Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Bangkok, Siem Reap and Luang Prabang--Notes from the Road

Bangkok, Siem Reap and Luang Prabang--Notes from the Road

Jan 11th, 2012, 05:27 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,037
Bangkok, Siem Reap and Luang Prabang--Notes from the Road

Greetings from the ANA lounge at Haneda Airport. Since we didn’t expect to be here and have a few hours to kill, we thought we’d start our trip report from the road. We’re supposed to have Internet access everywhere, so hopefully we’ll be able to keep it updated throughout.

For the next 10 days, we will be visiting Bangkok (1 night…sort of, see below), Siem Reap (4 nights), Luang Prabang (3 nights), and Bangkok again (2 nights). We know, not enough time. But we are squeezing this in before DD has to be back for second semester on January 23, and we’ll take what we can get. Mr_go and I have been to Bangkok once before.

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...by-mrms-go.cfm

Prelude (just because we didn’t expect there to be one)

From our experience, 90 percent of international travel goes pretty smoothly and really is something to behold. It’s amazing to think that you can walk out your door and be somewhere half way around the world in less than a day. But all it takes is one little thing, and the whole house of cards comes crumbling down.

When we boarded our United flight at ORD yesterday, everything seemed that it would go like clockwork. But as departure time arrived, the pilots suddenly discovered a problem of some sort in the cockpit. A steady stream of mechanics paraded through the upper deck and eventually fixed the problem, but not until we were delayed about 2.5 hours…ironically almost exactly the amount of time we had to connect at Narita.

Would they hold our flight, we wondered? At least half the passengers on the upper deck from Chicago to Narita were headed to Bangkok, and we figured there must be many more. We didn’t get our answer until we arrived in Tokyo and watched a 777 at the next gate pushing back as we pulled in. Imagine that… after a 12.5-hour flight, 42 passengers all hoping to make that same connection watched helplessly as the plane they wanted passed a mere 200 yards aportside. The panic started to set in. There aren’t too many options for getting to Bangkok, and we were only supposed to be there until tomorrow afternoon, when we have a separate reservation on Bangkok Air to Siem Reap. We bolted from the plane hoping to get to a CSR quickly and try to get on the continuing flight to Singapore and then a connection back to Bangkok in the morning.

Fortunately, the United staff at Narita had this all figured out—I guess they did have about 12 hours to work on it. They rebooked all 40+ Bangkok passengers on Thai and ANA flights out of Haneda departing just after midnight and had e-tickets waiting for us at a table just after we deplaned. They passed out immigration and customs forms to all these people who didn’t expect to be entering Japan. Then, they chartered a couple of buses to bring us over here. So here we are… We will lose the upgrades we had for NRT-BKK on United (and, darn, when we checked in at ORD we found out that the flight had been switched to “new” business seats), but we are happy to continue on without having to alter the rest of our plans. We’ll keep our room at the Peninsula for "tonight," but will now only have it for about six hours. At least we know the showers are nice and the breakfast will be great!
ms_go is offline  
Jan 11th, 2012, 05:41 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,628
Thanks for bringing us along on your trip. Your comments about international travel are so right. I hope everything else goes like clockwork!
Kathie is offline  
Jan 11th, 2012, 10:24 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
Sounds like you would agree with DH's and my slogan that "Travel is an adventure!" Thanks for sharing your story! Your writing sounds as if you are just shrugging it off. That's great! Not much you can do about it anyway, other than grin and bear it.

I hope your flight to BKK goes smoothly, and you can enjoy the Pen for a short time anyway!

We had fabulous weather in BKK over the holidays, so I'm hoping you will find the same for your visit to S E Asia. It is nice here at home (downstate Ill) right now, but I think the bottom drops out tonight! You left at the right time (we came back too soon!!!)... haha
simpsonc510 is offline  
Jan 11th, 2012, 01:58 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 612
>>>We’ll keep our room at the Peninsula for "tonight," but will now only have it for about six hours. At least we know the showers are nice and the breakfast will be great!<<<


Welcome back to the City of Angels, ms. go, and let me congratulate you again on your ongoing unmatched Art of Travel : checking into that cherished Peninsula property after long flights. (As of ~ six weeks back, she was as fine as ever for an all too brief King's celebration down by the river. Some wondrous friends still working at the hotel; we'll be returning for Valentine's Day. Special place)

Will be interested in your impressions of Haneda. (My flights into/out HND to date have all been with SQ; always efficient and some particularly stress free transports to/from Tokyo.)

Will you be finishing your holiday with two nights at the BKK Peninsula? If so, a fine way to finish your time in the LOS. Should you happen to be near the Pen's riverside lawn - and dock - around sunset, some fleeting and magical moments have been experienced on more than a few occasions : the way the setting sun reflects the Mandarin Oriental's various windows across the river. (Yes, I've never grown the least bit tired of that hotel and its staff and friends.)

Well, suspect (hope) you're touching down in BKK right about now, so will send warmest wishes to you and your family from a pleasant Singapore morning.

Enjoy,

macintosh (robert)


... Singapore Airlines, You're a Great Way to Fly ...
AskOksena is offline  
Jan 11th, 2012, 03:22 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,037
Ms_go is enjoying the Pen shower before breakfast, so I'll chime in real fast. First of all, thank you very much for your kind words, and you're right... it is the beginning of a great adventure!

For the record, we found Haneda Airport to be rather nice (although it should be noted that this was 9pm thru midnight, so likely less crowded than at peak times). And we can vouch for the delightful ANA lounge as well.

We're mixing it up a bit on the back end of the trip, staying at the Old Bangkok Inn, not too far from Wat Saket. It should provide a slightly different feeling and perspective on the city... assuming things go smoothly and we actually make it back here next week!

Now, off to breakfast and a bit of discovery before our all-too-soon return to the airport.

~ Mr_go (posting on my LW's computer)
ms_go is offline  
Jan 11th, 2012, 03:31 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,037
BTW, it took just over 32 hours, door to door, from our home in suburban Chicago
ms_go is offline  
Jan 11th, 2012, 03:43 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,925
have fun
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 11th, 2012, 07:09 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,107
Enjoying so far and looking forward to Siem Reap.
aussiedreamer is offline  
Jan 12th, 2012, 06:12 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
Don't forget to 'take us along' on this adventure.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2012, 06:12 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
Oh, BTW, winter moved in last night. We have wind and cold and SNOW this morning! You left at the right time.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2012, 06:31 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,037
We promise to do another update over breakfast in the morning. We're now in Siem Reap and all totally exhausted...and ready for sleep in something other than airplane seats for the first time since Monday night (US time). Yes, I've been seeing the updates for winter in Chicago, and it looks like we had great timing. The weather is wonderful here, by the way (and was in Bangkok earlier today, as well).
ms_go is offline  
Jan 12th, 2012, 03:03 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,037
Day 1: “Monkey!”

One final note on the travel day on Tuesday/Wednesday: the misconnecting passengers were expecting not to leave the airport until Bangkok, so most (ourselves included) were ill prepared (as in outerwear) for the 30-degree Tokyo weather! It was…um, refreshing!

Our flight to Bangkok was long (nearly seven hours) but uneventful, and we landed about 5:15 am. We didn’t get much sleep—some of that having to do with a crying baby behind us. I have nothing but good things to say about Thai Airways (at least for economy service).

I think we arrived at the furthest gate out and walked about a kilometer (or so it seemed) through the airport to the immigration desks, which were actually quite busy at this time of the morning.

We used AOT for transportation the last time, so in our sleep-deprived state we decided to do the same. We asked how much it would be to the Peninsula and were told 2700 baht. WHAAATTT? I know we had three people, but that’s a lot more than the last time, which was closer to 1000 baht. When we turned to leave, the price came down considerably. I think next time we’ll just use a regular taxi.

We arrived at the Peninsula about 6:15 am and got to our room just as the sun was starting to come up. It was just like waking up to that wonderful view. The man at the check-in desk was sympathetic to our travel issues and offered (without our asking) to give us a late check-out time of 2 pm. Have I mentioned lately how much I love it there?

After showers, our first order of business was enjoying breakfast (for which we had opted in our room rate) along the river. Originally, our plan was to eat “light-ish” for breakfast and have something good for lunch before leaving in the afternoon. Well, that plan fell by the wayside pretty quickly when we started digging into the Peninsula’s buffet. So we made it a long, leisurely breakfast and finally set out to do some exploring around 10.

Given our short time today and the fact that this was DD’s first trip to Bangkok, we stuck to the river and some standard sights—Wat Arun and Wat Pho—using various boats to get across and up and down the river. The weather was great—it varied between somewhat sunny and somewhat cloudy, with a few very scattered raindrops while we were at Wat Arun. It was more humid than we’re used to (at least at this time of year), but nothing like it was when we arrived in Bangkok in early November a few years ago.

As an aside, we have a day-plus here at the end of our trip and will visit the Grand Palace and do a few other things then. DD has a Thai friend who was an exchange student at her (former) high school last year, so we may meet up with him.

It was really hard to leave the Peninsula. We had a round of drinks at the river bar and then hopped in a taxi back to the airport. Our driver was quite a character, in a number of ways. First and foremost, he drove like his head was on fire (that is, when we weren’t stuck in traffic). Secondly, it was hard to tell his age—he could have been in his 30s or 70s. He spoke a little English, and tried to ask us a few questions. What really made him memorable was when he reached out, without warning, grabbed some of mr_go’s leg hair (he was wearing shorts at the time, and was sitting in the front passenger seat) and cried out “Monkey! Monkey!” It was such a random and bizarre act, and mr_go was so tired, that he just shrugged and said, “oh sure, monkey” like he was Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. Soon, we were roaring off at 100 miles per hour again.

We weren’t too enthused about getting on another plane so soon (notwithstanding our travel fun the previous few days, this was also my twelfth flight since mid-December)--and particularly when we saw that this one had propellers. But it turned out to be just fine. Bangkok Airways even serves a box lunch with sandwiches, fruit and a muffin. Flight time was barely an hour, and we were in Cambodia! It was about 6:30 pm.

We did the visa on arrival thing and were prepared with cash ($20 per) and extra passport photos. It was a snap—actually taking less time than the immigration line. We got photographed and fingerprinted, again! After a few minutes of looking around, we found our hotel’s driver and were settling in to our room by about 7:30. By now, we were beginning to crash hard (DD especially), so we opted to have dinner at our hotel, Pavillion d’Orient, which hit the spot. And then we hit the beds hard. Seven hours of much needed sleep later, and we are ready to head out to the temples today. Our room rate includes a tuk-tuk driver for around town and the temples (hotel is about 15 minutes away??), from sunrise to 10 pm. We missed the sunrise view today but may aim for that tomorrow.
ms_go is offline  
Jan 12th, 2012, 03:55 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
I love your 'monkey' tale!! That's a new one on me. The 100 mph driver, yeah, I've had that before. Just hang on!!!

Keep your adventure coming! (the snow here is AWFUL)
simpsonc510 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2012, 07:02 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,925
we survived the same kind of taxi ride in november.... our driver was drinking some "medecine"...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 12th, 2012, 08:23 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,107
really enjoying, thanks.

Simpsonc510
Keep your adventure coming! (the snow here is AWFUL)

hard to imagine, we are sweltering through our 4th concecutive day of 35+ deg C (about 95 f), god how I would love to live where it snowed (or at least where we got a winter)
aussiedreamer is offline  
Jan 13th, 2012, 02:13 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,793
Ms_go...funny monkey story. 2nd crazy BKK taxi driver story I've just read. (see crellston's wild ride).
We just left SR yesterday, hope you're enjoying it. We r now in LP and loving it. we'll be here until Tuesday am. If we overlap and u'd like to meet up for a drink, coffee, whatever let me know.
yestravel is offline  
Jan 13th, 2012, 02:30 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,037
Hi yestravel, we get to Luang Prabang on Monday early evening, so yes! I don't have our exact flight schedule handy, but I'll look at it later and let you know.

We had a great day today--Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat. We're getting ready to go into town for dinner, so will post more on that later or in the morning.
ms_go is offline  
Jan 13th, 2012, 02:48 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,793
Sounds good! Just loved BAyon in Angkor Thom and wasn't TA Prohm just wild? Although Banteay Srei was my favorite. Looking forward to meeting you!
yestravel is offline  
Jan 13th, 2012, 05:46 AM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,037
Hi yestravel, we are scheduled to land in Luang Prabang at 6:10 pm on Monday, so we could get together later that evening or Tuesday morning--whichever works for you.

We are visiting Banteay Srei tomorrow!
ms_go is offline  
Jan 13th, 2012, 06:07 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,793
That's the same time we were supposed to get in, but arrived a good half hour or so early. we flew Lao Air with a stop in Parske. Funny stop over. We got off the plane, could have wandered anywhere on the Tarmac, sat in the transit area for maybe 15-20 minutes and then suddenly people started boarding the plane again. Within 10 minutes we were airborne again.

anyway we leave bright and early Tuesday am, so only Monday evening will work for us. We're open so,let me know what works for you. We're staying at Aspara which is on the street that runs along the Nam Khan river. Small town and lots of little restaurants and cafes everywhere.

Enjoy your day of templing.
yestravel is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:29 PM.