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Cambodia

sunny
View Honeymoon Tour on Daft Slags Do..'s travel map.

The next couple of days were spent travelling with three flights in three days. We had a four hour delay at Kalibo airport to fly back to Manila, arrived at The Melting Pot hostel in the early hours had a kip and checked out the following morning to fly to Vietnam. Arrived again in the early hours and stayed at a nearby airport hotel in Ho Chi Minh for ease, then flew onto Siem Reap in the morning.

Once in Siem Reap we got a taxi to the Mad Monkey hostel and headed straight to the rooftop bar (that had real sand on the floor!) for some food. We went for a much needed sleep in the afternoon then joined the gaggle of Chang vest wearing twenteens in the bar on their 'gap yah' drinking their weight in alcohol. I say joined but in reality we sat at the back and ogled at the youngsters making utter fools of themselves and reminiscing what it was like to be that age again! Some poor sod did try and make conversation with us, which was going well until he was summoned to the bar for a free 'grenade' (a shot of vodka and a shot of Jager in a glass of red bull) How could you refuse?! We reflected on the fact that this hostel was maybe a little young for us, but what the heck, you have to try it! And off to bed we went. Although our room was directly underneath the bar we were luckily that it shut at 12am when the pub crawl continued down 'pub' street. A word to all hostel owners - stop putting your private rooms in the noisiest part of the hostel, they are more expensive and are most likely for people that would like some peace. Just saying.

After a leisurely morning we waded through the hungover masses down by the pool and approached the reception desk to book in a trip to Angkor Wat. We headed out into Siem Reap and had a look around the markets, had a drink at a bar and went back to catch our tuk tuk to Angkor Wat for the sunset. Our tuk tuk was driven by Lee and he drove us to the ticket office first to get our picture taken that was put on our temple entrance ticket, and then off to Angkor Wat we went. Unfortunately for us we couldn't find the 'big hill' that everyone goes to watch the sunset over the temple, although they only allow 300 people onto it. Instead we wandered through impressive structures and around the grounds and nevertheless got to see a rather impressive sunset from there. Lee drove us back to the hostel where we attempted to have a beer, however Kiwi had a very bad upset tummy that put a bit of a downer on the evening. It was pretty bad timing as we were setting our alarms for 4am to go and see the sunrise ovver Angkor Wat the following morning!

So up at 4am and down to greet Lee waiting by our chariot to take us back to Angkor Wat. Luckily Kiwi was feeling better and the drive was rather stunning, especially as the traffic was halved at that time in the morning. Again we found ourselves trudging the grounds of Angkor Wat looking for a good spot to sit and wait it out. We found a nice spot down by the lake in front of Angkor Wat and settled there. Looking back over our shoulders 15 minutes later and there were literally hoards and hoards of tourist that had gathered. The dark side of Angkor Wat. Much to the delight of the swarming mosquito's hovering on the lake however. We waited a while, got our snaps and decided to have a walk as it was beginning to feel a little claustrophobic. Also, a Chinese woman sat on Jack which was pretty much the last straw.
We waked around the main temple and down a back street where there were further temple ruins to peruse. On the walk back we saw a commotion up ahead and realised there were Monkey's rallying around a poor american girl trying to keep hold of her pack of biscuits. The Monkey's won. Back in the tuk tuk and off we went to look around a further two temples, one of which was used to film a scene in one of the Tomb Raider films - the one with the big tree. Feeling absolutely templed out and thankful that we only signed on for the 'short' trip we arrived back to the hostel for around 11am, booked in for the bus to Phnom Penh the next day and went for a nap. By eck was it a good nap! In the evening we walked out into Siem Reap for a lovely meal and a walk around the night market before a final beer at the bar and an early night.

We got picked up from the hostel at 8am in a mini bus that drove us to a parking lot and got on a different bus to Phnom Penh at 8:30am. We arrived into Phnom Penh at roughly 2:30pm and after walking for about 10 - 15 minutes, managed to locate the hostel ourselves. We were greeted by 'Rock' at the hostel and booked our bus back to Ho Chi Minh along with transport to and from the Killing Fields and Genocide museum the next day, Then we checked into our very basic room. Back down in the common area/restaurant we watched the nightly showing of the Killing Fields and had an early night.

The next morning we had a breakfast of undercooked eggs and awful coffee and set off in an extremely polluted 45 minute tuk tuk ride to the Killing Fields and afterwards the Genocide museum. I shall not write about our experiences here, other than it was a very harrowing but albeit interesting and knowledgeable experience. It is really something that has to be experienced individually rather than written about, well in our opinion. Although I will say that there were plenty of tourists distastefully taking photographs throughout, which was a little disappointing. To top off the day our tuk tuk driver tried to sell us a trip to the shooting range before heading back to the hostel. He didn't seem to understand how odd this was.
Back at the hostel we washed off the grime of Phnom Penh and went out to the Foreign Correspondent's Club for dinner and drinks overlooking the river.

Feeling a little 'touristed' out we spent our remaining day in the hostel common area to plan, sort itinerary and book flights etc. We did witness a disgruntled hostel goer accusing the hostel of giving them fake money, the police were called and when a policeman arrived stood and did absolutely nothing then had a good old laugh with the owner before getting his extremely corrupt behind out of there. It was entertaining, although did have us checking our money back in the room! Our money was real, phew!
In the evening we went back over to the Foreign Correspondent's Club for happy hour and then back to the hostel. Slightly peckish we asked Rock where we could get a pizza from and he offered to get us a 'happy' pizza, to which we politely declined and got a drug free pizza from across the road. Off to bed for an early night again, which was intermittently interrupted by a drunken, drugged traveller throwing up on the balcony outside our room. Lovely.

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Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 21:36 Archived in Cambodia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises sky temples sunset temple cambodia sunrise palm_trees travelling travelling_honeymoon Comments (0)

Philippines

Boracay

sunny
View Honeymoon Tour on Daft Slags Do..'s travel map.

First things first... there is only one reason to go to Manila and that is to fly out of it again. Perhaps that sounds a little harsh. But it's true.

The flight from Hong Kong was a good one and arriving into Manila we had a two hour wait in the queue for a taxi (which turned out to be a 10 minute drive!) and thus, set a precedent for our general travel experience in the Philippines. We checked into our hotel for the evening and wandered down the street to a nearby 7/11 for supplies. It is hard to describe the general vibe of the area - imagine being in a down trodden, over-populated, smelly, underbelly of a red light district. Well that's what Manila's streets felt like. We sought refuge back in the hotel and ordered a take-away pizza before the following morning's early rise to get back to the airport and fly out of this overbearing city.

So off to Boracay we went, glad to be out of Manila and looking forward to paradise... it was one hell of a travel day, taxi to the airport, flight to Kalibo, coach to the boat, boat to the Island, mini bus to the air bnb. We roughly set off at 8am (although our flight was delayed in true Manila style - voted one of the worlds worst airports. We know why) and arrived at around 8pm that evening.

What followed has merged into one and much to your joy we did not keep a record of day-to-day activities, because quite frankly, there wasn't much. What we had not realised is that due to it being the Chinese New Year holidays and that the Philippines is fairly close to China there would be A LOT of Chinese tourists. A LOT. So the paradise island was not at all what we expected, but i will get back to that.

Our first accommodation on the island was a room in an air bnb house. The house was a little disappointing, an unusable, tiny outside kitchen area, a freezing cold shower, the bins rarely got changed the sheets certainly didn't. Stuff like that. Although the cat had the tiniest kittens which was a highlight of staying there. Tiny animals are cute. We met a couple of people while staying there that we saw on-and-off around the island.

We tried a few of the beaches on the island until we found one that was right for us. Station 3 beach was quieter but the sea was full of algae. Station 2 beach we avoided, it was crammed full of people and we constantly got bombarded with touts selling selfie sticks and dry bag pouches. Puka beach was lovely, although is was a 30 minute side-car ride away and the day we went was incredibly windy, the sea was too violent to enter and the wind kicked up the sand so hard it was like little needles all over your skin. Station 1 beach - we found it! Station 3 leads into station 2 that then leads into station 1, but it was about a 15 - 20 minute walk down the beach to find the right spot, nice and quiet, hardly any algae and only the odd tout walking past.
It was utter and complete paradise, talcum powder sand and the clearest sea water we'd ever seen. We spent most of our days here, sunbathing, reading, playing bat and ball (We got pretty good at bat and ball) and just generally relaxing to the max. In the evenings we often frequented the 'Local Bar' - a little reggae bar off the beaten track down a side street, where every evening there would be live music and the beer cost £0.70 per bottle.

One day we tried another beach called 'Diniwid' that was a short walk from our usual spot, just around the headland. It was a small and quiet beach that led to Spider restaurant that had a nice lookout point, although very popular with tourists that they like to pack in like sheep. We also had a look at the kite surfing beach 'bulabog' at the opposite side of the island, although we didn't dare to go into the sea at this side, as this is what is know to us back home as 'sewage treatment' enough said. On the way back from bulabog beach we took a wrong turn and ended up in the back and beyond walking through slums where children were playing on rubbish heaps and three men were wet shaving a goat.

For our second accommodation we moved literally 50 steps away into MNL hostel, where we had our very own hot shower and they put on specific nights where we got to chat to other travellers and share our thoughts on the Philippines. The hostel was also even closer to one of the restaurants we went to called 'Los Indios Bravos' where the staff knew us by name and served a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.

On one of our last days in the Philippines we decided to get off our arses and do an Island hopping trip. We went snorkelling, cliff jumping (well Jack did) off 8 meter high ledges and got a free buffet lunch.

The Philippines is undeniably beautiful, scenic and for those that stay in a five star resort, a complete paradise. Although like the experience of bulabog beach, behind the scenes was chaotic, stuffy and extremely dirty. After moving around so much in the lead up to the Philippines, we had wanted to stay in one place for two weeks and chose Boracay for it's reviews and world renowned beaches. However we should have read on, as nothing prepared us for how busy it was and how much money was pumped into the tourism and not into the island's preservation or conservation. We found that the island was greatly lacking in culture and had we more time, would have explored other areas of the Philippines that had not been (for lack of sounding pretentious) inhabited and exploited by the common tourist. Don't get me wrong though, after a few days of feeling like we would never step foot back in the Philippines, we started to get into the swing of life there and thoroughly enjoyed our time together on the island. We left feeling completely relaxed, well until we got back into Manila...

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Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 22:25 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises boats sunset beach island palm_trees travelling boracay travelling_honeymoon philippenes Comments (0)

Thailand - Koh Mak


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Our small mini bus left Bangkok at 8am on Friday 22nd January. We were cramped inside for a 5 & 1/2 hour journey with a young couple who were constantly taking selfies - a picture of the inside of a mini bus is what everyone wants to see, you get a real sense of the fun you are experiencing. Sarcasm over, we stopped at a rest point to which we were ushered onto a small train like truck vehicle - the ones children go on around zoos, you know?! This peculiar transportation took us to the ferry port and we boarded for a 40 minute journey across to the island of Koh Mak. Once we stepped foot on the island we were immediately approached by a taxi man, we accepted his services and he drove us the short journey to our dwelling - Banana Sunset Bungalows. Down the dirt road strewn with coconuts, that no one will make use of, and we were checking in with the boisterous Cambodian receptionist/waiter/bar man Tom. We were offered fresh pineapple, given toilet paper and shown to our room. A modest bungalow with en suite "wet room" and a faint musty smell, albeit very conformable and only a few meters from the waters edge. After showers we went back up to the bar for a spot of lunch overlooking the sea, then down the adjoining board-walk and into the sea. As much as Jack makes fun of my jelly shoes they were extremely useful over the rocky sea bed, I ultimately had the last laugh as Jack had to wear manky wet suit boots that had previously had other men's wretched feet in. Urgh. Plus my jelly shoes have glitter in a look pretty in the sunshine.
A trip to Banana Sunset is a must for anyone visiting the island, as it has an amazing viewpoint to watch the sunset over the sea. We spent the remainder of the evening at the bar, where the music was a good volume and a chilled, relaxed atmosphere ensued. They even had a pool table, table football, darts and other games to keep us entertained.

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The following morning we pretty much did the same, had breakfast overlooking the sea then chilled at the bar and swam in the sea. Drank beer in the evening and played games.

The next day was a little more active, we packed up our rucksacks and hired push bikes for the day. It was tough riding, with some big hills and questionable gears/breaks on the bikes. We rode down into the small village and stopped at a restaurant called the "Food Art Hut" and had a big old breakfast washed down with fresh fruit shakes. Delicious. Although Jack did get the shits from some dodgy ham (suspected). Swings and roundabouts. We carried on riding around the island where only two months previously had the main road been finished and about every 15-20mins you would see a scooter, car or another human being. Back to the bungalow for a skype with the family and a shower and we were riding back out into the village for dinner. We tried to have a beer back at the bungalow bar but Jack's bowels weren't up to it so we played Yahtzee in the room instead.

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Monday we had booked in for a cooking course from 10am-2pm. So we walked the short distance from the bungalows and down towards Smile Cooking School. We were greeted by Leng, who teaches the class and given hibiscus tea which helped to settle Jack's stomach. The class took place on Leng's terrace overlooking the sea, a beautiful and serene setting to learn how to make delicious food! Leng offers a class from either 10am-2pm or 3pm-7pm and each class has four spaces. Luckily for us we were the only two that booked for the morning class, so we had Leng all to ourselves! We were given a small cookbook and began by learning how to make pad thai, after we chopped and prepped we moved over to the small woks on burners and it took seconds to make. We got to munch on it afterwards and it was so tasty! We then started to prepare ingredients for meals such as fried tofu with cashew nuts and stir fried vegetables with Chinese kale. After this Leng's assistant brought out a large structure filled with colourful ingredients and we learnt how to make green curry and penaeng curry from scratch! It was hard work on the pestle and mortar. Leng taught us that you should separate the coconut milk into cream and milk rather than pouring it all straight in. The cream should be used like oil in the beginning, the milk for the curry and a little cream at the end. Once everything was made we were directed to the table in the garden to feast on all the food, Leng even served us blue rice that she grows in her garden. An amazing experience and we'll definitely be cooking a LOT of Thai food when were back home - which you should all look forward to!

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Food coma in full flow, we headed back over to the bungalows for a well deserved nap. Later in the afternoon and after checking our insurance policy, we rented a scooter from Banana Sunset for 24 hours and went out for yet more food! The bungalow bar drew us back in and we spent the evening drinking beer.

We did find out after we initially booked the transport to the island that the beaches were riddled with sand flies. You can ward them off by covering yourself with coconut oil, but this surely meant that you would cook like a roast potato in the sunshine! We hopped on the scooter and rode around to Vista view point to have breakfast and take in the breathtaking views. Hopping back on the scooter we then travelled to the south of the island to buy ferry tickets for the follow day's move. Once there we took a walk down the pier and decided to lather our legs with coconut oil so we could have a swim in the sea. We travelled even further around the island to Ban Laem Son where there was a small bar overlooking a quiet beach, we sat and had a refreshing drink and bumped into Leng and her buddies. The return journey took about 40 minutes to get back, however the jungle and rubber trees either side of the road were a perfectly peaceful setting.

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For our last evening, you guessed it - we had beers at banana sunset bar and enjoyed a game of pool and chatted to Tom and the team. We had a final leisurely morning eating breakfast overlooking the sea before we had to check out at 12pm and got a free lift down to the ferry port ready to board the speedboat over to Koh Chang.

Koh Mak is a really beautiful little island that is very much off the beaten track and life moves at a steady pace. We found out the island is owned by 5 different families and all decisions taken co-operatively, thus preventing the island from turning into the next Phuket. They even have an island AGM for all residents to discuss island issues and agree a plan for the coming year. Whilst it doesn't have the dramatic scenery of the west coast islands it makes up for it in other ways and it is certainly not touristy in the traditional sense. If you want a laid back, pretty, friendly island experience, then Koh Mak is the choice!

Until next time....

J&K x

Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 07:58 Archived in Thailand Tagged landscapes trees sea sunset palm_trees travelling travelling_honeymoon koh_mak Comments (2)

Thailand - Kho Tao

sunny
View Honeymoon Tour on Daft Slags Do..'s travel map.

As we approached the island of Kho Tao we began to feel a sense of familiarity, the cascading landscape brought back memories of two years ago, when we visited the island whilst holidaying.

Stepping off the Lomprayah ferry at dusk, we scrambled to locate our bags by the side of the pier and headed down with the throngs of travellers to the pier edge, where a gaggle of taxi drivers were vying for attention. There was a bored looking man stood to one side presenting a sign that said “Jack and friend” – I have been demoted in under seven months of marriage by a taxi man. Our hotel – Palm Leaf – sent the taxi to collect us and bring us safely to them. The room we had selected was unavailable on the first evening (we already knew this on booking) therefore we opted for the superior villa for the night. Oh it was luxury – clean bathroom, nearly hot shower, king size bed and…a TV! I suppose we are allowed to relish in a bit of luxury seeing as it is our honeymoon. The room had a certain magic about it, akin to sleeping in your parent’s bedroom when they are away, it’s not a secret but it’s so much better than your room! It was definitely a stark contrast to the room we had on the last evening in Khao Sok, with ants parading around the floor and a dripping sink (I’m not precious, but a constant dripping does begin to ebb away at the soul)
After being shown into the room and jumping on the bed like children as soon as the woman left, we headed down the familiar route along the beach to get dinner. A well-deserved pizza and onion rings washed down with a couple of bottles of Chang. So tiring was the day of travel that we went straight back to our luxury, we showered away the stale smell of sweat and climbed into our clean, comfy bed to watch Jim Carey in 'The Number 23' on TV. How very cultured of us.

The following morning we were up early (9:45am) to move into a standard bungalow for the next four nights, much to the delight of our budget. From here on in the days merged into one – they went something like this; breakfast, sunbathe, swim in the sea, sunbathe, lunch, sunbathe, swim in the sea, sunbathe, play bat and ball, swim in the sea, sunbathe, beer. One day it rained, but I couldn't tell you which.

Jack had his hair cut! When he showed the lady a picture of Jurgen Klopp and she eschewed him with a firm hand, we were a little worried. Especially as she got the shaver out first off then finished with the cut throat razor. Scissors featured for around 20% of the cut. Nevertheless it is the best haircut he’s ever had (in my opinion), and a bargain at £4.

On the last evening and because we’d had such a hectic week (!) we decided to treat ourselves to an hour long massage. Best massage to date, followed by a good cuppa but of the herbal variety, no Yorkshire tea or milk in sight.

Although we thoroughly enjoyed our time on Kho Tao, it was much the same as Khao Sok – changes where evident wherever you looked. New buildings being erected but left half way through. Rubbish everywhere you turned, strewn haphazardly along the beautiful shore line. A shame really as the beach itself was beginning to get smaller (depth) with the amount of buildings popping up. Two years ago there were roughly three men with long tail taxi boats dotted up and down the beach, now however there was a man every 10 paces. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but try as they might I did not want a damn 'taxi boat'. I mean where would I go? I'm in the place I want to be right now. Piss off.

Overall we had a very good time, we relaxed a hell of a lot and ate great food.

Chang is currently sponsoring our honeymoon. Beer. Every. Night. Is. Good. (and no I still don't want a taxi boat!!!)

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Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 05:41 Archived in Thailand Tagged beaches sea sunset beach thailand dogs palm_trees koh_tao Comments (2)

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