Our trip starts to visit in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Driving through countryside roads, we arrived at Wat Phnom temple in Phnom Penh, set on the top of a high tree covered knoll. Locals here sold small, caged birds to release on top of the hill which was said to bring good fortune. But don’t think that spending money will help the frightened creatures, the same birds were captured again shortly after their release. In this trip, our intention was to go an orphanage, volunteer for a day or two, and probably donate to help their work. Children were very welcoming and loved to talk to us, definitely the highlight of our trip. Before heading up to Siemreap, we came to the The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. The Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda sit side by side and they are two separate complexes, they are visited as one. The Royal Palace has four gates. It is the most magnificent building in the area, adorned with painting and jewels. The hall itself is painted vivid yellow. The small white building to the right of the hall is a resting room that used to be used by royalty to catch their breath before climbing up an elephant to head out into the world. Other structures outside the Silver Pagoda include a library which houses sacred Buddhist texts, various stapes, shrines and monuments. All these are located within a small garden nicely decorated with plants taking the shapes of various animals. Angkor boasts a variety of temples with the unique architecture styles. If you’re planning a trip of exploring these temples, don’t forget to go to Banteay Srei, surrounded by a moat, still filled with water. Our exploration was extended to other temples, from the labyrinth of the Preah Khan temple with a lot of decorative inscriptions, the Orient Mebon and the Pre Rup, to the four corners which surround the stone elephants. The temples were nice; but looked like a lot of the other temples, just the ruins! A hot air balloon ride was a wonderful experience to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Angkor and its historical landmarks.
In Laos, our group spent time to visit the impressive Ho Phakeo temple of Vientiane, built as a royal chapel and repository. Outside the temple were staircases, each intricately carved in the shape of dragons. Crossing a suspension bridge and passing by large paddies, we reached a mountain and entered the green jungle slopes. We began to trek through the range of high mountains, a steep hike to the mountain summit. The view was stunning and possible to see the town and its landscapes. In the evening, we were welcomed by a local family at Ban Nathong. We were served a delicious dinner with a popular dish of Laos, consists of sticky rice, some vegetables and one kind of spicy sauce to dip into. This Vietnam Cambodia Laos trip was filled with new cultures, new places and new experiences, so we like it so much!
We discovered Vietnam’s charm by a trip to visit the Perfume Pagoda, not far from Hanoi. This vast complex of Buddhist temples and shrines is built into the limestone Huong Tich Mountains. The highlights of the trip to the Perfume Pagoda were a rowing boat trip on a river with beautiful scenery, a hiking trip to the top of the mountains. We started hiking along the solo path leading to the top of the mountain where Huong Tich Cave Pagoda located. What we saw inside the cave not terribly impressive from a photographer’s perspective, but important from a spiritual one. Our time when staying in Hanoi, one of the prior places in our list of “must-see”, was emphasized by a half day rickshaw excursion through the bustling Old Quarter streets named after the specific goods offered for sales. This was a suitable choice to see Hanoi, but if you don’t want to lose much money, remember to bargain and agree to a price beforehand. Going for a walk in Hoan Kiem Lake and finding out its own characteristics, and cross the red wooden bridge and explore a small temple. Nearby the lake, everyone also can attend the water puppet show. Tam Coc landscape in Hoalu was a green valley covered with limestone peaks. The sight itself was impressive, but could be a little disappointed after a moment, it swiftly rained. There was pressure to buy from the scams operated by locals at the stop place. Fortunately, our guide always was there and helped us avoid unexpected issues.