We can blame jet lag or the late night enjoying the sights of Bangkok but either way it was a late start again this morning and we were feeling a little delicate so thought we would head out towards Chatuchak markets. On the way we stopped off to buy our travel guide (late planning) and an adapter.
I only mention this as it displays the dichotomy present here in Bangkok. For the whole area around where we are staying seems to be have been developed into super modern shopping malls which are full of shops almost identical to others around the world. It has to be said that it does seem to be catered more for an Asian market but the prices seem about the same as you would find elsewhere. It was in one of these air conditioned malls that we were easily able to find an English guidebook to South east Asia.
While others might enjoy the air conditioned modernism we were more excited by the more authentic markets of Chatuchak. The humidity was close to a hundred and the temperature was souring by the time we got there but the first stall we passed was serving delicious Thai spring rolls so our discomfort was abated.
We were a little fearful that the market was going to be full of the usual tat but the variety of stuff for sale was actually quite impressive. Combine this with the fact that there are apparently over 4000 stalls and it probably ranked as one of the best markets we have seen. We didn’t go crazy with our shopping but there were a few things we needed/couldn’t resist. I have to admit though that India has spoilt us for prices and everything seemed a little more expensive and more often than not we found the vendors wouldn’t budge on price!!
The best buy was probably lunch which was a delicious Pad Thai and steamed veggies in a road side stall.
I dragged Sarah to a bar to watch the football in the evening and the place was packed with not only foreigners but plenty of football crazy Thais too!
We struggled with sleep again during the night and were rudely awoken at 6:30am by our alarm as we had a bus to catch to Siem Reap. Never sure what to expect before we catch our first bus in a country we were a little nervous when we saw our bus. This soon changed to excitement though as the bus was clean, had air conditioning and plenty of space! We felt it was positively luxurious and settled down for our 10 hour trip.
The border crossing was painless if a little hot but the helpfulness of all the police and immigration officers made it all very easy.
One of our conversations whilst traveling has centered around how many countries there are which share land borders with another country which drives on the opposite side of the road and the Thailand-Cambodia border is one!! We were expecting to see plenty of mayhem as busses and cars struggled with the change but alas no, it was all quite uneventful.
The first thing we noticed on crossing the border into Cambodia was how much poorer the country was. The main road was in pretty good condition but whereas in Thailand we had been driving on a marked dual carriage way in Cambodia it was just a wide road with no road markings, at least it was tarmac!
For the first time we can remember our bus arrived at our destination 2 hours ahead of schedule!! So we took advantage of our extra time by sorting out our visit to Angkor Wat the next day and then set off into Siem Reap town center.
The town was definitely set up for tourists and the streets were lined with bars and restaurants all seeming to offer draught beer for 50c!!! There were neon and coloured lights everywhere and music playing out of all the bars. It felt like we had arrived at a holiday destination but the best thing was it was all so cheap!!
We soaked up the atmosphere whilst sipping on our 50c beers. The pace of the town was very slow, probably due to the fact that the humidity was so high and even after the sun went down it was still stifling hot! It was a bit of a shock for us to see so many other tourists but we settled back into it and watched all the goings on both very excited about our upcoming trip to Angkor Wat tomorrow. T
Ice cream and markets…what more could you want?
Cambodia’s version of the tuk tuk. A motorbike with a chariot!
I probably should have had a go at this, it still intrigues me.