Tag Archives: hotel

The Khmer Kingdom

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Khmer ; the ethnic people whom majority of Cambodians (current term used ) belong too.
 

Before Cambodia, the wonderful country was called the Khmer Empire first.  As we went on a trip around Siem Reap, we felt traveling through time. The structures then were preserved, converted into tourist spots and maintained for the world to see.

After settling for a while, we went out , escorted again by Hong, the tuktuk driver who fetched us at the terminal. We had alot to see but the rain which had been pouring all throughout the days we arrived in Cambodia, hindered us.  Not that it was raining still but upon seeing the outside, we were surprised how deep the flood was.

The Flower Power Team

Flooded area

Yet, as eager travelers and having a persistent tuktuk driver like Hong, we insisted of traveling through the flood to see the Floating Village. Halfway through, we were stranded.  Seems like the Floating Village came to us instead of we going there. Great.

Now the real adventure begins. 

Seeing the battle of Hong maneuvering his tuktuk, MJ and I decided to lessen his load. We went down. YES, IT IS STILL FLOODED. We immersed our feet into the flooded streets. Mama was left at the tuktuk. We decided we have to go back. It’s not wise to proceed with the thought of getting stranded for hours.

Flooded streets going back to hostel

Front of a house which looked like a pond

Mj and I managed to walk through water and mud with laughter and calmness. But our laughs were saying, “Heck! We have never done this in the Philippines!” 

We were full of eagerness. Upon arriving at Siem Reap Rooms, we took a short rest then got ready to tour the area.

  • Night Market

We were able to have a look around the souvenirs, Siem Reap has to offer. In all honesty, it was not really “looking” but more of “shopping“. Their stalls varied from all sorts of unique products like bags, cloths, jewelry, souvenirs and a lot more. The good thing is that it ranges from as low as $1 to at least $100 for silks Just bear in mind that these stalls cater to tourists so you may still haggle the prices. There were also local food to try on. Again, we went there with a bit of rain so it was hard to move around.

Shopping at Night Market

Stall at the night market

Jades and figurines

Jewelries

Tea with native container

 

  • Angkor Wat

We could say this is the highlight of our Cambodia trip. And if one will be asked, it is probably a must to see the Angkor Wat.  A trip to Cambodia is not complete without seeing the grandeur of Angkor Wat with your own eyes.  Many travelers would recommend seeing Angkor Wat during sunrise, and so we did. We started our trip by 5 am. Upon arriving, there were hundreds of several tourists waiting to witness the beauty of Angkor Wat at dawn.

Before entering, one will be given an Angkor Pass which is an ID  ( your photo will be taken) to reflect what kind of pass you have. For us we only took a One Day pass worth $20. There are 3 days and 7 days pass which means you can go back to explore this huge area that long.

Angkor Pass

As the clock ticks and everyone ready to see the sun…

rain started pouring….

So, yes, you guessed, our most awaited view of Angkor Wat at dawn will forever be embedded only on postcards and magazines. “Why?! Of all days and time!!”  

Came 6:30am and all we saw was a gloomy Angkor Wat beneath our lenses.  Yet, that did not stop us to admire and appreciate this amazing Angkor Wat through the rain.

Angkor Wat at daybreak

Posing behind Angkor Wat

The sun was still on our side as the rain  weakens and we were able to wander through the amazing structure that is the Angkor Wat.  There was so much excitement that was contained. As soon as the light beamed over us, we started the journey through the ancient walls around us.

A closer look

 

  • Ta Phrom

Who has not been aware of Tomb Raider and Ta Phrom?! Well, apparently me. Many tourists would plan their itineraries with Ta Phrom primarily because this was were Angelina Jolie strut some actions as Lara Croft. I was not aware until days before we got into Cambodia. I was mostly focused on seeing Angkor Wat. Little did I know that there is another gem waiting to be seen. Ta Phrom experience is slightly better as we were given some dry moments to explore the area. Everything was lush with green moss just covering every part of the ancient structures.

Something very nice about Ta Phrom and the whole area is that it comes in various structured design. Just like the above photo where I found somewhat a lifesized frame with detailed borders.

Ta Prohm

Inside the huge tree roots at Ta Prohm

Giant roots attached to temple roofs

This is another spectacular sacred temple area to be visited. There are many temples with its own beauty and story. As we wander along Bayon, I discovered different temples housed in one complex with many still in good condition. Many of these are being carefully preserved which I admire the Cambodians for.

One of the highlights of the Bayon temple trip is our elephant ride. I have been eyeing this ride since the Bangkok trip we had. It was not possible during Thailand visit as the elephants were not quite near within the city. Therefore, in this Cambodia trip, I made a vow to ride an elephant and include it as part of the itinerary. These gentle giants are a must see for me!

Of course riding the elephant is not free. We paid a certain fee almost equivalent to the Angkor Wat pass,( around $15). Well… you gotta pay for something worth it. Before riding them, you will have to feed them. We were given pineapples and had to offer it. Little did I know that these elephants love the pineapples that they eat it in its form with skin!  They just take out the leaves.

A delighted kid

It was a well worth it ride as we have circled around the southgate of Bayon temple. They have a carpet like feel. The ride was obviously bit bumpy but nevertheless exciting.

Leading the traffic

  • Back to the city

While we thought the tour at Bayon will be the last to see in Siem Reap, we were delighted to chance upon the city side of Siem reap and its offerings. I can call it a modernized Bayon Temple.

Fish spa! A tingling experience

There were so much to talk and write about Siem Reap and Cambodia overall . Too many nice photos to post. However, being there and actually walking through the temples, meeting the people and getting to know the culture will make this post alive and much appreciated. Every step leads you to another amazing sight. Whether you come on a rainy or dry season, make the best out of your trip and you will surely feel everything was all worth it.

 
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The Fairy flies to Cambodia

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The Khmer experience is one I would never forget. First out of country travel with mom made it so memorable. A side trip to Vietnam was an added bonus.

Traveling with a family and a friend has always been an exciting combination. You get the best of both worlds! More so, Cambodia is a “Kingdom of Wonder” – full of historical architecture and masterpiece of nature.

In every trip we undertake, we do some researching. This holds especially true with my good friend, MJ.

Phnom Penh

In this trip, we were too much on long bus rides (we took the border trip from Vietnam). And when I said long, it means 7-9 hours travel by land. Wow! Only time I did that kind is traveling to Baguio, Philippines which happens only maybe once in 2 years.

Arrival / Departure card to be presented at the Immigration Border

We took the Mekong Express (named after the Mekong river surrounding Cambodia) which seems to have organized, well-maintained bus lines. Thankfully, our trip was comfortable, the bus was clean, with portalet at the end of the bus. They even gave as free bottled water and a box of coconut biscuit, which surprisingly tastes good.

Our bus attendant cum tour guide

Arriving in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, we were greeted by a downpour. Gladly, our accommodation was near from the bus terminal.

The Mad Monkey. It was indeed mad as we were soaked and cold upon arriving. The Mad Monkey is a typical backpackers’ accommodation. Nothing fancy, registration done at what seemingly looks like a garage. We had to wait for quite some time to do our check in as there were also guests who arrived same time. After finishing, we were surprised to know we had to transfer to another gate where our room will be.

The Mad Monkey signage

Check in area of The Mad Monkey

Colorful artworks on the walls of The Mad Monkey

Seriously?!

So we again had to carry our bags to the tuktuk waiting  and brave the rain. You can only complain to yourself though. One of the things I learned through traveling is that you must follow how locals do it or else, just stay where your comfort zone is.

After settling in our room, we changed our wet clothes and prepared to go out, get some lunch and explore Phnom Penh. When we arrived at the  market area, we noticed most of the stalls were closed…

Holiday! Wow, I was like “Is this for real?!” We only have a day to spend in Phnom Penh and it’s holiday. As said earlier, we do a little researching, and MJ was advised October is the best time to visit Cambodia. I am not sure how holiday and rain will be the best combination or is it really signs of  times and climate changes?

Fortunately, while  strolling around with the raincoat we managed to haggle, we saw an open boutique.

Entrance of Fairly Traded

Fair enough, we went inside and see what we can get our hands on. True to its name, the items are really good buys, from bags, purses to scarves and keychains. We spent hours trying to figure out how to save on for souvenirs later as every piece is so unique and designed well that we wanted to buy each kind.

Unique designs and various products of Fairly Traded

The best part of Cambodia in whole is that they use dollars for everyday transaction. No need to look for a money changer. Yey! At the end of our buying spree, we were truly happy for our purchases.

Mama and me

The area was a bit quiet or perhaps because of the holiday in town. Until the evening, there were raindrops but that did not stop us from exploring the city. Below are some places we went to.

Photo of a pagoda

Mama and I in front of a lighted pagoda

Taking a pose at our service tuktuk

Enjoying our welcome drink on the rooftop of The Mad Monkey

Phnom Penh is pretty much an active city at night with a lot of lights, shops and restaurants coming alive.

The following day, we were bound for another city of which offers many historical wonders.

Siem Reap

Off we went to Mekong Express again. The trip is shorter than the travelling time  from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh. Out of our 6 days trip, we would be staying here for 2 days but due to unexpected circumstances, it totaled 3 days.

Siem Reap is more laidback than Phnom Penh.  The province is full of nice people, willing to help and the view is as amazing as their locals.

Siem Reap Rooms Guesthouse. We were fetched through a tuktuk at the terminal going to Siem Reap Rooms. The hostel is located in a quiet neighboorhood. The facade looks like a huge house with only a signage that alerts you it is there.

Upon entering, we immediately felt the warm welcome of the  2 gentlemen which acts as the front desk agents as well. We were asked how our trip was and they were in full smile like we were close friends for so long. Our welcome drink arrived as soon as we sat down. Interior is made of wood as well as their furniture. It seemed like we would be staying at a log cabin. Nevertheless, it felt comfortable.

Facade of Siem Reap Rooms

Check-in desk near the front door

Lounge and the stairs leading to the rooms

A view of the outside

We booked a room with two double beds which is just located at the 2nd floor.  It was quite clean and the turn down service is done everyday. They also gave reminders to keep our personal belongings safe as there might be incidents of stealing. Oh well, in any place, you must always be vigilant and responsible for your own things.

Our bedroom

Turn down service

 

We were truly excited to start our Siem Reap journey just right after putting our luggages down.

And indeed, in the hours that came, every minute was an adventure. Our photos were proof of how rich this peaceful Siem Reap town is. All those to be witnessed on my next posts.

 

 

 

The Fairy Flies to Bangkok

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“To travel is to live.”-  Hans Christian Andersen

November 24,  2012.

This date was when I started to live and live my dreams.  Traveling had always been in my thoughts. But as said, you have to turn thoughts into actions. So together with good friends Mj and Tonette, we took the trip to Bangkok, Thailand.

We booked the flight from Diosdado Macapagal International Airport to Suvarnabhumi International Airport. The trip to Clark felt long as we were too excited to get down and hop in the plane. Victory Liner took us to Clark and we alighted just in front of the airport.

No hassle.Our flight was at night but it was not too crowded there so we didn’t have any problems. Just some chit chats and time flied quickly.

At Diosdado Macapagal International Airport

Start reading below to get to know a few basic things  about Bangkok, and of course of one thing it’s known for-Shopping!

Upon arriving at Suvarnabhumi  International Airport, it is too noticeable how Filipino and some Thais look alike and how it is also hard to communicate in English. One must have enough patience and creativity in order to let Thai people understood what you wanted to say (Though, very admirable of them how they love their language. )

Trying to tell taxi driver to take us to hotel

There are taxis waiting outside the airport in colorful bodies. I was amazed to see green, pink, and yellow cabs painted brightly.

Colored cabs along the street of Bangkok

We arrived late at night at the hotel and so we had to go straight to sleep and get up in time for the next day’s busy trip. Tip for those who wanted a comfortable room, accessible location and good food, try the Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam and you’ll get all these in that property.

Late night check-in

Getting your way around Bangkok is pretty easy as our hotel is quite near to their train station-the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) also known as BTS Skytrain. It is quite similar to our MRT and LRT , though quite spacious. You will have to buy token-like tickets. Tellers are only there to exchange your bills into coins but still you have to buy your own ticket on the slot machine, similar to our LRT Line 2.

Buying tickets at BTS

Inside the spacious BTS

However, should you wish to experience the famous tuktuk, you may bargain with drivers to take you to nearby places. Though in our experience, riding a tuktuk and a taxi will somehow cost you almost the same.

Tuktuk ride

We only had 3 days n Bangkok, which is relatively short if you would want to shop and tour the whole city because it would take you at least 3 days to shop through all their many malls and flea markets!

Chatuchak Weekend Market (also Jatujak)

Dubbed as the world’s largest weekend market, this place is definitely one that should not be missed while in Bangkok, specially to all shopaholics and entrepreneurs out there.

As the name implies, this is a weekend market which means almost all stalls are only open on weekends. Since we arrived Saturday, we had to go straight to Chatuchak before actually seeing the tourists spots. The market is a haven for all hard to find things ,be it plants, antiques, pets,food, collectibles, home decors,clothes and even books. One whole day is not enough to go through every stall- based on our experience.

  • Food

Street foods along Chatuchak

Another food cart

  • Shopping

Sandal shop

Headbands

Cards ,arts and plants

  • Street

Busy Chatuchak street

Shopping along Chatuchak

Also, make sure you have enough Baht (THB) so that you don’t waste time finding a money changer booth. Though, If you ran out of Baht, there are definitely money changers in the area. What’s good is that Baht and Peso have minimal exchange rate difference.

Baht

Shopping Malls

Bangkok as I said again and again is indeed a shopping paradise. If you plan to hoard things, to put up a business, to update your wardrobe, then this is definitely the city for you. Keep in mind however that goods here are more costly if you compare it to Chatuchak and other flea markets. Nevertheless, it is still quite affordable and if you are too good of a shopper, you will get some good deals.

To reiterate, you have to make sure you exchange enough Baht so that when you start your shopping saga, you don’t run out of “weapon” or else you go back to start ( which is looking for money changers usually at ground floor or corners of every floor).

  • MBK

Anyone who wants to go shopping will probably not want to miss MBK as it is the largest shopping mall in Bangkok.  Over 2,000 stores filled with merchandise can be found here. Though, it is quite noticeable that you may find some sellers too snob so you just need more patience when dealing with them.

While waiting for MBK to open

Inside MBK

  •  Platinum Fashion Mall

This is another shopping mall that is quite near to our hotel and is even just walking distance from there.  Like MBK, there are quite alot of good finds here. I was able to buy bags around THB 200 which is just around Php 280 pesos and some tops at THB 150.

Platinum Mall

Shopping at Platinum Fashion Mall

I assure you there are alot of other shopping malls in Bangkok that you can visit.  For those that will be in Bangkok for only 3 days, you can visit at least 3 shopping malls if you will still go out for a trip to their tourist spots. I suggest you plan a trip to Bangkok solely for shopping.

There’s too much to share about Bangkok and I will have to dedicate another entry to showcase some cultural heritage, tourist spots and food to be tried.

My next post will take you to the historical wonders the city has. Get ready to be delighted as we had.

Some photo credits: Mj and Tonette