It took almost 6 months of planning and now it's finally over. We're back from our 4 day adventure in Cambodia. If I could use one phrase to capture the trip it would be this-- "hope and blessings amidst magic" (nagpapaka deep lang po ako ng onti! hahaha). But seriously, the trip was indeed magical. Worth every sweat and stress we experienced along the way.
True to form ang mga bloopers ko. Andyan yung muntik akong di makasama kasi naiwan ko ang passport ko sa bahay. Ano nga daw ang tawag dun? Strike one. Strike two-- wrong gate ang pinilahan (but it turned out to be right naman!) kaya naranasan naming mapage sa LCCT ng di oras (calling passengers xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx...iiwan na kayo ng eroplano!). Strike three, four, five and so on---ilang beses akong muntik mabalian during the entire trip dahil naiisipan ko laging mag acrobatics (a.k.a mapatid, madulas, atbp). But of course these bloopers only made the trip more fun.
Upon arrival, adventure na ang paghahanap sa aming munting hotel. Nakatago kasi siya sa likod ng isang malaking karatulang-- People's Party of Cambodia. Di mo tuloy alam kung kami ay pupunta sa isang meeting de avance or mababakasyon sa bahay ng isang malayong kamag anak. Matapos mag settle kay "Auntie's House" sinimulan na agad ang grand tour. Nireview ni K (ang aming driver na sabi ni Jay ay kmukha ni chuckie dreyfus at romnick sarmenta kaso di namin talaga makita ang resemblance) ang itinerary kong ginawa at nirevise ito ayon sa format na naayon. Bumili kami ng temple pass (sorry po... di na pala kelangan ng passport pic--blooper number 9?), at pumasok na sa kakaibang mundo na ang tawag ay Angkor. It looked liked we were transported out into a totally different timezone! I was in total awe.
The photography outing started with the Angkor Thom temple (a,k.a. Angkor Thom's Cabin). Kasagsagan ng init ng araw pero game pa din kaming kumuha at magpose para macapture ang truly priceless moment na iyon. Ang daming mga turista, pati mga tour guide. May gwapo, maganda, pangit at mukhang paa. You name it. May kamukha pa si Oliver (kung siya ay may alopecia at ginawang isang GI). Ayos day 1 pa lang, ang dami na naming nalait.
Matapos ang isang oras na siesta (at shower! sa sobrang init, 3x a day kami maligo..), we found ourselves saying ooh and ahh at the Angkor Wat. Reg and Tina ventured inside the temples first while Jay and I took time to take the pictures outside. Sa sobrang tagal namin eh nasarahan tuloy kami ng temple. Di na kami umabot sa center part (the famous three towers of Angkor Wat) kasi sarado na for the day. We did witness a beautiful sunset though and finally I understood why the Angkor Wat was the most popular of all the temples. There was the "oomph" factor that you would feel when you enter its domain. We also had a side trip to the jewelry store. Sabi nga ni neighbor, "may papamana na ako sa aking mga anak.."
Day 1 ended with a good dinner at the Soup Dragon kung san may special menu of "Pork Escalopes (a.k.a. pork with HARM and cheese.. ano daw? sinaktan na baboy with queso?). Neighbor Ria found true love in the beef leklok (kaya everyday niya itong inorder) while Tina feasted on the veggies. Jay and I were introduced to Angkor Beer by K. Panalo siya! walang bitter aftertaste. The drinking session continued in our room along with Jay's magic show and the traditional tong its. Taob kami ni Jcool kay neighbor, kami ay mere mortals lamang..
Day 2 was spent visiting more temples starting with the Roulous Group. It was in the outskirts of the town but definitely worth the travel. May miniature version ng Angkor Wat pa. Then we visited Ta Prohm, the site of the movie Tomb raider. Among the ruins, this was the one that was most left untouched. So feeling mo talaga eh nasa jungle ka. I found myself doing an amazing race Ta Prohm version since tina and i couldnt find reg and jay. Buti na lang pumayag si tina sa idea kong bumalik sa pit stop kasi true enough andun na sila. Sa sobrang pagod ko, nakatulala na lang ako nung lunch. Pero syempre go pa din tayo. After a brief siesta (plus shower again!), we went to the market to go shopping and then off to Tonle Sap Lake. Medyo minalas kasi umulan kaya matapos ang ilang sandali we decided to head back to shore. Neighbor wasn't feeling well din plus nakakadepress din ang site ng mga boat people na nakatira along the river. It was so muddy on the walk back that I think I grew a couple of inches taller. Buti na lang andyan si Efren (It's a bird, it's a plane!, no its Efren!) para ireenact ang washing of the feet sa huling hapunan.Di nga lang niya hinalikan ang aming mga paa. hehe.
The rains didn't stop but fortunately we had beef noodle soup for dinner at this run down house. Tina and K had the pig's brain version while Jay, Reg and I had the normal version (di po ako ganung ka adventurous). Our Bill? 80,000! In khmer money lah! hahaha. Kala mo ang mahal eh no? Pero panalo talaga yung dinner na to- khmer version of the shabu shabu. One thing I love about Cambodia, there's no such thing as bad food. Lahat masarap! yummy! After dinner we headed to Auntie's house (a.k.a. our hotel) and then had another drinking/pusoy dos session. Nakakainis yung taga sira ng plan ko for world domination, talagang ayaw akong papanalunin. Buti na lang napagbalasa din namin siya sa dulo.
On Sunday morning we decided to revisit Angkor Wat. Jay and I wanted to see the other parts we missed while Reg wanted to re-experience the temple minus the mud. Finally I got to take my beautiful pictures of the famous Angkor Wat. Career nga lang ang pag akyat sa matarik na hagdan! We visited another temple afterwards (nakalimutan ko ang name basta siya ay dirediretsong pinto), before finally calling our temple tour a success. We even got to ride a tuktuk kasi may tinataguan na fans si Gidiyap (5 for 1 dollah! buy 10 for 1 dollah!) na paboritong dumugin ng mga vendors. haha.
For our last lunch in Cambodia, K took us to this carinderia by the river. At 1.50 USD per order, it was a total bargain. We ate over 10 dishes plus drinks and paid only 20USD. Ayos! My favorite was the pork ribs ( in khmer, they call it... pork rip.. a.k.a. pinilas na baboy!).Of course di nawala ang ever favorite beef leklok ni neighbor.
The rest of the day was spent shopping for souvenirs and bags. We all got matching North Face Backpacks for a real bargain. Idol sa baratan si Neighbor. Wala kong masabi. Talagang level up! Talented talaga si neigbor..pati pick up skills ay level up. Imagine, 1 boylet a day ang kanyang record. Hmm.. eh ako? nah.. change topic please.
After a two hour shopping spree (bought some dri fit shirts from nike and addidas), we went back to the hostel and rested a bit. K picked us up at 930pm to take us to the Pub street for dinner and drinks. We decided to eat at the Soup Dragon again and drink all the Angkor Beer we could drink. Kampay!!! Kulitan at its finest.
Pagbalik sa hostel, it was time to pack up. Master packers in motion. May nangulit at nangurot pa on the side. kasalanan po niya yung pasa ko sa braso. ;) Nadiscover kong may talent pa pala ako sa wrestling.
Gumising kami ng maaga kanina para mag breakfast in bed este picnic in bed pala under my romantic dimmer light (hep! wholesome picnic po ito). Ang aga kumatok ni Jay para daw may oras pa makipag chickahan with Doro the explorer..At 6:20 am, K picked us up for the last time to take us to the airport. Back to reality na.
The master packer status still holds- Jay was the ulitmate master packer at 14.2 kg, followed by neighbor at 13.6 and me at 13.1. Si tina,kulang pa sa practice. 9.6kg lang. newbie.
Ganung kabilis ang apat na araw. May separation anxiety nga daw kami sabi ni neighbor. Ang tagal kasi plinano ng trip na to. At one point sa sobrang tagal, nakalimutan na namin siya. Nawala na ang excitement. Pero nung dumating, parang kay bilis natapos. Bukas back to work na muli. buti pa sina jay eh naka 1 day leave pa. A part of me wished it didn't end yet. Siguro nga kasi sa loob ng apat na araw na yon, I saw a world totally different from mine and I got to experience it with some very special folks.
What else could you ask for right?