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Published: April 7th 2014
Can't believe it's been almost 30 days since I returned from my SEA trip. Helter Skelter travel at it's finest (worst?)
As it was, I got hockey pucked twice - it wasn't my son's fault, it was the planning of his job. Original plan was to fly into Bangkok & work my way south to Singapore at the end of my 3 week trip - then fly back home from there. But he texted me & said his trip was getting moved up a few days - which meant I'd meet him in the middle of my 3 week trip. Slight inconvenience on my part, but I'd manage - all I needed was the time & place to rendezvous.
Then just as I was headed out of Bangkok he texts me & suggests that we meet in HCMC - then fly back to Singapore together. Ok with me - so instead of heading south I'd head east through Cambodia, then on to Vietnam.
So I took the bus to Siem Reap - after debating whether or not to go the southern route through the Cardamom mountains. I ended up opting for the road 'more' traveled - yup, I chickened out, but as it was, Siem Reap was a great experience - I have no regrets, and the Cardamom mountains await a future trip.
So I did the Siem Reap Angkor Wat thing. It exceeded my expectation. Although I only went one whirlwind day (fat American in a Tuk Tuk) I certainly can see taking 2 or 3 days to see the temples, especially the ones a bit farther out, which I heard they're quite amazing.
Since I arrived in Siem Reap late at night - the bus ride was horrendous - readers take note #1 don't wait To get your Cambodian visa at the border - get it in Bangkok or before you leave on your trip - getting it as the border will cost you precious TIME and extra money - and make you feel totally helpless. Also, don't try to save that dollar on the bus - use Yelp or Trip Advisor to get the lowdown on the bus company. Walking blindly into a tour store in Bangkok guarantees you nothing.
So read between the lines - this is your 'How not
to travel guide'.
Arriving in Siem Reap at 10:00pm I had no time to get the lay of the land (I could have at least had a guide book which I didn't) so I committed the unpardonable sin of taking the recommendation of the tuk tuk driver who made a killing off of me ($15 USD to get to the hotel from the bus station? Rip off!). Actually the hotel recommendation (Angkor Thom -$15 USD per night) could have been better, could have been worse.
So the next day was the temple tour, then the 3rd day I headed to Phenom Pehn - again, do your DD on the bus - $5 saved is not really saved, your rear end will never forgive you. That bus was more like a bucking bronco - I expected the tires to burst or the axle to break on one of the potholes.
Again, I ended up arriving after dark. There were 30 tuk tuk drivers (or more) vying for business And a group of tattered travelers like me fending them off - at first we banded together as a group as if to say one big 'NO' to the tuk tuk drivers, but one of them had a reservation at a hotel somewhere and it seemed more difficult to find it than just to strike out for the river front I bid them farewell and headed the way Google maps told me to go, walked through the Central Market and on to the River front where I ended up getting a decent hotel for the next three nights.
Yep - three nights. It was the next day i got hockey pucked again - Joe again informed me that his trip was cut short and was not able to meet in HCMC. "No problem" I said, I figured I'd just follow through with my plan to float down the river - until I found out that it would take a few days to get my visa for Vietnam, not to mention the added cost for expediting it. I ended up saying 'forget it', as much as I wanted the experience of floating down the Mekong River from Phenom Phen to HCMC, to join my son in Singapore meant more to me. So I booked a flight to Singapore. Ended up staying in PP three nights.
Stayed with Joe 4 nights - time in Singapore exceeded my expectation. He figured with the malls and shops there wouldn't be much that would interest me, but I found Singapore a fascinating place - did a lot of walking here & there while he was at work. Then at night wE found great places to eat. Singapore is a foodie's paradise!
Foodie's paradise it might be, but I had to take it easy because of a bout with the runs - A complementary of Cambodia - I asked myself the question - wasn't Montezuma in Mexico? What was he doing in Cambodia?
After Joe left for the airport to head back home I slept a few hours later then packed up, had coffee in the underground mall near the Fairmont hotel then took the MRT to the Malaysian border then at Larkin Station I boarded a bus to Mersing. Spent one night there; next morning took the ferry to Tioman Island. What a great experience - although I could have done without those blasted roosters that were the resort owner's pets.
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