Trekking at Kep National Park

Kep is a small coastal town in Cambodia. It is known for its seafood and tropical beaches. It is a beach getaway for foreigners living in Cambodia, although mostly for locals, as one could eat fresh seafood, laze on the beach and enjoy sundowners.

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

Kep is more than just a beach, though! Behind the beaches are a range of small mountains/ big hills where Kep National Park, a jungle preserve, is located. It boasts beautiful views of the surrounding islands, tranquil scenery and a galore of local wildlife.

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

So, on the second day, we decided to go trekking in an 8km trail in Kep National Park that makes a loop around the mountain. It was actually our first time in the Cambodian jungle. The main trail was quite steep, well-prepared, well-maintained and well-marked.

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

We took a few minutes rest where the Sunset Rock is, which had a lovely view over the coast. After a rest there, we continued our journey in the remaining loop of the trail. In total, we spent about 2.5 hours in the park. We got to see interesting exotic plants and animals, breathtaking panoramic views of the dense vegetation, nearby islands, and the thick canopy kept us shaded most of the time. At some stage, worried monkeys started to growl and one even threw a stone at us while we were taking a short break on a bench. We got the feeling that they meant no harm and just wanted to protect their habitat.

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

As we hiked up the mountain, our conversations with our 10 year old lil explorer ran from different types of insects, reptiles, arthropods to the possibility of multiverse to American-Vietnam War to politics and to I-pad games.

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

We are certainly impressed and proud with our son as he finished his 1st long hike in the steaming jungle – even though he suffered he was brave. The temperature was about 35-40 degree Celsius, with this ever present pre-storm electrical heat one can only find in Cambodia during the rainy season.

Kep National Park

After the hike, our clothes were totally soaked in sweat; we had to take a shower as soon as we got back to our Bungalow.

Kep National Park is beautiful! It was well worth the effort – enjoyable good walk and challenging in a pleasant way, plus we got a tan! While trekking, we met quite a few other enthusiasts who were equally proud to endure the heat in order to enjoy the local wildlife.

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

Kep National Park

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • The entire trip will take about 2-3 hours.
  • The entrance fee s USD1.50 per person at the start of the trek just above the parking area of Veranda Natural Resort.
  • Start early because it is steaming hot in there and if you’re lucky you could see wildlife including birds, snakes, squirrels, monkeys, butterflies and many more.
  • Be guided by the maps and information on the trails as you walk up the mountain.
  • Bring water.
  • Wear mosquito repellent because mosquitoes are everywhere.
  • Wear decent walking shoes.
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Beat the heat at DIB Club

What’s the perfect way to cool off under the kiss of the summer Cambodian sun? Under the open sky, we took a dip in the soothing warm water, with stunning views of the tropical surrounding while relaxing with my family.

DIB Club

DIB Club

DIB Club

DIB Club is a brand new place in Phnom Penh blessed with a refreshing breeze from the Mekong River. When we arrived at the place, we were pretty impressed with the swimming pool – a huge, clean outdoor pool to lounge at!

DIB Club

DIB Club

DIB Club

Each poolside is cozy, perfect for lounging, dining and conversing.

DIB Club

DIB Club

Also, the kids can enjoy the paddling pool and the bouncy castle.

DIB Club

DIB Club

The entire place is tidy and nice. The food was good even though it was quite pricey for what it was. Plus, there was only a limited choices of drinks, and the music was too loud.

DIB Club

DIB Club

Overall, it’s one of the good places in Phnom Penh where to relax and beat the heat with family or friends away from the bustling city.

DIB Club

DIB Club

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • It is located on Kock Pich Street, near Golf Driving Range in Diamond Island, Phnom Penh.
  • The pool charge is $5 per person. However, if you order food and drinks there, you can use the pool for free.
  • You can make a reservation at (+353) 099-997-740.
  • No happy hour.

 

Relaxing at L’lephant Blanc Resort

Last weekend, we headed off to L’elephant Blanc Resort to relax, unwind and to escape the rush of our everyday life. It is a little heaven on earth in the middle of nowhere surrounded by the tranquil tropical gardens.

L’lephant Blanc Resort

L’lephant Blanc Resort

We love the peaceful ambience of the place.

L’lephant Blanc Resort

L’lephant Blanc Resort

We also like the saltwater swimming pool – it’s big enough and clean.

L’lephant Blanc Resort

L’lephant Blanc Resort

There’s also a pool table, ping pong and a nice poolside restaurant. The food is good and the prices are reasonable (around $5 for a meal). We did enjoy our food and the drinks.

L’lephant Blanc Resort

L’lephant Blanc Resort

L’lephant Blanc Resort

The staff were friendly and helpful, and the wifi was descent.

L’lephant Blanc Resort

L’lephant Blanc Resort

L’lephant Blanc Resort

The place gets busier at weekends, but when we went there it was not crowded and we almost had the place to ourselves.

L’lephant Blanc Resort

L’lephant Blanc Resort

Even though the whole place is tidy and nice, I think it needs some makeover to refresh the resort.

L’lephant Blanc Resort

L’lephant Blanc Resort

Overall, it’s a good value for money and it’s good for family weekend getaways.

L’lephant Blanc Resort

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • In some websites it is called Domrey Sor.
  • It is about 10kms, about 30 minutes drive, from the city centre. Cross the Monivong Bridge and continue along National Road 1 for about 6 kms then you’ll see the resort on your left.
  • For non-guests, the pool charge is $4 for adult and $2 for children. Otherwise it is free if you rent one of their bungalows.

Taking our Son to see the Temples of Angkor

Last weekend, we took our 10 year old little wanderer to Siem Reap to show to him one of the most amazing places in the world – the temples of Angkor, the landmark of Cambodia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was our 5th visit but it was even more special because we were showing such magnificent place to our little one for the first time.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor was the capital city of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to 15th century. I have learned that it was the largest city in the world from 1010 -1220 with about 0.1% of the world’s population. The Angkor Archaeological Park comprises of several temples such as Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Ta Som, Banteay Srei, and many more, and the ruins are located in the middle of the jungle between farmlands.

Angkor Wat

The temples truly are amazing! And our little explorer was amazed at the beauty of the architecture, craftsmanship, the size and the details of each monument. Even though it was very hot and humid, he was still very energetic and very keen to explore everything, walk within the structure and marvel at the architecture of so long ago.

Angkor Wat

Ta Prohm

Bayon Temple

This time, we only visited three temples – Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm.

We all love Angkor Wat the most – it is grand and majestic! We went there twice before, during sunrise and sunset and the two visits gave us different feels.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Besides Angkor Wat, we also like Ta Prohm. I think it is the most romantic temple in the entire complex as you could feel the joint venture between nature and architecture merging into the forest. Pete, our little navigator was mesmerized by the several hundred years old trees and the way they were going out of the ancient ruins. It is incredible to think that this has been hidden for centuries.

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

We also enjoyed visiting Bayon Temple, the cutest of them all – it’s mystical, charming and you could see huge smiling Buddha faces everywhere.

Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple

Places like this certainly remain in our hearts forever and it is a wonder that you must see to experience it as pictures do not give it justice.

Angkor Archaeological Park

Angkor Archaeological Park

Angkor Archaeological Park

Angkor Archaeological Park

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • I strongly believe you must spend a minimum of 2 days and longer would be more preferable.
  • Entrance fees – 1 day=$37. 3 days=$62, 7 days= $72. Children below 12 years old don’t have to pay the entrance fee. Bring your child’s passport to show to the security otherwise you’ll have to pay for the admission fees.
  • Tuktuk charge for a day tour in Angkor complex is $15.
  • Wear proper clothes – no sleeveless, no shorts. Some temples like Angkor Wat, Baphoun, etc do not allow you to get inside if you are not properly dressed.
  • Wear comfortable shoes for walking because you have to walk a lot.
  • Bring a bottle of water to keep you from dehydration.
  • Bring a towel, an extra tee-shirt, a hat or an umbrella.
  • Bring a camera. There’s a lot opportunity to take good pictures.

 

Sneak Peek into our Oudong Mountain Adventure in Cambodia

Here’s a sneak peek of our little adventure to Oudong Mountain yesterday. It was my 3rd time to visit the place but yesterday’s visit was also significant as we were showing the place to our son.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Phnom Oudong is an ancient capital (from 1618 to 1866) of Cambodia. It is located in Kampong Speu Province, about 40 km northwest of Phnom Penh. It is a popular weekend picnic getaway for locals, especially at weekends. It is also a place visited by tourist who wish to safely witness a part of Cambodia that is a bit off the usual tourist trail.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

On the way in, we climbed about 509 steep stairs.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

At its peak there are magnificent temples and stupas and shrines dedicated to the by-gone kings such as PreahSanchakMonyChedai stupa (the newest stupa built there), Arthaross Temple, etc.

One of the beautiful golden doors in the newest stupa.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

The views from the top of the mountain are truly spectacular and breathtaking – the clear blue sky, the vast stretches of rice fields, the beautifully scattered coconut trees and palm trees, and the silvery fresh air.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

From the newest stupa, PreahSanchakMonyChedai, we walked to the south to see more old stupas and shrines and temples. We saw a huge Buddha statue in the last temple we visited.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

On the way back, we just kept walking down and followed the path from where the old temples and stupas were until we reached the base.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Overall, it was a great family day out. If you are visiting Phnom Penh, a half-day trip to Oudong Mountain is worth it.

Oudong Mountain

Oudong Mountain

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • You can get there by motorbike, tuktuk, local bus, or a taxi. It takes about 1.5 hour by tuktuk and it cost $30 for a roundtrip plus waiting time.
  • Don’t forget to bring your camera – Oudong is very picturesque.
  • Go there early. The midday sun made walking up the hills a little tough.
  • If you are sensitive to humidity, you take the other way, south of the new stupa, PreahSanchakMonyChedai stupa. This way, you do not need to climb steep stairs. Once you get at the base, take the unpaved road, just keep going until you see a building and some stairs.at the very end (about 100 meters from where the souvenir shops are). Then you start there and begin your journey.
  • There are local restaurants and souvenir shops at the base of the hill, although please keep in mind that the food there is traditionally local and there are no foreign dishes available.

Sun, Splash and Relax at Aquarius Urban Hotel in Phnom Penh

It was a quiet weekend for us, but what is better than a beautiful Sunday relaxing around the amazing rooftop infinity pool, swimming, enjoying a drink or two, an aperitif in the hand while watching a gorgeous sunset? With my two lucky charms, we headed to Aquarius Urban Hotel to splurge into an authentic afternoon escape.

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel is a haven oasis that nestles in the heart of the city surrounded by the consequential landmarks. It has an open sky bar and restaurant overlooking the charming city of Penh. The city view is unmatched – even at night as you can use the pool until 11pm. It’s shabby chic, tidy and calm. The food was good and the staff was friendly too.

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

We lounge by the poolside while enjoying our food and drinks. Even though we certainly enjoyed swimming in their infinity glass walled salt water swimming pool, our best moment there was when we watched and experienced the tranquility of a stunning sunset arm-in-arm with my boys, that was truly a marvel. To be honest, its rooftop infinity pool is really amazing and I think it is the highlight of the hotel.

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Aquarius Urban Hotel

All in all, it’s a great place to gather with family or friends and then stay for dinner if you are so inclined. If you are in the Penh and if you wish to spend some calm afternoon or nights in the hustling city center, Aquarius Urban Hotel is for you.

Aquarius Urban Hotel

Top 12 Awesome Things to do in Brittany

I love the lovely region of Brittany. It’s one of the great historic provinces of France, located in the northwest. It’s my most favorite place in France for so many reasons – great diversity and unique with its remarkable history and Celtic heritage, spectacular natural landscape, gorgeous beaches, and excellent cuisine. To me, even the most idyllic postcard perfect picture of Brittany does not do justice to the place.

Brittany

Typical flower in Brittany

There are so many activities for visitors to enjoy during a stay in Finisterre – meander through the countryside or organize a tour of any of the region’s historic place. Brittany is all about living the good life – nature, heritage, good food and cider, and incredible people. Personally, after a month of stay in Brittany, I found it incredibly difficult to leave.

Love this garden in Roscoff

Since Brittany is a popular location for family holidays in France, here’s my top 12 awesome things to see and do when you visit this impressive region:

1.Wander along Carnac’s long and mysterious rows of standing stones.

The magnificent collection of Standing Stones in Carnac is one of the most extraordinary sites of Brittany. While you can find isolated manmade standing stones scattered throughout the whole region, Carnac features miles and miles of aligned standing stone. It has been protected by UNESCO World Heritage since 1996. We went there with our friends to see the exceptional 6000 years old Neolithic sites and the largest megalithic sites in the world.

Carnac

Carnac

2. Visit the 2nd oldest manmade  monument in the world.

The great Cairn de Barnenez is truly amazing – big pile of stones (75m long, 28m wide, 8m high) and very old (about 7,000 years old) as it was built between 4,800 and 4,000 B.C on a hill overlooking the Bay of Morlaix. It is known as the oldest and largest megalithic burial chamber in Europe, and the second oldest manmade monument in the world.
Did you know? It is about 2,000 years older than the first step pyramid of Egypt and it is much bigger than Stonehenge in the UK.

Cairn de Barnenez

Cairn de Barnenez

3. Explore the beautiful castles.

If you are tired of laying in the sunshine, there are quite a few beautiful castles in Brittany to explore and enjoy. We have visited the following: The Château de Brest (Castle of Brest), which has about 1700 years of history, and considered as the oldest castle in the world still in use. The Château du Taureau (Castle of the Bull), a 16th century defensive castle (about 500 year old castle) which has a messy past but also had lots of different uses in its history. The 16th century Château de Kerjean (Castle of Kerjean), which was originally built as a home for the Barbier family. It was open to the public in 2005 after being restored in the early 21st century.

The Castle of Brest

The Castle of the Bull

The Castle of Kerjean

4. Discover the amazing churches and abbeys.

In Brittany, I love the ancient, massive and elaborately embellished Catholic parish churches. We have visited at least 6 parishes: The Le Folgoet Notre Dame Basilica of the Virgin Mary is a gem of Gothic Flamboyant architecture as it has stunning beautiful Gothic style towers and stunning stained glasses. The Saint Thegonnec Church is famous for its funerary chapel and triumphal arch. The Guimiliau church in the village of Guimiliau is populary known for having the largest calvaries in the region, which are sculpted with about 200 figures. The Chapelle Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle in the little town of Locronan is one of the 12 stages along the pilgrimage route called Grande Troménie. The 16th century Notre Dame de Croaz Batz in Roscoff is well-known for its unique elegant Renaissance style bell tower.  The Cathedrale of St Corentin in Quimper is lauded to be the most beautiful gothic building in Brittany with its majestic stained glass windows.

Le Folgoet Notre Dame Basilica of the Virgin Mary

Saint Thegonnec Church

Chapelle Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle

Notre Dame de Croaz Batz

Cathedrale of St Corentin

5. Amble in the medieval towns.

There are so many medieval towns scattered everywhere in Brittany. Walking through the narrow, winding medieval lanes is all part and parcel of Brittany’s charms. In fact, we had a beautiful walk in the famous town of Locronan which has been listed as a Historic Monument in 1924 and has been awarded the title of most beautiful village in France. Landerneau is another gorgeous medieval town known for its remarkable architectural heritage most specifically the Rohan Bridge, built in the 16th century and inhabited for more than 500 years.
Did you know? Rohan Bridge is the only bridge in Europe that has still people living on it up to these days.

The little town of Locronan

Behind me is the Rohan Bridge in Landerneau.

6. Stroll in Foret de Huelgoat.

I love the stunning landscape and enchanting views in Foret de Huelgoat. It is a charming place to visit for an easy good walk or a picnic. Just time it right with the weather and stroll around the forest for a wonderfully enchanting excursion. In there you can find a great “chaos”, a large collection of huge boulders left after a glacier has melted.

Huelgoat

Huelgoat

7. Hill walking in the Moors of Cragou.

Are you fed up with seaside views but still up for a walk? In a beautiful area in Brittany, not far away from the ocean and with a fabulous climate, lies the wild Moors of Cragou. It is a Reserve area and serves as a haven for the wildlife so that the animals and plants can reproduce. In this area, people are forbidden to build houses, buildings or roads. The rocks stand 282 m above the sea level and remain untouched by mankind, with the exception of a few brave hill-walkers.

Moors of Cragou

Moors of Cragou

8. Day trip to Brittany’s islands.

Apart from its quaint villages, historic towns and breathtaking countryside, Brittany is also known for its pretty islands where you can have a perfect and peaceful break. While we were in Brittany, we hopped to Ile de Batz, one of its beautiful islands. We had a fantastic time there and one of the activities that I would never forget was when we leisurely walked around the whole island while enjoying its superb landscape. Indeed, it’s an exotic gem.

The island of Batz

The island of Batz

The island of Batz

9. Enjoy the magnificent coastal scenery.

Who wouldn’t love wonderful coastal scenery with rich flora and fauna, solitary lighthouses, pretty harbors, dramatic cliffs, amazing rock formations sculpted by the waves? There, the Channel sea meets the Atlantic ocean. The coastal area around Pointe Saint Mathieu provides a splendid views of the coast and a walking area for those who are nature lovers. The extraordinary coastal hamlet of Meneham is notable for its 17th century coastguard’s cottage with a stone roof surrounded by great boulders that are also scattered along the Kerlouan coastline. I am sure you’ll be bewitched by the serene landscapes because everywhere you turn the view is beautiful.

Pointe Saint Mathieu

Kerlouan

Hamlet of Meneham

10. Laze at Brittany’s lovely beaches.

Brittany has loads of great sandy beaches. I noticed that they are rarely really crowded because the water is so cold. Personally, I love the beach, though! We usually go to the Pontusval and Keremma. In Pontusval you can see a lighthouse, the water is very clear and many rocks that have formed intriguing shapes are scattered everywhere, while in Keremma there’s a 6km line of sand dunes (slowly disappearing though L) and translucent water. There are many seaside activities and watersports to enjoy – sunbathing, swimming, fishing, shellfish gathering, diving, sailing, kayaking, etc. The beaches in Brittany are simply a must see!

Pontusval Beach

Pontusval

Keremma Beach

Kerlouan Beach

11. Smack Breton luscious food.

Another thing that you should not miss when you are in Brittany is to try their delicious food – oysters, crepe, Breton butter cake and many more. If you are an oyster lover you can find great oysters in Cancale, a small town in Brittany. Crepe is a traditional Breton food. There are sweet crepes which are made with wheat flour and savory crepes made with buckwheat flour. The Breton butter cake (Kouign Amann) is a rich, mouth-watering dessert made of dough, butter and sugar.

Crêpe Flambée

Breton butter cake (Kouign Amann)

12. Don’t forget to taste Cider.

Even though Brittany does not produce wine, it produces Cider which is considered as Breton’s traditional drink. It is usually drank from clay cups to bring out the earthy flavor of the cider.