The ‘Emerald Island‘ is a great destination for everyone from tourists to backpackers. While the accommodation is a bit more expensive than other South East Asian countries, the food and transportation is still very cheap. Wonderful sights, amazing beaches, delicious local specialties, friendly people in a laid back culture.
I was skeptical about buying camera equipment for in South East Asia because of the big price difference. The DSLR’s are 800-1000$ cheaper if you buy them here.
– Are they fake? Are they used but cleaned?
These are just few of the many other questions I had. I was doing researches on the net for two months, reading personal blogs, Flickr discussions. Also I spent lots of time on Tripadvisor and Thorn Tree but I haven’t found a good answer anywhere.
When I was in Hanoi and googled ‘Canon shops‘ a few links popped up. One was from the official store with the price 3100$+ for Canon 5D Mark III and the other like DIGIworld had the approx. 2400$ price. I went there the next morning, like a tourist that is just asking questions with no intention of buying, to see why there is such a big difference in the prices.
The first place was DIGIworld, clean and modern shop with lots of photo equipments. They were pretty helpful and answered all the questions I asked.
The price difference is because:
The not official stores are not paying “VAT”
The products are smuggled from other countries like Cambodia or Laos where the taxes are low.
I went to a few other smaller photo shops further down the road, but the people working there had poor English and not very helpful, but from what I understood 90% of them were saying the same thing as in DIGIworld.
I ended up buying a GoPro 4 and a Canon 5D MK III for 2900$ in DIGIworld and they are perfectly fine, I had no problems with them.
DIGIworld is located on 6 Hàng Bài street, 500m after the lake, south of the Old Ha Noi quarter.
Perhaps for most of the travelers, Sen Monorom, the capital of Mondulkiri province, is not the first place to visit in Cambodia. Many don’t even know about it and they are not even including it in their itinerary.
We took the mini van from Kampong Cham, which was a mistake. We should have gone with a bus because in the minivans you are driving with 21 people plus the driver and the vehicle is registered for 12. The price difference is only 0,5 / 1$, but we were thinking that the vans are faster and book one of them.
The first half of the journey to Sen Monorom is on dirt road, the second half is on paved one. The landscapes surrounding the road are amazing, green hills combined with red soil and various types of flora.
Sen Monorom is not like the other places in Cambodia. When you get off the bus there are no tuk tuk drivers offering ride to acommodations. Here you will have one or two guys offering a motorbike ride to the hotel you have booked. It shouldn’t be more than 1$ even if it’s outside of town like the Nature Lodge or Tree Lodge. To explore the town and its surroundings you will need a motorbike, as it is quite spread out. The maps you are handed when renting a bike, are not very helpful as they are all hand drawn and not very accurate.
Book a room in advance. Usually the budget lodges with nice bungalows get full quickly in main season. The prices can be higher than written in the guide books, add 2-3$ on top of them. We stayed in Phanyro Guesthouse for 8$ (double room) hot shower, clean and spacious rooms. Most of the staff don’t speak English. There is no wifi in the room but you can sit in front of your door to get some signal.
There are few lodges that offer bungalows for 7-10$ like Tree Lodge or Happy Elephant. Nature Lodge is charging 25$ for the same thing.
We found a nice place to eat called Sovannkiri Restaurant and Guesthouse on the main road with fair prices, good food, friendly staff and good wifi. They also have rooms for 8$/night. If you are looking for cheap local food check out the market and grab some vegetarian dish for a dollar.
What to do:
On the hand drawn map all the things that are worth seeing in the area are marked. Not so many and they are pretty far from each other. Mondulkiri is a province for eco tourism and you can find many 2-3 days tours offering jungle trekking, see and feed the elephants, visit the indigenous Bunong people. Most of the waterfalls you can visit by yourself, just rent a motorbike. We didn’t go on arranged tour because the price was over our budget. Instead, we rented a bike and drove to Sen Monorom waterfall located at the edge of the jungle where we saw an elephant and her owner, a nice Bunong man. We passed by Bunong villages but they were unfortunately empty.
It is said that this is the least visited province but that is not true. There are many big groups of students from AU, NZ, UK & US doing volunteer work here, paying lots of money for that. The locals say that the a foreign company organizes all of that and its primary objective is not to help the minorities and animals but to make money. Now there is another organization founded by the locals which is cheaper and is just for helping themselves.
From the peaceful Kep in SW Cambodia we took the bus to Kampong Cham from where we are continuing to Mondulkiri province in E Cambodia. Because of the late arrival in the city we decided to spend the night in a guest house and hit the road in the morning. While exploring the city searching for dinner we thought that it would be a waste not to spend at least one day and explore the surroundings. We weren’t wrong, there is so much to be seen here in a day. Continue reading Visiting Kampong Cham in one day→
From the high Himalayan Mountains of Nepal we decided to go down in the warmer places in Asia, first stop is Cambodia. If you are also a person that wants to escape the crowd and the drunk young tourists that are occupying Sihanoukville, you should definitely go to the Kep and visit its surroundings. Continue reading Things to do in Kep, Cambodia→
We’ve just finished Trekking the Annapurna circuit in Nepal and decided to share with you our notes, highlights, photos, memories and the things we used and helped us a lot to finish this trek in record time as beginner trekkers, hope you find these informations useful. Continue reading Trekking in Nepal – Annapurna Circuit→
For all those who are interested in the photo equipment I use for my travels, this is what I have with me at all times:
On my neck & in my pocket
1. Smartphone – iPhone 6S
Great for quick snaps, panoramic shots, videos and instant photo sharing.
Make sure you have a solid case for it, you are going on a adventure and there are big chances that your phone will fall on the ground few times.
+ Canon 5D Mark III
22.3MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
3.2″ Clear View High Resolution LCD
DIGIC 5+ Image Processor
61-Point High Density AF
Full HD 1080/30p and 720/60p Formats
Built-In HDR and Multiple Exposure Modes
Extended ISO Range (50-102400)
Up to 6.0 FPS Continuous Mode
Dual CF and SD Memory Card Slots
Durable Magnesium-Alloy Construction
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM – I have a passion for documenting faces of the locals from the developing countries that I visit and this lens has helped me achieve what I want. Great for close ups and portraits, the photos are sharp and clean with beautiful blurry background, just perfect. I hardly ever remove this lens from the body, for other types of photos i use the GoPro.
In my Backpack
All of this equipment is stored in the LowePro 250 Fastpack. There is a slot for everything from the list above, plus there is a space for the chargers, adapters, papers, money and other smaller things that you need for the trip.
GoPro – Hero 4 Silver edition(Hooked on the top of the bag)
It is light, it has water protection case, it can do videos, time lapse, and burst shots. I am a solo traveler so it is a must that I have a pole so I can do selfies, also with extending the pole you can get closer to something you wanna take shot of, I use it to get close to wild animals. It has an intergraded display.
The POV Pole I use is by SP-Gadgets (link) – Your GoPro® camera can be directly attached to it without any extra parts. The dual-diameter grip keeps the pole firmly secured in your hand
Make sure you have spare battery and spare SD Card.
2. MacBook Pro 13in – Retina display
The battery holds 5-6 hours, the display is paradise for photographers and its light as a feather.
Use the Aperture, the Apple software for photo editing, the amazing thing is that you can add map to your photos and share them instantly wherever you want, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter … to bad you can on Instagram
Long time I was using and external hard drive as primary storage solution for my photos, but recently I was robed and I lost many photographs were not duplicated on some other storage device, I was devastated. Then I learned about Google Drive, and now for 10$ I have 1TB online storage, and every night when I come back to the hostel/hotel I upload the photos from the day there. If i stay more days in the wild, only then I use the hard drive, but when I connect to the internet I am instantly uploading the shots.
Sigma 24-105mm F/4 DG OS HSM Art – A new lens that I bought so I can get more wider images and to get close to some subjects when I can’t approach them by foot. The price was 900 euros (in Macedonia) which was little bit expensive, but is worth it.
The sharpness of the lens is amazing, has a fast auto focus and solid made body. The only negative thing is the weight (885g), when is attached on my Mark III and I am Trekking/Hiking for longer hours and distances (Langtang region in winter), I have big problems with my neck in the end of the day.