The better part of day 4 was spent on a bus travelling from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. When we arrived, we had a tour of the city at night which was quite pretty. However, as I am not yet a pro with my camera, I wasn’t able to capture any great shots of the beautiful night lights and there were some locals doing some synchronised dancing on the roadside. There was a very big community feeling to it.
The highlight of the day was my burger at a restaurant called ‘Friends’ which employs orphans and trains them to achieve greater. This was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, I wasn’t expecting it to be great seeing as Khmer food is the main focus in Phnom Penh. As much as I love Asian food, you can understand that an occasional break is needed!
P.S I am constantly doing so much that there is a bit of a backlog on posts, I am on day 9 now. I promise to update as soon as I get the chance! Hopefully tonight. Dinner time now, toodles xxx
Today, has been the longest day of my life! But probably also the most aesthetically pleasing so far. It was because of days like this that I came to Cambodia! I woke up at 1am, unable to sleep and stayed up until 4am when we went out to watch the sun rise.
We visted 3 different temples today- Angkor Wat, Angkor Tom and Ta Promh a.k.a Tomb Raider temple (where Angelina Jolie shot Tomb Raider). The Cambodian history is truly amazing and the temples were so grand, so rich and so beautiful.
After the temples, we went on a boat ride to see the floating villages which are like a totally different world! These people live in huts on the water which float as the water moves. There are schools, churches, basketball courts, OMG the world is just too big for a little girl! I never knew such existed. It was beautiful to see and I got so many cool shots of the people living their normal everyday lives- definitely the most impressive lifestlye I have ever come across.
If other days on this tour can top today, that would be amazing because I am overwhelmed by what I have seen and learned today.
Tomorrow we set off on a 7 hour journey by public pus to Phnom Penh, Cambodia which should be an experience as apparently there is loud Khmer pop music playing on the bus for the whole duration of the trip. Siem Reap has been great, there is so much to do and see here, I am so impressed.
P.S Mum and dad, I’m sorry for holding a snake! I promise I still won’t sky dive.
On day 2, we set off at 7am from Bangkok on a 7 hour journey to Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was quite a pleasant journey in two private buses.
When we arrived, we visited an orphanage and a school run by New Hope, Cambodia. Cambodia is an extremely poverty-stricken country and to witness the conditions in which people lived was very sad. Most of the Cambodian families whose rural neighbourhoods we visited earn less than $25 a month. With an average of 7 kids each, they are left with little or no money to feed their family. Many of them starve to death or die of illness because they cannot afford hospital. The Cambodian government does not provide help to it’s people and the work that New Hope does for Cambodia is priceless. I saw someone on a motorbike with an IV drip attached to them and it was so sad to learn that such is commonplace here in Cambodia because people cannot afford $2 for an overnight mat or $6 for an overnight bed at the hospital. New Hope seeks to return pride and prosperity to Cambodia, because it was once a prosperous country, thrown into extreme poverty due to war. If you would like to support New Hope, visit their website here.
Despite the terrible suffering and poor living conditions, many of the people still appeared to be very happy and were very friendly. The kids are probably the cutest children in the entire world!This day definitely put first world problems into perspective- you and me, we don’t have problems.
New Hope cooked us a lovely Khmer dinner which included roasted dragonflies. After much deliberation, I tried a dragonfly and it actually tasted good! Today, oour tour leader tried to get me to try roasted cockroach but I drew the line there- I hate the pathetic little things too much to ingest them.
This was the first of 2 and a half days spent in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
My first destination was Bangkok. After a long journey, I arrived very tired and didn’t manage to do much on my first day. I went to the main backpacker area called Khao San Road but after about 5 minutes of walking around I realised I needed a bed desperately. Later on in the day, I met my roomie and my tour group and I am so pleased with them as we all get on so well! I set off for Cambodia early the next morning but I go back to Bangkok for a few days right at the end of my trip, I will definitely explore then and that will be a lot more interesting! Funny, Bangkok bears a striking resemblance to where I grew up- Lagos, Nigeria.
Dubai won me over from the very first time I visited. Everything about it just screams luxury, in a way that should be vulgar but isn’t. From the Rolex clocks at the airport, to the beautiful artificial beaches. It represents everything that true ambition and determination is made of. They took nothing, and out of that, built a paradise. If that isn’t impressive, what is?
Last night in Dubai, as I waited for my next flight, I decided to grab a quick dinner. I did not realise that this was going to be food for thought, in every sense of the word. I was very enthusiastically served by two African young men- Michael* and Nigel*. They were so eager to have conversation, as though they were starved of interaction. I guess being a young black girl; they saw me as someone they could more easily relate to. They probably also guessed that I am African. They introduced themselves, we shook hands, and they wanted to know where I was from, what I was doing in Dubai, where I was headed off to. I was also curious to know what life in Dubai for them was like. Nigel walked off after the basic small talk but Michael stayed, Michael really wanted to chat. In a way it seemed like he was eager to make me aware that maybe, just maybe, Dubai isn’t this revolutionary city of gold.
The Dubai I know is a paradise where the shops are open past midnight meaning my mum and I could set off to the malls at 9pm and get a good day of shopping done. It is the place that throws the most extravagant New Year parties with every dish on the planet imaginable- from caviar to curry. A place where petrol is cheaper than water, where the waiter would discard a glass of champagne that bubbles over a little and serve a new one, where if my cookie fell on the floor outdoors, I would probably pick it up, depending on how hungry I was. It is perfection.
But, you see, there is another side to Dubai- an untolod story. A few months ago, I read an article which provided insight to this other side. But I was reluctant to believe it because it disappoints me to think of one of my favourite places in the world in this way. But here I was, faced with the truth. The truth being told by someone who isn’t living the lie. ”I am one of the lucky ones”, Michael said. Next month, Michael would have finished his two year contract as a waiter in Dubai and he would be able to go home, back to his family. He will leave as soon as his contract ends because the sweet dream the recruiters sold to him back home, turned out to be a nightmare. And there was no one to tell him the truth.
Michael’s girlfriend who works in McDonalds is not so lucky though. Her passport was seized when she arrived in Dubai. She cannot return home even if she wants to. She lives in a labour camp which Michael compares to as a refugee camp which is where most of the foreign lower level staff in Dubai live. The truth is that so many of the people who built Dubai into the paradise it is are just like Michael’s girlfriend. The men who built the sky scrapers have it the worst- the beautiful Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, they were all built with blood, sweat and tears. They will work almost 365 days a year, even in the unbearable summer heat. Some of them will fall ill, and because of the lack of healthcare, some of them will die. There is no escape for them.
‘’That thing you call democracy, it does not exist here’’, Michael says. He cannot say or do as he pleases, it does not work like that. ‘’This is what I call the modern day slavery. I cannot wait to go home. We are the invisible people’’. Michael says.
This made me sad.
Names have been changed and Nationality not disclosed t protect anonymity*.
I have waited just about the whole year for this! Tomorrow morning, the wait is over, and my gap year finally becomes a gap yahhhh. I will embark on a journey which justifies my taking a year out of education. Because, you know, what’s a gap year without travelling to places I have never been? I’d say the usual stuff about discovering myself but I think I know me as well as I ever will. Sometimes I still do things and think, hold up, that’s so out of character or look in the mirror and think ”hey stranger” but I don’t think a month away in Asia is going to change that.
I am visiting four diverse countries- Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and I can’t wait to discover the history, culture, fashion and learn about the people. Travelling is my favorite thing to do so this is my dream summer. I will take you on my journey with me as much as possible by taking an insane amount of pictures and keeping a diary of anything I think needs to be shared. I will blog as often as possible but I can’t promise much in the way of fashion because it is 30 degrees right now in Bangkok so I am not sure I will be wearing much, lol.
Top, trousers and shoes from Zara, Bag borrowed from my cousin.
Forgive the poor quality photos, they were taken on iphone.
This top used to be a peplum top until I put it in the wash and it came out like this, I don’t quite get it because it didn’t specify that it was hand-wash only but ahh well, it still works.