Sunday, August 9, 2015

Thailand Part 11 - Koh Samui to Koh Phanang

Sunday, March 14th

Matt, Kimber, and I spent the morning visiting the Big Buddha statue, and taking care of a few travel errands as we packed up our things in Koh Samui.
very big Buddha on Koh Samui

pre-ferry boat beers on Koh Samui
Ready to board the ferry to Koh Phanang
 The plan was for us to meet Jaime and Marta at the boat dock on Koh Samui so the five of us could ride together to Koh Phanang. We waited for a bit, but neither of them arrived.
our ride
 Just as we were about to depart, I see a blonde girl with a gigantic purple backpack, wearing flip flops and yoga pants, running up to the boat. I say, "JAIME!" Kimber and I run up and go to the boat entrance, but she's nowhere to be found. We walk back around to the front of the boat while I'm thinking, "she was just there!" Eventually, we make it back to our seats to find Matt and Jaime chatting away. Long story short, she JUST made it!
on the boat. Jaime barely made it!
 We arrived in Koh Phanang, still uncertain of Marta's whereabouts. Knowing she'll figure it out, the four of us boarded a songthaew and headed north to our next destination.

She made it!

the front yard of our guest house in Koh Phanang
 In Koh Phanang, we spent two nights at the Baan Panburi Village at Yai Beach. It was beautiful. Not long after we checked in, Marta joined us. One thing learned with international travel, just meet at the hotel.

All of us together
beach time in Thailand

Sunset, our first night all together.

Thailand Part 10 - Koh Samui

Saturday, March 14th
Kimber, Matt, and I spent the day exploring Koh Samui. One of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

We rented motobikes to explore the island
View from the south end of Koh Samui

Friends in Thailand
Northwest side of the island. Kimber's friends' lounge
 We circled the entire island! Later that night, Kimber and I ventured back out into downtown Chaweng.
dancing in the sand

Thailand Part 9 - Reunited with Kimber

At this point in my travels I met up with my friends, and stopped emailing my parents almost entirely. Thus, I'll recap the rest of my journey from memory.

Friday, March 13th

I took it easy this morning, enjoyed a slow breakfast at the hotel and lots of air conditioning.
In Cambodia, I stayed at the Okay1 Villa, which was a recommendation of a friend from high school. The hotel was extremely comfortable, but a bit away from the main stretch of town. Thus, I would not recommend it for individuals traveling solo.

Later that day, my driver took me on his motobike to the Siem Reap airport. He work my backpack across his chest, and I road on the back. It was pretty nerve-wrecking!

To get to Koh Samui from Siem Reap, I had to fly through Bangkok. Although it was a pretty easy trip, this leg was the most expensive of all the flights.

In Koh Samui, we stayed at the Marine Bungalows. 5 Star recommendation. It's on the beach, super cheap, and convenient to get anywhere. Worth every penny.

Made it to Ko samui. Paradise at last.

Reunited with Kimber

Downtown Chaweng

Odd Number of Tequila Shots with a Russian Tourist

Thailand Part 8 - Angkor Wat

Thursday, March 12

It's my last night in Cambodia. I'm back on the rooftop, having some soup and egg rolls for dinner. And more Cambodian beer. I ordered Tom Yum soup, which is from Laos, but I never ate it while there. And, I looked it up on Wikipedia before so I'd know sorta what it was. I saw it on menus everywhere in Laos. Wikipedia describes it as sour/spicy. This version is definitely sour, it's crazy flavors. Chicken, tomatoes, onions, and a bunch of green herbs. Broth is orange colored... Tasty. Not spicy at all though. My curry last night was hot!

And, I'm gonna head to the airport around 11.45am tmr and should hopefully be in Thailand by 4-5pm. I have to fly through Bangkok to get to Ko Samui, the island Kimber and I are staying Fri and Sat night. And, my friend Matt is in India for work now, and decided to join up with us on Saturday. So, it'll be great to have people to talk with more. Also, funny to return to Thailand so soon. My passport will get another Thai stamp. I have until 2023 before it expires so I want to get tons more stamps by then. But I think I will take a break from third world countries for a bit. I feel like I stand out too much being a blond white girl. I'd like to go somewhere like Sweeden or... Australia next where I won't be so obvious a tourist.

Today, Angkor Wat was really cool, but tourism has really taken over this area. It's hard to take in the super nice hotels/resorts next door to people living in tiny shacks. And, inside Angkor there are tons of tiny kids and women of all ages trying to sell goods. They ask you again and again if you want to buy postcards, books, mangos, etc... which sort of interrupts the experience. But, except for that, it was cool to see so many famous temples. They are about 1,000 years old and for the most part, built to last. Some of them have been invaded by trees. The "tree temple" was my favorite. My reading said that these were originally thought to be Roman for how well designed they were. Makes me want to go see what the Romans can do now. I guess Angkor was built around the same time as Notre Dame? Kind of crazy how different the architecture is.

OK I'm going to wrap up dinner and head back down to get ready for bed. I was asleep by 8:30pm last night and I won't be far behind tonight. Funny thing about going to bed that early is I wake up at like 12 or 1am thinking it's morning, and every time am delighted to know I have many more hours to sleep. Sad to know I probably won't continue that streak when I join up with my friends.
sunrise at Angkor
good morning Angkor Wat
Temple Touring

Elephants at Angkor

Bayon Temple

Trees at Ta Prohm

crazy roots

Temple Selfie

Trees > Temples

Thailand Part 7 - From Laos to Cambodia

Wednesday, March 11th
Today I woke up at 5am to watch a bunch of monks walk through the street to get their alms. Which is all the food they eat for the day. It was pretty much a huge tourist show though. The Chinese tourists were so disrespectful. Really sad... But Ramina and I watched from the back... After that I waited by the money place for them to open, got a bad coffee-withdraw headache, then got money and coffee! I've just been walking around for the past few hours and headed home to rest for a bit. I must checkout at 11.30am, and will catch a ride to the airport around 1. I'm gonna get a sandwich and smoothie for lunch. Might actually get 2 sandwiches so I have a good snack later. I bought a bunch of mini bananas for 5kip (50 cents) and they were so good.

even the mini bananas must be separated

Mass #s of tourists waiting for the Monks

the Alms ceremony

and then they go off to school

Farewell Laos
my view from Luang Prabang to Siem Reap
Later that Day

Made it to Cambodia! Siem Reap is way more crowded and a bit intense. This is a much bigger city than I imagined, and not very good sidewalks. I don't really see anybody walking around in the area I'm in either. I witnessed a moterbike/bicycle collision on my way back to my villa from the airport. Was not pretty. But both were fine. Not sure who's fault it was, but I felt bad for them both. Was a young girl and a teenage boy. There's lots of crazy traffic here, so I can see how it would happen. And it could have been much, much worse. 

I'm staying at a real nice place though. It has a restaurant on the rooftop deck. I watched sunset up here and am now eating reeeally spicy curry. And since my walk home is only 3 floors, I got some Cambodia beer. It's good! I have to wake up at 4:20am or so, as I'm going to Angkor Wat by 5ish to watch sunrise. And, I'm going to try to spend all day there unless I get too tired from all the temple touring. Then I'll come back for a nap and go back out for when temperatures get cooler. It's going to be near 100, yikes.

I'm super tired since I woke up at 5am today to see those monks. Gonna be a long few days, but fortunately there's relaxation on the other side.

You would get a kick out of all the different forms of tuk tuks I've taken (like a taxi). They are pretty crazy bike/trike things. And very common ways to take people around. I'll remember to take more pictures of the everyday stuff and not all the sights so you have a better depiction of what it's all like.
The view from my hotel in Siem Reap

On the rooftop of my hotel in Siem Reap

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thailand Part 6 - Sabaidee

Tuesday, March 10th

Well, I used up my $40 USD in 24 hours! Oops! Most things cost between 10-40k kips and I guess I bought a lot? Dinner last night... Breakfast ($3), lunch ($4), dinner ($4)... And I got my laundry done but didn't even have enough kips left to pay her! And the money exchange place was closed after 5:30pm, so I felt really bad, and have to return to her with 5k more kip tomorrow (about 50 cents). Ugh, oops. I'm gonna exchange $20 more USDs which should surely last me until I leave for the airport around 1. Breakfast, lunch, cab ride... Hopefully that's enough. I'll leave extras for the house keeping cleaning people. And buy some snacks!

Today I did not end up biking, but rather visited some caves with the Argentinean girl, Ralima, and 3 French ladies. I ran into Ralima (her name is something like that) on my walk back from breakfast this morning and we decided to so the caves together. It turned into quite a day, as what I thought would be about a 2 hr journey was more like 4-5 hours. We went waaay down the Mekong river by boat to see the caves, then pretty much came right back. It was a long way, but I really enjoyed the boat ride. We split up after that and decided to meet in the morning (530am) to watch the monks walk the street for their daily alms. I've already seen more monks in 1 place than ever before, just walking around to/from, but I am quite sure tomorrow will be pretty neat.
Luang Prabang, Laos

my journey to the top of Mount Phousi

Temple at the top of the "mountain."

mid-morning break before the boat ride

The French tourists on the boat ride with us

On a boat ride to see some Buddhas

Ridin' in style down the Mekong

monks in Laos

Real Laos

the caves

some of the 1,000s of Buddhas

More of the Buddhas

Really excited about the elephant behind me

Monks heading home for the day
Well, it's 7pm here and I'm exhausted. I was gonna go get a Laobeer at the bars down the road but... I ran out of money. Haha, shoot. Guess I have to go to sleep.