Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Reminiscing Travel Moments 1

Sometimes looking back at pictures I've taken during my previous trips transfers me back in time. Whether I'm on a moving train, dozing-off....
... or going down a treacherous terrain, kicking dirt behind me....

Going down from Beomo of East Jawa, Indonesia.
... or on an open cart with dirt blowing into my face....

Hitching a ride to a bus station in Inle, Mynamar.
...or dressing up like a Tibetan Nepalese girl with a basket on my back... (Dafuq! What was I thinking?!)

They say it was to further appreciate the culture! Gahhahaha! Done this at Darjeeling, India.
.. or taking ridiculously angled shots of myself because no-one was there to take it for me!

Why was I leaning down?? Arghhh!! Some where in Angkor Wat of Cambodia.
...or eating fried GRASSHOPPERS from the night markets of Bangkok, Thailand!

My face after crunching down a grasshopper was priceless! 
The "experience" could be played vividly in my mind as if I was reliving the moments. And then I had to wake-up, yearning for more moments, thus beginning to hate my mundane life. Hahaha

The lasting after-effects of travel are still obvious on my face. Gone is the almost perfect clear skin which I carefully tendered and now in its place a coarse, zit-infested calloused skin. (The woes of a woman where beautiful skin is queen) Did that slow me down from travelling?

No it did not but I do need to take extra care of my skin. Haha.

Patience Jard, one more month before I hit the skies again. :)

In the meantime, lemme see if I can weave some travel stories on this pathetic blog of mine. Till then, happy traveling peeps!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

8 Things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

I arrived (alone) at Phnom Penh on a hot, summer day. The tickets bought were from one of the AirAsia hot deals that were too good to be ignored. (RM47 : KL-PP) Even if it meant I had to go there without a travel-mate. Haha. I fear that this has became a habit of mine.

Once after landing, I opted to buy a local simcard with a week access of 2MB internet from a stall just outside the departure hall. The simcard, internet included costed only USD 5. They only requested a photocopy of my passport which thankfully will be done by them. Then I headed outside and a guy with my name on it greeted me. I pre-arranged this with a couchsurfing friend who lived in the area. Hehe. The tuk-tuk driver will help me find the right hostel even if it means checking out a bunch of hostels before making up my mind. After three hostels hopping, I finally settled with Khavi Guest Hostel (USD 13 per night).

Later that evening, I decided to hire the same driver for my Phnom Penh City tomorrow after learning that the hostel charged a much higher fee. :)

 So here are things I did with the hired tuk-tuk driver (USD 18 per day usage)

1. Royal Palace (Silver Pagoda)

Entrance Fee : USD 7

I didn't go in. The queue was very long and I didn't feel like visiting any palaces that day. And to top that, it was freaking hot!!! I decided to skip this and move on to the next destination on my list. =P

Among the buildings of this huge complex just outside near the gates. 
2. National Museum

Entrance Fee : USD 5

When I first reached this building, I was astonished at the outside architectural look of it! The National Museum of Cambodia (Sala Rachana) in Phnom Penh is notably Cambodia's largest museum of cultural history and is currently the country's leading historical and archaeological museum!

The museum looks like a big mansion! 
Well, since I'll be heading to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap that very afternoon, I decided to bask in the world's  largest collections of Khmer art. This includes sculptural, ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects that is strategically placed around the museum. I'm told that it has over 14,000 items, excavated or collected from prehistoric times of the Khmer Empire, which was then covered from Thailand, across present-day Cambodia, and to southern Vietnam. That is a HUGE empire! The museum itself was constructed between 1917 and 1924, officially inaugurated in 1920, and renovated in 1968 and following closely to Khmer's architecture.

3. Wat Phnom

No entrance fee. But you are required to donate USD 1 because it's a religious temple. Ok, fine. =P

Amazingly, this Buddha temple appeared on the "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" documentary (an American TV series which was aired on Travel Channel). Being the highest religious structure in the city of Phnom Penh, it has become the center for the faithful to bring their prayers and food offerings there.

Around and about Wat Phnom

4. Killing Fields of Choeung Ek

Entrance Fee : USD 5

I was a bit dreary during the ride from Phnom Penh to the Killings Fields that took around half an hour. It was situated a bit far from town and my anticipation for the place grew as we got closer.

I was given this device that explains in English on certain sites at the Killing Fields
Choeung Ek is the site of a former orchard and mass grave of victims from the Khmer Rouge regime that were killed between 1975 and 1979. It is located about 17 km south of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and is known as The Killing Fields. More than one million people were executed. 

There are mass graves containing 8,895 bodies discovered at Choeung Ek after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime. Many of the dead were former political prisoners who were kept by the Khmer Rouge in their Tuol Sleng detention center. (source)

Clockwise from left: Commemorative Buddhist Stupa, Friendship bracelets near a tree where they killed children and a mass grave.
I didn't like the eerily sad feeling this place gave to me. And I felt shivers down my spine. I was glad that the cruel regime has fallen and Cambodia is now a peaceful country.

5. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum S-21

Entrance Fee : USD 2

I didn't like this place. It was a former high school turned into a torture and execution center during the Khmer Rouge regime. Named as such to mean "Hill of Poisonous Trees". Tuol Sleng is one among the 150 execution centers in the country and as many of 20,000 prisoners were killed here. 

Classrooms were converted into torture chambers. I hated it!
The prison looked pretty much like the schools in Malaysia. It also buried their dead here during the first year of operation. Once the burial area was too full, they moved their prisoners and the dead to the Killing Fields as mentioned before.

This is one place I SURE WOULD NEVER VISIT AGAIN! Too depressing. T___T

6. Central Market

It was constructed in 1979 to shape as a dome and was influenced by the french. I specifically asked my tuk-tuk driver to bring me so that I can see the dome. However, no shopping was done. Hehe

This market was actually built on a lake which the Cambodian government drained for construction. 

7. Mekong Riverside area

My friend from Couchsurfing took me out on my first night at Phnom Pehn to the Mekong Riverside area. It is bustling with families walking down the pedestrian area, enjoying the cool night and some with ice cream (which my friend bought for me too).

We also managed to enjoy seafood at one of the many stalls located here. More pictures and activities of Mekong riverside can be read here.

Picture taken while I was heading back from a day out in Phnom Penh. 

8. Eat Halal Food with a Couchsurfer

I did not intend to Couchsurf in Cambodia as the hostels here were exceptionally cheap for one night! So I decided to book online or search one when I'm there. My CS friend, Ms Lorene told me that it was best to search one there instead of booking online. She says it is much cheaper and the hostels are never fully booked. LOL.

I took her advice and enjoyed my stay immensely (thanks to her). She even help me find a tuk-tuk for my city day tour. Much cheaper than what my hostel has offered me. So in return, I invited her to have Halal lunch with me at D'Nyonya Cafe that was situated near the Central Market. But I had to ask for directions from the stall hawkers there. Thanks to free wi-fi, this info was leaked to me via Instagram by Denaihati. hehe

Lorene enjoyed her bowl of Claypot Chicken Rice. She told me it was her first time finishing her food! Haha
Oppss.. pictured here is Lorene trying out my scarf as a hijab. She wanted to experience how it felt wearing one and wore it during the ride from the cafe to my hostel. Love her lots. Thanks Lorene for your hospitalilty! =P

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Renewing Passport at Puduraya or also known as Pudu Sentral

I had about 6 months left of validity for my old passport before it expires thus disabling me to travel. So after a quick google search, I decided to head down to Puduraya (go down at Plaza Sentral LRT station) to renew my passport and found the following (some new) things while doing it:
  1. With effective from 22 April 2013, the applicants who wish to apply for New Malaysia Passport (Polycarbonate) shall submit a passport photo with new specifications. This means all passport pictures no longer requires a blue background!!! But fortunately, Puduraya has two photo shops, one near the entrance that leads you out to the LRT Station and another just outside the immigration office on the second floor. RM12 for four pieces. 
    Sample of Malaysia Passport Photo (Polycarbonate) (source)
    If you dyed your hair into another color, they'll ask you to retake your photo and edit your hair color. (True, I'm not kidding)
  2. You'll need to fill in a small form and bring a copy of your IC for passport renewal.
  3. This Pudu Sentral for passport processing opens every Monday - Friday from 8.00 a.m - 10.00 p.m and also Saturday - Sunday from 8.00 a.m - 10.00 p.m (Passport Processing Only). Closed on Public Holiday. How awesome is that!!! I no longer need to go during office hours to renew my passport! ^__^
  4. Prices for the passport are still the same. RM100 - 2 years and RM300 for 5 years.
  5. You can collect your passport on the same day! Easy-peazy!
And now all the new passports are the biometric kinds with an embedded microchip that is compliant with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards. Thus making it eligible for you to travel within Japan for 90 days without visa. (source) :)

So guys, have you renewed you passports yet? :)