Friday, January 14, 2011

Thailand's World of Chili

Sometime October 2010. Bangkok, Thailand.  Happy to have time to go around Bangkok. My friend and I went around Bangkok's flower market and chanced upon a world of chili.  Take your pick, guys!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Discovering Siem Reap's Blue Pumpkin

Sometime November 2010 (Siem Reap, Cambodia). I was excited to go out and discover the beauty of the temples but not before a proper breakfast. B had just arrived from Kuala Lumpur and we were both ready for the busy day ahead of us. After making arrangements for our transportation, off we went to Blue Pumpkin located near the Old Market. It's like their local version of Starbucks because you can find it in many places around the city.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chamkar's Tofu and the Energetic Vibe at Pub Street

November 27, 2010. Siem Reap. In all honesty it was difficult deciding where to have dinner on my very first night in Siem Reap. There were so many online recommendations from TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, Frommer's, New York Times, etc. After much thought combined with half an hour of scanning various reviews plus taking into account my budget (most importantly!), I decided to try Chamkar, a vegetarian restaurant. One of the reviews said that they regretted not discovering this place earlier on during their trip because they would have gone back. Plus, food here was cheaper than the other restaurants in the area. Sounds promising- good yet affordable food.  Yeah, so this was it for me.

I didn't have an easy time finding the place. The tuk-tuk driver didn't know where it was.  All I knew was that it was in the vicinity of Pub street.  Asking the locals standing around the corner of Pub street did not help at all. At that point, I was actually thinking maybe going out tonight was a bad idea since I could have ordered for room service while comfortably tucked away in bed. But well, I was already out and maybe it was time to implement "plan b".  Oh but I didn't have any plan b. Hahaha.  That's the type of traveler I am. Sigh.

Note that tuk-tuks are not allowed to ply Pub street at night.  Pedestrians take over the road as dusk sets in. There's no sidewalk to speak of so having the road blocked off from vehicles at night was definitely a good idea. If you've been to Thailand's Khaosan Road you'll notice some similarity as Pub street exudes such an energetic vibe.  After a few minutes of walking, I decided to take the small alley perpendicular to Pub street. A few steps further and I unexpectedly found Chakram. It's across Amok restaurant. Yay, this was definitely a good sign.

Poetry at Siem Reap

November 27, 2010. Siem Reap, Cambodia.  After a very satisfying dinner at Chamkar, I walked by this alley and discovered that Pub street does not only have a variety of restaurants to satisfy whatever gastronomic cravings one has but it also is home to a few but really cool shops. A nice way to walk off a heavy dinner.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Relaxing Place - Angkor Miracle Resort & Spa

Sometime November 2010. Siem Reap, Cambodia.  My friends (B & V) and I stayed at the Angkor Miracle Resort and Spa in Siem Reap courtesy of a colleague of mine from Phnom Penh.  Well, we got a BIG discount.  A very BIG discount. Were it not for my friend's help (his wife is a good friend of the owner), we couldn't simply afford staying here.  We were only expecting to stay at B&Bs as there are many decent and nice ones.  But we were not going to pass off this opportunity.  Although it's 15 minutes away from Pub Street, we really didn't mind because the $3 USD tuktuk ride to town was really minimal compared to the discount we got for our rooms.  I truly got shocked when I got the bill.  Anyway, for those of you who are looking for a place to stay in Siem Reap, do consider this hotel. Here are some pictures to enjoy.

Front desk.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Heading Off to Siem Reap

(Sometime November 2010.)   After working for two weeks in Phnom Penh, I was so ready to take a much needed break in Siem Reap.  My officemate V was flying in from Vietnam while  B who was celebrating her birthday flew in from Manila.  Although I had visited Phnom Penh so many times before, this would be my first visit to Siem Reap.  My friends at the office would actually wonder in amazement why I never visited Siem Reap earlier.  I guess I'm really odd.  It seems that I always want to rush home after a working trip.  But here I am (finally!) at the Phnom Penh Airport waiting for my flight to Siem Reap.

Although there's an itinerary already, I haven't done much research on where to eat. While waiting to board the plane I decide to hang out at a coffee shop and search the web for suggestions.  So happy that their airport has free wifi, our beloved NAIA doesn't.
I was hoping that that would be our plane but alas...

Our plane was the propeller driven aircraft that you see below.  That's Cambodian Angkor Air (CAA).  I think it cost me almost $100 for a one way ticket if I am not mistaken. 

The flight was delayed for an hour and people were just anxious to get on board.

I think Vietnam Airlines (VA) used to ply that same route but not anymore.  I get the impression that CAA could use some competition.  They were late and the price they charge customers is way too expensive.  The Philippines was in a similar predicament some years ago when domestic flights were "monopolized" by Philippine Airlines.  Travel was expensive and flights were delayed.  Thank God, things have changed and there are more choices. 

While on board the plane, an Australian guy starts a conversation and I was too tired to be attentive.  At that point I was sleep depraved and just wanted to have a nap.  So after a few minutes of being polite, I lean my head on the window and close my eyes.

After 45 minutes or so, we finally land at Siem Reap's International Airport.  I breathe a sigh of relief since I didn't feel too comfortable riding on the aircraft. 

Ah, the adventure begins as I walk towards the holding area to pick up my bags.