Winter in Melbourne means thermal pjs, afternoon sunshine with hopscotch and being outside in your gumboots.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Saturday, June 1, 2013
Four bus trips ( 5,7,5,5 hrs) totalled $230. This includes $100 bus from Singapore to KL. we travelled on Aeroline and they gave us the lounge area! ( 4 seats Woody on our laps)
Our travel insurance was with Australia post and came to $320. This includes an extra $100 for including CP as a pre-existing condition.
We stayed at the Billabong hotel in a family room on the ground floor. It was a great hotel to escape the heat and city and there was a range of travellers enjoying it. The pool is saltwater and a great size and adjoins a thatched roof restaurant where they serve meals during the day. The food here was fantastic, the included breakfast was perfect for all of us.
We stayed in Phnom Penh for three days then another two days after our beach break. The second time we stayed at Kabiki.
Now this place was our splurge hotel. It was $80 a night. It was amazing. To have such a wonderful environment within a city that caters for families was perfect. The staff were exceptionally professional and seemed so happy to be at work. Breakfast was the highlight and the pools were delightful and refreshing. We stayed on site for two days so the kids could just be.
For three days we covered a few of the tourist sites. The Royal Palace and Wat Phnom.
Our favourite place to have dinner was the night market near the river. You pick your dinner, it gets cooked and you eat/picnic on woven mats with new friends ( well people taking a million pics of your children).
We loved Phnom Penh. It's a great city with lots to explore within a compact environment.
The evenings are great to watch or join in the exercises and the Frangipani sky bar gave is a great city view.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Sihanoukville lies on the Gulf of Thailand about 280kms from Phnom Penh. We spent one week here for the beach/relaxing part of the holiday. It took us five hours by minibus from Phnom Penh.
I had heard really mixed reviews about this beach town. People either love it or say "go to Kep/Kampot". I knew not to expect Thai type beaches but what we found really surprised us.
We found the beach beautiful. Being low season it was very quiet so perfect to just sit for half a day and allow the kids to play and create in the sand.
For a more secluded beach we headed to Otres about 15mins tuk tuk. Limited beach vendors/sellers and a wonderful vibe and cleaner water.
We also spent a morning at Sohka beach resort ( $10 per adult includes towel and a drink). The kids loved the pool.
Sihanoukville is a really affordable beach spot. Food is cheap, drinks were cheap and accomodation was good value but transport was the most costly compared to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
We met lots of lovely people on our travels but one lady stands out above everyone. One afternoon while sitting on the beach she sat down across from me offering a manicure but I declined but she still stayed to talk. She watched the kids playing and after a while her eyes welled up. She told us her baby was 4 months old and her head and body were floppy and that she had a hard birth. She looked at Cooper and I nodded my head. Her baby should have been a Csec but it would have cost $300 rather than the $100 for a vaginal birth. She had no choice but to take that risk and now she waits. As soon as I said it would be okay I felt like an idiot. It would be okay in her immediate family and extended family but within society this child would have such limited opportunities and for that moment we had such a strong connection as mothers but our children's outcomes will be so vastly different.
To support people with disabilities Coops and I had morning tea at the starfish bakery.
Sihanoukville is a place I would come back too but I would need to seriously balance it out with some culture and history to make the most of Cambodia. A week was enough to relax and we were all excited to get exploring again!
All back at school and Kinder. Routine. Winter tomorrow and Autumn sunshine today.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
We have been back in Melbourne for thirteen days. I have written a post about Phnom Penh four times. That's four hours and each time my iPad keeps crashing and the so called saved piece disappears. So is time I am writing about Siem Reap. I'll be doing my trip reports backwards so here is our first installment. ( okay so blogsy keeps crashing so I am trying a new app which also is having photo upload issues....) this is the best it's going to get tonight before I throw my iPad through a window.....
Siem Reap was our third stop over our three weeks in Cambodia. We have been to Siem Reap before and it's a place we will always come back to. Cooper especially has a strong connection to New Hope and I needed to come back to this city to get over my memories of Coop being in hospital here two and a half years ago.
As soon as our bus arrived from Phnom Penh I remembered how much we had loved this place. Although it was dark and quiet it just felt right, it felt like we had come back to our place, to our special place. The bus trip from Phnom Penh took around seven hours. It was an easy, fluid journey and my kids did amazingly well being contained for such a long time. We went on Giant Ibis bus ($13 a seat) and the staff were friendly and informative and loved chatting with my kids. We were the only ones with kids on the bus.
In Siem Reap we stayed at the Golden Temple Hotel. Funnily enough we had not read any reviews on the place and had no idea it had such a following! Pep chose it after looking for a place to stay as she loved the pool and they luckily had one room left for us.( we had spent the previous night t a little guesthouse but they had no ground floor rooms or family rooms available). Golden Temple had a lift and added some extra mattresses for the kids with no worry at all. The welcome we received outshone any hotel experience we had previously had, anywhere!
Over the next four days we had lots planned but being the last leg of the trip the kids all fell in a heap, threw some temperatures and were too tired to do anything but rest, swim and eat. We had a few little outings and achieved what we really came to Siem Reap for and that was to visit New Hope.
We had an amazing day there and we were so thrilled to see how Kemsour and his team have continued to really make this place brilliant. We got a tour of the school and the clinic and ate a beautiful lunch in the training restaurant.
Cooper made it to the temples of Angkor. Not bad for an eight year old to have that ticked off his bucket list already! The boys set off early in the morning at 5am and were home by 10am. They were accompanied by Pha from New Hope as their guide who also took them to his family village which was a very special moment for Cooper and Andrew.
Siem Reap town is really easy to navigate and after a few minutes walking I remembered where everything was from last time even though there were some big changes in the centre. It's an easy town to walk around and very compact. Being low season there was an ample supply of tuk tuks offering short trips for $1 and a day for $7/10. I chose to walk but with the kids it's much easier to jump in a tuk tuk. I really like how each place we visited in Cambodia were all so different. Siem Reap has a very different feel to the city of Phnom Penh or the beach style of Sihanoukville. It almost felt like we had three different holidays the destinations were so unique. I love the feel of Siem Reap, just the ease of it, the laidback nature of the town and the friendliness of everyone we met. People went out of their way to welcome us and especially to include Cooper. What Cambodia lacks in infrastructure for accessibility it more than makes up for it in attitude to being able make things happen. I am obviously saying this from a tourist poin of view as they have a very long way to go as far as their own attitudes/education about people with disabilities. We met some amazing people and of course we will be back!
Saturday, May 18, 2013
From 38 degrees to 8 degrees we are back home.
Here is the last place we visited on our Cambodia trip.
We did have a few days later in Singapore and KL but for now we are home watching the last of the Autumn leaves fall and trying desperately to find warm clothes!
Hope you enjoy sharing our little adventure.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Thursday, May 2, 2013
We have been in Cambodia for six days and are currently relaxing down on the coast in Sihanoukville. This is a five hour bus trip from the capital. The water in the Gulf of Thailand is clear and warm and the sun is hot. The food is cheap and good and it has a rustic beach feel similar to how Thailand was when I backpacked in my youth. Beer is 50c and a massage on the beach is $5. Once you start to talk to the locals you realise there is more to Sihanoukville and it's residents than what the young backpackers think as they board the party boat in the distance.
Prior to our beach getaway we spent three days in Phnom Penh, Cambodias capital. Enjoy this little memory of ours.
Yes I was looking at the backpackers wondering who was wearing sunscreen? Or a hat or shoes! I also wondered about life jackets and who would vomit after their 50c shot when they first got on that boat! They had been drinking behind us most of the morning already......
Andrew just looked at the boat wishing he was on it........
I officially think like a Mum and an old 37 year old today......Off to the beach for my birthday dinner.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
About a year ago, AirAsia had a big Sale. It was one of those sales that start at 3am and you stare at your screen trying to secure flights from Melbourne to KL at the cheapest possible bargain. I am not sure why I love these sales so much! I think it's the thrill of getting a bargain flight and then the year to plan a trip onward from KL. I secured return flights for the five of us for $1150.
We were not sure whether we would be able to use the flights but as it turns out our other plans have been delayed and we get to travel for a much needed adventure. We booked our onward flights last week and we are heading back to Cambodia. It will give us an opportunity to explore the capital of Cambodia ( Phnom Penh) and the coast ( Sihanoukville) as well as heading back to Siem Reap to see Coopers kinder. We have three weeks to explore and are all very excited. It's low season but hot hot hot!
We leave next week on a midnight flight.
We also have the opportunity to pop down to Singapore to visit friends and spend a few nights in KL too.
We have been busy planning and researching and trying to discover new places to visit as we head back to Cambodia. We have been in contact with Coopers kinder and are so excited to see the kids again and to see the new buildings and restaurant New Hope has developed.
I am busy packing and trying to ward off the coughs and colds that have been hanging around the last fortnight at our place.
And just in case you wondered where Peppers little movie was. Here it is.
Friday, April 5, 2013
The kids got mail from our previous Postie.
We have had a week at home on school hoildays not doing much at all. The kids have been sleeping in a little bit till 730am and we have been in no rush to get dressed or leave the house.
Both the boys have colds and are in much need of chill out days, being in pjs and venturing outside in the afternoon Autumn sunshine.
We have been on bikerides together and lots of visits to the local playground.
Woody continues making us smile each and every minute. ( except for when he spills stuff on the floor or scatters pieces of nutri grain all over the house!).
Next week we have a few things planned, catching up with friends and appts for Cooper. Mostly we are just enjoying not having to get in the car everyday and exploring our little neighbourhood as Autunm comes to Melbourne.
Today Cooper had an appointment which made me smile alot. I love sitting back and listening to him chat about himself and his world. It always confirms to me that he is a bright, secure kid with such a zest for living.
" Cooper do you read?"
" Do you like to read.?"
" No not for fun, but for fun I like reading about Al Capone" ( insert pistol hands and gun sounds).
............ The next five minutes is spent discussing gangsters and the like!