A Travellerspoint blog

August 2012

ANGKOR, CAMBODIA

Angkor ruins, Cambodia Feb 28, 2010

sunny 44 °C

We were too lazy to get up and watch the sunrise over the ruins of Angkor Wat, and to this day I regret it when I see other people's surreal photos of it! So get your lazy butts out of bed and go see it! We rolled outta bed around 8:30am, had breakfast, and then rented a tuk-tuk & driver for $30 for the full day (right til sunset!), and headed to the ruins, only a short drive from our hotel. It cost $40US for the both of us for a 1 day pass. First stop ... Angkor Wat itself! Unfortunately the south side was covered in green scaffolding, so I made this photo black & white so you cant see it as much ;)
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Inside the ruins . . .
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Dancing shiva carvings . . .
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Then we took our tuk-tuk to the ruins of Bayon. There are bicycles for rent, but DONT do it! It was +44C with no breeze at all! I drank 4L of water and only peed once the entire day! It was the hottest, most sweatiest day of my life! The ruins are far apart, so dont waste your energy biking around, save it for exploring the ruins! Heat stroke is no joke! We passed through the Angkor Thom gate lined with Buddhas to get there.
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Every possible surface had the carving of a Buddha face!
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Next up, Ta Prohm! These ruins are still in their original state ... completely over-taken by Strangler Figs. Scenes from Laura Croft Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie were filmed here. Unfortunately platforms have been built and ropes have been hung to make walkways to keep tourists off the ruins. It makes the place quite tacky. But if you can look passed that, its stunning!
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We paid our driver a little extra to take us to Banteay Srei. Waste of time really. All the postcards show these beautiful pink ruins reflecting on a pond. Well the pond was mostly dried up, and the water that was there was covered in algae, so there was no reflection. The ruins were pink sandstone which was different than the other ruins which are made of black lavastone. But they are very small in comparison to the other ruins ... and waaaaay outta the way. I dont recommend wasting your time driving out there. Not even gonna post a pic thats how unimpressed I was. But heres a photo of our filthy filthy feet after a long, hot & sweaty day of exploring!
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Posted by ChantelleS 21:52 Archived in Cambodia Tagged temple ruins cambodia angkor Comments (0)

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

Siem Reap Feb 27 - Mar 2, 2010

sunny 44 °C

Very early on the morning of Feb 27/10 we took a cab from Ayutthaya, Thailand, to Siem Reap, Cambodia. The drive to the border town of Poipet was approximately 3hrs. Roads were good, so we both slept the whole way. Heres a lesson on crossing the Thai / Cambodian border ... go straight to the government / passport building! Do not let your cab driver drop you off where some guy charges you $90 for a tourist visa! We had never crossed a border by foot before, so we had no clue where to go or what to do. We totally got ripped off, cuz we had no one to ask ... other than the guys at the border insisting we HAD to get our visas here. We found out later that if we had walked passed these touts, and straight to the building in the distance, that thats where you can get the exact same visa for only $35! Oh well, lesson learned.

Crossing the border into Camboida.
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Theres not a whole lot of cars / trucks in Cambodia (other than taxis) ... mostly motorbikes, tuk-tuks or man-power, as seen below!
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From the border to Siem Reap was another 2.5hrs. We had to switch cabs on the other side of the border. We stayed at the Angkor Spirit Palace for only $27 per night! I love Asia, I wish hotels were this cheap everywhere! The Khmer architecture was fabulous! The pool area was awesome, and the food was delish! It was located just outside of town, which we quite enjoyed, cuz your away from all the hustle & bustle of the town itself. You dont have to hear the loud booming music of the clubs all night long. Peaceful :)
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By the time we checked in and unpacked a little, it was mid-afternoon, so we just chilled by the pool our first day.
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Beautiful plumeria around the hotel grounds.
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These big ol' toads would come out at night all over the hotel grounds! The body was the size of my palm! I've never seen toads this big before!! This guy was waiting for us in front of the door to our room.
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That evening we hired a tuk-tuk & driver to tour around the countryside a bit. The photo below is of Kevin negotiating a price with our driver. Cambodian tuk-tuks are so much comfier than Thai ones. For one, you can actually fit in them, lol! The seats are cushioned, you can put your feet up, & its open-air so you feel the breeze! Just make sure you dont get one pulled by a bike puffing black smoke!
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This is Phneachy Village just outside of Siem Reap.
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Beautiful lily pad fields where everywhere!
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Posted by ChantelleS 22:13 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia reap siem Comments (0)

AYUTTHAYA, THAILAND

Ayutthaya, Thailand Feb 25 & 26, 2010

sunny 40 °C

On Feb 25/10 we flew from Krabi to Bangkok, and then took a taxi to Ayutthaya for 2 nights. It was only $96 per person for a 1hr flight with Thai Airways ... or a 5hr bus from Krabi to Surat Thani where you'd then catch a train 12hrs north to Bangkok. I'd rather spend a little extra and get there faster. Not a fan of wasting an entire day to travel. The photo below is the view from our hotel (the Krungsri River Hotel) overlooking the Krungsri River and city.large_IMG_1514-1.jpg

When in Thailand, do as the Thai do! We toured the city in Thai style in this tuk-tuk. The funniest part was every time our driver started it up, Kev had to push-start it, it would backfire, and then he'd hop in the back, LOL!
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Our first day there we visited a colorful spice market and did some souvenir shopping.
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We bought these 2 wooden elephants. One elephant took up my entire backpack, and the second one took up half of Kev's backpack, so we had to buy another pack.
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We stopped at a place that had a 1yr old tiger cub! Of course you had to pay to have your photo taken with it, but we couldnt resist the cuteness!
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We also saw this talented 2yr old elephant twirling a hula hoop on its trunk while balancing on 2 legs!
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The next day we hired the same tuk-tuk driver and explored some of the city's gorgeous temples, pagodas and wats. I must say, that this is my favorite city! I just love all the modern mixed in with the ancient! Below is the huge arch of Wat Gudidao.
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Buddhas at Wat Yai Chaimongkhon large_IMG_1551-1.jpg
Tree roots grown over a Buddha head at Wat Mahathat.
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Fairly extensive grounds at Wat Mahathat. large_IMG_1578-1.jpg
Looking through a doorway to Wat Ratchaburana. large_IMG_1592-1.jpg
Me climbing the pagoda.
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A Buddha on the pagoda. large_IMG_1605-1.jpg
One of 8 pagodas at Wat Chaiwatthanaram, overlooking the Krungsri River. large_IMG_1636-1.jpg
The pagoda in the center is the one I climbed to get the previous photo. large_IMG_1640-1.jpg
Our last stop of the day was the 3 stupas at Wat Phrasisanpethi.
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Thats it for Ayutthaya. It was just a 2 day stopover on our way to Cambodia!

Posted by ChantelleS 14:16 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

KRABI, THAILAND

Krabi Feb 19 - 24, 2010

sunny 42 °C

On Day 11 we hopped on a ferry to Krabi. The ferry was prepaid in Phuket, and took 1.5hrs. It arrived in Krabi Town, and from there we took a longtail boat to the Railay Peninsula. The peninsula is only accessible by boat ... there is no motorized transportation or roads. Only walking. We splurged and spent $67 per night at the Sand & Sea Resort. We wanted to stay at at least one beachfront hotel on this trip. The hotel was not only beachfront, but had a pool, internet cafe, gym, beachfront restaurant with free continental breakfast, massage parlor & store. The only thing it lacked was air conditioning! It had a fan, but in +40C a fan is like someone blowing hot air in your face!

The peninsula has 3 beaches. East Railay Beach, West Railay Beach (which are back to back like the beaches on Koh Phi Phi Don), and South Railay Beach, aka Phranang Beach. East Railay has all the budget hotels, and an ugly beach. Phranang Beach only has 1 hotel thats $700 per night. We stayed on West Railay Beach ... nicer hotels & restaurants, gorgeous beach & cliffs, and it faced the setting sun! The photo below is of West Railay Beach looking south.
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Same beach, but looking north. You can see a bunch of tourists arriving via longtail boats with their luggage. This was the only way on or off the island.
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This is the pool at our resort
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One afternoon we walked to Phranang Beach. To do so you get to go thru some cool caves!
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It was a 20min hot & sweaty walk, but well worth it! This beach is perfect! This is exactly what I envisioned when I pictured Thailand :)
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Happy Island in the background ...
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One of many beautiful sunsets as seen from our resort!
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The next day we went on an elephant trek! This was my first up close encounter with these huge animals! You dont realize how incredibly massive they are until you're standing next to one!!
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We got to feed them pineapple. Their trunks are like fingers ... they can pick things up with it! When I ran out of pineapple, the elephant kept grabbing for more and ended up grabbing my boob, hahaha! It was funny except for the elephant snot on my shirt!
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I'll be honest about the trek though ... we felt ripped off! All it was was a 1hr ride in a giant circle, crossing the same river twice. But the majority of the time was spent sitting atop the elephant waiting for it to eat, poop and fart! There wasnt actually a whole lot of 'trekking'. We stopped once for a photo op, but that was it.
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Then we got to watch the elephants bathe themselves in the river!!!
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Yet another beautiful sunset from our resort!
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One thing I have learnt through my travels, is that its always cheaper to do things on your own than to go on an excursion. But if you must, never book it thru your hotel ... they always overcharge! By doing it on your own (either renting a car, hiring a taxi & driver, or just taking the public bus) you can set your own itinerary. You can go to only the places that interest you, and stay at each place for as little / long as you want. The only time we ever book excursions is if a boat is required. So that is what we did to go visit the Hong Islands in Phang Nga Bay. Our first stop was the tiny island of Koh Pakbia.
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Then we zipped over to Koh Lading. Apparently 'lading' means paradise in Thai. This island was far from paradise! I didnt even take any photos, thats how un-awesome it was. A buffet lunch was served here before our final stop at Koh Hong.
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The fish sure were hungry here! I hate snorkeling cuz I hate water on my face, especially salt water, so this shallow water with hungry fishies was perfect for a non-snorkeler like me :) large_IMG_1333-1.jpg
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On our last day in Krabi we decided to rent a longtail boat for 3hrs for $45. That seemed to be the going rate everywhere, and no one would negotiate either. Our first stop was Sea Beach and Tub Island ... 2 small islands connected by a sandy isthmus.
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After walking across the isthmus, we got back on the boat and headed over to Chicken Island. Its named this for the rocky outcrop shaped like a chicken's head.
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Kevin jumped into the water to do some snorkeling. I stayed onboard and threw pieces of bread into the water to make the fish come his way. SO MANY fish came that you couldnt see the water (below)! They even started nipping at Kevin's stomach!
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He didnt snorkel for long ... there were just too many fish! So then we headed over to the beach on Koh Poda. Loved it here! So scenic! I just love photographing longtail boats with the limestone islands in the background! I must say, Thailand is the most photogenic country I've traveled to!
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Even more longtail boats :)
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We spelt out 'Koh Poda' with broken coral pieces. The view from Koh Poda was looking back at the beautiful limestone cliffs of Krabi.
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Posted by ChantelleS 18:08 Archived in Thailand Tagged boat beach thailand krabi cliff railay Comments (0)

PHI PHI ISLANDS, THAILAND

Phi Phi Islands, Feb 16 - 19, 2010

sunny 36 °C

On Day 7 we took a ferry from Phuket to Tonsai Village on Koh Phi Phi Don in the Phi Phi Islands. It was $60 per person for the 1.5hr ride to the islands and included an onward ferry ride to Krabi later on. We stayed at the PP Casita for 3 nights. We had a cute little bungalow only 100m from the beach!
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A few minutes walk brought us to the gorgeous Loh Dalum Beach! Now this is what I'm talking about! Blue water, white sand, big cliffs and longtail boats :)

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We took our first longtail boat ride to Long Beach, and relaxed here for the afternoon. Heres the longtail boats lined up on Tonsai Bay waiting for our business.

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The beautiful Long Beach ...
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The next day we hiked up to the lookout point over the island! Whatta view!
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The beach on the left is Tonsai Beach where the ferries dock, and where the majority of longtail boats depart. The beach on the right is Loh Dalum Beach where our hotel was.
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While at the lookout point we bumped into people I knew from Dalmeny! Erinn & Shawn Glessing! What are the odds?! We were literally atop a mountain in the Andaman Sea on the other side of the world, aka the middle of nowhere, and we bump into people I know! Crazy! So we hung out with them for the rest of the day :) We rented a longtail boat together for 3hrs for $45 and toured the bays around the island. Our first stop was Nui Beach. The cliffs here are stunning ... so much taller than I expected!

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Me & Kevin with Erinn & Shawn at Nui Beach
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After Nui Beach we did some snorkeling at Wang Long Bay, and then onto Monkey Beach where we got to see our first monkeys!!!
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Our last day on the islands we were on our own again ... Shawn & Erinn went to Phuket. So Kev & I rented a longtail boat for 3hrs, and this time headed to Koh Phi Phi Lei, which is famous for Maya Bay, aka 'The Beach' from the movie of the same name with Leonardo DiCaprio.
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So many people had told us not to bother coming to Maya Bay, as EVERYONE goes there just cuz of the movie. And boy were thery right! There were so many people there we actually wanted to leave but our boat driver wouldnt let us cuz we paid for 3hrs, so we had to stay for 3hrs. Dumb. That being said, the blue water and huge cliffs here were still amazing ... but look at all the boats clogging the bay in the photo below! Plus I actually edited alot of them out to make the photo nicer, lol!
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Posted by ChantelleS 21:15 Archived in Thailand Tagged islands boat beach thailand phi koh Comments (0)

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