Our last 3 days in Ho Chi Minh were pretty uneventful as we got rather sleep deprived whilst there, having our first bad experience with a hostel.
Nothing terrible but the combination of a rock hard bed, right in the middle of District 1 and somebody snoring like a buffalo made sure we got little to no sleep. However we did spend the day at the Cu Chi Tunnels which was incredibly interesting.
Just like everywhere we go we are very interested in finding out about the history of the place both the good and the bad.
This gave you a real insight into the lengths people went to during the war to stay alive. These tunnels are so tiny and people actually lived inside some of them.
As sad as it always is to learn about these things, it is also very interesting and the Vietnamese were so resourceful during the war and so intelligent, it was very interesting to see just how things happened back then.
Other than our trip to the tunnels we just enjoyed the last of the Vietnamese food and egg coffees in Ho Chi Minh and got ready to move on to our next country. We are now 11 countries in to our trip.
So we crossed over into Cambodia by bus, an easy enough journey and I must say I am enjoying all the stamps and visas my passport is sporting now.
One of the first things we noticed in Cambodia is, although the traffic is as chaotic as in Vietnam, they don’t seem to use the horns half as much here. A refreshing change, I didn’t notice as I think it had just became then norm for me but the first thing Mel said was ‘ listen to that‘ I was confused, until he said ‘ no beeping!’
We loved Cambodia instantly. It’s a little calmer than Vietnam but has that same busy street vibe we have enjoyed so much so far in Southeast Asia.
When we arrived at the bus station, as the bus of the door inched open, heads began to pop in, until there was just a sea of floating heads saying ‘tuk tuk, tuk tuk’. So we picked one of the smiling heads and jumped in a Tuk Tuk to our hostel.
Happy House Hostel. And happy we were as in this hostel we had a double bed each, in our own room, with a memory foam mattress. Bliss. So we caught up on our sleep our first day/night there. It was much-needed.
The next day, refreshed from our sleep, we went off to explore. We went to visit some of the local temples and we realised just how beautiful Cambodia is. We spent the afternoon in beautiful gardens, Buddhist temples and The Palace Grounds. It was this afternoon we met a little family, who we became so fond of.
We first saw them sat in one of the temples and they were all smiling so I said ‘hello‘ and their little eyes lit up, they were so happy I had said hello and all 4 of the little boys started saying ‘hello’ ‘hello’ ‘hello’ ‘hello‘.
It was the sweetest thing. Then they appeared again 5 minutes later to say ‘hello’, this time Mel said hello to and they were so pleased, laughing and giggling. So we added in a ‘bye bye‘ as they left and they loved this, all following with ‘bye bye, bye bye‘.
5 minutes later, back they came with mum asking if we would mind taking a photo with them, of course we did and I asked if she would take one for us too. They were such a sweet family and we chatted and took selfies for a while and then said bye-bye again.
So we jumped back in a Tuk Tuk and headed towards the palace, then the family appeared again, riding beside our Tuk Tuk, naturally all 5 of them on the one moped. Laughing and smiling they waved to us saying ‘bye-bye’ pulling tongues. So cute but we were pretty scared one of them would fall off but they are clearly seasoned moped’ers.
We took a walk around the grounds and they were beautiful, the sun was starting to set and it looked stunning.
Their was 1000’s of pigeons on the grass around the palace. Then all of a sudden we seen our four little friends running towards us through the pigeons, laughing and waving at us as they chased the birds. They had found us again and we were very happy to see them again. We spotted mum watching from the moped from the side of the road, so we think she let them jump off to say one last bye bye and chase the birds. It really made me remember how much I love working with kids. I do miss it.
All in all a lovely afternoon.
One of the things we have been super excited about for a long time was coming to Cambodia so we could go to one of the elephant sanctuarys and see them in the wild. So that was the next thing we did. we booked a bus to take us to Senmonorom, a 5 hour bus ride, made a lot more pleasant by the presence of a couple who had also been on our bus entering cambodia who were great to chat too.
When we arrived at the place we were staying, The Tree House Lodge, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was the most stunning place I have ever seen, perched on the edge of the jungle, a beautiful wooden terrace, filled with cosy chairs and plants looking out into the jungle as the sun was setting. The colour of the sky was unbelievable, it really was like paradise.
Then we went to our little hut, equipped with a deck chair and hammock looking out into that incredible view.
It was stunning, the only downside was the bird sized moths and spiders that could get inside but inside our mosquito nets we felt safe and it was just wonderful, listening to the sounds of the jungle as we fell asleep.
We met Mr. Tree the next morning to take us to meet the elephants, he is the founder of Mondulkiri Project.
He was absolutely hysterical and had everyone laughing the whole time. He also had us all emotional as he told us the stories behind each of the elephants and the reasons why he is so passionate about saving them. Also how he wants so badly to be able to help the indigenous people of the area afford health care and food through the donations from the project.
He was a great guy and he let us know that we only do what the elephants wanted to do, they have a routine they mostly stick to and enjoy it because they get lots of attention and food but if they were not feeling it, we wouldn’t see them at that time.
Luckily they all went about their routines like normal, we did think we would see our favourite elephant Happy down at the water as we waited and waited but she didn’t arrive but she is the oldest and the slowest and just as we went to leave she appeared for a splash. I am so glad she decided to join us as she gave me my favourite photos of the day when she started to splash everyone with her trunk.
So we headed down to meet the first two elephants, Happy and Sophie. As we walked through the jungle with our guide I don’t know what I was expecting but it certainly wasn’t to have a ginormous elephant walk right up to me out of the blue. I got the fright of my life when Sophie just bolted towards us and began coming at us with her trunk for our bananas.
I calmed down once I realised that was all she wanted was to get her bananas she knew were coming her way but when I got my phone out to snap a few pictures I was still shaking like a leaf.
A few deep breaths and I went over to see Happy, she was an older elephants and she looked it, she was old and wise and huge! She was mine and Mel’s favourite. She was calmer and just took her bananas, enjoyed a stroke and pottered off back into the jungle.
I must admit, I was jealous of the people who didn’t seem scared at all. I didn’t expect to be as scared because I am such an animal lover and I always love cuddling animals but I was just so very aware of the size of them and their ability. I just enjoyed them from a safe distance, I did give them the odd stroke and I fed them all and that was enough for me. More than enough, it was the best experience ever!
Once Sophie had gotten all the attention and bananas she could, she too wandered off. I just love watching them walking through the jungle, it really is amazing.
Next we went to see Lucky, she has the name because she was the lucky one to come out of a horrible environment but she has still had a tough life, so we couldn’t touch Lucky, as she is still nervous, so we would just throw her some bananas and she loves her bananas. She became a little less nervous then and came over for more. She was so beautiful too but she didn’t stick around long and wandered away, all graceful and amazing.
Then we went to see Princess and Comvine, these two were just adorable and although they were not mother and daughter our guide said they had just took to each other straight away and would always be together and loved each other very much.
Both these elephants were very friendly and playful, Princess liked you to put the bananas right in her mouth and didn’t even use her trunk. They were so adorable. Just amazing things.
They stuck around for ages and loved the attention but eventually wandered away. A girl actually followed Comvine in to what I would say was her domain and she let out a noise like a bloody tiger, again I s*”t myself but the girl just backed away and everything was fine.
Our guide said that noise is her calling out to Princess to come over because she didn’t like someone so close without any bananas for her. Then I found it quite funny.
After spending the morning with these magnificent creatures, we all headed back for lunch and relaxation, Mr. Tree was adamant that we relaxed in the hammocks for an hour before going out for the afternoon. I like his thinking.
For the afternoon we would head down to the river to see if the elephants wanted to come down for a swim and a splash.
We all got in the water and awaited their arrival.
Then down comes Comvine clumsily wading through the tree’s towards us, again, I panicked and just thought ‘my god, our toes’ 12 sets of bare feet on uneven, slippery rocky ground stumbling between an elephant, this was the most magical experience I could think of but the fear for my toes was real.
She came on in and started taking her bananas off of everyone and we all gave her a splash, once she was at the opposite end of the line from me I took the opportunity to get out and take some pictures…. and observe this magnificent sight from afar! All 10 toes in tact.
It really was the most beautiful thing seeing these incredible animals, interacting with everyone beside a little waterfall, in an exotic jungle on a beautiful day. Magic!
Then came Princess to join her bestie. I got back in to give her a some treats too and Mel and I found ourselves wedged in between the two, once we managed to get out unscathed I got out for good. It was something I enjoyed a lot more from a distance and I managed to get some awesome photo’s of Mel feeding them in the river. It was so lovely to see.
Our guide told us that Comvine and Princess will go everywhere together but Happy won’t come down to the water until the other two have gone, she likes her peace, we could tell.
We didn’t think she was going to show though, the other two had stuck around for quite some time so I think she may of been spying from the bushes.
Everyone got dressed and ready to leave the she came wading through tree’s to join us at the last moment. She went straight down to the water and everyone splashed her on her back and she began to use her trunk to splash water everywhere and I got the most wonderful photo’s of her.
An epic way to end our day with the elephants but it wasn’t over yet, just as we went to head back to the tree house, we passed another part of the lake and got a glimpse of them all walking through it elegantly.
They really are the most beautiful things up close. Watching them walking through the jungle was a truly fascinating experience and one we will never ever forget.
After our day with the elephants, we got a ride back to our Tree House, our ride being about 15 of us in and around a truck with 5 seats. It was hysterical, I chose to ride in the back because, well, I just feel cool when I ride in the back of trucks…
Mel rode in the back too, along with about 8 other girls and we just got told to hold on to this rope, then out guide drove off at what felt like 100mph on very bumpy terrain. Again, terrifying but all part of the experience.
We had another stunning evening sat out on the deck enjoying the sounds of the jungle.
It was such an amazing experience and would highly recommend it to anyone travelling through Cambodia.
We are back at The Happy House Hostel now on our memory foam mattresses’s. We have a week left in this lovely country before heading to Thailand.
It has really been a trip of a lifetime and it just keeps getting better and more beautiful everywhere we go. Feeling very blessed to be able to do this all with the lovely husband. What a honeymoon…