A Travellerspoint blog

the insane long flight home!


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At 3 AM in the morning it sounds ridiculous enough to get out of bed, but sadly enough that was what was happening to us. A few days ago we found out that we had a more than long day ahead of us.

When we booked this trip, we asked the organization to book us a separate flight to Bangkok, to have a few days of relaxation after our trip through Asia and when they gave us the hours of both flights , we just went ahead with it, not realizing that we were going to be traveling more than a day! We could have checked it, but since we both were so busy with work, we were just glad that this tour operator booked the flights, had we known of course that it was going to take so long, we had easily paid a little bit more and asked for a more direct flight, but could have, would have ... we were stuck with it and we just had to endure it.

Our flight home wasn't going to be a direct one, we were going to have a few layovers on the way and counting the hours between them eventually made us realize we were going to be on the "flight" for a very, very long time.

As soon as we were checked out, we said goodbye to the friendly receptionist and our taxi driver was already waiting for us. The drive towards the airport was a quiet one since we both had a hard time opening our eyes, but as soon as we arrived into the bright lights of the airport, things were a bit better.

We still were a bit early, but lucky enough we didn't had to wait too long, so as soon as we were checked in, we went in search to have a bite to eat. It was still too early to eat, but we wanted to have a bit of food into our system because eating on the plane wasn't really an option.

Luckily enough things went very smoothly and before we knew it, we were on our way to the airport of Phuket, where we arrived around noon, just in time to have lunch at the airport, but boy, the food wasn't eatable and with all the rude Russian tourists hanging out there, I was glad to be out of there after a few hours of waiting.

Although I hadn't much trouble with the first flight because I slept most of it, the second one, all the way to Frankfurt was a more than difficult one. Since I was quite awake, I first tried to go for one last snooze, but seeing the noise kept me awake, I just tried to watch a few movies and together with a selection of other onboard entertainment, I endured the flight, but once we arrived at Frankfurt, I must admit that I was completely knackered.

We tried to keep ourselves busy for a while at the airport, but as it became later and later, I was more than glad to be home in a short while. We had one last snack in the airport because after all, when in Germany, you can't leave the country without eating at least that delicious "Würst" and that's just what we did. With a pretzel on the go, I was more than ready for that last stretch we needed to do in order to get home.

As we were settled in the plane, we were both smiling because it was going to take but one hour to get their, but that's just what we thought! After waiting for more than half an hour, there was something going on, because we were still at the same place. We didn't really got an explanation, but it took more than an hour to get out of there and half an hour later, we were finally airborne ... counting the minutes would have been a good thing, but I just slept through the flight.

Once we touched Belgian ground again, I didn't even realized it, but I was glad to be home again. Since it was but a small plane, we got our luggage very quickly, but then again, when it is 1 AM in the morning, there isn't much going on either.

As soon as we got all of our stuff, we were out of there and while I was going to be picked up by my brother, Tania had her sweetheart waiting for her. He was a bit late, but who cares, when arriving with a bouquet of flowers, all is forgiven ... isn't it!

By the time I was home, it was a little later than 3 AM in the morning and I just went to bed, I was completely out of it and I wanted to remember myself never again to take such long flights, but 8 hours later when I had enough rest, I completely forgot it as well. I guess when traveling you have to consider both the advantages as the disadvantages and that's life for you ... or should I say traveling the world!

Posted by Ils1976 02:08 Archived in Thailand Tagged home airport friends family plane europe Comments (2)

who said visiting a shopping mall isn't tiring!?


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Another relaxing morning was in front of us. We woke up a bit earlier, had yet again a delicious breakfast and afterwards, we went to the top floor of our hotel to have another catnap near the swimming pool. At 10 AM in the morning, to me it was a bit too early to go for a swim. I have to admit I was a bit lazy, but just lying in the sun listening to some good music was more than enough for me.

A little after 11 AM we left our hotel and went to a beauty salon to have our nails done. It was our last day here in the City of Angels and we wanted to make the most of it, which basically means, we wanted to pamper ourselves.

Yesterday evening we looked up a few shopping malls and now with a metro card within reach, we were going to "shop till we dropped" and I guess that sometimes you can take this literally.

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We first got off at one of the smaller shopping malls within 15 minutes of our ride. I unfortunately forgot the name already, but the thing was, it had all those interesting small stalls just outside of the mall with little alleys which were more than interesting. Some of them had nice artwork on the walls (read graffiti), others had small eateries which were selling peculiar yet interesting food. Since the sun was shining so brightly, we just went for some vitamins and had ourselves a fruit juice. This was really what holiday was all about.

As soon as we soaked up enough sun, we were ready to tackle even more shops. We walked for a while but in the end we choose to go to the MBK mall, which is said to be one of the largest ones with 8 floors of all the things one needs for a day of shopping or window-shopping if you don't have enough space in your luggage like we did.

We walked for a few hours discovering the different floors, went for a quick lunch as well, but for the first time, I must admit that the food wasn't all that. I guess even here in the malls quick doesn't necessarily means good, but then again, the shops were our main goal today, so as happy as we could be, we went on discovering a bit more.

From MBK we went by metro to Terminal 21 and since this mall was closely situated near our hotel, we just stayed till it was time to have dinner. Now used to eating inside a mall, we had dinner and this time around it was good, maybe we just chose the wrong fast food thingy!

Once outside, the heat was there again and although we wanted to go back to the hotel in a more decent our unlike yesterday coz we had an early rise and shine tomorrow, we went for one last indulgence and went to another massage parlor in our street. While I had an hot oil head massage and a back one, Tania went for foot and leg massage. This felt really good after a whole day walking around and practically newborn, we went to our hotel and started packing our stuff.

After one last nightcap, we went to bed around 10 PM coz tomorrow morning our alarm clock was going to get off at an insane early hour and I wasn't really looking forward to it.

Posted by Ils1976 01:31 Archived in Thailand Tagged shopping asia wellness Comments (2)

a day walking through the City of Angels


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No wake up call today, we didn't set an alarm clock and as we woke up around 9 AM, we snoozed a little bit longer only to arrive at the breakfast table a little after 10 AM. For us this was quite late and instead of a breakfast, we just called it an early brunch.

The food was delicious and since today we wanted to take things slow, we did just that. We had all the time of the world and as soon as we were ready with our guidebook in our hands, we were ready to go and walk through the city of angels, Krung Thep or like most people know, Bangkok.

As we left our hotel, we wanted to go to the river or Chao Praya as it is called, but since we had a frisk walk ahead of us, we just took a tuk tuk and about half an hour later, we were at the scene. We told our driver we wanted to go to the khlongs, but he just dropped us off at a tourist place near the water where ridiculous high prices were asked. It was just insane! Had we never been in Bangkok, we would probably paid it, but we already saw the small canals. At this moment in time, we just wanted to have fun.

I guess, as quickly as we came, we were out of there again and as we walked alongside the river, we soon enough found a ferry stop and took one to the other side of the river getting a river cruise in the process for no money at all. Now that's the thing we wanted.

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We got off at Wat Arun and walked near the water to the railway museum, hoping on our way to find someone to bring us to the Khlongs, I guess we were walking for a bit more than an hour when we finally found someone. It was a bit of a bargain getting the right price we both could live with, but eventually on the water we went.

As our captain wanted to take us to the Khlongs, the small sluices were closed. It seemed they open at certain times and we missed our change, that and a boat race coming up, was a bit difficult to go inside. Instead we had a relaxing boat trip on the Chao Phraya river and who cares, the sun was shining and after all we had nothing planned and just went where our feet were taking us.

I guess we were "boating" for more than 1 hour when we were dropped of at Wat Arun again. Sadly enough we couldn't go up the temple because there was some kind of important Buddhist meeting going on and instead of gazing at the porcelain temple, we did nothing else but seeing one monk after another.

Since there was no chance of us getting inside, we just took a ferry across the river again and had some lunch at a small place where the Pad Thai was more than yummy and we were more than ready for seeing another part of the city.

Walking through the many streets, we first went to the flower market, passed The Grand Palace, went for a walk through Seranrom Park, followed a few canals and ended up at the Giant Swing when the sun was already gone. We walked for a while till our feet ached a bit and decided to take the metro, which was a bit easier.

Getting off near our hotel, it was a bit harder to find it again, seeing one tall building after another, it seemed ours disappeared all of a sudden. What was going on here? As we were in search of our hotel, after a while we found a few familiar places and although we had to ask at least one porter, we finally found it again.

It was already a bit late and instead of searching for a restaurant, we just had a little snack in the bar of the hotel. We had a hot pumpkin soup with bread and that was more than enough after a very late breakfast and lunch. Tired but satisfied, we went back to our room to relax, had a nightcap and afterwards a rewarding sleep ... my feet weren't complaining at all.

Posted by Ils1976 00:10 Archived in Thailand Tagged people boats river walk sights asia viewpoint Comments (2)

a lazy Sunday on Cambodian soil


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Our alarm clock went off at 7 AM, the time we are used to most the time, but now it was our last time it went of here in Cambodia coz this evening we were going to fly to Bangkok for another two days in this vibrant city.

After a quick breakfast we met up with our Dutch couple, Kees and Marijke and today we planned a day excursion visiting the surrounding area of Siem Reap. Through facebook we had booked a driver with a minivan and it was real nice to see him outside of our hotel with a big smile on his face, always a good start of the day.

Our first stop was going to be the Banteay Srei Temple, a 10th century Cambodian Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and although a few groups were in front of us, we still had a good look at all the different carvings in the stones. At some times it even looked like embroidery with all the intricate details on the walls, it was really beautiful.

The temple is situated in the middle of farmers land and once outside, it was nice to see the countryside with its water buffalos and all kinds of birds.

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As soon as we found the parking lot again, we were glad to skip the tourist stalls and we were back on the road again, only to stop at a small sugarcane market near the road. Our driver / guide explained us a bit about the sugarcane and the products and because it is sweet, we couldn't resist buying a "souvenir" for ourselves.

Back in the van again, we drove for more than an hour to arrive at a floating village. it looked like a tourist trap to me, but seeing all the boats on the river it seemed that today, being a Sunday, it was a lazy or relaxing day coz besides a young girl there was not much to see.

We had to pay a ridiculous amount of money and to me it sounded like a rip off, but later on, reading the guide books, we read it was the just price and immediately I felt sorry for hassling about the price and gettin a discount in the end. I am not good in bargaining, but this time it seemed I did it after all.

I guess we were on the water for half an hour when we finally saw the houses appear with the long stilts and all. These fishermen houses really looked like a mix of all different building materials, but the structure seemed flawless. It was quite interesting to watch but the water made me worry a bit. The water level had dropped remarquable and I wondered if this had anything to do with global warming? When I asked our driver, he really didn't have the answer, the level had dropped a bit, but I guess we were in the wrong season to see it near to the houses.

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Arriving at the village of Kampong Phluk, we had a chance to go out of the motorboat and have a look around, but because it was sunday, it really was a lazy day. It seemed that the local temple was empty, the school was closed and all the fishermen returned home after a early morning fishing, so the only thing we saw was a whole lot of people taking a rest in their hammock, women fixing up the nets and children playing on the streets. It was not much, but it was more than enough to get a feel of the village ... after all, looking at it, it just your basic lazy Sunday like we sometimes have at home, nothing more, nothing less.

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Back on the boat again, we went further up the river and reached the flooded forest as they call it. several smaller boats were waiting for tourists to take them deep into the area but with all the mosquitos hanging around, I wasn't a big fan of it and luckily the other 3 had the same idea. Instead we went further till we reached lake Tonlé Sap. This lake has fame as an UNESCO Biosphere reserve and contains unique plant species, fish, and animals, many of which find themselves endangered.

We only stayed for a little while, visiting a crocodile farm on the lake, but it didn't fell right to me seeing all the crocs in small cages, ready to be eaten, not even mentioning all the snakes and such found on the farm. I was glad to be out of there and it must have been a little more than half an hour when we arrived back at the parking area.

It was already after 12 AM so we asked our driver to find us a place to eat, which he did. The "roadhouse" of his choice was a good one and one last time we could enjoy the delicious Cambodian food.

Back on the road again we visited another few temples, to be more precise the Bakong Temple, which was a temple mountain build out of sandstone and the Preah Ko Temple, which is the oldest temple of the Roluos group of temples. The name itself means "the sacred bull" and in front of the most sacred temple you find just that, the sculpture of a lying bull.

Passing the Angkor Archeological Park again, we had a quick stop at the Pre Rup Temple and while Kees had a quick run to the top of the complex, the both of us just had another quick look.

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Once we arrived back at the hotel it was already 5 PM in the afternoon and although it was already quick after a lunch, we went for a quick bite since in a few hours we had to be at the airport. We had a pumpkin soup with bread and as soon as we were ready, we went back to the room, gathered all of our stuff and said goodbye to almost our entire group and our guide Nuna.

After a few weeks traveling together I must say that I really missed some of them. We are used to traveling with Dutch people because Belgians most of time complain about everything and our grumpy, but this bunch was a delight and I was proud to travelled with the lot.

Driving to the airport it seemed odd that almost 3 weeks had passed already and although check-in went very smoothly, once we were in the air, I felt really tired. I hoped to have a bit of sleep on board, but it was but an hour flying to Bangkok and we touched Thai ground in no time.

Since we were on ourselves, we had a private taxi waiting for us, who brought us to our hotel and upon our arrival it was already after 11 PM. Luckily it didn't take that long to get a room and once checked in, I just went to bed, I was knackered.

Posted by Ils1976 07:05 Archived in Cambodia Tagged boats temples water monument history jungle asia Comments (2)

more of the same and we don't get tired of it


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Exactly at 4 AM our alarm clock went off and although it hurt a little bit, we both knew that the reward was going to be worth it. As good as it gets, we got dressed and as soon as we left the hotel we met up with our driver for the day.

Today we had another one, and since Kees and Marijke had planned a bike trip today, we were on our own to visit another series of temples. We quickly went through the day program with our driver and as soon as we were ready, we were on the road again towards Angkor Wat.

It was really cold in the morning and although it was early, it seemed that the city never sleeps, but we made some good time and upon our arrival at this mysterious temple, when walking to the moat in the dark it had something "adventurous". We ignored the fact to bring a flashlight, it was more fun to do it only on eye and moon sight!

As we arrived at the moat, what is said to be the best place to see the sunrise, we were almost all by ourselves and this was kind of crazy. Seeing that this was one of the attractions of this place, we were wondering where the rest of the "public" were hiding, but as the time went by, more and more people showed up. By the time the big event was there, there was quite a crowd, but I guess still doable. Most of the people kept to themselves and the pushing and pulling was kept to a few. I guess we all came for the same and as the sun was slowly rising, we got just that.

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For the second time during this trip I got completely numb and the both of us decided to have a bite to eat at the temple itself. There was a possibility to have breakfast in the neighborhood of the moat and although it was overpriced, we just went for it, after all, who can say that they had pancakes early in the morning with these surroundings ... we only live once and we just went for it!

With a full stomach, we walked back to our driver and went for another day of temple "hunting".

It didn't took long for our first one, the Baksei Chamkrong Temple which is a small Hindu temple of the 10th century. The temple itself was lying all the way in the back and we only walked till the entrance of the temple. The monkeys enjoying the morning sun caught our eye and it was fun seeing them basking in the sun.

Back in our tuk tuk again, we drove a little further and passed by the South Gate on our way to Bayon again. Yesterday we were running away from all the tourists at the temple, but today we had the place almost to ourselves. Once again we could look at the beautiful carvings and different rooms and I must admit that this is definitely one of my favorite temples.

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Next up was the Preah Khan Temple, a 12th century temple and named as "The Sacred Sword" was built by Jayavarman VII and was dedicated to his father. Ta Phrom was a temple dedicated to his mother, but with all the tourists, we were glad to be out of there. Here at this temple, equally beautiful of what I am sure, there was no-one to be found. Here also nature took over the stones and lots of it needs to be restored, but this all said, the temple ruin certainly got its own charm, especially because we were blessed by an old man sitting in the centre of the temple.

A little bit further down the road, we had a stop at the Neak Poan Temple and once again I must admit that it took my breath away. To go to this small buddhist temple you have to walk alongside a long walkway with dead trees and water plants on each side of the path. It was mezmering and I liked it so much. The path leads you all the way to a small temple surround with what looks like 2 large pools. These baths were said to cure diseases. If this true or false I don't know, but it was already quite hot when we walked the temple, so having a pool or two to relax was a more than brilliant idea!

Once we had a bit of shelter of the roof of our tuk tuk, we went further down the road and ended up at the Ta Som Temple, another small temple overgrown by lots of trees.

Walking through this "sheltered" area was a nice surprise and I really liked this unrestorated temple complex with sometimes more than incredible carvings. The graffiti artists from those days really knew their craft.

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We had a bit of sit down and also a few jumping picture moments at one of the entrances, but from all that activity we got a bit hungry as well. Our driver knew a nice restaurant by the water and driving there took a bit and upon our arrival we had the place all to ourselves, but the food was excellent and with a view on the lake it was "vacation" in the truest form.

Seeing it was already a little bit after 1 PM, we went in search of our driver who had a catnap in one of the hammocks of the joint and as he was also good to go we went for another few temple visits.

First one up was the East Mebon Temple from the 10th century and this one consists out of different terraces with nice elephant sculptures at the end of every "floor" so to speak. Once we visited all the levels and the smaller temples, we drove off to another one a bit further down the road, called the Pre Rup Temple.

This one had several levels as well with loads of small temples or rooms if you may call it that. The rough translating of the this temple is "turn the body" and is believed by many to be one of the first temples where they did funerals and cremations. It is said that the smaller temples were cremation towers and although this sounds bit creepy, it was interesting at the same time.

Since it was quite hot in the afternoon, I didn't had the stamina anymore to go all the way up to the highest level with a temple on it. I left that entirely to my travel buddy and while I relaxed and enjoyed to watch a young girl selling her tourist stuff, it was crystal clear that going to school and get an education is more interesting instead of earning a few dollars a day. The young girl started to chat with me and said she was doing it between her school tasks, but it was hard to believe.

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Here in Cambodia, they don't like children selling all kinds of things, they rather see them in school, but still, with so many tourists coming it seems like easy money, but is it really!? That do me is still a large question!?

Leaving Pre Rup behind us, we went further and had a very quick stop at the Prasat Kravan Temple build out of reddish brick and in my eyes, completely restored in a modern look. It was fun to watch, but for some reason I like the ruins more.

Back on the road again, we had one more stop at Angkor Wat and I guess we had seen this place at all different time schedules now of which this one, early in the afternoon was certainly the hottest and you noticed it also because there were little to non tourists. This of course is fun as well, but still if you can't bear the heat, you certainly don't want to visit the moat area like we did.

Seeing this was one of our last days here in the country, we wanted to have one last look at the infamous building and that was just what we did. With a little bit of regret, we went back to our driver and told him to go back to the hotel. We had seen all the temples along the route of their Archeologic Park like the want to call it and seeing that today was a really hot day, we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon by the swimming pool.

For the first time during this trip, we had taking things slowly and it was a welcoming change. Relaxing after seeing so many things was the best thing we could do and when the sun finally set, the both of us went on our way towards Pub Street. We really wanted to see what that was all about.

We first had a bite to eat in a restaurant owned by a Belgian. The place is called The Red Piano and it was heaven. It is a busy joint, but we were welcomed by the friendly owner and while my friend tried out a Belgian dish to have a taste of home, I went on the Mexian tour again. I know, once I saw the red and green curries passing I regretted my choice, but when my evening meal arrived, I didn't hesitate twice. It was delicious and I already regretted the fact that this was our last night here in Cambodia, otherwise I had come back for sure.

During the meal my friend and I had of course a lot of laughs with our Tomb Raider cocktail which was very yummy and with a few laughs and tears as well it became a more than good night. I am so thankful that she opened my eyes and this is to you my friend : I am going for the advice and I am living my life like I want not by doing what someone else wants.

I guess I was a little bit tipsy coz more than once I forgot to walk a bit straight, but we managed to reach the evening market, had a delicious dessert with a pancake and also did a bit of shopping as well. All in All it was a really successful day!

As we slowly walked back to the hotel, we had to pack our stuff for the flight tomorrow evening and we went to bed. Tomorrow we had planned a last day of sightseeing and then another country awaited us.

Posted by Ils1976 05:49 Archived in Cambodia Tagged landscapes animals temples water monument lake walk tour asia Comments (2)

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