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Cambodia: Day 8 (and back to Singapore)

Today was our last day in Cambodia; Craig & the kids wanted to stay and swim at the hotel and I wanted to see just a bit more of Phnom Penh so we decided to meet up for lunch in town before we left for the airport.

Wat Phnom; locals are free. This one wasn't very impressive but maybe I'm just templed-out.

We did this in Thailand; you pay the lady to "release" a bird (I think you make a wish or you're supposed to have good luck). Later the bird comes back to the lady so she can do it again!

I always love the look of these calendars.

Don't steal national treasures!

Fancy post office building.

My dining companions!

Goodbye and thanks for the memories, Cambodia!

"Henry, how much fun did you have in Cambodia?"

Hello, Singapore!

Cambodia: Day 7 (Back to Phnom Penh)

The van our guide arranged for us from Kratie to Phnom Penh was nice (on par with the first day's van; to be fair, he had had a friend in Siem Reap arrange that lame van for us so I don't blame our guide!). The route from Kratie to Phnom Penh had been advertised as another 7 hour drive but it was only 5 hours (apparently a new road was put in: it was very smooth, too!). We were able to eat in Phnom Penh for lunch.

Our hotel had lime drinks ready for us this time.

We at at the Foreign Correspondant's Club which was a bit of a disappointment (too much hype built up our expectations) but I'm still glad we went.

Photo of a panda on a sign for Henry.

We went to the opera at the National Museum tonight.

Riding in the tuk-tuk at night is always fun!

Cambodia: Day 6 (Kratie)

Today we had a tour guide that I booked specifically so we could see the Irawaddy River Dolphins in the Mekong River. Our day included some other stops and I'm really glad we booked this tour. We rode in a tuk-tuk through some rural areas and made some interesting stops that we never would have done on our own. (Our guide followed us in his motorcycle.)

Our view of the market at breakfast. We ate at a restaurant run by a European expat and it was a good start to our day.

Bread flower.

Even tuk-tuks need to stop and get gas.

Sticky rice in bamboo sticks; a traditional Khmer snack. These were really tasty and since they're sealed off with coconut, you can bring them with you and eat them later. Henry wanted to keep his intact and hoard the bamboo to send to the pandas in China. It was very difficult to reason with him on this topic.

Climbing the steps to Phnom Sambok.

Back on the road heading toward our next stop.

Helmets for the kids!

Making palm sugar.

Lunch with a view of the Mekong. Our lunch was great since we could explain to our guide what we were interested in and he could tell us what was in each of the dishes.

100 Pillars Pagoda.

Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre.

Soft-shelled turtles.

Our boat for the Irawaddy River Dolphin tour.

I didn't get any good shots of the dolphins (you can see one in this photo).

Sarah was pleased with our dolphin-sightings and as the resident dolphin-lover, that's all I could ask for!

That's our tour guide answering some of our questions and he was asking us some things about the USA.

Almost all of the houses had the year it was built on the rooftop (sometimes this decoration was terribly ornate while the house was barely hanging together.

Cambodia: Day 5 (drive to Kratie)

This is the part of our trip with things got a little sketchy. Back in Singapore planning the trip, it wasn't clear how we could get to Kratie from Siem Reap without going back through Phnom Penh and taking multiple buses. So, I arranged with our tour guide in Kratie to get us a driver from Siem Reap to Kratie. In hindsight we could have just asked the hotel in Siem Reap to arrange one for us and that would have been better. The tour guide in Kratie seemed to be a genuinely nice guy online (and he was in person). He was disappointed in the van we ended up with (as were we: it was old, not clean, it didn't have seat belts, and the driver was less professional than the one we had from Phnom Penh. BUT we got there safe & sound so in the end that's all that matters!). This was another 7-hour drive on bumpy roads with similar sights as the first drive.

A shoe-flower to start our morning.

Our driver did know a good restaurant to stop for lunch though! Once he was brave enough to try it, Henry devoured that chicken.

The view from our hotel in Kratie; this is not a typical tourist town which was fine. It gets enough through-traffic though that we were able to find good meal options for even the pickiest members of our group (everyone except Craig is picky!).

The Mekong River.

This is a clever & attractive way to re-use tires. (trash can)

The market.

I wonder what this restaurant & dance hall were like in its heyday.

The bank seems to be doing well.

The back of a school.

One of our rooms.

Bathroom; notice the shower is just part of the room.

Self-entertaining during some down-time in our room.

On the walk to dinner.

My Mekong Cocktail was pretty tasty! Everything here is US Dollars.

Cambodia: Day 4 (Siem Reap / The Temples of Angkor)

We got up early to get our day started at the temples. I didn't feel like I "had" to go super early for the sunrise. For us, one day was enough; I can see how with older kids or just adults it would be nice to break it up over several days and do the sunrise/sunset stuff, but this was good. We thought we were getting a guide but didn't realise we had to pre-book that through the front desk so we went with our the tuk-tuk guy provided from the hotel. In a way this might have been better since we moved at our own pace more but Craig & I missed out on some of the stories (later we saw we could have downloaded an app for a self-guided tour). Anyway, I had already decided which temples were my must-sees so that is how we went about our day. Again, Anna & Sarah were much more interested in everything because they were taking pictures, too. Henry is great and just goes with the flow (for the most part!).

Time to wake up! See that Henry is sleeping upside down on the bed and somehow his panda is in the bed with Sarah.

Driving toward the temples.

We got out to walk through the gate.

Restoration in progress.

These monkeys got a little aggressive with the driver in the group behind us!

Approaching Bayon; construction in progress.

Notice the faces in the temple.

Some heads of Buddhas are missing because people thought that there were treasure stored here (there were not).

We all love tuk-tuks.

Approaching Baphuan Temple.

Phimeanakas Temple on our way to Terrace of the Elephants & Terrace of the Leper King.

Time for a bathroom break!

Either East or Victory Gate Angkor Thom; making our way to Ta Prohm.

Entering Ta Prohm.

Henry is starting to get a little templed-out.

Echo Tower.

Here the kids are singing a song they made up (I'm sure I made a video and it's called "Watch Out for the Dangers.")

I like this lady's colourful outfit.

We're finally approaching Angkor Wat (and the sun is starting to make us hot... and a little grumpy. It's a good thing our tuk-tuk driver has a cooler with cold water for us!).

Sweet sisters sharing an umbrella for sun & heat-protection.

There were more mobs of tourists here.

The Temples of Angkor are not handicap accessible: go while you're young and limber!

That guy is a bit bigger than I'm comfortable hanging around (with snacks in my purse no less!).

The obligatory Angkor Wat shot. Yes, it would have been more amazing at dawn or sunset but I'm good with this one!

Ready to get back to Siem Reap for lunch!

(Some shots from the phone that I'm apparently too lazy to move up into the rest of the photos; this happens when you put off updating the blog for 8 months, unfortunately.)

This crew went back to the hotel for a rest and a swim in the pool while I stayed in town to do a little shopping.

Cambodia: Day 3 (Drive to Siem Reap)

Today we drove from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. It is a seven-hour drive or a one-hour flight but the drive was much less expensive. There were also some bus options we could have taken but we felt like we'd be happier with a private van which the hotel in Phnom Penh easily arranged for us. I think we were able to see the countryside better and we were able to stop at a local/small restaurant on the way for lunch instead of the one the tour buses stop at. The driving time was probably similar but I'm sure our smaller van was able to drive faster (crazier) than the large bus was able to.

One of the things I noticed was that there are a few gorgeous temples (they look beautiful, new, & well-kept) and a lot of really run-down housing. We saw some kids biking to school, water buffalo, beautiful landscapes, interesting driving techniques (and vehicles!).

Cambodia is the craziest place I've been driving-wise. There is very little rule-following and "space makes lanes" is definitely the motto. I'm glad I was just a passenger!

Our hotel breakfast was good (dinner was good last night, too); we'll stay here again when we return to Phnom Penh at the end of our trip. We really liked this hotel!

This cat seemed to be after some affection (probably some of my breakfast, too).

Some kind of protest in Phnom Penh.

A mosque.

A school.

We are exactly in the middle of the road here; it was kind of like a big game of chicken.

Dead chickens hanging off the back of the bikes.

Sarah at our lunch stop.

No smorking.

I noticed a lot very nice/new stairways attached to houses that looked like they might fall over with one sneeze.

Walking to our hotel room.

This one had two full-sized beds + a twin.

Henry's shoe-flower.

Heading into town with our tuk-tuk driver (included with our hotel since we chose to stay about 10-minutes away by tuk-tuk).

Looking for treasures in the market.


Anna made a video of riding in the tuk-tuk at night.

Cambodia: Day 2 (Phnom Penh)

Views from the tuk-tuk.

Wires are a theme of many photographs for this trip.

The National Museum of Cambodia.

Anna specifically ordered this so she could use chopsticks.

My vegetarian amok was delicious; this was probably one of the best things I ate during the trip.

Walking to the Royal Palace.

This guy really wanted to give Sarah a flower for her hair.

Everyone taking pictures of the monkeys.

The Silver Pagoda was not as amazing inside (no pictures allowed inside) as I thought it would be based on the description in the book.

This structure did mesmerise me, however.

Mini Angkor Wat.

Sarah really enjoyed sharing a camera with Craig.

I forgot to zoom out my lens for the lady I asked to take our picture.

Anna & Sarah took turns on the bunk; there were two full-sized beds on the other side of the room for me, Craig, & Henry to use.

Cambodia: Day 1 (Phnom Penh)

Our lovely hotel gave us watermelon juice when we arrived: the kids were excited because Grandpa is always talking about watermelons. The fact that it was cool & refreshing was also really nice.

My Trip to New Zealand by Anna

We got our campervan and we went to the Antarctic Center and we got to have coffee at a NZ coffee shop in Christchurch. We got to go to Hokitika and we went to the gorge and it was so pretty. The waters were so turquoise.

We got to go skiing and skiing was my favorite part of New Zealand! I liked the skiing because we got to go on the big magic carpet but at the end my feet felt so cold. At the ski resort we got to eat pasta and the pasta was some of the best pasta ever but the pasta that we got in Wanaka [insert name of restaurant] was so much better.

We did the gondola and we got to see the kiwis but it was dark and I couldn't see the kiwis very well because the kiwis like it dark and it was dark there when it was actually day. It was weird that there were red lights in the kiwi place, I wonder why they weren't orangey-red lights because the sun is orangey-red.

We got to do the Akaroa Dolphin cruise and I played "fall-over" with Henry. How you play fall over is you stand up on the boat and when the wave comes, you fall over on the bench and sit down.

We went on a glowworm cruise and the glowworms they looked liked stars and Sarah said that one of them looked like a constellation of a smiley face.

We went to a beach where there was a lighthouse but we didn't get to go in the lighthouse but we did get to hop from rock to rock in the ocean and it was so so so so so so fun.

We went to the Moreaki Boulders and I climbed on one and I got to jump down and I climbed on to one of the rocks and onto one of the boulders but there was water on one side so I had to jump over the water when I jumped down.

The litle blue penguins was so windy and so dark and it was very very cold. But we did get to see the Little Blue Penguins but it wasn't very fun because it was so windy and cold and so rainy.

We went to the Sir Edmund Hillary museum. He was the person who climbed Mt. Everest and there was a life-sized picture of him and Daddy is the same size as Sir Edmund Hillary. We got to see a Black Holes movie and it was so cool. And it's so weird how people don't know how there is a black hole in the middle of the milky way. But I think it was because a star exploded and turned into a big black hole and all the stars around it got to go into it and that was how it gets so big. It was so weird that in the middle of the black hole that there is a teeny tiny space in the middle of it and I wonder how the black hole can fit so many stars into that teeny tiny space.

My Trip to New Zealand by Sarah

We got our campervan. The campervan's bathroom was really tiny. We got to play at the table on the drive. The single bed was my favorite bed to sleep in because I had nobody rolling around at my side and also that when it rained I couldn't hear the rain.

When we went on the Akaroa Dolphin tour we got to see the smallest and rarest dolphins in the whole wide world. It was windy and cold. We saw lots of dolphins. We saw two at one time. And we saw one at one time. And the waves got really big. And I decided to go inside because it was too cold.

When we went to the big magic carpet when we were skiing it was really fun when I went down the hill really fast. Skiing was like almost the best thing in the whole New Zealand.

In the glow-worm cave it was really wet and I felt like the cave was going to explode because there was so much water in the cave. That night when I went to bed, when I looked up, when I was sleeping at the top of the campervan, I thought I saw glowworms on the ceiling. And when we were at the glowworms, some of the glowworms made a shape like a smiley face.

At the LIttle Blue Penguins, it was cold and windy just like the Akaroa dolphin cruise. It was so windy my eyes were watering. The Little Blue Penguins were really small and cute. They waddled a lot and mommy got really bad pictures. They were really cute but I wish I could have stayed longer if it wasn't too windy and cold. And when the LBP were in the water, they looked like Little Blue Ducks instead of LBPs. I couldn't imagine what the LBP's feathers would feel like.

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