Bangkok & Travelling – day 386

We left the room at the last possible minute, pushing the check out time to the max. We had a few hours to kill and while we would have had better wifi and air con down in reception, we preferred the peace and quiet. But, uncomfortable wooden chairs and noisy guests soon greeted us as we plonked ourselves down for a few hours. We both had work to do: job applications, emails and convincing people we were off somewhere exotic (still very deceitful in preparation for surprising friends). We broke up the late morning, early afternoon with a trip to 7 Eleven to cash in the coupons… I was hoping for a unique lunch box to store my ticket stubs in from the travels. Alas, they needed to be pre-ordered. But, the tokens/coupons act as currency and we traded them for Milo Hot Chocolate powder, notepads and sweets. Score!!
Our lunch plans were sadly ruined as we hadn’t accounted for them not being open that early during the day. The shop fronts were they set up their tables and chairs were still trading fruit, veg and other wares and we while we waved to them (chopping and prepping for the evening), we had to find somewhere different for our last meal. We wandered up the road, further than we had done since our first visit 4years ago when this was the road we took towards the river. The street had drastically changed and the atmosphere was lessened and more commercial. Alas, all good things must come to an end. But, one more pad Thai noodles would hopefully make it a bit better.img_0660img_0661img_0662Arriving at the airport with ease, we were checked in all the way to London Heathrow and soon jetting off to Kuala Lumpur for Christmas our transfer. The airport was very well organised and sign-posted, but with the previous flight slightly delayed, there was a small panic of transferring terminals in time to catch the adjoining flight. We needn’t have worried as clearly half the flight was already on the one we had just come on. Typical.

We had done well to book seats at the rear of the plane. Nobody was sitting behind us and thus we felt comfortable in reclining the seas without upsetting people behind or being woken up from airplane monkeys swinging off the seat to go to the loo. The down side, something that we never anticipated, was that by being so comfortable and relaxed, we didn’t shuffle in our seats or walk around as much as we probably normally would have. Thus, I may have developed a bit of a trapped nerve in my right thigh for the position I slept in. Ouch!!

Thursday 27th October 2016

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Kbal Spean, Banteay Srei – day 356

The motorbike was delivered on time. We however, were running a bit late and jumped on the bikes slightly later than planned. But, we had the suncream on, helmets fastened tightly and motored down the road, finding the right turn off on the roundabout. We must have been only half way there when the bums started to go numb. MapsMe said the journey was just a 46km trip. The road markers would suggest we did 53. Either way, the last 20km was slow going as neither of us wanted to pause and ease the muscles and the traffic coming round the roundabout in the wrong direction suggested that we needed to stay alert. 

Arriving at the car park for Kbal Spean, we looked a bit like Jeff Daniels and Jim Carey getting off the scooter in Dumb&Dumber. We looked like a set of upside-down letter ‘Y’s’, as we gradually loosened up on the 2km trail uphill. We overtook several other tourists and a tour group of Indians. It only took us 25mins to reach the ‘Bridgehead’. This is the actual meaning of Kbal Spean, but many only refer to as ‘The River of a Thousand Lingas’. A spectacularly carved riverbed, set deep in the jungle, it was ‘discovered’ in 1969 by an ethnologist, shown the area by a local hermit. We didn’t need any hermits to direct us along the jungle paths, clearly marked every 100m with a countdown to the top of the trail. I was admiring the cascading water and trying to capture a photo of the water movement, while Katherine was taking photos of rocks. I had to snap out of it and realise that the entire rock surface was carved in to beautiful figures and mini lingas. It was not at all what I was expecting. We walked a bit upriver finding the impressive boulder of Vishnu in the shallows. Downstream of the bridge head there were further series of carvings with carvings of deities, animals and scripture chiselled in to the rock. The entire riverbed was designed in a beautiful mosaic of lingas with several large sculptures carved in to wide sections of the river. We spent some time at the base of the waterfall. The amount of water was spectacular – of course we had been caught out in several of the downpours that contributed to the flow of the fall. Local families were having picnics, splashing about in the riverbed and introducing their young ones to the water (much to the displeasure of some). We passed some of the same Indians on the way back down and were worried about their progress. In the hour we had passed them, they had progressed a total of 400m. With no water with them and no sign of their guide, I’m not sure they were going to make it to the waterfall, let alone to riverbed of lingas. We did try and discourage them going any further, but we were probably back at the car park before they made a decision. 

Back down the road, we visited Banteay Srei. Included in the Angkor ticket pass we were visiting the jewel in the crown of Angkorian artisanship. This Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva is cut from a stone of pinkish hues and includes some of the finest stone carving seen anywhere in Earth. Banteay Srei means ‘Citadel of the Women’ and it is said that it must have been built by a woman, as the elaborate carvings are supposedly too fine for the hand of a man. We wouldn’t dare comment on who built the city or carved the designs, but the stones in a lovely mixture of pinks, yellows and greys, with intricate and several varied scenes of craftsmanship, meant the temple was incredible. The site was the first major temple restoration undertaken by the EFEO in 1930 using the anastylosis method. The success of the project, very evident in situ, soon led to the restoration of Bayon (our favourite). Originally thought to be from the 13th or 14th century, it was later dated to 967AD from inscriptions found at the site. The manicured lawns around the moat, the buildings almost fully restored to former glory and the landmine victims playing music in the distance, the atmosphere gave the feeling of being back in time. We bypassed the kids (with their prepared speeches) trying to sell postcards and beg candies, managed to find a street side restaurant down in the town and chowed down on some exquisite food. The whole side trip to Banteay Srei, not a million miles from Siem Reap, was memorable and enjoyable. Only a small jaunt down the road (bums still not forgiving us for earlier journeys) we visited the landmine museum. We initially felt cheated by the $10 price tag, but once you visited the place and learned what they did with the money we were content with the cost. We convinced the lady at thedesk to let us have an audio guide in exchange for leaving a credit card – normally wanting a photo ID card. The recent, up-to-date audio commentary was informative, with short bursts of info and letting you enjoy the displays while listening. A well put together museum, the story of Aki Ra – kidnapped child, turned soldier, deserter of the Khmer Rouge, etc and now dismantling land mines that he had placed there himself – was portrayed along with info on global progress to de-mining, costs, manufacturers, how to trigger a mine, its mechanisms and effectiveness and so forth. I would highly  recommend anyone, even if not interested or clued up to the conflicts in history of SE Asia to visit this establishment. It is a short history lesson, without the chalk dust and bells. 


Being able to easily get into town with the bike we went to the Korean BBQ. Even more importantly with our easy ride back home, we were able to stuff ourselves silly with extras of nearly everything. The food probably did’t help with my poorly tummy, but did I care… not an ounce. I was just about able to prop myself up enough to watch some Dexter before bed.  Tuesday 27th September 2016

Travelling – day 347

An early start as we wanted to get an early bus to Bangkok, knowing full well that it could take forever to travel the 445km. An easy walk to the bus station with the usual TukTuk drivers asking us if we wanted to go to the historical park. I feel that the big rucksacks and walking towards the bus station might have been a give away that we didn’t really want to go to the historical site!! Arriving at the bus station, we waited by bay 2 for our bus to arrive. Stood up with everyone else (except 2 tourists) as they played the Kings anthem before boarding the bus. Slightly nicer than the one we caught the other day, we settled into our seats and played a game of monopoly before watching a couple of episodes of Games of Thrones. Stopped after about 4 hours for a lunch stop. Found out that we got a free meal with our bus ticket so we picked out a chicken Thai green curry and tucked in… It was enjoyable until I found a caterpillar in my lunch! Suddenly my appetite vanished and I just ate the free biscuits that we got on the bus. Arriving at the bus station around 4pm we slowly wandered through the streets towards our hostel. Was nice to stretch our legs after sitting for so long on the bus for so long although we were dripping sweat within 5 minutes of leaving the air conditioned haven of the bus terminal. Walked past the world’s largest outdoor market, dodging people constantly as we tried to walk around the outside and as they were weaving in and out of the aisles. Arrived at our hostel and got upgraded to a smaller room. We had originally booked a bed in a 10 person dorm where all the beds were doubles. Apparently, the other 8 people were from one family so they offered to move us into the 8 bed single bed dorm which suited us just fine! The beds were almost like the capsule beds you see in photos from Japan, all next to each other separated by a piece of plywood. Did some research about our crossing into Cambodia tomorrow, slightly scared by all the horror stories that are on the internet about being scammed and aggressive visa runners. Feeling a bit freaked out, we headed up to the TV room to watch a film and have a cup of tea. An irritating DVD that was scratched so we couldn’t watch the last 20 minutes of the film ‘Mr Right’, although the storyline was predictable enough to guess what was going to happen.

Headed out to have dinner although this area didn’t seem to have much except expensive western food outlets such as KFC. Eventually found a little street cafe in a backstreet where we ordered blindly from the menu with the help of an ex-pat who could speak Thai. Ended up with a soup, a type of curry and a salty egg papaya salad. Sounds strange but it was actually really nice. Treated ourselves to an ice cream before heading back to the hostel to watch another film before snuggling down into our capsules for the night. 

Sunday 18th September 2016

Bangkok – day 338

With the room in near pitch blackness, the hostel pretty much empty and quiet and the air con stuck on a comfortable setting and a nice sized bed, we both slept beautifully and awoke fresh as daisies. So, custardy bread and water for breakfast we set about doing a bit of planning for the coming weeks. We can’t stay here indefinitely catching up on blogs and eating curries. Can we?? However after a hour or so with little motivation to do any productive research, we decided to stay here an extra night and go to the cinema instead… Oops!!

A familiar walk to the Surasak station, we walked the last bit at Siam station to the mall and cinema, not bothering with the convoluted change of lines and queueing up to be squeezed on. No, we walked a few hundred metres and you can tell where we walked from the puddles we left behind. Humidity and heat in the middle of the day, bad combination. Totally different to the heat of the Northern Territory in Oz, this was bordering on silly. Stupid weather in an beautiful city. It means it’s hard to walk around and explore at this time of year. Probably something we’ll regret in the coming ventures. 
With a sneaky small burger before the cinema and a large popcorn we sat down in an almost empty theatre. But, other people sandwiched us in? I don’t get that. Half way through the salty popcorn we remembered the M&M’s from aunty Alita and suddenly the magic combo of salty and sweet was perfect. The film, ‘Secret Life of Pets’, had me giggling non-stop and there were moments where I could totally imagining it happening once owners had left for the day.Just outside the cinema, the Made In Candy shop, dedicated to creating bespoke works of art, personalised to however you wanted it, we’re making BMW candies for the event being held on the ground floor. The staff twisted and rolled the sugar to a sausage shape and then two more staff pulled the end to a diameter that was suitable (without compromising image or text) and snapped the canes into sticks. The sticks, once set and cooled a bit from all the working, were chopped in to small pieces. The process of make rock candy that one buys on holiday was no longer a mystery, but damned if I knew how they managed to start the process or get it perfect. A real craft and we couldn’t believe the end result. Back at the hostel we hadn’t long to go before it was dinner time. We may have wandered the shopping mall, with indoor ice rink, a bit too long and lost track of time. Still, with nowhere to be and no schedule it was a nice feeling. Certainly it felt stress free when we ordered 2x pad Thai noodles for a change and it didn’t rain. The street was busier and the fruit sellers kept their produce out later than usual in anticipation of more sales. We Skyped Martin and Anne-Marie and having not spoken to them in ages it felt good to catch up on gossip and hear about upcoming trips. With the air con still stuck at a nice level we soon called it a night and went to bed. 

Friday 9th September 2016

Bangkok – day 337

Having woken up at ridiculous o’clock in the morning cause we are both still on Australian time, we both managed to force ourselves back to sleep for a couple of extra hours before getting up with ambitious ideas to fill the day with catching up on blogs and making plans for the upcoming weeks. We headed up to the roof terrace to consider getting some fresh air but with the humidity and heat, there was no way that we would be able to sit up there for an extended period of time, despite the stunning views.We headed back downstairs and sat directly under the wifi router to start working. Jayne started choosing photos and I began uploading them to the blog. Got a couple done before we both decided we were too tired to continue so headed back to the room. Jayne played some Candy Crush whilst I indulged in a little nap (for those who don’t know me I never sleep during the day because, 9 times out of 10, when I wake up I am like the antichrist!). As I snored softly next to Jayne, a little nap turned into a longer one and a game of Candy Crush turned into several levels – so much for our well thought out plans for the day! When I woke up, we pottered around for a bit, checking Facebook, emails and Pinterest before deciding to head out for dinner. Back to our favourite street cafe around the corner from the hostel, we had literally sat down when the heavens opened and the rain flooded the street within a matter of minutes. Watching the locals shield themselves from the rain and constantly try and empty the puddle from the awnings was what past the time before the food came. Stuffed full of Thai green curry and papaya salad, the rain had stopped by the time we walked back to the hostel although the street were still wet so my feet became disgustingly dirty in the space of 2 minutes and need a good scrub before I was allowed to get into bed. 

Thursday 8th September 2016