Way to Phnom Penh // Droga do Phnom Penh

No useless babbling here… What I meet on the way is dust, towns, villages … and lots of friendly people, encouraging me to cycle harder with their smiles. The capital city itself greets me with a big fire, traffic chaos (it seems the city sprang out so fast that there was no time to built traffic lights!) and with my friends from Battambang who host me here, too.

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Tutaj bez zbędnych opisów… Po drodze – kurz, miasta, miasteczka … i mnóstwo przyjaznych ludzi, uśmiechem zachęcających do wzmożonego wysiłku. A sama stolica wita mnie pożarem, chaosem komunikacyjnym (miasto nagle tak się rozrosło, że nie starczyło czasu na wybudowanie sygnalizacji świetlnej!) i … znajomymi z Battambang, którzy i w Phnom Penh mnie goszczą.

Kampot

I tag along a group of artists, who organize workshops for kids…

This is the main reason why everyone comes to Siem Reap and to Cambodia in general. The legendary Angkor temple complex… I hope that the photos will reveal at least a fraction of how majestic the temples feel but also how relentless time is and how intrusive the nature… In a way I am also lucky to be here at this particular moment – the crowds are smaller due to coronavirus…

Practical tip: tourist centre where you purchase entrance tickets is way away from any entrance – better think about it, especially if you are planning a one day visit only. Btw, one day is just enough to see all the temples if you are moving around by bicycle.

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Oto i główny cel, dla którego przyjeżdża się do Siem Reap i w ogóle do Kambodży. Legendarny kompleks świątyń dawnego imperium Angkor… Mam nadzieję, że zdjęcia, choćby w minimalnym stopniu, oddadzą majestatyczność…

Way to Siem Reap // Droga do Siem Reap

Taking a bus would be the easiest way to go… Or (more expensive and slower) morning tourist boat… But I decided to check whether I could get there by bike. And yes, it is doable but not all the way. At some point, where all roads end I had to negotiate a boat with local fishermen to take me to the next town where I can get back on the road. It cost me 7 USD, though you could probably negotiate it even lower. And then – through the fields and dust I go, back on the main road and to Siem Reap herself.

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Najłatwiej byłoby się wybrać do Siem Reap autobusem… Albo (droższą i wolniejszą) poranną łodzią turystyczną… Ale ja postanowiłem, czy i jak daleko da się dojechać rowerem. I da się – dosyć daleko. Niemniej jednak w pewnym momencie muszę…

Sharing some images from the trip I had to one of the most amazing places in Sichuan, China: Yarchen Gar (Yaqing Si) buddhist monastery. The view of the monk shanty town (female monks living within the “island”, male monks – outside)  enclosed by meandering river is simply surreal. Too bad the authorities are “developing” the place and tearing it down…

Plus some photos from near Tagong.

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Wrzucam kilka obrazków z jednego z najbardziej niesamowitych miejsc, które można odwiedzić w regionie Siczuan: klasztor i świątynia Yarchen Gar (Yaqing Si). Widok wyspy szczelnie zabudowanej mnisimi chatkami z byle czego robi spore wrażenie. Z perspektywy turysty – trochę szkoda, że władze próbują “udoskonalić” mnisie miasteczko, głównie poprzez wyburzanie jego części…

Plus kilka zdjęć z okolic Tagong.

Get prepared for all that Bali has to offer – you will have it all brought to you on a golden platter, you will have to try hard to shake off all the hawkers, you will be offered all that you don’t need from drinks to stone massage to zipline to banana boat; and you will be expected to pay a much higher price than a local would… But once you get out of those ultra-touristy areas (that cover a big part of the island, but not all of it …yet) Bali can still impress you – beautiful landscapes, thousands of family temples, delicious street food, smiling and kind people (protip: when on tight budget and not willing to spend money on transportation, politely refuse all the scooter drivers that pull over offering to give you a ride for money, by telling them you will just walk; once he realizes you are serious and he won’t be able to squeeze…

Taoyuan Confucius Temple (桃園孔廟)

My stay in Taiwan only lasted a few days and was limited to Taoyuan and its surroundings so I will skip the writing part. However, you should know that the locals are very kind and helpful and hard drives are pretty cheap. Oh, and the cheapest stay is in the brothel street (and the cheapest ever, um, room is a sort of a closet under the stairs).

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Mój pobyt na Tajwanie ograniczony był czasowo do ledwie paru dni i geograficznie do Taoyuan i okolic, nie będę się tu zatem wymądrzał i rozpisywał, ograniczę się tylko do stwierdzenia, że lokalsi są bardzo mili i uczynni, a twarde dyski sprzedają tu w dobrej cenie. Acha, i najtańsze noclegi są przy ulicy z burdelami (a najtańszy z najtańszych, hm, pokoi mieści się… we wnęce pod schodami).

Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang

(Scroll down for videos and photos:)

My stay in Laos triggered a reflexion on directions and boundaries of tourism industry development, the development that caters for more and more spleen-ed and lazy tourists (did I just say tourists? My bad – I mean, travelers… None of the thousands or millions of youngsters scaling the very same banana pancake trail would ever want to be called a tourist) and brings them the most amazing and authentic experience. Laos is a great place to ponder on it as – compared with neighbouring countries – their tourism awesomeness level is very moderate, nevertheless, the Laotians keep trying to somehow sell their resources to the visitors. And how, you might ask? They wrap the same old product, pimping it with the “adventure” and “authenticity”. I put those terms in inverted commas because oftentimes that “adventure” boils down to just laying back and letting the guide (of varying degree of competence) do the job and…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9UPf4JLmmk

80 kilometres north from Bangkok, only 2 hours away by train (+scheduled delay), this is the former capital city, ransacked by Burmese army in 1767. And ever since the city has not recovered. Though quite big in size, Ayutthaya feels very provincial and tourist come here mostly to see the ruins of former Siam capital. One of the tourists also arrives here to sped the New Year’s Eve. And – accidentally – gets invited to a neighbourhood party. Though our communication options are quite limited, me and my hosts go along very well, especially when it comes to tasting local whisky and snacks. We watch artistic-karaoke performances taking place on the stage put up together by neighbours – the folk-pop tunes make us drown into nostalgia, the state that I have to get out of in order to make it back to my hostel (B.J’s, 120 baht a for a room). The host wants to offer…

My excuse to go there was meeting with Maciek, a friend from Warsaw, married with kids to a Thai girl, arriving to visit his new family. I thought this could be a good starting point for a trip around Thailand.

First thing we did together was checking out one of those famous unfinished skyscrapers (guarded by a bunch of junkies who try to get money out of those who want to visit the site) and nearby temple – Wat Yannawa. Maciek was also my guide in the condo (little quarter) in the outskirts where he lives with his family. The outskirts were OK but let’s head for the centre:)

Sleeping in Khao San Road is a mistake. Actually, sleeping is physically impossible – hostel walls (180 baht for a mini-room) are shaking with the sound of surrounding bars (a disco to the left, to the right – Thai singers singing American 80-90’s classics,…

Teatr cieni / Shadow theatre

Qibao is one of touristy districts of Shanghai where what is old has not been demolished or was demolished but then rebuilt to imitate the original style. Though located far away from the centre, in Minhang, it is still very popular among the Shanghaiese. The come here to eat like crazy – that’s the main attraction of Qibao. The place is also popular for its cricket breeding – local crickets are said to be pretty aggressive, a feature that is highly desired for cricket fights that are traditionally organised here. You can also have a walk around and visit the (newly built) temples and see the shadow theatre, once a very popular form of entertainment. Nowadays, it is just a small place displaying their shows for a bunch of tourists plus a number of history rooms filled with nostalgia of past glory.

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Qibao to jedna z turystycznych dzielnic Szanghaju, w której nie wyburzono…