299 Kms from Battambang
Day 8 - Early morning flight back to India!What struck me about Thailand was the pride with which locals served tourists.Smile is contagious!
89 Kms from Battambang
The walled complex of Angkor Thom was built by the Jayavarman VII who is touted as the Buddhist architect of the empire and the one to bring in all the Buddhist influences on the architecture, culture and religion. The most famed of the temples in the Angor Thom is the Bayon temple which stands at the centre of Jayavarman’s capital.
76 Kms from Battambang
We booked our tickets on the Mekong Express bus for 13$. I highly recommend this bus service about which there are glowing reviews everywhere online too. They provide a minivan pick-up from the hotel to the bus station and the buses themselves are super comfortable with plush seating, toilets, air-conditioning and most importantly, curtains to keep out the harsh sun. The Cambodian countryside is soothing to the eyes and after a while most people on the bus dozed off for a bit. We arrived at Siem Reap at 1:30 p.m. having left Phnom Penh at 8:30 a.m. and there were tuk-tuk drivers jostling for customers at the bus-station to take us to our hotel. Another Air BnB find, our hotel was very strategically located...just walking distance away from the hustle and bustle of Pub street but tucked away into a quiet lane right beside one of the exits to the Arts Market. At 4500 INR for three nights, we thought it was a steal.Our hotel reception, as I am guessing will be the case with all hotels, was a treasure trove of useful information about day tours to Angkor sites and other interesting sights around Siem Reap. It was from here that we booked tickets to the Angkor National Museum for 12$ each it saved us the expense of hiring a private tour guide to be with us on the two days that we planned to devote to Angkor temple sites. It was a smart move as it not only saved us nearly 60$. The hotel also helped us with hiring a tuk-tuk, who at 12$ a day was going to take us on a half day tour of all the major and minor sites.
253 Kms from Battambang
Cambodia has a difficult and painful history of genocide in the not-so-distant past. Between 1975-1979 almost 3 million out of 8 million Cambodians died of starvation or were killed by the Khmer Rouge. Note of caution: I was prepared for what was to come since I had read up about the genocide but it was still very depressing and emotionally taxing. At the gates of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or S-21 prison we paid 6 $ each and got audio head sets, players and a map each. To see this building from the outside nobody would dream of the nightmarish atrocities that happened inside it. The audio tour is a good investment as it takes visitors through numbered points in the school-turned-prison building. Our minds numb with the horrors of history we had just witnessed, we set off for the next destination: The Killing Fields. This is the mass grave-site where prisoners from S-21 were taken and killed. The main structure here is a memorial built in traditional Khmer style housing hundreds of human skulls and bones that were found there. There is an audio tour here too which explains what happened here and there is a short video that is played for 10 minutes every half hour for visitors.
252 Kms from Battambang
Day 2 - Was travel day to Pattaya.Thanks to a very minor accident,we had to postpone the travel to early evening and not morning as planned.We took a bus from Ekkamai bus station to Pattaya.Buses leave on time here and hence it is best to arrive early enough.It gets very humid in Bangkok and hence best to ensure that you consume enough fluids through the day.We arrived at our hotel in Pattaya,relaxed for while before we headed to the streets nearby.Pattaya can be very much on your face initially.Definitely not my favorite place!Travel tip - shared tuk tuks are really cheap.Do ensure that you confirm the price per person before boarding these shared tuk tuks.Day 3 - By now,we were getting used to the weather,food and streets in Thailand.The strong cooking oil odor is everywhere and takes time getting used to.Day 3 started by a walk down the Pattaya beach road.The beach is strictly okay here.Travel Tip - Buy water from 7/11.It would cost anywhere between 9-18 THB.Restaurants charge a lot for bottle of water.After a long walk down the beach road and lunch at an Indian restaurant,we were back at our hotel ready to move back to Bangkok.The bus ride from Pattaya to Bangkok feels very similar to the bus ride from Mumbai to Pune.Since,we had an early morning flight to Phuket next morning,we booked a hotel (G9 Bangkok) closer to the Don Mueng airport.Travel Tip - If you are short of food and it is very late in the day - just walk upto a 711 store and buy packed food for 35-60THB.They would warm it at their store for you to carry back to your hotel.We had to do this because all restaurants in the area had closed by the time we got ready for dinner.If one has time,chatuchak market is a must visit.Day 4 - Travel to Phuket!A very different place compared to cities in North Thailand.The approach to Phuket runway is lovely! There are several small hills dotting the sea below!It looks gorgeous from the top.