SATURDAY, MARCH 21, 2009 – 72/72 – BANGKOK AND SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA (ANGKOR WAT)
Well, today is the half way point of the trip. It is hard to believe we have been away from the US for two and a half months! Guess what, it is another travel day! Fortunately, the plane does not leave until 3:00PM and we have the morning to get repacked so we can store most of our stuff while we spend two nights in the Victoria Angkor Resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We enjoy a mid-morning breakfast and check out of the hotel at noon. Our hotel car is waiting to drive us the 40KM to the airport. Two Peninsula employees meet the car and escort us through check-in and to immigration where they have to leave us. By 1:30PM, we have completed all the processing and have made the mistake of going through security. It is a mistake because once through security there is nothing to do but get on the plane. There are no food courts or magazine racks and damn little air-conditioning.
Flight PG913 of Bangkok Air takes off 15 minutes late but arrives at Siem Reap International Airport on time at 4:00PM.The airport is clean, new looking and things move right along with all the 150 or so passengers getting in the same line. Cambodia requires a visa and Dick had tried to get it on-line but never succeeded. Few of the other passengers have theirs either and it doesn’t seem to matter as we all stand in the same line and turn our passport over to one of two officers who in turn pass the passport down a line of about 10 other officers. Our spare visa pictures were lost along with the computer in Sydney so it cost 100BHT and $2.00US for them to scan our passport pictures. Actually, I do not think they scanned them at all. I think they just increased the normal $20US cost of the visa by 10%. Everybody was paying $20 or $22 US dollars. We watch as the passports move along the line of men behind the counter and we move down to the end where another man is calling out the now finished passports by first name. We get ours and follow the arrows out as we had no checked luggage.
Our guide and driver are waiting for us in a rather beat up van but the air conditioning was pumping out the cold air. They take us directly to our hotel, Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa.What we see of the town on the way to the hotel is very unimpressive, hot and dirty, The hotel has a colonial French look about it with the public areas open air and they are, of course, hot and humid also. Check-in goes quickly and we are soon in our room where we turn the AC down and hope for the best. It does work and the room begins to cool! The room is clean and has the look of a nice beach hotel in the States.
The hotel has a beautiful salt-water pool and garden area and we will try that out in the heat of the day tomorrow. For now, we make 7:30PM dinner reservations at Le Bistro and then walk down the street to see what we can see.We start to walk through a park like square to an interesting looking shopping area, but it is bloody humid so we turn back toward at the hotel and find a shopping venue next to the hotel and wander in. It carries everything from bottled water to some liquor to silks to set and unset precious stones. Cambodia is a prime producer of rubies and that just happens to be Carolyn’s birthstone. I will leave the rest to your imagination! When they figure out we are serious about the stones, they move us into a VIP room and they turn on the AC. We were both about to melt and run down in our shoes standing in the main show room.
We return to the hoteland hole up in our room until dinner. Dinner is a delightful surprise at Le Bistro. We both enjoy one of the best French Onion Soups we have ever had. Carolyn is has potatoes Duquesne and Harcourt Verts (Green Beans) and Dick has Tiger Prawns (two) cooked in garlic and butter with a fragrant wild rice side. This along with a large bottle of cold still water, a glass of white wine each and a shared order of dark chocolate ice cream make for a pleasant end to a hot day.