After an 18 month plan/wait we finally get to go on the “big” trip. This was mainly to celebrate my 30th birthday but also for some well earned time out. The itinerary was:
Siem Reap 6 nights (10th-16th May)
Phnom Penh 1 night (16th-17th May)
Chiang Mai 6 nights (17th – 23rd May)
Koh Tao 7 nights (24th – 31st May)
Bangkok 1 night (31st May – 2nd June)
This may take a while, so nip to the loo, then grab a drink, I'll wait 5 minutes!!
After a fairly uneventful 23 hours travelling we landed in Siem Reap. It’s our first trip to Cambodia and it’s only due to “my birthday my choice” that we are here as the OH really isn’t that keen. Off the plane and walking to the arrivals building and that wonderful “Oh my god it’s red hot” feeling has hit us! I like it already. Passports, $20 and photo at the ready we walk into the building and miss the immediate left you have to take to get your VOA. 2 steps backwards and were in the line. 4 minutes later we’re at the end and all ready to go. Through passport control which was very abrupt and almost rude but 3 minutes and it’s finished. Backpacks on and we’re off to find our driver, Sam.
We Knew Sam was picking us up as I’d emailed the hotel to ask and then sent a couple to Sam too trying to preliminarily organise the trip. A short tuk tuk ride to the hotel and we were all checked in and admiring the room. I’ve reviewed both the hotel (The Angkor Pearl) and Sam (Sam Tuk Tuk) so won’t go into great detail, but we were pleased with the choices we made. Just to update you, I’m a diabetic on insulin injections (21 years) and somehow forgot to pack any spare meds. I arrived with about 5-7 days worth of essential meds (idiot, springs to mind). So 20 minutes after check in we sit and organise 3 days with Sam to see the “highlights” and then explain we need to go on an insulin hunt. Bless him, he trailed around the pharmacies with us, translating and taking directions until we found 1 of the 2 I needed. The other I was fairly confident I could get in Thailand in a week.
Although tired wasn’t even close to what we felt we headed to Pub Street for some food and a well earned beer. It was throwing it down by this point (something that followed us in Cambodia) We quite literally dropped at Khemer Soup restaurant. We had a nice meal, a couple of beers and a couple of soft drinks and were introduced to the joy of such good cheap food. We decided to walk back as the rain was almost finished. It wasn’t bad but we didn’t do it again, the side streets are a little too dark to navigate easily. We also realised the tuk tuk’s were so cheap it was a little pointless to walk anywhere!! Sleep came easily and we both welcomed it. I’m already very happy and feeling like Siem Reap is the place for me!
Up at 5am, not tired at all and ready to go. We’d decided with Sam that as it was our first visit we didn’t want to overload on temples, I’m very keen, OH not so much. We also wanted to have time to rest relax and generally do nothing if we wanted to. The Grand Circuit today, we also decided a guide for the first day, then go it alone the rest. Really enjoyed it, although the heat took a little getting used to and by the afternoon and Angkor Wat we were suffering, but wow, what a place. Had a great day, learnt and saw lots. Back into Pub Street via the night market. It’s very much the same tourist stuff you find at most markets on holiday but it kills an hour. Wandered around Pub St. And the surrounding area just getting our bearings. Found a nice quiet little sports bar with a pool table and had a decent relaxing evening. Ate at Red Piano and enjoyed it. In fact we ate all over as you would expect in 7 days and never once had a bad meal or experience.
We spent the 2nd day at the Angkor Lad hotel. $5 per day for the use of the pool and gym. It was reasonable plus nice and quiet. Spent the afternoon looking for sandals and swimming goggles for OH as the sun had melted the glue on both asnd the strap came off his sandal and the lens came out his goggles. Sandals were no problem but goggles a little more difficult.
3rd day was at the Small circuit. We both really enjoyed the time out and about although the heat got the better of the OH again so he opted to stay in the tuk tuk in the shade for one or 2 of the sights. We tried for the big yellow balloon but it was out of action due to the wind. It was a spur of the moment thing so we weren’t really that bothered. Back to the hotel and the rains came. My goodness did it chuck it down solid for several hours. There was some awesome thunder and lightening and then the road outside the hotel was flooded, mid calf high. We grabbed a tuk tuk and whilst the covers were on the OH described it as a coffin strapped to a washing machine. Despite the rain we ended up staying out til the early hours (we don’t do this normally) had a great time though lots of fun and even more drink!! We’re starting to get a taste for Angkor beer!
4th day and woke up to an Urgh! Not good, spending the day at the hotel in bed! Ventured out to another hotel for a swim and some warmth but managed til lunch time only then back to bed! A slight waste but I guess you have to do it once on holiday, or so the excuse goes. No booze today, especially as we have a full day tomorrow in the car with Sam. We drag our pathetic old backsides out of the room around 8pm for food and find the rains been going again for what seems a good long while. Roads are flooded again, but just about passable and all the tuk tuk fares have doubled, which is fine cos I aint walking! Nice meal and a quiet night, getting way to old for all nighters!!
5th day and we’ve got Sam and his car. It’s a great day my best so far. I have to say Beng Melea is my favourite temple I’ve seen and as we saw it later in the day there was no one else there, apart for the “guides”. Loved it, then the rain came!! Back to the hotel and as we have the bus to Phnom Penh at 7am it’s a quiet good bye to Siem Reap. What a place it turned out to be!! We really don’t like cities or anything really busy so it was just the right size for us and had everything we needed. We will be back to discover some more!!
6th day, up and out on the bus. 6 hours 15 mins, mainly due to some road works just outside PP. Easy enough ride. Went without major incident and fairly comfortable for 2 slightly above average height westerners!! PP JBR coming next.