After getting out of our beds and having breakfast this morning, we decided to catch a bus to our next destination. We bought our tickets from the travel agency next to the place where we were staying. The price included the transfer to the bus station so we made a good deal. Finally in the bus and after waiting a while the ticket boy starts complaining to us that the bus of our tickets had already left (even though we showed him the tickets 20 mins earlier) and that we have to buy new ones. Our tickets showed clearly that this was the right bus so we didn't budge a little. Finally after some hassle we got assigned some lousy seats in the back of the bus and we were allowed to come. The bus left the station and after a half hour the bus started to get warmer and warmer. Even the locals started to look uncomfortable, I guess the aircon stopped working. As its and aircon bus, the bus isn't equipped with any windows that can open, except the ones in the back. So we were the only ones smiling in the bus with the wind in our hair, lucky us! Who's smiling now hea?? After a while the bus stopped because the people started complaining too much. Outside the heat was rising above 35 degrees and we were sweating our asses off. Thank god it's Asia with road stops everywhere, where we settled down to drink our drinks with ice in it, which made the situation a lot better. At least for a while that is, because you never know where the ice comes from.
Yep, we are on the road again. This time we left the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, heading towards Batambang where well eventually catch a nice boat ride towards the most famous temples of ankor watt. Then Laos and Myanmar(Burma). We decided to skip out on Thailand, because the tourism is just too much, we hear many complaints from travellers coming from that way. This also means were skipping out on buying a motorbike from Thailand and travelling back on it, as this was the big idea. After much research about border crossings and visa's it's basically impossible to get to Europe from here without paying thousands of dollars to get through china. The countries Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand are blocked out by Myanmar and China. Myanmar is theoretically impossible and the risk is very high to get your vehicle impounded, China is too expensive and flying the motorbike over Myanmar (which a lot of motor bikers do) is a stupid start of the trip. My dream still lives on though, it's just a bit delayed further into the trip.
So where have you been hanging out in all this time? Well after I wrote my story in Bali many things have happened(I say this every time don't I?). Travelling around Bali just made us want to get out of the whole tourism thing, so we went to Java. Wow, so many people! It was almost like being in India again. The first thing that our bible (the lonely planet) told us to see was Bromo Mountain. A big national park which contains several live volcanos. Tourists actually get killed there, so we had to go and see it. Not even being close to the national park we got hassled by travel agents on every side. We were very stubborn and after a while we went up the mountain independently and against all advices of the agents. According to them all accommodation would be booked out etc etc etc. When we got up the first thing we noticed was that it was cold, raining and there was plenty of accommodation available. Coming from a 35 degree lifestyle which we had for the last half year and going to 15 degrees was very cold. The next morning we got up at 3 in the morning to start climbing to a viewing platform to see the sunrise next to the volcanoes. It was very cloudy all the time so we were worried that all this effort would be for nothing (getting up Jasmin this early isn't funny). But luckily right at sunrise all the clouds vanished in front of our eyes and we had the greatest view we had seen in a long time, even Jasmin's face started to unfreeze and show a smile. After the sunrise we walked up to the volcano crater rim where you can see inside, where there's a little lake. Now and then it's bubbling a bit, they say sometimes it even shoots stones and ash in the air which kills people.
Next was New Years Eve in Yogyakarta, the tourist city of Java. The day we arrived it was impossible to find some accommodation as everyone wanted to be there for New Years Eve. After applying at maybe 30 places we finally got a room for a surprisingly cheap price. We ended up staying for 10 days exploring the whole region on a motorbike. Close to Yogyakarta there is an ancient Buddhist temple called Borobudur, they claim it's the biggest in the world. We had to see it, but as many other times we discovered we were not the only ones. It appears to be one of the biggest attractions on whole Java, so we stayed close to the temple to explore it early the next morning before all the tourists arrive. And that was definitely worth it, the structure was stunning and the morning view was amazing! See the nice pictures we took here!
In Yogyakarta there are many silver factories, which was a great chance to make something out of the pearls I received on the pearl farm in Broome 1,5 years ago. The big factories all told me it was going to take at least 10 days to make it, which I didn't want to wait for because we had our train tickets booked for the next evening. I never new making silver jewellery was this hard and time consuming. Looking a bit further at a small local shop this guy tells me he'll make the necklace design we designed on the counter. For only 25 dollars he would work his ass off all night to make a beautiful silver necklace out of my two pearls. The next day I showed up at the same shop and the man was just about to finish. He looked very tired and exhausted but was very happy with the money I gave him, and I was very happy with my gift for Jasmin.
After Yogyakarta we stayed a few days in Jakarta where we decided to head to Ho Chi Minh city(Saigon) in Vietnam. A country still very scarred of the Vietnam war. The museum in Ho Chi Minh describes the "terrible" American movements and torturing uncensored, which I like but it was very shocking too. Vietnam still carries many beautiful places though. First we went to Vung Tau, which people also call the Vietnamese version (really everything seems to be copied here) of Rio de Janeiro. They even have a big Jesus statue marking the city, except the Vietnamese had to make it a little big bigger.
Next was Phu Quoc Island, a main tourist attraction in the south of Vietnam. The beaches were stunning and the island was nice and quiet so we stayed here for quite a while. We explored the whole Island and almost all of the beaches by motorbike. It was quite expensive for Asian standards so we moved on again after a week, next was Cambodia. The coast has many nice little tourist towns which have many deserted French colonial houses. This place was booming by French expatriates in the 50's and 60's but were all kicked out of the country by the Khmer Rouge regime in 1975.
Ever heard of the Khmer Rouge? I hadn't, but it's the most horrible thing I've ever heard and read about. To tell the story short, it was a regime that killed a quarter of the country to become a rice producing country. Having a pair of glasses was enough to be killed. Read the book 'First they killed my father' as it really even touched me. The regime lasted for about 5 years, but there are still many landmines active. In Phnom Penh we visited the killing fields where all the people got buried after mass executions, a very beautiful place with a horrible history. Teeth and bones show up in the earth when it rains.
To snap out of this horrible part of my blog, I'll tell something about Bamboo Island. It took two hours on a slow boat to get to the island, but it was basically paradise. Palm trees, sandy beach, blue waters, 32 degrees and your own bungalow on the beach. There were only about 20 bungalows on the island so it looked like paradise to us when we arrived. And you know what, it was! We enjoyed nice walks on the beach and around the island, we went snorkelling etc. Even the food was great. It was too good to be true, and it always is. In the nights we were woken up many times by these stupid dogs howling, barking and fighting around the bungalows. To make it worse, the second night it was full moon too! We tried to make the best out of it, but without a good night sleep we wanted to move on quickly again. It's funny that every time we find all the things we want to find in paradise, that there is something missing or wrong. Maybe we got too picky after all the places we have been, or is it just the human nature of always wanting more?
Now we are all geared up after buying new recourses in Phnom Penh and eager to see more of this beautiful country. It seems that all those commercials or images you see of South East Asia or just the image you have in your head, that it is really like that. Just looking at the horizon now from the bus window, I'm looking at a red sunset over rice fields with shadows of palm trees and temples in the horizon. This country is really beautiful almost everywhere you look. So far it's the closest I've seen to the purity of what I saw in Papua New Guinea. Its changing quick by mass tourism though, hotels and resorts are being constructed everywhere...
Have you also noticed I'm leaving a trail of destruction everywhere I go? First the big earth quakes in Christchurch new Zealand, then a big hailstorm in Melbourne, floodings in Toowoomba, the cyclone in Cardwell, nothing in Broome so far(is it still there?), floodings in Carnavorn, bushfires in Perth, then a big ferry that sinks in Papua New Guinea (that I have been on!), what will happen to Indonesia and Vietnam soon???