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Return Home to The Whisper from Cambodia
March 19, 2017
After some overland travel adventures we arrived in Bangkok by Bangkok Airways and returned to our ship the Whisper at dock along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok a city of 12 million people that has 3.5 million cars drive into the city each day. Roads were a bit crowded.
Thirteen passengers and Maria our ship guide made the overland trip to Cambodia. Our overland trip to see the Angkor Wat area started first with a confusion of buses then with a second confusion of check in terminals at the airport. At the airport the Colombian guy told us they have a saying at home that goes something like "What breakfast is, lunch will be too". The day seemed that way as the 14 of us gathered just before the ship was to depart Ho Chi Minh for a day at sea en route to Bangkok. We went out of our port area for a bus and some of us were directed to one bus while others to another. Luggage went on then luggage got off until we got it all sorted out. At the airport we all got in a line to check in and waited. Then we all had to move to a different line at a different airline counter. It poured cats and dogs and maybe snakes as we walked to the farthest end of the terminal and found a little place near gate 25 for a bit to eat. As boarding neared they announced in Vietnamese and then in English that our gate changed. Now the far opposite end of the terminal! Plane slightly late but ok. Siem Reap Cambodia airport was small but brand new and there was a very long line up for customs. To our happy surprise we were then greeted by the Silver Sea local guide who took all our passports and lead us past the customs line and right out, yeah! We had a full size bus for our land portion that had huge seats too but there were only 14 in the full size bus so lots of room. Went to the Sokha Angkor Hotel located in the center of Siem Reap and was an older hotel but beautiful with gorgeous grounds. Half the people of Cambodia are Buddhist and some Hindu and all greet you with the hands together bow, very nice.
After a nice dinner and two provided glasses of wine we decided to try going to the night market. Some of the markets in Saigon were very tight halls for walking and of little interest to the boys but decided to give it a go. Maria tagged along so we had four. She is from Portugal same as Fernando the cruise director and is the assistant cruise director. First let me say that Siem Reap was not the sleepy little jungle town we expected. Since the discovery of the temple system they have been busy making it a tourist destination and well they should as Cambodia is a very poor country of mostly rice farming. The people of Cambodia are not Cambodians, they are Khmer people as the Khmer are who have been ruling and building temples since 300 B.C. The country was of course devastated by war until 1995 and had no tourists as it was not safe for anyone. Before the war Cambodia which comes from the French term Campuchia had a population of about seven million. After the war they had only four million people. This was the fault of the Khmer Rouge, communists. Now things are good and they are safe and tourists are flocking and they have fifteen million people. The effects of the war linger as they have perhaps millions of land mines still present. Of every fiteen hundred people here, 350 have lost limbs to mines and we saw it every day. Our young tour guide Sam had to walk by dead soldiers on the road most days during the war. So anyway the four of us bundled into another version of a Tuk Tuk (no pics as they are now routine) and headed to the night market. It was WOW! First we went to what they call PUB street a street filled with bars and restaurants and got an ice cold Angkor Beer. After walked around exploring with our beers and headed to the night market street. Cambodia is Cheap!! Clothing for $3.00 U.S., everything is in dollars. Massage $7.00 for an hour, massage at the hotel $23 dollars, massage on the ship $300 dollars. It was Maria's birthday in a couple days so we bought her a fish foot massage and was that ever funny. She is ticklish and laughed up a storm as hundreds of little fish bit her feet. Next day we met at eight for our bus and went to the Angkor ticket station to get the ticket with our pictures on them Each ticket is $37 per day and about 5,000 people now go through each day. They figure that over a million people lived at ancient Angkor. It is a huge site, actually many sites, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, etc. Driving through Asia is for the bold, if you don't nose out into heavy traffic you will go no where. Our bus driver was not timid but may have been too bold at times. Pulling out of our hotel there was a police car escorting a group of cars and our driver tried to pull out ahead of the police car. BANG!! The cop threw a water bottle at the bus ad hit the bus a good one. Angkor Wat and area is truly amazing. For every spot that has been restored there are a thousand left for the future or not even found yet. We had a total of ten miles waling in the brutal Cambodian heat and humidity. Had a nice dinner of Khmer food that night after a swim along with some local kids dancing. The next morning was off early to the airport to fly to the huge city of Bangkok. Bangkok air managed in the 45 minute flight all economy to feed everyone a full breakfast, wow. Sam our Siem Reap guide rode in the bus on the way to the airport. He told us he has stage two Malaria but has not been active in a long time. Mosquitoes in Siem Reap have two kinds of decease. The day mosquitoes are male and carry Dengue Fever. We are ok with that as all are vacinated. The night mosquitoes are female and have longer beaks and carry Malaria. You can only protect for malaria by actively taking pills and we did not. Bill had no bites, Dawn a few and me a bunch, all at night, will see. Just now leaving Bangkok after a night and morning.