Baguio Birthday to Me

Originally, I was supposed to spend my birthday in Seoul. The round trip tickets I bought back  in March, my visa requirements ready for submission, hotel booked, itinerary done. Then stuff happened. Ganun talaga. So from Seoul, I ended up spending my birthday weekend in Baguio! I was thinking of going to the beach but December naman daw, and masayang pumunta ng Baguio in December kasi malamig, sabi ng GBFF ko (gay best friend forever). Okay, siya na nasunod kahit ako may birthday, lol.

This I would say is my most low key birthday celebration because it did not involve going to the airport, taking the plane and having an elaborate itinerary for the next couple of days. So, our goal for the weekend was to go to places in Baguio that we have never visited yet. Maiba naman, ganun.

We left Manila at around 3 in the morning and arrived Baguio City proper at roughly around 8am. We looked for a hotel, had breakfast and took some much needed nap since all three of us were dead tired from all the traveling – we all know how to drive so we all did our part driving from Manila to Baguio, hashtag teamwork, lol.

All of the places we went to this weekend were all thanks to Google, Google Maps and Waze. Thank you internet gods. We started with this:

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This is Benguet’s version of favela paintings in Brazil. It took us a bit of a while to look for this place, we were looking for a massive hillside full of painted houses, mainly because it looked so much promising in photos, lol.

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Don’t do drugs and no picking of flowers, got it?

Since it was already past lunchtime, our next stop was the Ili-likha Village. It doesn’t look much from the outside, but don’t be fooled.

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Yep, that’s the entrance

It’s like the food parks that we have in Manila, but it’s designed like a tree house, where you have to either go up or down the stairs to visit the many cute hole-in-walls.  I highly recommend visiting this place, and not just to eat, but to also take a look at the design of the place itself, and the many things you will see inside.

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Yep.

Before heading to our next stop, we dropped by the church, thankful for so many things, and because 2016 was epic!!

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Our last stop was Baguio Country Club’s Christmas Village. Obviously, this one is for kids, so don’t expect too much out of it, oki. Buti nalang we didn’t expect anything since we had no idea what’s inside, lol.

Since our place is right across Burnham Park, dinner was at one of the many food stalls around the area while going around the ukay-ukays.

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puto bumbong FTW!

We actually all slept a little early that night, because we are old people, hahaha.

The only place left on our agenda was going to the old Diplomat Hotel, because wala lang.

It was not scary at all, or maybe because it was 10 in the morning. There was nothing to see actually. Oh well.

Hindi ko din gets bakit may creepy standee at the entrance.

We had lunch at Ketchup Community, then for our final meal before heading back to Manila, we dropped by Batirol for some hot choco and bibingka!

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This year, I am still at a loss on where I would want to spend my birthday. But just like every year, things will happen the way it should happen, so I’m not too stressed about it. 😀

Travel Tales: Hong Kong, Last Day

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We checked out early for our last day since we had to go back to Macau for our flight. Our flight leaves late at night so we at least will have an entire day to spend in Macau. We took the ferry again, then took once of the free shuttle buses from the casinos to go around the area.

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We went and walked around Senado Square which is the top tourist spot for Macau and wasted our time eating egg tarts and just really walking around the area.

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We also met up with my high school friend, Lim (that’s her last name but everyone calls her that), who is already based in Macau.

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The rest of the day, we just goofed around and laughed and spent the last few hours of our day laughing our hearts out with good company and great food. This was definitely a birthday to remember.

Travel Tales: Hong Kong 2014, Day 4

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For day 4, aka my birthday, we went to Ocean Park! Hehehe. We have been to Disneyland in 2012 (on my birthday too) but this was going to be my first time to Ocean Park, hehehe. I told my friends that it was non-negotiable: my birthday will be spent at a theme park, hahaha.

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breakfast
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so happy!

It was a weekday so there weren’t a lot of people so yey! No lines!

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The scariest part for us was not the rides, well, that was scary, a bit. But taking the cable car was the worst!!! Maybe because it was smaller than the ones in Ngong Ping, but also, it was open, and it like literally stopped in the middle of the mountain a loooot of times. Fun experience though, lol!

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Food is a bit expensive inside (like all theme parks I guess), so we opted for the food stalls instead of the restos inside the park. Although, from what I know, there is now a McD’s since last year.

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Christmas season means Doraemon in Santa costume!

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After a few more rides, we decided to go home. We didn’t want to join the crowd once the park closes. And to cap off my birthday, we had dinner at Tim Ho Wan! Uber legit since we had it at HK!

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Travel Tales: Hong Kong 2014, The First 24 Hours

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As a yearly tradition, I travel for my birthday. And in 2014, my friends and I decided to go back to Hong Kong. Because why not! We’ve been there for my birthday last 2012 but there are just so many things to see and do in Hong Kong and we didn’t really mind going back to a place we have been to before. Just like in 2012, we got to HK via Macau. Since the tickets are definitely cheaper, as well as to do a day tour in Macau before heading home.

We booked our flight a little late in the -ber months so the cheapest ones we got was around php4000 to php5000. Still not bad considering it was almost Christmas season (my birthday’s in December). I would have to say this trip was an epic one! We just had so much fun, right from the time we landed at the airport. The original plan was to go to the city center, have our money changed, eat dinner, then go around the casino hotels and then take the earliest ferry from Macau to HK – because morning ferries are cheaper VS night-time ferries.

And because it sounded so great, we all decided to just have our money changed in Macau (Tip: never leave your country without having at least enough local currency for emergencies). Even though there was an open money changer at the airport, we literally left the airport (both Manila and Macau) with nothing except our Php money. We arrived Macau at around 11 in the evening. It’s true, a lot of casino hotels offer free shuttle service from the airport to their respective hotels, with some buses even offering free Wi-Fi.

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Posing in the middle of the airport parking waiting for a shuttle

So, we took on of the buses that will bring us to a casino hotel, thinking that from the hotel, there will be a bus route that will then take us to the city, and from the city, we can have our money changed. The problem was, there were no hotel buses going off to the city that time. Also, even if there was, no money changer will be open at that time. So, there we were, in the middle of the night, hungry, dead-tired, with money we can’t use. So, we though about going inside the hotel and try our luck. The good news was, there was a money changing kiosk. The bad news was, they do not accept php.

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At the hotel lobby figuring out our next step

Okay, so ang next loser plan of attack was to just head straight to the port hoping we can have our money changed there. Meron nga, sarado naman!!! Hahaha. So, the losers that we are, spent the night at the port. No money, hungry, almost dying of the cold – it was December and it was so cold and there’s wind!! All three of us looked for a place, uuh, cold chair to sleep on. Ang kawawa ng look namin as in. Kakaawa ng malala. Buti na lang, si Joewa may dalang Rebisco. Like isang pack. So, our very first dinner in Macau was – Rebisco choco sandwich. Bongga diba! Hahaha.

Anyway, at around 4 in the morning, my butt was numb from the cold and from trying to sleep so I decided to walk around and saw that about 2 blocks away from the port was a small casino. Safe naman sya and guess what. Guess what!! May palitan ng pera! If we only discovered earlier, we could have had a decent dinner instead of Rebisco diba. Hahaha. Anyway, I went back to the port, called the two gays, had our money changed. At the hotel, we also met two Pinoys working who graciously gave us coffee and water after hearing about our sad, stupid story, hahaha.

Finally, the port was open and we got to our ferry. It took about less than an hour and then finally, we were in HK.

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Finally inside the ferry

The good thing was our hotel was just walking distance from the port. Unfortunately, it was too early for check-in. So, we left our bags at the hotel, walked around and finally, at real food. Hahaha.

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Our first real meal in HK

After eating, we walked around the area, spent time at a park and a mall, before heading back to our hotel to check-in. That was around 11 in the morning.

I forgot the name of the mall but seriously, this mall has like the best food court ever. Ever.

It was a good thing we were done eating or else we would have used up all of our funds for food, lol!

Cut to, 7pm tapos kakagising lang namin. Hahaha, sorry naman pagod at puyat kami! Lol. We went to their version of Hollywood Walk of Fame, strolled around and took pictures with one of the most famous scenery of HK, then walked around some more until we saw a place to have dinner.

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Thank you random stranger for volunteering to take our photo

In HK, there are a lot of small fast food restos that offer authentic local food, but, when they say fast food, they mean fast food. Like, they will check if you are done eating, and if you are, then time to leave. Unlike us Pinoys na ang hilig tumambay at magchismisan na aabutin pa minsan ng ilang oras. Diba. Some would even reprimand you if you take photos of the food. Even if you have already paid for it. But I guess it’s just part of their culture. So no hard feelings. 😀

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From some whole in wall fast food

After dinner, we just really walked around our hotel area without any actual plans. I guess we needed that downtime after a very challenging night in Macau. Haha.

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We saw this stand that was selling egg tarts and pineapple buns, and the clueless me did not even know about pineapple buns until that time. At first I thought that it was made up of pineapple, hahaha. It’s not. It’s a soft, creamy pastry, where they put butter inside and the top is sugary. Masarap.

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Are you like me that has a craving for cold food aka ice cream when the weather is almost freezing? Because, after seeing a 7-11 store, we actually bought ice creams. Hahaha.

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That’s basically how our first 24 hours in Macau-HK. Not really uneventful, but still super fun! And that was just the first day! 😀 😀 😀

Travel Tales: Boracay

The past week’s weather wasn’t really the best. It has been raining almost nonstop for the entire week due to a typhoon. And all I can think of is the beach!!! So for now, let’s talk about probably my default beach place: Boracay. 🙂

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I say default because this is probably the beach place that I have been to the most. I have been here a lot of times with different sets of people but every single time the kind of experience I have is always different – in a fun way. The good news is, there are so many cheap flights available all throughout the year. You just really have to be patient in looking for seat sales and waiting for the actual trip. I usually book my flights with either Air Asia or Cebu Pacific, and both has a lot of flights available, although I book for Kalibo flights as these are cheaper compared to going via Caticlan. Also, since Kalibo airport is bigger, there are lesser chances of your flight getting cancelled. The only downside is that from Kalibo, it will still be about 2 more hours of travel via bus to get to Caticlan port and to the island itself.

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It started becoming a yearly thing for my friends and I in 2013, which was the time all of us were coincidentally single, haha. You can say that my May 2013 Boracay trip was seriously the craziest – not really for blog posting, hehe.

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Posing at Friday’s famous photo op spot

That same year, because we are crazy people, we went back in October. It rained a little during that time but for me, Boracay will always be picture-perfect no matter what. It may not look beautiful for everyone, but I love it just the same.

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Boracay in October

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A friend of us was moving to Vietnam for work in 2013, so we thought that Boracay is the best place to for a despedida.

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So after 2013, we decided to go back again – like a yearly thing, and we did! There has been this craze with Laboracay and we wanted to make sure we don’t go during Boracay’s most crowded period so just like in 2013, we booked our trip on the last week of May, or what we call summer’s last week.

Here’s how our daily nights out in Boracay goes: we go out at around 10 in the evening to have dinner, then we walk around the area before heading out to one of the bars. We mostly go to Epic in Station 2, but there are a lot of bars out there to as well. We just have a liking to the place since we have been frequenting the bar since 2013.

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The girls taking a nap in 2014 before heading out
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Crazy night in Epic

After a night of drinking and partying (because Boracay is obviously a party island), we will usually wake up at around 10 or 11 in the morning and have brunch. After lunch, we go back to the beach to chill and maybe have a few drinks.

You need to know, prices of drinks and food in the island isn’t really cheap. So in 2014, we decided to bring our own alcohol and drink in the beach. We then found out that it isn’t actually allowed to drink by the beach. Oh well.

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Our favorite spot somewhere in Station 1

In 2015, I thought that we won’t have the chance to go back. But lo and behold, APEC Summit happened in our country in October. That means almost an entire week of declared holiday. I actually just followed since I still have to work, but Boracay is always a good idea you know.

We found out about a new hang out place during this trip. In Diniwid Beach, there are a couple of restobars, if you want to be far from the crowds. It’s a bit far if you walk, but I don’t really mind since I’m on the beach and it’s Boracay hello!

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This year, I got to hit the beach a little early – in March. We had a free one way flight from Cebu Pacific due to a cancelled flight in November 2015, and since March is almost summer time, we decided where better to go than Boracay of course!!

Aside from drinking and chilling, here are a  few of the non-negotiables when going to Boracay:

1. Have breakfast and bring home some calamansi muffins from Real Coffee. Note that the food isn’t that cheap, but it’s worth trying as their food is good

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2. Chori burgers. There are stalls all around the island that usually opens in the afternoon. It’s just chori I know. But it just tastes so damn better when your at the beach!

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3. Jonah’s shake. Partner up your chori burger with shakes! Perfect for the beach!

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4. Ariel’s Point. I have only been here once, but Ariel’s Point is still one Boracay’s highlight for me. It’s a cliff-diving place that’s about 30-40 minutes away from the main island. You go there before lunch and you can go jump your shit out while waiting for the buffet lunch. The best part of it all is that drinks are unlimited!! From the boat to the cliff-diving spot and even on the way back to the island, they will serve drinks for you! They say alcohol is needed to give people more courage to jump, and I totally agree!

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5. Eat at I ❤ BBQ. They serve good food and their walls are decorated with cute and quirky posters and photos.

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6. Visit Spider House in Diniwid Beach. They have a spot to watch the beautiful sunset. There’s also a place where you can cliff dive in case you need your fix.

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7. More food: eat at Two Seasons. Their 4-cheese pizza and oyster sisig is to die for. Try also their pasta. Seriously, their food is the bomb.

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8. Last but not the least, visit the church.

Before I end this post, here’s a selfie from Spider House while watching the sunset. ❤

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Happy Pizza in Phnom Penh

On our last night in Cambodia, we decided to try out the famous happy pizza. I’ve read about it online, and friends were also telling me about it. I have not tried this so I didn’t really have any idea how it works, or what happens. My knowledge is based on the stuff I have read online. So, after dinner, we walked around the Sisowath Quay area, just to check everything out. While walking, we saw the 3 restos side by side each other all offering Cambodia’s happy pizza. From what I know, they also sell the same thing in Siem Reap, but since we had a full day in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh was our only chance. Only chance talaga, hahaha. The restaurants we saw were also the pizza places that we saw online. I guess just choose your spot?

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Like what the internet tells you, there is absolutely no challenge at all when it comes to ordering. You literally just ask for the menu, and give the pizza flavor of your choice, and tell them how much of the stuff you want put in. Of course, as newbies, we just said to put the littlest amount possible. We didn’t want to miss our bus to Vietnam the next day okay.

So, it doesn’t immediately kick in. But after maybe 30-40 minutes, it just suddenly hits you. I can’ really explain, you know when you turn the knob of your player’s volume on and off? That’s how it felt. And it felt like I was floating and my eyes were heavy and I wanted to sleep, haha. I mean, I don’t hate it, and I don’t have anything against people who do it, but I guess it’s not just for me.

Anyway, here’s my only evidence that we tried it:

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Maybe those green thingies are the culprit? The funny thing was, on our way back to our hotel, tuktuk drivers would approach us offering us more of those stuff. It’s a little scary for me because I literally have no plans whatsoever to buy, right after trying to eat it you know. I’m also surprised that it was being offered blatantly – to tourists. Anyway, I’m just going to end this post with my one and only photo (again) of the Vietnamese border we crossed by bus on our way to our last country for this trip.

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Be back soon! ❤

Travel Tales: Indochina, Siem Reap

On day 2, we were up by 6am because our van to the Bangkok-Siem Reap border’s call time was 7AM. Since Khaosan Road is a busy area for tourists, there are a lot of agencies that offer travel to Aranyaprathet, Thailand’s border that will connect you to Siem Reap, Cambodia. The land travel will take about 4-5 hours so we made sure to visit the nearest 7-11 to buy snacks for the road and take naps.

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The first time I crossed the border from Thailand to Cambodia was in 2012. And I can say the Thailand portion of the border has gotten better. The check point now is bigger which means it can accommodate more people, which means leaving Thailand and having your passport stamped is faster even with a lot of tourists. After leaving the Thailand border, you’re going to have to take a 5-minute walk (and over a small bridge) and viola! You’re in Cambodia!

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This is us after leaving the Thailand border and on our way to Cambodia’s immigration

After entering Cambodia, take note that there are a lot of scammers in the area but I guess everyone in that border knows about it. So they let you take a government bus and tell you that it’s for free, and then they take you to a privately-owned tour agency that will offer you either a bus, van or private taxi to go to the Siem Reap area. By that time, you have been on the road for more than 5 hours and all you really want is to head on to your destination. So, my friends and I decided to take a taxi to Siem Reap. It’s a bit expensive than taking a van or bus, but we were hungry and sleepy and tired and we didn’t really want to wait a long time. The travel time from the border to Siem Reap will be another 4 hours, so be ready, lol. The taxi driver told us that he will drop us off our hotel, but like what I said, there’s a catch. The taxi driver didn’t bother talking to us or figuring out the address of our hotel because we ended up at the tour agency’s drop off location, which is still 10-15 minutes away from the city center. They push you to book the Angkor Wat tour with them and it will really test your patience. Since my friend Jowa and I have experienced the same exact thing during our first visit, we refused over and over. The thing is, they will not stop!!! Like they will even tell you that they’re poor and that they’re just trying to make a living and that we should pity them and that they only want to help and blablablah. I was so tired of it because like what I said, they did the same thing before so we just walked away. A tuktuk driver ended up taking us in and offered to take us to our hotel. Please be smart when you get to experience the same thing.

We were at our hotel maybe 4 in the afternoon, so we headed straight to buy our one-day pass for tomorrow. A one day pass is $20, and after buying the pass, they will let you do a sunset viewing to one of the Angkor Wat temples. During our 2012 visit, we went to this beautiful temple (sorry, forgot the name). You have to climb up huge, uneven stairs to get to to top, but the view is amazing.

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View of the man-made lake on the way to the temples

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The funniest thing after all the pictures and amazement on the way to the top, is this:

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Obviously, everyone was waiting for the same thing, hahaha.

I thought I would get to see this view again, but apparently, they now have a rule that you have to be appropriately-dressed before you can visit the site. So for this trip, we ended up just going to the most famous temple to look at the sunset.

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My squad, hehehe.

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The pass comes with your own awkward photo

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Group photos are really difficult, especially with a selfie stick, hehehe.

After the sunset viewing, we headed straight to Pub Street because by that time, we really wanted to eat.

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I forgot what this is called but they said this is one of Cambodia’s most famous dish. It’s okay I guess. After dinner, we walked around the area to check out the souvenir shops and of course, ended the night by having a couple of drinks.

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We slept a little early that night because the Angkor Wat tour starts at about 430am – to ensure you get to see the sunrise at the most famous view of the temple.

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Obviously, we were not alone

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After taking about a hundred photos, we headed over to the side of the lake. There are a lot of food stalls there that offers breakfast. Of course, be ready for it to be a little overpriced, but, I guess overpriced food will always be part of traveling.

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We booked the tour directly at our hotel, and we had to tuktuk for $20 – which will take us to the most famous temples of Angkor Wat for half a day.

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Here’s a couple of photos of Jowa and I during our first visit.

Seriously looking like a photo dump because of the TONS of photos I took.

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After the half day tour, we headed back to Pub Street to have lunch before checking out of our hotel. Our plan is to take the 6PM bus going to Phnom Penh and hopefully arrive around 1-2am. Since we still have time to spare, we decided to take the Floating Village and Ton Le Sap Lake Tour. It goes for $20 for 3 hours.

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Saw a floating police station, church and school!

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You can buy food and donate it to the kids at this school.

These cute kids are so game in front of the camera.

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All in all, it was hot, it was tiring, but I was so happy I got to experience all these in Siem Reap.

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