Weather and What to Wear (No Pun Intended)

The best clothes to wear while traveling through Southeast Asia are cotton, linen and silk. Unless we are talking about Gore-Tex (or other similar lightweight materials), synthetic materials and thicker clothing is a no-no for obvious reasons – Weather & Climate.

Let’s change tack and talk a bit about weather and climate. People often use the word ‘tropical’ without really giving it much thought other than hot and humid. One may hear – “tropical this” or “tropical that”…

Well then, let us allow ourselves to get a little technical for a second. The region of Southeast Asia is indeed TROPICAL, as it lies within the tropics – that is to say in between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Our lovely Equator lands right dab in the middle!

To simplify the subject, there are two seasons in this region: the dry season and the rainy season. The latter occurs as winds from the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean move across the region bringing moisture-laden air far inland. Normally the rainy season begins around mid-May and often lasts well into October. From my experience late-July to September is when it really comes down.

However, the downpours seem to be fairly consistent as to when they occur. Sometime after 2PM (1400 hours) and before 5 PM (1700 hours) is when it really pours. This isn’t an exclusive nor is it a hard and fast rule. You may get showers at other points during the day. However, this is when the fiercest rainfalls tend to occur. An individual can almost set one’s clock by this and organize his or her daily itinerary around it! Such showers normally don’t last long, but often they are enough to flood streets and noticeably increase the water level of local streams or rivers.

There are times when the rains do indeed cool down the day, yet it has been my experience that the aftermath of such a rainfall increases humidity, making the day that much more uncomfortable and muggy.

By contrast the dry season is just that – DRY! Normally from November to April there is little to no rainfall. We did experience some pretty serious downpours in early December of 2012 in northeastern Thailand. I remember several my locals commenting on how old patterns of weather were not the same as they used to be. Climate change? Global warming? I honestly don’t know. Suffice to say there are more exceptions to the rule than there once were.

Generally speaking, however, the above information still holds true, despite Mother Nature’s occasional hiccups! The driest period tends to be January and February. Yet in February of 2011 in Kao Yai National Park in Thailand, I experienced some impressive rainfalls, though they lasted less than 10 minutes.

Straddling the end of the dry season and the start of the rainy season is the hottest period of the Southeast Asian calendar. From March to June the temperatures hover between 34°C and 42 °C, depending on how far from the coast you are or what altitude you are at. Coastal areas and highlands being more moderate and in Cambodia’s case (at least) deforested lowlands in the interior being extremely hot.

The peak tourist season is from November to February and is often considered the cool season by locals. Here you can find days ranging from 25 °C to 34 °C 34. In 2013, we experienced a two week period in December when the temperature was about 24 °C to 28 °C and we actually felt a bit chilly in the morning! (Our bodies had become that accustomed to day after day of doggedly hot weather!)

Now back to clothes – I opened up this article with materials such as cotton linen and silk. They help you breath. Loose fitting clothing is just good common sense.

Moreover, a tourist to Southeast Asia will not need to pack a lot (regardless of which season you choose to travel). Packing light is just common sense. Clothing in the region is fairly cheap and if there is something you forgot, you will have no problem whatsoever finding what you need.

Moving around a lot in a region where public transport is always not the most efficient dictates that carrying a light load will make the experience that much more comfortable.

Respecting the local culture is paramount – most temples or historic sites will not allow you in with tank tops, short skirts or pants. Avoid tank tops, mini-shorts, and mini-skirts. Though common gear among tourists and backpackers, locals commonly look them down upon. Few will ever say anything to you directly ever – but many do look upon it as disrespectful. It really is your decision on how you wish to present yourself. Don’t forget – Buddhist temples require long pants, long skirts and no tank tops throughout the region.

You might think socks are unnecessary, but it really depends what kind of vacation goer you are. Personally I would often wear cotton socks at night to protect me from mosquitos that love biting one’s ankle. If you like trekking through the various National Parks a good pair of ankle high sneakers or boots are a must. Leeches folks – particularly in the rainy season! Like wise, the traction such footwear provides are excellent for visiting the various ancient ruins scattered throughout the region. At the end of the day sandals, flip-flops and high heels in the Southeast Asian interior are only for the insane! Save it for the beaches, hotels and other touristy areas.

Hostales que te recomendamos en Siem Reap, Camboya.

Si te interesa saber dónde dormir en Siem Reap, Camboya. Aquí tienes una lista breve de hostales que te recomendamos. Estuvimos viviendo en Siem Reap, desde enero del 2013 hasta junio del 2014. Previamente estuvimos un mes de turistas por Camboya.

El Lotus Lodge es nuestra primera recomendación. El factor de que está un poco apartado de la locura es la principal razón por la que aparece en primer lugar. El hotel Lotus está ubicado a tan solo 7 minutos en tuc tuc del epicentro dónde se encuentra Old Market y Pub Street. Te recomendamos contactar con Souy, conductor de tuc tuc para los desplazamientos. El Lotus Lodge tiene una piscina grande, que es una ventaja en ese clima tropical. Además las piscinas ayudan mucho cuando hay apagones. Es demasiado común que hayan cortes de luz en Siem Reap – pueden durar desde minutos a horas (¡En marzo del 2013 tuvimos un apagón que duro cuatro días y cuatro noches!). Este hotel está acondicionado para viajeros de movilidad reducida, también organiza tours,  y realizan diferentes actividades para recaudar dinero para ONG locales. La gente que lo lleva es encantadora. Pincha aquí para ver la entrevista con Mitch del Lotus.

Rosy Guesthouse queda enfrente del río. También está apartado de Old Market. Es un lugar más para mochileros y familias con niños pequeños. Hay una habitación de juegos para los pequeños. Es un sitio conocido por muchos ex-pats. Frecuentemente organizan eventos, como concursos, rifas…para recaudar fondos para diversas ONG locales. Os recomendamos sus hamburguesas tanto la vegetariana como la de pollo.

Vivimos en Happy Guesthouse durante nuestros primeros meses en Siem Reap. Es un negocio familiar y acogedor con buena relación calidad-precio. Nos lo recomendó una pareja inglesa que conocimos en Sihanoukville en las navidades del 2013. Las habitaciones están limpias en comparación a otros hostales de precio similar. Hay dos casas, si te interesa tener conexión de internet desde tu cuarto, acuérdate de solicitarlo al reservar la habitación para que te alojen en la primera casa. La comida no es gran cosa como en la mayoría de sitios. Una ventaja es que hay varios lugares cerca donde podrás comer. Por ejemplo, a tres minutos caminando de Happy, está el hostal Two Dragons Guesthouse. Lo notable de este sitio son sus desayunos y ¡los batidos de mango!

Prohm Roth Guesthouse tiene varias ventajas. La primera es que tiene dos hostales. Uno en el mismo centro y otro pegado a Happy Guesthouse. Un porcentaje de lo que pagas por la habitación va directamente a una asociación que financia diferentes instalaciones en el pueblo natal de los dueños.  Nos alojamos en Prohm Roth Guesthouse número 1, el que queda a tres minutos caminando de Old Market. Fue el primer sitio dónde nos alojamos cuando vinimos de vacaciones.

Si hay dos o tres otros por la zona que valen la pena, pero estos son los cinco que más conocimos. En gran parte por las personas que lo gestionan. Si hay unos cuantos que calidad-precio no son nada recomendables. También hay algunos hoteles de lujo como Raffles más conocido como el Gran Angkor Hotel, Amansara, Shinta Mani, Sofitel, Heritage Suites, La Residence d’Angkor, FCC, Victoria Angkor que no podemos recomendar en buena conciencia porque son demasiado caros. No obstante, algunos de estos sitios lujosos tienen buenos restaurantes y hacen ofertas en baja temporada.

A Day in the Ruins of Angkor

This mini-documentary deals with our trip during the Khmer New Year to the ruins of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom – the last two capitals of the great Monument Building Period of the Khmer Empire. Although it would eventually become a Buddhist realm, the civilization of the Khmer during the start of this period was largely Hindu. Even today, Cambodia’s Theravada Buddhism is a mix of Hindu, animistic and Buddhist rituals and concepts. They certainly don’t consider themselves Hindu, but Cambodians have long-since fused these belief systems into their culture.

The Khmer people are one of the older ethnic groups in the region, much older than the empire they founded. Not unlike other ethnic groups in Southeast Asia they were heavily influenced by Indian culture, in particular the Tamil influence of the Chola Dynasty that flourished in eastern and southeastern India. So these early Cambodians adopted Hinduism as their religion long before they built Angkor Wat.

Our excursion to these vast ruins was conducted on the second day of the Khmer New Year celebration – a celebration that lasts for three days. These former capitals of the Khmer Empire are too extensive to be fully covered in a single day. However, we were able to go to the three most iconic locations and show them to you. Angkor Wat lies about 7km from the town of Siem Reap and Angkor Thom is roughly 3 kilometers from Angkor Wat.

It was really a lot of fun putting this together, though it was hard work. As with our previous mini-doc on the first Angkorian capital (Hariharalaya), it was a long and very hot day. This made filming and moving about even more difficult, but it was truly a great experience. We are very happy to share these monumental wonders of architecture and engineering with all of you!

For more information on these incredible ruins, don’t forget to read our posts on Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.

Last Day at Klongbaipat School, July 4th, 2014 / Último Día en la escuela de Klongbaipat, 4 de julio, 2014

We shot this on our last day volunteering at Klongbaipat Primary School in Korat, Thailand. This time around, we were only at the school for a week. It was great to be back, see how the kids had grown etc. We briefly rehearsed a few songs with them and made a little impromptu performance that we decided to video.

Estuvimos solamente una semana en el colegio. Fue una pasada ver cómo los estudiantes habían crecido desde enero del 2013. Estas canciones las ensayamos durante dos días. Hay que tener en cuenta que los estudiantes son increíblemente tímidos.

Como cruzamos frontera por tierra, desde Camboya, solamente te dan 15 días de visa. Pasamos dos días en el Campo Intensivo de Inglés y tres días grabando en las ruinas Jemer de Phimai para un futuro documental.

Una vez en el colegio comprobamos que algunos de los estudiantes que conocimos ya no estaban, bien porque se habían mudado, bien porque terminaron el sexto grado y estaban en el instituto. Lo mismo con dos de las profesoras que se habían trasladado a escuelas más cercanas a sus pueblos natales.

La peor parte de que lentamente están hablando un poco más inglés, fue el hecho de que al saber que nos íbamos nos decían “Don’t go teacher, don’t go to Spain, stay here with us”.

 

 

 

 

 

Entrevista con Mitch St. Pierre en Siem Reap, Camboya.

Si te interesa saber dónde alojarte en Siem Reap si viajas en silla de ruedas a un precio asequible, te recomiendo que leas este post.

Durante nuestra última semana en Siem Reap entrevistamos a nuestro amigo Mitch St. Pierre, un canadiense que actualmente es uno de los dueños del hotel Lotus Lodge.

Una de las razones por que destacamos este hotel tiene que ver con Mitch y su visión. Él vive en Siem Reap, en su hotel y va en silla de ruedas. Un punto bastante importante a tener en cuenta es que hay poco sitios adaptados a personas con movilidad reducida y menos todavia en Siem Reap. Incluso, muchos hoteles de lujo, no cuentan con una mínima infraestructura adaptada para este fin.

Para más información sobre el hotel, y sus actividades, o para saber más acerca de Mitch, puedes ver los siguientes enlaces:

http://www.lotus-lodge.com/</a

http://ancientadventurescambodia.com/blog/

http://www.mitchstpierre.com/

En esta página encontrarás el enlace para ver su documental sobre el tren de Bambú en Battambang, Camboya:

http://vimeo.com/24434721

Y si buscas su nombre en youtube, encontrarás un montón de videos, !esperamos que lo disfrutes!

Tuk tuk anyone?

Going by different names in different regions of this beautiful world, tuk tuks (also spelled tuk-tuk with hyphen) are one of the more common forms of public transportation you will find. Anyone who has been to places such as Cambodia, India or Thailand (among other countries) are probably very familiar with the tuk tuk.

It really is a novel & fun way to travel about, but there are scams & drivers (who for whatever reason) are not the nicest people you will find. In one instance, we witnessed a Chinese tourist pay a driver $35 (USD) for a fare that should have been about two or three dollars. I decided to engage in a social experiment & asked him for a ride. The second he realized I was a local ex-pat as opposed to a clueless tourist, he told me to look for someone else. Most tuk tuk drivers who work for a hotel or guesthouse, only receive a little bit of the money you are paying them.

Nevertheless, there are a number of tuk tuk drivers that are really lovely people – just trying to do the right thing. In this short video, we present our good friend Souy – a truly kind, energetic & responsible tuk-tuk driver. He is by no means the only one out there, but if your trip to Siem Reap is just a few days or weeks long, it would be difficult to get a good idea of where to find a driver who sees people and not dollar bills.

Baile de inaguración del día de los deportes en WIS, Siem Reap.

Así empezamos, a las ocho de la mañana, las celebraciones del día de los deportes 2014, bailando estudiantes y profesores la canción de “Surfin’ U.S.A.”

WIS son las siglas del último colegio privado donde trabajé, Western International School.

Aquí va otro de los vídeos cortos sobre la jornada deportiva.

Empezamos con la competición de bailes. El siguiente video muestra el baile de mi equipo azul, ya verás, jajaja

Cambodian Dance Moves

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El pasado viernes 23 de mayo del 2014. Celebramos el día del deporte en Western International School. No me preguntes porqué celebramos este día si no existe la asignatura de gimnasia.

Lo titulé “Cambodian Dance Moves” un poco de cachondeo en parte porque en el país de los ciegos el tuerto es el rey, y aquí soy tremenda bailarina, jajajaja. Viendo estos niños bailar te llena de alegría, y de risas al mismo tiempo.

La cuestión es que ninguno de mis estudiantes participó en los bailes o juegos. El colegio les dio ese día libre.

Previamente, habíamos sorteado los grupos entre profesores y alumnos. A mi, me tocó monitorizar al equipo azul. El día de evento, los estudiantes estaban muy contentos y nerviosos.

He estado trabajando en esta escuela casi un año. La experiencia ha sido distinta al anterior colegio, pero esto os lo contaré más adelante.

Empezamos con la competición de bailes. El siguiente vídeo muestra el baile de mi equipo azul, ya verás, jajaja.

In the Footsteps of the Early Angkorians

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Hello everyone,

The following video deals with the first capital city of the Angkorian empire. Historians usually date the great era of Khmer building from the time when this city was established as the capital. More specifically, our mini-documentary deals with the three main temples of the city of Hariharalaya.

These ruins are representative of 9th Century Khmer architecture and building techniques. They have generally been seen as the start of a great Angkorian building program that would last centuries. We decided to start here first because so many people know about Angkor Wat, but few know about all the other ruins that exist in this region. The three temples we explore in the video (Bakong, Lolei & Preah Ko) being the most prominent of well over a dozen such ruins scattered throughout the immediate area. Overall, there are hundreds of examples in a 30 kilometer radius around Siem Reap town.

We filmed at these three temples in the course of one afternoon, during the low tourist season. The heat that day was oppressive, which only helped keep most sane folks away. As a result, we pretty much had the run of the place. However, walking and filming around these World Heritage Sites in such grueling heat is not for the faint of heart. Breaks were common and staying very hydrated a must.

These temples are known as the Rolous Group of ruins (named after the nearby town and river). They are located about 13 kilometers east – southeast of Siem Reap. The ride to the site is quite scenic with paddies, water buffaloes and cows dotting the landscape. If ever vacationing in Cambodia, strongly suggest this site in addition to all the great Angkorian ruins, such as Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom & Ta Prohm.