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Craig and Jeane Arrive in SE Asia - Siem Reap

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Feb 26th, 2006, 02:19 PM
  #41
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Craig, Definately try 3 Nagas for dinner. Delicious food & nice atmosphere. We also stayed at Maison & liked the location, the grounds, the breakfast buffet on the terrace near the pool & thought it was generally very nice though we did not have a suite & our room and bathroom were rather small. We loved LP. Like you, we thought the best part of the trip to the caves was the boat ride & stopping at the villages. I think you will love the falls. We arranged a driver through the hotel and it was a little more expensive ($35), but we were very pleased. Comfortable van and careful driver on very difficult unpaved roads. He stopped whenever we asked so that we could wander around some local(untouristed)villages we saw along the way, as well as a local market we passed.
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Feb 27th, 2006, 08:36 PM
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We have a few minutes at the MS while waiting for our van to the airport ($10) so I will post again. Kuang Si waterfall was beautiful as was the drive. We had an a/c van and driver ($35) - much preferred to a tuk-tuk. We stopped at 2 towns along the way - one commercial and one not geared to tourists. We hiked all the way to the top. Unfortunately we did not see the "easy" way on the left side of the falls and went up the hard way on the right. We came down the "easy" way though - it is still VERY steep but there are wooden stairs so it is less slippery. There is only swimming at the lower pools and it was very refreshing after the climb.

Dinner on Sunday night was a recommendation from Sandrina. It was called the Bousasavanh Restaurant and was right next to the Mekong River - very pleasant but basic. Total cost for the meal with a big beer and tip was $7, (seven dollars!). The best part was the dried seaweed with sesame seed appetizer, a local specialty. Last night we made up for the cheap meal by splurging at the restaurant at the Pansea (La Residence Phou Vou). Wonderful atmosphere, wonderful meal - relatively inexpensive. I was disappointed that they did not have the wonderful dark version of the Lao Beer that they have at the MS restaurant but other than that it was really good - about $40 total.

CFW - sorry, we did not have time for 3 nagas.

This morning we went to the town on the other side of the river - very cool to walk around there - no other tourists in sight - interesting wats and people to photograph.

We had hoped to visit the palace museum but it is closed on Tuesdays.

Got to run - more tomorrow or the next day from Bangkok - we have free internet at the Plaza Athenee.
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Feb 27th, 2006, 08:55 PM
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so it all sounds like it went well....how would you rate your hotel against the pansea from what you could see of it??

did you get to L'elephant??

what about sandrinas shop??

very anxious to hear what PA is like...can't believe your trip is almost over....

B&K
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Feb 28th, 2006, 02:36 AM
  #44
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I know you asked Craig, but I'll also answer about Sandrina's shop - Caruso Lao. Beautiful things, especially carved wood items, but expensive, and considering prices and income of the people in Laos the prices were really way out of line. Nevertheless, we couldn't resist and bought a carved head ($150). By the way, prices in the shop are in dollars.
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Feb 28th, 2006, 05:14 AM
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i will also comment on the price side of her shop....we did not find that quality in any other shop in LP ...in fact we did not find anything like its quality and variety and style...remember it is western owned and most of the products are designed by a western mind for western taste, but executed by lao crafts people to a very high standard with a lao flair....

we found hand carved wooden vases with a tin liner at $18 to be an outright bargain....huge salad bowls at bargain prices as well made out of incredible woods.....a giagantic wooden salad bowl for the largest buffet you could muster for perhaps $500....unbelievable and unseen elsewhere...
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Feb 28th, 2006, 05:23 AM
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I'm enjoying your report. I hope you enjoy the Plaza in BKK. It's a lovely hotel!
Carol
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Mar 1st, 2006, 09:30 PM
  #47
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After a very smooth and uneventful flight from LP, we are now in Bangkok. The Plaza Athenee is a very nice hotel but a bit of a let down after the Penn. We are on executive floor #23 but our room is relatively small and there is only one sink in the bath (we are sooooo spoiled). Breakfast in the lounge is good as are the free drinks and internet. The pool is gorgeous. Service is very good. My only real complaint is that the elevators can be frustratingly slow at busy times.

To answer some of the questions:

Bob - the MS is much better situated than the Pansea but the Pansea is in a far nicer setting. We preferred having the easy walk to town and being able to step out of our room to see the monks in the morning. We checked out L'Elephant but there was sidewalk construction going on outside so we didn't think it would be very pleasant. The menu looked interesting though. Caruso, Sandrina's shop had very nice high end stuff. We really wanted to buy something because she had been so nice to us but the wood pieces sold there just do not fit in with our decor.

Yesterday was a busy shopping day in Bangkok. We spent the entire morning between T Silk Place (at OP Place) and Rajawongse (on Sukumvit near Soi 4). It was precisely the type of itinerary I wanted to avoid when in Bangkok since we wasted a LOT of time to and from OP Place. Since Jeane was doing a second fitting and I was doing a third, we spent a considerable amount of time just waiting around. That being said, we are both extremely satisfied with what we have bought - final adjustments are being made and we will be picking up our garments tomorrow afternoon. I was happy that I was able to take 6 custom made shirts back to the hotel - Victor told me that I would not have to pay anything until I pick up the suits - what a great way to do business!

We spent the remainder of the afternoon browsing around Gaysorn Plaza and Narai Phand - we bought a few handicrafts and were very satisfied. We also went back to Peninsula Plaza since many of the stores we closed when we visited last week after dinner at Biscotti. One of the places we were looking for was Judith Leiber (handbags) - seems they have moved and nobody knows where - anybody know? We stopped in at the Prasart store as well - a good preview of our trip to the museum tomorrow, perhaps?

Dinner: BED SUPPER CLUB!!! - What a great people watching experience - we had a blast, taking photos, making comments and enjoying a fantastic 3-course dinner. We shared our two choices for each course - the main was the most memorable - our choices were kangaroo(!) and some sort of Balinese fish. The fish was the better of the two but the kangaroo was not bad - both had lovely presentations and delicious accompaniments. Bed is not the place to go if you have a tight budget - the bill was in excess of US$100 including two beers, two "fancy" drinks and tip. The restaurant is an easy walk from the Nana skytrain stop.

Speaking of the skytrain, we bought 1-day tourist passes and really got our money's worth. But boy the steps are real killers, especially since the temperature topped 95 degrees yesterday.

This morning, we checked out the Siam Ocean World aquarium at Siam Paragon. We spent a little over an hour there. We arrived at about 9:45 and there were already hordes of school kids milling about. The aquarium is nice. Unlike most in the US which are regional in nature this one has sea life from all over the world. The displays are well thought out and the descriptions are in both Thai and English. One thing I would not pay extra for again is the glass bottom boat tour at 100 Baht pp - just a gimmick and not worth it.

The have told me I have to switch computers so will post and then continue...
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Mar 1st, 2006, 09:49 PM
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Ok, now on a different computer...

After the aquarium we walked around Siam Paragon. It is huge, of course with stores grouped on its 6 floors by type. Many stores are open now. We checked out the Golden Triangle Store on the 4th floor but did not buy anything. There is a very nice brochure available at the information desks with a listing and maps of all of the stores - very handy and easy to use. The skytrain is right close by too. After Siam Paragon, we found our way to Prayer via the skytrain bridges at Siam Square - thanks to Fodors posters for giving us some clues on how to find it. Jeane tried on some garments but we did not buy.

Time to go - we are picking up Jeane's sapphire pieces at Thai Stone Jewelry. We will probably continue down Sukhumvit on the skytrain to Emporium to check out the crafts floor there. We have a few more errands to run as well. Dinner at Face (Hazara, the Indian restaurant) tonight. Prasart museum with one of Ratt's drivers tomorrow.

Will probably not post again until Saturday or Sunday as we check out at about 10 PM tomorrow night for our 1:05 AM flight to New York.
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Mar 2nd, 2006, 10:10 AM
  #49
 
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all sounds wonderful....have a good flight and anxious to read anything more that you have to add...

great review on PA...penn tends to spoil you....i can only imagine how i would feel if i ever stayed at oriental....???

custom clothing takes lots of time but is worth it in the long run....wish it could all be accomplished while i was sleeping...

B&K
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Mar 2nd, 2006, 12:52 PM
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Sounds like you've had a great time. I'm glad you liked the Bed. We did not make it back there (or Face either) during the January visit to BKK.

Anxiously awaiting more more more...
Carol
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 04:45 AM
  #51
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We leave in 2 hours and I have time to kill. Did Emporium yesterday afternoon - "crafts" floor was ok but high priced - didn't buy anything. Jeane felt sick last night and this morning - took the meds we brought with us - Azythromycin. I ate at the Athenee club floor - actually quite good (free) and filling - chicken stew, ham sandwiches, desserts and Chilean red wine. Went to the Prasart Museum by myself with driver from Ratservice - no problems (showed up on time, spoke very good English) but expensive for one person - 1500 baht for 5 hours - the trip took about 3-1/2. 1000 baht admission for the Prasart - almost worth it but expensive by Thai standards - really enjoyed the museum and the architectural history as explained by the English speaking guide.

Jeane felt better after resting in the morning. We picked up:
Jeane's garments at T Silk Place - turned out great!,
A Watercolor painting (impressionist style floating market as it used to be by local artist) at a gallery (to be named later also in OP Place),
My four PERFECT suits at Rajawongse (they gave me four "free" thai silk ties as a gift),
Jeane's saphire jewelry at Thai Stone (Mr. and Mrs. Lee were wonderful and we so liked talking and joking with them - we look forward to returning there.)

FACE - Hazara, Indian restaurant:
Atmosphere A+
Service C (brought Heinekin beer when I ordered Singha, never brought the chutney that we ordered)
Food C (just ok)
Value F (we ordered split portions - 2 beers, 2 pineapple juices, vegie appetizer, lamb main, rice and naan (bread) - $50 ridiculous for Indian food, considering we would have paid almost 2X if we had each ordered individual portions.

Now you are up-to-date. Plaza Athenee was not bad but we would be willing to try JW Marriot, FS and/or Sheraton Sukhumvit to compare on our next trip. The location has been excellent but may want to split again next time between the Penn and a central shopping location.

Got to shower and catch a plane - will try to do a separate summary post with additional thoughts. Please feel free to post any questions here.
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 04:53 AM
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Craig, I thought you were already home! You probably won't see this before your flight but I wish you and Jeane a safe flight home. Sorry Jeane wasn't feeling well, glad she's better. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip.
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 05:07 AM
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Hi Craig
I'm glad Jeane is better. I hope the flight home isn't too tiring for her. It isn't fun to not feel well while on a vacation.

I'm glad you liked staying "in the city" as well as along the river. For my money, I'd probably do the FS next time around. The others you named are also very nice hotels, but the FS would be my own personal choice. What about the Hyatt or the Intercontinental?

Sorry Face was disappointing. I know it was son Brad who originally brought this place to the forefront here. We had a really lovely meal there... one of the best Thai meals I've had in BKK.

Looking forward to a GTG in Boston once again (Bob, Andy... are you thinking October once again???) and hope that you and Jean can make it.

Carol
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 05:32 AM
  #54
 
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Craig-thanks for the frank review of Face. Hope Jeane feels better on the flight.

Carol (no "E")-I suspect October will be GTG Time. I will bring it up with his Needhamness.
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 06:09 AM
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Andy,
Thanks for the GTG note. I'm looking at my calendar and note that early OCT is better than Mid- to late OCT as I have commitments from about the 16th on. So 1st thru 15th are best for me.
Carol
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 06:12 AM
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so sorry jeane missed the prasart....wow has their price gone up....we paid 400 B as i remember or maybe 500 and that was less than a year ago.....in any case it is worth it!! you will just have to go back next time....we would like to do that also...

why did you think that $37.50 was expensive for 5 hours of ratt? that IS about a 30% increase in price over what she used to charge, but it still seems reasonable....but remember all that discussion about part days and how she loses money on them and wanted to boost up her price to compensate....maybe you are a victum of that??
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Mar 4th, 2006, 11:23 PM
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We are back - its about 3 am so I am a little out of sync with the time zone. Jeane is feeling fine. A driver from AAC Limo met us at the hotel - a taxi would have never held all of our purchases. We were taken to terminal 1, normally the international terminal for Thai Air. We were able to use a Thai Air porter because we were flying business class. He was right there outside the terminal. The porter walked us through security (just x-rays, nothing was opened) and over to check-in. OOOPS! - wrong terminal! Have to go to terminal 2 for the BKK-JFK flight. So, the porter took us to the adjacent terminal 2, walked us through security again (just x-rays again) and over to check-in. There were actually signs everywhere about this flight and the need to show up 3 hours in advance (we showed up 2-1/2 hours early). I kind of blame myself for going to the wrong terminal as this is the kind of detail I pride myself in knowing. However, AAC Limo also should have known - we did give them our flight number when we reserved with them. Anyway, it didn't really matter - with the Thai porter the whole thing was a breeze.

There is a business class/first class lounge right by the gate in terminal 2. It was pretty full but we managed to find a comfortable seat. The flight left on time (1:05 AM), I think - I was fast asleep when the plane took off. Jeane woke me so I could recline my seat to sleeping position. For some reason, they feel they have to serve a meal at 2 in the morning but we slept through it. Got about 8 hours of sleep, fairly solid then after 2 meals, 3 movies and 1 sitcom later we landed - 6 AM.

Welcome to New York and the USA - luggage carts were THREE DOLLARS(!) - we had to fork it over as there was no way we were going to get our stuff through customs and out of the terminal without one. We breezed through immigration and customs - on the other side the bus had just gone by for our long term parking (Avistar) and Jeane was freezing. We decided to take a taxi - no problem right? Wrong. As soon as they start the meter, its $2.50 in NY. Our first taxi driver didn't know where he was going so he had to return us to the terminal. We refused to get in a second cab because that driver didn't know either. The third time was a charm though, except for the $11 it cost us to get to the parking. Welcome home.

This was a great trip. All-in-all pretty smooth. Good advice from Fodorites and good preparation. I will do that follow-up summary post as this one is kind of mistitled.

Carol - we knew going in that Face has received mixed reviews - I am glad we went there however and would still try the Thai restaurant on our next visit. Right now October is wide open - we will plan on attending the Boston GTG and look forward to seeing you again.

Bob - I will go to the Prasart again next visit with Jeane. I was going through my receipts and it was indeed 1000 baht. To clarify, the 1500 baht was for one of Ratt's drivers, not Ratt. I knew what it was going to cost when I made the reservation through her. To me, it did not seem to be a terribly difficult destination to get to but the comfort of having someone that knew how to get there would have made it worth the expense if it had been both me AND Jeane going. $37.50 (1500 baht) for 5 hours (1/2 day) of driving is not bad if you look at it that way. But for me it was 1/2 hour of driving each way from the hotel plus a 2-1/2 hour wait for the driver. No big deal really.

Thanks to everyone for their comments - it has been fun doing this in real time.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 05:20 AM
  #58
 
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we're off to newport overnite tonight so hope maybe a cool sunny sunday might allow you some more typing time...DON'T YOU JUST LOVE NYC!!!!

glad you are home safe and sound and we look forward to getting together...

so now you have nothing to do but to plan a GTG in hartford right??? haha

hope you consider doing it as there are many CT fodorites and it would be nice to see grace, kinshore and others again and CFW too...

welcome home.....K&B

lets do a lunch sometime soon??
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Mar 5th, 2006, 05:37 AM
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Craig
I'm glad you and Jeane made it home, safe and sound. I look forward to your full report, and to meeting up once again in October at the BOS GTG.
Carol
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Mar 6th, 2006, 02:56 AM
  #60
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I have started on a summary report with more detail and reflections on the trip. Will post shortly.

Bob - I will e-mail you soon with open dates for lunch. Also thinking about the CT GTG.
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