On the Chao Phraya River dinner cruise …
A casual day of seeing the sights in Bangkok turns into an adventure when we get stuck in traffic on the way to dinner.
But we start the day with breakfast at the hotel, then our Thailand tour guide Suthep takes us on a tour of Bangkok landmarks.
We begin at the Bangkok flower market. It’s the largest wholesale flower market in Bangkok with fresh cut flowers and fruits of all kinds. We sample the local variety of bananas and take pictures of the flowers and vendors.
Next we visit the Grand Palace complex. We walk the grounds and visit the Emerald Buddha. Then we walk to the east bank of the Chao Phraya River for a 5 minute ferry ride directly across the river to the west bank and a quick look at Wat Arun.
We split up for lunch to save time. Mickey, Donna, Shannon, Peter, Greg and me have Pad Thai at a restaurant called Eat Sight Story overlooking the river and with a beautiful view of Wat Arun.
We wrap up the day’s sightseeing with a visit to Wat Pho and see Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Inside the temple the 46 meter long golden Buddha is laying down.
After we get back to the hotel I head out to shoot a few timelapse sequences. I need 10 to 20 minutes to shoot a good sequence and moving from place to place with the group means we are never in one place for very long. I find a Starbucks a few blocks from the hotel for some ice tea while I’m shooting. There’s an interesting pedestrian plaza over a busy intersection, so I put the DJI OSMO Pocket timelapse function to work, enjoy some ice tea, and work in today’s blog post.
We leave the hotel around 6p to take the bus to the Chao Phraya River dinner cruise but get stuck in a massive Bangkok traffic jam. It takes an hour and a half to get to the dock. We miss the cruise departure, but Suthep immediately makes a plan. We are going to get on the dinner cruise. We race two blocks from the bus to the dock, then jump aboard an express boat and speed down the river. Ten minutes later we catch up to the dinner cruise boat. We pull aside and jump from the express boat into the larger dinner cruise boat. We make it in time for dinner and it’s worth it. It’s a beautiful night for a dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand.
Tomorrow we visit Kanchanaburi and an elephant sanctuary.
On the bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok …
We’ve already reached the midway point of this trip. The days seem to fly by. On a typical day we have breakfast at the hotel, go sightseeing for several hours, have lunch at a restaurant, and do more sightseeing for the rest of the afternoon. Some days we go directly to dinner. Other days we stop at the hotel for a break before heading out to eat. After dinner we’ve got time on our own, so we try and explore the city or town. Both Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap had vibrant, walkable nightlife areas, so it was entertaining to grab a beer and walk with the locals and tourists down what we’ve been calling the street of chaos while dance music and light pulses out of the nightclubs!
Today we’re leaving Cambodia and heading to Thailand. We take Cambodian road NR6 out of Siem Reap to the Thai border city of Poipet (possibly also known as Poi Pet or PoiPet). The trip is about 150 kilometers, about 90 miles. But Cambodia doesn’t have a national highway system, so the trip down the two lane road takes about two and a half hours. Cell coverage is actually pretty good along the way.
As we drive Thara talks about life in Cambodia. Much like the Vietnam War was an ongoing theme during our time in Vietnam, here it’s about the ongoing recovery from the Khmer Rouge “Killing Fields” when over a million Cambodian’s were murdered by the regime in the late 1970’s. In Thailand we’re visiting the bridge on the Kwai River and the cemetery of the 10s of thousands soldiers and slaves that died building the bridge, so the impact of war is a central theme of this trip to Southeast Asia.
I’ve blogged about it before. I really enjoy these transfer days on a bus. It seems like it might be really boring, but I find sitting on the bus and watching the countryside go by to be incredibly relaxing. It’s a good time to catch up on the day’s blog post. Yes – that’s why today’s post is longer than usual! And sometimes I’ll focus on finding interesting things to photograph like towns along the way, motorbikes with unusually large loads, or strange farming vehicles.
We arrive at Poipet around 11a and pass through the departures office to have our exit paperwork processed and passports stamped. It takes our group an hour to get through the line.
Then, pulling our luggage, we walk past several casinos, over a bridge, and into Aranyaprathet, Thailand! Immigration processing to enter Thailand takes even longer than exiting Cambodia. Waiting in line we take bets to see how long the line will take. It’s about about two hours to walk across the border, pass through immigration, and meet our Thailand tour guide.
We board our Thailand bus and head about 20 minutes down the road for lunch at SK. Steak. The sign outside says park your horse and stay a while. Sitting with Marguerite, Mickey, and Donna we each get the recommended Chicken Curry Soup and Curry Puffs. My first curry since India. It’s actually pretty good.
It’s the dry season in this part of the world. But while Vietnam was lush and green here in Thailand many of the fields along the road to Bangkok are brown. Like Cambodia it’s arid and hot here. We’ll need to hydrate tomorrow!
We’re scheduled to arrive at The Heritage Bangkok hotel around 7:30p and we’ll head out for a late dinner around 8p. More on Bangkok tomorrow. Thanks for reading!
From the rooftop pool of the City View Hotel …
Today we visit Angkor Wat. After breakfast at the City View Hotel we board a small bus and head to the Angkor Wat Ticket Processing Center. It’s $37 for an all day access ticket. Of that $2 goes to support the local children’s hospital and $0.50 pays for the “happy room” as they politely call the restroom in Southeast Asia.
In the morning we visit Ta Prohm Temple, Chau Say Toveda, Angkor Thom, and the South Gate of Angkor Thom City.
After a late lunch at Chef D’angkor Restaurant we’re off to Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat is one of the largest religious sites in the world, built in the 12th century and dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu. Our guide, Thara, takes us to a small pond in front of the site for photos with a reflection in the water. All day Thara points out the best photo angles. The detailed carvings in the wall of the temple are incredible to see. And it explains why construction of the temple took more than 30 years. It’s a steep climb to the top of the temple for a view of the surrounding countryside.
It’s unbelievably hot here and after several hours we decide to head back to the hotel for some time at the pool and the sunset before dinner.
Tomorrow we take the bus to Thailand.