A Travellerspoint blog

Melbourne Welcome to OZ!

sunny 85 °F
View Tour de Floret on tourdeflor's travel map.

Melbourne, Australia, miles travelled…..3952

The land downunder has always been a place that captured the imagination of both of us. When Sara was young and asked where she wanted to travel, she would always say, “Australia”. When Mike was young, he spent hours poring over the atlas to find the perfect place to live in Australia. So, it was with great excitement that we first stepped foot in Melbourne. Luckily, our friends, Angela, Fito (who lived with Sara's family as exchange students back in high school), and Monica, their older sister, now live in Australia, so we were supplied with mates, local knowledge, and accommodations.

We visited Brunswick St., Victoria Market, toured the Great Ocean Road, went to the beach in St. Kilda and Brighton, and had dinner in the Southbank. We also enjoyed Hawthorne, the area around Fito’s uni and hung out with Fito’s German roomy, Holgar. We also spent time with Monica and family (husband Nick and son Jacob) while Fito was off studying for final exams.

Here are a few pictures and a short video Mike made about our trip on the Great Ocean Road, where we explored for three days.
View to Ocean from Sheok Falls

View to Ocean from Sheok Falls

Sara and Mike Melbourne skyline  SouthBank

Sara and Mike Melbourne skyline SouthBank

Nick, Monica. and Jacob

Nick, Monica. and Jacob

Monica and Jacob at the beach

Monica and Jacob at the beach

MIke outside Flinders Station

MIke outside Flinders Station

Jacob and Mike

Jacob and Mike

Posted by tourdeflor 03:37 Archived in Australia Tagged air_travel Comments (1)

Angkor Wat, cambodia day two: What bargain ...

sunny 90 °F
View Tour de Floret on tourdeflor's travel map.

What bargain is behind door number 1?

Our hostel street

Our hostel street

After our first day of temple exploration, I was very excited to see some more. Our Tuk Tuk chauffeur offered us a tour the next day to Banteay Sri a distant temple with renowned sculpture, along with a full day visiting other temples. Banteay Sri was one of the earliest temples of the Angkor era.

On the way there we saw Pre-Rup, another earlier, but taller temple on the north east edge of the Angkor complex.
ready to climb Pre rup

ready to climb Pre rup

sara atop Pre Rup

sara atop Pre Rup

We also visited Cambodia's land mine museum. During Khmer rouge era cambodia became one of the heaviest mined countries in the world.Mike and sara at Land mine museum

Mike and sara at Land mine museum

land mine museum 2

land mine museum 2


This is for you Sly...Unexploded ordinance- Land mine museum

Unexploded ordinance- Land mine museum

We had lunch at a roadside stall, and Mike drove a hard bargain getting souvenirs for friends. He visited five shops, made approximately 20 offers before finally making a deal. During the lunch, Mike promised to visit several shops and was told in no uncertain terms that he had to keep his promise. There were various, skirts, shirts, fans, hats, table cloths, miniature temples, post cards and a bamboo flutes in the running for our deal. The final purchase included post cards, two purses, and bracelets! Some little friends are going to be very lucky!
Our last temple, and possible the coolest was Preah Khan.

Preah khan rocks!

Preah khan rocks!

Preah khan architecture

Preah khan architecture

PK dancing ladies bas relief

PK dancing ladies bas relief

PK ruined ceiling

PK ruined ceiling

PK two story temple interrior

PK two story temple interrior

OOps did I do that?

OOps did I do that?

Sara explores Preah Khan

Sara explores Preah Khan

Preah Khan interior ruins

Preah Khan interior ruins

Preah Khan interior 2

Preah Khan interior 2


Enjoy.
Boarding plane back to Kuala Lumpur

Boarding plane back to Kuala Lumpur

Posted by tourdeflor 19:03 Archived in Cambodia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

WATS up! Angkor Wat, Siem Riep, Cambodia

sunny 88 °F
View Tour de Floret on tourdeflor's travel map.

The next day, our tuk tuk from the previous night was waiting for us in the hopes we would tour the temples. We decided to hire him for the day along with our new Norweigen friend, Oevind. The three of us started our tour at about 11 in the morning. It turns out we only had time that day to do the "small tour."

We joyfully hit the road to tour what is billed as the eight wonder of the world. Most of the temples were built between 1100 and 1400 AD during the height of the Khmer empire. At the time when Angkor had around 1,000,000 people London had about 50,000. Talk about the power of agricultural advances!
Enjoy the pics.
elephants at park entrance

elephants at park entrance


First was Bayonne in the Angkor Thom (city complex)
outside bayonne

outside bayonne

Sara come down!!

Sara come down!!

faces 2

faces 2

faces of bayonne

faces of bayonne

life in the midst of stone

life in the midst of stone

gross... don't look

gross... don't look

Mike Meditating

Mike Meditating

Bayonne entry

Bayonne entry

Buddha north of Bayonn

Buddha north of Bayonn


Of note at Bayonn are the enormous number of great head sculptures created after the first sack of Angkor to reestablish the protection of their Gods!

then Baphuon. Mike and Oevind

Mike and Oevind

temple Cambodia

temple Cambodia

sara wants to go heavenward

sara wants to go heavenward

sara climbed here

sara climbed here

sara on Top of Bayonne

sara on Top of Bayonne

Temple north of Bayonn - - siem reap

Temple north of Bayonn - - siem reap

the top of temple Buddha-- siem reap

the top of temple Buddha-- siem reap

We then headed north outside of the city for lunch and a couple of temples further north and east Ta Sohn I believe.
raiders of the lost ark anyone- siem reap

raiders of the lost ark anyone- siem reap


Then in for the big climax of Angkor Wat to close the day!
Mike is a mythical creature- siem reap

Mike is a mythical creature- siem reap

Sara, Mike, and our buddy Oevind- siem reap

Sara, Mike, and our buddy Oevind- siem reap

bas relief at AW- siem reap

bas relief at AW- siem reap

cool light at AW- siem reap

cool light at AW- siem reap

Buddha at AW- siem reap

Buddha at AW- siem reap

inscription at angkor wat - siem reap

inscription at angkor wat - siem reap

end of day at angkor wat- siem reap

end of day at angkor wat- siem reap

It was an amazing first day. Entrance to the temples for 3 days $40 USD. Transport for the day $15 for three people. Additional expenses...lunch $6 per person. The only decision for tonight...How early do we start tomorrow?

Next Episode...What deal is behind door number one or...you want 2 WAT?

Posted by tourdeflor 02:53 Archived in Cambodia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Cambodia Poipet Border- scammers paradise- Beware

sunny 90 °F
View Tour de Floret on tourdeflor's travel map.

Miles traveled Total for day...230

Our transport north from Koh Chang along the Cambodia/Thai border turned out to be a minivan with only Sara and I occupying it, which departed from our hotel at 7:30 am. The driver, who seemed half asleep, drove as fast as he could at all times, with tires screeching on most turns. Everything went smoothly, in its manner, until we reached the border at Poipet. Border to cambodia

Border to cambodia

Our minivan dropped us at the tour company for visa completion and lunch. The lunch was reasonable, but we were charged double the true visa fee…strike one. We then departed on foot to the border with two orange stickers exchanged for our tickets as proof for the next leg…suspicious but what do I know?
After navigating through several queues at the border, we were whisked in a free air con shuttle to the international bus terminal…(cue ominous music). Lo's favorite perfume on the wall at Poipet bus termina-

Lo's favorite perfume on the wall at Poipet bus termina-

We were then told the bus would leave in one hour, two hours, or maybe four hours for the next stage, but we could get a taxi instead for $50 if we wanted. Very helpful ha! We decided we could wait patiently along with four others. They turned on the ac in the bus and then the driver got off and locked the door. This is bad, folks. We share travel stories along with the “additional fare shakedown” (see Managua, Nicaragua) with a friendly Norwegian, Oevind while we wait.
After about, forty minutes, and numerous vain attempts to open said door and hail assistance, one of the other passengers decides to leap out the window to freedom. He is successful but we choose to exercise Buddhist calm and remain inside without food, water, or toilets. Twenty minutes later, the door is opened, but no new passengers arrive and departure does not appear imminent. An additional two hours later, three new passengers get on the bus, and the bus backs out and begins to move. P1020136.jpg
It stops at the bus terminal gate. Then it backs up. Then it exits the gate, hurrah hurrah! Then it backs up inside the gate, from the street, and parks. WAH WAH WAh! Finally after another twenty minutes six more passengers enter the web of deceit with some haggling over prices and asking questions of the bus crew. The bus backs up again. We head for the gate. Another man in an unmarked polo shirt gets on the bus and begins asking for fare from a few passengers, and we stop again.
One unlucky soul, who has previously paid at said bus door, is set up for an “additional fare shakedown”. The poor man stands firm despite threats of “police” and “only take the bus if you are happy to” by the unmarked man who says, “This is my bus. I either need to see a ticket, a sticker (aha!) or you pay me!!” I stand up for the brave passenger, who is now being threatened with “give me your passport” and who is being snapped by digital camera of the driver. “ I saw the poor dweeb pay Mr. X,” I say loudly. I whip out my camera to take photos of the “boss” and driver while demanding their names as well. A near melee promptly ensues.
Finally, the tourist agrees to pay, but now “the man” will only let him stay if he signs a letter saying he is “happy to ride the man’s bus.” Finally, this straw breaks his resolve and he refuses to pay again. He goes looking almost relived to the polic station with the corrupt bus officials refusing to sign such lies. STRIKE TWO! Now, I have a very bad feeling and I am mad. The bus leaves and everything is very quiet.
We are informed that we should arrive at Siem Reap in about 4 ½ hours. It is now 4pm. road side sites near Sisophon cambodia

road side sites near Sisophon cambodia

roadside sights 2

roadside sights 2

Cambodia rice paddies

Cambodia rice paddies

A motorcycle soon passes us, and I think “ The bus is driving suspiciously slow.” Soon, a horde of taxis pass us…then a tractor. Finally, an old man bicyclying and a boy running pass our bus. Very, Very, suspicious. After two hours of this we stop, for a break and dinner where the staff seem very familiar with our bus driver. Sara and I refuse to eat for fear of controversy or other mischief. STRIKE THREE, all trust is now destroyed.
We choose a coke and bananas from a nearby vendor for 75 cents. We take photos of the bus license, and note the company Heng Tep Tours. Scam bus plates

Scam bus plates

We remount for the final two and a half hours. A beautiful Cambodian sunset glinting of the water of the rice paddies signals night’s arrival. Still no city is in sight. Finally nearing 8:30 PM we begin to see palatial five star hotels all of which contain within their name “Angkor.” In the midst of all of this we stop, and are instructed to leave our bags on the bus because they will be handed down to us when we are safely tucked in a friendly taxi. We do not fall for this one. We grab our bags and make a break for it.Cambodia rice field sunset

Cambodia rice field sunset

Sunset 2

Sunset 2


Thank God, after minimal shouting and running away from the deviant bus crew who are trying to push us into their friend’s taxis and send us to their ‘preferred’ hotels… with a quick “No Thank you. We have our hotel. Thank you.” We walk quickly to the nearest fancy reception hall. With the help of a friendly bell boy (God Bless him) from The Angkor Miracle Spa and Resort ( I believe), we finally arrive at our hostel.
Total distance traveled in the last 8 ½ hours…approximately…..one hundred miles…ouch.

Next episode WATS UP!

Posted by tourdeflor 21:35 Archived in Cambodia Tagged bus Comments (2)

Our life as bikers in Koh Chang, Thailand

sunny 90 °F
View Tour de Floret on tourdeflor's travel map.

Our life as bikers in Koh Chang ………miles traveled 400.
our bus's companion on leaving Bangkok...P1010954.jpgP1010972.jpg
To take the bus or to fly? Taxi versus public transportation? Is there a train? How many places do we want to visit? These are among a few of the variables that led us to choose the biker lifestyle on Koh Chang. We had never driven bikes before, but we could rent a motor scooter for $6 a day or pay $6 for the taxi ride to our hostel on the distant “Lonely Beach.” P1010973.jpgThe moto sounded more fun and we would have our independence. After signing some papers, a brief test ride (which included a refresher on the merits of front and rear brakes) we joined the scooter set. Making the first journey with our luggage wedged between my legs, our moto helmets on, navigating hairpin turns up and down mountains in the falling darkness was a less than relaxing experience. It wasn’t until the middle of the second day that the beauty of the experience began to sink in.
After eating a nice breakfast in the restaurant at the Sunflower hostel, we trekked through jungle and hostel along the waterfront to visit lonely beach. P1010979.jpglarge_P1010987.jpg The beach was enjoyable, clean, and fairly deserted. We swam, sunbathed, and generally enjoyed ourselves when the idea occurred to Sara that we should “moto” around and check out the other beaches. Resolved to do this we returned to our bungalow and helmeted up. The moto handled beautifully without the baggage wedged on it. The cool breeze punctuated post-card views from the hilltops. P1020006.jpgP1020007.jpgP1020028.jpg Sara shot a small video, which we’ll upload when we have proper bandwith. After about twently minutes of zipping around we arrived at White Sands beach. This beach was stunning!
The white sand stretched more than a mile in a palm tree dotted strip more than 20 feet wide. The drop off into the ocean was very gradual and the water pleasantly cool. We took several refreshing dips in the azul waters. I made our first beach purchase, a fetching black and yellow turtle design. We lunched at a secluded spot called the Blue Lagoon. Where the water was blue(duh) and formed a lagoon (der), a rope tethered and hand powered ferry carried passengers to the small spit of land on the other side of the lagoon, and novice culinary students stood at attention with their teacher in a nearby open kitchen. Reenergized by this reasonable and enjoyable stop, we decided to try to reach Long Beach around the southern tip of the island.
We joyously remounted our newly dubbed “poderoso” because of the ease that it carried us over the steep hills. Midway through the trip we spotted a small group of elephants resting under their shelter. We went over to visit them and were surprised with the opportunity to feed and pet these lovely creatures. Their trunks are fascinating, their mouths a little disgusting, and they are all in all delightful. After a pleasant visit we continued southward to the vague area of our map marked “abandoned roadway” that led to Long Beach. The traffic dwindled and finally the road itself dwindled to one lane before we were brought to a dead stop.
Apparently the roadway was abandoned because a resort had bought the land and put up a gate where a five dollar toll per person was required. Since this would almost double our transportation cost we abandoned the quest and returned northward. We stopped at the Siam Hut on Lonely beach to snack again and watch the sunset. Young adults, couples, and families filled the wooden patio looking out over the sea. We were all seated at low tables on pillows, our shoes left at the entrance to the patio in Thai style. The sunset passed through stages of crimson, vermillion, and rose. It was a fantastic conclusion to our biker day. Then we got artistic. art sara

art sara

art mike

art mike

artistic pose 2 for sara

artistic pose 2 for sara

P1020055.jpglarge_P1020044.jpg

Posted by tourdeflor 04:02 Archived in Thailand Tagged bus Comments (2)

(Entries 16 - 20 of 55) « Page 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »