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  1. #1
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    Sab's trip to Angkor

    Having made a snap decision to finally visit Angkor Wat, the immediate question was how to get there. This is all very simple if you are in Bangkok, or overseas, but here in rural Ubon quite a dilemma. It's not that far actually, as the crow flies, but the standard way to go would have involved travelling all across southern Isaan to Aranyaprathet, crossing the border there and doubling back on myself to get to Siem Reap. That didn't appeal. The other options involved the road less travelled. South of Surin you have the Chong Chom border crossing. Then there is the road least travelled, involving crossing at the remote Chong Sa Ngam border crossing. Here's what 'Travelfish' had to say:-

    Chong Jom / O Smach

    This crossing is convenient to Surin in Thailand and Siem Reap in Cambodia. There are a half dozen buses a day from Surin to the border (and back) with the trip taking a couple of hours. On the Khmer side you can either grab a share taxi to Siem Reap or get to Samraong first from where you can either continue onto Siem Reap by share taxi or head east for Anlong Veng.

    Chong Sa Ngam / Anlong Veng

    This crossing is very convenient to Anlong Veng but little else. If you are heading to Thailand via this crossing, there is no public transport from the border to any sizeable Thai towns, you will need to hitch a ride from the border for around 20km to a sealed road from where there is then occasional public buses, though you are better off to hitch at least as far as Route 24 along which there are very frequent buses.


    Public transport to the border was hardly an issue, and CSN being the closest border crossing to Ubon, my wife kindly agreed to drop my travelling buddy and myself there. There was bound to be a border market, I assured her.

    The last 20 km of the road there was awful, sealed but full of deep potholes. There had been shells flying around here recently with the Thai/ Cambo border spat, so my guess is some military transporters were responsible for the mess. And remote it was.








    The Cambodian immigration office, diagonally opposite, was also a portacabin.




    True to form, there was a small, shabby border market there though.





    Mrs did some shopping, and we organised a car to take us on to Siem Reap- not that this is difficult, they approach you. $45 US was the agreed rate, our car an old but perfectly adequate Camry.

    As we drove out of the muddy market, an interesting sign was on the right-





    Pol Pot actually died in nearby Anlong Veng too. The Khmer Rouge originated in this area, not that you'd know it from the friendly people. Notice the bullet holes?

    So, onwards to Siem Reap- only around 80km from memory, and the road was thankfully a distinct improvement compared to the Thai side. I noticed a fairly large structure being constructed about a kilometer from the market- the new casino, the driver told me. I guess the road on the Thai side will improve soon enough.
    Last edited by sabang; 17-10-2011 at 01:57 PM.
    probes Aliens

  2. #2
    loob lor geezer
    Bangyai's Avatar
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    Looking forward to this but enlarge those pics a bit for more detail. As my art teacher used to drum into us ' fill the canvas '

  3. #3
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    Farmer Tom and myself have some history- we travelled around Sth America on a shoestring budget for five months, back in 1989. He's a committed backpacker to this day, normally heading somewhere remote for 3 months of every year. This year, his plan was to head onwards to Phnom Penh and then through Vietnam, before doubling back via Laos to my home on the range in Isaan. My plan was to play it by ear- maybe join him in PP for a few days, maybe not. Anyway, he had been in Siem Reap/ Angkor before, and knew of a reasonable place to stay- now with Tom, that means cheap.

    Actually Tom's place turned out to be full- but the immediate area has a cluster of budget accomodation, and this place was just fine-



    It was so cheap I forget how cheap it was, 300 or 350 bht. TV, shower, bed, aircon- what else do you need. The budget minded (such as Tom) can save another 100 bht by opting for an identical non-aircon room- they just don't give you the remote control to operate it.

    Conveniently located too for Pub St- the entertainment area of Siem Reap. Just cross the 'bridge of sighs' over this small river, and you're there.



    Right across the soi from I-Win is Wat Damrak.




    Coming from the Land of lazy smiles, Khmer ingenuity didn't take long at all to impress me. Here's just one example.




    What to say about Siem Reap? Well, it's chock full of tourists of every nationality, every budget. That means bars, restaurants and markets selling tourist trinkets in abundance. Prostitutes, beggars, travel agents, Israeli backpackers, all the usual tourist paraphernalia. The attraction is obviously nearby Angkor, but I could think of far worse places to be stranded for a few days. Still some French colonial architecture around too.




    We spent a morning wandering around town and getting our bearings. Not much to see really, but still quite pleasant. This park had some pretty ritzy looking hotels around it.







    Something was going on at an adjacent Chinese Temple.





    And everywhere you go in Cambodia, you will see these places. A virtual one party democracy with a Stalinist personality cult:-





    Sitting around the Pub St area, you are bound to be approached by a street kid. I was impressed- they speak excellent English compared to their indolent neighbours in Thailand, and are keen to both learn, and show off their knowledge. An exchange-
    "Hello mister, Where do you come from."
    "I come from Australia"
    "The capital city of Australia is Canberra, Sydney is the largest city, and Australia has a population of 24 million."
    "OK smarty, so what is the capital of South Australia?"
    "The capital of South Australia is Adelaide."

    I gave her 50 bht for that. Of course, they want to sell you trinkets and stuff- but I think they do quite well by impressing old softies like me too. To be in Cambodia is of course to be confronted by the horror of it's recent history- and there are still plenty of amputee's around. It all seemed quite incongruous- with eager to learn, bright kids like these, the future seems bright for Cambodia. Passing thru' the heart of darkness, the place the Khmer Rouge originated from, the people there were just like Isaan folk really- all smiles and relaxation. I trust they never perpetrate a genocide in Isaan. The night before, I saw on the news that some ultra-right wing maniac had massacred a bunch of kids on a youth camp in Norway- the death toll (around 100) as yet unknown. Strange world, indeed.

    Anyhow, enough of Siem Reap (which means 'Siam Defeated' in Khmer)- like most of this town, we are here to see Angkor.
    Last edited by sabang; 17-10-2011 at 02:51 PM.

  4. #4
    Thailand Expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bangyai
    enlarge those pics a bit for more detail
    Solly- I use MS Picture manager, and just resize everything to 'Web Large' size for ease of uploading. I'm just a simple point n shoot guy with a humble Olympus T100 anyway, certainly not a bobcock. You might want to check out his photo thread though.
    http://teakdoor.com/cambodia-forum/6...kor-again.html (Bobcock at Angkor - Again....)

  5. #5
    I am above looking down
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    Looking forward to more of your posts! You may not take the best pictures but your comments and witty anecdotes are well worth it!

  6. #6
    sabaii sabaii
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabang
    I gave her 50 bht
    Can they spend Thai Baht there ?

  7. #7
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    Good start Sabang. thanks for sharing and good pics.

  8. #8
    Ocean Transient
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    Good stuff!

  9. #9
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    Nice, I really like the Sa Ngam border, as far as borders go. Some lovely mountain scenery ascending and descending either side. I've only done it the opposite way though, from Cambodia to Thailand and onward transport can be a bit of a nightmare! No probs on the Cambodian side I see though, I'll bear that in mind for future reference.

  10. #10
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    Thanks all- I'm off to the village for an appointment with Leo, and will resume this evening.
    Quote Originally Posted by sabaii sabaii
    Can they spend Thai Baht there ?
    Sure can, but the smarter thing to do (bizarrely) is to change your bht to USD in Thailand, because you get a much better deal spending greenbacks in Siem Reap. Everyplace accepts bht & dollars, but the bht rate is usually an insult (Siam Defeated, indeed). I actually scabbed some USD off Tom, and used that mainly. Small change, when given in Kip, I just gave to street kids & amputee's.
    Quote Originally Posted by khmen
    Some lovely mountain scenery ascending and descending either side.
    Indeed- it's a nice escarpment, and great views. Yes, here we are up on the Isaan plateau- how is it down there in Khmen. Living in the broad flat rice plains of Isaan, it's easy to forget you are actually on a plateau- and the elevation to that plateau is nice indeed. Many of our resident Thai expats will have approached the Isaan or Korat plateau from another very nice elevation- the Khao Yai area.
    Last edited by sabang; 17-10-2011 at 03:25 PM.

  11. #11
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    The place of the tribunal that tried Pol Pot has changed a lot. Looks like they've cleaned it up. It used to be a grassy field with some thick wooden poles stuck in at the corners.

    Other things to see up at the market are Ta Mok's house and PP's gravesite, 16km away. Anlong Veng itself, 15 minutes down the road, is being modernised, with lots of new, good value guest houses and a casino.

    Nice pics, reminds me of the north.

  12. #12
    Totemic Lust User
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    open top song thaew? would like to see him try the brakes going downhill with a full load in the rain

  13. #13
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    ^The headlines would be "32 killed in motorbike accident".

  14. #14
    My kind of town
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    You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to sabang again.

  15. #15
    I am above looking down
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    ^ Haahaa

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by SEA Traveler View Post
    Good start Sabang. thanks for sharing and good pics.
    Seconded! Hope to view more!

  17. #17
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    Angkor Wat

    As many of you will already know, Angkor is the name of the ancient city, Angkor Wat it's prime Temple- but there are several more temples. These 'Temples' were not actually churches in the sense we know them, as in places of worship, but rather the dwelling place for the patron god of the Monarch- the bigger the Monarch (or the bigger his ego), the more grandiose the Temple basically. I suppose the thinking was, if I take care of you, you'll take care of me. No doubt an imposing piece of pomposity for ones fellow mankind too, be they kings or peasants. Angkor is huge, and the daddy Angkor Wat seems to be the standard starting point for ones tour. A one day pass is $20, a three day pass $40- regardless, you won't see it all or anywhere close- there are outposts and Temples going out 70km and further. Back in the day, Angkor was a city of a million people. A one day Pass was enough for me, Siem Reap is of course crawling with tuktuks anxious to show you around, so off we set- first stop the ticket office.


    Angkor Wat is astounding, but like Bobcock I found that it's scale is such that the casual photographer is hard put to do it justice- and I'm sure he carries considerably better equipment than I. Nevertheless-




    Clearly, you do not have Angkor Wat all to yourself.



    Horses? We're a long way from Marlboro country.



    Renovation and preservation is, of course, an ongoing process.



    Part of the beauty of the Angkor complex is that it is set amidst well maintained and preserved parkland and forest- I mean you could easily spend a day there just walking forest trails. These kids weren't just in that pond for fun (though I'm sure it was)- they were catching something. It was nice to see.






















    The dull monochrome of the wet season sky (and some light rain), combined with the scale of this place certainly defeated any thought of introducing much in the way of contrast or shadow to my happy snaps- but it is certainly impressive.


    Last edited by sabang; 17-10-2011 at 10:07 PM.

  18. #18
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    The Bayon

    Of course the ego of the new King (and his god) would not allow Angkor Wat to go unanswered or unchallenged, thus around 1200ad The Bayon was commenced. While not on the scale of Angkor Wat it is, to my eye, more visually stunning.




    H'mm, the soupy sky does me no favors here-














  19. #19
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    Angkor Thom

    Angkor Thom was the city for which The Bayon was the guardian Temple. Or so I read- which does kind of beg the question where the Angkor Wat royal geezer stored his peasants. I have no idea, frankly.

    This pile probably deserves a name, and may well actually have a name. It certainly deserves a snap-

















    Phew, poor old sabang was suffering for his art. The beer tents were a welcome sight.



    More than just beer tents obviously- and I noticed the food menus were about the same price as the nearby tourist town of Siem Reap. Could be a good idea to eat there on your big day out, but I was merely thirsty. There are two ubiquitous beers in Cambo, being Anchor and Angkor. Given the nuances of Khmer pronunciation, when you order one you usually seem to end up with the other- but fortunately they're both pretty good. Plenty of souvenir stands around too, for that all important Angkor Wat T shirt or paperweight.

    Our trusty steed-



    On our way to the next temple, we popped by here-



    This was, apparently, some Kings bathing and swimming pool. Now that's just excessive.
    Last edited by sabang; 17-10-2011 at 10:02 PM.

  20. #20
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    Temple fatigue, & Ta Phrom

    We now shift from the central Angkor complex, to the eastern Angkor complex. There was something in particular I wished to see here. But please don't let me mislead you by implying that we had 'done' the central complex- nowhere near. Merely scratched the surface actually, although I suppose Angkor Wat and Bayon are the iconic sights. There are a dizzying array of different temples, monuments and what have you in Angkhor. See what I mean by 'Temple fatigue'? After a while they start to blur and homogenise, you hardly know one from another. Or was it that second beer?

    So I did little justice to this rather nice pile, just asked our driver to pull over, admired it from a distance, and took a shot.




    Ironically now the sky was blue, making for much better photography. Speaking of Temple fatigue, here are the other Angkor complexes we did not visit at all- the east Baray, northeastern Angkor, the west Baray, Roluos, and Banteay Srei (& beyond).

    You've all seen Ta Prohm, I'm sure of it. Apparently, this temple is deliberately kept in a more ruinous state. It's facade is not the most imposing in Angkhor by any means-


    (incidentally, that carrot topped kid to the right, pale grey T shirt, was the spitting image of Prince Harry)


    Neither it's state of preservation-









    Heres a shot of some tourists getting photographed, they all want to be photographed here-










    It makes them feel like Indiana Jones, or Lara Croft. See, told you you'd seen it.




    I really liked it here- just dripping with atmosphere.







    Hurry up, my turn next-





    Aren't those strangler figs something?




    If the number of tourists that visit Angkor Wat also made it here, this special place would be totally overwhelmed. It's not exactly the Sahara Desert as it is.


    The ride back to Siem Reap was a pleasure too- more ancient buildings & ruins, amidst well kept parklands and forest. You really can't resent the twenty US bucks entrance fee, it's well worth it- and your money is helping keep this place together for many more people to come, I trust.
    Last edited by sabang; 17-10-2011 at 11:54 PM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabang
    This pile probably deserves a name, and may well actually have a name. It certainly deserves a snap-

    Think thats called The Baphuon and the detail shots are of the terrace of the elephants.
    Baphuon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Terrace of the Elephants - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Quote Originally Posted by sabang
    So I did little justice to this rather nice pile, just asked our driver to pull over, admired it from a distance, and took a shot.


    That's Ta Keo.
    Ta Keo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia




    Quote Originally Posted by sabang
    Speaking of Temple fatigue, here are the other Angkor complexes we did not visit at all- the east Baray, the west Baray,
    You did visit one of the barays actually, the giant king's swimming pool! A baray is a man made resorvoir/lake.

    Quote Originally Posted by sabang
    If the number of tourists that visit Angkor Wat also made it here, this special place would be totally overwhelmed
    Agreed. The curse of tourism eh? However, there a couple of temples similar to Ta Phrom further out on bad roads, which so far have kept the tourists away in droves. One such temple is Banteay Chmar, or temple of the cats. Banteay Chhmar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    None of the surrounding trees and vegetation have been cleared and you'll more than likely have the place to yourself should you visit so you actually can still feel like Indiana Jones! I'm going to rent a motorbike in Phnom Penh (No moto rentals to foreigners allowed in Siem Reap) next time I visit and ride to some of these outlying ones.

    Excellent thread Sabang, cheers for posting mate.

  22. #22
    ความสุขในอีสาน
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabang
    incidentally, that carrot topped kid to the right, pale grey T shirt, was the spitting image of Prince Harry)
    Jimmy Hewitt is one of my facebook friends ,,,,,, I,ll PM him to confirm if his son has been there ,,,,,,,,,,,,,, oh silly mistake he,s Charlie,s son aint he

  23. #23
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    Great thread Sabang, certainly need to look at that area once I get to SE Asia next year.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by khmen
    You did visit one of the barays actually,
    Thanks khmen. And thanks for your post in general- your knowledge of Angkor certainly complements my lack.

    Angkor being such a huge place, and Siem Reap providing such a range of creature comforts at a reasonable price, my intention is to go there again- this time with the wife in tow and a couple of friends of the more standard tourist variety. The way we did it this time, Farmer Tom and I did not want to carry any excess baggage- for all we knew, if say getting transport was harder than we thought, we might have had to overnight in some dusty village in the heart of Khmer Rouge territory, lol. That's fine and dandy with us (we've been in considerably hairier situations), it would just be another fun experience, but not exactly a Thomas Cook tour. Having done it- and really, it turned out to be a doddle- it's easy to do it again with a larger entourage. Might even go slightly 'lux' next time, give the wife a treat. Such decadence is not on the agenda when you're travelling with Tom.

    I'd heard that some of these outlying temples are well worth a visit- do you know if it's possible to stay overnight in some local villages, or are you pretty much restricted to Siem Reap?

    Still to come, a bit of a wrap up on Siem Reap, and getting home again (the slow way).
    Last edited by sabang; 18-10-2011 at 07:18 AM.

  25. #25
    Thailand Expat Bobcock's Avatar
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    I made a point of going to Ta Phrom at 5am the first time I went there to avoid the (other) tourists getting in the way of the shots I wanted, although that path up to the Lara croft shot wasn't there when I have been.

    I love Angkor and will probably make another final trip there before I leave the region.

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