Friday, March 9, 2007


DESPITE the bird flu, Lauren and I took a 6-day tour to Thailand, visiting Bangkok, Pattaya, and Ayutthaya (ancient capital of Thailand). Afterwards we visited Siem Reap in Cambodia. We were on our own in Siem Reap, which was more enjoyable (to us, anyway).

The 6-day tour to Thailand was more of a 4-day tour because of time change and travel time. We booked our tickets with Jane Stark at Travel International Group Inc. (tel: 310-327-5143). Jane did a good job but the guide in Bangkok had limited English skills and there was some "cutting" of the tour - e.g. there were some restaurants we were supposed to have gone to, and we ended up in less-expensive places.

Bangkok is a sprawling, busy city, a lot like Manila except that the signs are not in English, but in Thai; and it's a tad cleaner. The Grand Palace and Temples are whimsical, and our side trip to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya was a nice prelude to the Angkor temples. I could have skipped the seaside resort of Pattaya although Lauren enjoyed our day in Coral Island where he jet skiied.

The trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia was wonderful! Siem Reap, which is a few kilometers away from the famous 10th-15th century "wats," or temples still has a sleepy colonial feeling. I suspect locals are shell-shocked at the number of tourists pouring into their city (second largest in Cambodia, after Phon Penh;it's not a large city at all). Exchange is in dollars, and there's a double-tiered society, with the locals trying to eke out a living on $3-5 dollars a day, and the tourists paying from $30-300 per night in hotels. (We stayed in Hotel City River - breakfast, nice, close to old town.)

Some tips: don't be timid about bargaining; offer half the asking price. When you get into Siem Reap, if you like your taxi driver, go ahead and hire him to take you to the temples; it costs $20-25 per day to hire your own driver. It costs $1 to hire the local tricycles or touk-touks. As mentioned there's a wide range of places in Siem Reap, from the inexpensive to the extravagant - so do a little research on hotels and restaurants beforehand. There are a number of hotels listed in the internet, but some of them are far from the city. It's really so much nicer to be able to walk to the Old Market with the colonial buildings, market etc. for dinner and shopping.
Overall, it's cheaper to shop in Siem Reap than Bangkok, and Siem Reap has pretty much the same items available. City Money Souvenir Shop has real rubies and sapphires but you need to be fearless in bargaining as their asking price is high.

The temples in Angkor are breathtaking! I fell in love with the entrance to Angkor Thom with the gods on the one side and the demons on the other. Bayon with the stone faces on the towers are fabulously surreal. Ta Phram with the trees growing out and over ancient buildings is the most magical place I've ever seen!

March 2004
(Above pictures show Lauren Brainard in Ta Phram, Cambodia; and Lauren in Bayon, Angkor Thom, Cambodia)

 Read also:
Grand Tour of Egypt 1 (visit also Egypt 2, 3
Maids in the Mist - Canada  (and visit Canada 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Turkey 1 (and visit Turkey 2, 3, 4)
AND MORE - Search in my blog Philippines, France, Ireland, Peru, Turkey, Mexico, Egypt, Vietnam, Mexico, etc.
tags: travel, tourism, holiday, pictures, Brazil, India, Kenya, Egypt, Vietnam, Philippines, Turkey, China, Cecilia Brainard
All for now,

All for now,
Cecilia Brainard

tags: travel, tourism, Asia, Cambodia, Thailand, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Siem Reap

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