Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Arriving in Siem Reap

27th - 29th Feb 2012

After our usual overnight transit through Kuala Lumpur at the Tune prison Hotel, we took off to Siem Reap (the Flat Defeat of Siam) early the next morning. The airport is small, quiet and quaint and there was no need for me to download visa forms from the internet, pre-complete them in duplicate and whack two photos on the front.

The only necessary form is on hand at immigration, fill it out and hand over a passport size photo plus US$20 and a painless few minutes later you're on your way to a passport check and fingerprint scan...something I was surprised to see in such a small city, country.
The drive to town by tuk tuk (same name as in Thailand, but a little different) is lined with large resort style hotels, the usual businesses and houses, interupted by decaying grand fences and gates that once guarded something even grander, but which no longer stands. No doubt scars left by the Khmer Rouge.
Siem Reap reminds me of Chiang Mai, except the roads are much wider and dustier. The city of under one million is divided by a river, the feeling of openess, a result of the buildings being no higher than the 65 metre tall central tower of the nearby mighty Angkor Wat.
The city (to me) is a collision of Vietnam and northern Thailand, which makes complete sense after ever so briefly studying the history of Cambodia.
The poorer side of town

to be continued...

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai


biervoormij said... Best Blogger Tips

Great to see you travelling again after returning to Oz. I look forward to your follow-up post on Cambodia.

I found the transport in SE Asia so interesting. You go the relatively short distance from Vietnam to Cambodia to Thailand and the small transport options are completely different and unique per country. The tuk tuks between Thailand and Cambodia are completely different and I never saw anything like a tuk tuk in Vietnam but they had the cyclos. Thailand has the Songthaew which I don’t think I saw in either in Vietnam or Cambodia.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@biervoormij Yes, transport is always novel in SEA. I've seen a type of cyclo (rickshaw) in Malaka, Malaysia and they still use them around the old Chiang Mai markets. Never seen a songthaew anywhere other than Thailand, as yet. Although I'm sure I saw a truck sized one in Cambodia for carrying large groups of people. The tuk tuks there are a carriage hooked onto a towball which has been mounted under, or in place of, the back half of the bike seat. We broke down one day, so the hotel sent another motorbike, rather than an entire tuk tuk.

Have you tried a Chinese bung bung? ;)

No matter what mode of transport you choose, haggling over the fare seems to be part and parcel.

Martyn said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap - I'd almost given up on your wonderful blog. It's been over 100 days since your whimsical musings danced over the internet. Now two posts in no time at all. Keep it up.

Cambodia's tuk tuk's look a slightly poorer version of Thailand's ones. I much prefer the samlors you find in Udon Thani...screeching brakes and all. Public transport and its make up is a great key to the prosperity of a city or nation.

Keep the posts coming because our blogging community has missed you. I look forward to your stories about Cambodia and all the wonderful photographs I'm sure you have up your sleeve.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Martyn Thanks for the words of encouragement. I'd almost given up on blogging...work and other things seem to take over...and nothing much to write about.

We did have a wonderful time in Cambodia and Malaysia. Modes of transpor, the one that takes the cake for me was the taxi that took us to the airport to return home. It was a neglected 30 years old, it's driver, 70 odd. I kept waiting for the floor to drop out...images of Fred Flinstone came to mind ;)

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

"Siem Reap reminds me of Chiang Mai, except the roads are much wider and dustier"

Snap, you hit it spot on! Like Chiang Mai, Siem Reap is more like a large town than a city. And the main roads are limited (but I can still manage to get lost :-D

And wasn't the fingerprinting hilarious? Full right hand, beep, right thumb, beep, full left hand, beep, left thumb, beep. Much to the frustration of the chap behind the counter, in my line many got it out of sequence or didn't wait for the beep so had to start again. The other lines breezed right through.

I totally agree with Martyn - I've missed your posts too! So, when are you coming back for longer? Hmmmm? Soon?

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Catherine I think they should move those scanners a bit lower for us shorties.

I'm back to blogging as long as I have something to talk about...something someone else might like to hear, that is ;)

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

"something someone else might like to hear"

I always enjoy reading your well-written posts :-)

Hey, you could do like Martyn does. Yes? Visit Thailand every three to six months. While here, take photos and notes to charm us with during your back home times.

I live here but could seriously benefit from more note taking. I do have real notebooks full of stuff but often don't get my act 100% together. Maybe what I need is an easier way take down notes (and the iPad won't cut it).

Martyn said... Best Blogger Tips

I take hundreds of photos in Thailand and many of them are of the strangest and also most ordinary things. I get quite a few odd looks at times when I'm taking say a close-up picture of eggs on toast or perhaps a photo of a no smoking sign. Some really strange looks.

I do take a lot of notes on my holidays and also draw up a list of things I want to post about before I even set off from the UK. Once in Thailand I add a few more to it.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

I tried taking notes on the android, but the keyboard is so painfully teensy! Usually I take a small notebook, this time I have a collection of hotel menus,serviettes and old plane tickets with scribble on their backs.

I'd love to visit anywhere every few months, hopefully I'll be able to do so biannually...especially if those pesky termites have finally stopped munching on our house.

biervoormij said... Best Blogger Tips

You got to tell me what is a bung bung. I have not been able to find it on the internet.

If I recall correct there is a bit of a difference between the cyclo in Vietnam and the rickshaws I have seen. The cyclo has the person doing the work in back and all the other bikes I call rickshaws have the driver in front. Except for the philipines where they are on the side.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@biervoormij Keith, I've also seen it written as 'bang bang' and 'beng beng'. But in Australian English, we'd say 'bung bung'. If you say the name over and over, and increase the speed...that's the sound these contraptions make.

Essentially they're a box on a back of a motorised tricycle. Some have a cabin enclosing the driver and those that we travelled in had sheet metal carriages for the passengers, with a small window in the rear.

I've sifted through my old photos and can't believe I didn't take one, but I did find these links.



biervoormij said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for the links. I have now learned what a Bung Bung is. I did travel on one while I was in in China but I do have one in the background of a photo.