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Bill is back from Thailand! The beginnings of a trip report...

Bill is back from Thailand! The beginnings of a trip report...

Dec 6th, 2006, 05:59 PM
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Loved your blog! I think you're addicted to SE Asia now. No doubt we'll see you there some time in the future. We're addicted too.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 7th, 2006, 05:51 AM
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Kathie is offline  
Dec 7th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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Great blog! (And congratulations as well!) I keep taking the Phi Phi Island Resort off my short list and putting it on again. When you have a chance, could you talk about how easy or difficult it was to get to local restaurants from the Resort? I know you have to take a longtail and can't just walk but not sure how inconvenient that will be. Plus, as foodies we want to eat as much local Thai food as we can while there. TIA!
PegS is offline  
Dec 8th, 2006, 05:02 PM
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First off, for Peg: I think you should definitely put Phi Phi Island Resort back on your short list! I will agree that everything you've heard (or read on TripAdvisor) is true: the resort is completely isolated. But, I guess that's what we loved about it. And being stranded here ain't no chore: this place is paradise defined and, by far, the most beautifully kept resort on the island. Yes, others would argue that Zeavola is better. But let me tell you: we walked past it many times and it's right on top of 2 other resorts (on a busy beach) and does not even compare to the privacy and luxury afforded at PPIR. Now, onto the food: again, the critiques are fairly accurate here. On the plus side: there are a LOT of choices for a resort food-wise however if you were there for more than 5 or 6 nights I could see how it would easily get old...it started to get old for us and we were only there 4 nights. Also the food pales in comparison to the rest of the food we had on our trip.
You CAN get into town by longboat, and while it's much cheaper to charter a longboat from the resort than a speedboat, it's still not cheap by any means (probably $30 for 2 hours)...so you are kind of stuck and if you're looking to go out at night I don't suggest going by longtail, since it's pitch black and fairly impossible. Keep in mind though that Zeavola is an easy walk up the beach during daylight hours so that's always a good option for lunches. Also note that the Thai restaurant at PPIR is phenomenally good and as long as you're not opposed to eating a lot of Thai food, you should be just fine for dinner!
This all being said, I honestly can say that I would go back in a heartbeat! The resort is gorgeous, the beachfront bungalows are fantastic and the experience was one of the best on our trip! If you are set on going to Phi Phi, in good conscience, I couldn't recommend anywhere else to stay on the island more than there. Hope you consider going--you won't regret it!

Julia--I'm going to pull my list of Angkor temples up and get back to you shortly on recommendations!
filmwill is offline  
Dec 8th, 2006, 08:35 PM
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thanks for this intro....anxious to read the blog
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 9th, 2006, 03:56 PM
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Great! Thanks for all the details, Bill; they're *most* helpful!
PegS is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 05:55 PM
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Bill, I'm looking forward to seeing your list of Angkor temples also, as I'm leaving this Wednesday (but hey, no pressure!)
JohnH is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 06:39 PM
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Wow, what a great report. I will be going to Bangkok on Chirstmas day, well leaving LA that is, arive the 27th. I can't wait! All the other advice from others, like the everknowing Kathie is getting me fired up for Bangkok!
Kathie, we plan on eating at Lan Na Thai Feast per your recomendation. Also filmwill, I think you mentioned the heat while touring the grande palace.What time of day did you go? I was thinking first thing in the morning might be good to miss the heat?
I'm sort of a jack-of-all traveler so to speak. We plan to hit a few discos as well as get up early for walks at the some of the different wats. Can you visit them early morning? I saw Kathies great pics she and her friend posted, and the marble palace I think it was, looked great, no crowds! And do you know where I can find any masks? Nothing real antique, just great examples of Thai art. I want to use them for my classroom. Thanks
Arthistory is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 10:22 PM
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Well John, I guess just will have to post it now then (And, Julia--sorry for the late post on this) So by no means is this a comprehensive listing as I'm pulling temple names off the top of my head and its rather late here.

In order of "must-see-ness" (I just made that word up--isn't that great?):

1) Ta Prohm: Bar-none, best temple in Cambodia! It's Indiana Jones come-to-life...and will appeal to the inner-kid in everyone. Not to mention that the jungle is literally reclaiming the temple so seeing the trees grow through the ruins is just something you can't even describe and MUST be seen. You'll find yourself picking your jaw up off the jungle floor more than a few times here.

2) Bayon: aka the "faces" temple...absolutely the most different and interesting of the temples. You go here and can feel the spirituality that went into it. Some other temples will tend to feel like replicas of others (Bantay Srei, Banteay Kdei, etc.)

3) Angkor Wat: or, as I like to refer to it as, "Big Mommma." It's enormous and overwhelming, for sure, but when you climb to the top and overlook the sheer magnitutde of the place, you truly understand the grandeur and majesty of these temples. Get there early--do NOT go in the afternoon. It's tourist central then. Also worth it for the beautiful stone carvings that grace miles of wall here.

4) Sunset at Pre Rup: my god, PLEASE go here! You have to do it on a clear day, but by far the most stunning, life-altering sunset we saw on our entire trip. Get there a good 45 mins before sunset to stake your seat otherwise you'll be playing footsies with lots of over-eager tourists and that's no fun!
**Also if you have another sunset day to spare: take the hike up Phnom Bakheng for sunset. It's much more touristy, but interesting nonetheless. Watching the sun set with Angkor Wat in the background really is a sight to treasure!

This all being said, I'm a BIG advocate of the boat trip on Tonle Sap (the lake just outside of Siem Reap with the floating villages)...we weren't planning on doing it originally and it ended up being a last-minute substitution on our itinerary. But it really ended up being one of the most rewarding and eye-opening experiences in Cambodia...and it's a nice alternative to the monotony of seeing temple after temple. I suggest visiting Tonle Sap in the afternoon (leave around 3 PM) so you can catch a beautiful sunset on the lake. But to literally see a whole different way of life is one of those experiences that defines why ones goes to a place like Cambodia in the first place.

Also, if you guys (John, Julia, et al.) get a chance, DEFINITELY visit Artisans d'Angkor/Le Chantier Ecoles Angkor...this is the artisans school in the city where they teach impoverished youth the trades of painting, sculpting, carving, etc...it's a fascinating and enriching place to tour (takes only an hour or so) and costs only a small donation to the school for a comprehensive tour (no need to reserve--just walk in!) Not to mention the AMAZING store that sells wares from students of the school. A great way to give back to the community!

So now that I've given my temple rundown, let me put in my plea for all you foodies out there: PLEASE visit Blue Pumpkin in Siem Reap town! It's a fairly famous eatery owned by a renowned French chef (whose name, of course, escapes me)...but more than anything, it's by far some of the best food my lips have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They have a location at the airport as well, but I suggest going to visit in town if only for the atmosphere. This is a GREAT lunch break (most temple tours will bring you back to your hotel at lunchtime to eat and cool-down/rest) so definitely consider visiting if you get the chance.

I could go on and on about Cambodia--it was probably my favorite place on our trip--but I'll keep this short. Just thrilled that you two are going to experience so much magic in the next few weeks and hope that, if anything, this helps you enjoy your experience even more.

So glad to be a part of this community and so glad to have met so many amazing people who share our passion for travel (and Southeast Asia.) You've all helped our dream trip become something we'll never forget--so if I can help make anyone else's future trip the same, then I definitely feel blessed!

Many thanks again to all!

In a few short weeks, I'm going to be leaning on you all to help me again in planning our Laos/Vietnam trip for November.

In the meantime,

One other note for ArtHistory: yes, DEFINITELY go early...I think the Palace complex opens at 8:30. You'll avoid the crowds and most of the heat. Plan to leave before noon as it gets pretty brutal around then. Hope you enjoy Lanna Thai--Face is beautiful and the food is to die for!

Everyone needs to upload their pics after their trips--I need to vicariously live through everyone else until we can go back to nirvana next November.

If you have more time, other suggestions would be Preah Kahn
filmwill is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 10:35 PM
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Sorry--for some reason my post got butchered at the end (which got completley cut off.) But basically I just wanted to end it with: thanks to all again--looking forward to hearing others' comments about their trips and please feel free to ask away on any other questions you may have!
filmwill is offline  
Dec 11th, 2006, 08:08 AM
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Thank you so much!
JohnH is offline  
Dec 11th, 2006, 09:02 AM
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Thank you filmwill for all that info! I will have Ponheary take me to those sunset spots and the Artisan craft place. Where is the Blue Pumpkin in town?
pebbles13 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2006, 02:24 PM
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Pebbles: It's smack-dab in the middle of downtown SR...near the bars. If you go to their website at http://www.tbpumpkin.com/ and click on "What We Do" (at the top) you'll see a listing of addresses/maps for their locations. You are looking for the one in Downtown Siem Reap.

Enjoy--you'll love it!

filmwill is offline  
Dec 18th, 2006, 11:02 AM
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Thanks a million for taking the time to put together your list of must-see's. We're in LA right now awaiting our flight -- can't wait!

Thanks to you and everyone else for your invaluable insider knowledge - we're looking forward to an amazing honeymoon!

julesjayhawk is offline  
Dec 30th, 2006, 04:44 AM
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Thanks for the great trip report!!
yeadonite is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 11:23 PM
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Thank you for the feedback Bill!

oldbangkokinn is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 04:35 AM
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Hi Bill,

I am just reading your blog and it is fantastic! We're off to Thailand & Cambodia in just 2 weeks and our itinerary is almost identical to yours! ;-)
I have made a lot of notes from your trip report especially regarding Siem Reap and Angkor.

I have just one question regarding Face, did you have to book a table on your first day in BKK or did you just turn up? Please let me know as my husband & I would love to go there on our first night and also sample one of their massage! ;-)

Many thanks.
Kacenka is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 05:33 AM
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Hi again Bill,

just finished your blog, and when I said that our trip was almost identical, now I know it is identical!
We're also taking the 7pm over-night train and sleeping in the '1st class cabin' (looking forward to that after reading your blog!) and we're also staying at the Baan Rai Lanna and I'm so excited after reading your comments. Thank you!!

Happy travels.
Kacenka is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 07:41 AM
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So glad you enjoyed the blog--always makes us happy to read such nice comments!

As for Face, for a massage, DEFINITELY book ahead! I recommend going to their website and filling out their "Contact Us' form. It's actually located here:

The spa menu is also located on their website and they usually get back to you pretty quickly. Same for if you're planning on making a dinner reservation...always nice to have the peace of mind so you know it's taken care of when you arrive in Bangkok.

Hahaha! Hope you enjoy the night train--it's an adventure to say the least! And please send our best to Scott at Baan Rai Lanna...you will absolutely love it there (not to mention the amazing food!)...one of the best parts of our trip and one of the nicest people we met. Get a massage from Tiew while you're there...she's amazing!

Have a fantastic trip! Looking forward to hearing about it soon!
filmwill is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 02:27 PM
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Hi Bill,
I will be reading your travel blog tonight. We are taking our first trip to Thailand and Cambodia this July. I have our airline tickets and the travel guides arrived today. It is so overwhelming, but it seems that I am about to get great advice. Thanks in advance.
uptowngirl2418 is offline  

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