find tourist zones all over and ex-pats lining the restaurants with their drinks and stories. I’ve met a few now and again. I did meet this person at the hotel which no matter how I tried I could not get him to go out to eat at a local place. He would only eat the food from Pizza Hut or the hotel or a place that does dumplings down the street. I had wanted him to go to BBQ his last night and enjoy something different but he feared getting sick. He is leaving today and I feel sorry for him more than anything else. It must be terribly hard to travel in Vietnam and Cambodia and not eat the food or be continuously fearful of eating. He told while in Vietnam he would not eat at smaller food stalls or even established restaurants that had Pho or Bun Cha. I gather he would only eat at hotel restaurants or upper class places. He also would not try the coffee in the coffee stalls for fear of the ice in the iced drinks. I can respect it all and understand. Its his life though and I think when people get older (like me) they get more fearful of change or trying new things and it can really limit their experiences in places like Southeast Asia. You don’t have to just do street food however when I got back to the hotel I did do their vision of Banh Mi sandwiches which were good. I don’t do street food day after day though. I like to have changes so will eat different foods depending on how I feel.
I hope he travels safely to Australia if he goes there. I would not wish to be like him but I understand it. Its another reason perhaps that its better for me to be on my own when I go places. I could never limit myself that far. Its easier to just deal with me since I kinda know what I want and not what another person could possibly want or not want.
Photography in the City…
I won’t be doing photography of each place I do as I did before so no real photo albums although I may share the day to day adventures I have as I do them. I like to take the camera with me most places but I also enjoy not taking it at times. I’ll try to post a few photos a week on here of the places I end up when I take the camera.
As I mentioned the neighborhoods here are fun places to observe so when I go tomorrow to the Central Market area, I will take the camera to capture the locations and people around the area. I will also end up most likely downtown by the river by weekend so will take the camera then. Its a nice place for people watching and photography and there are nice blocks and parks to see there to walk.
Today on the Walk…
By about noon today I will get a tuk tuk to the Aeon Mall and spend an hour there walking around the shops and then walk over to the barber shop which will take about 30 minutes of walking. From there I only have to really walk one major street to get close to the hotel and that takes about an hour. I may stop and look at some of the smaller shops for a baseball cap since I would like a second one that is higher quality than what is sold at the markets.
So between the days and the food and beer and visiting with my friends at the hotel, time slowly ticks by here in Phnom Penh and since I don’t have a place to get to most days its much more relaxing. The walking is more about the lefts and rights and not the destination unless like today I am walking back to the hotel. This is a different kind of time than the month here and weeks there type thing. I’m glad I take the time to do the in-between things. I think come 21 January I will be busier on the road seeing Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. Five months seeing the countries will probably go fast and slow at the same time I am thinking. It seemed seeing the places that in Cambodia some days were remarkably slow as I sat in the room with the same drink I enjoy here from one of the coffee stalls.
I hesitate to use the term travel for this because it really is not. I feel like a better term is vagabonding or hoboing between places and even though I have destinations and hotels booked, the between times walking some city like Penang or Kuala Lumpur matter more than the transit times on planes or buses. Singapore too will be so nice to see again. Its been 8 years since being there last.
That’s about it for now. Hope your New Year is gonna be just fine!
It seems a blogger must publish a retrospective blog post at the end of the year or on a blogging anniversary and often if you are more socially minded on so many followers or page views reached. I stopped caring if I ever did about how many people follow this blog or page views. But the end of the year deserves something I think. It deserves a statement of a life spent doing something that took almost a decade to reach. I won’t go month by month and will spare you the boredom of all the little things that occurred along the way. Here are just a few recollections or thoughts from my 2018. Perhaps yours are completely different and more meaningful. Mine are simply mine.
Someone asked me if they could do this. You cannot do what I did. What I did was mine alone. It was my 2018. What you can do may be better or different or perhaps you will decide to do nothing at all. If you punt though and you are sorry later the only blame to levy is at your house. When given the chance to grab life by its moments you may have decided its too risky or difficult or demanding. Perhaps what you would do is. What I did is not.
Goodbye to 2018. A wonderful year for the most part spent not working, not being responsible, not creating more tasks and goals that I would have to defer on. If you are getting close to a next thing perhaps you can find it on the road. I would have never found it back home. I was haunted there by failure and lack. Vietnam and Cambodia have given me so much in return. Perhaps your return is elsewhere. That’s why you cannot do what I did. Yours may be better! I hope so.
Welcome to 2019. Hopefully a year for the better for all of you. Mine is.
Here at the hotel, there are lots of guests staying. Many tuk tuk drivers taking them to spots in or out of the city to tour around. I think besides walking which is my favorite that a tuk tuk is the best way to get around. I don’t care for motorbikes at all here or in Vietnam. During the tour in Battambang, I rode in one for almost 11 hours and its very comfortable plus easy to shoot photographs out of the sides. Today though its gonna be my preferred method of getting around. Gonna go for a walk later around the hotel and its neighborhood. Tonight, may do something different for dinner. Been thinking of this place called the Magnolia Restaurant which I can get a grab to. Its kind of a mix of Vietnamese and Khmer foods at the higher level or perhaps will try a local place. There are places around the hotel I have not tried yet like a bbq down the street which I would be keen on trying. Its always fun because no one speaks English and they are very focused on helping you enjoy the meal. Last time I did bbq here, they did all the cooking for me.
I made an appointment to get my hair cut and beard trimmed over at the Tokyo Barber Shop downtown. I will probably go on that day and walk down to Central Market or over to the riverside for awhile. Once I get over to that side of Phnom Penh, walking is the best way to get around. There is also a day tour I may do here to two historic sites I have not been to. It would be all day long with the hotel tuk tuk driver who is a very nice person.
Since I don’t have defined places to go or sights to see, I don’t feel like I have to make some schedule of places like museums or parks or historic sites to see. I can just take care of some things as I go and enjoy the three weeks I have here. Now its the iced latte that the very pretty lady makes down the street who happened to remember me and knows what I like in the mornings. Next its just relaxing some hours with the TV and the AC and just being here. Time will come to hit the road and do the traveling and walking the 7 to 10 mile days soon enough.
I was reflecting on the places I went over the last 4 months here in Cambodia. It was such a difference of places and things to see that I can really recommend a person with time on their hands do a similar thing.
Whether a person spends a month or a week in places, it still works out very well!. I just include a map of the Kingdom so you can see the places to go and perhaps even add more to your list I did not reach. There are other places I would like to go here, but for the next year or so I have travel defined to many other places so won’t be back here to travel more for awhile.
There is also one place I would wait on to see unfortunately. I would not go to Sihanoukville now due to the almost unmanaged construction and mangling of roads and infrastructure there. Chinese casinos, hotels, condo’s are all over the place there even out at removed Otres Village which used to be a sleepy little beach village but now has a huge development right next to it of a village where Chinese will live that I am guessing will work and stay there.
To turn all clickbaitish, here is a list of where I would go if you have time here.
Kampot – I would highly recommend visiting Kampot. Located by a river with sleepy charm, great restaurants and places to visit plus a relaxed feeling its great to stay at for awhile. I spend a week there and loved it. There are plenty of ex-pats and tourists that visit the many wonderful eating establishments and pubs around the city and the food choices are wonderful! So visit Kampot I would say. Take some time.
Siem Reap – You should visit Siem Reap. The UNESCO archeological sites are just wonderful but that is not all that SR has going for it. There is a party vibe to the town that is hard to shake off. Even away a bit like where my hotel was you can feel it. The restaurant scene is the best and if you are a foodie you will definitely appreciate everything from small Khmer places to nice steak restaurants with tacos and a great breakfast at Sister Srey thrown in.
Battambang – This is one of those understated cities. Its older and you can feel a gentle and slower pace to how the city moves. Don’t think though that there is only the city. My day long tour of points north and south included just about all the sites worth seeing I think. Everything from the fun Bamboo Railroad to beautiful temples and pagodas. There are also small fishing enclaves and rice wine and rice paper industries to visit. Everything rice! Because this is the rice heartland of Cambodia.
Finally, the one place I said not to visit is deserving of a few words. I stayed three weeks in Otres Beach and the views of the beach are wonderful. Otres Beach is a long stretch, perhaps a few kilometers long of a sandy beach. You can walk the entire thing since its all open and there are secluded beach front hotels, small Khmer restaurants, and still a charm but my take is that its going away forever as the city loses out to the almost un-managed construction just about everywhere. In all honesty, I could not wait to fly to Siem Reap and get away. Maybe if you were gonna go, take a few days and see some of the islands that are not mangled.
Anyways, I hope that talks you into visiting the Kingdom here. I think there is something for everyone even excluding some comprehensive list of stuff in Phnom Penh to do. There is plenty to do here as well and you can spend a week or two doing it or even days if you are in a rush. I am never in a rush though. I like spending the time over the iced latte that the pretty lady sells me :-).
I left Phnom Penh almost 3.5 months ago or so for Sihanoukville and then visited Kampot, Siem Reap, and Battambang. Today I returned to the home base and got back to the very special hotel here in Phnom Penh I call home base. Its the nice LaLune Hotel where they welcome me back with hugs and upgrade my room and are glad to see me. Tonight I celebrated with a Baguette kinda like one of those Banh Mi sandwiches from Vietnam and it was good with a few beers. Then I sat in front talking with a few people here after the owner let a number of guests know I would be returning for a visit. Tomorrow I’ll probably hang around here and go for a walk and maybe have coffee down the street at the latte stand I like here. Breakfast is free though so may do that first and then get the coffee down the street.
I don’t have a set number of places here in Phnom Penh to go or things to do so will be taking the days as they come and just enjoying the time back here. I am going to get a haircut and beard trim at the Tokyo Barber Shop, get to the Russian Market, and also eat a few dinners and drink a few beers down at the riverside. There are some other restaurants I would like to try this time that I did not do last time though.
Being back here is a relaxing and good thing for me. Its like a break in the traveling or moving for awhile at a known thing. I can easily make it in a tuk tuk or walk to places I know. I kinda know my way around Phnom Penh and its nice.
So, not a whole lot to say besides I’m glad to be back and the bus ride today was very nice. I rode on the Cambodia Post VIP Van service which is a government entity and they are very respectful and drive carefully. We also left early!
More on the adventures starting tomorrow after some coffee and wandering around the hotel area. I love the local area here since its not touristy and there are little markets and shops and stores and a whole bunch of coffee stands!
Hello all. Here is my entire photo album mostly taken with the superlative FujiFilm X100F but some with the iPhone 7 plus because it was easier at the moment.
Tomorrow I leave for Phnom Penh for 3 weeks and then on to Singapore. I’ll be wandering around the big city for the weeks because I never get tired of seeing any city over and over again :-). I will probably create a smaller album for the weeks spent there.
See everyone on the flip side of a 3 hour bus ride to the city!
I’m gong to be uploading the almost 90 photos I took so will provide the album here tomorrow but I wanted to mention the 10 hours or so spent touring Battambang. We saw fishing villages, markets, old bridges, historic sites natural sites, a rice wine distillery where I got to taste some pretty powerful snake rice wine, rice paper creation and fresh spring rolls cooked right there, and then we were still not done. Did the Bamboo Railroad and the Bat Caves. So much to see!
This was probably the best tour since we got to visit so many locations and also see the amazing rice fields and countryside around Battambang. It was also a simply lovely day today so taking photographs with the FujiFilm X100F was a joy!. I’ll be sure to post the album tomorrow in a blog post.
Getting back at about 6pm, I had to pick up laundry and pay my wonderful tour guide who took me miles and miles across dirt roads, highways and filled in so many gaps for me on the history of Battambang. I feel really fortunate to be able to have this tour right before I leave for Phnom Penh! I will resist a clickbait post of the 5 things you should see. There are more and like I said before, your 5 are not gonna be mine.
Social Media Sayonaras…
I had decided to kill of my instagram accounts awhile ago. I had two of them. One later one and an original one I could never log into that they finally decided to let me get back in. I logged in some days ago and killed both off. Then there was Twitter. Oh Twitter! I think you have problems or maybe I do. Your problems are like the other social media sites. You are one instance of a huge thing with I don’t know how many gazillions of people have accounts. You have ads and outages, problems with content and only allow 4 photos at a time but you also have problems sometimes even uploading those. I decided at first to try Flickr but it has the same problems. Its Monolithic and has ads and the free accounts re changing after 1 January. Something else was needed. Something open source with different instances and focused on a specific thing but that would let me see others. It exists! I found Mastodon which is a federated and instance based open source social media network. Then I found one for photography! Yay! I can install an app on the iPhone and be able to upload photo’s, see the local and universal timelines, friends have found me and followed me. So as soon as I saw what it was all about, it was pretty obvious that Twitter is just defective compared to a federated, instance based social media resource which just happens to not have ads.
I also had decided there were too many social media resources I had was a member of. Facebook is a given because I have friends there. But Twitter and Instagram? What do they do for me? I figured out not much really. Twitter does not really provide a platform for different types of users or those wanting specific resources or groups or communities. Instead its one big mess of people and hashtags and meetups. Some day I think it will change but not within the time I am willing to wait.
So Twitter went bye bye today. My 1800 or so followers will do fine I am thinking. They have twitter after all and all those tweeps to find out there. I have Mastodon and my instance that does photography and I can branch out to others. To never see an ad and the stupid notifications and the news blurbs that I never opted in is a joy.
I wanted to really cut down the social media networks in favor of a few that would raise the bar. I think Mastodon does that. It must be better than Twitter and Instagram because they got nothing around community and groups.
So that’s the two stories of the day! Wonderful day and soon I leave Battambang for Phnom Penh.
Its another beautiful day here in Battambang. Every day just seems to get nicer and warmer. I guess its because its the dry season here so there is no rain, lots of warm temperatures, warm breezes and a bunch of coffee stands that need my attention. Every morning, the coffee culture shines here in Battambang. You can expect to find a cute little coffee stand like this almost down every block.
These all provide a variety of coffee services and you can get a nice iced or hot drink for about $1 US or $4k Riel. The stands are usually really nicely decorated and have a line of local folks and others waiting for a drink at many. You get the drink to go normally and the only really bad thing is the amount of plastic which is given along with the drink. I wish that they would not give the plastic take away sacks by default and I usually ask them to not give one. Its part of the culture here though which while I understand I don’t like because plastic garbage can be found at beautiful places like Otres Beach in Sihanoukville.
The coffee stands though are the main thing here and I really like how they provide so many different drinks and if you’re concerned about the language thing, I have found that “latte” is “latte” and after you visit one a few times they get used to you and will know what you want. The one down the street from my hotel has a nice family that owns it and they always tell me good morning and know the drink I want.
This type of thing does not exist in the states at all that I know and once you see how it pervades the culture here and in Vietnam with takeaway coffee shops that have windows on the street, you can understand how big a deal coffee is here. Of all places though, its Vietnam for coffee. I enjoyed the coffee culture experience all the places I went and they pride themselves on the service. From a little local place serving Vietnamese Phin coffee in Da Lat the day I was leaving, to beautiful coffee shops in Ho Chi Minh City, coffee simply rules!
Its easy to simply find the local coffee stand in whatever city in Cambodia and just head there and get in line with the locals who all smile and say hello! Everyone enjoys the blast of coffee but one thing I’ve noticed especially in Vietnam is that coffee shops will sell iced coffees a lot more than hot. Here in Cambodia you can get the hot lattes but in places in Da Nang and Hanoi a lot of places did not do hot coffee at all.
If you Travel here or Vietnam…
Be sure to do the coffee. In Vietnam its Egg Coffee and its home is Hanoi. Forget the clickbait posts that tell you the five best places. Just find a local shop and order. They all do it. But if you want a recommendation; try The Note by Hoan Kiem Lake in the old quarter in Hanoi. I don’t like recommending places because what’s good for me is bad for you but The Note is a fun place to hang out. You will understand why its called that once you go :-). If you happen to be in Da Nang and you should end up there for so many reasons, check out Wonderlust by the riverfront. I stayed just blocks from there and it was my morning stop. Their French Fries are good too! There are bakeries there. In fact, Da Nang has just about it all and its all there for you to find. Best way? On foot of course.
In Cambodia, the coffee shops often have food but I have found that the best bet f you want food is a bakery. There are a number I enjoy but most have very fresh baked goods. Just look on Google Maps if in Phnom Penh for Tous LeJours Bakery. You can get freshly baked goods and coffee there.
So that’s the start to many a day in Cambodia now. The nice little coffee stand down the street where you can grab one to go and even chat with the locals who are always fun to talk with. Coffee is a big deal here so the culture of how its done, served, sold is very important and its fun!
Its Christmas morning here in Cambodia. I’m spending the morning in the hotel room watching BBC News and planning out the next few days here which is all I have left. Christmas here has restaurants with buffet lunches and dinners and there are decorations out in the shopping centers with Christmas trees up. Many of the coffee shops are dressed up too with decorations.
I’ve been thinking a bit about the last year in retrospect and all the things which have come about and the things to come in 2019. In some ways it seems like a dream after waiting so many years to have it happen. Back in 2009, life did not seem so good and it took 9 years to get through the bad times to reach the good. Now with a simpler life, blessed with few possessions, no debt, no credit cards, no car and a life spent slowly on vagabonding; I’ve reached a goal of sorts. I think I’ve found the method that I looked for so many years and when I used to travel to Asia, I would want desperately.
Of course its all different after the intervening years but the nicest thing I have to admit is not working this holiday. For the last two I had large projects which seemed to occur over the holidays and be due right after so it meant long work days. Last year or year before I sat outside a convenience store in Mountain View on a WebEx call right before Christmas and worked up until the day itself on some emergency stuff for the project that had to get done. Its something to put all that down and realize truly that a year has gone by without working and I am so thankful for that.
Another thing I am quite grateful for is figuring out how to do this and then making it happen. It is not such a complex endeavor to leave forever it seems in retrospect but leading up to it was something in January and February this year. I had felt that the time would come but it seemed almost a fantasy when it did. To actually leave with a backpack and knowing that I was leaving a clean slate behind has meant the difference to me.
Perhaps when I look back at year’s end this year it will come to me what a wonderful, unique, and sometimes challenging thing this is to wander the world as I want. There’s always a story to be told of a thing I think. A tale or two which have escaped and not been related and after blogging and doing retrospectives in the blog many times, this year is no different. I’ll not be in the United States to celebrate Christmas as I used to do with my daughter and son but as the time has gone on I’ve learned that we all change and the things we hold or that are dear to us change too.
I also kinda think back to work colleagues of the past, friends still there and some gone and I am thankful even more for what I have and have been able to do the last year. Some have told me that they could not do this because of fear as they retire. I understand that because I felt the same fears but I also knew if I did not take this on, do the thing I wanted for so long, that life would simply slip by and I would find myself sitting in some McDonalds eating a breakfast sandwich wondering where it all had gone.
So as the year comes up and Christmas comes and goes, I do think of my kids a lot. They are always there but the reality changes and both of them take on life completely differently now. Both are unique and special and I hope they have the best of holidays but I want them to know we all have the dreams and dreams are not limited to youth. Everyone finds a dream they wish to take on. It may be risky or challenging and it may take awhile but without them we are less.
So Merry Christmas to you all wherever you may be. Have a wonderful holiday and look at the things in your life and see where they meet. Don’t forget your dreams and ideas. I never did.
I’ve just about completed the travel through Cambodia I had setup back at the end of last year in my room in Newark, California. I had known I wanted to travel through Cambodia for 4 months or so and see a different city each month. I did not know then I would be going on to Singapore in January and then on past that and would also make 2019 a full travel year. Now I’m at a week left in Battambang and have only a few things to get done. One is an all day tour in a Tuk Tuk I bought for $25. I get to go to points north and south of the city all day long to see temples, the bamboo railroad, and other things. After that I have 4 days to wrap things up here and get ready to get back to Phnom Penh for about 1.5 weeks. I’ll see my friends at the LaLune Hotel again and will hopefully talk them into going to dinner with me in the city a few times. Then its off to Kampot for 1.5 weeks as well before leaving for 5 months. I have a number of places to revisit there for food and beer including a great burger place or two.
I was thinking this evening walking back about the travels thus far in Cambodia and the pace. It pretty much has reaffirmed that I am doing things the right way for me. The slow travel gives me so much time to see things. Still amazes me sometimes I spent 3 months in Hanoi but I would never trade that time. Hanoi is worth that long easily.
I will also get back to Vietnam later in 2019 for almost 3 months. I really never want to say I am done with Vietnam. Its this place that has so much to offer but I cannot simply live there. There is no place I simply want to live. I want to find a place that has a retirement visa that I can get with no problems and then leave as soon as I get it. Cambodia is so perfect for that for me. Having the year long visa here means I can get back with no questions asked when I am done traveling each time. Very cool!
This trip has seen me reach Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and Battambang; but I also made it to Kampot. So an extra city tossed in. I have to say that Cambodia has just captured me and really fits well with what I want out of my life. Its a simple life with no real challenges each day. Every thing I need just comes. The days seem to be so long sometimes compared to when I worked those 16 hour days with Gantt charts and milestones and vendors and network and data center challenges. People yelling at me and vendors telling me a thing could not get done yet we did it. I don’t miss any of that. It was a hell life but like a told a friend there, I would never have traded the time there because it gave me yet another thing for which I am grateful.
So I’ll leave you with this. If you decide to make it to Cambodia; go slow. Each place has a thing to offer. Siem Reap and Angkor Was, Battambang and the slow and gentle pace of life. Kampot and the easy pace of things. Food is everywhere and like someone told me,
If you are hungry and in Cambodia, something is wrong.
I’ll leave this here for now. My kindle is beckoning and the evening slows down to a pace I like. Food is done and the evening slows to the pace I like. The AC hums along and I can hear the block outside my hotel window already quieting down. Battambang is a quiet city at night and I like it.