Motorbike to Banteay Srei, Landmine Museum, and some more Temples

My final day exploring the temples of Angkor Wat turned out to be the busiest. After two days mostly on a bicycle I decided it was time to speed up things and give my shoulders a break from carrying way to many things. So I rented a guide and a motorcycle Tuk-Tuk for 22 Dollars to take me to Banta Srei, a beautiful pinkish colored temple about 25 kilometers northeast of Siam Reap that they started building around 967. It’s not one of the biggest temples, but surely one with many details and delicate carvings and well worth the 80 minute ride on bumpy roads. On the way back I made a short stop and the landmine museum that was set up by a former Khmer Rouge child soldier, who helped demine some 50.000 Landmines. While this sounds pretty amazing, there are estimates that there are up to 3 to 6 !!) million landmines still hidden all over Cambodia. Countless victims, missing legs or other parts of the body are a constant sad reminder that Cambodia was hell on earth not so long ago.

Before returning to mesmerizing Ta Prohm for late afternoon light I also visited Eastern Mebon and Pre Roup, visiting each temple for about half an hour. The difference of visiting Ta Prohm in the morning hours and in the later afternoon is amazing, its like visiting two complete different sites and a lot of places that looked amazing in the morning felt very different, whereas spots that I walked by hardly noticing earlier on caught my attention and made me stop for a couple of minutes just to marvel about. A very quiet but very beautifull spot for Sunset is Srah Srang, where Phnom Bakheng was crowded with people, there were only two others sitting at the giant ancient artificial lake, enjoying a very scenic sunset. I spent my last night in Siam Reap at my favorite Indian Restaurant “Kama Sutra” and later joined the pool party at the Sieam Reap Hostel. There I got to talk with an Australian who works at the hostel, who told me that Cambodia can still be a very tough place and that Siam Reap and Angkor are just Tourism bubbles. Only two years ago it became a federal crime to kill someone in Cambodia. Before they passed the law, the killer would basically go into negotiations with the family of the victim and settle over a “price” for the killing. And if you witness a car accident in Cambodia, the best thing to do is RUN, as police will look for the richest person on at the scene and arrest them as the wrongdoer to get the most money out of them.

Banteay Srei, Tah Prom, Srah Srang

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Siam Reap, Back to Bangkok

23. November
After some last minute souvenir shopping and a lunch at the Butterfly Garden Restaurant it was time to board the plane back to Bangkok. While the Butterfly Garden Restaurant was really beautiful with all the flowers and butterflies roaming the tables, the Cambodian fish “Amok Trey” was not as good as at the previous place. Back in Bangkok I once again stayed at the Nira Bangkoc, and joined two French girls for dinner at a nice Indian restaurant called Bombay Blues on Soi Rambutri, my favorite Indian restaurant in Bangkok .

24th of November
I went for my first fitting to Rajawongse and did a little bit of walking around the shopping area of Silom before going to the Golden Mount by boat. It is by far the fastest and cheapest way to get from the Silom Shopping area to Banglampoo area. At night I went to “The Deck” again, for a full Thai dinner and my favorite entry dish: Chicken Satay before taking a taxi to Bayoke Tower II, the tallest building in Thailand for a cocktail (or two…). Unfortunately we where told that the revolving platform was already closed, but on our way down a guard asked as if we wanted to go up there for 200 Bhat (usuall 250), which I accepted. As the two fellow travelers declined the offer I was the only one up on the 304 meter high tower, the highest point of Bangkok, watching the city lights and even got the guard to stop the revolving platform so I could take some pictures.

Tigers, Temples and Beaches

25th of November River Kwai, Tiger Tempel
As I had to go to another fitting on the 26th I decided to go on a day tour to Kanchanaburi to see the bridge over River Kwai and the Tiger Tempel. Although very touristy and at 1.600 Bhat expensive for Thai Standards I really enjoyed getting close to the giant cats and touching them, even as it was only very briefly. The train ride for 100 Bhat turned out to not be the best idea as I did not managed to get a seat and had to stand the entire journey, not being able to ejoy the view of the river Kwai.

26th of November, Bus Nr. 53
In the morning I had my second fitting at Rajawongse after which I returned to the hostel. It was fully booked that day and I had to move to a different place. I decided to stay at the Bangkok YHA, where I had stayed 8 years ago. The YHA Bangkok has changed a lot and the rooms are now even more spotless. When I walked in I even met the same receptionist that I remembered from all those years ago. After settling in it was time for my favorite bus ride : Nr. 53! Back in 2001 I would always take it to get to the train station to catch other busses to go else where. Its still the same red busses that are very noisy and thick black smoke is coming out of the tail pipe.

27th of November: Bangkok to Ao Nang
Yet another flight, this time with AirAisa to Krabi and then a busride to Ao Nang. If I would have know how much Ao Nang had changed in those eight years, I probably would have stayed in Krabi this time. Ao Nang these days looks a lot like Samui did eight years ago, with a McDonalds and BurgerKing and numerous 7-11 all over the town. But the hostel (WarinaPlace) was again a spotless place and I had a 6 person dormitory all to myself.

Four Island Tour

28th of November: 4 Island Tour
Lying on the beach all day long is not my cup of tea so I decided to do some island hoping and opted for a 4 Island tour and do some snorkeling around Hong, Chicken and Bamboo Island. And the 4th island? Sorry; I don’t recall the name of it 😉 ! After my return I hired a longtail boat to Raleigh Beach for sunset, which I have to admit was one of the best sunsets I have seen in Thailand.