Taste of Home: Potato, pumpkin and Leek Soup

I made potato, pumpkin and leek soup several times cause my family really loves this fabulous soup! It’s really hearty – the leeks with the pumpkin and potatoes make for a really full flavor combination. Also, my son gobbled this right up and asked for more.

Potato, pumpkin and leek soup

The last time I made this soup was 2 weeks ago when some of our friends came over during the weekend. They love it very much, and I shared my recipe with them.

In my recipe, I didn’t put a lot of cream as the soup was already rich and tasty on its own. Usually I serve it with baguette as we really enjoy dipping some buttery bread in it.

Next time I make it, I’ll try to add a wee bit of ginger, I think it adds zest and fragrance to the soup.

It’s a great soup – easy, quick tasty and healthy, and a comforting cold-weather soup puree. The rave reviews from my family and friends make it all worthwhile to share my recipe with all of you.

Potato, pumpkin and leek soup

Ingredients good for 6 persons:

  • 1 small pumpkin, seeded, peeled and cut roughly
  • 1 big potato, peeled and cut roughly
  • 3 stalks leek, cut roughly
  • 25 cL fresh cooking cream
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

How to make it?

  1. Put pumpkin, potato, leek and 1 L of water in a large pot. Let it cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Blend it for 1 minute or until it becomes smooth. [If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use a blender to puree the soup. Just be careful in transferring the veges to the blender as it’s still very hot.]
  3. Add fresh cream, salt and black pepper. Stir.
  4. Let it cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Et voila! Serve, share and enjoy!

 

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Myanmar: Hike up to Mount Popa

The day after temple hopping in Bagan, we set off bright and hiked up Mount Popa, a sacred site and an iconic Myanmar postcard sight.

Mount Popa

Mount Popa from afar, on our way to the base

Mount Popa, is an extinct volcano, about 1,500m above sea level, and situated about 48km south east of Bagan. It is a famous spiritual place and considered as one of the oasis in Myanmar.

Mount Popa

at the peak of Mount Popa

at the top of Mount Popa

From afar, the views of Popa are stunning, and we loved seeing it dazzling in the distance.

Mount Popa

We trailed 777 steep steps up to the peak of Mount Popa and took the same steps on the way down. There was a plethora of local market stalls set up from the base of Popa and along the stairs. As we climbed up, there were lots of monkeys cheekily adorning the passageways and dirtying the area. Personally, I did not find the hike a nice experience as we clucked up the steps bare feet through monkeys’ wee and poo which unfortunately is not properly cleaned.

Mount Popa

Mount Popa

From the top of Mount Popa

Although there was nothing much to do at the peak, to me it was still worth it. The top of Popa is a gold filled affair – monasteries, shrines, stupases, statues and bells, all covered in gold and shimmering in the sunlight. Also, from the top of the mountain, the views of green scenery of the environment and the surrounding countryside are magnificent.

From the top of Mount Popa

From the top of Mount Popa

The views from the of Mount Popa

Mount Popa

at the top of Mount Popa

at the top of Mount Popa

Overall, we enjoyed our visit to the important Burmese pilgrimage mount even though it was chaotic, noisy and dirty (rubbish and monkey droppings)! But if you have a free half-day in Bagan, popping over to Mount Popa is worth it.

From the top of Mount Popa

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • We took a private car and the cost was USD 35 for a round trip from Nyang Oo, Bagan. It was around an hour drive (one way), and we spent around 3 hours at Mount Popa.
  • Wear appropriate clothes – no shorts, no vests, no socks, no shoes, no sleeveless shirts, no hats allowed!
  • Watch out for the monkeys. They are aggressive. Some of them might steal your stuff from you, so put your things in zipped compartment.
  • No entrance fee. We only paid $1 for the shoes locker.
  • Bring wet wipes to clean your feet. bring some wipes for cleaning your feet after the climb. There are copious amounts of monkey poo and it’s impossible to avoid it completely!
  • Don’t bring any food or drink to avoid unwanted attention from the monkeys.

Taste of Home: The French toast – Savory Lost Bread

Have you ever tried or heard about Lost Bread? Personally, I hadn’t heard about it before, until very recently (2 weeks ago), Alan introduced it to us. And, since I love it, I tried making it myself.

The “Lost Bread” is a popular French toast. In France it is called pain perdu (pronounced pan pare due), a dish that rescues a dry bread that would be lost.

Lost Bread, Pan Perdu: The French toast

In this recipe, days-old bread is used not only for its thrift but also because it soaks up a lot of egg mixture without falling apart. The slices of bread are dipped in a mixture of scrambled eggs and milk or cream. Then fried in butter until browned and cooked. While frying, it smells so good that I could hardly wait to get it on my plate.

Lost Bread, Pan Perdu: The French toast

In France, pain perdu is usually eaten as a dessert or an afternoon snacks, as the cooked slices are usually served with sugar or sweet toppings such as jam, honey, fruit or maple syrup. Since we don’t really like sugar, we made it savory. I love it! It’s very rich. It’s fantastic, simple and easy. Plus, it makes a fun meal.

So, for those who would like to try, here’s a recipe of pain perdu (lost bread):

Lost Bread, Pan Perdu: The French toast

Ingredients good for 3 persons:

  • Days-old sliced bread
  • 10 eggs, scrambled
  • a cup of milk
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • grated cheese
  • 200 grams butter
  • 2 slices of ham per slice of bread

How to make it:

  • In a bowl, crack the eggs. Then mix thoroughly.
  • Add, milk, salt and black pepper. Stir.
  • Dip the sliced bread one at a time. Make sure to soak the slices of bread for at least 1 minute, and flip them over a few times in between to ensure the bread has thoroughly absorbed the egg mixture.
  • Melt butter in the frying pan.
  • Put the bread into the frying pan, turning both sides until they are browned and cooked.
  • Top it with a wee bit of cheese and ham.
  • Et viola! Serve, share and enjoy!

 

Taste of Home: Pommes de terre farcies

Are looking for an easy-to-make recipe for lunch, dinner or party? Try Pommes de terre farcies also known baked stuffed potato filled with healthy ingredients. It surely makes a fun dinner.

Pommes de terre farcies or baked stuffed potatoes

You can fill this simple baked potato with minced beef, parsley and spring onions or you can use up all kinds of leftovers from the fridge. You can topped it with Emmentel cheese or you can top it whatever you want – with sour cream, avocado and cilantro or bacon bits if you wish.

It’s varied, rich and balanced! Plus, you can depend on the fact that it will keep you and everyone full and happy! I love it!

So for those who wish to try making Pommes de terre farcies or baked stuffed potatoes, here’s a recipe for you:

Pommes de terre farcies or baked stuffed potatoes

What you need (good for 3 servings)

  • 2 fresh large-sized potatoes, washed
  • 400 grams minced beef
  • 1 pack parsley, chopped
  • 8 spring onions, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced
  • Butter
  • Emmental cheese
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 4 tablespoons Kikkoman soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Aluminum foil

How to make it

Step 1: Marinate the meat

  • In a bowl, put in the minced beef. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, basil, and black pepper.
  • Mix together. Marinate for at least 20 minutes.

Step 2: Bake the potato.

  • Wrap the whole raw washed potatoes with a foil.
  • Bake it at 250 DC for about 2 hours.

Step 3: Prepare the fillings.

  • Heat a pan with olive oil.
  • Put in the marinade. Add parsley, spring onions and tomatoes. Stir.
  • Let it cook for about 10 minutes.

Step 4: Putting together.

  • Cut the baked potato into 2. Then half scoop out the inside.
  • Butter the inside of the potato.
  • Then add the filling.
  • Add a bit of cheese on top
  • Put the stuffed potatoes in an oven dish.
  • Put it back in the oven at the same temperature for about 10 minutes.

Step 5: Et Voila! Serve, share and enjoy!

 

Temple Questing in Beautiful Bagan

The major reason for our travel in Myanmar last December 2017 was to visit the staggering ancient city of Bagan, the capital of the Pagan Empire from 1044 to 1287 and one of the world’s greatest archeological sites.

Bagan, Myanmar

At the top of Shwe Leek Too Pagoda

Ananda Temple, the most beautiful ancient temple in Bagan.

Bagan, Myanmar

Between the 11th and 13th centuries, a plethora of temples, pagodas, stupas, stupors and monasteries were built by the kings of Bagan in a magnificent setting – a verdant 13 by 8 km plain, part-covered with palm trees caught in a bend of the sluggish-flowing Irrawaddy River and framed by the reddish-brown and silver-grey of distant mountains. It’s a Buddhist belief that to build a temple was to earn merit.

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Thatbyinnyu Pagoda, the tallest ancient temple in Bagan.

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Rising from the plain’s canopy of green you can visit about 3,000 out of over 10,000 of the religious monuments still existing in Bagan Archeological Zone today. So, literally you can see temples after temples after temples in view from every angle as far as your eyes can see. Truly, we were blown away by the sheer number of temples in Bagan. It is beyond amazing!

Bagan, Myanmar

Shwezigon Pagoda

colorful temple puppets

Bagan, Myanmar

Once there, we hired a taxi and visited different beautiful temples, stupas and stupors in Old and New Bagan by ourselves. We wandered through the pagodas and its surroundings. We noticed that many temples have been restored by UNESCO and are superbly preserved. Some temples contain carvings, frescoes and statues of Buddha, big and small.

wandering around

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

We also climbed some temples and saw the fantastic views from above.

at the top of the temple

Very narrow way up to the top of Shwe Leek Too Pagoda

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Around 5pm, we managed to make our way through a crowd as the artificial hill was packed with hordes of tourist just to watch the sunset from the hill overlooking the temples. Simply breathtaking during the day and the sunsets are just gorgeous. We were truly, mesmerized by its beauty.

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Out of about 3,000 temples that still exist today, only a handful are regularly visited by tourists. In spite of the mounting number of tourists coming in and many local hawkers are beginning to appear, this site is still a gloriously unblemished destination. I hope that it doesn’t lose its magic as the number of tourist increases.

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

While wandering around, we observed that there were so many kids selling souvenirs and not going to school, and that breaks my heart.

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan is certainly an amazingly magical place and its temples are stunningly beautiful. And, WOW, the pictures I saw before I came did not do it justice. So, if you are a temple quester, Bagan, Myanmar is a perfect place for you. Visit now while it is still relatively quiet.

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • The area of Bagan is enormous, at least 2-3 full days here is good before traveling on to your next destination in Myanmar.
  • There are several mode of transportation for you to visit the place and get lost in what feels like a magical land. You can
    • rent ebike (electric scooter) if you wish to enjoy more freedom of getting around the area.
    • hire a taxi. In our case we paid $35 for the whole day.
    • hire a horse carriage (dusty and bumpy though).
  • Go there very early in the morning to see the sunrise with an oxcart or a horse carriage, you will be alone and discover one of the wonders of this earth.
  • It can be hot walking barefoot in full sun on heated pavement, so consider a “siesta” during the hottest hours.
  • Wear appropriate clothes (very long skirt or trousers) – shorts and sleeveless are not allowed.
  • Wear slippers or sandals so it would be convenient and easy for you to remove and put it on back as you have to explore each temple barefoot.

 

 

 

Myanmar: The Stunning Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon

Last December 2017, we traveled to Myanmar to spend our Christmas/winter break there. Our first stop was in Yangon, the former capital city of Myanmar. Before going there, we didn’t really have a lot of expectations about the city since some of our friends who have been there were not really impressed about the place. Before our trip, we were also never aware of Shwedagon Pagoda being one of the famous ones in the world. However, we were pleasantly surprised when we found the place very imposing. After our visit, we understood why it is one of the wonders of the religious world.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

Here are some highlights of this super stunning Shwedagon Pagoda we learned during the tour:

Shwedagon Pagoda is the crown of Myanmar and the most iconic landmark in Yangon! It is at least 2,500 years old – the oldest Buddhist Stupa in the world. I have learned that it is the holiest Buddhist site for the people of Myanmar as it houses the relics of the four Buddhas who had attained enlightenment.

It is an archive of Burmese heritage – architecture, sculpture, history and art.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

It stands about 110 meters on the Hill of Dagon Township in the center of Yangon City.

Shwedagon Pagoda

The amazing Shwedagon Pagoda is covered with thousands of gold plates. The top of the stupa is encrusted with about 5,450 diamonds, 2,300 rubies, sapphires and other gems and at the tip is a single 76-carat diamond.

Shwedagon Pagoda

The main stupa is surrounded by so many colorful temples, stupas and statues where devotees from all over the country could come and pray.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

There are also several planetary posts, and each planetary posts has a Buddha image and people who were born on that particular day offer flowers and pour water on the image with a prayer and a wish.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

While wandering around, I observed many devotees doing many different activities – washing the statues, offering flowers, worshiping, meditating, and doing other rituals. I saw fabulous names of each area such as Shrine of Sun and Moon, Victory Ground, Hall of Wizards, Hall of Great Prosperity, Pagoda of the Eight Weekdays, and many more. I love the beautiful ornate architecture.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Certainly, no visit to the Union of Myanmar is complete without a visit to this mesmerizing tourist and pilgrim attraction. So, enjoy yourself – it’s an impressive and beautiful pagoda!

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • It is located in the center of Yangon, walking distance to some gardens, restaurants, shops and other pagodas.
  • It is open daily, and last admission is at 21.45.
  • The entrance fee is US$ 8.
  • It is best if you visit around sunrise or sunset, so you can beat both the crowds and the heat (you won’t burn your feet as you explore the place barefoot).
  • There are 4 entrances to the Shwedagon Pagoda (North – Arzarni Road, South – Shwedagon Pagoda Road, East – Gyatawya Road, West – U Wisara Road).
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Women should wear loose trousers or long skirts (up to toe level) otherwise the security won’t let you in.
  • Shoes, socks and stockings are not allowed inside. So, bring a plastic bag for your shoes. Bring some wipes (wet tissue) as your feet are putrid by the end.

 

 

7 days backpacking trip with my friends

Traveling with my old good friends is to me one of the healthiest and most positive things I can do to strengthen our friendship.

Angkor Thom

I was chuffed to bits that my friends who I hadn’t seen for so many years visited me and my family in the Penh. I was also grateful that my boys gave me some time to join backpacking trip with them!

Bayon Temple [Thanks to my friend Gb for taking this photo]

Our 7 days backpacking trip provided us the opportunity

  1. to develop a deeper bond and to get to know each other more. Those fun, crazy, and stressful situations helped me get to know them even better. Even though we have known each other for a long time, traveling together allow us to deepen our friendship in ways neither of us expected.
  2. to make lifelong memories and mutual experience to savor together. These shared stories would be things that we can reminisce about forever especially since we haven’t lived near enough to each other to have many common experiences in recent years. Personally, these shared travel stories become really, really important.
  3. to break the ice when the 4 of us meet new people on the road and these travel stories bring about some genuine laughs.

with my good friends at the Angkor Wat

Also, one of the best parts of our trip was the planning stage. We didn’t tire of our endless travel chat and it was perfectly acceptable when Ga messaged us at midnight with all her urgent and essential questions like which hotel we were going to book, flight changes, which clothes to bring, or simply talking about all the amazing places we wanted to visit together – got all of us super excited for the adventures

Ta Prohm [Thanks to Carl for this photo]

My friends and I backpacked from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Phnom Penh City, Cambodia, to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and then back to Phnom Penh for 7 days. And since it was my first backpacking trip with them, I decided to share our awesome memories together.

with my friends in Angkor

Wander the wonder of the Angkor Temples in Siem Reap

Wandering the wonder of the Angkor Temples (one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia) with good old friends was just awesome. First we visited the amazing relic and extraordinary Angkor Wat, built in the 12th century and dubbed as the largest religious monument and one of the finest monument in the world. We spent a half-day exploring the Angkor Wat, and even though there were hordes of tourists at that time, the view was still breathtaking, and it was worth it.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Bas reliefs

After lunch, we headed to the most fascinating temple in Angkor – The Bayon Temple – where there were 200 plus gigantic mesmerizing faces adorn this incredible temple. Truly it’s the cheeriest of them all.

Bayon Temple

Then we continued to Ta Prohm Temple, a temple known for massive trees growing out its walls. This temple was also featured in a movie “Tomb Raider”and Indiana Jones movie. These giant trees appear to melt into the meticulously hewn stones, binding them together or tearing them apart in extraordinary fusion of nature and man is a juxtaposition of order and chaos. Indeed, Ta Prohm is a perfect harmony of nature and architecture.

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm [Thanks Gb for this photo]

Chill at the PUB Street in Siem Reap

After temple trekking, we chilled at the PUB Street – a happy pedestrian with amazingly excellent vibe. It was a very lively place and there was so much fun and joys. We grabbed a bite at the Temple Restaurant. We had Cambodian soup and Tom Yum and it was good.

Temple Restaurant [Thanks to Carl for this photo]

PUB Street [Thanks to Carl for this photo]

Early morning splash in the pool

I love how we started our day – quick early morning splash in the pool at Naga Gate Hotel. To me, it was an easy way to get my exercise for the day and provide me some poolside relaxation. Plus, it was cool making the half-awake commute to the pool and getting into a completely still, flat, placid, calm and cold pool while the rest of the world was still asleep.

@ Naga Gate Hotel in Siem Reap [Thanks Gb for this photo]

Exploring the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh

When we were rested and refreshed, we explored the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda. We went there at around 3.30pm, and I think it was the perfect time to visit the palace as there were only few tourist. We paid $10.25 for the entrance fee (which is quite expensive) and we stayed there for an hour. My friends were awed by the beautiful architecture and the magnificent collection of gold in the Silver Pagoda. The Royal Palace is certainly a place of history; and a worthy place to visit if you are in the city.

The Royal Palace

The Silver Pagoda

The Royal Palace

Strolling around the River and Lazying at Le Moon Sky Bar in Phnom Penh

From the palace, we strolled around the Riverside, a colourful place and a nice spot for tourists and Khmer people alike where you can enjoy a nice breeze and local activities – play different games, walk, and relax. It’s also a great place for everything – restaurants, bars, markets, Mekong boat cruise, and many more. After strolling, we lazed at the Le Moon Sky Bar while savoring tea and coffee and enjoying the commanding views and the open-air rooftop breeze.

Visit S-21 (Tuol Sleng) Museum and Choeung Ek Killing Fields in Phnom Penh

The Tuol Sleng Museum and the Choeung Ek Killing fields are the saddest places we’ve been to. Our tour there was very interactive and the audio guide provided us with very good information of the events – about 3 million Cambodians were tortured and killed by their own people. The recorded testimonies from the survivors and guards are very grounding. Such a harrowing and sad piece of history but a must go if you visit Cambodia and definitely worth having the audio too as it gives you a very descriptive and realistic outline of the two places! We spent about an hour in Tuol Sleng Museum and an hour and a half walking quietly in the Choeung Ek Killing Fields.

Choeung Ek Killing Field

Choeung Ek Killing Field

Choeung Ek Killing Field

Devour Vietnamese Street Food and walked around the walking street

One thing I love about Vietnam is their sooo delicious street food. After our tour at the Cu chi tunnels, we dropped off at the Ben Tanh Market to grab Vietnamese street food. It’s an ideal inexpensive spot selling many types of food and drink. The atmosphere there was relaxed. We especially enjoyed sitting the hustle and bustle. In the evening, we walked around the very lively Bu Vien walking street, a great street of bars, clubs and streetwise food. There were a lot of tourists and locals alike, jamming the road. We walked up and down the street and sampled some drinks and food as we went along. We sat into a few little local bars, devoured local tasty food while we watched the world went by. It was fun!

Vietnamese food

Vietnamese food. [Thanks to my friend Carl for this photo]

Bui Vien Walking Street

Bui Vien walking street [Thanks Ga for this photo]

Crawl at the Cu Chi Tunnel

We spent half day to visit the Cu Chi Tunnel. Our guide showed us how the Viet Cong outwitted the Americans at every step with their primitive but quite effective weapons. We learned how the Viet Cong and the local people constructed the tunnels, the infrastructures (hospitals, kitchen, conference room, etc) and the various traps – booby door trap, window, rolling, etc. Our guide also pointed out the bomb craters with collapsed tunnels entrance, the termite mounds covering the bamboo air tubes to the tunnels and the camouflage entrance to the tunnels with multiple firing positions. We also learned that the Viet Cong used sandals made out of used rubber (from an old motor bike or car tire) and cut out a foot print to trick the American soldiers as they thought that the trail of footprints they had picked up was heading one way but instead they were heading the opposite way. During the tour, we crawled 60 m out of 200 km tunnels – it was really an amazing experience! Can you imagine living in the tunnel for many years? Certainly our visit to the tunnels was a wonderful insight into life during the war in Vietnam.

Inside the tunnel. [Thanks Carl for this photo]

The rubber slippers used by the Vietcongs.

The rescue entrance

Shop in Ho Chi Minh

We went shopping at the Ben Tanh Market, one of the huge markets in Ho Chi Minh with a large range of products – food, bags, clothing, etc. It has a good atmosphere and good products. Just like in Cambodia’s markets, there is no fixed price in this market, so you need to learn how to bargain. If you are foreigner ask for 40-50% off when you bargain across the board. Overall, we had so much fun in the market especially when bargaining.

@ Ben Tanh market [Thanks Carl for this photo]

Meet my family in the Kingdom

My friends got to meet my family in the Penh for the first time. As a way of welcoming them into our simple abode, we offered them cooked meals. I’m grateful that my hubby cooked food (Gratin Dauphinois, Coq Au Vin, Cantonese Rice, toast salmon, etc.) for my friends. And on the last night (before they fly back home), we took them to one of our fave bistro in town to chill. For two nights, round the table with good food and a fine wine, we had one of the best and most fun discussions. Indeed, it was such a fun and great moment for all of us!

Fun Tuktuk ride

Tuktuk ride is one of the most common public transportation here, and it was one of the fun experiences we have had while showing some places in Cambodia to my friends. We took a tuktuk wherever we went. While riding a tuktuk, we felt alive in traffic from the fellow tuktuks, motorbikes and cars. It was fast, cheap, fun, we got “fresh air”, and we love the wind in our hair.

tuktuk ride

Enjoy the long bus ride

Even though there are local flights available from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh and from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh, we opted to travel by bus to see more of the countryside. We traveled with the Giant Ibis Bus Company and the ticket (one way) was $18 per person. From Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, we nearly missed our bus as we were 10 minutes late. Luckily, the staff was kind enough to wait for us. It took us about 6 hours to reach the capital city. On our way to Ho Chi Minh City from Phnom Penh, we missed our bus at 8.30AM. We tried to catch it but we couldn’t – it already went far, so we decided to go back to the bus station. Fortunately, there were still some seats available for the next bus trip at 12.30PM – we were relieved! We went to the bus the station 30 minutes early before the departing time to make sure we wouldn’t miss it again. The entire bus trip was good and comfortable. The bus provided us a wet tissue, and small snacks (savory bread and a small bottle of water). There was wifi and there were outlets on every row. The bus stopped 3 times (1 stop for lunch and 2 stops for toilet). The road occasionally took us to the river, we saw stilt houses, small children walking on the road from school and we past beautiful scenery of rice paddies. We saw the countryside – poor but beautiful. Indeed, the 22 hours bus trip (6 hours SR to PP, 8 hours PP to HCM and 8 hours HCM to PP) was a nice journey, and no such thing as dead time.

Bus ride to Ho Chi Minh from Phnom Penh [Thanks Carl for this photo]

Bus ride to Phnom Penh from Siem Reap [Thanks Carl for this photo]

Certainly, traveling with these 4 good friends was awesome as they augmented the epic-ness of the adventure.