The McEwans


The McEwans

We are a young (ish), recently married couple off on a belated 6 month honeymoon. We will be leaving the UK at the beginning of August and plan on returning sometime in Jan (work is expecting us back the first week of Feb). We are planning on exploring India, Nepal, Burma, Laos and Cambodia depending on how long things take and how much we enjoy various areas.
Elizabeth usually works in the NHS and Stephen is an engineer. Neither of us did the classic gap year backpacking so are now making the most of the opportunity to travel (much to our employers annoyance). We plan on staying in a variety of places - from tents to luxury hotels and travelling by a range of modes including horseback, train and boat. Having been working for years we are fortunate to be able to afford to stay in slightly nicer accommodation than the average backpacker, and thanks to the generosity of friends and family we will be able to partake in some more extravagant activities.

Asia » Cambodia » North » Angkor January 7th 2019

Despite my earplugs our room last night was rather noisy with the terrible karaoke from next door. Hearing the same songs for the 3rd night in a row is driving me slightly crazy and I struggled to sleep. This was a particular problem as our alarm went off around 5am and we were at Angkor Wat, in position for the sunrise by 550am. In order to get a prime spot to get good photos (by the pond on the left) you need to be there as the gates open at 5am. Since neither of us have particularly good cameras or photographic ability we decided we only needed to be able to see it. We expected it to be busy. What I had forgotten was that if you’re not on the front row your beautiful, romantic view, ... read more
Angkor Wat - sunrise
Angkor Wat - hall of 1000 Buddhas
Angkor Wat - view from the top

Asia » Cambodia » North » Angkor January 6th 2019

Today we decided to cycle to Angkor Thom and do the Lonely Planets ‘off the beaten track’ trek around the old city. This is slightly crazy given it’s a 12km cycle to the start of the walk and the bikes provided by our hotel are somewhat dubious & extremely uncomfortable fixed wheel bikes. I’d love to be able to say we were trying to save the environment or improve our fitness but mostly they were appealing as they’re free with our hotel room. We started out as early as we could (the bikes seem to be kept at someone’s house and they wouldn’t agree to bring the bikes to the hotel before 730am). At this time it’s hot but not too hot. There was plenty of shade along the route into Angkor and a cooling breeze. ... read more
Missing bit of city wall
West Gate

Asia » Cambodia » North » Angkor January 5th 2019

Angkor was the capital of Khmer and a huge city which thrived from the 9th to 15th centuries. What remains are the religious buildings as other structures were made of wood. The earlier temples are Hindu and later ones Buddhist. The temples were designed to look like Mt Meru, the Hindu Mt Olympus, and successive kings used them to consolidate their power. Angkor Wat is the worlds largest religious building. The city was thought to have been abandoned as the water supplies were silting up and due to successive wars. Trying to escape the heat today we woke up early and headed out after a quick breakfast. Our hotel is supposed to provide free bikes, but apparently they’re taken today (our room is ‘deluxe with balcony & bicycles’ - only there’s no balcony or bikes). This ... read more
Prasat Leak Neang
East Mebon temple
East Mebon

Asia » Cambodia » Central » Kampong Thom January 3rd 2019

The reason for staying in Kampong Thom was to see the nearby temple complexes of Sambor Prei Kuk. These temples were built between the 6th and 10th century AD and are all tributes to the Hindu God Shiva or his consorts. They pre-date Angkor Wat and were recommended by the Lonely Planet as being more jungly and thus more like Angkor Wat used to be like before it was cleared. It recently became a World Heritage Site (2017). The temples are around 25km from town. You can get tuk tuks or a moto there but this works out quite expensive ($30 return for tuk tuk). We chose to rent a scooter for the day. Our hotel rents them out for $10 a day, and there’s somewhere else in town. These bikes are less well looked after ... read more
Temple outside the 3 main groups
Group N - view through forest to central temple
Wall around group S

Asia » Cambodia » Central » Kampong Thom January 2nd 2019

Today we headed to Kampong Thom, a small town which is used as a base to visit the nearby Sambor Prei Kuk temples (recently made a world heritage site). Our bus wasn’t until 1230 so we got to enjoy another leisurely morning first. After breakfast we packed, I went for a swim in the rain, we read a bit and then checked out. For some strange reason you cannot buy a bus ticket to Kampong Thom. Instead you buy it to Siem Reap and ask to be dropped off early. We struggled to find out where the drop off point is but it’s opposite the Arunus Hotel in the centre of the town for all the bus companies. We travelled with Giant Ibis again, finding them professional, safe and comfortable, albeit more expensive than the alternatives. ... read more
Interesting fellow road users

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh January 1st 2019

After a late night last today was a very lazy day. We had a leisurely breakfast and then spent the morning reading and booking accommodation for the next leg of the journey. For lunch we headed out to the luxury Raffles Hotel for afternoon tea. We were sat down in the very plush elephant bar and ordered a traditional tea (they also offer a Khmer alternative). The tea is just $15 each (that’s the same price as their cheapest drinks so a good way to get a nosey at the hotel). I was very impressed with it - we had plenty of tea, little sandwiches, warm scones and tiny cakes all served on 3 tired plates. It wasn’t the most filling tea I’ve ever had but it was delicious and very well done. After tea I ... read more
Tea time!

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh December 31st 2018

This morning we walked along the river front to the National Museum. It’s only a 2km walk from our hotel but being so hot and humid we stopped for an iced drink before going in. The museum costs $10 for entry and a further $5 for an audio guide. Personally I think it’s very overpriced. The museum itself is interesting with mostly religious items from the pre-Angkor (Buddhist and Hindu) and Angkor (Buddhist) eras. There’s very little from more recent times and not much that explains activities of daily life and how people used live. Personally I find how people lived more interesting than the religious artefacts. The museum is built around a beautiful courtyard with lily ponds containing fish and this is a calm & quiet place to relax. If you go I would give ... read more
The Royal Palace
The Throne Room
New Years Eve

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh December 30th 2018

This morning was very interesting but upsetting and somewhat depressing. After breakfast we got a ‘grab’ taxi to the genocide museum. This museum is in the site of the old S21 prison, used by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. It was originally built as a high school and the plain buildings surrounded by houses in the middle of a city seem out of place with what occurred there. We chose to get an audio guide which was well worth the extra cost. The Khmer Rouge came into power by force in 1975. Initially most people were pleased the corrupt monarchy had been overthrown. Within hours the soldiers were ‘evacuating’ Phnom Penh and sending it’s inhabitants to work in the countryside instead. Families were split up and anyone who resisted killed. Once in the countryside people ... read more
Genocide museum
Genocide museum
Central market

Asia » Cambodia » South » Kampot December 29th 2018

The sun was finally shining again this morning. After enjoying a good breakfast we hired a couple of kayaks from our hotel and went for a paddle around the ‘Green Cathedral’. This short route takes just over an hour and goes off the main river and round a loop of narrow waterways overhung with palms. It was good fun, although it was noticeable that large areas where being cleared. Apparently it’s being prepared for more, large scale, Chinese construction. It seems like they’re destroying all the pretty places! Returning from our paddle I enjoyed a swim before changing, packing and checking out. We got a tuk tuk into town, dropped our bags at the bus station, and went for a walk along the river front. There’s a bridge into town which appears to have been rebuilt ... read more
The ‘Green Cathedral’
The ‘Green Cathedral’
The ‘Green Cathedral’

Asia » Cambodia » South » Bokor Hill Station December 28th 2018

Today we scootered over to Bokor National Park to see the Hill Station which is one of the things recommended to see whilst in Kampot. Getting to the entrance of the park is a relatively short drive but from the entrance to the top takes quite a long time. The road is good but very windy - probably a lot of fun for motorbike enthusiasts. On the way up we stopped to look at various view points and a giant, sitting lady Buddha. The park has been leased out for the next 99years and the Chinese are levelling large areas and constructing huge complexes. This is a real shame as it means there’s no longer any trekking available through the park and it risks the wildlife here including elephants, tigers, sun bears, mongoose, hornbills and ... read more
The misty mountain
Lady Buddha
View of Church from viewpoint behind

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