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The Southeast Asia Adventure - Trip Report

The Southeast Asia Adventure - Trip Report

Old Jul 17th, 2006, 09:33 AM
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The Southeast Asia Adventure - Trip Report

Back in 2001 I went to Cambodia to see Angkor. (I also stopped in Phnom Penh, Bankok and Seoul) Most of my pictures and my travel journal are at www.waynehazle.com/seasia/. The journal is a PDf file a couple of MB in size.

Most people don't feel like going to the site and downloading it. Last week I posted the text from my Aftrica journal to the Africa board. So this week I will post sections from my quickie 1 week romp through Southeast Asia here. This trip was planned on the spur of the moment and it was my first time in a "developing nation". The journal has some of my crazy humor and hopefully no one takes any offense.

Enjoy. Wayne A. Hazle
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 10:05 AM
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A SUDDEN DECISION

So there I was, sitting in my cube at AOL. The You’ve Got Pictures project was at its most high stressed time ever. Deadlines loomed like buzzards circling overhead. But there actually was a light at the end of the tunnel. We might make some of our critical dates and I desperately needed a little time away to breathe.

The travel bug was biting me real real real bad. Last year I went to see the Iditarod and had the time of my life. I played sports photographer and shot about 30 rolls of film. Since then I had been stockpiling film for the big day that I would take another trip. But where would I go? An African Safari was #1 on my list, but other thoughts were China. I’ve always wanted to walk along the Great Wall. Israel, Egypt & the pyramids, though the timing was very bad for that. I thought of Paris, because it’s Paris. Of course there were numerous other European places from Spain to Germany to Rome.

Africa required at least two weeks, and I only had one. Also there was someplace else that was in the back mind. For years I had heard of the great temple Angkor Wat and the many other temples around it. This sounded like a great destination! I looked up “Angkor Wat” on the web and realized it was in Cambodia. Cambodia! Wait a second! Aren’t there a few problems in Cambodia? Just a few minutes of research on the country will bring up words like landmines, Vietnam War, bombings, genocide, Killing Fields.

Yet all the information I found said that Cambodia and primarily the area with the temples, a town called Siem Reap was safe and was slowly becoming the next tourist haven. And in a flash the decision was made. The flight would require going from Los Angeles to Seoul, South Korea, 12 hours, then to Bangkok, Thailand, 5 hours. I would then spend the night in Bangkok and fly to Siem Reap in the morning, which would take about an hour. That’s 18 hours of flying ONE way and then the same thing back. The whole vacation was to total 1 week. Way too short, but I was going to do it anyway.

About 3 weeks beforehand I got 5 shots including vaccines for polio, tetanus, yellow fever and typhoid. Two days beforehand I started taking malaria tablets. I left copies of my passport and itinerary at work, with friends and family.

On the night of Tuesday July 26th 2001, I went to bed anticipating the adventure of a lifetime.


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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 10:23 AM
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OK Wayne how did you get the different colors on your post????
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 10:37 AM
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We want more.
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 11:44 AM
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 11:48 AM
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oops it is a pain to do
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 11:52 AM
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not worth the effort

Aloha!
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 11:53 AM
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<name of color> word

<name of color> word

post like this BillT
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 12:03 PM
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Di you really get a yellow fever vaccine to go to SE Asia? There is no yellow fever in Asia.
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 12:10 PM
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Yes our Fodor's board allows some limited HTMLish commands: < B >words< / B > to make a word bold. Just remove the spaces between the characters and someone else explained the color choice.

The next post is a tiny tiny blurb on what Angkor Wat is. It was just for my friends who had never heard of it. Basically I just tell them to go look it up

---------------------
A BRIEF History

So what on earth is Angkor Wat? I’m not going to bombard you with pages of history, but I will copy and paste a little from a good web site and then refer you to the rest yourself.

From http://www.angkorwat.org/

“The temples at Angkor are spread out over some 40 miles around the village of Siem Reap, about 192 miles from the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. They were built between the eighth and 13th centuries and range from single towers made of bricks to vast stone temple complexes. There are two main sites where the Khmer temples are located. The first is at Roluos which is about 10 miles south east of today's village of Siem Reap, where only a few of the earlier temples were built. This was the first Khmer capital in the Angkor area. In the late ninth century, Yasovarman I moved the capital to the immediate vicinity of Siem Reap. This is a much larger site, where the majority of the Khmer temples are located. It is officially known as the City of Angkor. There are other temples located in the area, some up to 20 miles away from Siem Reap. Khmer temples can also be found in many other parts of Cambodia, as well as China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. …

ANGKOR WAT:
Regarded as the supreme masterpiece of Khmer architecture, it is a huge pyramid temple built by Suryavarman II between 1113 and 1150. It is surrounded by a moat 570 feet wide and about four miles long. The mass of bas-relief carving is of the highest quality and the most beautifully executed in Angkor.”


For more information, see:
http://www.cambodian.com/Aindex.htm
http://angkorwat.org/
http://www.spin.si/robertb/cambodia/

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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 12:19 PM
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I got the yellow fever vaccine because I thought I would be going to Africa sooner or later and since I was in the office getting shots. I figured one more wouldn't hurt.

It took 5 more years before I went to Africa.
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 12:35 PM
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Day 1 - The Flight

My flight was set to leave at noon on Wednesday Pacific time and after 17 hours, would arrive in Bangkok 11:30PM on Thursday night Bangkok time, which is 19 hours ahead of California. I parked at one of those park and rides close to Glendale where I live and sat back as the bus brought me on the 20-mile trip to LAX.

My goal was to travel as light as possible. I had all my clothing in one garment bag. Two khaki pants, plus the ones I was wearing, 3 long sleeved shirts as well as t-shirts underwear and socks. The heavier part of things was all the medicines, ointments, creams, and pills, capsules, which I was hauling. You’d think I was going to a “third world” country! I also had a well-stocked camera bag to hold my camera, lenses, my camcorder, tapes and all the necessary items of a wannabe professional. Also there was an empty duffle bag that would hold miscellaneous things I may pick up along the way. Finally slung around my shoulder was “Wilson” the ½ gallon canteen. (Unless you’ve seen the movie Castaway, this won’t mean much.) Drinking water is everything out there, so I would fill up “Wilson” each morning with bottled water and drink only from that.

I arrived at LAX more than an hour and a half before my flight. I sailed through the customs section and then sat in the waiting lounge. The international section of the airport is always fascinating. English is no longer the only language; in fact you become the minority as a cornucopia of languages can be heard. “So take that you American Imperialist! It isn’t your world anymore.” In it’s own way, that can be very exhilarating, though I could’ve sworn I just saw Osama Bin Laden milling around the hallway… (I wrote this 2 months before 9/11. At the time there were rumors that Bin Laden was up to something. But we had no idea... Many of my friends who read the journal had no idea who he was! )

The takeoff was quite smooth. I must admit a fatalistic tinge overtook me as I left my house earlier that morning. Would this be the last time I would see it? Would the papers read… you could only imagine the nonsense that ran through my overactive imagination. But the takeoff and first half hour of flying was perfect. It was a huge plane. I don’t remember the type. I had a dreaded middle seat yet I didn’t feel cramped at all. On my right sat a woman who spoke only Spanish, on my left an Indian man (as in Hindu), with his family in front of me. I pulled out some reading material, of which I brought lots, The Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses 2000 and the Patricia Cornwell novel “All That Remains”.

Angkor Wat here I come...

(ADDENDUM: This was my first international flight since 1994 going to England. So even the flight was a big deal for me. I was not going with a tour group. A friend who had been to Cambodia a few years back, said just jump on a plane and go. That is pretty much what I did, except for booking a room at the Sofitel.

---------------------------------
Day 2 "Am I Still on the Plane?"

When it actually switched from Wednesday to Thursday is immaterial. The moment I got on the plane I considered it Cambodia time. It was 12 hours from LA to Seoul, South Korea and then 5 hours to Bangkok. During which there was a lot of time to read, watch movies, fall asleep, eat and start over again. The Indian family had requested a Hindu meal and somehow the airline didn’t have it. Man were they TICKED! The flight attendant wasn’t the most religiously conscious person in the world and kept offering them the beef dinner as a replacement. Nice going, try to force the guy to eat his ancestors!

We landed at Incheon Airport in South Korea where I had a two-hour layover. I felt amazingly spry, or so I thought. I made my way over to the terminal from where I would leave. No one was even around yet. I stretched out on the chairs to catch a quick 15 minutes shut eye…

I woke up, with only one eye darting around. I saw a flight attendant or two at my terminal taking tickets, then I heard “Korean Air Flight blah blah to Bangkok, this is your last call”. Another 5 minutes and I would have been out of luck. I leaped up and dashed onto the plane. I mean would it have killed one of the attendants to walk over to the Black man lying on the chairs, IN THE MIDDLE OF SOUTH KOREA and say “Excuse me Sir is this your flight?”

The flight to Bangkok was also smooth and I slept through most of it. I whipped through customs in Bangkok showing my passport several more times and getting the cool stamp in it for “The Kingdom of Thailand”. I booked a room at the Airport Quality Inn through the Internet and when I went downstairs their airport shuttle was waiting for me! Way cool!

The heat of the Thailand air hit me like a ton of bricks the moment I stepped outside. But within 10 minutes I was checking into the Quality Inn. Even though I had this English to Thai dictionary, that ugly American laziness overtook me. “Hey I’m the one with the wallet, why can’t they speak like me?” Fortunately everyone spoke enough English that I was able to make it up to my room in no time.

The room was a pretty nice one for $50. Two bedrooms, a living room with couches and a neat little kitchenette. I plopped myself down on the couch and watched CNN. It appeared the world hadn’t fallen apart without me, so it was time for bed.

Tomorrow at 11AM I would leave for Siem Reap, Cambodia.

--------------
Reminder - the humor is tongue-in-cheek.

I did learn Sa Wa Dee for Hello
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 12:51 PM
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ok
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 01:03 PM
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I couldn't wait, I went to your website. Super report. Humor is always appreciated. I even signed in on your guest book. If I get spammed, I know whom to blame.
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 01:05 PM
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Gpanda is an attorney, so it's important to him to know who to blame...
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 01:25 PM
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Et tu Kathie, then fall GPanda. Great, Bob is thankfully in Nantucket, so Kathie has taken up the slack.
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 01:27 PM
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whew, nothing like getting warned by an attorney. Well I don't sell or give away names on my guest list. I hear spammers hve programs that can scan sites for email address, but I have enver gotten complaints from anyone.

I will post touring Angkor Wat in a few minutes
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 01:50 PM
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Day 3 “Angkor Wat and the Technicolor Yawn”


"As we came out of the clouds I could see the jungles of Cambodia with clearings of large rice paddies!"

I woke up at 7:30 AM feeling surprisingly fresh. Adrenaline is awesome stuff! I got up showered and went downstairs for breakfast. At the buffet table was a sumptuous spread of the standard American fare like eggs, bacon hash browns and sausage. However, there were also many items for a Thai breakfast including noodle soup, rice and a chicken and noodle dish. I filled up my plate and sat down. I stuck my head in a copy of the English Bangkok Times.

Soon I noticed some churning in my stomach. Within a few minutes, it felt like there was a monsoon down there. By the time I was ready to get up from the table, I was nauseous and dizzy. #39; (Had some mysterious Thai insect infected me with a “fatal-within-five-minutes” unlisted disease? What a way to go, dead in some foreign low budget hotel. At least I knew I was wearing clean underwear. I leaned against the wall in the elevator and staggered to my room when the door opened…. For those easily grossed out skip reading everything in green.


I took a step or two into the room and BLLGGRRPOOOOBU… up came the $4 I just spent on breakfast. I didn’t make it to the bathroom, but I did make it to the sink in the little kitchenette, nearly filling it! I pondered: “Does my stomach really hold that much? Maybe I should CHEW my food next time.” Somehow I knew the culprit to be the chicken and noodles. The human body is amazing, it knew that something bad was inside of me and removed the offender. An incredible euphoria came over me. MAN did I feel great. But I felt even better after some mouthwash and toothpaste.


The flight to Siem Reap was smooth and short; I even kept my eyes open for the whole thing! As we came out of the clouds I could see the jungles of Cambodia with clearings of large rice paddies! No sign of any lost temples though. Customs was a breeze. And then I made my way to the exit. A woman I work with, who visited the area years earlier, told me that when you come out of the airport, you will be bombarded by taxi drivers who want to give you a ride. Then they will attach themselves to you for the rest of the trip offering to be your driver, your guide and anything else they can do for American $$$. I wanted to get to my hotel and ask them to recommend a guide and not get hustled right out of the airport.

When I tried to step outside, the airport guard asked me if I needed a taxi. I told him yes and they set one up for me. A young Cambodian named Thy, (pronounced “Tea”) packed my bags in the back of his cab and we were off to Hotel Sofitel. He asked me if I was going to tour the temples. At this point I was thinking, “How do I ditch this guy?” :-" I told him eventually I would, but that I was going to go to the hotel and lie down for a while and hang out. I figured this would scare him off and he would dash back to the airport and get the next person. He thought for a second and said, “OK, I’ll wait.” I thought “Grrrr. I’ll shake him later.” (All of you who know me too well are thinking, “There you go again Wayne, being softhearted and a little weak. Just tell him NO and that you already have a guide.”

Anyhow, Thy stood with me as I checked into the hotel. At some point he said something to me about guides, uniforms, the park and other mumbo jumbo. Another bad habit I have is when I can’t understand what someone is saying and I am too irritated to keep asking them to clarify I just answer what I think they said. It sounded like something about official guides are required to go to Angkor. I said, “Are you an official guide?” He said, “Yes”. So I told him I would be down in twenty minutes or less. Why wait I thought, I wanted to see Angkor Wat, it was already close to 2PM and I didn’t want to end up wasting any time. I will give the guy a shot for today and if he was bad I would say thanks at the end of the day and move on.

The hotel staff checked me in fairly quickly. Talk about luxury and service! The lobby was beautiful and spacious. One of the women accompanied me and explained all the amenities, while a bellman pushed my bags on a cart. From the Internet I knew the hotel would be clean, and relatively nice, but this was a resort! It had several large dining rooms of various themes, a huge pool with an island bar in the center, a whirlpool, a hot tub, sauna, steam room, Thai massage rooms, a weight room, Internet room, and a small lake! When the door to my room opened, I nearly fainted. It had beautiful hardwood floors, a ceiling fan, there was a large balcony overlooking the pool and courtyard. So much for living in the “Third World”. OK, there was one thing: DON’T DRINK THE TAP WATER!! I had to remember that if I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

I did feel a bit guilty surrounding myself in all this luxury after having driven past impoverished people. I felt like the colonial imperialist Europeans in those movies like “Out of Africa”, who sit around and drink tea while a “native person” fans them and peels them a few grapes. But enough soul searching, I was here to have a good time. I grabbed my camera bag, filled Wilson with three bottles of complimentary bottled water, grabbed my trusty Indy hat and ran down to meet Thy.

Thy and I drove to the checkpoint, where I needed to buy a 3-day pass for seeing the ruins. In less than 10 minutes we were approaching the great Angkor Wat. Then Thy began a sentence with “Remember what I was saying to you earlier?” UH OH… :-s It turns out he was trying to tell me before that he wasn’t wearing his uniform and that without it he couldn’t go to Angkor Wat, but could only go to some of the smaller temples and that tomorrow we would do Angkor. Well my heart was stuck on seeing Angkor that day. He said it would take him about 15 – 20 minutes to drive home and return with his uniform. I said I would get out and take some outside pictures while he did this. (“OK Wayne, don’t start worrying, you’re going to have a good time.”) Thy let me off at a spot where I could shoot some pictures, and I told him I would walk closer to the temple and meet him right at the entrance.

Even from the outside Angkor Wat is a splendor of human achievement. I walked along the edges of the moat that surrounds it. I cringed in terror anticipating the legions of malaria carrying mosquitoes that would descend upon me any second now. As I carried around my twenty pounds of photographic equipment, and a half-gallon of water, while wearing a thick denim shirt, a photojournalist vest, and a black felt hat, it occurred to me it was ten thousand degrees out here!

Thy came back within a few minutes wearing a uniform and we began our adventure. Lest you think all you are going to read about is me whining, what I would see in the next few minutes alone would make the entire vacation worth it. Angkor Wat is beyond belief! For several hours we walked through hallways and labyrinths with amazing carvings and statues. We climbed steep ancient stairways. I spent most of the time with my jaw dropped to the ground in awe of what man can achieve. Within a few minutes I found myself feeling incredibly comfortable with Thy, his knowledge was excellent. He had a great sense of humor and a pleasing way about him. I could allow myself to relax and enjoy the splendor. And that is just what I did.

Monks in bright orange robes observed us in silence. Devout worshippers prostrated themselves before statues of Buddha as the pleasant aroma of incense permeated the air. I tried to imagine the scene nearly a thousand years ago as the ancient Khmer people moved huge sandstone blocks from a quarry many miles away and then somehow without cranes and other machinery, hoisted them up on top of each other. For thirty-seven years they did this until the great temple was completed. Then I thought about the centuries of wind, rain and storm that it withstood.

After several hours we went to a hill a few kilometers away. When we climbed up to the top, there was a great view of Angkor Wat peaking out of the jungles. I gulped down all the water I had and bought more. The thought of going to the bathroom didn’t even occurring to my body. It was losing so much liquid through sweat that there was no chance it was going to let anything else go. We sat on some stones with other tourists and watched as the sun slowly started to set. I definitely was not in Kansas anymore.

Thy took me back to my hotel. Tomorrow we would start at 8:30AM for a full day of temple touring. I walked the hotel ground for a few minutes, but as it started to get dark the crickets came out, big HUGE ones. Lizards also scurried everywhere. Bullfrogs croaked in the grass. Resort or not I was in the jungle. Somehow I envisioned the Israelites and the ten plagues on Egypt. I went back to my room and filled up the whirlpool bath and thought about tomorrow.



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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 01:58 PM
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I'm enjoying your account. I went to Angkor in 2001 as well.
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Old Jul 17th, 2006, 03:52 PM
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Loving your report. I am going in Nov.. I can hardly wait !!!.
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