Part 3a: Similan Islands and Koh Bon, Day 1
Part 3b: Similan Islands and Koh Bon, Day 2
Lotsa photos on this but here’s the gist of how my tours went… (Banteay Samre: getting down is actually worse because the stairs were so steep, you had to do it sideways and/or, essentially, climb down).
There was some sort of fee for visitors who are non-Cambodian that was only payable by cash. I hate carrying cash (yeah, I know it’s useful but it’s so gross). I don’t speak Khmer nor did I do any sort of research about Riel (Cambodian currency) before I got there (because things were booked on the fly) so I had to g̶u̶e̶s̶s̶ withdraw by pressing buttons that looked right (numbers are written the same way).
I didn’t encounter any issues, which was nice.
The airport offered different options for rides.
I figure I can ride a van or a cab at home and the motorbike didn’t have any room for my stuff so I opted for a Tuk-tuk.
It was super cool.
When I got off, the driver offered to be my ride for the temples.
My very own Tuk-tuk? Yes, please.
“4 o’clock, OK?” he said. “4 in the morning?” I confirmed.
“Yes. We go there early so you can watch sunrise.”
“4 o’clock!” he insisted.
“Yeah, yeah don’t worry I’ll be up.”
I was starving by the time I got to my room. There was a restaurant at the place I stayed in but I wanted to check things out.
I ended up ordering some food from a street vendor right by the market (about a 5-minute walk from where I stayed)
I walked in the market a bit. Here are some photos in the afternoon and evening.
I got up around 3:30am the next day. I had some coffee and mixed nuts for breakfast (nothing was open yet).
The Tuk-tuk arrived at 4am as promised. It was still dark, early, and quiet. All I could hear on the road was the sound of the Tuk-tuk’s engine and I felt the breeze on my skin. Pardon the cliché but I love mornings: it’s a brand new day.
There were a lot of tourists at the temples, which shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise. What I did was a pretty tourist-y but I was still super stoked nonetheless. I couldn’t believe I was there, watching the sunrise over a 160-hectare, 12th century-old, largest religious monument in the world.
I love BBC-legit places that look Photoshopped.
I eventually got a guide book about the temples because I kept wishing that I knew some of the stories and history that went on. Once I left Cambodia though, I wasn’t too keen on reading it anymore. Theoretical studies are so much more interesting when paired with experiential and immersive learning. I find that when it’s just purely academics, it gets boring really fast. It just becomes about the marks (not a bad thing if you’re in school – it’s a good factor, among many, to base decisions from and give ourselves some economic mobility much like how the world needs metrics. We’re living in a world of industrialism after all. Even indigenous people have some form of barter and system).
On that note, I’m not going to bore you with theoretical details but I hope you enjoy these photos in as much as I loved p̶l̶a̶y̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶h̶i̶d̶e̶ ̶n̶ ̶s̶e̶e̶k̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶G̶o̶d̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶G̶o̶d̶d̶e̶s̶s̶e̶s̶ taking them.
It was challenging, at first, trying to find my way around these places as they were like mazes. I kept referring to the maps but then right around Ta Keo (the 3rd one I visited), I started getting used to it. I was using Western cardinal directions (North/East/South/West). I had a conversation with a local Cambodian which was rather difficult but doable with a translator (their official second language is French). Apparently, in Khmer, they have Northeast/south and Southeast/west as separate main directions on its own vs the Western one.
Everything was taken with my smartphone (Huawei P20 Pro).
(Gelene’s personal favourite. She doesn’t know why though)
We popped by this place below. I forget what it’s called but I loved it.
This pretty much sums up the make of my dream home: just add some more barriers for privacy plus security things or something + an orthopedic mattress + running water + flush toilets. The hammocks stay.
I checked out Angkor Dynasty Theatrical Show (no photos, unfortunately – wasn’t allowed but highly recommended. It was amazing) on my first night. I finished all the tours that I wrote/photographed about within 2 full days.
There was other stuff to do, some of which I checked out real quick, but it didn’t really spark my interest.
By the end of the second day, I was bored.
Flashback to when I got back from the liveaboard:
Business for the dive shop I got the liveaboard package with was suffering due to the pandemic. I talked to the owner about lead generations and such and brought up the company I work for (marketing-based software startup). The owner said he’d give it some thought but I contacted our team right away to give them a heads up, just in case.
That’s when I found out that one of my peers used to be a divemaster, based in one of the smaller islands around Phuket.
Phi Phi was in my list of potentials as I didn’t want to stay in Phuket because I’ve been there but someone told me that it was closed (later found out that this was inaccurate info – it was just the area where “The Beach” was shot that was closed).
My friend’s recommendation was perfect.
I had two more days before the flight back to Phuket but all I wanted to do was get back in the water so I cut Siem Reap short and booked one back for the next day. It was a last-minute decision and there weren’t any options for flight times. The schedule sucked (transport connections to my destination – 1 connecting flight, van ride, ferry – were not synced at all) but I went for it anyway.
I packed my stuff and looked up the trans connections to the island before going to bed.
Part 5: Koh Lanta, up next