Traveling in the region
I love travelling. Although my main purpose of going to Cambodia was volunteering, during my stay, I wanted to take a short holiday and visit at least a couple of neighboring countries. I had always wanted to visit Thailand and especially its nice beaches, so I decided to go to Phuket, Krabi and Bangkok. I also decided to go to Singapore, as I thought that it would be interesting to visit a Chinese speaking country and one of the so-called Asian Tigers, especially because it was the only country apart from Malaysia, which had cheap flights from Siem Reap!
In Singapore, I met my boyfriend, who came from England to spend a holiday with me and one of his friends, who had just started a new job there. I’m not sure if I would like to stay in Singapore for a longer time, but during the time that I was there, I really liked it. We got actually lucky, because the city was decorated for the upcoming Chinese New Year, so it looked very beautiful and had a special atmosphere to it. We enjoyed going by a cable car to Sentosa Island, walking in the China Town and trying various local foods. Yum!
Although I did enjoy my time in Thailand, I would say that I was not as impressed as I expected. I guess I was a bit disappointed to see that the beaches were not significantly better than in the Canary Islands, well except perhaps from the fact that the water in Thailand was much warmer. It was actually so warm that you could straight away go into the water and get wet without even noticing it. As I do not like swimming in cold or even cool water, it was a real paradise for me. We went to some of the islands, did canoeing with a funny man from Jamaica, and overall it was quite a good experience. All those rocky islands, caves and lagoons are very beautiful.
When we arrived to Bangkok, I was surprised to see how big it was. When going from the airport by a taxi, it seemed as if though there was no end to it. Another surprise was that it was not only very big, but also very packed and crowded. When you stand in a metro station, you can almost see what people are doing in their apartments. Buildings are so close to each other, that there is no room even to swing a cat. Good for the cat, but not sure if it is very good for people, who need to live like that!
Bangkok is a rather modern city, although from time to time, you can see some run-down areas and slums as well. We visited the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and had a private boat trip of the old canals. I am sure that there were many other interesting places to see, but unfortunately we did not have time for that.
I guess what I do not like about Thailand is that it attracts many low morale people. In Bangkok, when you go out in the evening, you can see many prostitutes lined up by the street and waiting for their customers. Both in Bangkok and Phuket, we have seen some young girls taken away by very old men, who can hardly walk and have a hearing device attached to their ear. I do not think I would like to live in such a place. I think I could only live there if I worked for some NGO, which helps to take such girls from the street and integrate them back into society. I just cannot see so many people living in filth and having their lives and personalities destroyed. It is heartbreaking.
Finally, on my way back to England, I stopped for a bit in Kuala Lumpur. My friend, who lives there, used to tell me that it was not worth going to Malaysia, because there was nothing interesting to see there. But I had to change my flight either in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur and I had already been in Singapore, so I chose to make a stop-over in Malaysia.
To be honest the city did not impress me much. It reminded me of Singapore little bit, although seemed to be less crowded and having more empty spaces. Like in Singapore, I probably enjoyed most walking and eating in the China Town and visiting the central market, which is full of many beautiful things from all around the world. I love places like that!
Actually, while eating my dinner at the Chinese market, something interesting happened. A couple of Buddhist monks approached me trying to sell some bracelets. I was quite surprised to see monks walking around the town so late and selling stuff. It turned out that I had been suspicious for a good reason. When I met my Malaysian friend, she explained that they were not monks and just pretending in order to get money! When I started taking pictures of an elderly man, dressed in a monk’s robe and selling bracelets, he quickly started walking away. A very interesting business!