Friday, July 7, 2017

siem reap

Our time in Cambodia has come to an end. I'm currently sitting pool side, listening to the sound of the ocean waves, at our hotel in Phuket, Thailand.
After arriving in the downpour Tuesday night Wed. morning was bright and sunny. We set out about 8am to explore some temples. For $35 we hired a driver to drive us around the whole day.

 Do you see the bats on the walls in the above picture?

He took us from temple to temple. Back to the school where we were staying, then out to the city where we devoured some Blue Pumpkin ice cream, let the fish eat the dead skin off our feet, enjoyed a delicious fried rice cake of sorts, and bought tickets for the circus for Thurs. evening. We asked the travel agent that sold us the circus tickets about cheap tickets to Chiang Mai and he basically said it would be better to look online.
We head back to the school where we had about an hour before all the school children would show up for their English classes. When they arrived, Jarod and Brodie played volleyball with them until class started.
Lindsay had heard that you could book cheaper flights when you were in Siem Reap, than you could online. And we each liked the idea of not being completely planned out and decided we would try that way. We also liked this because it gave us some flexibility on when we decided to head to Thailand.
What we didn't realize was that the range of dates we considered for leaving Siem Reap and heading to Thailand, was a holiday weekend!!! OOPS. Our OPD in full swing, obsessive planning disorder, we set to work to figure out how best to get to Chiang Mai. We considered multiple flights. Busses, trains, pretty much all but a tuk tuk, which is a blast, but not the way you want to consider traveling so far. We looked at renting a van, we looked at trains to cities near by and flights with layovers through cities that might be cheaper. But the holiday seems to have left literally ZERO vans to rent, and 23 hours on a bus didn't really suit our vacation dreams.
We paused our planning and met up with everyone in the English class to introduce ourselves and interact briefly with the children.

The family that runs the English classes made us a feast for dinner, a delicious soup, curry chicken and then hoy fish, which I LOVED, and yes, that means it wasn't fishy. :-) For dessert, a coconut milk jello type of thing, and lychee. Absolutely delicious!
Thurs. morning we were up at 5am. We wanted to check out the sunrise over Angkor Wat, the main temple here in Siem Reap. While the experience was a blast, the sunrise hid all it's glorious beauty behind the clouds. We still got some sweet pics though.

We explored the temple, even spotting some monkeys!

We head back to the school for some breakfast and Lindsay and I set out to finish planning how to get to Thailand. We were checking different cities in Thailand to see if it might be cheaper to stop a day or two somewhere along the way to Chiang Mai. Lindsay brought up Phuket and from there, everything seemed to fall into place! The tickets were a little cheaper, without long, useless layovers, AND, it meant we got to spend a few days at the beach! We found a sweet hotel right on the beach, only $67 a night for a two bedroom condo. We booked our flights to Phuket, flights from there to Chiang Mai, and the hotel in Phuket. Whew!
Since we were flying out the next morning, we set out to explore more temples before switching hotels to one in the city. While we loved the experience of staying at the school, the lack of A/C and a crazy rooster who decides to wake everyone all through the night, starting at about 3am, made us decide to spend our last night elsewhere. The final temple stop was made even better by a guy claiming to work for the park. He took us up where they were doing some restoration work. He had a great eye for some awesome pano shots of our group. It was a great way to end our temple explorations.

We decided which hotel we wanted for the night, $20 for a funky little hotel with an awesome pool, and AC.
We grabbed lunch at a cool place with industrial decor and then for $4 each, got an hour long massage. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

We swam a little before getting ready for the evening circus plans. Tuk tuks arrived and drove us to the circus where we enjoyed a great show, and some delicious popcorn.

Afterwards, Brodie wanted to try some tarantula so had our tuk tuk drivers drop us in town, right at a stand. He got a tarantula, snake, and a scorpion. I had a nibble of a spider leg and it was delicious!! I could hardly believe it! The snake, eh, and the scorpion, I was done being adventurous so I didn't try it.

We all fought to stay awake for some delicious pizza before we hit the hay. Our trusty van driver arrived at 7:15am to take us to the airport.
International travel here is so relaxed compared to home. We showed up, got our boarding passes, ate a cheap breakfast, boarded our plane, and took off 21 minutes early! The e-visas worked perfectly for Vietnam and Cambodia, and Thailand doesn't require one for our visit.

The only hiccup was in all the excitement of our unplanned beach stay, we forgot to arrange for a ride to the hotel. After a few failed attempts to use a pay phone and call the hotel, some officers even offered us change to make the call, we booked a van for $65 to take all 9 of us to our hotel about an hour away. They drive on the wrong side of the road here, and when John realized that as he was getting in the van, he turned right into the van's rear door as Jarod Martin was closing it. He'll have a great scar on his forehead! :-) It's not deep and didn't even bleed much, but Jenna put a butterfly on it just in case.

We arrived at the hotel and, it's even better than the pictures! We are enjoying the cool ocean breeze and the downtime here.

We had a lazy day of naps and reading and the beach and planned our Saturday. Sunday evening we fly out to Chiang Mai. We had a fabulous dinner right on the beach and ended the night with a game of cribbage.

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