On the bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok …
We’ve already reached the midway point of this trip. The days seem to fly by. On a typical day we have breakfast at the hotel, go sightseeing for several hours, have lunch at a restaurant, and do more sightseeing for the rest of the afternoon. Some days we go directly to dinner. Other days we stop at the hotel for a break before heading out to eat. After dinner we’ve got time on our own, so we try and explore the city or town. Both Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap had vibrant, walkable nightlife areas, so it was entertaining to grab a beer and walk with the locals and tourists down what we’ve been calling the street of chaos while dance music and light pulses out of the nightclubs!
Today we’re leaving Cambodia and heading to Thailand. We take Cambodian road NR6 out of Siem Reap to the Thai border city of Poipet (possibly also known as Poi Pet or PoiPet). The trip is about 150 kilometers, about 90 miles. But Cambodia doesn’t have a national highway system, so the trip down the two lane road takes about two and a half hours. Cell coverage is actually pretty good along the way.
As we drive Thara talks about life in Cambodia. Much like the Vietnam War was an ongoing theme during our time in Vietnam, here it’s about the ongoing recovery from the Khmer Rouge “Killing Fields” when over a million Cambodian’s were murdered by the regime in the late 1970’s. In Thailand we’re visiting the bridge on the Kwai River and the cemetery of the 10s of thousands soldiers and slaves that died building the bridge, so the impact of war is a central theme of this trip to Southeast Asia.
I’ve blogged about it before. I really enjoy these transfer days on a bus. It seems like it might be really boring, but I find sitting on the bus and watching the countryside go by to be incredibly relaxing. It’s a good time to catch up on the day’s blog post. Yes – that’s why today’s post is longer than usual! And sometimes I’ll focus on finding interesting things to photograph like towns along the way, motorbikes with unusually large loads, or strange farming vehicles.
We arrive at Poipet around 11a and pass through the departures office to have our exit paperwork processed and passports stamped. It takes our group an hour to get through the line.
Then, pulling our luggage, we walk past several casinos, over a bridge, and into Aranyaprathet, Thailand! Immigration processing to enter Thailand takes even longer than exiting Cambodia. Waiting in line we take bets to see how long the line will take. It’s about about two hours to walk across the border, pass through immigration, and meet our Thailand tour guide.
We board our Thailand bus and head about 20 minutes down the road for lunch at SK. Steak. The sign outside says park your horse and stay a while. Sitting with Marguerite, Mickey, and Donna we each get the recommended Chicken Curry Soup and Curry Puffs. My first curry since India. It’s actually pretty good.
It’s the dry season in this part of the world. But while Vietnam was lush and green here in Thailand many of the fields along the road to Bangkok are brown. Like Cambodia it’s arid and hot here. We’ll need to hydrate tomorrow!
We’re scheduled to arrive at The Heritage Bangkok hotel around 7:30p and we’ll head out for a late dinner around 8p. More on Bangkok tomorrow. Thanks for reading!
From the rooftop pool of the City View Hotel …
Today we visit Angkor Wat. After breakfast at the City View Hotel we board a small bus and head to the Angkor Wat Ticket Processing Center. It’s $37 for an all day access ticket. Of that $2 goes to support the local children’s hospital and $0.50 pays for the “happy room” as they politely call the restroom in Southeast Asia.
In the morning we visit Ta Prohm Temple, Chau Say Toveda, Angkor Thom, and the South Gate of Angkor Thom City.
After a late lunch at Chef D’angkor Restaurant we’re off to Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat is one of the largest religious sites in the world, built in the 12th century and dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu. Our guide, Thara, takes us to a small pond in front of the site for photos with a reflection in the water. All day Thara points out the best photo angles. The detailed carvings in the wall of the temple are incredible to see. And it explains why construction of the temple took more than 30 years. It’s a steep climb to the top of the temple for a view of the surrounding countryside.
It’s unbelievably hot here and after several hours we decide to head back to the hotel for some time at the pool and the sunset before dinner.
Tomorrow we take the bus to Thailand.
At the City River Hotel in Siem Reap …
After breakfast at the hotel we have a leisurely 9a checkout and get in the bus to head to the airport. Unlike some other trips there aren’t any extremely early wake calls and departures. And that helps given the 12 hour time change.
At Tan Son Nhat Airport it takes me a while to get through security. Turns out my DSLR microphone looks suspicious on the X-Ray machine. For a quick lunch I try a Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwich – pickled vegetables on a baguette. I get mine with chicken. Not bad for an airport lunch.
We fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap on Cambodia Angkor Air flight 825. Our 12:25p departure gets us to Siem Reap in Cambodia around 1:30p.
After a quick stop for snacks at the Lucky Mart, we check in at City River Hotel.
Then we take the bus to Tonlé Sap Lake and board a boat for a cruise to see floating villages. The boats in the region are all hand made and use truck engines for power. They are very load. We journey from the chaotic dock where hundreds of tourists are boarding boats, down a twisting canal, and eventually reach the lake. The lake is home to a small flotilla of homes. We stay out on the lake long enough to see the sunset. It’s a relaxing change of pace after a busy day of travel.
Dinner is at a restaurant in town called Mahob Khmer Cuisine. The ceviche, hot and sour soup, and grilled chicken are excellent.
Tomorrow we visit Angkor Wat.