We left Thailand bound for Siem Reap, Cambodia. The airport at Krabi was an experience, to say the least. We were given little stickers at check in to wear on our shirts
then told to go to gate 1. We passed through immigration (why can’t they at least smile?!) We arrived at gate 1. A plane was boarding to Kuala Lumpur. After it departed, we were… alone. No one else was in the gate area. Even the staff had gone. It was fine until 8:40 am, which was our boarding time according to our tickets, and we started getting a little nervous that we were in the wrong place as there were only a few other people in the gate area by this time. We asked 4 different people, none of them speaking good English, and each told us “you wait there.” Finally the Air Asia crew showed up at 9:00 am and the plane showed up about 10 minutes later. They explained to us that we were ‘special fly through’ passengers and had to wait separately from everyone else.
We were taken by 2 Air Asia staff down two escalators to a van which drove us to another gate (300 feet away), up more escalators and to the boarding ramp to our plane. Little stressful but we made it to our plane.
The flight was only a little over an hour. Upon landing at Bangkok’s DMK airport I noticed there is a golf course sandwiched between two runways! Go figure!
As we got off the plane, there was a girl holding a sign with our names. She escorted us through the airport to our next gate.
The staff at the Krabi airport probably sent the Bangkok staff to fetch us and warned them that the two freaked out Americans needed help finding the next plane!
For my last meal in Thailand at the airport and I got a Caesar salad. I’m done with Thai.
And for dessert – I saw a Dairy Queen right near our gate and I’m pretty sure I’ll either try a mango blizzard or a coffee Oreo blizzard later. We have a five hour layover. (Spoiler – I got the coffee Oreo and it was scrumptious!). They had mango sticky rice blizzards too. Pass.
Arrived in Cambodia and was through customs and immigration literally in five minutes. I had done the Cambodian e-visa at home pre-trip so that helped speed things up. We had a very friendly tuk tuk driver waiting to take us to our hotel. He took us through what had to be the most disgusting area of Siem Reap, trash everywhere, run down, filthy…
Jerry asked if I could bump our flight up. Then we got to a better looking area and finally arrived at The Golden Butterfly Villas, which has a 5 star rating on TripAdvisor under B&Bs although it’s actually a hotel.
This trip has had another theme throughout – stairs! 64 this time to get to our room on the third floor! I haven’t seen and elevator since we arrived in Bangkok!
It’s a small room with a balcony which overlooks said funeral.
Again, no wash cloths and no hair conditioner. We have a DVD player in the room and they provide two movies, one is a documentary on Angkor Wat and the other is ‘The Killing Fields’ which is about Cambodia in the 1970’s. We shall watch both. (And we did.)
We opted for a mango shake and BBQ on a stick with some really good cole slaw stuff – cost $2. They use US dollars here so no need to exchange money. Beers were $0.50!
Day 2 – I opted to do the sunrise tour of Angkor Wat. That meant we left the hotel at 5:00 am. Jerry was thrilled, to say the least. At least the hotel gave us free raisin danishes and croissants to take with and our tuk tuk driver for the day, Vanny, had lots of water bottles for us.
It is a huge place, spanning over 400 square km and there were people everywhere! It was like Cambodian Disney but without the roller coasters! I managed to get a few pictures without other people in them, which was a huge feat
Next surprise was the number of stalls/huts set up selling food, drinks and souvenirs.
I’m glad we were able to eat and drink there but man it’s just one big tourist trap! The other irritation was the number of people, especially small children, trying to sell you stuff.
You tell them no and they just follow you and keep prying at you. It’s very annoying. The boys are the whiniest! Jerry gave a couple of the kids money just to get rid of them. You’re not supposed to do that as it encourages them to keep doing it. I did give this little boy $1 for letting me taking his picture. He even smiled. He made me take the postcards, even thought I didn’t really want them.
So Angkor Wat… It’s a World Heritage UNESCO site spanning over 400 sq km dating back to the 9th-15th centuries. There are many, many temples and other structures throughout the area. It is $20 USD for a day pass and $40 USD for a 2-3 day pass. You have to show your pass at each site you go to.
It is hot in Cambodia – 95 degrees in March (felt like 101 according to WeatherBug). It is a huge site. and again, there are hundreds, if not thousands of stairs! You go up, walk around, go up more stairs, sit and catch your breath, then head to the next staircase and pray that A – it’s the last one and B – that you don’t have a heart attack or heat stroke by the time you get to the top. A lot of them are steep stairs!
The place is amazing to see, but again – it all starts looking the same after a while. We opted out of 3 of the temples on our tour today because, after 8 hours of heat and stairs, we were both just toast! We paid for a 2 day tour so tomorrow we go again. Jerry’s just overcome with joy! (NOT)
The one nice caveat – we each got a free one hour massage at the hotel so that’s what we did after our first Angkor day. It’s our first Khmer massage. It definately wasn’t as good as the Thai massage but it was still great on the tired, sore, stair climbing legs! Jerry didn’t care for it, surprisingly.
We finished our second night off by watching ‘The Killing Fields’. Or at least I did. Jerry was watching the back of his eyelids. It was very interesting to see what these people went through just 40 years ago.
Side note: We will stick with the lousy coffee theme here in Cambodia too. Iced coffee it is! Even that isn’t tasting that great anymore.
Day 3 We were awoken at 5:00 am by music blaring through the loud speakers at the funeral next door.
(See the loud speaker just below our balcony!)
So much for sleeping in today. It’s really getting annoying. And Jerry was already complaining about not wanting to go to the temples again. This is about the part of the trip where you’re getting crabby, or at least one of us is, and you’re ready to go home. Jerry is still trying to find “coffee”. He’s dreaming.
Vanny, our tuk-tuk driver for the last two days, picked us up promptly at 9:00 am and off we went for an hour drive through the Cambodian countryside to do the Grand Tour, which is a circuit of temples, and Banteay Srie which is one farther away.
This was the only place we got to see rice actually growing. (It’ s dry season here currently)
This is how most of the rice fields look at this time of year – dry season.
In between temples, we stopped at a ‘side of the road’ market to check out what was cooking in the big pots over the fire. I thought it was a Cambodian soup. It was not. They are making palm sugar. First they boil it down,
Then put it into wraps
and finally sell it as cubes.
It’s like candy!
Yay! It’s still so hot! I don’t know if I’ve ever consumed so many bottles of water in one day! By the time we get back to the hotel, I feel like all my clothes are soaking wet from sweat!
And upon return from our temple tours each day, we were greeted by cold wet washclothes, banana chips and cold tea! This hotel has spectacular service!
While we were enjoying the tea, a truck drove by carrying away the loud speaker and the chairs from the funeral! Yay!
Our last night in Cambodia we did laundry at the place on the sidewalk just down the block. They have 3 washers and dryers outside, literally on the sidewalk. Pretty handy although it was $4.00 to do a load! Expensive, but we had too much laundry to do it in our tiny sink.
After that we headed into town and hit a 20 minute foot massage for $2 and a pedicure for $3. Neither were very good. We’ve come to the conclusion that there are so so many places that do massage and spa services and we’re pretty sure none of them are properly ‘trained’. They’re just doing what they can to make a buck. We were sort of disappointed in it all.
So we walked the night market, dodging the annoying tuk tuk drivers and spa people that hound you to buy their services, and then we went to eat dinner at a cool looking outdoor restaurant called The Brickhouse. I waited an hour for a salad. We had already eaten the rest of our meal.
I kept seeing them bring food from somewhere, unwrap the plastic wrap over it then serve it. I finally figured it out when a guy wearing an Island Bar shirt dropped off food. They were getting some of their food from the restaurant down the street – The Island Bar, which we passed on our walk home. And that’s where my salad came from.
Tired of fighting crowds and touts, tuk-tuks and scooters, we decided it was time to end the night.
Our last morning in Siem Reap and I was happy that the funeral next door was over so we could sleep in. Nope. Not today either! 5:00 am the dog next door started barking continuously. The walls must be paper thin at our hotel.
We packed up and wandered off to a place called Joe to Go over by the Old Market area, stepping over a large dead rat (and all the other garbage on the sides of the streets). WE FINALLY FOUND GOOD AMERICAN STYLE COFFEE! Sure… on our last day! And we had an excellent breakfast!
Jerry had 2 cups of “real” coffee, plus got a latte to go.
We said goodbye to the staff and our favorite tuk-tuk driver, Vanny, took us to the airport.
My final thoughts on Siem Reap: The temples were cool. The people very friendly. There is a lot of history there to explore. It was interesting seeing Angkor Wat and parts of Siem Reap. But the constant badgering to buy things is a big turnoff, especially when you say “no” repeatedly and they actually follow you down the street or around the temple grounds and keep asking you. How many times do I have to say “NO”?? Even two police stopped us and tried to sell us patches and badges that said Cambodia! I was also turned off by the filthiness of the place. There’s no excuse for garbage being tossed everywhere. I can’t say that I’m sad to leave.