Bangkok

Bangkok was really just a touch-and-go for Ottie and I. We spent two nights there, but not before taking the opportunity to walk across borders from Cambodia to Thailand. It was so exciting!

The experience was educational, showing the stark difference in wealth between Cambodia and Thailand. The Cambodia border was really just an wooden stand on a dirt road, where we were herded into confusing lines under the hot sun for about half an hour before getting our passports stamped. A Cambodian official even told Ottie that he could expedite him for USD $5. A ten minute walk later, we found ourselves queueing up in an orderly fashion in an air-conditioned room with no obvious signs of corruption. It felt pretty surreal.

Graffiti handwritten scrawls in the Cambodia Departures office.People from all over the world scrawled words on the table at the Cambodian Departures stand. I wrote Singapore somewhere. It may have been in Japanese.

Once we cleared Thai customs, we sought transport that would take us to Bangkok. I guess it was a testament to the hardened tourists that Cambodia had shaped us to be when we managed to finagle a preview of our ride before paying. We even negotiated our price down to $9 from $10. Four hours later, we got dropped off at Khaosan Road. Ottie and I strayed onto a smaller road parallel to Khaosan Road and chanced upon Viengtai Hotel. Thanks to Ottie’s skills, the receptionist gave us a deluxe room for the price of a standard room. It was a pretty sweet stay:

Framed pictures in Vieng Tai Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.Illustrated plates in Viengtai Hotel on the way to the rooftop pool.

Breakfast of eggs and ham at Vieng Tai Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.Buffet breakfast every morning.

We spent our days strolling along the quiet streets lying just off of bustling Khaosan Road. It was the perfect laid-back atmosphere.

Tourist alley in Bangkok, Thailand.

Road in Bangkok, Thailand.

Tom Kha Gai and Coca Cola glass bottles in Bangkok, Thailand.As usual I always order my favourite Tom Kha if a place has it.

Ren and Ottie posing with a 'WTF!' graffiti in Bangkok, Thailand.WTF!

Ottie standing underneath a sign of Bung's Tears Coffee in Bangkok, Thailand.Bung’s Tears Coffee, a parody of Starbucks Coffee.

Yellow chairs by the dock at Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand.Chairs by the dock at Chao Phraya.

Ottie jumping by Chao Phraya in Bangkok, Thailand.I requested jumping shots of this dork at Chao Phraya – he didn’t disappoint. Haha!

Ottie in front of a Hello Kitty stall in Patpong Night Market in Bangkok, Thailand.We visited the Patpong Night Market and spied a Hello Kitty stall that Ottie insisted on taking a photo with.

We also visited a ping pong show at Patpong. It sounds way more exciting than it really is, though it did open our eyes to the tenacity of the human vagina, chief among them the ability to expel darts, bursting balloons from across the room.

I read about Terminal 21 while searching for things to do the morning of our second day. It’s an airport-themed shopping mall, each floor a different country or city. It sounded pretty exciting, so we took a cab down to Sukhumvit. That high-end district was such a different facade of Bangkok compared to where we were staying.

CCTV at the entrance of Terminal 21 in Bangkok, Thailand.The entrance to Terminal 21, with a fake metal detector and CCTV.

Ren and Ottie posing with a Maneki Neko fortune cat statue in Terminal 21 in Bangkok, Thailand.I’m super derpy here (obviously failing at #selfies), but Ottie brought his A-game with this aegyo pose in front of a giant Maneki Neko on the Tokyo floor.

Cat display and green terracotta warrior in Terminal 21 in Bangkok, Thailand.Cool displays I spied in some shop windows – a well-dressed cat, and this chill terracotta warrior.

Filming of toys and figurines at Terminal 21 at Bangkok, Thailand.We wanted to visit the toy store, but found that it was being used for a shoot on how to assemble a figurine or something like that.

Green Matcha Tea from CoCo in Terminal 21 in Bangkok, Thailand.I found CoCo in Thailand!!! They were sold out of my favourite Milk Tea with Pudding, so I tried their new Matcha Green Tea; it wasn’t as good. :(

Protests and camp outside Terminal 21 in Bangkok, Thailand.By the way, there was a peaceful protest right outside Terminal 21. This side street was filled with tents and street stalls selling demonstration and propaganda merchandise. Even though it lied adjacent to the actual protest area, the air here was already so charged!

Soi Cowboy was right across the street, so Ottie and I had no choice but to cut through the sit-down protest and into the famed red-light district. The juxtaposition was just incredible, and I actually felt a bit ashamed to be entering a place so sleazy while the good Thai people were trying to make a change behind us. At the same time, I didn’t actually want to put myself into a potentially dangerous situation considering that recent protests had turned a little bit fatal.

Ottie and I went past the city centre twice during our stay, each time witnessing the aftermath of protests. One morning we spied three badly charred cars – one of which was a police car. But I digress.

Soi Cowboy in Bangkok, Thailand.Soi Cowboy at night.

With a ladyboy at Soi Cowboy in Bangkok, Thailand.First stop was to a ladyboy bar! There is only one pretty girl in this picture, and it’s definitely not yours truly. I was actually surprised when she asked if I wanted to take a selfie, but I guess we were the only ones to actually try to hold a normal conversation instead of being pervy. Also check out her makeup, she does everything in ten minutes. Mad skills~

Speaking of mad skills, Ottie and I took a walk around our block after dinner one night, when we walked past this unassuming stall on the more deserted face of the block. I literally backtracked, dragging Ottie with me, and the both of us ended up squatting in front of the mat for twenty minutes asking this talented man about his craft as he quietly worked on another critter. I really wanted everything he was selling, but affordable as it all was, our light travel didn’t exactly accommodate a shopping frenzy. He also doesn’t have a website, which just killed me. T^T

The only details he provided on his stall was a name and a telephone number. If you’re ever in Bangkok, search for him! His work is exquisite.

Palm Leaf Art handcraft insect critters in Khaosan road in Bangkok, Thailand.PALMLEAF ART
TEL: 0869749346

Regarding our experience getting around Bangkok, Ottie and I primarily hailed metered taxis. They’re not that hard to find, if one is persistent enough. Most tuk-tuks and taxis would quote a fixed price upon knowing your destination, but that price is usually inflated by about 200%. One example was when a cab quoted us for 200 baht (which we rejected and immediately turned to the next cab in line)  and it turned out that our metered cab charged us for only 65 baht. Dude. We ended up giving our honest cab driver a generous tip as a reward. (TT w TT)

Symbols inside a taxi in Bangkok, Thailand.I had a bit of a problem interpreting the symbols on one of our cabs. The first five were easy – No Durians, No Dogs, Wine, No Smoking, and VIP. But the sixth confused me, because it looked like a man peeing into a bidet. I pointed it out to Ottie, who recognised it as a reclining chair… Let’s just say that I’m glad that there’s someone to be the voice of reason. ^^;

This concludes our trip! My videos from Bangkok are in this post. :)

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Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm was something that stood out when I flipped through my free copy of Siem Reap Angkor Visitor’s Guide from the airport; we had planned to spend the whole day at Angkor, and I was a little uneasy at having only two sites that I wanted to go to. Ta Prohm, a temple overrun by enormous trees, was the very portrayal of the transience of power, and immediately became third on my list of must-see during our trip. (First was the Angkor Wat & Bayon, duh!)

Ta Prohm, Cambodia.The degradation of these structures under the toil of time and unbending nature of well, Nature, is astounding.

Apsaras at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.

Bas-relief of an Apsara at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.Bas-reliefs among tree roots and ruins.

Mr. Meng playing the erhu at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.Mr. Meng playing his erhu. We sometimes lost sight of him while exploring the ruins and all we had to do was to follow the music. :D

Ottie and Ren at a structure engulfed by a tree at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.Ottie and I underneath one of the iconic structures which was engulfed by a tree. The place was actually cordoned off, but we climbed over to take this photo anyway (with Mr. Meng’s encouragement).
Photo taken by Ross via Ottie’s phone.

Restoration project at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.An ongoing restoration project to stabilise part of the structure.

Black dog at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.Black doggy! It’s so hard to photograph one.

Woman selling woven jewelry at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.Woman selling woven bangles.

Kid selling souvenirs at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.A bored child tending to a souvenir stall among the ruins.

Ottie standing on top of the ruins at Ta Prohm, Cambodia.Ottie standing on top of the ruins. We saw quite a number of people climb over rocks, possibly as a nod to the Tomb Raider movie that Ta Prohm featured in, but mostly because those jagged rocks and low arch ruins were just too tempting I think.

Ren at Ta Prohm on day 2, with Ant photobombing in the second picture.Ta Prohm was so beautiful that Ant, Dar, Chris, Ottie, and I went back again another day just to revisit the site. Note that my outfit remains virtually unchanged, but personal qualms on hygiene have to be compromised when one goes on an eight day trip with as many clothes as can be crammed into a laptop haversack, after half of that space is taken up by a dSLR.

Also note Ottie’s flair for only managing to take a photo of me in focus only when I’m being derpy (while Ant photobombs). WHY.
Photos taken by Ottie.

Outfit at Angkor and Ta Prohm. OOTD - K Petit dress, Hue argyle socks, Rubi shoes, Moda at George cardigan.And here’s me in my main temple outfit to cap off my temple adventure! :D

 

OUTFIT
K Petit dress
Moda at George cardigan
Hue argyle socks
Rubi shoes

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Angkor Thom: Bayon & Baphuon

Angkor Thom was the next destination after our visit to Angkor Wat, lying just north of it. Angkor Thom is what I feel to be the next most famous site in the Angkor Region, consisting of quite a few temples within its moat. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t quite remember every temple that we visited, but here are two that were the most interesting to me.

Bayon

Bayon, with its propensity towards the weird and mysterious, was easily my favourite when I studied Asian Art History. Granted, I didn’t actually care about the subject (evident by my inability to deviate from the Bs that plagued my essays), but Bayon still managed to stick in my mind after so many years. It was so satisfying to finally stand among these larger-than-life stone faces, gazing upon their benign smiles at every corner.

Holding my Angkor World Heritage three day entry pass in front of Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.My three-day Angkor Pass against the entrance of Bayon.

Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.

Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.Look at how puny the humans are!

Ren coming nose-to-nose with a face at Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.Mr. Meng told me to stand there and took a photo of me being nose-to-nose with one of the faces. Do I bear a resemblance to the late King Jayavarman VII? XD

Ottie coming nose-to-nose with one of the faces at Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.I took one for Ottie the hat guy. :P

Smiling face in Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.One of the few expressively happy faces.

Ren standing among ruins at Bayon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.Standing on the ruins of Bayon. It is rare that Ottie takes a photo of me in which I am in focus. This is not one of those times.
Photo taken by Ottie.

 

Baphuon

Frankly I had no idea what to expect at Baphuon, having had no recollection of studying it in Asian Art History. However, the structure was impressive in its own right, and a pretty exciting hike up and down the temple-mountain. Viewing the lush green surroundings among ruins after climbing the steep incline was pretty rewarding.

Path leading to the main building of Baphuon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.

Sign written in Mandarin into the top of the low opening to be mind your head.Someone had written ‘小心头’ (‘mind your head’ in Mandarin) above the low doorway to the open-air walkway on the second tier of the temple. Unfortunately, Ottie knew not a lick of Mandarin and suffered a bruising after he very loudly and painfully did not mind his head. It was funny and I’m not a good girlfriend.

Open walkway at Baphuon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.

Ottie among the ruins of Baphuon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.

Reclining Buddha on the side of Baphuon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.A reclining Buddha makes up the west side of the temple! So impressive- none of us even knew what to look for until Mr. Meng pointed us to the shape. It was apparently added in the 16th century to the 11th century temple.

Two monks walking along Baphuon in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.My favourite photo of the day: Two monks walking along Baphuon.

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