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Suggestions for plan B?: a week in Thailand in early November

Suggestions for plan B?: a week in Thailand in early November

Old May 6th, 2015, 03:59 PM
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The problem accessing trip reports has been fixed. Happy reading!
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Old May 6th, 2015, 04:42 PM
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Thanks Kathie.

Today I am feeling sad for the Nepalese. But (and I'll post this on earthquake thread) did you hear that a group of international climbers decided that since they couldn't climb Everest they'd clean it up? Very cool.
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Old May 6th, 2015, 07:14 PM
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Kathie,
Your trip reports are great! Just read the one on Chiang Mai and it's off my list. I was hoping for a small city along the lines of Siena (which in many ways I like better than Florence, though in the end, Florence wins hands down because of the art. But that's another topic and another forum....)

Anyhow, thanks. Next on to Laos.
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Old May 14th, 2015, 01:32 PM
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Problem with Kathie's trip reports has returned. Cannot get to either Angkor Wat or Luang Prabang.

And I'm feeling stuck because I'm drawn to both and now have hotel reservations I'm happy with in each place, and the owner of Champaca Journeys, who leads trips to Bhutan and Laos, highly recommends his guide if we go to Siem Reap. Here's the dilemma as I see it, apples and oranges, both appealing.

Luang Prabang: a clear winner on all points. Unesco site. Beautiful, interesting culturally, many cool things to do, we would stay on the intersection of the two rivers and perhaps have time to stare at the Mekong and do nothing as well as see temples, go to night market, hike, take a boat trip to caves with statues of Buddha, maybe go to elephant refuge.

Siem Reap and Angkor Wat: incredible at level of the Egyptian pyramids. Vast, overwhelming, fascinating. Close to a wonder of the world. BUT very crowded (is it possible to avoid crowds by arriving at dawn or dusk?), perhaps Disneylike in the worst sense of the word. I'm afraid missing it would be stupid. Really stupid. Like choosing a beautiful state park over Yosemite, which is a wonder of the world and one of my places. I know how to manage Yosemite (even in high season, wrote trip report for U.S. forum), Rome, Paris, Venice, Florence (the latter two by avoiding high season, but I'd go in August if I had to choose between that and never.

The obvious solution is to save one for another time, but we are not sure that we will be able to return to Asia in the foreseeable future as we have family obligations in Italy.

All help welcome and received with gratitude...I am very aware of how privileged I am to have this conflict instead of the ones being suffered now by the people of Nepal.
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Old May 14th, 2015, 01:44 PM
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Both are good choices. Both are getting more crowded by the day and should be seen yesterday. So, tough choice. When confronted with that kind of choice I toss a coin. If my reaction is "good, I'm going to A", I go to A. If the reaction is "bother, I'm going to A", I go to B.
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Old May 15th, 2015, 08:03 AM
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It does appear that some of my older trip reports no longer show up. I don't think there was ever a complete Angkor Wat report, as I was there in 2001, before registration on Fodors, and I was in Laos in 2002. So looking at Cheryl's photos is your best "report" on our experiences there.

I don't think there is a wrong answer to which to visit, both are amazing, but in different ways. If you have specific questions about our experiences, do ask.
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Old May 17th, 2015, 02:31 PM
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Is it possible to minimize crowds in angkor wat by going very early or very late? Is it close enough to Siem Reap that one could go I am,more turn fo ,unch and rest then venture out again in am and evening? are ther ways to avoid a Bad Experience for a first time visitor high season? Which might provide a better counterpoint to the 16 nights in Bhutan that follow?

While still waiting to hear from our Himalaya foundation friend I become more concerned that with the three Durbar squares and Boudnath heavily damaged, it may make sense to hope for another trip to the restored Nepal. Curious to know if there are any other Fodorites in our position with autumn Nepal plans.

Kathie have you read Snake Lake, the sequel to shopping for Buddha? It's wonderful.
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Old May 17th, 2015, 03:50 PM
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Siem Reap is very close to the main temples at Angkor. There are lots of more remote temples as well and they often have fewer visitors. You can easily go back to your hotel for lunch and a swim and even a nap before venturing out again. The traditional way to see the temples is to go out at dawn, stay out until almost mid-day, go back to your hotel, then venture out again about 3 pm. That keeps you out of the hottest part of the day and also means you are viewing the temples at the best times for photography. It also gives your driver (and guide, if you opt for one) a mid-day break. The mid-day meal is the main meal of the day for Cambodians.

Do pick up Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A Guide to Cambodia's Wondrous temples to study up. This will give you a better sense of the temples and will help you decide where to go. When we visited, most of the temples had few visitors (of course, that was more than a decade ago). We were always out early, and while there is a crowd at Angkor Wat at dawn, they soon disperse, and we were able to do an hour of walking meditation in the temple by ourselves. Also, drivers know the schedules of the tour companies and can often get you to places where there are few/no other visitors. Some temples are more or less popular, and a good driver will know this as well.

I have not read Snake Lake - I'll have to get it. Thanks for the recommendation.

If you are still considering Luang Prabang, I highly recommend Stalking the Elephant Kings by Christopher Kremmer.
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Old May 17th, 2015, 07:24 PM
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A photographer friend of Cheryl's is currently in Kathmandu and has been since before the first quake. I just viewed his photos. Most shocking to me, perhaps, we the photos of Changu Narayan. The walkway to the temple (oldest in Nepal) has collapsed buildings on both sides - those were all inhabited by families. Amazingly, the main temple is intact.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 02:09 AM
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"Is it possible to minimize crowds in angkor wat by going very early or very late?"

Not really as just about every guide going has been suggesting this contra-cyclical approach for several years. The opposite is probably now the case - visit at midday when it is too hot for many people and the light for photography is at its worse so many have returned to their hotels and it may just be less crowded.

We visited last in March at the beginning of the low season and it was still very, very crowded. As Kathies suggests one of the ways of avoiding the crowds is to visit some of the smaller, less well known sites. There is also another major site a day's drive from Siem Reap which is supposed to be very good. As big as Angkor but unrestored - sorry I can't recall its name!

"Curious to know if there are any other Fodorites in our position with autumn Nepal plans"

Nepal has been on our list for several year and we were considering A trip there for November on our way back from Australia, but have now discounted that option entirely. I can't see that Nepal will be ready for tourism for a long time yet ( much as they will need the revenues). With a second major quake following the first, seismologists are predicting still more to come. For us, the choice is now between trekking in the far north of Laos or Myanmar.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 07:12 PM
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We stayed in the Angkor temple area throughout lunch break and found that the crowds were considerably lighter from 12 to 3. We cleared our plans with our tuktuk driver beforehand and he didn't appear to mind. We paid for his lunch in the temple area. The restaurants were quite full so evidently others had the same idea.

Of course, it was hot (we were there in January) but there was enough shade to get away from the direct sun. Or maybe we're just used to the heat.

It's been five years since we were in Cambodia. Even then, we could see that Angkor was moving in two push me/pull me directions: Protection of the temples e.g., plans to ban cars and tuktuks vs. Promotion of mass tourism, e.g., big resorts, golf courses, bus tours. Unfortunately, the latter approach seems to be winning.

Having said that I would go back to Angkor in a heartbeat. I think, like Burma, the sooner you visit the better. The lesser known sites and sites outside of Siem Reap are wonderful, but I would want to see them in addition to the more famous sites, not instead of.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 02:58 AM
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Thanks guys. I really appreciate this forum. DH is kind, generous, and fun to travel,with but has NO interest in planing a vacation, which makes this forum particularly helpful to me.

Kathie, we are still considering Luang Prabang--ills order the book. Snake lake is even better than Shoppimg formBuddha IMO.


Thanks
for the tips about time of day. Noon to two is one of the times we like for themvatican museum.

I was very sorry to hear abiut
Changdu Narayan. so much and so many have been harmed. I ammstillwaiting time hear what's left.
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