A valentines at the Killing Fields

So most couples start Valentine’s Day with a romantic breakfast in bed. They spend the day watching lovey movies or go out for a posh lunch, we however, decided to go to the Killing Fields and S21 prison. What a valentines to remember. 

Another educational and deeply shocking experience. (There seems to be a lot of these in S.E Asia) 

We educated ourselves on the Khmer Regime. On the 4 tragic years of the 1970’s where psychopath Pol Potts ordered the killings of millions of innocent Cambodians.

The communist party led by Potts attempted ‘agriculture reform’. If you were educated, if you could be influential, if you disagreed or even just if you looked in the wrong direction, off with your head. 

Killing Fields

Never have I been to a place that conveys such reality of one mans inhumanity more than Choeng Ek Killing Fields.

The sight of the “Magic tree” that Khmer soldiers used as a tool to smash the heads of babies will be forever lodged in my mind.

 

This place was just 1 amongst 20,000 mass grave sites in Cambodia where victims were murdered and buried in secret between 1975-1979.

Somehow today it’s a very peaceful place. Thousands of tourists and locals come here to educate themselves and to mourn the dead.

Choeng Ek has multiple mass grave sites where hundred of victims were executed; including one specifically for women and small children. 

  
When you dig up the grass, you must remove even the roots” 

The Khmer Rouge slogan used to justify the murder of the whole family of each victim, including their children and babies.

Remains of bones and clothes of victims that have been found over the years are showcased around the site. 

Remains of the victims found in the field

Bones are still being discovered to this day, over 35 years on!  

I will never forget the way this place made me feel. Scared, sickened and deeply saddened at the thought of what a human can be capable of. 

S21 prison
A school shut down and converted into a secret prison; to torture victims until they confessed to crimes that they never committed. 

 It was here that thousands were whipped and beaten until they signed confessions that validified the Khmer Regimes ‘reason to kill’. The victim would then be taken to the Killing Fields to be massacred.

  

The prison has lots of information on this dark period in history. 

There are some very interesting exhibitions on 4 of the survivors of s21. Great men who today use their tragic experienc to promote the importance of education to young people. 

See, all 4 men were spared their life at the prison because they were useful to the communist party. They had previously obtained skills like art and mechanics and Pol Potts needed them for their abilities.

These survivors are sit at the grounds of s21 each day for tourists to ask them questions. Real first hand information.

Survivor Mr Mong was an artist ordered to draw a portrait of Pol Potts.

  He was warned that if it wasn’t good enough, he would be killed. Luckily for him, he was a very good artist. 

It’s estimated that the total number of deaths resulting from Khmer Rouge policies, including disease and starvation, range from 1.7-2.5 million of a population of 8 million in 1975. A quarter of the population. As a result of this, 70% of the Cambodian population today are under 35 years old! Crazy eh? 

So not the most standard of valentines for us but definitely a memorable one. Thankfully in 1979, upon realisation of what was happening, other countries got involved and put a stop to Pol Potts and his sadistic ideology. 

I dread to think what would’ve happened to the history and people of Cambodia if this regime continued. 

LwL x 

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Sihanoukville: Sessions boat party

You’ll find regular English speaking holiday reps come round on the beach each day to promote their bars and other events. 
We met a lovely rep called Steph who told us about their new weekly Wednesday boat party ‘Sundance’. 

Here’s the impressive $10 package:

  • A boat party from 2-7pm
  • A free bucket on arrival of strong Whiskey and mixer
  • A free Sessions Tshirt 
  • A plate of BBQ food on your return 

Not bad for £7 eh? 

  
This party was actually one of our favourite days in Sihanoukville we had so much fun! 

The music varied in genre. There was some old Skool garage, house and the odd splash of R’n’B. A mix that I really loved.

Drinks on board weren’t too expensive either, you could grab a bucket for $5..as you can see, me and Simona took full advantage of this..

  
  There were lots of drinking games on board to keep everyone occupied. As 2 couples we didn’t partake in them. Think Ibiza/Malia/Magaluf style fun on a boat.

   

 Though it was thoroughly enjoyable to witness. 

Half way through, the boat stopped at Otres Beach for an hour. 

   

 We jumped out and grabbed ourselves some food and cocktails from Ibiza bar. Then we all got involved in a game of ultimate tug of war. Europe vs. the rest of the world! 

If you fancy chilling there you can just simply enjoy the scenery. Otres beach is lovely and a lot nicer than Serendipity.

After returning to the boat, we watched the lovely sunset over the horizon and then partied the afternoon away. 

    
Making new friends along the way..  

Docking around 7pm, we headed back to Sessions bar where we were each greeted with a big plate of BBQ Chicken and rice. Yum! 
It was a really enjoyable day out and one I would recommend to anyone for the price. 
Be warned though, If you’re looking for a relaxing sunset boat cruise, please do not book on this one. 

LwL x 

Border crossing: Vietnam to Cambodia

..on the Danh Danh Express. 

I heard a lot of horror stories about border crossing. More specifically of the one from Laos to Vietnam but luckily due to flying we skipped that one. 
I am happy to say we had an easy and pleasant experience on the Danh Danh Express Luxury bus, crossing from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh. 

  These buses are specifically laid out to be more spacious and comfortable for their passengers.  

This means that the bus has less seats to accommodate less people, but only charge $2 more for the luxury! Normal buses are $11, this was $13.

 It was a 6.5 hour trip all in all.

The seats were comfortable and wide. (Liam could fit his knees in front of him without squashing them against the front seat!)

Each seat came equipped with a front pocket and a reclining back rest and footrest.

   

   

For the first time in my whole Asia experience, the wifi was good enough to use the Internet properly. I spent this time very productively applying for lots of jobs for my return! 
The driver was so lovely, helpful and friendly. Yes they do exist in Vietnam contrary to our ‘Camel Tour’ experience.

The visa process was so easy! $30 for your visa but you pay $35 and the driver fills everything out for you. The only thing you have to do is get off the bus twice; once to exit Vietnam and once to enter Cambodia. Both easy, quick and stress free.

I couldn’t recommend this bus highly enough! I’ve heard that other buses make you cart all your luggage on and off through checkpoints etc. which doesn’t sound at all appealing to me. We did none of this so that alone is well worth the extra 2 dollars!

Overall our experience of this was easy and hassle free. A great way to end our Vietnam experience!

Have you done this border crossing? How was your experience?

LwL x

Lazing in Sihanoukville

We’ve recently spent 5 nights having some much needed beach time in Sihanoukville. My best friend and her boyfriend came out to meet us for a holiday which was super exciting as I haven’t seen her since I left in November! We’ve had so much fun.

     

We spent most of our time on Serendipity beach which is the tourist part. The sand is lovely and the water is clear. 

  
  Chill days, minimal activities, a few sunsets and the odd night out. We wanted to laze in the sun to try and get our tan back after Vietnam! 

   

 The only downside to this place is that there are lots of beggars, ladies offering manicures and massages and very young children selling bracelets. Unfortunately a ‘no thank you’ the first time is not enough. You have to be stern and repeat no 3 times and you’ll get this repeatedly throughout the day. I understand that this is their  living but it can get annoying! It’s also very sad to see such small children having to work, especially as a sign just up the road says not to promote this and buy from them as they can be victims of abuse and can get ill from working on the beach!

Other than that the place is lovely and lively. There are lots of restaurants and bars. We gorged on some lovely food at Porkys and Angkor beach restaurant too (even though I had food poisoning again from somewhere). Its easy to see why this seems to be a tourist hotspot!

  For one night we treated ourselves to a night at the Deluxx Boutique Hotel. Its newly opened just around the corner and cost £100 for a 2 bedroom apartment for 4 people. The hotel had a jacuzzi,pool, free tuk tuk service and included an impressive breakfast the next day. We really made the most of the facilities..

   

 Not so bad for ‘backpackers’ eh? 

   

 I would definitely recommend this place to holiday makers or travellers looking to flashback for a night. 

  I’ve also learnt a new card game called shithead – have you ever played before? We have literally played it 100 times in the last week or so ha. It is our new favourite pass time.

  
Although this is a touristy area, thankfully there are still lots of places you can stay for cheap as a traveller, drink deals on the beach are great and there’s a few places that do nice food for cheap.  

I have many more posts to come on Sihanoukville nightlife and where to stay, our night in Koh Rong and the days of Phnom Penh. I’m about a week behind I’m afraid so bare with me!

LwL X

Life after a Cambodian Landmine

One day in Siem Reap, we came across a book in a supermarket called ‘Welcome to Hell’

After reading a few paragraphs online, Liam later decided he wanted to get it. On the way back to the supermarket we came across a Cambodian local, with no hands, running a book stall.

He just happened to have the book we were after. Winning.

It was with our $4 purchase that he gave us this piece of paper, his compelling story that I feel the need to share with my fellow bloggers.

What a guy! I’m so glad that we bought this book from his stall. Definitely $4 well spent.

LwL x

Happy Chinese New Year 2016!

Yay it’s the year of the monkey, that’s me!

“Each Chinese New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac. The Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 blocks (or houses) just like its western counterpart, but with the major difference being that each house has a time-length of one year instead of one month.
This year it’s the Year of the Monkey, the ninth animal in the cycle. The next Year of the Monkey will be in 2028.”

“The personality of the Monkey:

People born in the Year of the Monkey are characterised as lively, quick-witted, curious, innovative and mischievous, but it is also believed to be one of the most unlucky years in the Chinese calendar.

The general image of people in this zodiac sign is of always being smart, clever and intelligent, especially in their career and wealth.

In addition, their gentleness and honesty bring them an everlasting love life. Although they were born with enviable skills, they still have several shortcomings, such as an impetuous temper and a tendency to look down upon others.

Strengths: sociable, innovative, enthusiastic, self-assured

Weaknesses: suspicious, cunning, selfish, arrogant, jealous”

.. Taken from thetelegraph.co.uk

This is all pretty spot on! It’s a shame I’m apparently unlucky though ha.

We will be celebrating the New Year at a few beach parties tonight in Sihoukanville.

Hope you all have a good’un

LwL x

Siem Reap nightlife

There’s a Pub Street, oh yes.  

 A whole street dedicated to getting you super drunk. You can also try a crocodile burger from one of the restaurants here too!

Here were my favourite 2 bars..

Angkor what? Bar

 
This is seriously cool. The whole bar is decorated in graffiti and inside its glow in the dark.

  Try the cocktail ‘aspara’s blush’ for $3, it’s strong and slushy and was one of my favourite drinks 
  
Cheers

  This place is just passed the exit of Pub Street and it has a great mix of locals and tourists. 

Beers are $1 and strong house vodka is $3.

  Music is like a throwback to the 00’s, its serious cheese and they even have strobe lights. Winning. 

There are also lots of street vendor bars which are super cool if you fancy a rave in the road! 

  

LwL x 

My South East Asia Travel Route!

Now I know that travelling is all about ‘being a free spirit’ and going with the flow, but I am a planner, through and through. I like to get things organized and know that the wheels are in motion. I have therefore, (much to every free spirited travelers dissatisfaction) compiled a very structured plan of my 3-4 month travelling experience. This is likely to change frequently, the number of days in each place will vary, I may not do all the activities and any feedback/recommendations I receive may change my mind, but I’ve based this around much of the advice/tips on travelling websites and blog posts I have researched over the past couple of months. Please take into account that most of these bullet points are not my own and have been taken from sources listed at the bottom of this post. Please feel free to correct/change/offer any alternatives or advice on the below recommend any places to add/avoid. I’m as open as a book.

London to Bangkok on 30TH NOVEMBER arriving in the evening.

BANGKOK (2 Nights)

  • Visit to Wat Po Temple, Khoa San Road which is popular traveler hub full of roadside pop up bars, restaurants, food vendors, shopping and awesome nightclubs.

KANCHANABURI (4 Nights)

  • Immerse in the culture and history of Thailand.
  • Ethical Elephant Experience, visit to Erawan National Park beautiful Waterfalls and a visit to the Bridge over the River Kwai that had a huge historical impact in World War 2.

PHUKET (2 Nights)

  • Largest island of Thailand with gorgeous beaches, a buzzing nightlife & no shortage of things to do.

KOH PHI PHI (4 Nights)

  • Views to die for, awesome restaurants, beach bars, and beautiful tanned people.
  • “The Beach” was filmed here

Continue reading “My South East Asia Travel Route!”