Cambodia Trip Report: July 2006

Old Jul 21st, 2006, 03:10 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Cambodia Trip Report: July 2006

Where to start... Well, I started planning this trip with my cousin a few weeks before going. I am 27 and she is 26. The great thing about Cambodia is that traveling around the country is so convenient once you arrive, so planning alot was unnecessary. I had looked online for hotels/guesthouses and used a site that I found very helpful: www.talesofasia.com

So we were originally supposed to fly out of Taiwan (where I had been studying for the past 6 months) on July 14th, but due to a typhoon, we had to shorten our trip and flew out on the morning of July 15th. We were flying into Phnom Penh first and then on to Siem Reap after about 1.5 days in Phnom Penh.

Day 1: Arrive in PP and get picked up from the airport by the Billabong Hotel driver with an actual car. We had arranged this prior to arriving via email. We told our driver we wanted to buy plane tickets to go to Siem Reap since our trip was cut short a day and he said he would take us to a place in broken, but understandable English. He drove us around to see some of the city while on the way to a travel agency. My initial impressions of PP were pretty much what I had expected from already hearing from friends that have gone. It was poor, but I have seen poorer, having been to Iraq and Bosnia. The traffic was definitely chaotic, but at the same time at a slow pace so it did not matter that no one stayed on the right side of the road or followed any street signs. There were not many stop lights except for major streets. It seemed as though no one was in a hurry so everything was moving at a slow speed. Otherwise, this would have been scary to drive through. We had no problems buying tickets with credit card at the travel agency and the price from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap was $72 one way on Siem Reap Airways. We then headed to the Billabong Hotel. The hotel was very nice for the price of $35/night including a really great breakfast and the staff was very friendly. We dropped our stuff and took off to see the Royal Palace and National Museum since they are right next to each other near the Mekong River. We took a tuk-tuk to the Palace and walked to the Museum from there. Tuk-tuk prices for just one way trips within the city should be about $1-2 (usually $1). Note that you have to have shorts or pants that go below the knees and no exposed shoulders to get into the Royal Palace. They have clothes at the entrance for rent if you come dressed inappropriately. I found the Royal Palace to be beautiful, but not particularly interesting and trying to find the "Silver Pagoda" was a challenge as we were looking for an obvious place with all silver floors. We never found such a place but did go into the place with the Emerald Buddha (which we found out later was supposed to be the Silver Pagoda). In any case, the Royal Palace is good to see if you have time, but I would skip if you are pressed for time and want to see the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Museum. We then walked to the National Museum next door and walked around there for about an hour. Again, if you are planning to see Angkor Wat and others, the sculptures and artifacts in the National Museum can be skipped. All my opinion of course, but the courtyard of the museum is a place to relax and unwind if you need a break. It's quite pretty and peaceful. By now, we were starving so we walked to FCC on the river for dinner. I had my first Khmer dish, the beef Lok Lak and it was very good. The red wine was good and half price between 5-7 PM, their happy hour. Great views of the Mekong River from the open air balconies while you eat and drink. We ended up trying to walk back to the Billabong from there to see more of the city at night, but ended up walking in circles as we were both a bit buzzed from the drinks. We finally got back to the hotel about an hour or so later, and had more drinks at the bar with one of the hotel owners. Ended up taking a late night dip in the saltwater pool. Very refreshing! Don't quite remember when or how I got back to the room, but I did...

Day 2: Woke up a bit later than we had told our driver from the previous day to meet us at 8:30 AM, but ran out to tell him we were running late and would be eating breakfast before heading out. The drivers are used to waiting around all day in different locations for you if you hire them for the day. We hired him for $20 for the day. Had a nice breakfast and headed to the Killing Fields first. It was good to see the countryside and how people lived on the way out there. We arrived and decided to get a guide to explain more about the history and significance of the site for only $5. Even if you don't though, you will get the jist. It leaves such an impact to know that this genocide was not way in the past, but happened when many of us were born or were young. It is still a live memory for so many Cambodians that lost family members to the Khmer Rouge. Definitely a must see if you are in Phnom Penh. The tower of skulls in the memorial and the mass grave sites speak for themselves. Our driver then asked if we were interested in shooting some guns. I had no interest as I have shot many times before, being in the army, but my cousin wanted to do it. He took us to a place in the country where they had many weapons to choose from, from AK-47s to M-16s to an array of pistols. My cousin chose the M-16. It was $30 for a magazine of 15 rounds. We were taken into an indoor range which was pretty dark and the guy taught her how to shoot the M-16. The M-16 was older than the ones I have used so the sound and kickback was more intense. Especially the sound. I stood and took some pictures of her firing. You might be thinking this is pretty shady for two girls to be going to a place like this, but the people of Cambodia are truly the most gracious and friendly. I never once felt threatened or nervous. It might take some getting used to at first (completely trusting them), but you will soon see that they mean you no harm and truly want to give you a good experience in their country. We then headed to a market on the way back to the center of town before going to the Tuol Sleng Museum. I think it was the Russian Market, but not completely sure. This is the place for tons of souvenirs all at really cheap prices after some bargaining. T-shirts can be bought for $1.50 to $20 depending on how many you buy and bags and purses can be bought for $2 and up. Lots of sculptures and carvings as well. I kept thinking about how much I would love to come back once I have bought a house somewhere to buy artwork and sculptures/carvings. Everything was very cheap, but did not look cheap. We easily spent about 2 hours in the market. It's huge so you will get lost if you do not stick together or have a set meeting time and place. We both bought quite a bit and then headed to the Tuol Sleng Museum which was an old school that Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge used as an interrogation and torture facility. This is probably the one must see if you are in PP. Nothing is roped off so you can actually go into the cells that held the prisoners and touch the same walls and look through the same windows as they looked through. Its a very deep experience. Rooms and rooms full of photos of the people that were tortured and eventually killed out at the Killing Fields stare at you. It is a very sobering experience that takes at least 1.5 hours, 2 is better, if you really want to take it all in. Lastly, our driver took us to the airport for our flight to Siem Reap which was supposed to be around 4PM, but got delayed till about 7PM. We ended up meeting two fellow (to me) Americans that were on the same flight and played Scrabble while waiting. We finally got into Siem Reap around 8PM and were picked up by a tuk-tuk sent from The Villa Guesthouse, also previously arranged. We took showers and headed out for a late dinner and drinks. The dinner at the Dead Fish Tower was also VERY good. Their Khmer food was delicious and atmosphere was original. The place was pretty empty though since it was so late. Our friends we met at the airport actually walked past us on their way out so we decided to meet up for drinks on Pub Street after our dinner. We first met at Angkor What cause it was an easy place to pick out, but soon found it quite loud and obnoxious. Not really laid back at all so we switched to the Temple Club and sat outside the main room since the dance music was also a bit loud for conversation. Had a few drinks and decided to walk back to The Villa. This was the only time where we felt just a bit nervous. As we were almost to our street a car started to drive up next to us and rolled down the window and just stared. We kept walking and I did not look at them and walked into a lit restaurant area where we stalled for about 20 seconds before they drove off. We then walked the 200 meters to our hotel. So, just as caution, its probably better to take a tuk-tuk and pay the $1 at night if you are staying in a place that is not as well lit or away from pub street. The streets in general in Siem Reap are not well lit except for the Pub Street area. Went to bed for an early start to see the Wats in the morning! All right, must take a breaK! Rest of trip to come...
lil247 is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2006, 03:22 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We're planning a trip to Cambodia for next year. I'm enjoying your report!
KimJapan is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2006, 03:23 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Whoops, I meant $1.50 - $2 for T-shirts at the market, not $20... Sorry!
lil247 is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2006, 04:20 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great start. We want more. I read "The Executioner", a book about the warden of Tuol Seng. Very chilling. Your description was evocative.
Gpanda is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2006, 08:07 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 3: We got up and met our driver at 8AM to get an early start to see the main temples of Angkor Wat complex. We decided agianst trying to catch a sunrise since the likelihood of the sky being clear was not good. It had been cloudy quite a bit and it wasn't worth a 4 AM wakeup. The Villa allows you to order a takeaway "Temple Lunch" that they put in an ice chest for you with whatever food you order by 9 PM the previous night so you do not have to stop touring to look for a lunch spot in the park. You can eat anywhere. Its very convenient. In general, The Villa was an OK place to stay for $20/night, but there were a few inconveniences like no hooks or towel rack in the bathroom, no mirror outside the bathroom, and you have to pay for the bottled water in the fridge. Cambodia's power sockets can be used with U.S. plugs as long as its the type that has two prongs that are the same size. If your appliance has one prong bigger than the other you can't plug it in. Just make sure the thing you want to plug in is 220v capable. So, back to the trip... Our guide the hotel arranged for us met us at 8 AM and gave us an idea of what our schedule was going to be like. We were going to see the Bayon first, then work our way to Ta Prom, then to Preah Khan, and then Angkor Wat last, hopefully to catch the sunset afterwards from the hill where Phnom Bakkheng sits. We had also wanted to see Banteay Srei, but our guide said that there was no way we could fit that into one day. Going to see Banteay Srei (Citadel of Women), is a half day in itself as the drive out there takes 45 min to an hour. We decided that if we wanted to see that one we could do it on our last half day before going to the airport. In total, we had 2 full days and a half day in Siem Reap. Knowing myself and my personality, I knew that one fuul day of temples would be enough and I would need a day in between to do something else before going to see another temple. That proved to be true. I think hitting the main temples in the Angkor Wat complex in one day was enough to give me a good idea and feeling for the whole place. If we would have kept going, I would have grown tired of seeing the same types of things and their impact would almost be less appreciated after seeing so many, but some people can spend weeks there slowly going to every temple. I'm not that type, and I don't feel as if I missed anything by just seeing the main temples. I think my favorite would have to be the Bayon, although when we went in the morning there were hoards of people. I think the early afternoon time is good to see this one as we drove past it on the way to Angkor Wat around 2 PM and there were much fewer people there. The Bayon is smaller than Angkor Wat so it feels a bit more intimate, but it just has so many great angles and the large carvings of the heads lend for great photos. On the way to Ta Prohm we stopped by a smaller temple for kicks called Tommanon. Here our guide sat us down and told us the entire story about the history surrounding the Khmer Rouge. This was because I kept asking him lots of questions about his life and family and the historical backdrop of the Khmer Rouge. I had a good grasp of what happened, but was still confused about how King Sihanouk fit into the creation and subsequent loss of control of the Khmer Rouge and the division into many factions. After this 30 min story, things were a bit more clear. It was a nice break. Ta Prohm was nice to see with the familiar Tomb Raider scenes with the trees overgrowing the temple in many places. Our guide took us to all the good spots. I think that if we were just on our own, we would have missed many good spots and spent lots of time being lost within the temples and not knowing the meaning of much of the artwork. I definitely think if you are on a time schedule that a guide is the way to go. After Ta Prohm we went to Prea Khan where we had lunch accross from the entrance in the local stands. We ate our box lunches and the guide ate there. I tried a bit of his noodles and thought it was all right. A bit sweet for me, because I like really spicy and strong tasting foods. After lunch we went in to Preah Khan while the tukp-tuk driver waited. Throughout the time the driver is told by the guide where to meet us next and waits there until we get there to go to the next destination. Preah Khan is more dismantled looking and has some Greek like architecture. I really liked this one as well. It was much more peaceful and it felt more like you were exploring in this temple. Much fewer people here. There was a beautiful Apsara (Heaven Dancer) in one of the dead end crannies that we would have probably not found had it not been for our guide. Our guide had us sit down and rest for a bit outside on a tree trunk to appreciate the lack of sounds other than the birds and bugs. Then he talked about the red ants that were crawling around and how they were a local delicacy along with their eggs. He then persuaded me to taste one of them. He said that they were very sour like a lemon and sure enough, he caught one for me and held it while I licked its tail end. Sure enough, it tasted like lemon! Very cool. Don't think I will be eating any though. They apparently stir fry them with their eggs. Finally, we headed towards Angkor Wat. I was afraid to be disappointed as I had built it up so much in my head after seeing the other temples. Upon first approaching, it did not seem that impressive to me. I imagined it to have a much bigger first impression, but as you get closer and go within the outer wall, you begin to realize its true grandness. It's full realization comes when you get up close to the myriad of detailed carvings all around the outer wall of the temple which all tells a different story. We worked our way up to the top and climbed the steep flight of stairs as high as we could go. The view from the top is truly amazing as you look out towards the front gate. You realize the true sprawl of the complex. We spent about 3 hours total at Angkhor Wat which was about right. The other temples took anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. We then took the stairs down on the NE side as there was a handrail to hang onto to help you get down. It is way to steep for most people to try and go down like normal steps. We decided not to go to Phnom Bakheng for the sunset as it was cloudy and sprinking periodically so there was not a sunset to be had. And, more importantly, we had run out of cash already so we had to try and hit up a bank or ATM to even be able to pay our guide and driver for the day. That is a strange feeling that I had not had before, the feeling of not being able to do something because of lack of money. Usually, I charge everything so cash is plentiful even if I just bring several hundred, but since cash is the only thing accepted for most hotels and shops, we had quickly run out. I had also not been able to access my bank account via my ATM card. The machine kept saying that my "Account was currently busy". That was a HUGE damper on my plans as I counted on having access to my money via ATM. The guide took us to a bank that allowed me to take out cash advances on my credit cards. Since my cousin's credit card didn't even work there, I had to take out money for her too. I would come to find out several days later that my bank had locked all of my accounts due to fraud suspicion and that is why I could not get ANY money from anywhere. It was a true burden in the coming days. Will talk about it more later... I just kept thinking that eventually the ATM would start working as the entire time I have been in Taiwan, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't depending on time of day or something or type of machine. So, we though we were set with each of us having another $300 in cash for the next 2 days. We headed back to the hotel and paid our driver and guide ($12 for driver, $25 for guide). We did not add a tip that day and are still unclear to this day whether or not tipping was expected if a set price is arranged beforehand. They asked if we needed their services the next day and we said we did not know what we were going to do yet. If we needed them we would let the front desk know. We showered and got ready to meet up for dinner with our two American friends eager to see what they had done that day. We decided to eat at the Shinta Mani which supposedly had good reviews from Gourmet Magazine. That is why we picked it. We were looking for something REALLY good to splurge, but were more than dissappointed. The food was expensive compared to almost all other places and the food was flavorless and very boring. I ordered the steak with garlic mashed potatoes, being the most excited about the garlic mashers since I have been unable to get it in Taiwan for the past 6 months. There wasn't any garlic flavor at all and the steak was just OK. The service was also bad as they messed up my cousin's order and had to be continually reminded for more water. We also got a mosquito in the water which caused all of us to stop drinking it all together there. All in all a very bad experience. Would not recommend it to anyone. Each of us spent about $20 there, but did not get the same satisfaction as a $3-5 meal elsewhere. Avoid like the plague!!! We then went to the Temple Club again as that is the only place for dancing and stayed till very late. Went home by tuk-tuk this time with no problems. Another great day. It really seems as if time slowed down in Cambodia. Quite strange really... Usually when I travel and have packed days, time flies by and the the vacation is over with before I know it, but in Cambodia, time seems to stand still for some reason. Something that you did that morning seems like it was yesterday. One day felt like two. I have never experience anything like it while traveling... Break.
lil247 is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2006, 09:58 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,448
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
To everyone, the book is called "The Lost Executioner: A Journey to the Heart of the KIlling Fields."
waynehazle is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2006, 10:26 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,049
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
for some of the reasons that you have listed many of us do tons of planning before we go...

on the credit cards, atms, etc, always notify your banks of the countries you intend to visit and the dates of your trip or you may be locked out...in cambodia that is really a problem because of the lack of banking facilities, like atm's etc...

debit cards are also banned by some banks in certain countries...for instance my visa debit has prohibbited all transactions in indonesia, but you can use it as a credit card there....odd...

good report
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2006, 07:48 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I normally do call my bank before going on a trip out of the country, but I had already told them that I would be living in Asia and traveling for the next 6 months in Asia and to not lock my accounts. I had no problems the last six months until this trip. Lesson learned... Sometimes banks need a reminder and bring lots of cash when going to underdeveloped countries! I just ended up spending over $500 for a change fee and new partial ticket back to the US as I missed my flights from Taiwan back to Texas on July 20th! I am now flying back on the 23rd... Hard lesson learned, but it could have been worse if I would have had to buy an entire new ticket back to the states!
lil247 is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2006, 04:14 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 4: My cousin and I decided to wake up at a leisurely time and go to the Old Market for something different and do some shopping for gifts. We spent almost two hours there and then had lunch at the Ivy Guesthouse across the street. I had read that the food was good there, and it was. It was very slow, however. I think it was at least 45 min or more after we ordered when we actually got our food. There were not that many people there eating either so it should not have taken that long. If we were in a rush that day it would not have worked, but if you are willing to wait, the food is worth it. We had the Khmer fried rice and I had the stir fried beef dish with white rice. It was delicious. We then dropped off our stuff we bought at The Villa and headed out to the Floating Village at Tonle Sap Lake. It took about 40 min or so to get out there form what i remember and the road gets very bad and bumpy after stopping at the office where they sell tickets to the floating village. You are essentially buying a ticket for a boat ride sold by the government. The boats are provided by the government and the guide that is on it with you gets a small salary for running the tour. It was rainy when we went so very muddy everywhere, but not pouring. The drive to the docks where the boats take off from is an experience in itself. You will see ther poorest of poor conditions. Lots of straw thatch houses and naked little children running around. It's a very basic lifestyle. I was internally torn as to how I should feel seeing the houses and the people. I felt juxtaposed riding through their villages in a tuk-tuk in my western clothes and digital camera wondering what they were actually thinking when they saw foreigners drive through there. Did they hate us for being better off? Or did they not even know what to think, because we were just so strange and foreign to them? Did they think that we were just there to gawk at their way of life, making a tour out of the poverty? Or did they appreciate that foreigners wanted to come visit their village to understand different aspects life. I really wish I knew what they were thinking... The trip out to the lake might be what one pictures third world Cambodia as being like instead of Pub Street in Siem Reap or downtown Phnom Penh. We got to the docks and climbed onto a boat after they took our tickets, which we paid $10 each for. The day prior, our friends went and paid $25 for 2 people after they bargained it down from $15 each, so I really think the office takes a look at you when you come in and picks a price according to how foreign or well off you look... We are both ethnically Taiwanese, so maybe that helped. Our friends are white... So we started off on the trip down the river towards the lake. There was everything from floating markets to basketball courts, to churches, to schools. I had read in this forum previously to bring lot sof pencils and things to give to the kids if going to the lake, so I brought lots of pencils, stickers, and little toy cars to give out if we could. I asked our guide Chia if we could go somewhere to hadn them out and he said he would take us to a school. We pulled up to a floating school and went in after Chia talked to the teacher to make sure it was OK. What an experience! To actually go into one of their schools while class was in session and give things to the kids. It was so much fun to see their faces light up. They were all very polite and did not grab for things. Many of them would grab me to let me know that one of their classmate did not receive something that they had already received. It was all very unselfish unlike in the west. I am pretty sure any kids back home would be fighting over what stickers were better or who got more things than the other. It was all very polite. I am really glad we went to the school, but not sure if the teacher was annoyed with us because she did not say one word or make any facial expressions the whole time. Just watched... We continued our tour to the end wher eyou get to the fish market and get off to see the view from the second floor of the lake as well as see crocodiles that are raised for their skin. They have huge catfish as well there. We stayed there for about 20 min and then headed back the way we came. It was a really unique experience to see the floating village. The reason why they choose to live on the water instead of near or beside it is because the water levels vay so much with the wet and dry season that in order to be in harmony with the lake and river, they have to fluctuate with the seasons. Their livelihood depends on fishing, so they must stay near/on the water. In the dry season, the river completely dries up so they move the village out to the middle of the lake (explained by Chia), and in the wet season, they return to living along the river on the water. We got back to the docks and met up with our driver and headed to get blind massages. A friend of mine had said it was neat to go get a massage by a blind person that also helps them out at the same time, so I thought it was a good idea. We arrived and there was a bigger guy that was running the show. There was one blind girl that was hanging out behind the desk. I asked for an aie conditioned room ($7/hr) and my cousin got the non A/C massage for $4/hr. I was surprised when I went into my room and the girl was not blind at all. She watched while I undressed and when I stared at her for a bit she turned around finally. She did not speak English so the boss guy came in and said he woud check in with me 20 min into the massage to see if I was happy. The girl was very bad actually, so I was dying for the 20 to be up and get a new girl. She had absolutely no strength. It felt more like rubbing than massaging. They switched girls and the second one was a bit better. She was also not blind. I felt kind of tricked, but there was no way I was going to say anything like "Can I please have a blind person so my massage?" I thought it was implied when I went to a "Blind Massage"... I guess not. Oh well. I paid outside to the boss and tipped the girl a dollar before going back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Our friends picked the FCC for dinner after our very disappointing dinner the night before. FCC was pretty much the same as the one in Phnom Penh, but still very good so we were all happy and not very expensive for the quality. We went out on Pub Street again and then went for a late swim at the spa across from The Villa. It was not open, but we found the guy staying there and he gave us towels. I think he was just rying ot get rid of us so he could go back to sleep. It was almost 5 AM... Went for a dip and then crossed the street to go to sleep. We had a driver to possibly meet at 9 AM to go to Banteay Srei! We were still undecided.

Day 5: Woke up and decided that we did not have enough time to see Banteay Srei before having to be at the airport at 12, so i ran downstairs to tell the driver at 9AM, but he convinced me that there was enough time if we left right away. I sprinted up and we got packed up and checked out. The driver would take us to Banteay Srei and then the airport for $25 in his car. We made it out there in about 45 min. It was about 10:15 when we got there, so we had about an hour to look around. That was plenty of time as that temple is pretty small. The carvings are exquisite though and well worth the trip. The color of the stone is also different from all the other wats. I would definitely not miss this temple! We left with just enough time to get to the airport. We got there and gave the lady our tickets. This is where our trip turns not so good. She says that we are supposed to be flying out of Phnom Penh not Siem Reap. I told that that couldn't be possible because our travel agent booked Siem Reap and even the itinerary stapled to the front said Siem Reap, but sure enough, when I looked closer at the ticket, it said PNH. I was shocked. They could not change the ticket there either. We would have to go back to the Vietnam Airlines Office all the way in town to get rerouted, but they said if we wanted we could buy a whole new ticket in cash there at the counter and settle with the travel agent later. This was the best idea as that would allow us to make the flight. I had alot riding on the flight to get back to Taiwan, because early the next morning was my flight back to the USA. Miss this flight and I am SCREWED! We were taken to the bank at the airport where i tried to take out another cash advance from my credit card. However, this time it did not work. Nothing was working and I was beginning to realize the direness of our situation. I still had no idea why my cards were not working. Was it time of day? was I over my withdrawal limit for the time period? I did not think that my accounts had been locked because I had called my bank and had them not I would be traveling in Asia for the next 6 months. Apparently, I found out later that that was the case. We missed the flight and headed back towards town to try and get more money somehow.... Western Union was running through my head. We did not know how much it would cost to reroute the tickets at the office for tomorrow so I was preparing for the worst. The guy that gave us a ride was not a driver. He and his wife worked at the airport and saw a chance to make some money as we were on the side of the road with our luggage looking for a tuk-tuk with none in sight. He wanted $5, which at that time seemed like a million to me, but we had no choice. He took us into town to the Vietnam Airlines office and found out that the agent had sent a message to our agent in Taiwan to repond to or else he could not reroute us. It all seemed very cumbersome. While he was waiting for a reponse, we went back to the bank that we were able to pull $600 out from 2 days ago hoping for the best. No luck this time. The guy suggested we find a place to stay for the night so he took us to the Chenla Guesthouse. Not really too nice, but we were not being picky. It was $15 for the night and there was internet next door. I quickly went and emailed our travel agent in Taiwan to please respond to the agents message there. And my cousin was actully able to use her cell phone to call the travel agent. She responded immediately and had our tickets rerouted for a small change fee of $10 each. That was a relief! We then had enough money to get through the night and next day. I was still completely unsure aobut my tickets to the US. I had my parents at home working on getting it changed. I was nervous all night about it, but there was nothing I oculd do from Cambodia, so I might as well enjoy another night there. We were famished by this point. It was about 2 PM and we had not eaten a thing all day. Went to the Tell Restuarant for lunch. It was also VERY good. Big portions which is what we needed. Then we had the rest of the day to do seomthing. we had not expected to still be there so were at a loss for what to do. I wanted to see Artisans d'Angkor so we went and did the tour. It was really neat to see the people actually at work making the pieces that were sold in the store. More expensive than what you find at markets, but the quality is much better. Good place for nicer gifts... Then our driver suggested we go to a dinner show of Angkor traditional dance. We agreed, but had some time to kill before it started so he took us to some more souvenir shops. These were the ones that the big tour groups get taken to to get ripped off so after one, we just decided to go to a local stadium field to catch some local activities. There were two soccer games going on and people hanging out waiting for the free movie to start on the outdoor big screen. There were small rides for the kids as well. Just a nice place to kill some time and see the local way of life. We then headed to the Mondial for the buffet dinner and show even though we weren't the least bit hungry yet. It was $12 for the dinner and show so not too bad. The food was all right. Typical buffet food though. I thought only the BBQ skewers of beef were especially good. Everything else was OK. The dancing was entertaining, but nothing wow. A good $12 spent though if you come hungry... Headed to the sketchy Chenla for a good nights sleep. That was the first night we had gone to sleep before 4 AM.

Day 6 (Finally our last day): We woke up and met our driver at 9 AM to go to the OLD Market one last time for gifts, but I first wanted to buy some stamps at the Post Office. I like to collect stamps from the countries I visit. They were quite expensive there if you get the better ones. Anywhere from $3-8 for 3 or more stamps. I bought several strips for $20 and then we went and headed for the Old Market area. We had breakfast first at the Le Grand. I had the red chicken curry which was very good and my cousin had the lemon fish which didnt really have any flavor. We decided to get ice cream after and that was absolutely wonderful. Real Belgian chocolate. Just what we needed for our last meal in country. Shopped for a bit and headed for the airport for the second time. There were no problems this time though. I ended up buying quite a bit at the airport Artisans d'Angkor store as I still had all my in-laws to shop for. And this wraps up our trip to Cambodia! It was all in all a really amazing time. One of my favorite trips of all time. I don't really think its the actual tourist sites, but more the atmosphere and people that made the trip so memorable. I definitely would come back. In one way, I truly hope the economic situation improves for the people, but at the same time, it wouldn't be as much fun for us tourists in the future, as half the fun is thinking you are getting a great deal on everything! I wish the best though for the Cambodian people, and that they may finally have a lasting peace.
lil247 is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2006, 06:14 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 111
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the report. I was in Siem Riep back in July, 2002. I want to go back to Cambodia some day to see PP.

Another good book on Tuol Sleng is David Chandler's "Voices from S-21: Terror and History in Pol Pot's Secret Prison."
ImitationOfChrist is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2006, 07:06 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,049
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
so were you able to make your flight home to usa??
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Aug 1st, 2006, 05:14 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I am now back in the states in DC and actually had my first day of grad school yesterday at Hopkins SAIS! What a hectic move and schedule coming off of my trip. Thanks for asking!
lil247 is offline  
Old Aug 7th, 2006, 11:53 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 113
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I plan to go to Angkor Wat as a side trip from Thailand. Would it be a shame to miss Phnom Penh? I don't mind flying to PP from BKK, then to SR, then from SR back to BKK. Or do you think the time would be better spent in Thailand instead of in PP? Is 2 days enough in PP? Thanks.
obersee1 is offline  
Old Aug 7th, 2006, 12:34 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 113
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just found this thread that answers my question about visiting Phnom Penh:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...7&tid=34587087
obersee1 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Kay2
Asia
9
Dec 28th, 2019 11:24 AM
memejs
Asia
15
Jan 31st, 2013 09:25 AM
Hugh_dc
Asia
13
Jun 8th, 2010 07:29 AM
gailmo
Asia
17
Nov 8th, 2008 10:29 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 - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:45 PM.