Playing with fire

After almost being drowned on land in Cambodia -with Angkor as a pleasant exception- we longed for some sunny beach time. We decided that it would be a grand idea to travel from Siem Reap all the way to Koh Tao. The result -I can tell you now smiling- firmly disagreed, laughed at us, called us stupid and was downright horrid. 33 hours in crappy busses; two nights spent in agony. The second night: really not my idea! My revenge was buying magazines for a whopping 40 euros (we are on a budget of 35 euros each, every day, to give you an idea of the severity of this punishment).
Finally at Koh Toa I decided it was about time for us both to get a serious sun tan going.

Every time I smile now, or try to give V a kiss the skin on my upper lip cracks and burns. I have heat flashes engulfing my face every now and then and the after sun bottle I applied almost fully to my body was sucked in immediately. Now all I need to do is stay hydrated and I’ll return with a killer tan. V on the other hand disagrees slightly with my enthusiasm over second degree burns. All I could see after his screams of disapproval summoned me to the bathroom was a very white bum…
He retaliated by getting a drastic haircut. All his long blonde tresses where gone. Chopped off by a Lady Boy, while I sat there, thinking about a suitable revenge.

There... I even slept on a wooden bench outside for some hours to get to the Island. If that doesn't justify my revenge than I don't know what does...

But once there, it was actually quite brilliant.

Koh Tao seen from a hill top.

Magnificent sunsets

And relaxed seaside dining.

The big fireball is one of those boys playing with fire.

Visiting Koh Tao means visiting the fish there too. We got along pretty swell.



The place you imagine when as a child your mother reads you fairytales. A hidden door, framed by beautifully carved stones, you discover at the end of a pathway through an ancient forest with trees as old as the beginning of time, their branches reaching out for each other, covering most of the fresh green grass protecting their roots. Here and there a sunbeam magically lights up the intense green color. The narrow paths slithering into the darkness make my inner child want to go explore and turn around every stone I walk by. All around you hear the soft and echoing whispers of souls at piece at this hallowing place, chanting monks from the past. The serenity engulfs you, silences you.

It’s 5.30 am when in the dawn of the day –the sky is still pitch black- we are slowly walking across the stone bridge leading us through the impressive main gate of Angkor Wat. One by one, the gate seems to swallow us. Inside the main entrance a glimpse of a faint flickering light (incense) guides all of us towards our main prize: the sight of the mighty Angkor Wat with the rising sun as its spotlight.

The once lost but found again holy city of Angkor has made me fall in love with fairytales again. The huge ruins of temples, sometimes resembling mighty fortresses, protected by the dense jungle covering most of the 400 square kilometers, all exude an air of ancient wisdom. The long gone power these architectural masterpieces represented still echoes through collapsed hallways and the stares of visibly impressed and -for once- quiet tourists.

Angkor Wat: the most known temple of Angkor.



I’d like to introduce to you: Martin. He’s a rather unwelcome travel companion. For the last couple of days he’s been constantly harassing us, almost never letting us have a moment to ourselves. He has a knack for terrible timing; showing up when you least need him. He gets into your clothes and ruins views by totally blocking them. He makes it impossible to see when you are on a motorbike trying to venture out into the surrounding beauty of Cambodia; our new country. He’s a menace to my tan; which is slowly fading away.
He is also a grim companion when visiting Tuol Sleng prison, the torture HQ of the Khmer Rouge. Strangely though, he was nowhere in sight when we set foot on the Killings Fields near Phnom Penh. Maybe the terror that still lingered there was already enough.
It could be you’ve heard of Martin before, he’s even killed some people in South Korea, or so I’ve heard. He’s the dark cloud above our heads, that obstructs sunlight and pours out buckets of water instead. He’s a fucking tropical storm. Damn you Martin!

When it rains you just go waterfall spotting. You're wet anyway.

As you can see, in some parts of Cambodia they are big on recycling...

And when it rains, you don't mind if you need to cross a lake walking...

Ah, that's it: the flooding got too much... (JK, it's a waterfall... again)

You got to love Cambodia though, most beautiful country so far!

Back in Phnom Penh, it stayed dry just long enough for me to harass some birds.
A close-up from the more than 8000 skulls excravated at the Killing Fields near Phnom Penh. Though more than half of the lost souls of this particular Killing Field still lie burried beneath the soil.

A former school: Tuol Sleng. The main prison of the Khmer Rouge. Only 7 got out alive at the end.


Phu Quoc Island

Have you even been woken up, taken from your bed, walked about 20 steps to lie down at the beach for a massage while the sun slowly sets into the calmly rushing sea, displaying a most phenomenal palette of colors? “You want foot rub too?” I managed to slur out a muffled ‘zzure’ before slipping back into a coma. Brutally awoken again because all the air is getting pushed out of my lungs by the little Vietnamese lady, who is now sitting on top of me, pushing my shoulders down. Followed by fierce pounding on my upper legs and the cracking of my fingers one at a time. Life is… painful at times.
The massage was rather necessary due to an intense pain in my neck after sitting on the back of a motorbike for two days, driven by V. He’s actually a good driver, but let’s just say I’m a little squeamish. The roads where true textbook horror: deep gorges, swamps and oceans of rainwater forming everywhere. The Island though, is magnificent. And it doesn’t hurt to spend your nights at a bungalow right on the beach…

Caught in the act: the butchering of me...

Major Goofy reports for action.

All the stressing out over riding on a bike on shitty roads does pay...

Even when the weather gets a bit ugly, it still is actually really beautiful.

And the waves got really fun too :-)...

Found some Vietnamese drinking buddies that insisted on paying. The alcohol was much needed since they thought their English was superb, but for us it was all a big game of Charades.

Before Phu Quoc we took a tour through the Mekong Delta.

I found my new soul mate.

And went undercover.

Spotting even more fat Buddahs.

Finally at the Mekong again; having more beers.


Skinny bitch-nation

It must have been quite a rude awakening if your BMI level exceeds 25 (BMI is short for Body Mass Index, obesity starts at 25). Our Vietnamese tour guide, who bore more resemblance to a crazy native American Indian who likes his bong, started his tour with a very extensive and rather painful explanation as to why Vietnamese people are not fat. “They don’t eat cheeeeeeessseeeee!”. He continued by pleading his allegiance to the American soldiers who once roamed the streets of Saigon (an exceptional statement in a communist country which still oozes a grizzly pride for killing and torturing so many of the ‘US aggressor’ through ‘educational’ videos and information boards at every historical war-site).

Winnetou would take us to the infamous Cu Chi tunnels: hide out of Viet Cong fighters, littered with very creative but gruesome booby-traps. The Viet Cong actually lived inside those tunnels underground, not visible if you would have taken a casual stroll there with B-52s doing some extensive landscaping from the sky. It was mentioned, before entering the tunnels, that they have been doubled the size for the sake of the tourists (and probably the poor soul who would’ve otherwise had the pitiful task of midwifing the overweight tourist out of the narrow tunnels).
I entered feeling confident; it would be only a short crawl. When the moment came I imagined we would be at the end, we were instead going one level deeper (6 meters below the surface). By the time we had to go deeper yet another level (9 meters), I was in a state of subdued hyperventilation and fled for the ‘tourist-that-shit-their-pants-stairs’ to breathe a big gulp of air. American burgers -woops- soldiers would have never-ever fit through the original tunnels.
That evening I stumbled upon the epitome of ‘Skinny bitch-nation’: a mobile BMI-meter. For only 5000 Dong you could be enlightened by the knowledge of your own BMI. As a professional Skinny Bitch I of course went for it. The result will remain top-secret.

That is what true horror looks like...

In case the Viet Cong were in need of a serious armpitt trim.

Saigon... the city were open fire functions like a social hub.

The BMI meter. I know, it looks more like a mobile shower, which -considering my previous blog- I needed more at that moment.

Practised my posing. Never mind the two huge mosquito bites on my leg.

Another day, another Viet Cong hide out. This time in a mangrove forest. Brilliant if mosquitos are amongst your best friends.

We were warmly greeted and send off by the camps new inhabitants.


The reign of the sweat mustache

The first time talking to my mother over skype, she carefully -but with great emphasis- warned me that in no case I could allow myself to become a stinky, moldy backpacker while traveling (backpackers have established a pretty solid name for themselves). I soothed her with the info that although maybe less developed than Europe, in Asia people do enjoy showering and even soap. Now, after spending close to two months abroad, I am redefining my hygiene. It is your human right to stop reading now.

Instead of smelling like Thierry Mugglers ‘Angel’ with a hint of gentle almond scrub, an intense citronella odor is now always accompanying me. I stopped sniffing my hands after visiting Chinas restrooms and BF V today even hesitantly admitted my neck has become a bit greasy. But he loves me none the less. Woops… 

Since traveling here in South East Asia I have even grown a mustache. A sweat mustache. It goes with me wherever I go, day and night. No matter how much I keep dabbing my mouth with tissues; the sweat has grown very fond of my upper lip. With temperatures going way beyond 30 degrees even at night and a humidity level close to a 100%, this is not a strange thing though. Sorry mom! So remember this while browsing through the photos below: before they were taken some serious dabbing was going on. Now smile!

I took my sweaty mustache to see Hoi An: a pretty little town, Disney-fied by UNESCO, that lights up at night in any color imaginable. 

A sunset like this one might illustate the scorching heat that comes from the big frying orb.

Finally.... there was sand and the ocean. I got the chill at a beach!

And lost 10 lives at a water park were I had to plunche myself down near vertical Tsunami-called water slides. Why do people enjoy staring into deaths eyes so much?

The Fairy Stream in Mui Ne was more my cup of tea.

The massive sand dunes got my two thumbs up as well, although grinding sand with your teeth the whole time took some getting used to.

Then again I could vent my frustration during a cooking course.