It’s 30 degrees outside (as always), beginning of November and Christmas decorations are all over the city, and have been for a while. Funny sight.
I’ve been here for almost 7 months now, and I’ve gotten to the point where my Spotify commercials have turned from English into Chinese. I think I’m officially integrated. I actually feel like coming home after my trips when riding the MRT/taxi back from the airport. And I just had lunch with about 30 Phillipino’s (okay, maybe that’s not a Singaporean thing, more Philippines in Singapore ;-)). Anyway, my point, I’m home in Asia – who would have ever thought that?
In the mean time, my research has gone to the next level, which means things are going well. I cannot go into much detail, but the results look promising and I’m working very hard to get my findings validated before I leave.
Because, yes, I can hardly believe it, but in less than a month my internship is over. It’s insane how time flies. And it’s bittersweet, because I’m having an amazing time here. At the same time it’s going to be very good to see all you friends and family, and get back into Dutch style living. Anyway, the trick is to stop on your highs, right? So that’s what I’m doing. While being extremely busy with my research, where I’m still in an exponential learning curve which is amazing, I’m also trying to make the best of my surroundings while I’m still here. So besides taking the usual hikes and chillings in Singapore itself, I made another amazing trip. I think it is my favorite destination here so far: Cambodia.
I took a 5-day trip to visit both Angkor Wat (if you’ve never heard of it more info here) and some more of the real, rural Cambodia around Battambang. Wow. Totally stunning.
I was traveling by myself, which got me back into backpacking style. Though it may sound awful to some of you – I highly recommend it. It is THE best way to meet a ton of very interesting people, and you can do exactly those things and activities that you want. Dinner and drinks with different people every day/night, all with their own story. This time I hang out with Finish, French, Australian, Chinees, and Belgium folks.
Add that to wandering around 1000-year old temples, amazing massages, great mountain biking, stunning nature, culture, and extremely nice people and you have a run-down of my trip. Read on for a little more elaborate breakdown and to enjoy the pics!
I spent one full day around the temples (read: from sunrise at 4:30am to 4pm). Buildings literally so old that trees of hundreds of years old had the time to grow on top of them. Absolutely mind-blowing. Of course the most random encounter happened and I ran into an American lady who was doing a photography course and she asked me to be here subject so I had a mini photoshoot at the biggest religious building in the world…
After a welcome massage following this full day of wandering around the temples, I was refueled to explored the city and nightlife with some fellow travelers before crashing in bed.
The next morning I took a wonderful boat trip (6 hours) to Battambang. It was far from comfortable, on wooden benches with way too little legspace and only 1 short stop, but totally worth it. We made our way through totally untouched Cambodia, with hours of driving and no shore in sight – while passing completely floating villages.
In Battambang I spent my first night eating and drinking with a Chinees-Australian lady, totally random and fun, and the next morning I explored the surroundings with an awesome mountainbike tour. I turned out to be the only one for the day, so I had a private tour from a local student. We basically did a 30km tour around city and visited all types of local family factories like rice-wine factory, rice paper factory (you know, the stuff they roll spring rolls in), rice cake factory, tropical wild fruits, and of course the killing fields. This is where I got to know more about the incredibly said history of Cambodia. I had no idea there had been such a terrible genocide so recently. My guide’s parents were teenagers when this all happened, so he told me everything about it. Very interesting and extremely depressing. It was very special and impressive to visit these sights.
In the afternoon I met up with some Belgium girls I met on the boat to visit a mountain in the area. Not only did it have beautiful views and, again totally depressing, killing caves, there was also an enormous bat cave. We were there at nightfall, when they started flying out – an amazing nature phenomenon. Literally millions of bats flying out. A continuous stream of bats for at least 15 minutes, non stop.
After this experience, and a little taste of some bat meat on the way (yes – they eat everything here), I decided to pay a visit to the local circus troupe. A very special one because it provides free artistic education and a home to local kids in need. This performance was basically their graduating class performing an hour-long show with mostly acrobatics, which was totally impressive and supporting a good cause!
To wrap up my day, I met up again with the Belgium girls and had some dinner and drinks with them and some others. Great last night. The next morning I had a nice peaceful breakfast downtown before returning to Siem Reap for my return flight to Singapore. By car this time – which was another nice trip to take in the wonderful scenery.
Summary: it was the perfect fuel for my last month of research at NUS.
BRING IT ON!