Siem Reap and the Angkor Empire

Fare THB 8,450.00

Taxes/Fees/Carrier-Imposed Charges THB 2,180.00




Total Fare THB 12,355.00 [$430]

The onboard meal on short Bangkok Air flights is very good

On the flight we were given Smart Sim cards.
My Thai phone would not roam in Cambodia (it does in HK and UK).
You have to register and pay another $5 for two hours worth of talking.

I booked Ta Som Guesthouse online through Agoda,
at $80 USD for four nights.
It turns out that my friends staying at another place were
paying three times as much for a room not quite as good!

Journey to Siem Reap

The time stamp shows that it took 45 minutes to get to this point

I arose and had breakfast with my hosts Alasdair and Gill in (south) Jomtien before driving their second car to the bust station in Jomtien... It was to be picked up there by another flying friend arriving from Europe.

The bus still costs 134 Baht for a one way ticket to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. It runs on the hour every hour during the day and into the night.
I sat next to a Filipino who was quite talkative and she told me all about her church and how it is expanding in Pattaya.

There were two choices of Thai airlines for the route between Bangkok and Siem Reap; Air Asia and Bangkok Air.
Bangkok Air's flight rates are not what they initially state on their website as they add and add additional charges when you are about to pay. So buyer beware.
Thai Airways on the other hand post a price, that price is inclusive of all fees, and these are often cheaper than Air Asia!

But Bangkok Air offers all its passengers very nice "Boutique" waiting rooms where there's a free supply of non alcoholic drinks, sandwiches, pies, and naughty cakes. They will give you a password to use free internet Wifi.
My boarding time was listed as being 13:05 and so I had a couple of hours.

We were bussed out to the Airbus 320 on the ramp...
While waiting for the bus I noticed a chap was wearing a cap with a small Hawker Hunter image on it...
Paul flies several Hunters a Vampire, and a Venom out of Altenrhein in Switzerland and we had more than a few mutual friends and acquaintances. We swapped numbers and e-mail addresses, and I called a mutual Hunter owner/pilot friend, Boz, in Pattaya on the phone and let them talk to each other.

The PG 913 flight is very short from Bangkok to Siem Reap and so cabin service was quick and efficient. We wer airborne for only forty minutes.

During that time there are several documents that have to be filled in:
1. Application Form Visa On Arrival - Important: you need a passport photograph to go with this document.
2. Arrival/Departure Card
3. Customs Declaration form
4. Declaration of Health form

There are no gates at Siem Reap Airport, you descend the stairs and walk across the apron and into the terminal.
The first stop is a queue for the Visa on Arrival where you pay a $30 USD fee. Cambodia uses the US Dollar in preference to their own currency, the Riel.
Out side there are three choices of transport if your hotel/guesthouse does not pick you up.
1. $2 on the back of a motorcycle
2. $7 in a taxi (Toyota Camry!)
3. In between in one of the motorcycle drawn pony wagons (they call them Tuk Tuks, but they're not).

I took a taxi... Nothing is very far in Siem Reap, it's a relatively small place, but driving habits are atrocious.

Evening walkabout

I had a nice meal and a couple of Angkor beers with Lin and Sebastien
m first night in Siem Reap.

Throughout this report the illustrations are from both my Canon G11 and its much older predecessor a G5.
After ten years of service the G5 is still producing good clear images.
On the other hand, the G11 needs to go in for 'repair' for a forth time, it is nothing like as reliable as its forebear.
But nothing has beaten the Voigtländer Vito BL 35mm camera that's as old as I am!

I know most people need a few hours rest after their arrival at a destination... I'm not like that, I dump my stuff in the room and step out to walk and walk and walk.

Ta Som guest house is on the National Highway No 6 which goes from the airport through Siem Reap and heads down to Phnom Penh.
I walked into town crossing the roads carefully as they as full of lunatics in and on motorised vehicles, and worst of all they drive on the wrong side of the road like the French, and then on the wrong side of the road for that too! Eyes everywhere.

I walked past a little temple pictured, to the bridge, crossed the river and walked to the next bridge to cross back again.
I walked around the Preah Prohm Rath temple grounds.
Then I continued towards the old market (Phsar Chas) and spotted an ATM... $50 should do... It didn't, so over estimate the amount of money you need as there's a $5 service charge each time.

I walked into the shopping mall next to the ATMs, scanned my eyes around and had to focus on a Chinese girl asking me what I was doing there?
This was Lin who I had met a few times in the Mai Phai bar here in Chiang Mai! She was ther with Sebastien who I knew likewise.

The Second Day

Breakfast... Ta Som Guesthouse consists of eggs in various forms, French bread, some butter and jam, and fruit.
Black tea, and coffee.
I sat at the bench seat and considered what my plan would be.
Mako sat opposite me looking at her Japanese travel guide book... It turned out she was alone and so I suggested we share the 'Tuk Tuk'.
This day and the next day we would share a journey. The cost: $15 divided by two.

Click to see map

$20 one day $40 three days

They are wise to people using other peoples non expired tickets.
Your picture will be taken and printed on your ticket.
The ticket is examined at every site you visit.

On my last day I went to the Roluos Group which is far from the
ticket office.
I saw visitors turned away from this site for not having a ticket.

I did not check this balloon out, sorry

Click to see larger image

Click to see larger image

Angkor Wat

Let's have a short moment of contemplation before we head into the madness.

There were large crowds at Angkor Wat. I refrain from using the word 'huge'
as that word properly belongs to the next day! I am glad we came here today.

Mako was using a scarf to shade herself from the Sun...
Me buying a girl a hat is not unknown, and so I put this hat on her head...
She said the word "budget", but I think it was $7 well invested,
and she looked good in it.

Khmer and Thai cultures are very close to each other though their spoken
languages are very different.
The written script is similar, but I could not read it (I can read Thai).

He's about to hit her teeth with a hammer and chisel

There were people crawling everywhere around the Wat, and there was a
queue to climb the central tower that I estimate as being an hour long.
We spent more than two hours here as there is so much to see, especially the
reliefs in the walls representing wars with the Chams, and some Buddhist
impressions of life, with Hell below, and Nirvana above.

I look at many things. I look at life, people, and creatures as well as ancient buildings

Angkor Thom

Mako has a very sweet personality

Perfect fur, good looking cat, and wants any scraps you can give

Bayon Temple

I had one of those strange moments here at Bayon.
A woman walked past turning my head, I looked, she looked, we did this three times and smiled at each other.
She was 40ish, very good looking, and wearing a park employee uniform.
Once in a while such things have happened to me, but then I get rational.

These sites are not wheelchair friendly and they do require fitness and considerable care to see properly.
There are steep precipitous stairs to be climbed and when you are up high there is nothing to stop a fatal fall.
They put some rope fences here and there as a warning, but there are many shear drops with nothing.


There were a lot of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese visitors

Everywhere you go there are children sent out to plead for money in return for postcards, fridge magnets, and other oddities.
Many of these children are taught to say relevant sentences in several languages such as English, Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese.

Cambodian servers are as sweet and caring as their Thai contemporaries

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Lunches are priced at around $6 per person, and a tin of pop will cost you
$1 to $1.50 USD.
You should always ask for a discount as this will save you $2 per portion.
The food is generally very good, but with a warning, as I arrived back in
Thailand with food poisoning/dysentery. I'm still suffering as I write this
on Tuesday!
On this score, I suggest always eating freshly cooked food rather than salads.

I love staying at smaller places where you meet and talk to people from everywhere, even the Centre of the Universe.

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Click to see larger image

Click to see larger image

Tropical trees will soon destroy ancient ruins
There are many European monuments older than these structures

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This Praying Mantis had no fear of humans and would attack anyone in range

I joined my new Swiss friends for dinner at the Khmer Kitchen
The food was very good

On to the second part