One night in Bangkok and one in Phnom Penh…
Well. I’ve fallen so far behind on this blog; I almost don’t know where to start anymore! For the record, we’re just having too much fun to take the time to write!
The night before we left Vietnam, Jessica realizes that were about to leave for another country … where they speak YET ANOTHER language. She’s quite distraught and insists that I immediately look up how to say hello so she can talk to people when we get there. Over the course of the evening, she made me tell her several times so that she’d remember. I didn’t have the heart to tell her well only be in Thailand less than 24 hours as we we’re passing through Bangkok on our way to Cambodia! This is to become a theme on our trip - every time we hit an airport she’s asking how do you say hello HERE then? I’m quite proud that she’s so interested in learning a bit of the language and customs of each country!
We arrive in Bangkok in the late afternoon and wait ages for our baggage. We’re both super grumpy from taking Larium and Jess is extremely hyper. This has proven to be our typical reaction to the medication. Both Grant and I get really impatient and snappy, and Jessica becomes a hyper-spastic little monster…for about 24 hours. This is followed by a poor night’s sleep because of the weird and wonderful dreams that come with the Larium.
Just for fun, it turns out that most of our traveling is done on a Monday. THIS Monday was especially bad as we were due to fly into Bangkok for only a few hours before catching a really early morning flight out for Phnom Penh. NOT the best day to be short on patience and traveling with a small child. I’m also annoyed because we have this stupid layover only because I had to have flights booked out of Vietnam before we got our visas and I couldn’t book any of the easy, direct flights from outside the country – but I digress. Suffice it to say NOBODY is in a really great mood.
We grabbed a taxi into town that took almost an hour to get there and cost 450 baht. Thankfully we were booked into a really nice hotel with a lovely dinner buffet which is expensive, but worth every penny. Two big comfy beds and a big, quiet room the perfect place to catch a few winks before we have to fly out. Also, free wireless!! Hooray!! We have to be out of the hotel by about 4am in order to make it to the airport in plenty of time to check in. Ugly. Grant decides not to sleep at all and it takes forever to get Jessica to sleep. So, in the end, none of us gets much sleep and Grant stays up all night surfing the web and wandering around the hotel.
Our cab arrives on schedule and quotes us a 600 baht price to get to the airport. Grant says no way I’ll pay you 450 like I paid to get here. He’s still a little gun shy with cabs because taxi scams are a way of life in Hanoi, where we’ve just come from! There’s NO traffic, and the guy is going 140 km/hr down the freeway. Yikes! Jess falls asleep in the cab but otherwise she’s a pretty cheerful bean for being up at that hour. She’s a pretty mellow traveler most of the time (except for Mondays ) which is fantastic.
In the cab, Grant insists that he’s going to deal with the cab driver. He is expecting (as might happen in Vietnam) that the driver will try to change the agreed upon price once we get there. Lately, I’d been handling the arguing with the drivers and he wasn’t pleased with how often (in his opinion) I got ripped off. So, he’s primed for argument before we even get out of the car.
We get to the airport and Grant is rummaging around in his wallet for cash. He asks me if I have any money and I tell him I don’t have anything smaller than a 1000 bill. (Roughly $30 US) He takes the bill from me, adds in some from his wallet and I figure maybe the guy doesn’t have the right change so Grant is trying to help him out. Grant pays 4000 for the taxi and thinks he’s gotten a sweet deal because the guy originally wanted 6000. The driver smiles and is out of there like a shot and I’m thinking - hey, that was easy no big argument maybe Grant should handle all the taxis. Then I ask him: HOW MUCH did you just pay that man?
The look of shocked comprehension on his face as Grant realizes he’s actually paid TEN TIMES the going rate for a taxi is hilarious. I wish I’d had a camera!! It really probably didn’t help that I completely peed my pants laughing at him – but after enduring all his recent rants about how I let myself get walked on by taxi drivers and how he’s going to handle it from now on ... OMG funny!!
The guy at the taxi stand is seriously angry when we complain to him, but we didn’t get the drivers number. He calls the Sheraton and hands us the phone - Grant remembers the drivers first name, and we’re pretty sure they have cameras everywhere in the hotel. Within an hour they have emailed me saying they’ve gotten our money back for us, and we can pick it up on our way back through Bangkok. (Which we subsequently did with no hassle whatsoever) THIS is a most pleasant change from Vietnam where nobody would have been at all indignant on our behalf, much less done something to get our money back!! Grant was starting to see the funny side of this - especially now that we knew our money would be returned to us. I, of course, will never let him live it down!
The new international airport in Bangkok is really nice. Check in was smooth and the flight uneventful and fairly short, but were exhausted by the time we hit Phnom Penh. Jessica has by now realized that were in a THIRD country and is still pestering me for words. She also remembers the candies they had at customs in Singapore and now asks all customs officers for candy, much to Mommys dismay when we happen to get a particularly crusty customs officer!
They have a sign in the airport in Cambodia that I loved. ”We apologize for all delays that may be caused by the new computer system!” Classic! I need one of those! Visa processing is REALLY fast and we were totally impressed by the service. I had honestly expected a wait of up to several hours and was NOT looking forward to hanging around in the airport that long. But, we were whizzed right through - I think we got visas and cleared customs (two separate processes) FASTER than it generally takes us to re-enter Canada.
We checked into the California 2 guest house in Phnom Penh. The place is clean enough, but the street sounds are LOUD and there’s only one double bed for the three of us and it’s lumpy and springy – not to mention the flea bites we ended up with. BUT they have our reservation and we can check in really early. We’re only there overnight so we get our tons of laundry done first thing - it arrives back early the same afternoon all perfectly clean and dry and folded, for a stupidly cheap price. NICE! The ladies at the guest house are so fantastic that Jess wants to stay with them when it comes time to leave the following day: ”I want a new mommy and daddy you guys are getting old!” The food is really good and cheap too. We wish we were staying longer than one night even though the bed is truly awful. They have air-con and hot water and satellite TV for $18 a night, including brekkie!
The morning of our arrival we didn’t do much just napped and watched TV. I made everyone get up at 3pm so we could see something of the town. I went out and bought raid for the room because of mosquitoes. The smell when we got back was pretty awful, but nobody got bit! (Aside from the fleas, of course) We saw the local museum and then had a yummy dinner. Grant bought a guidebook on the street for $2 that became his bible for the next week. He’s become a lonely planet convert, and keeps exclaiming over how USEFUL guidebooks are! Looks like my ability to dazzle him with my vast quantities of knowledge is coming to an end.
The next morning, Grant went to the Tuol Sleng Museum on his own while I let Jessica sleep in and got us mostly packed up. I didn’t want Jessica to see all the photos of torture victims of the Khmer Rouge, so we decided to let Daddy go on his own. When he got back we ate our yummy free breakfast, checked out, locked up our bags and hit the Russian market. Grant promptly lost his mind upon seeing all the $1 cds and I bought two silk bedspreads for Jessica and some pretty pillow covers in raw silk. It was getting hot and sticky and we still had the silver pagoda to see before our flight so we got out of there. Too bad, because there were many deals to be had and it was the best market we’d seen so far. Had lunch at the hotel - really yummy and cheap again. The ladies played with Jess again, much to her delight! Then we had a quick dash around the Royal Palace to see the silver pagoda, etc. They had the most AMAZING Buddha covered in diamonds and the floor was tiled completely in silver.
We were really sad to leave Phnom Penh so soon and in hindsight we should have stayed another day or so. Originally the plan had been to be there for two nights, but the flights didn’t work out properly. Oh well – on to the main attraction in Siem Reap!