Siem Reap – day 358

The early morning yesterday clearly affected us more than we had thought… Neither of use surfaced from deep slumber until after 9am! The perils of travelling long term are that neither of us are used to getting up early anymore, let alone on a regular basis – goodness knows how we are going to survive when we return to work!
Pottering around the room, slowly getting ready, clearly was for a reason! Just as we were discussing what to do for the day, I got an email alert from TES jobs… There is a brand new SEN school looking for teachers for January 2017, not far from where we live. A few emails back and forth between me and the school about the role and school meant that any plans for today were out the window as I was going to apply for this job instead! Sorry Jayne.
Knowing that applying for this job on the iPad was not going to be easy and was going to be incredibly frustrating, we headed into town to find an internet cafe. We walked through the gardens just outside of town, enjoying the peace, quiet and beautiful space before we arrived in the manic Main Street. Stopping at our new favourite Pho restaurant, we slurped away on noodle soup – Jayne adding enough chilli in hers to feed an army! – before we found an internet cafe so I could get started. Jayne popped out into town to sort out booking a taxi for tomorrow so that we can visit the second UNESCO site in Cambodia – Preah Vihear – meaning that we have visited the only two sites in Cambodia and it will possibly the last one that we will be able to visit before our one-year travelling anniversary. 

Tucked in a little cubical in a darkened room with Cambodian men, I had vivid memories of the man watching porn all the way back in India so I was delighted when Jayne came back! Three hours later, I was done and Jayne was bored! There is only so much research and Facebook you can do in a room that stinks of cigarette smoke, despite the no smoking (and no guns!) signs everywhere! Leaving the cafe, I was surprised to see that it was getting dark – apologetic for ruining our day, I treated Jayne to a drink as we walked back to our hotel. I had a ginger bear and Jayne continued her trial of new drinks. This time she chose a weird drink that was a mix between cherry coke and cough medicine!
Got back to the hotel and got a message from Hoai asking us out for dinner. Had about an hour at the hotel before we needed to head back into town. Went to a traditional Khmer restaurant in The Lane. I had a really nice spicy curry whilst Jayne had beef with ginger. Hoai had a soup which he let us try – the overpowering smell and taste of stinky fish was unforgettable. So glad that he had ordered it! Finished our meal at the Blue Pumpkin cafe for some ice cream before catching a tuktuk back to our hotel. Thursday 29th September 2016

Siem Reap – day 353

The Big Circuit of Angkor yesterday was brilliant. We had a taste of the riches of the area and kept some of the best for another day. But, even with the motorbike and taking the day nice and easy, we were a bit tired. The heat was more draining than you realised at the time. So, we gradually crawled out of bed and got ready for the day and washed some clothes. It was perfect timing that we were ready just at the same time as Hoai. We had a chilled out day in town planned. 

First on the agenda was a spot of lunch. Down a side street, there appeared to be nothing visible of the Vietnamese community that lived in the area. Then we were passing houses, where the garage forecourts had tables and chairs laid out in a restaurant fashion. We plonked ourselves down in a ‘restaurant’ on flimsy blue and red plastic chairs and simply ordered 3. The only thing on the menu was Pho and this place specialised in just beef (the broth is designed to complement the meat). Ripping a few leaves from the basket of herbs and a sprinkle of chilli flakes for more flavour, we had one of the nicest bowl of noodles ever. Still not as good as Pho in Vietnam, the flavours were intense and lingered long between mouthfuls and loads of chatting. 

Only a few houses down, the long yard had been converted in to two sheltered dining areas and it served as a very popular cafe. Not sure they see many foreigners in there, this secret gem of a place served us amazing filter coffees with condensed milk. The hours flew by and we had to make some other plans for the day. We couldn’t/shouldn’t spend the rest of the day on our ass enjoying condensed milk (and coffee). Hoai made a few calls and eventually the tuk tuk driver found us. We could have walked by the time he arrived, but we would have been on the street for 10mins and then would have got soaked. The heavens opened and a downpour of rain made the all of the potholes look the same depth. 
Thus, we bumped down the road on the way to Les Bambous hotel. In the ground floor of one of their buildings they had set up Escape Rooms. We were going to try a game and see what they were like. Katherine and Hoai had never really heard of them before and I was itching to have a go. An hour locked in a room to try and solve the puzzles and escape – it was genius. 

We opted to try City of Temples room. The object of this room was to find the treasure lost in one of the temples of Angkor. But, we had to find the clues to which temple it was in. The first section of the room had us turning up the stools to find colours and numbers under the seat, pebbles in the flowers pot of different colours, pieces of plastic with green shaded pieces. The clues were all in hidden places of the room and together they formed the combination for the locks to the chests on the ground and the lock on the door. The next room had stuff hidden amongst the skeleton of the last explorer whom couldn’t solve the puzzle and died. This clue helped unlock his backpack for more clues and a diary. We got a bit stuck at this point as we had all the clues worked out and couldn’t figure out the next combination lock. Colours on the chart depicted what combination to use, except we didn’t know the significance of the colours as that clue was hidden behind the decorations of the room – decorations they had told us that were not part of the game. We didn’t feel cheated in the slightest. We were given the last clue and entered the last room past the 60min time limit. The final chest was a piece of cake. So, so close!A bathroom break were we had to traverse the now flooded hotel complex and overflowing swimming pool meant we were all soaking. So, in no rush out to the elements we did another room. We did ‘Kowloon Captive’ where we had to solve the mystery and rescue the captive politicians daughter from her captors. We did brilliant at this more difficult room. The had to come in and help us with the briefcase as it was stuck. We thought we had the code wrong, but it was their props. The cameras constantly watching you in the room must be a bit funny for them. They get to see some people struggling, arguing or geniuses like us storming through a complicated set up. The UV torch was a cool trick as a clue. We finished the day, already on a high with a mega meal at the Korean restaurant. Another hidden treasure in the heart of Siem Reap, we got an all you can eat BBQ set up, with pancakes and kimchi and the works for a reasonable $7. Katherine and I waddled home trying to think of ways of converting the escape rooms into a board game and Hoai joined some friends in town for a drink. It took ages to fall asleep after such a chilled out and adrenaline pumped day. It was brilliant and can’t wait to do it again… ahem!

Saturday 24th September 2016

Siem Reap – day 351

I woke up with an absolutely stinking cold. In fact, I couldn’t stop the endless vicious cycle of sneezing and blowing my nose which ended up giving me a fuzzy headache. Deciding that there was no way I was going to be able to function in the real world, we decided to have a bed day. Had a shower to make ourselves feel human and then donned the silk hotel bathrobes and climbed back into bed. Spent the day watching TV, shows on the iPad and, whilst I snoozed, Jayne entertained herself with games. Feeling slightly less like I was going to snot over every single person I was going to encounter, we braved the outside world and headed to a nearby café/restaurant for dinner. We both ordered Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) and slurped away as the heavens opened and flooded the streets within minutes. Deciding that we weren’t going to walk anywhere in the rain, we ordered a drink and settled back to watch a James Bond film in Chinese with English subtitles until we could make it back to the hotel without getting soaked. Stopped via a local supermarket to grab an ice cream, we returned to bed and watched TV until I passed out. 

Thursday 22nd September 2016

Cairns & Travelling – day 310

The gentleman who was huffy about our late return to the dorm last night was a right piece of work. Alarm going off at 06:00, stumbling off the top bunk and causing a ruckus to find said phone and turn off the infernal tune was more of a pain than we were the night before. Plus, he woke us all up and we didn’t wake anyone up as no one was yet asleep. Rant over!!! 
Free pancakes was a better start to the day and we shall miss them. A nice warm shower… things starting to go well. But, back to the room and the French girl I think is a bit peeved that I keep moving her stuff. She has taken up a zone around the bed and under the ladder that Katherine uses to get in to bed (moved all that) and a space on top of the storage cupboards that was spreading like a bacteria (moved that shit too). It says everywhere not to do this in a hostel and then she tries to assert her dominance by being a pain in the ass. To add icing to the cake, she ‘pretends’ to be asleep so we gratuitously take all our stuff outside to pack and get ready for the day. Two seconds after we leave the room she’s awake and opening the curtains. Grrrrr! I would have been justified in slapping her or letting Kat tongue-lash her in French. 
Roller coaster of a day was now in full swing. I went off to use the high speed computer terminals in the shopping centre to work on the beauty clinic website. Katherine was doing laundry before our flight. The computers were an expensive waste of time. With seconds to spare I managed to only edit two tiny sections and get them published and I have no idea how they look in mobile view editor. I returned defeated. Katherine was working hard on blogs and watching Olympics on the big screen so it was almost an even trade off. 
I relented and went to buy the camera. But, I have never (and probably never will), bought a camera without something thrown in to the bargain. Normally an SD card, the shop were more interested in just a discount. So I bargained and effectively paid just $5 for a hot shot mount – an accessory to screw in to the top of the camera where the strobe would go and I can attach the GoPro to it without the usual fuss. 
All packed and on the way to the airport, we saw parts of Cairns that we hadn’t yet seen and we weren’t really missing much. Pre booked back at the hostel it was simple to check in and zoomed through security. Compulsory wander through the gift shop I found another computer terminal. Let’s just say… hopeless. A fancy Apple monitor and software with a Microsoft keyboard, there wasn’t a single thing you could work on/ do on the computer except browse the web. Why have them there when everyone was using free wifi and we just paid to use a computer. Ugh, I despair. 
Flying over some stunning mountain ranges, vast expanses of ocean and over forests with controlled bush fires we touched down in Darwin. Katherine had fun at the baggage reclaim when a few kids pushed past to stand right in front of the conveyor belt and block everyone else. While making faces to me about her pet peeve, the mother thought she was furious and was totally embarrassed by her kids. But, did she say anything. Nope!At several points we could have walked to the YHA quicker than waiting for the shuttle bus to get us there. It kept passing it or going down alleys or parallel streets to other hotels and backpacker hostels and we grew apprehensive that he had forgotten the four of us left on the bus. But, it was the conversation piece between ourselves and Louise at the hostel and before long the three of us were on our way back up to the main shopping area to grab some dinner. Finding a delightful Vietnamese restaurant, not only did we order amazing Pho, but they translated Happy Birthday into Vietnamese so we could wish Ha some salutations. A nice end to the day, as alls well that ends well. Friday 12th August 2016