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

Return of John G from Bangkok and Siem Riep

Return of John G from Bangkok and Siem Riep

Jul 27th, 2002, 02:35 PM
  #1  
John G
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Return of John G from Bangkok and Siem Riep

Just returned from Bangkok and Siem Riep. Will post trip report a little at a time because of fatigue.

Service at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok was the best I have ever received. Better than Connaught in London, George V and Crillon in Paris, and even better than Cipriani in Venice. Everyone smiles at the Oriental, from pool attendants to the person who pushes the elevator button for you. The setting is also very sedate and understated elegance. We went to the Shangri-La for dinner and could notice the difference right away because the Shangri-La was loud, brash, and "busy," although very pretty with enthusiastic service.

Saw most major sites in Bangkok, including Grand Palace, Emerald Buddha, Reclining Buddha, and Wat Arun. We also went on a tour of the kalongs of Thonburi, took the Skytrain to Siam Square (fantastic shopping!), and walked the sois of Chinatown.

As for food, we went to Sala Rim Nam for dinner and cultural show. (The show was very good and professional with trained dancers, not the usual tourist crap that I saw in China.). Another dinner was at Angelini's at Shangri-La. It was expensive, but very good, although Northern Italian, not Thai.

We also had lunch at a small stall in Chinatown, eating right on the street. I was outstanding for only $3.

If anyone has any questions, please post or email me.

I will post more, with also report on Angkor Wat when I have more energy.

John G.
 
Jul 27th, 2002, 02:47 PM
  #2  
Tess
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Whoa! The Oriental Hotel sounds like a helluva place. And after reading your posts on the Europe forum, I know you set a high standard. Will look forward to reading your subsequent posts. Shopping, John G, tell us about the shopping.
 
Jul 27th, 2002, 04:05 PM
  #3  
jorge
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I'm the total opposite of yau (PO ..) I just walked into the lobby of the oriental and felt I didn't belong there... but I would actualy love too read your future posts since it seems that your not a poser but a real life upper echelon travaler.. a jetsetter may I say.

 
Jul 27th, 2002, 05:39 PM
  #4  
Kathie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Welcome back! I'm glad you enjoyed your trip.
 
Jul 27th, 2002, 10:17 PM
  #5  
John G
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Hi, Kathie, I am NOT glad to be back for I had such an awesome time in Siem Riep.

My mother and I had a private driver and guide during our time in Siem Riep and saw alot of different things. We saw Bayon, Elephant Terrace, Tom Phrean (sp?), and Angkor Wat. We also went to the Central Market and to the floating village on Tonle Sap Lake.

Even though I loved the bas-reliefs of the temples, I was more inclined towards the lovely people I met on the boathouses of the floating village, and the people I talked to in Siem Riep.
I just couldn't believe how happy the people were in spite of their horrible poverty.

I have so many funny anecdotes to tell and hopefully I will have some time to post them.

The food in Siem Riep was very good and I didn't find it as spicy as the food of Bangkok. We went to the Siem Riep restaurant, not far from the Grand Hotel d'Angkor, and had 5 dishes (with fresh fruit for dessert) for only $15. It was all delicious.

We also went to the Monkey Bar of the Grand Hotel for a drink. We were glad we didn't stay there because the staff was very sullen. We didn't see the smiles of the Oriental or even of the staff of the Angkor Hotel where we stayed. The Grand seemed like the kind of place for "new money" who only come to see the temples and never leave the hotel for anything else. I can't believe any of these people would ever walk through the Central Market for fear of messing their JP Tod's.

We also ate at one of the food stalls directly across the road from Angkor Wat. We had a hot soup with shrimp and vegetables (I think it was called tom yam soup). My mother thought it was better than anything she has had in a long while.

As for the temples, I just loved the story and bas-relief of the Churning of the Sea of Milk, with its fish, ferocious crocodiles, and giant turtle.

The bas-reliefs of Bayon were my favourite, however, because I found it facinating how they told of life in Siem Riep in the 13th century (and how little life has changed). It was also interesting to see how one king became a Hindu and had the artisans turn the Buddhas into Hindu dieties by adding arms and beards.

And, of course, the apsaras were magical.

My guide, Che, was amazing. He spoke English and German, which he learned by candlelight because he has no electricity in his village. My mother and I learned so many things about Khmer history, including the decimation of the Khmer people by Pol Pot. (We also went to the Killing Fields Memorial in Siem Riep.)

I will post more when I am not so tired, including shopping hints for Tess.
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 01:08 PM
  #6  
SRubenstein
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Dear John- Planning a trip andwas concerned about the weather. Since I would be going at about the same time next year what was weather like. When you were out touring the sites during the day, how did you handle it? Thanks Sue
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 02:03 PM
  #7  
Kathie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
John G - Yes, I loved Siem Reap, too. The temples are amazing! I loved the smaller, unrestored temples, the ones being both held together and torn apart by the tree roots growing through them.

I'll be interested to hear more of your experiences.
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 03:26 PM
  #8  
John G
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Hello, dear friends. I am trying to find the strength from terrible jet lag to post replies.

Sue, our weather was fabulous. It did not rain once in Bangkok while we were there, and it only rained between 4 and 7 PM in Siem Riep. We were told that Cambodia was suffering from drought and that the normal Monsoon rains were not forthcoming. Who knows what next year will bring??? (This is a terrible hardship on the Cambodians because they can't plant their rice.)

Another thing about Cambodia is that they take American dollars everywhere. When we tried to exchange our dollars for riel, we were told not to bother. There was not one place we went to that did not take dollars, and almost everything was marked in US dollars. (We even payed the gov't in dollars to obtain our visas at Siem Riep Airport.)

Another great place to visit in Siem Riep is Chantiers Ecoles. This is a training school to teach young men and women the art of carving stone and wood. They have a nice shop where you can purchase beautiful pieces at reasonable prices. (They also sell silk scarves and shawls.) The money helps keep the school going, so I urge you to buy something here. (I bought a Buddha and 2 pieces of silk.)

To Kathie: Yes, I liked Ta Prohm also, finding it very mysterious looking. It is a shame, however, that those fig trees are doing so much damage. But, alas, you can drive nature out with a pitchfork, but it will keep coming back.

Ta Prohm was also the location that they filmed the upcoming film, "Tomb Raider," with Angelina Jolie. They say that she is so in love with Siem Riep that she has pledged lots of money to build schools in the area.

More to come later. Im tired.
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 03:49 PM
  #9  
frank
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
great information John.
We are thinking of visiting Siem Riep next year. we just got back from Bangkok and many people in our hotel were going on to there- wish we'd thought to do it!
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 04:13 PM
  #10  
curious
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
why such a short trip John? I thought it wouldn't be worth it to go all that way for only a week? how did you get over the jet lag while you were there? was your Mom on a business trip?
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 04:33 PM
  #11  
Kathie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Actually my favorite temple was Ta Som, a smaller temple with the trees growing through it. They can't remove the tress because the temple is held together by them, but the trees are also tearing it apart.

I, too, shopped at Chantiers Ecoles. I bought stone carvins and lovely silks. I thought the prices were very good.

If you're really having trouble with jetlag, have you tried melatonin? If you are a responder (I am, fortunately) it will reset your body clock beautifully!
 
Jul 29th, 2002, 07:41 PM
  #12  
John G
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Well, Kathie, I have never tried Melatonin, but 2 Benadryl seem to knock me out, so Im doing OK.

To finish my story about Cambodia, I wanted to say how easy it was to get into the country. You just fill out your form, stand in a short line, pay your $20, hand your passport over so the visa can be applied, and next thing you know you are breezing through customs. (And none of the ridiculous security measures that are carried out in American airports.)

Paved roads in Siem Riep are almost non-existent, dirt being the surface of choice.

A good way to get around Siem Riep is by tuk-tuk, which is like a richshaw. It is very cheap and ubiquitous, the driver usually taking whatever amount of money you choose to give. (Imagine this happening in a NYC cab??)

There is also a small Killing Fields' Memorial in Siem Riep. It looks like a glass vitrine filled with skulls and bones, with the pieces of the saffron robes of monks here and there. It is not a sight for the squemish.

I must also say that for the poverty, Cambodia is a very clean country. I didn't see any of the filth that I have seen in other more advanced places.

Later.
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 01:34 PM
  #13  
Michelle
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I have enjoyed your reviews of these places. I would like to add that I visited Bangkok and Siem Reap in Nov/Dec 01. I can say that it was a wonderful time to travel there- the weather was the coolest I have experienced in that part of the world- highly recommended.

Although I have always stayed at The Oriental in the past- this time we stayed at The Peninsula across the river. A little less expensive- and a better value. Exceptional room, service and grounds.

The Grand D'Angor was a nice base. You could visit the temples at sunrise and sunset and cool off in the pool at the peak heat. I'd also like to comment on the Khymer style food at the nice restaurant there. An excellent value- 5 course elegant dinner for $33us.

Please see the temples of Ankgor before they destroy Siem Reap. I heard a rumor that they are trying to put casinos there and there are a bunch of new hotels going up.

But the people are amazing. The one thing that struck me the most was how everyone smiles all the time. Even though many (if not most) of the people there are missing limbs or most of their family members- they exude a kindness and warmth that trully moves you.
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 01:35 PM
  #14  
Michelle
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I have enjoyed your reviews of these places. I would like to add that I visited Bangkok and Siem Reap in Nov/Dec 01. I can say that it was a wonderful time to travel there- the weather was the coolest I have experienced in that part of the world- highly recommended.

Although I have always stayed at The Oriental in the past- this time we stayed at The Peninsula across the river. A little less expensive- and a better value. Exceptional room, service and grounds.

The Grand D'Angor was a nice base. You could visit the temples at sunrise and sunset and cool off in the pool at the peak heat. I'd also like to comment on the Khymer style food at the nice restaurant there. An excellent value- 5 course elegant dinner for $33us.

Please see the temples of Ankgor before they destroy Siem Reap. I heard a rumor that they are trying to put casinos there and there are a bunch of new hotels going up.

But the people are amazing. The one thing that struck me the most was how everyone smiles all the time. Even though many (if not most) of the people there are missing limbs or most of their family members- they exude a kindness and warmth that trully moves you.
 
Aug 2nd, 2002, 01:42 AM
  #15  
Butch
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Is that it, John? We want more details!
 
Aug 2nd, 2002, 05:34 AM
  #16  
John G
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I gave a lengthy reply to Michele's post, buy when I hit the "Post My Reply" button, it was lost (which has happened to me more than once here at Fodor's). I was just too tired to retype. If I have a spare moment from my job, I will post more info.
 
Aug 2nd, 2002, 06:01 AM
  #17  
jade
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Please do! I'd love to hear more about your trip! Did you have a Thai massage, and if so, what did you think of it?
 
Aug 4th, 2002, 11:21 PM
  #18  
Marilyn
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
So where did you find the best apsara dances? I know we will be going back to Siem Reap and I'd love to put the info in my file.

I'm glad you had a good experience dining at one of the stalls opposite Angkor Wat. Unfortunately, we got ill from eating in one of those restaurants, even though the place looked extremely clean. I think we had something that had been sitting around in the heat just a little too long.

We, too, were impressed with the good humor and friendliness of the Cambodian people. We brought inexpensive give-aways like pencils, pens, stickers, and were amazed at the way that even the smallest, poorest child had been trained to bow and say thank you when receiving a gift.

Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.
 
Aug 5th, 2002, 06:07 AM
  #19  
Barbara
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
John - my husband & I will be travelling Vietnam, Siem Riep, Cambodia and Thailand. Do you know of the area of Thailand called I-San and the crossing into Laos. We thought we might explore this (as we have neen to Chaing Mei and the north) as an entry into Laos. How do you get to Siam Riep from the frienship bridge or can must I fly from Chiang Mei. Are reservations necessary before I arrive in Thailand.
 
Aug 5th, 2002, 11:11 AM
  #20  
John G
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I didn't have a Thai massage, but a "Khmer massage" in Siem Riep. It was a Swedish-type massage with oil, very relaxing, soothing. I paid $10 for 45 minutes.

Im sorry, Marily, that you became ill at one of the stalls opposite Angkor Wat, but we had a boiling soup that was safe to eat. I never eat anything in third-world countries that isn't thoroughly cooked after getting very sick in India. (Although, Cambodia was MUCH cleaner than India.)

 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:33 PM.