Saturday, February 28, 2015

Asia Trip - Day 20 - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Sat 28
Vientiane • Fly to Phnom Penh, Cambodia • Royal Palace
After breakfast at the hotel, we head to the airport for our flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. After lunch on our own, we'll visit the Royal Palace, where former King Norodom Sihanouk still lives today. The palace was opened in 1870 and now contains the Royal Residence, the Throne Hall, and the Silver Pagoda (Wat Preah Keo Morokat), which draws its name from the more than 5,000 silver tiles that cover its floor.
After checking in to our hotel, we'll enjoy an orientation tour of our surroundings by remok (the Cambodian version of a tuk-tuk, a three-wheeled motor rickshaw). Later this evening, we'll have dinner together at a local restaurant.

1 of 2 nights TOWN VIEW HOTEL
Tel: 011-855-23-982-057
Fax: 011-855-23-982-058

At breakfast Chear wrote my name in Lao on my card next to the Lao flag.

The bus took us to the airport where we did the check-in, security and passport control. At the gate we had some time to waste so we strolled through duty free. Look what they had there but everything was so expensive.

I was tatting to use the time and another tourist immediately changed seats to take a look. She is from Boston, lives now in England and knits caps for preemies. She then showed her collection to me.

The flight took about 1 1/2 hours and we even got lunch. Before landing I had a nice view of the Mekong.

We were met by our new local guide Leng and a bus took us straight to the hotel. Because of traffic that always takes longer then it should.
The view from our room on the 10th floor.

A table in our room with a bowl of fruit since we are traveling with OATs for at least the 3rd time.

They got this wrong though.

We had about an hour and then the bus brought us to the School of Arts where we observed children learning traditional dancing.

One of two girls who spoke good English and explained things. With the classical dance the hand movements are most important.


I was very happy that they demonstrated how this piece of closing works.

They asked for volunteers.

And more audience participation.

Back to the bus. James and I agreed that this was excellent. Much better and more fun than a serious professional performance would have been.

Back at the hotel we went to the rooftop where pool and bar are.

At 6:30 pm tuk tuks were waiting. These are very different. We were only two in each and they were much more comfy. It was quite a ride.

A brief stop for a photo opportunity.

Then we are at the restaurant. This sign seams funny to us.

Local drink.

While we are waiting the new guide shows to us what the street vendors are selling: lotus seed pots. Got to pick the seeds out which are about the size of acorns, peel and eat. Tastes nutty.

Today's menu. Lots of delicious food. I ate too much.

The bus brings us back to the hotel. It was hot here today 95°F or so but no complaints from me. The air is lovely in the evening. The city is buzzing with life and very colorful.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Asia Trip - Day 19 - Vientiane, Loas

Fri 27
Explore Vientiane
Tour Haw Phra Kaew & Wat Sisaket
We have breakfast at our hotel and then set out to explore Vientiane. Pronounced "Vieng Chan," the capital of Laos is a slow-paced, friendly city of some 600,000 people.
The city was built around the twelfth century as an early center for commerce in the region. We start our explorations with a visit to the golden-domed Phra That Luang (Great Sacred Stupa), a national symbol of Laos built in the 16th century, and the imposing Patuxay Victory Gate Monument. We also visit the Haw Phra Kaew (House of the Emerald Buddha), which contains some of the best Buddhist sculptures in Laos. Nearby stands Wat Sisaket, the oldest monastery in Vientiane, which dates back to 1818. The temple contains a total of 6,840 Buddha statues in varying sizes and positions.
We'll have lunch together at a local restaurant, and then you are free to spend the afternoon exploring Vientiane at your own pace. Dinner is on your own this evening.
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2 of 2 nights SABAIDEE @ LAO HOTEL

The courtyard is the breakfast room. The rooms are in building one and building two. Our room is in building two on floor four. Each floor has six rooms.

Sorry. We are a little late this morning. Most people are done.

The view from our window, actually little balcony.

The bus leaves at 9 am. First stop. We walk to the Golden Stupa. The building on the left is something like the headquarter for monks (I think).

The Golden Stupa is the most important in Lao. It supposedly has a relic from the Buddha in it, a piece of a breastbone.

A statue of the last king in front.

The Golden Stupa is quite large and because of the wall you can't get back far enough to take a picture.

Panorama shot.

From there we walk "next door" to a reclining Buddha.

William, where in the world is Sonyeon?

Yeah, you found him!

This is quite amazing. The life story about Buddha is painted in pictures inside this building.


Short bus ride to the next stop. This is the victory gate. Seven stories. We are told on each floor are shops. Price gets cheaper as higher you go.

Oh yes we walked up.

The four top windows have these smart wrought iron designs.

View towards the Peace Gong.

The opposite side.

Going down again.

Yes, there are vendors.

On every floor. And we bought something on the top floor.

On the walk to the World Peace Gong.

Short bus ride to the next stop. Actually, this is where we just used the very happy rooms, then we walk across the street.

Wat Sisaket

Chear tries again to explain to us all the different position of Buddha and what they mean.
We were told that there were 6840 Buddhas in this place.
This one means meditation (left hand laying like that) and asking spirits for help (right hand pointing down).

Stop fighting!

Asking for rain!

Lunch. Asking for beer.

Today's specialty: fish. Unfortunately I found it very dry.

Chicken pieces wrapped and steamed in banana leaf strips. Unfortunately very dry too.

Altogether a very nice meal though. Ending with ice cream. Vanille, strawberry or taro.

This is not on the official OAT itinerary but Ole gave us the choice to visit it. I found it very moving.

First we were shown this movie.

After a nice rest in the hotel James and I ventured out on foot. Vientiane is the capital city but so laid back. Here just a few photos of interesting buildings.

A hamburger place.

Bubble tea place for Helen.

The Fountain is a straight shot from the hotel and is the place which comes alive in the evening with music.

We found a nice place to sit and studied the menu. Deep fried appendix?

Baked salmon head?

We picked three appetizers which was actually more then we could eat. It was nice though (besides the local beer).

Soon after this picture was taken (by the waiter) live music began. And it was really good.

Some others from our group came by too and we chatted for a while but then it was time to walk back to the hotel. Lovely evening. Great day!