Cambodia Travel Report August 2006

I flew into Bangkok with SAS from Copenhagen on my way to Cambodia. I arrived at the airport early as usual. My mother commenting on this tendency said that I was likely to be “too early for my own funeral”. On check in they could not give me a seat assignment so I waited anxiously hoping it was not to be a middle seat between two all-in wrestlers. When I arrived at the gate I had to wait again and finally, I was given a seat in row 8. I was instantly joyous as that was in business class. So for the price of my highly discounted tourist class ticket I was going to arrive in style.

The flight was excellent, the food and wine were good and I slept well. I arrived at the old Bangkok airport as the new one was due to open in a couple of weeks. I took a taxi to my hotel, which was slap bang in the middle of the entertainment district of Sukhumvit Road. The boutique hotel was newly renovated and the rooms were clean and OK. It was early afternoon so the plan was to begin to explore the local area.

Day 2
Today was not a good day. I have lain on my bed all day with D&S. The medicine I got from the doctor in Borrby Vårdcentrlen did not work. It is a pity you are not here Ann Christin you would love the shopping but the heat, noise and sleasiness would not appeal to you. Tomorrow I intend to go to the Thai temple, Wat Po. The plan was to go today but my sickness stopped that. The time is 19:30 and I have eaten the first food of the day, half a plain omelette and a coke. No more food, no beer just coke or water for the rest of the day. So far I have not taken many pictures. It is too noisy and confusing. I like quiet places with simple clear shapes and lines. I will try to take some pics for record’s sake but they will not be aesthetic. I sampled some of the bar life but the loud music and the girls asking repeatedly “What’s your name. Where you come from” drove me crazy. I retired to the relative calm of a street bar. I met an English couple and we talked a lot. After they left a marital dispute between two Thais erupted into a fight. I tried to intervene but was heavily dissuaded from doing so by the bar owner. She said it was not worth the risks of a stay in hospital. I also met a Canadian man and we had a beer and chatted. He lives in Tokyo and works for a University. He hates Japan he says everybody is the same. I must go there sometime. He comes to Bangkok for R&R two or three times a year. Maybe he is a masochist.

Day 3
Well, I am in a bit better humour today. I made it to Wat Po and the reclining Buddha. I know now why it made a big impression on me last time. It is a haven of peace and quiet in a crazy hectic city. There is a school for young children and I watched them start their day with exercises and songs. I took some pictures but I am still not getting what I want. After Wat Po, I went to China Town. Amazing you can buy anything. Each area has its own specialisation. Some areas sell car parts and others electronics etc. Noisy, hot, hectic and amazing.

I am off to Cambodia tomorrow. I have been trying to buy dollars but they tell me the best place at do this is at the airport. I might go to the night market in Patpong tonight if I feel strong enough. My hotel is not so good and I will not stay here when I come back. I am not sure I even want to come back to Bangkok after Osterlen it is way too busy. If you can imagine it as Paris times ten. I might skip Bangkok and go to the coast for a couple of days or stay longer in Cambodia.

Day 4
I am at the airport on my way to Siam Reap. I Slept OK and packed carefully this morning. Now it is 13:15 and my flight goes in 45 mins. I was early of course. They have a lounge with good espresso coffee. Tomorrow I hope to start my visit to Angkor Wat.

The flight to Siam Reap took an hour and was quite comfortable. I had arranged an electronic visa so I passed through immigration control at the head of the queue, which was wonderful. A white battered Mercedes was there to meet me. I ate at the hotel and the food was good. A short walk into Siam Reap in the evening. It was full of mopeds with whole families riding on them, buffalo in the main street and lots of children begging.

Day 5
I am due to start my journey around Angkor Watt in an hour. I slept badly. I hope after breakfast and coffee I will be better.

Today was a full day around the temples hot and tiring. I was up at 4:30 to see the sunrise. Not very spectacular today but lots of other people also waited at 5:30 to see the first rays of the sun. The temples are very impressive. They cover a huge area and are in various states of repair. They have had a profound impact on me and I know my trip is going to be worth it. The temples are decorated with huge carved heads, of gods and animals. Huge faces are everywhere. Beautifully carved balustrades in the windows of the main temple. Too much to describe. The visual excitement takes away any feeling of physical discomfort from the wet weather which is punctuated by hot sunny humid spells. Your clothes are soaked after five minutes outside. Sometimes there is a nice breeze. I hope my pictures do it justice.

Tomorrow I will take a break from all-day temple visits and perhaps just do a half-day. I have decided to stay in Cambodia and I need to fix a new hotel and my travel to Bangkok.

I am staying in Cambodia until the 16th and then I will fly to Bangkok airport and then home. I found a hotel bargain. I went around six hotels today and bargained on the rate. I found one for 45$ which should have cost 170$ per night. Right now is low season and they are desperate to fill rooms. I have attached some pictures of my room. I have internet in my room so we can skype which saves phone costs.

I ate in a restaurant near my hotel but the food was bland and unsatisfying. Today I will take my final trip to the temples for a few hours. Later I will do some shopping and tonight I have decided on Indian food. It is the school holidays so the children are all out selling to the tourists. Very cute very little girls and boys try to sell you postcards, guidebooks, wooden whistles etc. They are very clever I met a Dutch couple in a bar and they told me about a boy they had met who was able to count to ten in at least eight languages. You need to get very hard-hearted very quickly if you want to go home with any money left.

Well, soon my little adventure is over. I am in an internet cafe drinking espresso and sending emails. I now have the long wait for the flight to Bangkok and then to Copenhagen. I have seen enough of Temples and Siam Reap and the attractions of sitting and playing computer in the cool airconditioned room with an espresso was overwhelming.

Last night I ate Indian which was quite good. Before dinner, I had a fantastic massage. They are quite painful and the masseuse knows how to hit every knot or sore spot but I have learnt that afterwards, you feel fantastic. For 6$ an hour, it is better than sitting and drinking a couple of beers. The massage room has about six beds on the floor and you and the other people having massage lie on a hard mattress. The masseuses chat to each other in rapid Cambodian and laugh a lot. I think they feel that we fat and big westerners are difficult to deal with.

Soon I will take a tuk-tuk to the airport and sit in the lounge and read my book. I hope my pictures and OK after coming all this way. I will be interested to hear what you think.

© Terry Hannington