Je bekijkt de reis...
Reisverslag Cambodia & Thailand
18 januari 2014
Cambodia & Thailand
Anyway, so as I mentioned in my last post, getting to Cambodia was an experience to say the least. What was supposed to be a 8 hour journey turned into a 9 hour one. First we got held up at the Cambodian border for 2.5 hours and later the broke down, causing another 1.5 hour delay. I felt so bad for the people sitting in the aisle, because yes, they overbooked the bus to such an extent that some poeple had to sit on stools in the aisle. After all of this, getting to the hostel was quite a relief, especially because it was really nice with a bar and outside terrace. Didn't do anything that night besides enjoying a cocktail at the hostel bar and recovering form my long journey.
The next morning I joined some poeple at breakfast and we went to the killing fields and Tuol Sleng museum. Really not muc hof a mood-improver either, the museum especially. It's hard to accept what human beings are capable of inflichting on each other. The second day in Phnom Penh a group of us went to the Royal Palace, which was incredibly beautiful. One part of it contains the " Silver Pagoda", which is supposed to be really special because it's foor consists of tiles made of real silver. Unfortunately they had covered almost the entire floor with carpet, and the few tiles you could see had tunred completely black. What a waste...Afterwards we walked around for a bit and ended up at the Central Market, which was unlike any other market I had seen so far...it was organized. While wandering around I started picking up some of the differences between Vietnam and Cambodia. For starters, the traffic, which seems almost quiet here when you've spent 3 weeks in the crazy world of Vietnam scooters. Also, there were waaay more cars aruond, which was pretty much a rarity in Vietnam. Second difference was the monks that were waking around in their orange robes and umbrellas. Especially entertaining were the ones loudly conversing on their iPhone 5s. Guess those are exempt from being considered materialistic items?!...
People in Cambodia are also supposed to be friendlier than in Vietnam. I have to say the customer service was definitely better, but I met some great people in Vietnam as well. Maybe more time in Cambodia would have given me more insight into that...or maybe other people just exaggerate and complain.
After 2 days in Phnom Penh I was off on (another) bus ride to get to Siem Reap, temple paradise. Of course I was lucky and I ended up being in another bus that broke down, so again I arrived much later than planned. Customer service in Cambodia might be better, but at least in Vietnam there were actual roads that got you to your destination on time (and sometimes even early). When I finally got to my hostel in Siem Reap it turned out they had overbooked. There I was thinking I'd have to go wander around and find another hostel while it was already getting dark, but that's not what happened. Instead I was escorted to a nice hotel and was given a private room with tv and water boiler...all for the same price that my dorm should have been. After a shower and some relaxation I headed into town and boy was I pleasantly surprised. Compared to dirty, smelly, unimpressive Phnom Penh, Siem Reap was a breathe of fresh air (in some ways literally). Yes, okay, it was probably because it was tourist central, but I didn't care. The Pub Street area was amazing; row after row of really nice, cute, cool restaurants and bars; what an amazing atmosphere. Since I was in a private room that night I didn't really meet anyone to hang out with, so walked around and had dinner by myself. Not that I minded though. It was actually nice to have a night to myself.
I booked a tuktuk for the next day and went to Angkor Wat by mysel. Again, I didn't mind. It was nice to wander around all the temples in peace. It really was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.
Originally I had planned to go to the temples for 2 days, but after 5.5 hours of sightseeing I had seen enough temples for a while. That night I went out with a group from the hostel (I had been able to check in that morning), and the next morning I was pretty much worthless. Worst hangover in a while...must've been the heat. All I did was chill-out, go to an internet cafe, and booked a plane ticket to Bangkok. I booked the ticket for a day later than planned, but it made a huge difference in price. Only stupid thing I did was not look at the time, so I would be arriving in Bangkok at 11 pm. Not the end of the world, but still, maybe better to do those things when not hungover. Because of this I had 2 more days to kill in Siem Reap. One of them I spent biking around with an Aussie. We didn't go anywhere in particular, but it was nice to explore the city and surrounding area. That night I went out again and let's just say it was one of the best nights yet. Went to dinner with 3 Brits and ended up bumping into a friend (Zena) I made on Phu Quoc Island. Zena joined in on our fun and we headed to Angkor What? bar which is basically the (only) place to be in Siem Reap and Pub Street. Nights there involve Angkor What and the place across the street locked in a music battle with everyone dancing on the street. One of the British guys was crazy; Tom, thank you for making my night. Met some Dutch guys along the way as well and it was just one great party (with 1-2 bottles of water for me this time as well :P). Felt fine and dandy the next morning and spent my last day making fun of my hungover buddies and getting a mani-pedi with Zena. Though I was ready to move on from Siem Reap that night, it was a little bitter sweet. I don't want to say that traveling alone has made me feel at all lonely, but sometimes it's nice to see a familiar face, and I sort of felt sad that Zena was going in the opposite direction.
The flight to Bangkok wasn't bad at all, but I was so tired from the night before that it was sort of frustrating to arrive in Bangkok and find about 100 people in front of me at the taxi counter. Once I was finally assigned a taxi, at least he was a really fast driver. However, when we got to the right area, he couldn't find the hostel, even though I had printed out the directions in both Thai and English. Luckily I know a little bit about Thai culture and I knew the guy would probably never admit to not knowing where it was. So a process was started of me hinting certain things without embarrassing him and at the same time leaving the ball in his court. First I handed him the directions again: "Should we look at these again?". Next: "Should we call this number (provided by the hostel)?". I even had to type it into his phone because he couldn't read it properly even with his glasses on. Later it occurred to me that he might have been illiterate, which apparently a lot of the taxi drivers are. After that I asked: "Do you want to ask those guards over there?". Finally, after driving around for a bit, I was the one who spotted the hostel and after a long long day I was grateful to be able to crash into my bed.
My hostel in Bangkok was located in the Sukhumvit district, which is basically the business/expat area of the city. This meant that I was quite a ways from the Old Quarter where most of the tourist attractions are located. In order to get there I had to take public transport for basically the first time during my trip. The BTS, or Skytrain, was easily accessible from the hostel, and after that I took a boat ride along the river to Bangkok's most popular tourist attractions: the Royal Palace and Wat Pho which houses the giant reclining Buddha. I had been to these places once before when I was 8 years old, and though I remembered little about them, it was cool to e and back and experience them so many years later.
That afternoon, as I was standing in the BTS on my way back to the hostel, I thought about a questions someone had asked me the day before: Could you live in SE Asia? At the time I couldn't really respond. One the Skytrain I came to a conclusion. If that place was Bangkok, then yes, I would be able to live there. I was only in Bangkok for 2 days, but I loved the towering buildings, the technology, and especially the mix people wandering about.
My second day in Bangkok I spent going to lunch at a Lebanese restaurant, followed by a visit to Jim Thompson's house. Thompson created a silk emporium in Thailand, only to later disappear in the Malaysian jungle. To this day no one knows what happened to him. The house was a collection of traditional Thail-style houses transported to Bangkok. They were all beautiful and incredibly well-preserved.
The next morning I got up incredibly early in order to get out of Bangkok to avoid getting stuck in the city. As you may know -and if you don't please get out from under your rock and read a newspaper- Monday was the start of a series of protests against the government. Even though I got up early, when I was walking to the metro station some streets had already been closed off and there were a couple of hundred people having a sit-in in front of a stage near a big intersection. Thankfully I got to the train station just fine, but the train itself ended up with a 1.5 hour delay because of a protest march. I met other travelers a couple of days later who had left Bangkok later, and even though they got out of the city without any problems, I still didn't regret making the decision to leave early; better safe than sorry right?
Foto's bij verslag (11)
18 januari 2014 09:35 | Door: Omaatjes
How nice to read about your travels, especially the ones about places I've been myself!!! Brings back best memories ever! About indeed smelling en smoggy Pnomh Penh and Siem Reap, where I spend almost a week!
Where are you now, Chiang Mai? Did you book the Diva's dorm???
Love you hunny, make the very best of your last time!