Thursday, 26 September 2019


Hello there! Well, it's over - the holiday that I had dreaded and built up into such a scary event is but a distant memory and ......... it was all rather lovely!

Apart from the odd upset tummy (mostly stress related in my case) it all passed relatively smoothly. We even mostly stuck to L's rules that she laid down before we set off: no one will moan and say they didn't want to come in the first place (R!); there will be no shouting, whatever the provocation (R again!); no-one will get overly stressed pre and during flights (definitely me ............and I failed dismally!);  and finally, there will be no discussion of politics of any kind, but especially the 'B' word (probably both R and me for this one!).

Cambodia was a bit of a last minute destination for us. I have a friend who has her year planned out holiday-wise the second the wrapper is taken off the new calendar. Us...........not so much! It's usually all a bit frantic and this time was no different. Various destinations were suggested and vetoed: Japan (rugby world cup. Also typhoon, although we weren't to know this at the time!); Borneo (rabies, malaria and leeches!); Singapore (expensive). Eventually, I looked at our vaccination history - needless to say we had left it too late to get the rabies jabs - and Cambodia was chosen. L had been before but she didn't mind going again and, in my state of pre-holiday anxiety, I found it reassuring that she had some knowledge of the place.

We had left it rather late to get direct flights, so we flew Swiss Air with an hour's stop in Zurich and then landed in Bangkok, where we had a day at each end of the holiday.

Here then are a few photos to remind me of our family holiday 2019:
The first of many 'drinky coconuts' from a street vendor in Bangkok:
Vegan coconut tarts. L had seen these being made in London and knew them to be delicious. We shared a batch and, for something vegan, they were remarkably egg-like in consistency:
They were available with sweetcorn or spring onion:
On the outward journey, rather than fly, we decided to take the 8 hour bus ride to Cambodia. This had 3 benefits: we got to see the lovely scenery; we had the excitement of disembarking and walking across the border between the 2 countries; and  I didn't have to go on another aeroplane! I can't recommend the Giant Ibis buses enough. Air-conditioned and comfortable, the seats reclined properly (not like an airline 'recline' that gives you about an inch!), there were frequent toilet breaks and they kept you supplied with water, food and tins of iced coffee - sadly, the latter 2 weren't vegan so we kept them and donated them to various children and tuk-tuk drivers.
Our destination in Cambodia was Siem Reap and Angkor Wat was first on the list. We splashed out on a 3 day pass so that we could spread it all out and avoid temple overload. The largest, and best preserved, of the monuments at Angkor, Angkor Wat is believed to be the largest religious structure in the world. You can go on a trip to see it at sunrise, but with E that was never a possibility!

It may have been the largest, but there were others that we preferred. Banteay Kdei which we saw later the same day caught our attention much more. Possibly because it was getting towards dusk and was cooler and less crowded.
Look at the size of that snail shell!

We had lots of delicious food in Cambodia. 'Happy Cow' directed us to a surprising number of veggie restaurants. When there were none available, L used her phone to translate the fact that we are vegan, along with a list of things that we don't eat, which we showed whenever needed. Here is just a small selection of the food - it was a real shock to the system when we came home and I had to cook again!
Aloe juice, freshly picked from the garden:
R's mushroom pot at 'Chamkar' restaurant, where we ate to a chorus of frogs croaking!
My stuffed tofu:
E's savoury vegan pancake at The Peace Cafe:

Vegan chocolate and mango 'cheesecake' at the 'Green Go Garden' restaurant:
Fried tofu with chilli sauce at 'May Kaidee's' :
Sweet and sour mixed veg:
My favourite restaurant was the Peace Cafe:
It was delicious, filling and cheap. L did a cookery class here last time she visited.

There was some swimming in the pool. At dusk it was illuminated which attracted insects and it was fun watching the bats swooping low to catch their supper:
More 'not so mini-beasts':
Ta Prohm Temple: This was my favourite and was apparently the set of 'Lara Croft:Tomb Raider'. I'm trying to sound knowledgeable here ...I've never actually seen the film!

Getting soaked at the night market:
The 'circus' was brilliant. Performed by young people from deprived backgrounds, it combined live music, theatre, dance and circus arts to tell Cambodian stories:
I loved the cows and buffaloes that seemed to be everywhere - we bought a bronze statue of one as a memento:
Banteay Srei or the ladies' temple. This one was relatively small and unassuming; it was L's favourite:
There was an orchestra of musicians that had been injured by land mines:
More drinky coconuts!

Banyon Temple in Angkor Thom:
The Elephant Terrace:
Rice and beans cooked in bamboo:

Sugar cane:

 We signed up for a pottery class. The classes were taught by 2 deaf girls and so the instructions were all given in sign language - they did a fine line in eye rolling whenever they had to rescue our attempts! We made 5 pots each - 3 with help from the girls and then 2 solo. We then decorated them all and got to choose 1 to fire. Actually, L and E chose 2 and we paid a little extra!
 Durian in the market:
 On our last day in Siem Reap, we went on a boat to the floating village of Chong Kneas. Set around Tonle Sap Lake, it had all the usual things you would expect in a village -  houses, a village shop, a school and a church. The girls got to steer the boat and we didn't crash! :0)

 The lake was vast:
 The local children were, unsurprisingly, very skillful on the water:
Unfortunately, our guide took us to a floating cafe/gift shop/crocodile farm - we were decidedly unimpressed!
From Siem Reap, we took a sleeper bus to Phnom Penh. It was a bit of a last minute booking, so the choice of seats was limited. Arranged like bunk beds, our seats were situated by the toilet, with R and I cramped over the wheel arch. You'd be amazed at how frequently people need the loo during the night. R kept me giggling with his comments on our weak-bladdered neighbours! E was kept awake by the people behind snoring and loudly using their phones. Despite all this, it was rather fun in a Harry Potter Knight Bus kind of way!
 Having loved Siem Reap, Phnom Penh was slightly disappointing as it's basically a big city. We went mostly for the history:
The museum was both fascinating and heartbreaking. It all seemed so horrifyingly recent - R and I were both doing 'O' levels when it occurred. You could also take a trip to see the 'Killing Fields' of Choeung Ek but we had probably learned about as much as we could at the museum, L had been before, and neither R nor (surprisingly for an historian) E were keen.

Wat Phnom : According to legend, a woman named Penh discovered 4 statues of Buddha in the Mekong River nearby and the first pagoda was erected here in 1373 to house them . The site is on a hill and Phnom Penh means 'Penh's Hill'.
Bats in a nearby tree:

 After walking along the banks of the Mekong to see the Royal Palace, we ended up at the National Museum:

 Killing time before seeing a traditional dance show at the museum, we discovered a 'cat cafe'. This one, Jasmine, was my favourite:
 I was less keen on this one (Bred) and dreaded it coming for a cuddle!
 Enjoying the dance show:
Finally, we flew back to Bangkok for a day before our flight home. Our apartment was on the 26th floor and we had spectacular thunderstorms on our last night.

L, who we had dubbed 'iron-stomach', managed to go the whole of the holiday with no problems at all ............until the flight home. On the way to the airport she said that she felt achy all over and once we had boarded the plane, her temperature shot up. She spent 3 days at home with abdominal pains and diarrhoea and had to call the clerks and cancel a session in court. I drove her slowly back to London on Monday (stopping at the services en route!) before she dragged herself in on Tuesday - it was pouring down and she got soaked! Aside from all that, I hope she would agree that it was worth it. Cambodia was beautiful, the food was yummy, the people were a delight (apart from the tuk-tuk driver on the way to the airport who sped off without giving us our change! I keep telling myself that he needed it more.) and more family memories were made. Our 'Generation Game' attempts at using the foot operated potters' wheel will keep me giggling well into the cold winter months.

Toodle Pip for now. x


  1. Wow, what an amazing holiday, and the food looks brilliant. Such exquisite temples - your comment about temple overload made me smile. CJ xx

  2. Your family holiday looks wonderful. Glad you made it there and back without too much trauma. I think you are very brave to get so far away. I’m still trying to persuade better half to do a flight that’s more than six hours. The food looks delicious and all those temples! The cats have to be my favourites tho. B x

  3. Wow! How wonderful! Those 'drinky coconuts' look delicious, that is one huge snail shell (did you bring it home?) and all the food you ate and places you visited look amazing! Glad you had a good time!

    1. Hi there. I think L brought a couple home but I'm not sure if they included the one shown. I'm always slightly wary as we have brought similar things home in the past and, despite a thorough washing, they sometimes get a bit smelly! xx

  4. What an amazing trip. You experienced so much and no doubt have made some very special memories.

  5. Oh how wonderful! I am so pleased to hear how much you enjoyed it after the nerves re the and me both on that score. You took me right back to when we visited, such a wonderful country. I loved Siem Reap too and was a little disappointed in Phnom Penh. Goodness....that food!What an amazing

  6. I'm so pleased it was better than expected and that you were more or less OK. It looks amazing. I love the bats! x

  7. It sounds like a wonderful trip despite your fears! As a vegan, I am especially intrigued with the wonderful food you found. It's always a challenge.

  8. These photographs are fantastic. I took a second peek at the stuffed tofu. Yummy!