Permanent Vacasian

The traveller sees what he sees; the tripper sees what he has come to see. – G. K. Chesterton

News Update: Border Dispute

April 4, 2009
by Stuart
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Fighting erupted again on the border of Cambodia and Thailand around the Preah Vihear temple Tina and I visited – and embarrassingly napped through an minor exchange of gunfire. This time the fighting was deadly as both sides had casualties and one of the markets we shopped at was set on fire.

Hopefully they’ll rebuild it with a few more restaurants.

Welcome to the Jungle

March 23, 2009
by Stuart
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2,223 views

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Chup Rubber Plantation outside Kampong Cham.

Ratanakiri Provence, Cambodia – After stopping for an afternoon and evening in Kampong Cham – a quiet town along the Mekong near some rubber plantations – we made our way north to Ben Lung hoping to do some trekking in Ratanakiri Provence. Along the way we met Kris a chatty and funny Londoner and a Scottish couple all aiming to do the same thing.

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Chaa Ong waterfall.

The drive took us up the main road north, then we cut east on a dirt road for the last few hours. The dirt was red and stained your clothes like Georgia clay back home. But this dirt went everywhere. We almost had to put on our masks inside the bus and our luggage was covered in dirt when we arrived.

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Cashews.

After checking into the Tribal Guesthouse and relaxing with a banana fruit shake, Kris, Tina and I searched around town for a reliable trekking company. We reviewed a few places and decided on Dutch Couple, the only company that seemed to have their act together. We hoped for a three-day journey, but because of timing we had to settle for a two-day and decided to leave in a couple days giving us a chance to enjoy some of the sights around Ben Lung.

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See Him Weep

March 16, 2009
by Stuart
6 Comments
3,737 views

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Sunset at Pre Rup.

Temples of Angkor, Cambodia – This was like one of those stories you could hear on This American Life – starts off normal but gets to an extreme you didn’t think possible. It’s also the kind of story that starts off all enjoyable but the longer it goes, you just want it to end. Where you start with sympathy for the protagonist, but at the end you’re like, geez, this guy is a looser. Like a Woody Allen comedy.

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Shrine and defaced lion statue at Pre Rup.

Tina and I spent the previous day visiting some of Angkor’s lesser temples – saving the major works for when Hollie and Bridget joined us in Siem Reap. So when we met up with Hollie and Bridget, we decided a guide would be a fun way to tour the temples and make it a more informative experience. But the guide we ended up with had a heartbreaker of a story. And you know how when someone gets dumped they won’t shut up about it (present company included)? That was our guide, Narin. We learned more about the history of his forbidden love then the history of the temples.

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Hell On Wheels

March 11, 2009
by Stuart
2 Comments
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Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia – If Cambodia had a dust bowl, this was it: Anlong Veng. And I’m not talking about the  rim of the bowl. I’m talking about being down in the bottom where the crusty bits of dried cereal build up.

Anlong Veng was pretty much a no-horse town comprised of some wooden buildings crowded along a roundabout. The road we took from Siem Reap was paved, but once we hit town, the pavement ended where the buildings ended. Both of which could be seen from the center of town.

On the bus, I got talking to an American and a chatterbox of an Italian. The American was from the mid-west – the Italian from Rome – who was working for a non-profit in Phnom Penh. He spoke a little Khmer so when we got off the bus, he hooked us up with some local moto drivers to work out a deal for getting to the temple. We had talked with the Italian about joining up, thinking that the more of us there were, the better the price we could get. But when the bus dropped us off, he did the skedaddle, leaving the two of us to work it out.

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Siem Reap. The First Time.

March 10, 2009
by Stuart
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A street performer jumps through a hoop of knives on Bar Street.

Siem Reap, Cambodia – There are two highlights to being in Siem Reap: the Angkor temples and the food. And I’m not talking about Khmer food. Because this is such a touristy place, it’s filled with what they consider to be Western food: Indian, pasta, hamburgers, pizza and even Mexican. Because we had been eating Asian food for almost every meal for about four months, we decided to only eat Western food as much as we could.  Needless to say, Tina and I had tacos every day we where there. Literally.

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Roasted Chicken vendor.

Since we were meeting our friends, Hollie and Bridget, in a few days, we decided to save the main temples and see some of the sights farther out of town. We also wanted to see Prasat Preah Vihear – a mountain-top temple sitting on the Cambodian/Thai border.

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Chicken roaster guy.

From the Thai side, there is a paved road that goes right up to the temple. From the Cambodia side, it’s almost the opposite. And there was very little information about how to get there other than making your way down these horribly bad dirt roads via motorbike, pickups or any other form of transportation that happens to be going anywhere near the temple.

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Trees having their way with Prasat (“sacred”) Bram, Koh Ker.

We set out to find out more information about getting to the temple. A few tour operators in town said they would take us in a private taxi for several hundred dollars. Ridiculous. So we kept looking.

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