Back fr BKK & Siem Reap

Jul 17th, 2005, 01:56 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 87
Back fr BKK & Siem Reap

Hats off to the Fodorites - and especially Bob - who post regularly about these areas! Virtually everything we did was a result of all the wonderful advice on this website.
Bob could - and probably should - wrie his own guide book w/excellent, detailed advice. We appreciate the time he took to answer our questions.
Here are some thoughts/highlights from our less-than-2-weeks trip:
We spent 2 nights at the Westin in BKK before SR. Airport Transport Thai limo svc (referred to us by AAC limo) which was prompt & had enough space in the Mercedes for 3 people & luggage (1080 round trip + tolls). The day after arrival, we went to 2 tailors to order clothing; had first fittings that evening at one shop. We also went to Bob's favorite jeweler, Thai Stone Jewelers, to order some custom jewelry. They are really nice people - spoke fondly of Bob & Karen.
Siem Reap - Amazing place of many contrasts. We stayed at the FCC Cambodia - lovely, small place w/beautiful grounds. Food & service were excellent. The spa was even better & very reasonable. After arrival, we took a tuk-tuk (one guide said they're called "tuk-tuk" because when they stop w/the engine running, they sound: tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk) from the hotel to the Red Piano where the driver waited for us ($6).
Our guide was Pon Heary, a well-educated former English teacher who cares deeply about education. Many children don't attend schools at all.
The temples were everything people have said, and Pon was a very articulate guide. Most guides are male, but we would enthusiastically recommend Pon.
Our van developed a water problem the morning we were coming back from Banteay Srey w/Pon and the driver, and during the repair, we walked about 50 feet along the road to a little clearing where a family lived and worked. It was an interesting experience. While we were waiting, we watched a pan carry long, thin cans (visualize big Pringles cans) up the palm trees where he hung them to gather sap. Then he brought filled ones down. The sap was cooked to make cakes of sugar. There were also pineapple plants on the ground and rice fields all around. The house was on stilts w/an open-air shop beneath where snack items were for sale. A table sat by the busy road, and eventually 3 children put woven baskets on it which they sold for $1 apiece. Most interesting were the big bundles (like enlarged pillowcases) of live crickets and grasshoppers. A pick-up truck stopped by to weigh and add them to the load already in the back of the pick-up. These would make their way to Thailand.
We had asked to visit the high school where Pon had taught English. The students were taking end-of-year tests, so we didn't see their classrooms. I think school resumes in Oct. We met the asst principal and gave him some writing supplies we had rought. A new building w/10 or so classrooms was being built, and they hope to acquire some computers. They also would like the students to have English-speaking pen pals to help them learn better English.
We didn't do much shopping in SR. Pon took us to the downtown market where we bought some of the wrap skirts and some excellent books in English about Cambodia. We also toured the workshops of Artisans d'Angkor in SR and their silk farm outside town. Both were fascinating. They take young people who may not appeal to hotel/tourist employers but who show promise in wood carving, stone carving, or silk weaving. These young people (some are children) train and then have skills they can use for income. The items sold in the 2 very attractive (and wonderfully air-conditioned!) shops are reasonably priced considering their high quality craftsmanship.
Back to BKK - Ratt's husband Nik met us at the airport & took us to the Marriott Resort in a car (400 baht). The Marriott was a very relaxing place to stay - so beautiful.
Ratt was our driver for 2 days. She is full of information, and we asked lots of questions. We went to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Teak Mansion, & some other must-see places. One day we went to the Floating Market and to ride elephants. It's amazing how much taller elephants are when you are on top of them! We also visited the Jim Thompson House as well as the JT stores. Discovered the JT gift shops in the hotels have the same prices as the main store.
Jewelry - SJ Intl sent a van for us, and they certainly know Kathie's name! It was a slow day, so there were lots of sales people available. Much of their gold jewelry is very ornate, but there were lots of choices in sterling that were much more simple. The prices (wholesale - thank you, Kathie!) were wonderful. When we were finished, they drove us to Sukhumvit.
Thai Stone Jewelry - small, family shop - very friendly. We ordered several things, including 2 custom pendants (one in white gold, another in yellow) our first day in BKK, and they were ready a week later. This is a great place to have things made.
Restaurants - We ate at some of the restaurants mentioned on Fodors. The Bed was fun and had great food. Biscotti was good as well. The food area at Chitlom was certainly worth the visit. Breakfast buffets at Westin & Marriott were excellent. Ratt took us to a lovely, inexpensive restaurant one day for lunch. The tables had lace cloths, and there were a pianist and a singer. Food was very good.
Tailors - They seem to be on every corner, and we went to one recommended by a family member and 2 recommended by Bob. All produced excellent work, and we made certain we would be able to have enough fittings.
Heat - Mid-summer is hot & humid in Texas, and BKK was very similar. SR was much steamier.
We did a lot & saw a lot in the short time we had, and certainly there are many things we would have liked to do if there had been more time. No wonder so many Fodorites keep going back!
institcher is offline  
Jul 17th, 2005, 02:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,987
It sounds like you had a wonderful time! Now you understand why so many of us keep going back!

I'm glad you liked SJ - and I'm glad that my recommendation continues to be helpful in lowering the prices.
Kathie is online now  
Jul 17th, 2005, 03:51 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Thanks for your story. It's easy to see why some of us keep going back. BKK is intoxicating. We're using Ponheary in January and are glad to hear that she fulfilled your expectations. We've even let her book us a room at a hotel we never heard of, Prince D'Angkor.
Gpanda is offline  
Jul 17th, 2005, 04:16 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 4,282
Glad you had such a good time and thanks for your report.
glorialf is offline  
Jul 17th, 2005, 04:19 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,120
insticher; thanks for the info. what was the name and address for the lunch place with the pianist and singer?
kuranosuke is offline  
Jul 18th, 2005, 01:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,892
Great report. We are also using Ponheary and possibly Ratt. Our trip is next February.
Craig is offline  
Jul 18th, 2005, 06:54 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 12,918
Glad you had a great time! Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Jul 18th, 2005, 08:35 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 87
Kuranosuke - It was in the area of govt buildings - lots of govt workers (wearing dress shirts & ties) at lunch. I didn't take notes but may still have the lunch ticket. If so, I will post the name. If not, Ratt ([email protected]) will know since she chose it. It didn't disappoint.
institcher is offline  
Jul 18th, 2005, 09:18 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,343
We did the same thing as you Gpanda and booked the Prince in Feb. Luckily you will be first
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jul 19th, 2005, 07:49 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,120
institcher; thanks for the info.
kuranosuke is offline  
Jul 19th, 2005, 07:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,943
great report glad it all worked out well....was the customs man glad to see you on arrival in the usa??

we were waved through again this year even with a large declaration....

when are you going back??

rhkkmk is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 03:24 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 43
We are also using Pon and Ratt at Xmas. Since I am travelling with two teens, I will email Pon that we'd love to visit the school. My fifteen year old daughter has pen pals around the world, so they may be interested. Anyway, since this is our first stop in Asia, weight is not an object. Could you please recommend the best supplies to take to the school. Thanks
meadowbay is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 06:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 87
We took dozens of pens, pencils, and erasers because of their light weight. Since school supplies will be plentiful soon, you may have more choices than we did. I recently saw packages of 6 colorful mini gel pens at Target for $1 a pkg. Chalk would probably be useful - and little solar calculators. Hindsight is 20/20! I think someone on this board contacted friends and took a variety of donated items.
Because one of us is a high school teacher, we had asked to visit a high school. We had the impression that there was more need in the rural elementary schools, and it would be easier to shop for them.
Pon mentioned that people have given her money to donate to poor schools. You might ask her for suggestions.
Be sure to post your experiences.
institcher is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Apr 24th, 2008 08:29 AM
Apr 13th, 2008 05:28 PM
Feb 23rd, 2007 06:03 PM
Jan 21st, 2007 10:17 AM
Jan 14th, 2007 04:48 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:27 PM.