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Old 13th December 2011, 12:47   #91
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Default Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA: BURNING MONEY

Was pretty tied up last week, getting on with the story.


=====================


0430 PM: 02-11-2011: Hanoi, City Tour:

Hoan Kiem Lake - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Interesting lake with a history. Emperor Le Loi gave a magic sword to the Golden Turle God in the lake, a turtle tower stands in the middle of the lake. Huge turtles are sighted on this lake, seeing one is a sign of fortune, only one turtle 300 years old is known to live here now. Walk another 300 meters, cross the famous woden He Huc Bridge (morning sunlight bridge), you get into the Jade Island and Jade Mountain Temple dedicated to the military leader Tran Hung Dao and the giant turtle that died. The red bridge is a popular spot for aspiring artists, wedding photo parties, couples and tourists. Very colourful, lively temple; old people playing chess, prayers being chanted, gongs going, incense burning, people of all casts and creeds praying, was magical being out there.

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The end of the day’s tour, time to say good bye to our guide, we tip him 10 USD between 4 of us, he was very happy. He also fixed a cyclo tour for us for 4 USD for one cyclo for one hour, read more.

Hanoi Cyclo tours available in Hanoi?s Old Quarter

The cyclo is a 3 wheel pedaled bicycle with you sitting in front. It’s a great way to experience first hand the old quarter of Hanoi, the narrow streets and touch the traffic flowing crazy all around you. The ride is one of wonder at how street life functions, fear of being bit any moment by a bike, amazement at the discipline amidst the chaos and respect for hard working the people. You have to do it to understand what it’s all about, a must do activity in Hanoi.

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We get back to the hotel around 0600 PM, another fruitful and enjoyable day. Have a quick shower and walk to the Lake’s edge to watch Hanoi life. This would be our last day in Vietnam, we fly to Phnom Penh, Cambodia next day, another adventure awaits us.

======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 13th December 2011 at 12:55.
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Old 13th December 2011, 18:39   #92
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA / BURNING MONEY

CYCLO TOURS INTO NARROW OLD QUARTER, HANOI





A small portion I have missed from the day, adding that here:

The noise hits you as you exit the Temple of Literature, the hustle and bustle of Hanoi greets you. Next stop is one of the oldest in Hanoi, the Tran Quoc Pagoda:

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MONEY TO BURN!!

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The Bodhi tree inside is grown from a piece of the original tree from where Buddha got enlightenment.

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Shorts are not allowed for men and women, but I escaped as re-construction was going on in full swing. Outside you would find vendors selling FAKE MONEY, yes, fake money. It is believed that this money is for the spirits and the spirits would give real money to ancestors!! There are 100’s of other things offered to Buddha as well. It was a fascinating watching families setting up these offerings for everyone to see, the priests helping them do it and finally offering it to Buddha amidst lots of religious chanting. Our guide suggested not to click people praying or priests inside to respect sentiments, we did exactly as he wanted. We were in foreign land, guests to enjoy their hospitality, doing anything that would be considered even remotely senseless or hostile would have been the most inconsiderate action a tourist can do. We did find a lot of white brothers stepping way beyond what would be considered decent action for a tourist.

We came out, in 30 minutes, the lake around the Pagoda is beautiful. Some people are fishing on it, good to watch, another 30 minutes later we are ready for the next land mark of the city, the monument of King Ly Thai To, who founded Hanoi 1010 AD.

Ly Thai To - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Some clicks later we cross the road and walk along the sides of lake Hoan Kiem.


=======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 13th December 2011 at 18:48.
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Old 14th December 2011, 10:45   #93
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Default Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

Ramky,

I do understand your other priorities, it is tough on us, if you leave us hanging like one of the serials on the telly.......

Keep it coming!!!!!
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Old 14th December 2011, 22:29   #94
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajesh1968 View Post
Ramky,

I do understand your other priorities, it is tough on us, if you leave us hanging like one of the serials on the telly.......

Keep it coming!!!!!
Rajesh,

Thanks for hanging in there.

It's just that I've some projects that has come up suddenly and got snowed under, have to work to make a living

There's so much to do on a Travelogue, story to write, select and optimize photos, videos to upload, proper links to search for, upload the whole thing in a sensible way all under 30 minutes, needs peace of mind and free time. I am sure you'd appreciate the delay, whatever I do, I'd like to do it thoroughly and fully and hence the delay. Sorry for the delay, will try to speed that up now.

--Ramky
=======
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Old 15th December 2011, 07:51   #95
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Default Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

No worries, there are a few eager fans of yours, will have the pleasure of waiting to see and read from your travelogue, take your time.
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Old 15th December 2011, 15:35   #96
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA: CAMBODIA AT LAST

Parting shots of the facilities, free goodies at Golden Sunrise, Hanoi.

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03-11-2011: Hanoi to Phnom Penh, Cambodia: We flew from enchanting Hanoi to spacy Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I am still confused, how to pronounce Phnom Penh!! Some Travel Agents pronounce it as Phoom Phen, some as Phenom Pen, wonder what’s the correct one? The flight departing at 0930 AM, 3 hours with a stop over at Vientene, Laos. They have a transit lounge, you should get off and get on there, they give you a transit card, technically you touch one more country.

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We say good bye to the wonderful hospitality at Golden Sunrise, they arrange for a taxi to the air port drop, usual run of 1 hour. Knowing the mess us at Vietnam Air we reach 2 hours early, sure enough, they could not find our name on the system, there was more confusion, I show them the boarding cards to all earlier sectors, their back up system also could not trace our names, my BP was going up, getting stuck in Vietnam is not a nice way to end a holiday there. They take me to the supervisor, heated exchange happens between them, he waves the old boarding cards at his juniors and shouts gibberish; finally they give us passage. Only when we board do we find that they had somehow accommodated us near the emergency exit which has a small window, nobody would have taken those anyway. We were happy to be on our way at last.

In the meantime, lots of mails have been happening between me and Eureka Villas with Chivon the manager, great place, great service, great price and great service. We selected Eureka Villas for the proximity to historical sights and river side. Was more expensive than others at 55 $ net per day with breakfast; the reviews, location, room size, amenities in room, mini bar, pool and service more than justified the price. You’d get places from 25 $ across the streets, the reviews were not encouraging.

Eureka Villas Phnom Penh - Boutique Guesthouse - Hotel - Restaurant & Pool Bar

We also met Paul, the MD, a hard nosed but sensible Australian who was very responsive to our requests, sent a personal mail after we left, great after sales follow up too.

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Soft drinks big bottles were ours, most other things in the fridge and cofffee making machine + water was free.

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Our taxi driver with our name board was waiting for us, smooth pick up. Mr.Chin Bond believed in communicating continuous, experimenting with his faulty English on his hapless passengers and why the Vietnamese and Thais are pigs and thugs stealing land from Cambodia. He was hell bent on completing the history of Cambodia in the 45 minutes run to our hotel, we resigned to cruel fate. He wanted us to hire him for the next 3 days!!

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Tuk tuks are cheaper and better, I would not take cars there.

=======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 15th December 2011 at 16:04.
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Old 15th December 2011, 15:58   #97
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA : SUV's of Cambodia

The check in at Eureka Villas was smooth, the room was large and exceeded our expectations.

When you come in from Vietnam, specially crowded Hanoi, the lack of crowd hits you. Another think that hits you are the SUV’s there, it was raining SUV’s. This was a strange contrast, you have an image of land mines, amputations, orphanages, adoption scams, child labor and Pol Pot; a poor country with so many expensive SUV’s does not add up!! It was Lexus country, Lexus of every shape and size. I think some of the aid money is flowing into SUV’s there.
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Old 15th December 2011, 18:22   #98
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA: Temple on the Hill

03-11-2011: Hanoi to Phnom Penh, Cambodia: We rested for a while, had a veg soup and slept for some time, the trip was tiring, Vietnam and Cambodia were sultry. Set the alarm for 4 PM, and crashed.

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Chivon fixed us up with Wanna, a Tuk Tuk driver who mainly serves their customers. Guy was straight, OK English and considerate to us, he charges were also reasonable, we compared with other tourists later. He also helped us plan the days based on distances, timings etc., he said we should cover Wat Phnom, the Temple on top of the hill, the only hill in Phnom Penh, a temple for Buddha built by a Lady Penh way back in time. It has been built and re-built to the present status by many generations of believers. This is one of the most important landmarks for locals.

10 minutes tuk-tuk ride away, we get the entrance 1$ entrance ticket to the clean and well maintained structure. We climb up the steps flanked by 5 pairs of snakes, couple of lions into the shrine of a huge Buddha. Throughout Cambodia you would find the 5 headed Naga flanking entrances and Lions on entrances, towers, structures, Indian influence in action. Inside the Pagoda, prayers are going on, temple music is being played and a couple of tourists are milling around.

http://www.mir.com.my/leofoo/Cambodi...hnom/index.htm

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Lady Penh is also worshipped here, majority devotees here are women, they ask for many favors and when fulfilled offer Madam Penh coconuts, rice in return. In another corner stands (sits??) 3 lions, people feed eggs too the animal to ward off evil, we saw a ceremony in progress, someone wanting to escape evil eyes set by an enemy, another facet of ritualism similar to India.

Lady Penh's shrine

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Many times you would find striking similarities to India there; the people, diet, dress, culture so different yet so similar!! Strange is the world.

We watched another ceremony in the courtyard outside the Wat. Devotees pay to release birds in cages, the seller offer prayers and set the bird free; setting the birds free would free a person from all bad planetary problems or whatever!! Absolute rot to a logical mind, bird peddlers seem to be making money and the birds looked happy to be flying away.

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Lots of photo options, the light was bad, was a cloudy day, we spend about an hour and come out.

Video of the music inside the temple.



=======

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Old 16th December 2011, 11:41   #99
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA/ River Front, Phnom Penh

Wanna drove us around the small town Phnom Penh and to the riverfront. Mekong is one of the moist interesting rivers in the world, like Nile of Egypt but more important to Asia, touches millions of people in China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, read about it here:

Mekong - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The riverfront and 3 km strip walkway is a great way to spend the evening. Sisowath Quey, area near the Royal Palace all along with river are peppered with Hotels, bars, restaurants, massage shops, internet cafes, ATM’s, souvenir shops.

The carnival atmosphere is ideal setting for many child / pickpocket gangs reportedly operating here, so go cautious with your valuables.

We reach area opposite the Royal Palace around 0530 PM, the air is nippy and fast; flags flapping in the wind, tourists and locals walking, jogging, relaxing, beggars doing it softly, peddlers of all kinds, many similarities to an Indian riverfront scent. Spent till sundown, picked up fruits, eatables, noodles, Smirnoff etc., from the department store, ordered dinner in the room to settle down with the TV for the day.


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Ingenious ways of Bagging. The Dog's owner, the little girl collects every 15 minutes form the bucket!!


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Some more pictures of Eureka Villas and the corrridor to our room there.

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Picking up dinner and goodies from the Departmental Stores, you have to practically hunt for pure vegetarian stuff, pure veg noodle was difficult, even those which had mixed veg noodles had shrimp powder as flavor!! We were told Photography NOT ALLOWED inside while checking out.

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Old 17th December 2011, 16:38   #100
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA: TORTURE CHAMBERS

0800 AM - 04-11-2011: Phnom Penh – Genocide Museum & Killing Fields: Wanna came at 0800 AM to show us past horrors.

Sad story, sad day. Read all about it here.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Toul Sleng is Auschwitz all over again. Former high school used by Khmer Rouge regime as prison during their rule between 1975 to 1979. 1000’s of suspects were arrested and brought here to be tortured here, those who did not die here were sent to the killing fields. Almost 500 visitors watch remnants of this horror story, heart wrenching place. We started with a tour to the iron beds, chains and some photos, 15 minutes was all Anu could take in, wanted me to continue, went outside and waited under a tree for the next 1 hour while I did the rounds. I wanted to see the documentation that was done, validate Pol Pot stories I have heard; this compared to Nazi Holocaust on which I have done extensive reading. I could see many tourists taking rounds with dropped shoulders and misty eyes, nobody spoke, even guides talked in hushed tones, there were commentaries printed in English. One of the most depressing moments of our tour. By 11 I finished, quietly we got into the Tuk-Tuk to the next destination, the Killing Fields. The photos would tell part of the story.

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======

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Old 19th December 2011, 12:18   #101
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

My 100th post, still more to go. I guess people are reading as there are views to this thread, I want to finish it with as much details as I can so that it would become a reference to people visiting. Is this too much commentary for comfort? Do people have time to read through the descriptive account?

I am tempted to just give a short story, few photos and a photo link. Wonder what others think?

========================

1100 AM - 04-11-2011: Phnom Penh – Killing Fields: Wanna drives us on out of Phnom Penh Town, the road is pot holed, surface in secondary roads not good and dust becomes a menace. Wanna notices this, stops at a way side shop and gets us two masks, the ones bike riders wear all over South East Asia, it was so effective we bought about 25 of them later to give to our friends in Ahmedabad which is equally dusty in summer.

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The 25 KM ride goes through paddy fields, busy bypass like areas to turn into a well-marked lane to get us to one of the biggest mass extermination camps that operated during Pol Pot rule. Read all about it here:

Choeung Ek - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The entrance fee comes with an audio guide very professionally produced. The guide depicts in vivid details the horror that existed during the regime, you would need to take a long walk throughout the monument, sign boards in English also would describe each sad spot. Killing field sites exist all over Cambodia, this is one of the biggest, almost 17000 people were killed in the name of cleansing the country of spies and traitors. The following link would give you a peep into “Brotther Number One”, documentary on how a New Zealander Kerry Hamill and his girlfriend were caught up in the mess, tortured and killed by Khmer Rouge in 1978. Touching story of the genocide, accounts from eyewitnesses, perpetrators and survivors, and a must watch film as reported by a friend in New Zealand, trying to source the full movie, could only watch the trailer from the site.

Home Page | Brother Number One

The site visit with the audio guide is enough to chill your bones and wonder to what extent politics can degenerate. It also epitomizes struggle and success of human spirit to establish universal values of freedom, equality and peace. If you look at it positively, it gives hope to the concept of triumph of good over evil, a living proof validated by history.

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The moat around is built by blood and murder, we sit on the bench like many others and ponder on the Dark Side.


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The moat on which locals were fishing


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Shattered skills, some of them of women and children, the tower is filled skulls of victims, not for the faint-hearted
.

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Praying for the departed souls:

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======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 19th December 2011 at 12:35.
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Old 19th December 2011, 13:54   #102
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

Some more photos related to the day and Phnom Penh:

Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)-dsc03035.jpg

Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)-dsc03031.jpg

Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)-dsc03038.jpg

Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)-dsc03037.jpg

Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)-dsc03040.jpg

Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)-dsc03045.jpg

Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)-dsc03046.jpg

Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)-dsc00590.jpg

By the time we get back to Eureka Villa it was 4 PM, we order a quick soup + veg curry and bread and relax a bit. By 5 we’re ready for another walk of 4-5 KM’s to the departmental store, river side. We have a small daily dose of Smirnoff, order dinner in, watch a Hindi Channel on the telly and hit the sack around 10 PM.

We’re getting good at walking, what was painful, uncomfortable and a chore is becoming enjoyable now, the sweat outs, low calorie intake were doing us a world of good. We were feeling better, breathing better, enjoying food better and were looking forward to walk!! We were loosing weight too, about 3 kgs each already. Daily work related stress can be a killer, it zaps your energy, enthusiasm and demands so much form health. A holiday free of work related stress is a great rejuvenator.

From 21st onwards, we have been doing 5-8 kms average daily, if you want to experience the sights and get to touch them, you need to walk, walk and walk, transport can do only so much. So those who are ready to go through this would likely enjoy the tour better.

======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 19th December 2011 at 14:01.
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Old 19th December 2011, 15:19   #103
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@ramkya,
keep writing and posting, we are loving it.

Sad to see dark history of Cambodia.
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Old 20th December 2011, 00:00   #104
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Ok, finally we are in Cambodia We had decided to give all the dark history spots a pass and concentrated on food, modern and very ancient Cambodia.

I totally agree with you that it is a Toyota country and also a land of weird alloys.

Maybe when you are done, I will start another thread on our Cambodia trip.

P.S: Loved the Halong bay pics. One place we really wanted to go, but no time.

Last edited by dot : 20th December 2011 at 00:01.
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Old 20th December 2011, 11:05   #105
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dot View Post
Ok, finally we are in Cambodia We had decided to give all the dark history spots a pass and concentrated on food, modern and very ancient Cambodia.

I totally agree with you that it is a Toyota country and also a land of weird alloys.

Maybe when you are done, I will start another thread on our Cambodia trip.

P.S: Loved the Halong bay pics. One place we really wanted to go, but no time.
@ Ashish: I was feeling lonely traveling on the T-log, good to have company and hope. Tnx for the prod (in a +ve light)

@ Dot: Nice to have you too.

The dark tour was due to my special interest in HR, history, Holocaust and human struggle for freedom. Anu felt very depressed after the tour, had a difficult time to bring her back to the world, the Dark History tour is a depressing one, would probably spoil the day for most people.

I feel everyone must read the book "Man's search for meaning" which gives an idea on trajectory of my thoughts, may be of interest.

Man's Search for Meaning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From now on it would be mostly happy stories, some of the best photos of the whole trip are coming up soon.

====

Last edited by ramkya1 : 20th December 2011 at 11:08.
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