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Craig and Jeane Arrive in SE Asia - Siem Reap

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Feb 22nd, 2006, 01:36 AM
  #21
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Have to be quick today...too lazy to leave the Penn and its outrageous internet rates so details will have to wait.

Last stop in SR was floating village - got some pix but not great as it was late in the day to avoid the crowds and the heat. Great al fresco meal at abacus - the ostrich was a little tough but the red wine sauce and the vegie accompanyment were awesome. Forgot to mention that one of the salad courses at Meric (de la Paix) included dried snake as an ingredient - really quite good.

Flight to Bangkok was smooth and uneventful - went to Rajawongse Clothiers and spent time with Victor - ordered 4 suits and 6 shirts - will do the second fitting after we return from LP. The place is first class all the way - Victor could practically read my mind - so far a great experience. Also stopped at Thai Stone Jewelers (recommended by Bob and Karen) - Jeane ordered semi-custom saphire earrings and pendant - now done buying jewelery (budget is blown - sorry Kathi don't think we will be visiting SJ). Mr. Lee at TSJ is very helpful and has a great sense of humor.
Dinner at Biscotti last night - soft shell crab salad was UNBELIEVABLE! - enough for a meal too. Good Italian wine selection. Highly recommended.

Spent all day with Ratt - floating market and some out-of-the-way shops. I was very disappointed with the FM - we went early and avoided much of the crowds but the motorized long tail boats were a real turnoff as were the dozens of sellers of tourist junk. Ratt showed up 15 minutes late - she had changed the time and then forgot - otherwise there were no glitches. She earned her money today though getting us back from Soi 33 to the Penn during rush hour in about 30 minutes. Visited a new (to us) china place near the FM and purchased several pieces - will have to post name and style later as I forget. Also visited wood carving center.

Dinner at Triptara tonight. Will post more later when it is cheaper.
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 03:08 AM
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We thought the same of the floating market. Disappointing and not worth the time investment. There should be cheap internet access in LP, so we want more.
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 05:30 AM
  #23
 
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Craig

Ponheary sent me a few pictures her driver took of your visit to the schools in SR. Looks like you had a good time there. The kids seem especially enthralled!

Glad to hear you are having a good trip.

Lori

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Feb 22nd, 2006, 05:50 AM
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i can't tell karen about the crab as it is her favorite and she will hound me until we get there again...haha..

glad you liked biscotti...as you know it is perhaps our favorite...glad you and mr lee hitched up @ thai stone...isn't the hotel a dump??
do you feel you got a good buy?

sorry you found the floating market a disappointment....we continue to find it interesting and i would return there for a 3rd visit....we avoided the motorized boat so that might be part of why we ejoyed it more...it is a huge time committment however on short trips....we never look at the tourist junk there, just pass it by...we find the color and interest in the on water part of the market....i don't believe the motorized boats can enter the canal or river section where the actual market takes place....were you able to see that area....its the area where there are sheds on the banks containing tourist junk stalls nd all the colorful activities in the small paddled boats in the narrow water passageway?

internet on farang way in LP is very cheap...
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 06:13 AM
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did you go to soi 33 to visit rasi sayan? if so how was it? we have not been to the new shop..

B&K
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 06:18 AM
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karen wants me to mention a good internet place in bkk to you....just on soi 4, either just before or just after, the nana hotel there is a very good internet place right on the side walk--same side of street as hotel...you can't miss it....50B for 15 minutes with comfortable chairs and fast computers...we use it all the time when in the area....beats hotel prices...
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 06:26 AM
  #27
 
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I second bob on the internet shop. It is about 70 yards after the NaNa hotel and is opened 24 hours. If you are down on the other end of Sukhumvit, you could try the internet "open" cafe on the 3rd floor of Emporium. Slower connection but managable.
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 06:43 PM
  #28
 
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We leave tomorrow, Craig and Jeane...
We have collected enough to also support 135 students.....this is getting contagious, isn't it?
We will be in Siem Reap on March 6th. Any last thoughts for us? We leave tomorrow! Really do hope to meet up in Ct. (When I was a kid, I would take my daddy's car and drive over the mountain to Avon....just to drive over the mountain .....such as it is!) Bangkok is far away from Avon, but as close as the Fodor's chat line!!
J and D
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 11:44 PM
  #29
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Still at the Penn and nowhere near the Nana for internet - the location will be handy when we return to Bangkok.

Just a few notes - the votes have been tabulated, Peninsula versus Oriental: 2 more for the Penn from Craig and Jeane. The Penn has been absolutely great with every convenience you could ever imagine. The Penn boat now goes to the Oriental Pier (in addition to the other Penn pier and the Taksin pier) which has been very convenient.

Anyway, to reply to some of your questions and comments:

I will have some time in LP to take advantage of the cheap internet access.

Lori - looks like you have started something great.

Bob: Floating market - we now can say we went. The motorized boats stayed in the main canal but they were still annoying. We did go through the narrow water passage ways - there was some color but the whole thing seemed set up for tourists. You are right - the Nana where Thai Stone Jewelry is located is a dump. We will check out the internet place though when we go back to pick up the jewelry since it is nearby. We did go to Rasi Sayam's new location with Ratt. It is in a 2 story building, very pleasant - Ratt said the owner was complaining to her that business was slow.

J&D - sorry I missed you - look forward to your report.

Continuing where I left off:

Dinner at Thiptara was good but we thought that for the money, the presentation could have been better. Very pleasant sitting by the river, though. The duck curry was tasty.

Yesterday, we were with Ratt again and visited the Grand Palace, Teak Palace, Marble Wat and Suan Packard Palace. With a couple of other shopping stops and a walk through the flower market, it was a very full day. Ratt does a great job with the GP for our second visit there - hooked us up with an excellent guide - we were there when it opened at 8:30 and were able to take some good pix for about an hour before the tourist hourds started to arrive. The Teak palace was very worthwhile - if you go there, be sure to visit the throne room and carriage museum. SP and Marble Wat were interesting as well.

The place we visited near the floating market was a Benjarong handicraft factory. You can find Benjarong style china at Imperial Porcelin at River City but this place was real neat - we watched young Thai men and women painting the designs on the china. The prices from the factory were about 1/2 of what you would pay elsewhere in Thailand. We had purchase a few pieces on our last trip and ordered a few more this time - most are custom made with a long lead time - Ratt is taking care of the shipping for us.

Anyway, Ratt was great - we would use her again - she is just so full of information and although she is not a guide, she was always showing us where to go and always there to pick us up when we needed to be picked up. Her a/c works great and there is always ice cold water on hand.

Last night we ate at Tongue Thai. We split orders of chicken and cashews (Bob's favorite) and pineapple and fried rice. It was a great and inexpensive meal. I would go so far as to say it was one of our favorites on our trip. The restaurant was about 1/2 full at 7:30 when we ate.

We did a 2 hour klong tour from the Penn dock this morning - it was ok but I think we went too early (8 am) - there was not a lot of people activity which was disappointing. None-the-less we enjoyed the experience and will give it another try in the future. 1200 baht for the two hours, by the way.

Jeane ordered some clothing at a new store recommended by some folks from Texas that we ran into located in OP Place - I'll get the details and post later. We did check out Cotton House, dropping Fodorites' names all over the place - although they were very pleasant, Jeane didn't find any fabric in the style she was looking for.

Did my second fitting a Rajawongse - it went very smoothly - will return for 3rd and final fittings after LP.

Off to pack now. We leave tomorrow AM (for LP). Today is Jeane's birthday so we will do China House tonight, followed by a drink at Sky Bar.

Will post from LP.



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Feb 24th, 2006, 06:28 AM
  #30
 
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love all of your conclusions....

glad you like tongue thai, and the penn hotel....it is good food (TT) in a relaxing atmosphere, imo....

i had another report today of a ratt disappointment....she cancelled a planned tour for a fodorite yesterday for about two weeks hence on the day before this person left for asia....very disturbing that she does this!!!

fyi of fodorites....i think i have the lead on a ratt replacement or alternative...will be bringing it up in a few days...

we have always done the klong tour in the afternoon when there is tons of activity... sorry that was a disappointment for you...next time...

enjoy LP...sandrina awaits your arrival...

B&K
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Feb 24th, 2006, 12:31 PM
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I was originally going to go with Ratt but after reading about her recent troubles, I'm glad I have Tong reserved for a few days. I'm really looking forward to having Tong take us around and teach us some more about Buddhism. Sorry Craig, don't mean to hijack your thread.
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Feb 24th, 2006, 12:44 PM
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LaurieCo

Have you emailed Tong directly? There is an unknown client who has been referred through this board to Tong via Ratt and Ratt won't let Tong email the client directly. It's giving Tong some stress....If you haven't emailed with her directly, then please do so at [email protected]

Also apologize for the hijack....

Lori
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Feb 24th, 2006, 12:50 PM
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Lori, yes I have and she has answered and said she is available for us. We are now in the process of putting together an itinerary.
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Feb 24th, 2006, 12:53 PM
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awesome

ask her to take you to the coffin place...

Lori
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Feb 24th, 2006, 01:00 PM
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I already have, and to give alms to the monks, and the Prasart. We have her for two days. I'm going to re-read your trip report for more ideas.
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Feb 24th, 2006, 10:58 PM
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offwego - I emailed Tong directly after you posted her email for contacting her. Is this the email that is causing her stress - we haven't heard back. Does one need to email Ratt and Tong together or something? Please let me know as we really want to book Tong - not fussed whether it is through Ratt or directly with Tong, but we thought that we could just book directly.

Thanks
BB
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Feb 25th, 2006, 03:27 AM
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Bella, I did not go through Ratt, I emailed Tong directly. Initially, it took several days for her to answer so be patient, I'm sure she's just busy or perhaps internet access for her is not as simple as it is for most of us.
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Feb 25th, 2006, 04:35 AM
  #38
 
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Thanks Laurie - having reread offwego's post I see now that it is someone who has booked via Ratt who Tong cannot contact.

We will wait for her to get back to us

Great report Craig!
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Feb 26th, 2006, 12:07 AM
  #39
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Ok, time to reclaim my thread...

From last time, the store at OP where Jeane is having her clothing made is called T Silk Place. I think she ordered 2 dresses, a skirt, a blouse and a jacket. The store is copying a dress she saw in the window of another store at OP. She liked T Silk because they had this textured material for the jacket and the skirt that is popular back home. Pricing seemed quite reasonable for custom made. Will report results later.

China House = Outstanding in every way. Staff delivered a cake and sang Happy Birthday to Jeane.

After China House we walked to Sky Bar (less than 5 minutes) - absolutely awesome views with a great band.

Yesterday, we enjoyed out final riverside breakfast at the Penn before departing for the airport. We absolutely loved the Penn buffet breakfasts.

Our flight to Luang Prabang was delayed by 1/2 hour due to problems with the toilet. Once airborne, the airline provided the usual high quality service: big lunch with free wine and beer (even offered seconds!) - very impressive for a less than two hour flight.

Arrived Maisson Souvannaphoum early afternoon - $5 taxi (van) from airport, smooth check-in. We have the Maisson Suite which we reserved through Sandrina of Caruso Lao whom Bob set us up with when we could not get the Phao Vou. The reduced rate we received is expensive by Lao standards. However, the room is twice the size of the others in the hotel and appointed with many interesting touches. The HUGE veranda looks out on the main street but is set back so there is very little street noise. All in all, I would rate it 4 stars but not 5 - it is an old building which was not quite gutted enough when it was refurbished - it shows in places.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon wandering the town. The MS is right at the beginning of the main part of LP - the monks walk by the hotel in the morning and the night market is very close by. We were approached on the street near one of the docks (there are at least 3 places where you can hire a boat) by an enterprising man named Mr. Thongdy. He showed me that he was mentioned in the Footprint Guides to Laos and offered to take us to the Pak Ou caves on his boat for $25. I know the rate is higher than some on this forum have paid but I took him up on it and we arranged to meet the next day at 8:30. When we got back to the hotel, we were beat from the heat so we relaxed for a while before dinner.

Meanwhile, Sandrina called from Vientiane as she is out of town for a few days. She recommended that we use Phong as a driver for the Kouang Si falls. He has been mentioned on this forum and I had his number so I called him - he was not available for Monday but has set me up with a driver called Sai - will report on this later.

We had dinner at the hotel outside by the pool - excellent Lao food and atmosphere - we split 2 appetizers and a main - water buffalo, Lao spring rolls and a salad - all for less than $25 with 2 beers and service. Food is very cheap here in LP - $25 for two is actually on the high side.

Today we visited the caves. IMO, the reason to go to the caves is not the caves themselves (which are kind of interesting) but for the boat ride. Mr. Thongdy's boat was huge - it was a private tour. The boats here are far more comfortable than the long tails in Thailand - quieter too. The Mekong river is very smooth. The caves trip is upstream so it takes 2 hours to get there. The scenery is beautiful along the way. You see water buffalo grazing, people harvesting seaweed and fisherman doing their thing. For the caves, admission is $1. The lower caves is close by but the upper cave is a climb. They give you a flashlight at the upper cave since it is dark. There are modest facilities with squat toilets on the way to the upper caves.

On the way back from the caves, almost everyone stops at the whisky village and the weaving village. For photographers, the whisky village is the more interesting of the two - we got some great shots of the locals. It is geared towards tourists but the people just seemed to be going about their normal lives - very laid back. The weaving village is very close to LP (by boat anyway) - in addition to silk weaving, they also make paper in this village - mostly for lanterns but also wrapping paper. Jeane bought some paper lanterns to use as a centerpiece for our dining room table at home - we bargained but not too hard. We are now back at the hotel debating on where to go to dinner. Will let you know what we decide and how the falls are on my next installment...
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Feb 26th, 2006, 06:18 AM
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Hey Craig, the thread is all yours ;-)

I agree that the reason to go to the caves is for the boat ride, the caves were incidental but the ride was great. When we went, it began to pour on our way back and we had to stop and wait it out for about 30 minutes because the boat wouldn't have made it. We got soaked but didn't mind. Sounds like you're enjoying LP. It's a beautiful place.

Glad you liked China House. I'm looking forward to getting back there in a few months, my favorite restaurant. Isn't the Peking Duck divine? Wish Jeane a happy (belated) birthday.
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