Monday, November 05, 2007

Siam Reap, gateway to an ancient city (Part One)

Everyone can fly, that is the Air Asia motto. With its ongoing promotions I guess I too can fly, anywhere, almost anywhere in Southeast Asia, that is. I was utterly stressed out when Air Asia had its free tickets promotion earlier this year when I 'instructed' Shanta to purchase the tickets online for November. Stress at that point was because, apart from preparing for exams my broadband connection had konked out for a few days.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago, finally the trip. It was a trip we were supposed to plan and go on 8 years back. Shan and I sort of wanted to go on a holiday together when we finished medical school in 1999... So finally......

2nd November 2007
Met up at Sentral at 4 am and boarded the shuttle bus. Bus and flight were uneventful.
Arrived in Siam Reap International airport at 8.05 am. The flight took 2 hours and the time difference was 1 hour. We were picked up by Mr Pallind from the Siam Reap Town Hotel and took us to the hotel. What was confusing was the roads and vehicles.

Some cars were left hand drive, some were right hand (ours were right hand drive), the cars are on the left side of the road. There were so many motorcycles buzzing here and there, if you want to overtake just put on your signal go to the opposite lane and the oncoming traffic would just honk and move slightly out of your way... totally chaotic.

We freshened up and immediately set on the task of discovering the area. The hotel arranged a car to take us around (costed us USD20 for the whole day, anywhere) and off we went to Tonle Sap Lake. It was a huge lake, of which even from the airplane we couldn't see the edges and assumed it was the sea... yeah..yeah...yeah.... my geography sucked.

Anyway, we went on a tour of the lake ( I guess it was just at the edge) costed us USD 10 per person for a boat ride, and our driver Mr Sunpreap and our self appointed guide Mr Pallind followed us. The boat had a very crude navigation system, a rudimetary rudder which sticks out about 3 feet from the back of the boat. We were taken through the Vietnamese water village out to the open 'sea'. Suddenly, the engine spluttered and it stopped middle of nowhere. The boatman was very calm and tinkered with the engine. Meanwhile, small boats congregate around ours, the boat people came to sell us bananas and drinks. All costs "One Dollar, lady". Mr Pallind took pity on a lady with a baby selling bananas.Children of viet descent resting in the boat while mom tries to sell to tourists bananas

Playing and frolicking in the water

Mom and child

Then we realised, there was nothing wrong with the boat, he purposely stop to give the opportunity for the boat people to sell us stuff. We turned back and then stopped at a floating gift shop...

After that, we went to see the West Baray, a water reservoir built in the 11th Century. It was massive and is a testament of the engineering wonders of the ancient civilisation. Many of the locals tourists were frolicking in the waters with huge tyre tubes but I had to refrain. I brought only ONE pair of pants (which I was wearing) and a pair of shorts.
Having coconut drink while resting in the hammockGrilled crows...heheheh

We had lunch by the Baray, a local lunch. Grilled fish (of all kinds), pheasants (perhaps it was a crow), some frogs... I just ate the fish but Shan had a fun time trying all the others, and it did looked yummy. These stalls had resting areas for us to eat and also hammocks for anyone to rest after having food. I guess we were the first few non locals eating there as we invited a few stares from the regulars.

After that we headed back to the hotel. The plan was initially to rest for a while and then head to the ancient ruins for a sunset view but alas, after not sleeping the whole night before and traveling the whole day I knocked out and only woke up at 8pm. We met up with Mr Thean, the local driver who helped to arranged out rooms and went off the sample the nightlife at the pub street.


Spena said...

Hey!!The grilled crows looks good lah. Nasib baik I tak pergi sekali, or else dah lama selamat....