Monday, 15 June 2015

Phnom Penh

We started our second day in Asia racing through Ho Chi Minh City to catch a 6-hour bus ride to Phnom Penh. The ride was surprisingly comfortable, however our 2-hour wait at the Vietnamese and Cambodian boarder due to the fact that the guards were unable to pronounce any Western names led one over enthusiastic tourist to start a protest.

Once we arrived in Phnom Penh we jumped in a tuk tuk and made our way to the highly recommended Mad Monkey’s hostel. Unfortunately it was all booked up so we spent a night in a little place around the corner but ended up having dinner in the MM bar where we ran into friends from school and were introduced to the fun times and fast friendships of backpackers around the globe.

The following day we headed out to see the sights. We met up with our tuk tuk driver from the previous day and took the scenic drive out to the Killing Fields. The mass genocide sight was hauntingly beautiful with an overgrowth of willow trees and a river running through the centre of the sight. 

Earphones and record devices were handed out and we were able to explore the sight while listening to various first and second hand accounts of the experiences of those who were present during the rise of Pol Pot.

We proceeded to visit the genocide museum that was filled with photographs, documentation and artefacts that had been instrumental in horror and structure of the Pol Pot regime. 

In the afternoon we visited Wat Phnom, a beautiful temple that was surrounded by tropical gardens. This was a lovely way to end what had been an emotional, yet highly recommended and insightful day of travelling. 

  • Mad Monkeys: amazing hostel with chains in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Kampot 
  • The White Rabbit: smaller, very basic accommodation around the corner from Mad Monkeys
  • The Killing fields 
  • Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum – S21
  • Wat Phnom temple 
  • Russian markets 
  • Restaurant 63 
  •  Mad Monkey’s restaurant and bar 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Ho Chi Minh City


As we descended into Ho Chi Minh city with an outlook of pink clouds and city lights our excitement levels rose and the fact that we were about to embark on a month of backpacking in South East Asia finally started to sink in. 

After luggage collection and passport/visa checks we stumbled out to the taxi terminal where we were bombarded by taxi drivers trying to reel us in.
Google gave us the rough idea that we should be spending between $150 000 – $250 000 dong. We were offered a taxi to our hotel half an hour away for $700 000 dong (we mistakenly thought he said $70 000)and thinking what a great deal we'd got, jumped in. When asked to pay a portion of the fare before leaving the airport we began to count our money and luckily realised we were being majorly ripped off. We leaped from the cab grabbed our bags from the boot and headed back to the terminal where we bargained a cab down to $350 000 (Still quite pricey, but when you're jet lagged and in a foreign country after travelling for 12+ hours you take what you can get.)

Tip 1: For a taxi in Ho Chi Minh pay around
-       $50 000 - $80 000 for 5-10minutes
-       $100 000 - 150 000 for 15-20minutes
-       $150 000 - $300 000 for 30minutes

I think both of us spent the whole taxi ride staring out the window in awe at the traffic situation. I saw families of 4 on one motor scooter, and parents with babies on their lap riding along. Not to mention the fact that lanes are non existent and the traffic merges in every which way. This mental system somehow seemed to work, which I think is what shocked us the most.
After arriving at our accommodation and buying some water we pretty much hit the hard mattress and went straight to sleep.

Tip 2: Buying water in Ho Chi Minh
-       Between $3 000 & $9 000 dong for 1.5Ls
-       Check to make sure it has a plastic seal. If not your probably being sold tap (dirty) water in a bottle. (Applies for all of Asia)

The Jet lag had us rising with the sun and we wandered around the slowing awaking streets snapping some obligatory 'good morning Vietnam' photos. After breakfast we set out to explore the cities sights and would definitely recommend paying a visit to The War Remnants Museum which although quite shocking sad and is an interesting insight into culture and history. 

We had lunch on Bui Vien Street, which we discovered was part of the backpacker area. I would highly recommend this street for cheap accommodation and restaurants. We ended up coming back here for dinner and went to ‘Viet Restaurant’ (59-61 Bui Vien Street, D1, HCMC) which was amazing and well priced.

Safe to say Ho Chi Minh's bustling atmosphere and crazy traffic situation made for an exciting and interesting start to the trip. 

Next stop: Phonm Penh, Cambodia 

Julia & Rachael

Monday, 19 January 2015

~ Carry On ~

1) Travel Journal - Here
2) Travel Notes Notebook - Here
3) Bracelets my Nanna brought in Vietnam in 2002
4) Canon 700D - Here
5) Sunglasses
6) Passport
7) Travel Brochures
8) Nanna's Photos from Vietnam
9) Sleeping Mask
10) Travel Card
11) Purse
12) Hiking Boots
13) Neck Pillow - Here

With only 12 hours till we jet off on our first solo overseas trip, we thought creating a travel blog would be the perfect way to keep in contact and share our adventures. Above is a little snapshot of some of the items that will get us through the month.

Rachael & Julia