Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cambodian Street Food

When traveling in Southeast Asia, a snack or a meal is never hard to find.  Food vendors who make a mean bowl of noodles, fried vegetables, dumplings, or sweets swarm the street corners and fill any available space in alleyways.  But, if the ubiquitous fried noodles or pad thai is starting to sound a bit boring, Cambodia is the perfect place to exercise your more adventurous taste buds. The streets of Phnom Penh boast a number of vendors who sell a variety of fried critters.

Enjoy a scoop of salty fried grasshoppers for a quick on-the-go snack.

For a meatier snack, try fried cockroaches.  Don’t think you can manage to gulp down a roach?  Just think of it as revenge for all those times they’ve scared you in the middle of the night in your hostel bathroom.

For a juicy crunch, try the fried larvae.

If you feel like something chicken-ish, try fried baby-sparrows (bottom), or fried bats (top).
For the Cambodian version of meat kebobs, try frog-on-a-stick.
For a slithery snack, try coiled snake.
Let's explore the culture of Cambodia with us:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Archaeologists Discover Lost City In Cambodia

Australian archaeologists using high tech equipment have discovered a lost city in Cambodia that had been swallowed up by the jungle and forgotten for more than 1200 years. The city was found using a sophisticated airborne surveillance systems called Lidar – which stands for light detection and ranging data. Mounted on a helicopter, the device uses lasers to penetrate the dense jungle canopy below, giving researchers an opportunity to discover things they wouldn't have been able to find on their own.

Archaeologists have discovered temple ruins near Angkor Wat in Cambodia
 The city, which was built during the European Middle Ages, is named Mahendraparvata and is said to pre-date the famous Angkor Wat ruins by as many as 350 years. It is believed to have been built by the Hindu-Buddhist Khmer Empire between 800 and 1400 AD. Previously there had been a few scattered ruins and artifacts discovered, but through the use of Lidar, the team behind the discovery were able to see just how massive and sprawling the Mahendraparvata complex truly is.

It is believed that the city was once surrounded by a large, open space without vegetation. In fact, deforestation may have led to the decline and fall of the city more than 1000 years ago. But without anyone to keep the jungle at bay, it was able to reclaim its lost lands over time. The jungle was so efficient in fact that it completely covered the area and made it difficult for anyone to discover the site, let alone trek to the place.

After using their high tech arial mapping techniques to determine the scope of the city, an adventurous group of explorers actually went out to see it for themselves. They've only just started to uncover the vast amount of buildings that must make up the site, but so far they've found two temples that are nearly intact as well as a cave filled with strange inscriptions and carvings.

It will of course take years to uncover the entire place and begin to see what is underneath. But I thought that this story was cool for the mere fact that I would have loved to have been amongst the team that went and visited the city on foot. Talk about a true adventure, that is something right out of an Indiana Jones movie.

Source: News

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Angkor Wat in Cambodia is such a magical place


What defines a magical place? For me, this is an easy answer: It’s a place with which I associate positive thoughts, calmness & strength. I’m not an esoteric person but when it comes to Angkor Wat, it almost feels like there’s some sort on energy in the air.


What most people don’t know is that Angkor Wat (which literally means “City of Temple”) was actually the name of the main temple, not the entire complex. It was built in the time of King Suryavarman II in the 12th century and is the best-preserved & most visited temple at the site. The complete temple area was known only as Angkor (which is situated on the plain of present-day Siem Reap province north of the Great Lake of Tonle Sap) and it served as the seat of the Khmer Empire until the 15th century. Each king built at least one giant temple during his ruling, which led to a total size of 200km2.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Second thing a lot of people don’t know: The discovery of Angkor by the french explorer Henri Mouhot is a bit of a myth. It is said that he re-discovered Angkor Wat in 1860 and that he was the first European to visit the area; both of which is not true. Angkor was never really “lost”. The Khmer knew of the existence even after the kingdom broke down. Some of the temples have been used all the time by fishermen and farmers who lived in the surroundings. In the 16th century, Portuguese missionaries reached the city and even reported about it. The interests of the colonial powers seemed to have swept this under the table…

Angkor Wat temple built for King Suryavaman II

The temple area of Angkor is the most famous tourist site in Cambodia. It has become a symbol of this country, also appearing on its national flag. More than two million visitors come here every year. For the country itself this is a good thing, because there’s not that many other tourist attractions but for the complex, it’s not that convenient. Why? Well, let me try to get this straight: The average person doesn’t really look out for anyone but themselves … and that’s the truth. I could give you a million examples but for Angkor Wat in particular, I’ll give you these two:

1.) During our visit in 2010, we saw how some tourists leaned on a clearly not stable part of a less known temple … Do I don’t have to tell you how the story ended? No. Did they report it? I wouldn’t count on it. Did we report it? Yes, but the guys that we told didn’t seem to care that much.

2.) Four million feet each year (including a couple of thousand from elephants as seen in the photo below) can’t be good for these grounds. But that’s just my opinion.

Obviously I was not the only one who thought this because nowadays, you’re not able to get to all the temples as easy anymore. Some parts are even cut off completely (for example the door of Ta Prohm temple also seen below). Maybe the perfect photograph is ruined this way, but after all we want to enjoy this magical place for much longer!

This is the absolute last thing we would ever do...
Of course it’s also possible to enjoy Angkor Wat without all the tourists. Just leave the normal path and you’re in the middle of a (almost spooky) jungle. The arsenal is so huge, you could walk for hours and maybe even get lost at some point…

One of the face at Bayon temple.


Not only the destruction of the temples is visible but also how the jungle is taking over the temple complex. It’s no wonder that Angkor Wat succumbed to the encroaching jungle…

The world famous Ta Prohm Temple in 2007.
Ta Prohm Temple
Above all, if temples aren’t your thing, don’t force yourself to see every last one of them. Travel is about making yourself happy.  Do what makes you happiest. 

Or you can refer the bike itinerary of one travel company: ActiveTravel Asia - one of the Indochina's leading adventure travel companies, offering Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia adventure tours, including hiking and trekking, biking, motorcycling and family travel packages. Read more their Biking Angkor Wat itinerary at:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013



The best way to explore a country is to have your own transport. Whether it’s a car, a motorbike or a bicycle.
The price for a car (especially if it’s a 4×4 truck, with which you can go off road) can often be very costly and not affordable for a single traveller. To go by bicycle is a great way to see a country but you need time to go around. So these were the thoughts when I decided to drive around Cambodia by motorbike…

As you may already know, I am female and 56 years of age.  The guys at “Lucky Motors” on Monivong Boulevard in Pnomh Penh looked a bit surprised when my sister Andrea (54) and I came in to check out their bikes ;) The decision, which bike to get, was easy: 2 Honda 125 ccm. They’re easy to handle & the locals use the same type of bikes, so in case of a breakdown they’re going to be easy to repair or to get spare parts in any village.

If you book a motorbike tour at a travel agency, you will be supported by local guide and All inclusive. You won’t worry about the trips, food, drink or repair bike…You only experience the beauty of nature on the road. So, we choose ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA

The adventure starts in the capital city and we traveled on 250cc dirtbike northward through scenic villages, mysterious temples. Highlight of the tour is the amazing Angkor Wat Temples. From Angkor Wat we head east to the hidden land of Mondulkiri, the land of exotic ethnic minorities and great nature scenery.

My worries where with something else…The drive out of the city of Pnomh Penh made me quite nervous the night before we set out. Well, all of my “fears” evaporated instantly when the first meters with the bike were against the one-way system in front of the rental shop (suggested by the rental company). Anyway, off we went, still a bit cautious until we got over the bridge out of the city. There’s so much traffic, but you adjust easily.

One really important thing is to bring (and then wear) is a helmet. Both of us brought one from home (and all of my friends sigdned it for good luck which was nice) but you can buy cheap helmets in Pnomh Penh as well. You should also use gloves so your hands don’t get sticky. Bring long straps for the luggage, and if you intend to go off-road, a big strong plastic bag is a must – this will keep the dust off. Be prepared to be covered in dust at the end of the day!

Now what I call "Off-road"
For the worst case scenarios bring a hammock; we had to use our hammocks quite a few times, when no guesthouse was around. Sometimes set up our hammocks in peoples gardes, who allowed us to sleep there. We even camped in monasteries, where the monks permitted us to spend the night; and well, one time we slept right in the bush. Sleeping outside can be very cold, so have a blanket ready. Overall it was an interesting and positive experience.

One of our sleeping locations during our trip

We drove all the way along the Mekong river up north and then turned to the road to Banlung. They told us that the road’s going to be new in some months (or years); until now it’s still the old red soil road which is very (very!) dusty. During the wet season everything’s going to be covered in mud, don’t know what’s better…Expect to make not more than 100 km distance per day, biking is tiring when driving on potholed dusty roads.

After a few days in Banlung, making daytrips north to the Laos border region and exploring the area towards Vietnam, we set out south to the track that is called “death highway”. It’s mainly a small road, that winds its way south to Sen Monorem with very few people along the way. Occasionally there’s somebody whom you could ask for direction, but they always only point south. So, for this section bring enough water, food supplies and petrol!

Andrea on her way down the "Death Highway"
During the dry season it’s a very sandy track with lots of deep rifts, so some fitness helps a lot. It’s doable though, even without using these off-road 250 or 400 ccm machines. The locals drive with the little Hondas as well, so you should be fine. During the rainy season things look a bit different; this road can turn into a nightmare and only very athletic, experienced bikers should ride this section. You will have to shift through lot of mud and traversing the full creeks will need raft building skills above average.


All in all, we drove about 1400 km in 14 days. We didn’t want to rough it up, so we never drove faster than 65km/h and waited every 10km if one of us was a bit behind. We also had the bike serviced twice (oil change and washing). We always filled up the tank when it was half empty, just in case. Petrol for motorbikes is widely available in Cambodia. I can really tell you, going along the small roads in Cambodia is lot of fun; up the Mekong river you get to see villages that are rarely visited by tourists…So, did we enjoy the trip? Hell yeah! Next stop will either be Laos or Sumatra…also by bike of course ;)

If you have any more questions about the route, the equipment, places to stay or anything else, send us your questions; we’d be happy to help you with your plans.

Travel Facts:
ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) offers a wide selection of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia adventure tours, including hiking and trekking, biking, motorcycling, kayaking, overland touring and family travel packages. For more information, please contact ATA for tailoring your very own tour via:

Telephone: +844 3573 8569
Fax:  +844 3573 8570
Address: Floor 12 Building 45 Nguyen Son Street, Long Bien district, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Motorbiking Adventure Cambodia_A real exploration of Cambodia

We’ve made a real exploration Cambodia by Motorbiking – through deep sand, thick jungle and past multiple temples.

Motorbiking adventure Cambodia

Leaving Siem Reap we hit the dirt straight away as we hopped onto Cambodia’s route 66. An easy ride to start off with along some wide red dirt tracks passing through local villages and some stunning scenery full of palm trees and ride paddies.

The riding then got harder as the day went on. First, we left the wide tracks for some quite uneven ox-cart trails through the jungle – this is when the trails started to claim their first victims as our riders started to fall off in the knee deep ruts. Then we popped out of the jungle onto some wider red dirt (and very dusty!) tracks again. These had some fun little ‘woopy’ bits and we were hitting these flat out! The dust clouds suddenly got thicker and then SMASH!!

Adam got taken by surprise by a very deep ‘woopy’ bit which he hit very fast and got flung over the handlebars and tumbled along the dirt. Amazingly though he escaped this with a couple of grazed knees and bent handlebars.

Bung Mealea, Cambodia
We stopped for lunch at Bung Mealea which is the site of an ancient temple. After this, it was back on the bikes to step it up a notch once more. More tight jungle riding, and now, some deep sand. So the tumbles kept on coming. We arrived in a small village near Preah Khan temple where we be staying the night in a homestay. The guys were battered, bruised and broken, so after a few beers and chickens that had been killed and cooked for us, everyone settled for an early night.

Motorbiking Cambodia cross rivers
The next day was much the same kind of chaotic riding across varied terrain. On this day we had a fully submerged bike whilst crossing one of the many rivers, and another nasty fall which resulted in Chris having to pull out of the jungle and nurse his swollen wrists to Koh Ker on the highway with one of our guides. The rest of us battled through the jungle until we popped out on the red dirt tracks that ride into Koh Ker past multiple lost temples hidden away in the forest. We arrived at our guesthouse to find Theara and Chris applying first aid to Chris’s wounds in the form of a crate of beers (alongside the pet Meerkat which we have now named Timone).

The morning of the final day was one of changing decisions. Reno (who might I add, was previously predicted by his mates to be the slow one of the group that was supposed to fall off all the time) was keen as mustard to get back out into the jungle and fight on through back to Siem Reap, whilst the others were feeling the strain – battered, aching, and swollen wrists and ankles, they were thinking smooth tarmac might be the more sensible option. But, as me, Reno and Lar were saddling up and about to say farewell, they said ‘fuck it’, and in true Aussie style they jumped onto the bikes and came with for one final day of ‘who know’s what the fuck is going to happen to us’.

Off road

More sand meant there were more innevitable falls and our supply of clutch levers was running desperately low by this point. But sure enough, we all made it out in one piece and cruised back into Siem Reap on the tarmac – so surely if we could get through all of that crazy jungle stuff we’d be safe on the black top right? Nope, not today… as we were passing by Angkor Wat, finish line in sight, Adam managed to crash into the side of a truck, which he says cut across his path. I’m sorry to write this mate – but you were kind of on his side of the road! But again, amazingly, he escaped with no further damage to himself or the bike – one lucky son of a bitch.

To sum it up – it was a crazy days with some highs and lows – but the riding was awesome, great bunch of guys and they loved it! Well done to all you for manning up and pushing through! Bring it on!

If you’d like more info on the kind of trips we can tailor make for you then Click Here to view some example rides.

Phnom Penh - Kompong Thom - Kor Ker - Preah Vihear - Banteay Chmar - Siem Reap - Kratie - Mondulkiri - Phnom Penh
14-day trip with 11-day motorcycling
Motorcycling grade: Challenge