Bi-City backpackers (Cam-Viet)

Yay!!! Finally, I get to start with this travel blog series. I actually do not know where and how to start but tada…here i am! 🤗
So my first will be about my travel with my friend Pao in Cambodia-Vietnam on June 2016.
>>>Originally, I meant to post this first but since Taiwan is the most recent trip, it is easier to remember all the details but anyhow..moving on…
During this time, a lot of things has been going on personally and I didn’t expect that I will push through with this vacation plus Pao renewed his passport and it was expected to be released on our departure date..haha! But universe has its own way to make this trip come true. Pao was able to get his passport a day before we depart so lesson learned — if you are a frequent traveler, make sure your passport gets renewed in a timely manner (must be 6 months valid from the departure date). But this should no longer be a common problem anymore (yay!) since the government has already approved the 10 yr validity of Philippine passport (TBA for the exact date of effectivity)
On Jan 1, 2016 — as always, I was one of the of the seat sale abangers plus I also have a New Year’s eve shift (urrrgh!) so I was able to score a P4,600 roundtrip ticket for me & Paolo bound to Cambodia + Vietnam (Manila-Siem Reap; Ho Chi Minh-Manila). I really wanted the tri-city but I considered the time, available leaves & moola and came up with the decision that we’ll only do these 2.
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mandatory airplane pic ✈️
Then for our accommodation. we stayed in Motherhome Inn , we booked it via Agoda.com. It was actually referred by my dear friend Eile 🤗 Agoda.com has always been reliable and so all my accommodations are booked from this site.

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What I love the most about Motherhome Inn is their hospitality and our tourist guide Mau. He was truly awesome.. PROMISE! He was not supposed to be our dedicated tour guide/driver but he was always available whenever we need to go to somewhere and as a return, he received well deserved tips 💰 💴
Tip: Please bring USD as this is the only currency they accept for tourists (however, for changes, you will most likely receive Cambodian Riel)
Going back to business, we arrived Siem Reap, Cambodia around 10PM. The airport is smaller compared to ours (NAIA 1-4) and very quiet (feels like a library or museum).
Motherhome Inn’s inclusion is that someone will pick us up from the airport but beyond 10PM, either they will charge us for another fee or DIY. We were so glad that Mau was waiting for us. Look how happy he was!🤗
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We then hopped on to his reumork (Mau corrected us when he heard us saying tuk-tuk). It took us around 15-20 min to reach the hostel. Upon our arrival, we were handed with warm towelette and hot tea (very soothing!). The place was not a hotel or hostel-ish type..it’s more of an ancestral house. It has a small pool and serves a buffet breakfast,lunch, dinner (which we weren’t able to try..darn!)
We had a super nize cozy big room  but we have an early agenda so with the help of the staff and Mau, we coordinated with them on how it’s gonna be like the next day.

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After settling in our room, we asked Mau to bring us to Pub Street where we had our dinner.

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The place was so lively even during late hours. After inspecting the area 😁 , we then had our dinner in Banana Leaf and yeah this calls for a beer! 🤗

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1AM – Lights off!
Day 1 proper:
Woke up at 4 AM because we need to be at the Angkor ticketing office by 5 AM. Since we cannot take advantage of the breakfast buffet, the staff prepared our to go brekky (how sweet, right?! 😍). We purchased the One day tour from the hostel. Mau will be responsible to tour us around temples of Siem Reap. We really commend Mau as he was well prepared — the weather is extremely hot even in the morning– he brought a container packed with ice and bottled water.

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So first stop, buy a ticket (They will take a photo of you here). I thought we were already early but there were a lot who are earlier than us! All for the reason to capture the sunrise in Angkot Wat 🌞

 

The road to Angkor was refreshing — if you have been to Bohol’s manmade forest — that’s how cool (or cooler) it was. We even passed by a checkpoint. I was impressed on how they protect their own treasure — Angkor is a UNESCO World Heritage site which includes the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations.

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Angkor Wat is soooo HUUUGE!!! A lot of tourists are already in position while for some, like us, looked for the right place to see the sunrise — however….the sun was too shy to show huhuhu — to cut the story short — we did not witness the sun rising up from the famous Angkor Wat spot but no need to fret — the temple is way more than that!

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It took us one hour or so to explore just the Angkor Wat but — there’s more ! It was Mau who truly made our lives easier!
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refreshing ice pops!
The famous Tomb raider spot in Ta Promh temple:

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Magsasawa ka talaga sa temple dito — ito ang totoong temple run! And because there’s too much — they offer 2 day, 3 day, up to 7 day pass.
For us, we’re already okay with the half day tour although Mau can bring us back during sunset,  we agreed that we’ll just take a rest after lunch.
Back to Pub Street, we had our lunch in Blue Pumpkin:

 

I super uber luuurve the couch!!! This is very timely for our exhausted feet plus I think they have the best carbonara I’ve tasted so far 😍🤗
We returned to the hostel afterwards, took a nap, went back to Pub Street to buy some pasalubong then back to hostel to prep for our Circus night.
Phare, the Cambodian circus is not your average circus. There are no animals, no ringmaster and no clowns. The venue is not that big but even if you pay for the cheapest section, you will see everything. Note that the circus serves as a facility to help vulnerable children, young adults and their families, build the careers of Khmer Artists. So, if you visit Phare, you are doing more than paying to be entertained because your money is benefiting a growing arts scene in Cambodia.
For schedule & rates, visit their website
After exhausting our energy for the day, I realized that we actually had a hectic sked — even the staff were surprised 😱 On the same day, we will checkout and leave at 11 PM bound to Phnom Penh. No hassle as Motherhome Inn has already arranged the booking for the sleeper bus (and the circus).
So right after the circus, we packed our things back in the hostel and waited for 11 PM — Mau brought us to the terminal — however, the bus already left (OH NOO!) But with the help of Mau’s friends, he was able to locate the bus (amazing!) Luckily, they haven’t gotten that far yet.

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For more info on the sleeper bus, check Giant Ibis page
The reason we chose a sleeper bus is to ensure that we’ll reach Ho Chi Minh the next day thus, to maximize time and of course, it is cheaper than flying.
As soon as we hopped on the bus, yay– tulugan naaaa! 🤗
It is a 6-hour drive kaya sinulit talaga namin yun sa pagtulog 🤗
When we reached Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, the terminal office allows tourists to leave their luggage so we did the same so we can tour a bit. But first things first, we purchased another 6-hour trip via bus bound to Ho Chi Minh (backpackers eh!)

 

Several kuyas have offered to tour Phnom Penh but we politely declined. We’re okay to roam by ourselves 🤗
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The Royal Palace
*You can enter the palace for USD 6.50*
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National Museum (Entrance Fee: US$ 10)
After brunch, we headed back to the small office terminal (With WiFi) as we are scheduled to leave at noon-ish.
At the early part of the trip, a Giant Ibis rep asked us to hand over our passport. We were not hesitant to do so since I’ve already researched this “process” in crossing the Cambodian border to Vietnam.  This is to ensure that everyone’s document to enter Vietnam is in line. In our bus, 1 passenger had an issue with his visa but was advised that he can secure one upon arrival.
Note that Filipinos are not required to obtain a Tourist visa thus, this will not be asked from us but we still need to fill up the Cambodia exit card.
Our passports had been returned to us mid-route.  Upon reaching the boundary of Cambodia, we were all asked to alight from the bus and have our passports stamped. The officers were seated inside a booth — just like how in the toll gates. I don’t know why but it was somehow scary (or it’s just me! 😱)
Prior to getting back onto the bus, the Giant Ibis employee collects everyone’s passports again. We’re dropped off at a Duty Free shop with a food court included. After a short wait, we’re back on the bus and driving towards the Vietnam border. We were escorted inside this warehouse which apparently is the immigration office of Vietnam. Just before the counter, a man with a stack of passports from our bus hands them back to us and we are ushered to walk past the Immigration counters. Then you’ll get your luggage x-rayed and once you are through here, the Giant Ibis bus will be waiting for you.
After another 2-3 hours, the bus terminated at Phạm Ngũ Lão street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh city. This is considered as heavily backpacker area.
Don’t forget to checkout our Vietnam adventure 🇻🇳

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