Chang Mai - Bangkok - Siem Reap 4 days of travel
Trip Start Sep 28, 2010
40Trip End Dec 16, 2010
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Where I stayed
Green House guest house, Bangkok
The Western, Chiang Mai
Arriving at Chiang Mai we checked into "the Western House" hotel, which for 400 baht per night (nine pound) was an absolute bargain. Whats more there was the Queen Victoria - British pub - just around the corner which served great British food. mmmmm. However if you ever happen to be in Chiang Mai and need some laundry done, don't go to the Western!!! The usual going rate is about 40 baht per KG, it cost us 340 baht for about 2KG of washing (and took almost 48 hours)!!! This was because it's priced per item, not weight as is usual. The clothes came back nicely ironed, only to be squashed into our rucksacks!!
On Monday 8th November we took the bus south to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center (40 baht for a two hour bus journey, now thats value!!). Sophie loved the elephant sanctuary as a whole and especially the elephant ride that we did. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed it too, but Sophie LUURVED it!
It's interesting to note that the half hour elephant ride was the first time in Thailand (except flying) where we used a seatbelt, so this actually scared me more than reassuring me.
It was a beautiful day, and the elephant show was very impressive. As we walked around you would see elephants walking by and trumpeting away (or was that just Sophie...). Getting back involved getting across a 9 lane highway to be on the correct side of the road for the bus. No problem.
On Tuesday 9th November, we did fly from Chiang Mai back to Bangkok. This is a nice journey, but I'm fairly sure it took us longer to get off the airplane, collect luggage and find the right bus to Khao San Road than we were actually in the air, but still far quicker and easier than getting a night bus
We found some digs (the Green House hostel) in Ram Buttri Road, just one street north of Khao San Road. Clean and reasonable. The street still had quite a few bars/restaurants but was not to the same intensity as Khaosan Road. We found a nice place to eat, near where we'd eaten before and Sophie made some a funny remark about not knowing if Israeli food was suitable for Jews (she was very tired after all, but not exactly A* Geography knowledge), she has previously commented before when we lived in Nottingham, and I quote "that's not an Indian [restaurant], that's a Tandoori"'.
We had planned to do a day trip to Ayutthaya on Wednesday 10th, so we got up early (7am) to get to the bus station, but it was about 7:15am when I decided that actually I couldn't face getting up that early two days in a row, so instead we should do the border run today. So we still had to be up early and head for the bus station anyways... The four hour bus from Bangkok stops at a bus station about 7km's away from the border.
So we took a Tuk Tuk, which turned right off the main road to a shop with "Cambodian Embassy" written on it. Another scam we had read about
But once in Cambodia it's a bit all over the place and takes about an hour to negotiate. A lack of directional signs and a big road to cross over added to the confusion, as you can't trust tour guides. We filled in the "quarantine" bit of paper about health, but that was a waste of time. Essentially you need to cross over the right hand side of the road to the real Cambodian Border Authority building (nice looking building on right, with air con, and seats for waiting) get visa, only 20 US dollars - no attempted scams for medical certificates - then follow the path past the Casino's to fill in the entry/departure card and queue (again) for the passport to get stamped. Then take the free shuttle bus to the taxi/bus station and get the 3.5 hr bus - cheaper, had air con - to Siem Reap. Arrive Siem Reap, get Tuk Tuk (max 2 US dollars) to take to guest house, arriving about 7:30 pm. Simplez!!
Now two very weary travellers. Time for some R & R.
All the best!
Keiron (and Sophie)
P.S. American Dollars reminds me of monopoly money!!
To summarise Thailand, I would say:
The two day rafting from Pai to Mae Hong Son was a highlight.
Flying from Bangkok to Chang Mai and back was a good idea (even though slightly enforced due to the floods).
Phi Phi is a beautiful island.
Patong Beach (Phuket) is far too commercial, avoid.
Bangkok is a vibrant and intense city, and I've never known traffic jams like it!!!
North Thailand is where you get to see the real heart and soul of Thailand.
Staying in the homestay of Lisu Village Nong Tong was a humbling but rewarding experience.