A Travellerspoint blog

Phnom Penh


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We arrived in Phnom Penh after a 6 hrs bus journey from Siem Reap which was fine. We travelled with Mekong Express after much deliberation and it seemed to be the one recommended by most travellers. It was alright, but the A/C on the coach could have worked better, we spent most of the time roasting!

Upon arrival we were mobbed by tuk tuk drivers, managed to find one to take us to Golden St. It's a bit further away from the river front but it's a nice street with enough restaurants and bars around to keep you happy for a few days. We stayed at New Golden Bridge Hotel, nice, clean and basic - however Cal was not a fan of the bed!

First night we went to the riverfront and had a few beers and some western food - we were starving and needed to be filled up! We turned onto st 138 (i think) as the bars were mentioned in the guide book. We went into a bar I thought was busy, but turned out to be all local girls, one of which was making some rude gestures towards Cal! We drank up and escaped back to the hotel quickly!

Our only full day, we decided to head to the National Museum and the Royal Palace/Silver Pagoda. We found the info in the museum about Angkor really interesting, it was good to see images of how the temples appeared when surrounded by a city. The Palace was alot more understated that Bangkok's...and I liked it that way.

We only spent a short time in Phnom Penh, it was more of a stop off on the way to Saigon. Neither of us loved it, it was just OK. I'm sure if we'd spent more time there however our opinions would have changed.

Posted by lkane86 02:00 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Siem Reap

You need driver for tomorrow?

semi-overcast 30 °C
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We read multiple horror stories about the infamous border crossing of Aranya Prathet - Poipet. We were prepared to be ripped off and had our wits about us.
We took the bus from Mo Chit bus terminal in Bangkok and arrived at the border 4 hours later...no need to take a tuk tuk to the crossing point. We passed through the market ignoring those claiming to do cambodian visas on the thai side, cleared thai immigration and then prepared for the worse...

it wasn't that bad! We filled in a health form, and a gentleman escourted us to the Cambodian Check Point. We were obviously wary of this man guiding us free of charge but we ignored him for the best part. We got to check point to apply for our visas, filled in the form and handed over our passport photos, and then the fun began. There is a sign above the counter quoting the visa price in USD, a valuable asset. First I was asked to pay 1000Bhat (which is around $29) to which i said no - only dollars. Then I was asked to pay $20 and 500 Bhat. No again. Lastly I was asked to pay $20 and 100 Bhat service charge. No dice, I'm not paying service charge, only $20. Victory! I paid my $20, and got my visa, after a wait of around 5mins.
From our understanding, lots of folk have paid the 100bhat "service charge" but it should be noted that you can get through without it, and if you stick to your guns you'll get there!
Onto the next area where we had our passports stamped and ok'd, waited for the free shuttle bus to take you to the taxi rank. I think this was were our gentleman friend who escorted us got his commision, he took us to his taxi office which was no big deal - $12 per person in a taxi to siem reap and we found another two backpackers to share with us. It's cheaper to take the minibus but we were sceptical of it so stuck with the taxi.
We arrived in siem reap taxi office and a tuk-tuk took us to guest house we had booked in advance, much to his objection. Tuk-tuk will try to take you to guesthouse for commision but if you already booked then there isn't much they can do.

We stayed in Rosy Guest House. Great place, great food and staff. Can highly recommend it. About 10mins from pub st, but tuk-tuk are only $1 per person.

Our first full day in town we took it easy. Explored town, booked our bus, escaped the heat at the guesthouse. We went to Angkor Wat for Sunset which was nice...if not a bit busy. Then we went out for dinner and had drinks in Island Bar at the nightmarket. Ace mojitos and a wonderful barman - Pauly - who entertained us with magic card tricks. It's a great bar to escape the madness of the market sellers!

Day two in Siem Reap was temple day. We went to Angkor Wat for sunrise, then onto Angkor Thom and lots of other little temples. It was a long, hot morning with lots of other tourists and stone temples but definetly worth the visit. We got home for lunchtime. We showered, slept and relaxed in the afternoon.

We liked Siem Reap, and were pleasantly surprised. Looking forward to a short stop in Phnom Penh before Vietnam and the final leg of the journey begins. Cambodian history is clear when you look at the local people...many victims of hidden mine explosions, and almost no old people in sight. Shocking to westeners, but just another culture to absorb!

Posted by lkane86 02:17 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)


The land of a thousand liars

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Our journey from Ko Tao to Bangkok was a very long one. We didn't arrive in Bangkok untill 8pm. We took a combined ferry+bus ticket which cost us 1000Bhat each. The bus was ok by asian standards.
We arrived at the end of Khao San Road and walked towards Soi Rambuttri where a friend had recommended Happy House Guest House. Nice rooms with AC and hot showers. we were just glad to dump our stuff, and we headed out to explore.
We had some beers, sampled some hawker stalls then went home to sleep like babies.

Next day was temple-tastic. We encountered our first bunch of liars though. Locals full of tales that its a buddhist holiday and the temples are only open for one day. To add to our problems, there was the Thai Fashion scam where tuk tuk drivers were trying to get us to go buy armani suits so they could get a free coupon which was worth 200Bhat (about 4quid...) which made every tuk tuk expensive by normal standards. We see the lucky buddha...but not up close cause a local talked to us for so long that the monks then closed the temple for prayers :/
Then we seen the standing buddha which was massive. 35m tall!
We then went to the Golden Mount and this time we walked when some honest soul told us it was only down the road...a refreshing change! From here we enjoyed a view of Bangkok - it's not the best skyline but still!
Next we went to Siam Square and enjoyed the cool air conditioned malls. We went to an all-you-can-eat noodle buffet for 60bhat which turns out was far too spicy for our western tongues.
We then hopped on the sky train and metro to get to Hua Lumphong Train station with the hope of exploring China Town but then decided we couldn't be bothered after what had been a long day already, so got in a tuk-tuk back to our guest house.
We spent the evening sampling beer on Khao San and Rambuttri and snacking from hawker stalls.

Day two in Bangkok resulted in a trip to the royal palace which coincided with the Queens Birthday. If we thought the day before was bad for liars, we were in for a treat :/
Tuk-tuk dropped us off at a park where all the locals were flocking to wait for the celebrations later that evening. There were stalls offering free food, drink, haircuts and I imagine much more if only we knew what the signs said! We walked towards the Palace where we were told by several official looking guys that we couldn't go to the palace until 2pm because it was on Thai people. This infact turned out to be utter nonsense, tourists have to go in the tourist gate because foreigners pays, thai people get free entry to the palace. Free sarongs and trousers are provided for those in shorts. Entrance fee also includes the temple of the Emerald Buddah which was a group of colourful temples, and lots of other buddahs. Once we escaped the palace we went to see the reclining buddha - and my favourite buddha of the trip. 45m long, this chilled out golden buddha was impressive.
We hoped on the river boat towards guest house which was an experience in itselfs. Too many locals shouting at us to get out of the way, and confused tourists not knowing what was going on...stick to the tourist boat I think.

Next day was a disastor - I was struck down with a stomach bug. We went to do some shopping on Khao San in the morning and spent most of the afternoon indoors. Tried to go out for a drink around 4pm, but I couldnt bear it so back to bed for me :( Cal spent a lonely evening on Khao San eating dinner for one.

There were good and bad points about Bangkok. We loved the eating and drinking on Khao San but we lost patience with locals trying to rip us off, and point us in the wrong direction. We spent the right amount of time, any longer and we would have went mad. The temples are wonderful, but beware of those telling you its thai only or that it's closed for the day - it never is!

Posted by lkane86 02:00 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Ko Tao

it looks nothing like a sunbathing turtle

semi-overcast 25 °C
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We once again hoped on a boat to another island. And once again delved into the madness of trying to find accommodation. One thing we've learned is that the Lonely Planet is not always to be trusted. Decided to stay in Mae Haad which is the port town. It's ok - but made us glad we stayed in Phangan another night. After a few places, we found accommodation within our budget. Not the best place we've stayed in, but it would do for two nights.

Today we wandered into Sairee Beach which is miles better. Place is mobbed with dive shops, which we've avoided as i'm still suffering from the cold.

Taking it easy before our long trip to Bangkok tmrw which involves a ferry to Chumpon and then a long (hopefully VIP) coach trip to Khao San Rd for 4 days of city living!

Posted by lkane86 22:37 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Ko Phangan

I could get used to this

sunny 30 °C
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After a very loooooooong day of travelling which included two ferries and numerous buses we arrived in Ko Phangan around 7pm. Once again the frantic questions of "where you going? where you stay?" were shouted as we tried to leave the ferry. Spoke to a nice lady who recommended Haad Yao Resort. So we hoped in a Tuk-Tuk and made our way there. Opted to try and survive without A/C in order to keep the cost down, got a lovely room with fan at the bargain price of 10quid a night. Now i'm sure many of you reading this won't believe how nice the rooms are, but we have photographic evidence!

Staying in the north west corner of the island away from the crazy full moon party nights. The beach has a row of various bars/bungalow resort places. There isn't anything to do here other than enjoy the sunshine, sand and sea. The sunset is gorgeous and we decided that we quite liked it here, and added and extra night onto our stay :)

I've managed to catch a cold which has meant we can't do any diving, but after our phi phi experience, that might not be a bad thing. Still can't help but feel i'm missing out.

On our last day we hired a moped and explored the island - made it feel much smaller. We went to Koh Ma but decided against snorkelling as the water was pretty choppy. Next we went to the largest waterfall on the island...which was ironically without any water. There was however a viewpoint, which we climbed up to (in flip flops...not easy) and got a birds-eye view of the entire island. We then went down to Haad Rin where the full moon (and any other moon parties) take place. We made a wise choice staying in the north-west coast, we were rather unimpressed with Haad Rin as a resort, but I imagine if you're going for a party then that's the place to be.

Don't want to leave, but we have to...one more island and then we're Bangkok Bound!

Posted by lkane86 22:32 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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