Written by Michael Zangerle on . Posted in Laos

This was the most expensive flight ever... US$ 158.... But the airport wanted to have 25 US each for leaving Cambodia. But, Laos, we are coming...

We came on Sunday and where lucky to find a room, because almost everything was booked out. Laos is more expensive than other asian countries. So our travel tip: Start in Laos, go to Cambodia, continuo to Vietnam, and end in Thailand. Then it gets cheaper and cheaper and cheaper…. But its not about the price, you pay less and you get more….

But don’t let big prices destroy your feeling for a country. So we are on the run to gain experiences. So we got a bike again and went to the Buddha park 25 km away from Vientiane. This was just sh….. This is not worth it if you have been to temples or Angkor. The park is just a joke… bad artist did these concrete Buddha….

So we did not spend much time there.  So we went to Pha That Luang which is the most important monument for Laos and the Buddhists in Laos. It’s a stupa, 45 m high. On our way there we had a flat tire. The mechanic did not speak a word English but 10 minutes and 3 bucks later we were on the road again.

We passed the Vientiane Arc de Triomphe – Patuaxai – to Si Sakret. It’s a temple from 17th century. This was the only temple did not get destroyed from the Siamnes in 1828.

When we did return the bike we got the money back for the tire repair.  We were really surprised about that.

This evening we went to the Riverfront nightmarket.

We had no idea wat a Laos hotpot is, so we ordered it. It could not be so difficult; we already had a Cambodian cooking class, so this could not be so hard… The hotpot is a clay pot with broth in a small “fireplace”. Then you get your cooking materials. Noodles, mushrooms, spices and egg. You could choose beef, seafood, chicken. Make it all in small pieces and put it into the pot. Leave it for 10 minutes and start eating. TRY it!!!

Somebody spend this dinner with us. Mr. Albino cat…. He spend all the time on Nadines lap… He slept and dreamed! It was not easy to go, because he was so lovely.

Tomorrow we go to Vang Vieng. We decided to spend New Years Eve there, it’s a party place! Kajaking, tubing, climbing, trekking, cycling, whatever, do it here… It will be packed!

Accommodation: Suphaphone Guesthouse

Price: US$ 22

Comment: Big clean room in a quiet sidestreet



Written by Michael Zangerle on . Posted in Cambodia

Why is everybody just talking about Angkor Wat? Angkor Wat is just one out of many very beautiful temples of teh Khmer dynasty. Angkor Wat is the biggest building of all religious buildings in the world and the most know of the ruins in the Angkor area.

It impossible to find the right words for the art of building in the 8th century. The first temples are built in the 8th century, one of the last was the one which gave the name, Angkor Wat, about three hundred years later. Everybody saw pictures of Angkor Wat. But when you see this place live it takes your breath.

You could see different styles, both Hinduism and Buddhism, depends on the ruling king. That’s the reason why you have a special type of religion here. We booked a four day trip with our own Tuk Tuk. This was a good decision because the area is so big. With a bike like in Sukkothai it would not be possible.

We went to very beutiful ruins. The Bayon Temple impressed us a lot. 54 towers and 216 faces starred / smiled at you (each tower with 4 faces in each direction). Everywhere the same face. Scientists disagree to whom this face belongs - king Jayavarmann VII (builder) or Buddha or a mix.

Another highlight is T Phrom. Hugh trees and roots are covering walls and buildings. This gives a mystical touch. As if you just discover them right now… King Jayavarmann VII did build the temple to honor his mother.

The ruins and carvings were in different shape. There is many restauration work going on at the moment. So you know where your money goes. The Hinduism temples are more carved then the Buddhism. The entrance fee is 40 US for a three day ticket.

You need to turn off your ears outside of the temples. Many kids and women are trying to sell something or beg for some money. It is a bitter taste that you have to stand if three year old dirty kids begging for a dollar but did not take a candy. You should not give them anything. Most of the time adults are waiting collecting the money.

Second day we did the sunrise at Angkor Wat, 4.30 am….This is still not our time… Hundreds of people went to see the sunrise. Angkor is a big place so you don’t see all the people so much. It was cold and to be honest not that spectacular. We ended the day with sunset. And the sunset was much nicer.

The good part getting up so early is you are doing so much these days. To tel you one more great temple, it’s Preah Khan (56 hectares) This is a Buddhist temple but parts are honored to Shiva and Vishnu. This was also king Jayavarman VII. This complex was made for teaching monks, about 1000 at time.

We went up on a mountain to see another sunset on day three. Thousands others had the same idea at Phom Bakheng. After sunset all ran down the steep stairs. We were happy that nobody pushed…

We also saw the Rolous Group, temples from teh 8th century about 15 km away from Siem Reap. This is a nice trip, more quite less touristy. Happy kids made us happy because they all greeted us.

We wanted to see two places away from all the tourists. So we went to Chau Srei Vibol and Phnom Bok. The first one is just safe to go since December 2008 because the german FUND cleared that area from mines. We could walk 60.000 square meters safely. The Khmer Rouge hid there and let a lot of mines when they left. Unfortunately the Khmer Rouge destroyed a lot monuments.

Phnom Bok is on a mountain with 631 stairs. It was a wonderful view! But we still did not get why there are two artilleries up there especially if there is a Pagoda on the peak.

Day four started with the Angkor National Museum. Here you find loads of information about Angkor and the Khmer dynasty. The entrance fee knocks you off the feed, but it’s worth it. If you have time then go there before see Angkor Wat and the temples. Because you get so much information about religion, believe Khmer civilization and the great Khmer kings. One of the most important kings built hospitals and took care that that travelers had any 15 km a place to buy food and find a place to sleep. He made watering systems big houses and more. How comes that this all disappeared?

After all this we wanted to find out about the food in Cambodia. So we did a cooking class.

With Sophea we went to the market before we decided what we wanted to cook. This was so much fun!!! It was just the three of us and because of our teacher the food was real good. We recommend Amokfish. Yes, sounds funny, but it is so delicious.

We spend our last day in Siem Reap in our guesthouse at the terrace. This was just perfect because of the day before. We spend Christmas together with some guests and needed the chill out day… J Unfortunately we had to we had to plan the next steps of the trip. 

The temple we wanted to go (Preah Vihear Tempel) had the military there. So there were riots between the Thai and Cambodian army. Our government warned us to go there, so we didn’t. The temple is ON the border between the two countries. Both countries wanna have this temple to be in there own country.

In Vietnam we heart about another temple in Thailand, Ubod Ratchathani. But it was a little to stressful to get there. It’s not a classic route so it gets damn expensive to go this way. No bus, just private car 44 US for 110 km….

We decided to not do this temple, because we have seen enough temples. So let do Lao, but even Pakse should not work out. Question to be answered;: where do we want to celebrate New Years Eve?

So we decided to fly to Vientiane.

Accommodation: Jasmin Lodge

Price: US$ 13 incl. Breakfast

Comment: great stuff, very welcoming, clean rooms, good to chill out and meet people 
               plus free WIFI


Killing Fields – Khmer Rouge

Written by Michael Zangerle on . Posted in Cambodia

Today we dove into the cruel history of Khmer Rouge Dynastie. We went to see the Tuol Sleng Museum – the former Security Prison 21. This place used to be a primary and high school before 1975 but during the Khmer Rouge is was hell on earth. When the regime fell in 1979 there were 14 dead bodies found tortured to death. They could not be identified because there was hardly anything left of their faces. They are buried inside the museum. Just 7 people out of 14.000 inhabitants survived S 21.

Rules on the ground of the prison where like: „You shall not cry when you get hit or electrical shocks“. You could see many pictures of the prisoners, torturing materials and methods. These pictures we will not forget. Most of the perople who got killied were intellectuals because they where a thread for the Khmer.

Most interesting was a documentation of a Swedish representative, he supported the Khmer Rouge. He was convinced of the ideas and ideologies but registered later that his two week tour through Cambodia was just a government made show for the representatives. They saw places with happy and well fed people who produced all products without force.

Reality looked different though. Khmer Rouge with its leader Pol Pot enslaved people. They exported rice while their own people starved to death. About 625.000 people died because of having no food… But it was said that the export was just a small number.

One of the ideologies of Marxism is to produce anything on your own and to keep all your producs in your own country, not taking any help or money from other countries. Which meas, Cambodia is self reliant at least in the meaning of Khmer Rouge. But Pol Pot imported weapons and exported rice to pay for the war. That thousands of people died having nothing to eat did not matter. Maybe people who believe in Marxism should visit Cambodia…

With having this horrific background information we went to the Killing Fields – one out of 394. Just here they believe to find about 20.000 corpses. A stupa (big glas tower) contains 8995 skulls and clothes as a memorial. 86 out of 129 graves are evacuated.

In a mass grave they found 100 bodies of women and kids, all naked. Next to it you find a sign and bones and teeth. Here they banged babies against the tree to kill them and dump them into a grave. They killed the kids not having to fear the revenge.

One sentence just fitted: members of Khmer Rouge had a human body but their hearts are damon hearts.

Having the history, all wars and the suffering in mind people did not seem to learn out of it. This was a frustrating day. But its necessary to deal with feeling like this so you never forget.

Accommodation: Mekong Delta Trip / Guesthouse
Price: US$ 8
Comment: double room with bathroom and TV. 25 min. into town (by foot)