Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Siem Reap, Cambodia Day #1/4

Tom (another roadie) and I grabbed a plane and headed from Bangkok to Siem Reap, Cambodia today. We got a flight for about $400 on Bangkok Airways--this was only a 1 hour flight but we got a full meal that was good! A nice change from the nickle and dimming on most American airlines. When we arrived they had a big welcoming party going on. We felt kind of special till we realized we had some government officials on board the flight and it was for them. Apparently the Prime Minister is in town for something so there is tons of extra security all over.
We got a tourist visa at the airport ($20, and yes everyone uses USD here!). We stood in one line to give them our papers for the visa (got on the plane), and my picture (need a passport size photo). If you don't have a photo (like tom LOL) you can pay an extra $2 to have them copy your passport's photo and use that. We waited about 20 min to hand it in and get it back. While waiting I notice this is a really nice airport-it reminded me of the one in Honolulu Hawaii. It a indoor/outdoor one with beautiful gardens all around it, and this one the building was in traditional Cambodian style (I'll try to remember a picture on the way out!).
We are staying at the Tara Ankor Hotel, which we had pre-arranged airport pickup (which I love). The hotel is very nice-got everything we need/want.
Once we got all checked in we took a nap and planned our trip out some.
Then we headed to the Angkor National Museum. Its open from 9AM-8PM and is $12 per ticket. It was nice to learn some history about the country, hopefully we will not be as lost when it comes to the temples. It made us more excited to go also! It took about 2hrs total to walk through, and we read about everything, and watched all the little quick movies they have. I would say go see it if you have sometime before you see the temples.

Then we grabbed a moto and had it take us to the Pub Street. This is where many restaurants are and is next to the Night Market. We ate at Khmer Family Restaurant. Got some fried egg rolls, Khmer style soup, a honey baked duck (GREAT!), wide white noodle chicken dish and some sticky rice for dessert. ALL of this food plus drinks for $21.75!!! It was a great meal, and wonderful people watching location.

After dinner we headed down to the Angkor Night Market (free to walk around). This was a really nice one. Usually people are pushy salesmen and the area are just sticks and tarps put together to form a market. Here is a was an actual structure and the people wouldn't push you much, there was one lady but that was it. I shop so much better in this environment! LOL I got a new bag and a shirt. (pictures latter of them). Also we found a place down there that has Dr. Fish Pedicures, I have been wanting to try one of these since I heard about them. We didn't do it tonight but we ARE going to do it before we leave!!! I will make sure to get video of it!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Koh Samet Again!

ook another trip over to Koh Samet this weekend! This time we stayed at the Sai Kaew Villa, it was much cheaper and plenty comfortable! We also had a wonderful dinner and show at the Ploy Thalee Restaurant/Bar on Saikaew Beach (this is the most famous fire show on the beach, and my favorite from the ones we have seen). A statue of the Famous Thai Poem: The poet and the Mermaid:Did the normal beach and party stuff, but this time Tom, Mem, Troy and I all decided to check out the rest of the island since it is a National Park...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Loy Krathong (edited)

Today was Loy Krathong, I'm doing the lazy man link so you can read about it without me having to type it all out. A group of us went out to Beach Road to see what was going on.

Krathongs are these little floating rafts made out of banana leafs, flowers, incense sticks and candles. There are some very simple ones and others that are very elaborate done, the elaborate ones are usually judged in contests. People light the incense and candles on them, some place a lock of hair or nail clippings to symbolize the letting go of the bad parts of oneself. The act of floating away the candle raft is symbolic of letting go of all one's grudges, anger and defilements, so that one can start life afresh on a better foot.

Simple Krathongs-
Elaborate Krathongs-Jeff Lighting the Krathong-Praying/wishing with the Krathong before releasing it into the water (yes he is standing in the ocean)-Putting the Krathong in the water. We were on the beach so many of them ended turned over with the waves. The proper way to do this in the river, but we don't have one in Pattaya.Anther thing that is done in celebration for Loy Krathong is the releasing of the Khom Fai, which are these little hot air balloons... (its more impressive when many of them are released at the same time-but it was to windy for that).
It was windy so some of them ended up in the trees!Some cute kids enjoying the festival-After walking around on Beach Road and the Beach we headed down to the always entertaining Walking Street, which was packed. Here are some pictures of the traditional Thai outfits that people like to wear during this festival. As you may notice even though some outfits are traditional female outfits there are men (ladyboys) wearing them. Transvestits are very common here.