Where To Go in Phnom Penh & Siem Reap, Cambodia

It is practical for travelers coming to Vietnam to do a side trip to Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia. A lot of tourists are interested with what the country can offer to them when it comes to tourist destinations within and outside the city.

We traveled to Phnom Penh from Ho Chi Min city through Long Phoung Cambodia bus. The travel time is 6 hours for a ticket price of $13. You can have the bus ticket booked via travel agency or from the guesthouse you stayed in. They can help you with bookings because most hotels and guest houses are linked to tours and other transportation companies.

Just like any other tropical countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia has also a warm weather. It is best to wear cottony thin clothes to keep yourself away from unwanted heat stroke. Water is also one of the things you may never want to forget before going on a tour.

Here are a few destinations you may find interesting within Phnom Penh city.

  • The Royal Palace of Cambodia. This is where the Royal family lives. From the gate you will have a view of the beautiful pyramidal structures on the top of each building. There is $10 ticket fee to have a tour inside the palace. You may book the tour arrangements through a travel agency to make it a seamless experience.
  • The Genocide Museum. This is also known as Security Prison (S-21). Inside the museum, you get to feel the horror and haunting images of prisoners who were tortured and killed. The prison compound was preserved and these include the prison bars & wires, death beds & chairs and the rest of the machines and tools used at that time. There were portraits of children, wives and men who were put in to prison and later killed. It was believed that out of 14,000 people who have entered S-21 only 7 survived. It was a privilege to have known and met one of the survivors Chum Mey, who at that time was selling his book entitled “Survivor”. He showed us his missing finger as a result of his resistance to admit something he did not do. He suffered from all kinds of tortures, he added.

Never miss the tourist attractions in Siem Reap province. Just add another 5-7 hours of travel from Phnom Penh. Siem Reap is more interesting and lively. Here are some destinations you may find fascinating in the province.

  • Angkor Wat Temples. Best to start the tour very early in the morning for the sun rise experience. The ticket to get an access to any temple you like to visit is $20. It is practical and less expensive to book a tour through a travel agency.
  • Mechrey & Vietnamese Floating Village. It is just amazing to see the locals do everything while floating in the river. The community has all the basic needs like school, police post and market in the village too. In one of the stopovers, there’s a small improvised crocodile farm. The tour costs $20.
  • Flooded Mangrove Forest. September month is when the mangrove forest gets flooded and would need to ride a boat to enjoy the inner part of the forest. The tour costs $20.
  • Night Market. This is famous to tourists and travelers because you can almost buy anything in the market for a reasonable price. Do not forget to haggle with prices as you might still lower the price using a little bit of charm.
  • Pub Street. This is the happiest street in Siem Reap. You get to choose from all types of restaurants and bars. There is a loud, lively music in all corners. You will not resist the dance floor calling.


Surfing your Way to Crystal Beach Resort, Zambales

Have you wondered about doing things that will make your youth worth remembering when you reach the age of no return? Sounds funny but it is reality. While there is still an exuding enthusiasm, strength and means to do it, grab the opportunity. That is just my two cents. I am sharing with you my latest adventure to the sea.

Here is my share of instructions on your way to Crystal Beach Resort in Zambales.

  • Buy a ticket for bus trips to Iba at Victory Bus Liner in Cubao, Quezon City. Trips to Iba start at 5 AM to 9 PM (5 AM, 7 AM, 9 AM, 11 AM, 1 PM, 2:30 PM, 3:30 PM, 5 PM, 7 PM, 9 PM). The ticket costs P305 per passenger.
  • Let the bus conductor know that you’ll get off at San Narciso, in front of San Sebastian Church. The trip is about 5-6 hours using public transportation.
  • Across the road from San Sebastian Church, ride a tricycle going to Crystal Beach Resort. The fare is P15 per passenger.

First, go to the registration area. You must have at least one valid ID for identification purposes. Second, check their accommodation options. This is whether you want to stay in an air-conditioned room, fan room, own/rented tent, glam-ping tent or you just want a day tour, just let the receptionist know. Lastly, provide payment corresponding to the number days of stay in the resort. There’s a required deposit of P1000 which will be returned once you checked out.

When I checked in, I chose to stay in a rented tent. It was a budget friendly decision since I traveled solo. The overnight stay was for P950. The amount paid included a breakfast buffet. They serve buffet between 6 AM to 9 AM only. The food was pretty good and there were a lot of options.

In the morning, I woke up at 6 AM to have a breakfast. Then, I registered to surfing lessons for P400 per hour. Telin was my instructor and coach. She did excellent in making me feel confident that I can stand on the surfboard just by her signals. Best first surfing experience so far!

It was a mix of comedy, action and drama when I started to balance my way to the waves. My instructor kept on laughing because my screaming was then longer than the actual stay on the surfboard. The sound and size of the waves crashing made me want to quit. I think the fear was normal for non-swimmers. Nobody wants to drown when the goal was fun and relaxation. And, I did it with flying colors! I conquered the fear and had so much fun surfing. I had enough dose of salt water during the first half of the surfing session.

At night, there were activities in the resort. We had a movie night plus bonfire only because, the acoustic night was cancelled at that time. The night was cozy, not too busy and just pure relaxation. Two bottles of beer made the night perfect. The food and drinks were pricey considering that it is in a province.

Overall experience was fantastic. The ambiance was perfect, fresh air, clean facilities, better accommodations, the people in the resort were always willing to help and they were polite to guests. Visit Crystal Beach Resort website for additional information.



PPUR – One of the New 7 Wonders of Nature

It was such an achievement to have had a personal experience of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park which is popularly known as Puerto Princesa Underground River. Digging a bit of history of the Underground River, our local tour guide said that the depth of the underground river was discovered by an American professor who toured in the Islands of Palawan. However, the residents were already aware of the existence of the cave at that time. They believed that the cave was being inhabited by spirits so they did not want to disturb them.

 In January 2012, it was officially confirmed that PP Underground River was one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in the world. Environmentalists and geologists have discovered many rock formations, various mineral formations like stalactites and stalagmites, cave dome and rooms, small and large bats, more river channels and marine creatures in the cave.

When we entered the cave through a small boat, you’ll hear everyone’s amazement and excitement. This was especially when the audio recording started playing. The audio presentation was of excellent quality and was very much in sync with the highlights within the cave. The boatman told us stories of each highlights. Stories that we found amusing, funny and religious. The overall experience was liberating and proud of what Philippines can offer to the local and international tourists.

There are a few tips to know when you go to Palawan to experience the tour in the Underground River. If you are traveling on a budget, I will recommend Treffpunkt 5300 Hostel. It is located in Manalo extension and is just near the International airport. The place is cozy, nice, clean and you can even cook food in their open kitchen. Here, you will be with travelers and backpackers from different parts of the world. You can share rooms or have your own. But, if you have enough budget to afford luxurious hotels – that will be more comfortable for sure!

Reservations to the Underground River must be done at least a day in advanced. The Underground River is a government protected area and they only allow a certain number of tourists a day to preserve it as well for the next generations. The cost of the tour is about $40 but it is worth it. This includes the van transportation to-from, boat transfers and the tour itself inside the cave.

If you are looking for awesome white beaches, just search for Puerto Princesa, El Nido and Coron, Palawan. It is just a 1-hour plane ride from Manila. I am pretty sure, if you are a beach or a nature lover, you would never want to leave again or will keep coming back.


Travelers Love Coffee

I love coffee. A satisfying sip of coffee is like a rush of energy that runs through my veins, every time.  The fragrant flavor of a high grade coffee heals my headache but most of all awakens the happy hormone in me.

Looking around, there are so many coffee shops that serve really good coffee with different blends and flavors.  But, there is one coffee adventure that raised my coffee experience to another level; that is when I traveled to Vietnam. I bought my first coffee in Vietnam at the sidewalk. It was different from how I see coffees are prepared. As I watched the vendor, she poured condensed milk in the glass then, a small amount of concentrated liquid form coffee and a hot water. The taste was exceptional based on the fact that it was just made at the side of the street. The flavor was strong, there’s a little taste of bitterness mixed with sweetness. It was perfectly mixed. I paired it with their famous Banh mi which was very delicious too.

Vietnam’s coffee is rich and aromatic in flavor. I really think that Vietnam is very blessed to have known as one of the best destinations in Asia with excellent coffee varieties. Their traditional preparation of coffee is amazing and gives more value to every cup they serve; from mild, rich, strong and not too strong coffee flavor. I am guessing that all these emanated from Vietnamese customs and culture just like in any country.

In general, did you know that coffee is believed to have many health benefits? Such as,

  • Reduces depression
  • Lowers risk of Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia
  • Lowers risk of Parkinson’s disease
  • Lowers risk of heart disease
  • Reduces pain
  • Lowers risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Improves energy level
  • Helps burn fats
  • Helps protect liver
  • Lowers risk of some types of cancer

The pursuit of coffee adventure starts when you speak with the locals who know better where great coffee places are. Don’t plan too much. Just get there. Walk in the streets. Learn to be carefree. Connect with the locals. Have fun and share some!

Echo Valley Sagada

Sagada is one of the most elevated lands in Mountain province within Cordillera. It is a 6 hour full of adventure commute from Baguio City. Traversing from narrow slopes to cliff mountainsides is the only way to get to the cold,sweet place of Sagada.
From Baguio,the earliest time  buses leave to Sagada is 6 AM and arrives approximately at 12 PM. The entire trip has 2 stopovers so everyone can eat or freshen up a bit while traveling. Going by an ordinary bus, you won’t notice much difference from an air-conditioned buses. It’s cold when you start traveling and colder when you reach high altitudes along the way. It’s literally mountains with roads built on it bridging one from another. The views and scenery around makes the ride undoubtedly more joyful.
We planned to see the Echo Valley. As soon as we arrived, we had a registration at the Tourism office and booked for a tour guide the following morning. There were restaurants and coffee houses around so we tried most of them. In January, it’s still pretty cold. The lowest temperature is at 11 degrees Celsius. I so love the weather! It’s a valid license to eat more and drink a lot of coffee. The vegetables and fruits being served were really fresh and clean.
Going to the Echo Valley to see the hanging coffins was already a knee challenge. We also had a bonus story or historical background of burying ceremonies from our tour guide. Accordingly, as part of the tradition of the inhabitants, when a family member dies, they don’t do embalming of the body. The body is preserved and kept seated on a chair during the entire duration of the wake. Traditionally, family members kill boars as offerings to Gods or spirits until the day they will bring the body to its resting place. The body will be laid  in a fetal position so it would appear shorter than its actual height before hanging on the side of the mountain. They hang the death chair too. Not all are qualified to these rites but those who have been married and had grandchildren can be buried this way.

Spicy Thai Green Papaya Salad

One of the reasons why I feel so excited when I get off the plane anywhere I travel is food. That’s something anyone would love to try and share with. I am an apprentice when it comes to traveling but I have tasted so many varieties of foods from different countries and even continents. I love thinking the fact that food is a universal happiness.

“Food is Life” hashtag is a cliche in different social media platforms. Talking about food, I have had so many favorites in my previous trips from countries I have been to and places within my country. There are too many of them that right now makes my mouth water. Starting with the foods being sold at the street to the foods being served in the restaurants. Everything is different from each other; from preparation to serving the food.

But there is one food that’s promoted by Tourism Authority at the airport in Thailand that caught our attention while we were on our way to the train station. It was visually appealing and a must try food they said. It was on our 5th day in the country when we decided to give this a try. We went to this small restaurant and ordered Spicy Thai Green Papaya Salad or also known as Som Tam in their language. The price was considerably cheap at 90 baht. The menu was written in Thai language so we asked the waiter to describe what’s in Som Tam but we failed to get a clear answer. It was okay. We still proceeded with the order because we wanted to try.

We were excited while we waited. When it arrived on the table without smelling it yet, I said, wow!! Looks inviting, really! First, I took a picture of it for documentation purposes (haha). Everyone does it nowadays. Then, I started to mix it up with the rest of the ingredients. It smelled salty. I realized, all ingredients were RAW. Raw beans, raw papaya strips, raw crabs, raw string beans, with fish sauce and peanuts at the bottom. It was spicy too and it helped give some kick of appetizing taste on the plate. Maybe there were more additional ingredients but I am not familiar to them anymore.

Taste? Hmmm… It’s something not very familiar to my taste buds and it’s extraordinary. I have tasted numerous dishes with raw ingredients but this is very uncommon. I love the especially crisp peanuts under papaya strips and the fresh tomato slices, that’s it. This so far, is the food that I will never forget in Bangkok. Everything else is awesome in the country. Anyone who is traveling soon to Bangkok and has a brave soul must try this. Nothing to lose, just an additional spice and adventure in this world’s called life.


Mt. Pamitinan’s Hidden Gem

Exhilarating! That’s how mountain climbing is. To finish the trail to the peak of the mountain was such an achievement that I felt. Not an achievement that made me rich, rather an achievement that enriched my memory and widened my experience.

Just very close to Manila is an enchanting Mt. Pamitinan in Rodriguez, Rizal. Since we wanted to start the trekking and climbing early, we left Quezon City using a private car past 4AM. It was a smooth travel because there’s not much cars on the road yet. We reached Sitio Wawa or the Barangay where the office for DENR (Department of Environment & Natural Resources) is located around 5:30 AM. Then, we completed the individual registration.

I am not very familiar with the different places where you could get a ride to Rodriguez, Rizal but I am sure there are several ways. I did a little research and found out that one way to get there is by riding a van which signage says Cubao-Rodriguez in Farmers, Cubao near Jolibee. When you reach the terminal in Rizal, ride a tricycle to Wawa Dam. The whole ride will cost you less than one hundred pesos. There are jeepneys passing through Aurora Blvd. which can also be an option but I wouldn’t recommend if you want to reach the destination close to the desired time.

After registration, we made sure that we brought with us some protection from the sun’s heat, we had enough water and some snacks before heading to the start off point. We also bought a rubber hand gloves as it was recommended to us by the lady at the sari-sari store. It was to protect our hands and for secured grip to the stones or anything. We had to pass a hanging bridge over a river. The trekking started just about 6 AM.

I enjoyed the trails. I felt light maybe because I have not eaten well before leaving the house. It wasn’t a difficult path compared to those I have heard from other mountain climbers. What made it very challenging was, the rain! It rained and the mud was sticky and pulling us down. My shoes were getting heavy and heavier every time I step. There’s a tendency to slide or just totally knock you down on the ground.

When the rain stopped, the sun shone. Under the scorching heat of the sun, we traversed the steep trails. The rock formations are noticeably perfected through times. The edges are sharp and uneven. We had to be slow and very careful in climbing the rocks because they’re just spiky. Anyone can be wounded.

We reached the top and we experience a sea of clouds. It’s too beautiful. It’s cold. It’s like you’re near God or heaven! It was my first time so, I took my time to appreciate it, very much! Can you believe I saw some grandmoms at the summit too? They’re amazing and fun loving people in an excellent way.

I cannot provide the exact time it would take to climb the mountain because we had a few challenges along the way with some companions but considering all is fine; it would be approximately take 2-3 hours. On our way back we decided to get some refreshment from the sweaty, sticky hiking in a falls near Mt. Pamitinan. I noticed that there were locals enjoying the scenery and the free flowing water from the falls. Most of them brought some sumptuous lunch along with the family. It was enjoyable indeed. It wouldn’t cost much for them to have picnic by the falls. The view is stunning, the air is fresh and clean and the water is very inviting.


Come out! Travel and Live!

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