The Khmer Kingdom

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Khmer ; the ethnic people whom majority of Cambodians (current term used ) belong too.
 

Before Cambodia, the wonderful country was called the Khmer Empire first.  As we went on a trip around Siem Reap, we felt traveling through time. The structures then were preserved, converted into tourist spots and maintained for the world to see.

After settling for a while, we went out , escorted again by Hong, the tuktuk driver who fetched us at the terminal. We had alot to see but the rain which had been pouring all throughout the days we arrived in Cambodia, hindered us.  Not that it was raining still but upon seeing the outside, we were surprised how deep the flood was.

The Flower Power Team

Flooded area

Yet, as eager travelers and having a persistent tuktuk driver like Hong, we insisted of traveling through the flood to see the Floating Village. Halfway through, we were stranded.  Seems like the Floating Village came to us instead of we going there. Great.

Now the real adventure begins. 

Seeing the battle of Hong maneuvering his tuktuk, MJ and I decided to lessen his load. We went down. YES, IT IS STILL FLOODED. We immersed our feet into the flooded streets. Mama was left at the tuktuk. We decided we have to go back. It’s not wise to proceed with the thought of getting stranded for hours.

Flooded streets going back to hostel

Front of a house which looked like a pond

Mj and I managed to walk through water and mud with laughter and calmness. But our laughs were saying, “Heck! We have never done this in the Philippines!” 

We were full of eagerness. Upon arriving at Siem Reap Rooms, we took a short rest then got ready to tour the area.

  • Night Market

We were able to have a look around the souvenirs, Siem Reap has to offer. In all honesty, it was not really “looking” but more of “shopping“. Their stalls varied from all sorts of unique products like bags, cloths, jewelry, souvenirs and a lot more. The good thing is that it ranges from as low as $1 to at least $100 for silks Just bear in mind that these stalls cater to tourists so you may still haggle the prices. There were also local food to try on. Again, we went there with a bit of rain so it was hard to move around.

Shopping at Night Market

Stall at the night market

Jades and figurines

Jewelries

Tea with native container

 

  • Angkor Wat

We could say this is the highlight of our Cambodia trip. And if one will be asked, it is probably a must to see the Angkor Wat.  A trip to Cambodia is not complete without seeing the grandeur of Angkor Wat with your own eyes.  Many travelers would recommend seeing Angkor Wat during sunrise, and so we did. We started our trip by 5 am. Upon arriving, there were hundreds of several tourists waiting to witness the beauty of Angkor Wat at dawn.

Before entering, one will be given an Angkor Pass which is an ID  ( your photo will be taken) to reflect what kind of pass you have. For us we only took a One Day pass worth $20. There are 3 days and 7 days pass which means you can go back to explore this huge area that long.

Angkor Pass

As the clock ticks and everyone ready to see the sun…

rain started pouring….

So, yes, you guessed, our most awaited view of Angkor Wat at dawn will forever be embedded only on postcards and magazines. “Why?! Of all days and time!!”  

Came 6:30am and all we saw was a gloomy Angkor Wat beneath our lenses.  Yet, that did not stop us to admire and appreciate this amazing Angkor Wat through the rain.

Angkor Wat at daybreak

Posing behind Angkor Wat

The sun was still on our side as the rain  weakens and we were able to wander through the amazing structure that is the Angkor Wat.  There was so much excitement that was contained. As soon as the light beamed over us, we started the journey through the ancient walls around us.

A closer look

 

  • Ta Phrom

Who has not been aware of Tomb Raider and Ta Phrom?! Well, apparently me. Many tourists would plan their itineraries with Ta Phrom primarily because this was were Angelina Jolie strut some actions as Lara Croft. I was not aware until days before we got into Cambodia. I was mostly focused on seeing Angkor Wat. Little did I know that there is another gem waiting to be seen. Ta Phrom experience is slightly better as we were given some dry moments to explore the area. Everything was lush with green moss just covering every part of the ancient structures.

Something very nice about Ta Phrom and the whole area is that it comes in various structured design. Just like the above photo where I found somewhat a lifesized frame with detailed borders.

Ta Prohm

Inside the huge tree roots at Ta Prohm

Giant roots attached to temple roofs

This is another spectacular sacred temple area to be visited. There are many temples with its own beauty and story. As we wander along Bayon, I discovered different temples housed in one complex with many still in good condition. Many of these are being carefully preserved which I admire the Cambodians for.

One of the highlights of the Bayon temple trip is our elephant ride. I have been eyeing this ride since the Bangkok trip we had. It was not possible during Thailand visit as the elephants were not quite near within the city. Therefore, in this Cambodia trip, I made a vow to ride an elephant and include it as part of the itinerary. These gentle giants are a must see for me!

Of course riding the elephant is not free. We paid a certain fee almost equivalent to the Angkor Wat pass,( around $15). Well… you gotta pay for something worth it. Before riding them, you will have to feed them. We were given pineapples and had to offer it. Little did I know that these elephants love the pineapples that they eat it in its form with skin!  They just take out the leaves.

A delighted kid

It was a well worth it ride as we have circled around the southgate of Bayon temple. They have a carpet like feel. The ride was obviously bit bumpy but nevertheless exciting.

Leading the traffic

  • Back to the city

While we thought the tour at Bayon will be the last to see in Siem Reap, we were delighted to chance upon the city side of Siem reap and its offerings. I can call it a modernized Bayon Temple.

Fish spa! A tingling experience

There were so much to talk and write about Siem Reap and Cambodia overall . Too many nice photos to post. However, being there and actually walking through the temples, meeting the people and getting to know the culture will make this post alive and much appreciated. Every step leads you to another amazing sight. Whether you come on a rainy or dry season, make the best out of your trip and you will surely feel everything was all worth it.

 

The Fairy flies to Cambodia

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The Khmer experience is one I would never forget. First out of country travel with mom made it so memorable. A side trip to Vietnam was an added bonus.

Traveling with a family and a friend has always been an exciting combination. You get the best of both worlds! More so, Cambodia is a “Kingdom of Wonder” – full of historical architecture and masterpiece of nature.

In every trip we undertake, we do some researching. This holds especially true with my good friend, MJ.

Phnom Penh

In this trip, we were too much on long bus rides (we took the border trip from Vietnam). And when I said long, it means 7-9 hours travel by land. Wow! Only time I did that kind is traveling to Baguio, Philippines which happens only maybe once in 2 years.

Arrival / Departure card to be presented at the Immigration Border

We took the Mekong Express (named after the Mekong river surrounding Cambodia) which seems to have organized, well-maintained bus lines. Thankfully, our trip was comfortable, the bus was clean, with portalet at the end of the bus. They even gave as free bottled water and a box of coconut biscuit, which surprisingly tastes good.

Our bus attendant cum tour guide

Arriving in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, we were greeted by a downpour. Gladly, our accommodation was near from the bus terminal.

The Mad Monkey. It was indeed mad as we were soaked and cold upon arriving. The Mad Monkey is a typical backpackers’ accommodation. Nothing fancy, registration done at what seemingly looks like a garage. We had to wait for quite some time to do our check in as there were also guests who arrived same time. After finishing, we were surprised to know we had to transfer to another gate where our room will be.

The Mad Monkey signage

Check in area of The Mad Monkey

Colorful artworks on the walls of The Mad Monkey

Seriously?!

So we again had to carry our bags to the tuktuk waiting  and brave the rain. You can only complain to yourself though. One of the things I learned through traveling is that you must follow how locals do it or else, just stay where your comfort zone is.

After settling in our room, we changed our wet clothes and prepared to go out, get some lunch and explore Phnom Penh. When we arrived at the  market area, we noticed most of the stalls were closed…

Holiday! Wow, I was like “Is this for real?!” We only have a day to spend in Phnom Penh and it’s holiday. As said earlier, we do a little researching, and MJ was advised October is the best time to visit Cambodia. I am not sure how holiday and rain will be the best combination or is it really signs of  times and climate changes?

Fortunately, while  strolling around with the raincoat we managed to haggle, we saw an open boutique.

Entrance of Fairly Traded

Fair enough, we went inside and see what we can get our hands on. True to its name, the items are really good buys, from bags, purses to scarves and keychains. We spent hours trying to figure out how to save on for souvenirs later as every piece is so unique and designed well that we wanted to buy each kind.

Unique designs and various products of Fairly Traded

The best part of Cambodia in whole is that they use dollars for everyday transaction. No need to look for a money changer. Yey! At the end of our buying spree, we were truly happy for our purchases.

Mama and me

The area was a bit quiet or perhaps because of the holiday in town. Until the evening, there were raindrops but that did not stop us from exploring the city. Below are some places we went to.

Photo of a pagoda

Mama and I in front of a lighted pagoda

Taking a pose at our service tuktuk

Enjoying our welcome drink on the rooftop of The Mad Monkey

Phnom Penh is pretty much an active city at night with a lot of lights, shops and restaurants coming alive.

The following day, we were bound for another city of which offers many historical wonders.

Siem Reap

Off we went to Mekong Express again. The trip is shorter than the travelling time  from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh. Out of our 6 days trip, we would be staying here for 2 days but due to unexpected circumstances, it totaled 3 days.

Siem Reap is more laidback than Phnom Penh.  The province is full of nice people, willing to help and the view is as amazing as their locals.

Siem Reap Rooms Guesthouse. We were fetched through a tuktuk at the terminal going to Siem Reap Rooms. The hostel is located in a quiet neighboorhood. The facade looks like a huge house with only a signage that alerts you it is there.

Upon entering, we immediately felt the warm welcome of the  2 gentlemen which acts as the front desk agents as well. We were asked how our trip was and they were in full smile like we were close friends for so long. Our welcome drink arrived as soon as we sat down. Interior is made of wood as well as their furniture. It seemed like we would be staying at a log cabin. Nevertheless, it felt comfortable.

Facade of Siem Reap Rooms

Check-in desk near the front door

Lounge and the stairs leading to the rooms

A view of the outside

We booked a room with two double beds which is just located at the 2nd floor.  It was quite clean and the turn down service is done everyday. They also gave reminders to keep our personal belongings safe as there might be incidents of stealing. Oh well, in any place, you must always be vigilant and responsible for your own things.

Our bedroom

Turn down service

 

We were truly excited to start our Siem Reap journey just right after putting our luggages down.

And indeed, in the hours that came, every minute was an adventure. Our photos were proof of how rich this peaceful Siem Reap town is. All those to be witnessed on my next posts.

 

 

 

Loving Belle de Jour’s New Look

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Every end of the year,  I am not only occupied by the holiday fever but also the search for the perfect planner. Each year, I take time to browse the net and just check the most promising release there are.

In the past years, I have always ended up with Belle de Jour Power Planner (BDJ) , and always, everytime, I did not regret it.

You may check all my past posts about Belle de Jour and how this power planner truly empowers me and every girl out there who would like to strike a balance in their lives.

This year marks an exception of all Belle de Jour planners I had on my desk. Yes, BDJ still has that pretty, positve, cheerful and vibrant girl on cover whom I always assume is the representation of all the girls that have BDJ power planner in their lives. They still have the choice of smythsewn and spiral at Php 598.  They even added the  customization feature where you can order with your name on cover for an added cost. Really eye-catching. However, despite the always amazing cover of BDJ, something caught my eye.

Exclusive Gray Leather.

Yes you heard me. Belle de Jour has introduced an exclusive gray leather limited edition. Maybe it is part of maturity that pulled me towards the sleek design of this Belle de Jour. As soon as I saw it on their website, I wanted one. It is  bit formal that I can actually bring it to work, take it to meetings and serious discussions and still has that girly, exciting inside pages that I have always loved. There is also a black garter attached at the back which serves as the planner’s lock.  It feels so durable and the pages are held like the smythsewn type. What is also nice is that they still have the pink ribbons for the bookmark purpose and now it’s two!

Belle de Jour Exclusive Gray Leather

Back of BDJ Power Planner

At Php 680, I am ready to buy this planner to try this new design. And being very lucky, BDJ team extended a one day promo slashing 20% off the price! I did not waste this chance and bought my planner on their website. One thing I was really happy about was the improvement of the shipping. Xend had become so fast that in less than 3 days, I already have this nice planner on my hands.

Xend Express

I will let you into a glimpse of the best pages and the new ones that will become part of your daily doodles.

First Page

Coupons

This planner always manages to give us treats with their special discounts from various shops. There are several buy one take ones, slash off the price, free tokens and all other useful coupons to minimize your spending throughout the year.

Coupons inside BDJ

Share Happiness

This is one of the new pages of the BDJ planner. Share happiness is like paying forward. You can list down the things that can make others around you, be it living or non-living thing, happy. Spreading happiness is just like painting your world colorful.

Share Happiness

Events Tracker

This is an improved Events Tracker page . Mall of Asia events were incorporated so I am sure for those who wants to stroll in MOA, you wouldn’t miss their festivities. And specially, the BDJ fair is also written here so every Bella won’t have an excuse  to miss it. :)

This is also best in remembering people’s birthdays, anniversaries, trips and some important events to go to in every month.

Events Tracker

Random Thoughts

Another clean page where you can freely write your thoughts and all ideas that you want to constantly be reminded of. Just scribble along the different categories and make the entries as creative as possible.

Random Thoughts

Menstrual Tracker

One of my favorite pages of this power planner. The menstrual tracker page helps me plot my periods so easily and aids me also in anticipating my next red days in one glimpse. I do not need to flip pages of each month just to check the previous ones. The left side also has some reminders, notes and  where you can jot down symptoms you had experienced. This is helpful to check the regularity of your menstrual period or if there is any abnormality.

Menstrual Tracker

Focus/ Finish

This is a goals page introduced in the latest BDJ power planner. Almost same with the good habits page, this one gives you more freedom to list down things you want to focus on and how you will be able to finish it. I believe one can never run out of things to achieve. This page allows you to be reminded of those goals.

Focus/ Finish Page

Weekly Layout Page

These are the pages you go through everyday and write on. The first weeks of my January had become so text full already. This is because the Belle de Jour weekly layout has a great amount of space, easy to read and go through your schedule for the whole week. I love to write and write on it. Not only has it a space for your daily schedule but the usual favorites are still there:

  • Professional Priorities box
  • Major Goals
  • Personal Errands
  • This week’s list of
  • This week I’m grateful for
  • Most Important Tasks (MIT)
  • Bottom box for listing random things

What’s also nice is that at the bottom of the page, you can read inspirational messages that looks like crawlers.

Weekly Layout Page

Cash Flow Tracker

This is so helpful to us who wanted to see where our earnings go OR if we really save on anything. This is were you can record your income every month. The savings you had and a small treat for achieving your savings target also has a space there. The Cash Flow tracker is paired with the Bills Tracker which is found a page ahead of the cash flow tracker. Bills Tracker is dedicated to listing all your monthly bills and other bills you paid that particular month.

Cash Flow Tracker

Gifts Tracker

Another special page of BDJ power planner which helps you prepare for that special occasion. You won’t ever get confused of what to give if you plan your gifts here. They even have thorough details such as status of gift (bought,wrapped,sent) and the store you bought it from and price of the gift.

Gifts Tracker Page

Freebies

Below are some of the nice treats included when you buy the Belle de Jour Power Planner. These are added features which makes BDJ planner a consistent gift to all Bellas out there.

The ever useful BDJ Lifestyle Card is your key to get discounts from all partner stores of BDJ.  It’s just like having unlimited coupons!

BDJ Power Planner Lifestyle Card

Stickers  are the all new added treat to spice up your planner and make it very entertaining.  You can stick them anywhere to remind you of different appointments and schedules.

Stickers

Belle de Jour still is packed with alot of other feature pages and all -time favorites like the Dream Board, Vacation Planner, Checklist,Health Plan and Monthly Layout. You may find the review of these on my previous posts of BDJ Power Planner.

For every hesitant girl out there, you may want to try and explore the Belle de Jour Power Planner as indeed, their mantra for this 2014 will help you achieve it through their planner. ♣

2014 Mantra of Belle de Jour