A Travellerspoint blog

You Say Angkor We Say What

Angkor aint the only temple!

all seasons in one day 35 °C

On arriving at Siem Reap we checked into our guest house - which we came to love as home!!

We took a day just to chill and book our temple time.
We were to have three days at the temples of Angkor Watt and surrounds.
To think I was worried this would be too much time!

DAY 1:
We got picked up at 5am (yes Gav got up at 4.30!!) by our 'Remorque Moto' often known as tuktuk.
Our driver (Frichard) took us straight to Angkor Watt for sunrise (He said why not start with the best!)
Nothing I had previously thought, read or seen about Angkor prepared me for the truly awesome experience it is.
Yes it really is vast, yes the lake outside Angkor is like a mini ocean, yes the sunrise is stunningly beautiful.
And... Yes it is THE most spiritual and uplifting experience - when you see it for the first time.
(believe me I usually avoid using such descriptions for fear of sounding cheesy but this place really warrants the gushing)
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After taking in the peaceful, stupendiously lavish Angkor we beat the crowds and did a tour known as the 'short tour''.
This covers the temples of Angkor Thom and elephant terrace - I have to say I didn't really take it all in
- it had rained during breakfast and was swedish sauna hot even in the shade.
When we reviewed the pics that Gav had taken we decided to go back and redo this tour on day three.
When it got a bit cooler we went to Ta Phrom which has monster trees growing over and through its walls and this is where the crowds were hiding!
I have to say that our sunrise experience stayed with us all day and beyond.
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In the evening we went into charming Siem Reap town and had our first taste of Khmer food proper.
(Breakfast had been scrambled eggs on toast!)
I had ''Amock'' which is a coconut and peanut curry served in a banana leaf, they made me a Tofu version. It was mild and creamy a bit like korma but oh so much more delicious.
Gav had ''beef lock lac'' which is strips of beef in a garlicy, coconutty, slightly chilified sauce, he loved it!

DAY 2:
After a much needed lie in Frichard convinced us to drive the 50km to a waterfall temple Kabal Spean and Banteay Srei - which is said to be the most artistic and intricate of all the temples.
The waterfall temple is a 2km hike through jungle up a steep slope, but boy is it worth it.
Images of Vishnu and Shiva, Oxen and Crocodiles as well as hundreds of lingas are carved into the rock that the water runs over. (Thats dedication for you!)P1020905.jpg
Here we saw the biggest live spiders we have ever seen hanging in their webs between the trees - they were the size of Gav''s out stretched hand (you will have to take our word for it as we were both too chicken to get a decent photo).
Banteay Sre didn't disappoint either, its tiny but the carvings are exquisitely detailed and we really appreciated the shade of its protective walls when we ate our packed lunch overlooking the serene lily covered moat.
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DAY 3:
Back to Angkor for sunrise (Gav did it twice!!) this time we were less shell shocked and could take it in more!
We then revisited a part of Angkor Thom called Bayon which is the one with the huge heads looking out two the jungle.P1020767.jpg
Apart from an amourous couple and two Khmer kids we were the only ones there (and the heads).
This made the visit all the more atmospheric; and spooky.
It will be another favourite memory as we were able to get up close and personal with the giant faces, it made for some really wicked pics.P1030033.jpg
The last temple we went to was Banteay Kdei, again it was almost deserted. It is like Ta Phrom with the giant trees strangling the temple itself but this time we didn't have to battle for space. We really soaked up the experience of this temple as we knew it was our last!P1020625.jpg

Posted by GavandJen 23:10 Archived in Cambodia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Cambodia it is

Border Bandits a go go

sunny -34 °C

We decided to go overland to Siem Reap from BKK as we were both very exited to see Angkor Watt.
We researched the border muchly before we went as had heard many horror stories of scams.
Thanks lordy we did. We booked our guest house before we went and they kindly hire us a babysitter to do the Cambodian side of the border with us!

We got to Arranyprathet on the Thai side very smoothly, then the scams began!
Our TukTuk Tuk us to the first tout who was dressed in a suit (so instantly recognisable as a con artist!) (SCAM 1)
"Hello sir maam do you have your visas border closed for visas today"
"Yes have visas we are meeting friends" We lied,
"Are you sure no possiblity to get visas elsewhere today"
At this point we started chanting "Straight to border" (repeat) to our TukTuk bloke, this seemed to work as he Tuk us straight there after that.

We got through Thai immigration ok once we had been moved from que to que a few times.
We managed to meet our very starry eyed babysitter no probs, we got the impression that if we hadn't had him things might have been different!
The man outside the window at the visa office claimed it was 20dollars and 1000baht for our visas (SCAM 2!)
Thanks to our trusty Asia web research we knew it should be 20dollars plus bribe of the hour.
We lied again and said "sorry no baht"
"But you must have Baht he said"
To cut a longish story short we got away with 20dols and 200baht each - it seems we got let off lightly after hearing other travellers tales.

We then got on the free tourist bus and our Babysitter turned into an expert on current exchange rates,
"Soon we will get to the last Thai bank in Cambodia" (SCAM 3)
"No changing of baht ANYWHERE other than this bank" he said.
"Ohhh how much is the exchange rate?" we said
""well thanks to America exchange rate VERY bad only 3200 to 1dollar""

He proceeded to usher the poor guy we were travelling with into the bank/guesthouse/corner shop/pet shop/
To loose several thousand baht - luckily we didn't bother (do I sound smug?)
We then got into our wonderful air CON (pardon the pun) taxi and off we went to the loverly GH on a VERY BUMPY road.

Pardon us if this tale has bored you but we hope it might save some other travellers.

Posted by GavandJen 04:23 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

To Hanoi or not to Hanoi

That is the question!

We left Koh Chang and headed straight to central Bkk to get our Vienam visa and do some serious shopping at MBK & Siam centres, We stayed at the lovely Reno hotel (bye bye budget) as I had a stinking cold (thank you snorkelling trip) and needed a little luxury.

After two days in commercial meltdown we decided to head back to the more budget friendly Banglampu.
We were all set to fly to Hanoi on the 4th Nov when I checked the Vitnam weather - oh oh!
'Hanoi struggles under one meter of flood water', '55,000 homes in N. & Central Vietnam in floods' etc etc.
After much research on forums and web we decided to postpone our Hanoi branch of the trip as more heavy downpours are fore cast. (Sympathies go out to the Hanoians.)

So - we are still in BKK pondering our next move - but its looking like the DJ Shadow gig at Culture club bkk is too tempting to miss (5th Nov).
Will it be North to Chaing Mai and Luang Prabang? Or S.E through Cambodia?
Will type soon!!!

Posted by GavandJen 21:13 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Snorkelling

Snorkelling or survival?

rain -15 °C

We decided to book a days snorkelling trip from Koh Chang.
This was to be a day trip from BangBao fishing village.
The boat was a triple decker and we chose a Thai holiday to go which meant we were the only westerners on the trip, much to the amusesment and special attention of the boat staff.

We sailed for an hour to our first stop passing the shores of a majestic mist shrouded Cambodia appearing in the distance.
When we arrived we realised that this was a very popular hol activity for Thais: there were three other boats all tied up vying for space.
In the water we got, the corals were amazing as were the sea anenome and cucumbers, the most common fish to be seen were the feet of our fellow snorkellers.
After 30 min the wind picked up and the water got decidedly choppier. We decided to get out, then my seasickness struck.

By the time I got back to my seat I was greener than a sea cucumber and just had to hang over the side for the rest of the trip. The next three hours proceeded to throw the worst of Thailands gulf weather at us and the side of the boat I was glued to. There were endless freezing squalls of rain I swear it even hailed at one point!
(You know its bad when the crew start to look unsettled) My saviours that day were the little yellow sea sick pills, a bin liner with head and arm holes cut out by the diving instructor - and the numerous cups of hot foul coffee brought by a long suffering Gav! Next time we boat it I think we'll go for a shorter trip at least! (Oh no Thailand to Laos via mekong!)

Posted by GavandJen 20:54 Archived in Thailand Tagged boating Comments (0)

Bangkok & Koh Chang

Bangkok and Koh Chang

storm 35 °C

We set off from Heathrow airport on the 8th of October and arrived in Bkk on the 9th of Oct! We stopped in Doha in the dead of night and sat in a deserted airport on sticy seats for six hours twiddling our thumbs-
Servs us right for getting the cheapest flights!!!

We stayed in four sons place near the koahsan road for the first night,P1010856.jpg
then off to White sands beach Koh Chang.
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It is so refreshing to come back to the place you have missed for four years and things are still as you remember them! (I know I sound like an old fart!)
Actually it is slowly getting over developed, with monster five star resorts that none of us mere mortals will be able to afford!

We chilled there for a week making friends with a Thai fire twirler called Bon ('second best on island, best over there somewhere!')P1020070.jpg
And with a dog called Wolfy, he is a gorgoes ancient beach dog with the softest ears, he slept outside our room, just for the fussing!! (And shade I think)
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On the 19th oct we moved to lonely beach, which is on the south west coast. If white sands beach is like the Jazz field at Pilton festival, Lonely is the Green fields!
The accomodation is gorgeous and cheap, there are lovely eco friendly "resorts" built in to the jungle setting (not fighting with it)
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We are both in love with a place called the tree house - which has the best vege food I have ever come across!
Tofu with everything please! It is part Ewok village, part Exmoor bovvy!
We will post some pics of the toilets and showers which definately get you closer to nature.
Open air with free hanging vines, pebble walls and tad poles swimming in the shower pools.
Beautiful but a bit too close to all the bugs for me so we opt to stay at Katchapura; more ewok style pads but bathrooms with a degree of 'sealdness'.

Posted by GavandJen 12:42 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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