Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Our Fabulous Do-It-Your-Own Tri-country Trip (Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam) - Part 2


When we were in high school, the farthest place that we had been to was in Calamba, Laguna, Jose Rizal’s hometown, during one of our field trips. Being in a public school, we thought that field trips were a luxury. Back then, we could not afford to have leisure travels unlike the teens of our age who were born with silver spoon. Yet, almost 15 years after, here we are, setting our feet on foreign grounds to reward ourselves for not giving up on our dreams. On March 29-April 4, 2017, I and my high school best friends traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam to experience the surprises that these lovely countries had to offer. It was a trip that definitely strengthened our friendship.

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March 31, 2017. Come home to Cambodia!

             We had our last buffet breakfast in the hotel and prepared for check out. We went to the swimming pool at the roof deck and had a quick photoshoot until around 10am. The cityscape was a perfect background for the shoot! I really thought though that the view was better at night.

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Photoshoot at the roofdeck of Grand Sathorn Hotel before we leave


                 We left the hotel at 11am and reached Dong Meung Airport at 12nn. We left for Siem Reap via AirAsia at 150pm and landed in Siem Reap Airport in Camboadia at 230pm. Siem Reap Airport was a lot smaller and simpler  compared to the that of Thailand’s. If you’ve been to Aklan Airport, it’s quite similar to that except that Siem Reap Airport was a lot cleaner. Upon arrival, we were greeted with welcome drinks since it was #SmilingDay. From the airport, we were transported by the hotel shuttle to Royal Crown Hotel. The scenery was very different from Bangkok’s. Siem Reap reminded me of the provinces I visited in the Philippines. Their tuktuk looked different as well compared to Thailand’s tuktuk.


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Siem Reap International Airport


Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Bayon Face at Siem Reap International Airport

    
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#SmilingDay at Siem Reap International Airport


              Upon reaching Royal Crown Hotel, we were welcomed by the polite and helpful hotel crew, who were mostly males. From them, we learned the words “susaday” (hello) and “akun” (thank you).


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Hotel shuttle
    
Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Royal Crown Hotel

           
Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Royal Crown Hotel Interior


               Royal Crown Hotel was a clean and comfortable hotel, as well, so we rested until around 5pm. Moreover, the hotel was conveniently located near the market. Thus, after having our afternoon rest, we went to the night market! The night market was very organized as the stores were zoned according to the products that were being sold – clothes, home decorations, art pieces, and paintings, among others. I bought a painting of a family of elephants on white canvas for 200 baht.  We also bought clothes for $1 each from a Turkish guy selling along the street! It’s a good deal already since the same clothes were being sold at $2 or higher inside the market! I bought four items which I would give as pasalubong.

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Night market at Siem Reap, Cambodia

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Awesome artworks at Siem Reap Night Market

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Affordable t-shirts at $1 each

                 Finally, we had our street food dinner composed of fried noodles, spring rolls, and fried rice, for only $1 per serving! That’s how to eat on a budget!



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Streetfood at Siem Reap Night Market

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Eating at Siem Reap Night Market

April 1, 2017. The Temple Run.

             It’s April Fool’s Day but for us, it’s Temple Run Day as we were about to explore Angkor Wat (“Capital Temple”)! Back in high school, we just read about this Temple, considered as the largest religious monument in the world. Angkor Wat, is Cambodia’s most famous symbol, appearing in its flag and its primary tourist attraction.

             We woke up at around 5am because we want to witness the sunrise in Angkor Wat. The night before, we already asked the hotel to have our breakfast packed since we would just eat along the road. To our surprise, the stryropack only contained breads, butter and jam!

           We waited outside Angkor Wat complex, hoping for the sun to come out. It took an hour or more, but we did not see the sun rising! It was April Fool’s Day, indeed! Worse, it started to drizzle and we did not bring any umbrella!

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Since the sun did not show up...we just had fun!

           We decided to just proceed with the tour of the temples. We were amazed both by the ruins, the architecture, and the whole story that went with all the stones in the temple.

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Angkot Wat, Cambodia

         

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Who's got the best pose?


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Me, with Angkot Wat as my background


           We met Cambodian kids and and adults who spoke Tagalog! According to them, their teachers were Filipinos and they were the ones teaching them the language. Well, it was working for them since there were many Filipino tourists in Cambodia! We bought souvenir items from them and even had our brunch in one of the eateries owned by Ana (the lady who helped us took good photos and taught us how to utilize the panoramic option in our cameras!) The foods were quite pricey. For example, the fried rice cost $5, which could be bought for only $1 outside (where we ate the night before). Also, one of our realizations in this trip was that drinking water was very important! They did not have house water, so one needed to buy bottled water every time!


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Having our brunch at Ana's Stall, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

          Apart from Angkor Wat, we also visited other nearby temples and Tomb Raider’s tree. If you’re the type of tourist who love temples and ruins, Cambodia is the place to be. However, if you want variety, you might want to consider other destinations as the temples were quite similar from each other.

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Cez posing beside Cambodian tuktuk

           
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Going down the dungeons!

            We went home and took a dip in the hotel’s swimming pool. By 10pm we needed to check out as we were leaving for our next destination: Vietnam!

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KAREN SHARES HER EXPERIENCE IN CAMBODIA:

1.)    What is your best experience in Cambodia?

The best experience that I had was visiting Angkor Wat. It felt surreal. I only read and saw picture of in history books before and now I got the chance to be there. I see perfection in the ruins.

I also love our experience travelling in a sleeper bus. I wish we had that in the Philippines!

2.)    What is your worst experience in Cambodia?

Aside from the language barrier, everything was fine. Locals were friendly and accommodating.

3.)    What is your tip to first time visitors of Cambodia?

My tip would be this: if you are visiting Asian countries, be a local. Act and look like one because it is an advantage!

4.)    Anything you want to say/add?

It is always the best to travel with your “bestest” friends!

5.)    What is your next dream country/destination you want to tour with your friends?


I want us to travel in Japan. I’ve been there before and I had a wonderful experience, so I want it to experience it with my best friends. This time, I want us to travel in Osaka and Kyoto. You’ll experience the old and true Japan in those cities.

Affordable Do-It-Yourself Asia Tri-country Travel
Karen in Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Read Part 1 and Part 3 here.

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