December 8, 2007

$1USD=33.56 Baht

Day 4-Siem Reap to Bangkok

In the morning Ponheary and Lori pick us up in the van for the ride out to the airport. In the van with them are two teachers from Knar School whom they are taking to another school where they teachers will "switch schools" for a day.

They drop us at the airport and we have about a 1/2 hour wait in the ticket line to check in. There are many desks open, with only about 5 people in each line, but the process seems to take forever. Once again the desk agent seems confused by my paper ticket which has replaced my electronic one and once again, must get a supervisor to ok it.

When we have our boarding passes we try to go through to the security area and are confronted with the need to pay a $25 "departure" tax. We were completely surprised by this since in most countries it is now included in the ticket price and our travel agent did not mention it. In addition, it never came up in any of my internet searches. Fortunately, they take credit cards because we did not have enough US dollars left.

At Security, my mother's cuticle scissors were confiscated as a "sharp implement". How she's made it through a dozen or more US and international airports with this "dangerous weapon" is beyond me and she is required to dump it in a bin filled with similar objects (machetes, sub-machine guns, and and garden shears). She is not happy. Going through immigration is also a lengthy process and the immigration officer takes a full 10 minutes to process my passport once I reach him. I have no idea what he found so fascinating.

Once we are through jumping hoops, we are on the "other side" where there are a couple of cafes, and various shops including a branch of the Artisans d'Angkor store. We have a seat in the cafe, Mom orders a cappuccino and I pop open my computer hoping to find free wifi. No such luck. In addition, the electronic screen on the wall shows that our flight's departure has been delayed 40 minutes. After coffee we peruse the Artisan's D'Angkor store and I can't resist buying 2 more hand woven cotton scarves. Somebody stop me!

The flight back to Bangkok is uneventful as is the taxi ride back to the Royal Orchid Sheraton. When we check in, we ask for a late check out for me as my plane does not leave until 7:30 PM and are offered a 4PM checkout. perfect. This time, our room is on the 16th floor, not a standard SPG floor. So, the room is made to be "SPG" by the addition of various amenities, brought to us after we've arrived in the room. This time our view faces South down the river.

After getting settled, we decide to go check out the Weekend Market. Because it's after noon, we choose to take a taxi out there to save time rather than take the ROS boat to Taksin pier and the the Skytrain or Subway out to the market. The taxi costs 100 baht including tolls.

The Weekend Market is huge, overwhelming, hot and crazy. in fact it's so much all of those things that I do not take one photo there, nor do I buy anything other than drinks and snacks. Mom ends up buying a tiny Hello Kitty bag to protect her camera and some clothes. I consider buying a small Spirit House, but decide not to because I can't figure out how I'd get it home. In the end, we only explore about 1/4 of the market in the handicraft and house wares sections. After, we walk across the street to the Aw Taw Kaw food market. The photo at the top of this page is from our 40 baht pork satay snack/lunch. Yummy. If you want to see the Aw Taw Kaw market in all it's technicolor food glory, check out my photos from they 2006 trip. Our taxi back to the hotel costs 149 baht including tolls. We can't figure out exactly what happened, but it seems like the driver took the "scenic" route.

For dinner we take another taxi over to a restaurant I'd read about on Chowhound.com called Le Lys. It's owned by a French expat and his Thai wife. The restaurant is in a converted house inside a high walled compound and there is a petanque court in the back. I heard quite a bit of French being spoken among the guests at the bar and while we were there a party of about 20 well dressed Australians and Americans came in and sat at a large table opposite us. The menu is purely Thai, and the food was nicely prepared, but this is not a "locals" type restaurant. Dinner was about 600 baht and included a bottle of water, a glass of Sardinian white wine, a salad of roasted eggplant and shrimp, duck curry with an order of rice shaped like a teddy bear (no idea why!), and a couple of scoops of gelato for dessert. I would recommend the restaurant for those looking for mid-scale Thai in a nice, but not "typical Thai" setting.

When we leave, I want to walk for a bit and try to take the Sky train back. We walk and walk and someone can't find the skytrain! The neighborhood isn't exactly "dicey" but it's filled with karaoke bars and not much else of note. It's dark and there are no places for a taxi to stop. Finally we figure out we've been walking the wrong direction down the wrong street! In front of a bar we manage to get a taxi, show him the card for the Sheraton and he makes a u-turn on the wide street. We've managed to walk about 10 blocks the wrong way! Oh well. We make it back to the hotel no problem and fall into bed.

Thailand and Cambodia Intro
Thai Air LAX to BKK
Bangkok Day 1
Bangkok Day 2-Tour with Tong
Bangkok Day 3-Markets
Siem Reap-Day 1
Siem Reap-Day 2
Siem Reap-Day 3
Siem Reap-Koh Ker School
Bangkok Day 4
Bangkok Day 5
Our recommended books





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