I saw a post on facebook by a friend where she posed as Alice in Wonderland a couple of months ago. She told me about the Wonderland Exhibition at ArtScience Museum and I’ve been so excited to see it since then. However, I need to go there with someone so we can help taking photo of one another so I’ve been postponing it. The exhibition will last until 22 September 2019 so I thought I still have time to go.
Yesterday was the time! I went there with a friend. The queue for buying ticket from counter was so long! Luckily, they also provide machines to buy a ticket from there so we did that. Since we have a pass in Singapore, we get the price of Local Adult (S$3 discount! yay). But when I was checking the price online, I found out their price is cheaper by S$1 if you buy online.
After buying the ticket, we proceed to the Entrance for Wonderland which located at the same floor as ticketing counter. The lady gave a map for everyone and told us that the waiting time will 10 minutes. Not bad. I got the map with Rabbit picture, while my friend got the Queen of Heart one. I knew from a friend that they supposed to have 4 maps, each of them represents different character and have different “mission” in every room. But when I was there, they only have 2 types of map 😦
When we entered the exhibition, they gathered us first and explain how important is the map to experience the magical and interactive Wonderland. The map for different characters are different shape but actually we are going at the same direction. The only difference will be the mission or riddle on each room.
There are 2 type of doors to enter from our gathering point. A normal door and a small door, both go to the same room. I took the small door for the experience ! Which door would you choose if you were there?
Once we entered the room, we saw 3 doors. Which one to choose?! I decided to go through middle door and entered a mansion-like room. There are another doors again! But these doors are leading to a closed room so any door you take doesn’t matter. Then we went out from the first door (out of 3).
Last door (the most further from entrance) is to go to next attraction. Just follow the direction and see on your map of what should you do or find in that room. Enjoy the magical world of Alice!
There is one room where you can decorate your card (on your map) then scan it together with the photo of you taken in a box, and the result will show on the big screen. Queen’s soldier with your face and the body of card that you decorated! So cute and funny. I love this kind of activity and technology.
Next exhibition is the tea party with Mad Hatter. We need to queue to get in the room. Everything on the table can’t be touched, including the table itself. So watch out for your children (or your inner children spirit!). The items displayed are fragile. Once we entered the room, we can choose any seat we want and it’s limited to certain numbers only. The staff explained that we’re gonna experience a magical event of tea party in the forest as seen on the movie. Exciting~!
Overall, I love the exhibition (as a fan of Mad Hatter and Cheshire cat). It’s a good exhibition for every age! Hurry up if you’d like to visit them as they will be around until 22nd September only. Hope you enjoy the experience too!
Woke up early for 10 am flight and realized it was domestic flight from Ho Chi Minh City so I actually didn’t need to go to the airport that early. Arrived at domestic airport at 8am and while waiting for drop-in baggage saw an email from Vietnam Airline saying the flight has been reschedule to 12pm! Okay… So, I waited for my friend and we decided to check-in the baggage first and go somewhere else. My friend wanted to go to shopping mall, but at that time none opened yet.
Since I was hungry, I suggested to go have breakfast. But they’ve eaten already at home so it was just me. At first I wanted to try com tam ba gien. I’ve been wanting to try it but changed it to banh cuon (which I regretted later). The place is very close from airport. We went there by taxi. It only cost us 27k vnd but the airport surcharge is 10k. So total 37k. Only me ordered banh cuon. The place is very local. Their banh cuon was disappointing. I didn’t like it. No minced pork! Only the rice paper with fried onion on top of it. And they charge me 40k for that. I think it was a tourist price…
We went back to airport, which is very near, only 5 mins. The taxi cost 26k vnd but he asked for 10k surcharge as well! Next time if you are stranded in the airport, just stay inside unless you go back to your house/hotel which worth the cost.
We decided to wait inside and just proceed to security check. The queue was very long! Embrace yourself.. enjoy every moment… Once we got through the security, we went to food court to get snack for my friend’s son. I ordered cajun fries in the end. Too tempting. But it was around 10am already. So it was well calculated 😀 I knew we will get lunch on the plane.
By 11.20am we went to the gate and not long after we heard an announcement that our flight will have another delay to 12.30pm due to technical problem. Oh well, already waited for hours, another 30 mins was not a big deal.
Boarding the plane. They served lunch in the air so it was good. Arrived in Hanoi at 2.30pm. My friend have arranged a pick up service by Binh Minh Limousine so we just needed to wait for them. She already told them that we were gonna be late to arrive there and they knew it. She tried to get in touch and it was really hard to get in touch with them. The phone number listed in their website and facebook were not responding. I tried to look for their phone number through other website and called them. It was the same number that my friend tried earlier.
They finally picked up my call on the 3rd tries. It was already late for 1 hr since our arrival time and they asked us to wait another 10 mins. We were told before that an executive van will pick us up directly from airport and take us to our homestay. But when we arrived in Hanoi, they told us they were sending a small car to pick us up from airport and bring us to their center then we will use the limousine van. We didn’t understand why they couldn’t pick us up with the van because we saw many vans on the airport as well. They said vans are not allowed to go into the airport. After so many communication back and forth and still no car, we decided to take taxi to our homestay instead. It was more expensive but we were just too tired of waiting.
They called my friend when we were on the way in taxi. Asked my friend to hand in the phone to driver but she didn’t do it. And they hang up on her! So rude. After that, they called her many times but she didn’t pick it up. Dude, manage your business better if you don’t want to lose customer…
It took us 2 hrs to go to our homestay in Ninh Binh, Sierra Homestay. And the taxi cost was 1.6 mil vnd. We paid more than if we used the limo taxi. It would be 300k vnd per person if we used the limo from binh minh company. But anyway we finally arrived in Ninh Binh! Yay.
The people from our homestay are very friendly. We got our rooms and immediately headed out for the chance of taking photo before dusk. I got a few good shots. The man with the water buffalo was very nice. He couldn’t communicate with us but he still tried to get us a scene with his buffalo. He tried to tell us that the buffalo were heading to a certain direction so he asked us to wait there.
We didn’t know where to eat since it was just our first day here and no chance to look around yet. I ordered fried noodle with pork. It was good. But it couldn’t fill me up for long enough. I got hungry again…
Last day in Siem Reap! We only had time in the morning until a little bit after lunch time, then needed to head back to the airport. Since we haven’t looked around the Old Market, I suggested to go there. It should be a great place to buy some souvenirs from Siem Reap. Besides, I love walking around in the market and seeing what kind of product they sell and if they have any local / authentic product to bring home as souvenir.
This place is in the center of city near Pub Street so it is very easy to reach. If you have been to Vietnam or Thailand, you will not be surprised with the scenery around the market. Although, this one is dirtier than the other two. As expected, there are a lot of things to see! I enjoyed strolling around but I don’t think my friend enjoyed it as much as I do. It is really a great place to look for souvenir or just to shop for yourself. Don’t forget to bargain for a lower price though. I usually try to lower it around 20% to 50% of the offered price, depending of the item. If they don’t agree, just leave and find another shop. BUT, if they agreed with it, you should buy the item. That’s the general rule of bargaining in the market to avoid angry seller, bargain and if they accept then you have to buy it. Unless, you don’t care if they angry at you then it’s up to you 😀 So, try to bargain as lower as you can as long as it’s still reasonable. I bought some peanuts with special spices from this market to give to my friends. They said it was nice but I didn’t buy it for myself. Bummer! Anyway, to see the overview of the market, please take a look at the pictures below 🙂
Hap Guan Street
Hap Guan street is a very nice area to hang out, and even shopping! There are cafes and small local shops standing side by side along the street. It is a perfect area to hide from the buzzling city center. Too bad a lot of shops were closed when we were there. At least, we managed to visit a local spice shop and a coffee shop!
Located in Hap Guan street, this place is a must-visit for spice lovers. They are selling local spices and also the mixture of it. There are some unique mixtures that is great to buy for a souvenir or even for youself. Assorted spices that they sell are kampot pepper (famous from Cambodia), curry powder, wild turmeric, lemongrass, amok spices and many more. While the mixture of spices for example chili & pepper and salt or black pepper and salt. They also have a unique mix spices such as wasabi and salt, sun salt ( turmeric, chili, pepper, salt), flower salt ( white hibiscus, butterfly pea, keffir lime, marigold, salt), healthy salt (white maringa, spirulina, green tea, lime, salt) and many more. All of the salt mixtures are homemade with kampot salt. Other than spices, they also sell Alcoholic Jam. Interesting, isn’t it? Even the jam in Cambodia has alcohol in it! lol
The Little Red Fox Espresso
After shopping for spices, we found a small coffee shop nearby so we went inside. The name is cute! The little red fox espresso. It was packed inside so we sat on high chairs until we found out there is a second floor! So we moved upstairs. More spacious and artsy. My friend was up to the challenge and ordered Charcoal Latte ($3.75 (small), $4.25 (large)). Unfortunately, it was disappointing. We couldn’t taste anything but milk. Even too milky for a latte.
After a long chat over coffee, we felt hungry (if you think how is that possible to feel hungry right after a cup fo coffee, it is very possible for us! lol). We looked for a place nearby for lunch and found Vibe. It’s a vegetarian restaurant, but hey it won’t be that bad right?! I ordered Japanese Macro Bowl ($6.5) and it was a very huge portion! It has a lot of vegetables (well doh! it’s a vegetarian restaurant…). So what’s in it? It contains wild seaweed, homemade kimchi, miso tempeh, radish, cucumber, pickled ginger salad, sesame, peanut, with ginger dressing. Yup, really huge and packed with veggies. I couldn’t finished it. Apparently, this restaurant is famous with their campaign . For every meal we buy there, the money will go to The Good Vibe Foundation that aims to feed 10.000 healthy meals to school children in Cambodia. How nice is that! I just wish the food tasted better as well to support that.
We decided to go back to hotel by walking (also decided no more vegetarian food for a while). As we walked, I took some photo of the city and enjoyed it the last time before we headed to the airport.
At the airport has a lot of souvenirs to choose. If you don’t have time to shop in the city, or too lazy to haggle in the market, can go directly to the airport and buy from the shops at the airport. They are combined in one big area and you will pass by there anyway to go to the boarding gate.
The trip to Siem Reap has come to an end! Thank you for everyone who gave suggestions to us and for those who stop by at my blog to read the story 😉
After a tiring day visiting temples in Angkor city, the 3rd day we decided to do some relaxing activity. After breakfast, we met our remorge driver in front of the hotel and headed to Artisans d’Angkor.
Artisans d’Angkor is a handicraft workshop center. They have workshops for wood carving, stone carving, silver plated, fabric painting and so on. They are open daily from 8 am to 6 pm and free entrance. Once we arrived there, someone welcomed us and became our tour guide for the entire stay. And the great thing is it was free of charge! Yes, they also provided free guided tour in our language.
It was very interesting and fascinating to see the process of crafting the product. They are very talented indeed. There were a lot of questions popped up in my head, mainly about “how did they do it?! how did they have such an inspiration?!”. For a person who can’t create any art, these things are always amaze me. It such an amazing trip to this place! Please take a look of some pictures I took there 🙂
After we finished visiting all their workshops, we arrived at the shop where they sell their product. The shop is pretty big with a lot of product from every workshop. I enjoyed strolling around the shop and adored the pretty stuff. Make sure you make time to visit this place if you like handicraft. Happy Shopping!
Next place we visited was Angkor National Museum. Another fascinating place to visit! The entrance fee is US$12 for adult. We had to leave our bag at the counter and they gave us a small bag to put our wallet and phone (and camera for me). Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photo in most rooms so my camera had no use there.
When we entered the area, I had a low expectation of this museum. Thankfully I was wrong! This museum is a must-visit for a history lover or an art lover. There are total 9 galleries in Angkor National Museum and my favorite is the Exclusive Gallery which has 1000 Buddha Images. I didn’t count them, of course.. but there are many of Buddha statues in that gallery. All different kind of Buddha. Amazing images. Visit their website to have a sneak peek on how does the gallery look like and to get to know other information. Some people recommends visiting the museum before visiting Angkor Wat, but I think visiting it after Angkor Wat also can give you insight of what you’ve seen at the temple. It might answer your question about the temple as well, if you have any.
Our last destination for the day was floating village by the lake. It took around 42 mins from the city by car, or about 1 hour by remorge. Sitting on the remorge for an hour was quite a journey. The wind blew so hard on our face but the good thing was it made the weather less hot 😀 (although I was afraid I might catch a cold lol). I think it even rain that time..
We stopped by at the ticket counter to buy our entrance ticket. We paid for US$23 per person for the ticket. Quite expensive but we had no complaint since we got our own boat with noone else around. Lovely private trip 😀 If you need to go to the bathroom, this is the time because there will be no more bathroom after this point. After we got our ticket, we continued our journey.
We boarded on our boat and went to Floating Village. I wished our guide, Mr Bun Rong, was with us. He can speak English very well. Floating Village is not my favorite place to go. Not because of the view but because I’m scared being on a boat 😅 I don’t like to get on a boat that is shake so much. This boat was actually not bad, but whenever we passed by another boat it would shake because of the wave. Thankfully, I was busy enough taking photos so the trip was not too bad for me. Although I must say it is better to go there near sunset time. For the other time, the view is just like a normal floating village, no special lighting 😀 The villagers have to live and do their daily life from boat to boat. Temples and schools are on top of water as well.
After about 30 mins boat ride, we arrived at sunset point. It was an open space with a lot of other boats around. They were also waiting for sunset like us. We stopped by at one spot and just waited there. There was a small boat approaching us and turned out she was selling drinks and snacks! 😄
It was a bit cloudy near sunset time so the sky was not as we expected 😔 There was no orange sky in the horizon, but at least we could still see some yellow-ish and magnificent sky. Ah~~ I love sunset! We enjoyed it until the sun almost gone then decided to head back because I didn’t want to go back too late.
Thank you for reading, my story! Have you been to any of these places? What do you think about them? Let me know in the comment 🙂 Bye for now! See you on day 4.
*** First of all, very sorry for the very late post for this day 2 journal. I will not go missing in action again! 😀 You will find some of the details are missing because I forgot about it already. Sorry! But I hope you still can enjoy the reading~
The plan was to wake up at 3.30am. Of course, I failed.. I woke up at 3.45am. Close enough though. I prepared everything for the trip; umbrella, water, power bank and cable, camera + back up battery, and camera charger. By 4.30am, we already at the lobby and ready for Angkor Wat. The hotel staff gave us our breakfast in boxes, then we headed out to our tuk-tuk. Mr. Bun Rong was already there and ready for us. He greeted us and told us to not use the phone on the way to Angkor Wat Ticket Office because it’s dangerous. We had to buy the ticket first before going to the site. We followed his instructions and just sat quietly. At 4.30am, inside the running tuktuk, sleepy, with no protection from wind. It was quite chill. The trip to Ticket Office was about 20 minutes. The streets were dark and not many vehicles around, only some other tuktuks on the same way.
When I saw a bright building with many buses, cars, and tuk-tuks, I knew we have reached our destination. There were so many people inside the ticket office. They were queueing at the ticket counters which were still closed by the time we came. There is a sign on each counter depending on how many days you want to spend in Angkor Wat. Since we only want to buy a 1-day ticket, we had to look for a counter with a “1-day” sign. My friend wanted a coffee to start her day so we went back to the coffee shop near the entrance. But then, I was thinking since I didn’t want coffee maybe I should just stay there and queue for both of us. And so I did. I went back to the counter that we left, which now has more people in the queue.
At 5 am, they opened the counter and started selling the ticket. Finally, the queue moved! They took a photo for ticketing purposes. Therefore, for a group of people, everyone needs to be present when they buy the ticket. It was almost our turn but my friend was not with me yet. Luckily, she came back right on time when the officer called me. They took our photos and we had to wait for the printed ticket. The ticket has my face on it 😀
After we got our tickets, we continued our journey to Angkor Wat. When we got on the remorge, the driver told us that we now can use our phone because it is safe. The area near Pub Street is dangerous because a lot of robbery cases before, meanwhile on the way to Angkor Wat (after the ticket office) is safer because there are many police officers in the area.
After another 20 minutes ride, we arrived at the check-in area. An officer checked our tickets and let us passed through. Our driver brought us to the entrance and told us that he will meet us back there in 2 hours. We followed the flow of people to enter Angkor Wat. We walked through a floating bridge and keep walking until we see the magnificent Angkor Wat. I checked my app to see which direction the sun will come. There are 2 areas to watch the sunrise. From the entrance, you can go either to the left or right area. We chose to go to the right side. There were many people already waiting there.
It didn’t take long until we finally see the sun is coming slowly from behind the temple. It was a bit cloudy at that time but the shadow and lights were still amazing. I tried taking photos with my camera on different settings and hope I got at least one decent photo. After we satisfied with thousands of photos that we took, we continued walking. We stopped by a moment to eat our breakfast. When we were eating, we saw the opposite area of our spot (which is the left area from entrance) and we saw A LOT of people there! Apparently, that area is more famous for photo taking than the other one. I was curious to see what is the difference and how good is it taking a photo from that area, but then I was too lazy to compete with all those people.
Angkor Wat is really a must-see place in Siam Reap. The huge building, the historical story behind it, the magnificent design. Everything about it is amazing. We didn’t have a tour guide so we just walked around by ourselves and once in a while we eavesdropped an explanation from nearby tour guide 😀 We also went to the tallest tower inside (prepare your legs for a long journey up on a steep stairs!).
If you like historical sites (or just photography and selfies enthusiast), you will spend 2 hours here easily. There are so many amazing views, sculptures and spot that is photogenic (a.k.a instagrammable :D). When we finished looking around, it was around 8 am and we rushed to the parking lot to meet our remorge driver.
The driver took us to another temple in that area. Angkor Wat is only a part of the big area of temples in Siem Reap. There are many other temples and they also have their charm! Even on the road in between those temples, you can find beautiful sculptures.
The next temple we visited was Bayon Temple. I love this temple. I think it is very pretty and unique. The area of the temple is not as huge as Angkor Wat because Bayon is just one of the temple in Angkor Thom. Bayon is a temple of a thousand faces. We can see the faces on each tower. For some people might be scary though..
The Bayon’s most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and smiling stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak. The temple has two sets of bas-reliefs, which present a combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes. The main conservatory body, the Japanese Government Team for the Safeguarding of Angkor (the JSA) has described the temple as “the most striking expression of the baroque style” of Khmer architecture, as contrasted with the classical style of Angkor Wat
The Baphuon (Khmer: ប្រាសាទបាពួន) is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia. It is located in Angkor Thom, northwest of the Bayon. Built in the mid-11th century, it is a three-tiered temple mountain:103 built as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II:103 dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. It is the archetype of the Baphuon style with intricate carvings covering every available surface. The temple adjoins the southern enclosure of the royal palace and measures 120 metres east-west by 100 metres north-south at its base and stands 34 meters tall without its tower, which would have made it roughly 50 meters tall.
A beautiful temple with the tower of Bronze and more than 10 chambers at its base. I didn’t climb up because I was tired already (weak!) and I planned to save some stamina for the next temple.
On the way to meet our driver, we passed by an area with some giant trees around. Remember to always pay respect to everything in the temple area. This goes for the tree as well. I excused myself before I took a photo with it or when I stand near it. I don’t know how is it in another country but in my country (or at least in my hometown) it is believed that the bigger a tree the stronger spirit that lives there. Therefore we can’t do or say something disrespectful if we don’t want to bear the consequences.
This temple is under reconstruction with the help of China. I saw many stones and metal frame around the top of the temple. What I remember vividly of this temple are the steep stairs to go to the summit! This temple has a pyramid style and each terrace/level is connected by the stairs from the base. So when we went up there, it felt like never-ending stairs lol. The stairs are not just steep but also each step is high! Maybe each step about 30 cm?! If you have a knee problem, better be careful.
The four stairways that lead on the summit are continuous and very steep.
After the long and tiring journey at Ta Keo Temple, we stopped by at the restaurant in front of it to have lunch because I was starving. The driver wanted to continue but I said I can’t! I need food to refill my energy. So there we go to the local restaurant and we ordered a beef dish and Khmer Curry. After trying 2 times of Khmer curry, I must say it’s not my thing. The beef was great though! It reminded me of Bo Luc Lac from Vietnam.
Ta Prohm Temple
Ta Prohm is the 2nd most famous temple in Angkor because of a Hollywood movie. Can you guess which movie is it? The clue is Angelina Jolie. Yup, it’s Lara Croft: Tomb Rider! It looks like a neglected temple but really spectacular. I think Ta Prohm is the only temple in Angkor that was not reconstructed or restored, as it is said that it has the same look as it was when people found it. The trees and the building make an astonishing merger between nature and architecture.
Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm is in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors. UNESCO inscribed Ta Prohm on the World Heritage List in 1992.
The last temple we visited was Banteay Kdei. There is nothing special about this temple especially after seeing Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm. It has a similar style as Bayon but smaller size.
On the way out of this temple, we passed by several souvenir shops. The paintings are wonderful! I love looking at them but can’t buy them because I have no space at home, unfortunately.
What is the best thing to do after a half-day walking (and climbing) at Angkor Wat? Massage! Yes, we were waiting for this so much. There are a lot of massage parlors in Siem Reap and we had no idea which one is a good one. The driver brought us to Temple Massage as it is one of the favorites among his guests. We settled down with a body massage AND a foot massage. It costs us very little compared to Singapore so we enjoyed it while we can!
After the massage comes the hunger lol. Time for afternoon snack! We headed to Pub Street (again) and looked for a place to sit and enjoy the afternoon while waiting for dinner time.
For the dinner, we had decided to try Ecstatic Pizza. My friend wanted to try happy pizza and she heard it from her friend that we can get it there. The menu is normal though, pizza, bread, seafood, etc. We chose small-sized Salami Pizza and Grilled Scallop. To order a happy pizza, we had to tell the waitress that we want “happy pizza” then she gave us the price for the extra topping.
So what is happy pizza? It’s a normal pizza topped with cannabis (a.k.a weed). Yup, you read it right, cannabis. For me, who never tried it before, it didn’t taste nice. I prefer normal pizza lol. And for the effect, I didn’t feel any change (or happy) but I slept really well. Maybe that’s the effect for me!
Depending on how much pizza you devour, the woozy effects take only an hour to kick in. Waiters also walk by with tall pepper grinders chock-full of fresh, pungent weed. Need more carbs (and, subsequently, more buzz)? Some spots have weed-infused bread on the menu, too, which can be washed down with pot-spiked “happy” fruit shakes.