Cambodia has always been high on our list of countries to visit. Perhaps it is the images of National Geographic showcasing hauntingly beautiful Angkor ruins, or our desire to learn more about the resilient people who survived through the dreadful Pol Pot regime and are moving on with their lives, or simply to experience travel in a country that has not yet firmly established itself on the mass tourism trail….whatever the reason, we were thrilled to get our chance to visit and were glad we didn’t wait any longer. Word about the phenomenal sights and experiences to be had in beautiful Cambodia is quickly spreading and before long, an influx of tourists will change the chemistry that is so uniquely Cambodia. Go now, and quick, before this stunning country becomes firmly entrenched on every backpacker’s itinerary of SE Asia.
After a few months in Afghanistan, we were ready for a break. Cambodia, here we come! We invited Becky’s family in Vietnam to join us and soon we had a group of six (Becky, Robby, Ann, Di Tam, Di Sau, and Cau Chin). With just over a week to spend in Cambodia, we decided to split our time between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Highlights of Phnom Penh included the Royal Palace, National Museum, Silver Pagoda, Wat Phnom, Toul Sleng Museum, Cheung Ek Killing Fields, and Independence Monument. We timed our trip to coincide with Bon Om Tuk, which is a colorful celebration held each November (to rejoice in the natural phenomenon of the reversal of the Tonle Sap River). Siem Reap was our next destination and we visited several incredible Khmer temples to include Angkor Wat (the Seventh Wonder of the World), Angkor Thom, Rolous Group, Grand Circuit, Kbal Spean and last but not least, Tonle Sap Lake’s floating villages.
To prepare for our trip, we armed ourselves with excellent reading material. Tried and true Lonely Planet came through with a decent Cambodia guide which proved invaluable. Another excellent book is First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung. This tear jerker helps put things into perspective when visiting the Killing Fields. Another touching memoir is A Cambodian Prison Portrait. One Year in the Khmer Rouge’s S-21 by Vann Nath (one of 7 survivors of the Toul Sleng Prison). Last but not least, we watched the movie “The Killing Fields” to gain some perspective of the Pol Pot regime’s atrocities. We were amazed and uplifted by the Cambodian people’s resolve and steadfastness in overcoming their Nation’s past tragedies. Cambodia truly is an amazing country to visit.
25 Nov 04: Woke up to noisy Saigon. Does the city ever sleep? Steaming bowls of hot pho were awaiting us for breakfast and we eagerly dug in. Pho is Vietnam’s most popular noodle soup, and it is a delicious (and light) way to kick start your day. We had a few hours to kill before our afternoon flight to Phnom Penh so we grabbed a taxi to see the Reunification Palace. Becky visited the Palace back in 1996 and claimed that tons had changed since then. First of all, nowadays, the Palace offers free tours throughout the complex. Second, it seemed that Saigon became popular overnight. There were tons of backpackers making their way throughout the city…a far cry from the intrepid travelers in ’96. Our guide in the palace was a young woman dressed in a pink ao dai. She led our group through the mazelike complex and showed off the highlights. Afterwards, we made our way towards the War Museum. This museum is a must for anyone who visits Vietnam and wants to see the Vietnamese perspective of the Vietnam War. You can never forget the images of seeing deformed fetuses (as a result of agent orange) persevered in large jars. Photos are also extremely haunting and you are left with a sense of wonderment that the Vietnamese are such hardy and forgiving people. After all, they still love Americans, despite the Vietnam War’s atrocities!
After rushing around Saigon for the better part of the morning, we stopped for a quick break nearby Di Tam’s house. Sipping on delicious nuoc mia (sugar cane juice), we were in for a real treat. Nuoc mia is poured into huge glasses filled with ice and it makes for a wonderful drink…we quickly became nuoc mia addicts. Becky’s family wouldn’t let us leave without first stuffing us with lunch. Although the countdown for our afternoon flight to Phnom Penh was rapidly ticking away, we still had to take time out to eat fish, spring rolls, roasted pork and steaming rice. With less than an hour to go, we insisted on departing for the airport and were in a state of panic that we’d miss our outbound flight to Cambodia.
Arriving at the International airport with no time to spare, we were mortified when the surly customs officials started giving Di Tam, Di Sau and Cau Chin a really hard time because their paperwork was not properly filled out. Of all times to experience bureaucratic nonsense! Nevertheless, the officials insisted that all three go to the back of the line after they had properly filled out the necessary paperwork. We had less than 5 minutes to go and believed for sure that the plane would depart without us. So Becky and Robby were sent ahead to plead their case with the airline crew. Fortunately, they were a bit more lenient than the customs officials and agreed to hold the plane for a few minutes longer. When the rest of the family made their way to the boarding gate, we were the last to board the plane and took off a few minutes after that. Thank God for the sympathetic Cambodian crew…we were lucky to catch the flight and had learned our lesson when its comes to Becky’s family…make sure they are at the airport with plenty of extra time to spare!!!
We landed in rainy Cambodia. It is easy to obtain a visa upon arrival. Just ensure that you have a passport sized photo with you and $20 US cash. In less than two minutes, the highly efficient Cambodian staff had already processed and issued us our visas, via assembly line. Although we chose to travel in November, we were advised that it was definitely NOT rainy season. However, the weather didn’t seem to agree with that sentiment and it was down-pouring heavily. We were met by our tour guide’s wife and taken directly to the New Central Market. The new market is housed in a yellow building and filled with expensive merchandise ranging from jewelry to fresh meat to plastic flip flops. Di Tam bought some delicious mangoes and we raved about how tasty they were. After that, she bought some more to last us the duration of our trip in Cambodia. Lesson learnt: be careful with what you rave about…Becky’s relatives will take it to heart! We left the New Central Market just before it closed for the evening and made our way towards the Princess Hotel, our lodging in Phnom Penh.
We were informed that dinner was scheduled for later that night and we had almost two hours to kill. So of course we killed time guzzling Vodka together. The Russian Vodka selection from Tashkent Duty Free did pay off after all! Dinner was spectacular, with an all out menu consisting of delicious chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, squid, spring rolls, and veggies. We stuffed ourselves silly and later realized that we’d have to change our eating tactics, since every meal in Cambodia was included in the tour price and we’d gain 10 pounds each if we continued to eat like ravenous, starving people. Our waitress was awesome. We died laughing when we realized that she was inconspicuously paying attention to everything we were doing. When Robby tried to serve himself some extra rice, she literally sprinted across the length of the room to prevent him from doing anything and proudly served him herself. Such incredible service!
Our next day’s itinerary was really jam packed full of activities so our guide recommended that we crash for the evening to get some rest.
26 NOV: Woke up early and ate a buffet breakfast. We were met by our tour guide who briefed us that today’s schedule was very busy and condensed due to the Tonle Sap Festival. First stop was at the Royal Palace (which was only open in the morning because everything shuts down in the afternoon for the festival). The Royal Palace is phenomenal. It reminded us of Thailand’s Royal Grand Palace, but rather than having an influx of tourists, there were more monks and locals than foreigners. The silver pagoda is amazing, and Buddha donations from around the world as well as native Cambodian Buddha statues are housed here. The huge emerald Buddha is gorgeous and we spent some time admiring the relics before moving on to the Royal Palace. We were surprised that so many orange-robed monks were frequenting the royal grounds. It was nice to see locals admiring Phnom Penh’s treasures as we were. Next on our itinerary, we visited the National Museum. It housed many beautiful pieces of ancient Khmer artifacts. After our brief visit to the museum, we had a vague idea of what was in store for us at Siem Reap and couldn’t wait to see the magnificent Angkor temples.
Lunch consisted of an amazing buffet spread, and we ate heartily. Cambodian food is very similar to Vietnamese or Thai cuisine. Similar dishes are prepared and we were definitely getting our fill of good Asian cooking. After lunch, we stopped by the Independence Monument and then onward to Wat Phnom.
The name Phnom Penh is derived from Wat Phnom (a generous land donation by a wealthy Cambodian lady) and today it was full of Tonle Sap revelers who were seeking refuge from the hot sun. Hundred of locals were squatting under the shady trees, furiously waving straw fans in an attempt to cool down. We were captivated by Wat Phnom’s peaceful atmosphere and amazed at the legions of vendors, selling their wares. The weirdest thing we saw for sale was fried black spiders, considered a local delicacy! We couldn’t stomach the thought of eating spiders so we passed, and instead bought steamed rice encased in bamboo. Rip off Lonely Planet books were for sale everywhere, at bargain prices of $3 to $8. Phnom Penh is a great place to pick up cheap travel guides for follow on countries!
Our afternoon plans were to visit the Killing fields and S21 Prison museum. The Cheung Ek killing fields are located a short drive from Phnom Penh and the atmosphere there is quite somber. Especially the monument housing thousands of skulls as a remembrance to the dreadful legacy of the Pol Pot regime. The Killing Fields were full of sites showcasing where hundreds of innocent civilians were slaughtered mercilessly and buried in mass graves. One tree had a plaque mounted upon it stating that young children were beaten to death against it. The Killing Fields leave you drained and depressed, wondering how humans can be so cruel to each other.
Next on our agenda was the Russian market, where cheap bootleg DVDs can be bought for $3 and replica Angkor art picked up for a pittance. We shopped here briefly before making our way to the S21 Prison museum. This compound of horrors was more enlightening than the Killing Fields because you could literally walk the same path through the same buildings that thousands of condemned Cambodians did in the 1970s. Reading the rules of S21 Prison and seeing photos of every prisoner taken prior to their executions was shocking. Especially when we saw that there were several foreigners (Australian and American journalists) that were imprisoned there. Why did the world community do nothing? How could this have occurred without anyone taking notice and putting a stop to it? The book A Cambodian Prison Portrait, One Year in the Khmer Rouge’s S-21 is especially enlightening and a must read for anyone planning to visit the Killing Fields/S-21 Prison museum.
Mom, Di Tam and Di Sau were wiped after our afternoon excursions, but Becky, Robby and Cau Chin decided to join the throngs of people downtown Phnom Penh, celebrating Tonle Sap festival to the hilt. It was super crowded on the river banks of the Tonle Sap, with crowds of locals cheering on the boat races. We cheered too, not knowing which team we were cheering for. There were so many boats on the river and everyone was just enjoying the camaraderie of celebrating together. Add the food smells drifting throughout the city and the giddying happiness of the Cambodians and it was a very lively event to participate in. We left at the perfect time and were able to bargain a ride back to our hotel on the back of a motorbike for $1. Picture 4 adults on the back of a small motorbike, with Becky sitting side straddle due to her skirt. We should have predicted the motorbike would break down on the way to our hotel, it was definitely not meant to carry such big westerners! Thankfully, the Princess hotel was in sights and we walked the rest of the way. Immediately after that, the rain started coming down in torrents and Phnom Penh came to a standstill with everyone scrambling to seek refuge in a dry spot. The streets became packed with people, cars, bikes, and pushcarts and crossing the street in our van was a lesson in extreme patience. What normally takes 30 seconds took us over 45 minutes, with cars inching along one excruciating inch after another. Dinner was set in a fancy restaurant with dim lighting. We ate our last meal in wonderful Phnom Penh and left to pack our bags for our early morning flight tomorrow to Siem Reap.
27 NOV: Got up at 0430 and loaded our gear into the awaiting van. Our guide urged us to grab some breakfast as we had a bit of time to spare and he didn’t want us going hungry. We ate quickly and were off to the airport. Checking in at the airport was a breeze and in no time, we were on our way to Siem Reap. Once we landed, we were greeted by Chai, our tour guide. He spoke excellent English and was extremely patient, so we knew we had gotten lucky to get such a good tour guide. We attempted to check into our hotel but our rooms weren’t ready yet so Chai asked if we would be willing to leave our luggage at the hotel while we went for our morning excursions of the Angkor temples. We readily agreed and were on our way to pick up our 3 day passes ($40) to visit the Angkor Monuments.The ticket sellers have caught on to the backpacker scam and now require anyone procuring a three day pass to get an accompanying photo. This is to prevent tourists from passing their entry pass off to other tourists. If you are caught without your pass, a hefty fine ensues so Chai assures us that he will be the ticket master and will present it upon demand.
We start our morning tour with the Rolous Circuit (Preah Ko, Bakong and Lolei temples) and marvel at the gorgeous Angkor temples. Bakong Temple is our favorite temple of the Rolous Circuit, but the rolous temples are a tease and we long to see the spectacular Angkor Wat and Bayon Temples. However, as we are well aware, we know that patience is a virtue. After this morning’s tour, we head back into town to have a delicious buffet lunch. We then have about two hours to relax and check into the hotel before continuing on with our afternoon tour. The afternoon heat bears down on everyone and we all take quick cat naps before continuing on at 1430.
First stop is Sras Srang, a man made pool of ablutions measuring 800 meters by 400 meters. Sras Srang is picturesque and we spend a few minutes here before the sunny skies disappear in an instant and heavy raindrops pelted us mercilessly. We are amazed at the sudden turn of events. Sunny and bright skies one minute, torrential downpour the next. Our entire group sprints back towards Banteay Kdei, which is a massive Buddhist temple from the 12th Century. Thankfully, there is an entrance portal, decorated with garuda, that we can seek refuge from the endless rain. The locals have the same ideas in mind and we find ourselves smiling at our newfound friends. The rain decides to catch up with us beneath the garuda portal, and a hastily developed stream trickles beneath our feet. Chai is worth his weight in gold when he suggests we continue on with our tour as he has packed away several umbrellas in anticipation of bad weather. Thus armed, we make our way through Banteay Kdei and our breaths are taken away by its serene beauty. Overgrown trees make for fantastic forest/temple photos and we are mesmerized by the beautiful Angkor temples.
Next on our list is Ta Prohm, undoubtedly the most romantic setting of all the Angkor complexes. It is more famously known as the temple where the Lara Croft Tomb Raider movie was filmed and today it is packed with tourists reliving their own individual fantasies. Ta Prohm is fantastic and we thoroughly enjoy the magical walk through the temple grounds. The forest was loud, with loud cacophonies of crickets and birds clamoring to make their presence known. We were lucky enough to run into the old man whose photo was selected to grace the cover of Lonely Planet Cambodia. Not only does he keep Ta Prohm looking clean but he sells little trinkets to get by. He knew he was somewhat of a celebrity since he had seen his own image on the Lonely Planet guides, but Chai informed us that he was never compensated by Lonely Planet. Becky decided to buy a bracelet from him and we were all really happy to meet such a pleasant and happy man. It started getting dark around 1730 so we tried to wrap things up before it got too dark. On our way back into Siem Reap, we caught a glimpse of the magnificent Angkor Wat and its sheer magnitude and beauty took our breaths away. Even in the dark, it was easy to see why Angkor Wat is the seventh wonder of the world! It is simply indescribable; a magnificent temple complex that has no peer.
We were too early for our dinner reservations so we stopped at a nearby shopping complex and picked up some bare essentials (juice to mix with vodka, shampoo and laundry detergent). Our restaurant was located right next door to our hotel, so we bid Chai and our driver a good night and agreed to an early start tomorrow morning. Dinner was delicious and we had a 30 second walk back to our hotel for some late night festivities. Di Sau and Cau Chin were watching WWF and laughing hysterically at the wrestlers’ antics. We were wondering if the vodka was making them happy but they truly thought WWF was a riot. We have never seen anyone enjoy wrestling that much before!
28 NOV: We get picked up at 0800 and are excited to be exploring Bayan Temple and Angkor Wat today. The top two temples at Siem Reap…we are in for a real treat today. Since we are keen on spending as much time as possible at Angkor Wat, we tell Chai that when the rest of our group goes back for lunch, we prefer to skip it and spend the hottest part of the day exploring independently and he readily agrees, informing us that more tourists will leave for lunch and we will have unadulterated access to Angkor Wat by ourselves.
We started off at the Angkor Thom Southern Gate, which has 108 demons and gods protecting the Angkor Thom complex. Known as the “Churning of the Ocean” bridge, the statues are awe-inspiring, although the growing crowd attests to a zoo-like environment. Folks are lined up to take an elephant ride across the bridge into Angkor Thom and throngs of over eager tourists block out the view towards the Garuda entrance portal of the Southern gate. We proceed directly to the Bayan Temple complex and marvel at the 248 stone carved faces in bas relief. They are all truly spectacular and we can easily see what Bayan is one of the most popular sites in Siem Reap. We spend a few hours here guided patiently by Chai (and boy does he need to be patient! Our group of 6 disperses like excited school kids and he has a hell of a time trying to keep track of our whereabouts) and he explains the history of Bayan temple. The stone cut carvings are phenomenal and the stories they depict are life like. Chai finally gives up on keeping the group together and tells us of our rally point in an hour. Free to discover on our own, we wander around Bayan and feel dwarfed next to the gigantic face carvings. After Bayan, we make our way towards the Elephant and Leper-King terraces for even more astounding stone carvings. Both terraces are amazing, and we are grateful that such National treasures survived the destructive Pol Pot era.
By noon, the group was ready for lunch so Becky and Robby split off from the main group and agree to meet up again at 1430 on the main footbridge crossing over to Angkor Wat. Lunch at a roadside café is simple but delicious. Sugarcane juice, children touting postcards with Angkor Wat books, and old ladies attempting to sell their massage services were all part of the charm. Lunch was dirt cheap and we had plenty of time to explore Angkor Wat out to our hearts’ content. It was hot out but totally worth it because just as Chai had predicted, we had the entire temple complex to ourselves. Some amazing shots were taken of monks paying homage to Angkor Wat as well as us gallivanting on the temple grounds. We highly recommend hanging out around Angkor Wat during lunch time as you literally will have the entire place to yourself. Another helpful piece of advice is to hang out near the royal pools, where you can take spectacular photos of Angkor Wat in a reflective pose, sans tourists. Our photos came out picture postcard perfect and we were happy that we had extra time to explore the beautiful temple grounds. An American saw us hanging out near the temple entrance and advised us that the best way to explore Angkor Wat is to walk counter clockwise around the temple walls to see the amazing murals, before entering into the interior chambers and finishing up at the 5 towers of Angkor. That way, we’d work our way from outside in and save the spectacular views over the countryside for the very last. It was excellent advice and we were glad he recommended it as we did save the best for last. We ran into a monk friend that we had met earlier in the day at Bayan Temple and he was happy to practice his English on us for a while. We reluctantly bid him farewell to meet the rest of the family, as agreed at 1430. Chai led us on a brilliant tour of Angkor Wat, giving us detailed history lessons of the temple. We climbed up the final super steep stairs leading to the Angkor’s premier temples and held on for dear life. No joke, the stairs leading up to Angkor Wat’s innermost temples are very steep and you need to be careful climbing up or down, because to lose your footing would mean a serious injury or even death. Nevertheless, the precarious climb is totally worth it for some amazing views of over Siem Reap.
We decided to join the masses to experience the sunset over Siem Reap at Phnom Bakheng, one of the most popular look out points. Unfortunately, this is a very popular spot and we had to compete with hundreds (if not thousands) of other tourists vying for a spot to watch the sun set. All in all, it is an experience to glimpse the last rays of sun set. But as Chai expertly advised us, do not delay on top of Phnom Bakheng for long, because coming back down the hill is dangerous in the dark. Duly warned, as soon as the sun set, we clambered on down the steep steps to the base of the hill. The footpath is very poorly lit and we were glad we had sufficient natural light to guide us down the tricky parts. By the time we reached the bottom, it was completely dark but we could still make out Chai waiting patiently for us to return. We had dinner at a local restaurant and as usual, enjoyed the delicious food. We stayed up late downloading the hundreds of photos we had taken with our cameras today, reflecting back on a fantastic day in Siem Reap.
29 NOV: Today we happily arose early so we could watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. While this is a very popular tourist attraction, the grounds are massive enough to provide more than enough room to position yourself to comfortably watch the sunrise uninterrupted. Chai showed us that positioning ourselves near the royal pools, we could actually get a “two suns” effect (one sun in the sky and one in the water). Unfortunately, mom neglected to pass on clear instructions to Di Tam, Di Sau and Cau Chin on what our photography intents were and where, so we had to wait the better part of 30 minutes for them to find us again. It was no big deal because we had more time to enjoy the spectacular vistas of Angkor Wat.
We had about an hour to eat breakfast before our next tour towards Kbal Spean or “River of a Thousand Lingas”. This was the site of the French movie, “Two Brothers”, which is a film of two tigers. Getting to Kbal Spean requires a bumpy and arduous two hour journey but the hike to the waterfall is pretty. The carvings in the riverbed are also amazing, although the site has sustained a lot of damage from looters who have hacked off some of the carvings for the black market. After enjoying Kbal Spean, we headed back towards Banteay Srei, which was our next stop. We ate a brief lunch where the restaurant was showcasing a Cambodian Highlights tape (which mom bought for $3) after which we headed over to check out the “Citadel of the Women”, which is more famously known as the most intricate of all of Angkor’s temples. The pink hued sand stone is delicately carved as far as the eye can see and this is one of the package tourists “must sees”. After Banteay Srei, we visited several more temples. One of which is the most picturesque photo ops in all of Angkor. Ta Som temple has an archway where a tree has completely overrun the passage. It makes for one of the more memorable stops at Siem Reap.
Today was going to ensure we got “templed out” as it was non stop temple after temple. Despite the incredible sights of Angkor, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer number and quality of temples. After several days of temple exploration, we were ready for a change of scenery so we opted to attend a traditional Khmer dance performance for dinner this evening. We had seen numerous scenes of apsara dancing carved on temple walls, but tonight we were going to experience the dancing first hand. As luck would have it, our seats were behind the massive, open-air tables specially reserved for VIP (the large tour groups). God has a funny sense of humor because all of a sudden, he unleashed flood like rains that forced the large tour groups to vacate their coveted seats. We laughed at our sudden change of fortune, because our table was situated directly under an awning that protected us from the rain and we now had “front row” seats. Thus, we were able to enjoy the spectacular dance show without getting a drop of water on us! It was a hilarious turn of events and we giggled wickedly at the VIPs bad luck.
30 NOV: We woke up and reluctantly packed our bags to leave Cambodia today. All good things must come to an end but we sure wished we had more time in lovely Cambodia. However, we were all set to fly to Hanoi this evening and were excited to visit Northern Vietnam in just a few hours. Our morning’s agenda included getting passport photos created (mom needed a passport photo so she could pick up her Vietnamese Visa upon arrival in Vietnam). The formal portion of our tour included a visit to the floating villages on Tonle Sap River. We were amazed at how many Cambodians earn their livelihood off of the Tonle Sap. This phenomenal body of water not only feeds the locals but is their primary source of transportation and irrigation. The Tonle Sap is highly revered for its rich diversity of aquatic life and we were thrilled to observe life on the lake.
There are numerous boat houses that line the riverbanks of the Tonle Sap. We saw guard dogs carefully watching over their master’s gear, floating churches and restaurants on water. In fact, there was an entire village afloat on the lake! The funniest sight we saw were two boys afloat in plastic buckets, begging for money. Out of cuteness alone, we gave them some candy and laughed as they thanked us with raised palms in prayer position. At a floating store, Becky found some interesting books on SE Asia. The owner of the store was a Vietnamese woman, who had not been back home for over 15 years. When she heard Di Tam, Di Sau, Cau Chin and mom speaking Vietnamese, she clung to them like long lost relatives! She had not heard her native tongue in so many years that tears of joy fell upon her cheeks. When she found out Becky was half Vietnamese, she tried to give her the books for free until her Cambodian husband scolded some sense into her. We felt bad that she was so homesick; she claimed that she deeply missed her homeland even though she made a new beginning for herself in Cambodia. We took a group photo and said goodbye. She must have waved goodbye to us for at least 10 minutes, saddened by our departure.
After the floating village, we stopped at a carving exhibition. The brief tour showed us how Khmer art is continued via a Swiss project. Young Cambodians are trained in the ancient art of rock and wood carvings, and the statues were amazing. We didn’t buy anything and were soon on our way to our hotel to check out and retrieve our luggage. Lunch was held at an exquisite restaurant. It had only been open for a week but we were the only clientele. It was an amazing restaurant, with a gauntlet of mouth-watering dishes on display for us. We were shocked that we were the only customers for lunch. A restaurant this good elsewhere in the world would have long lines at the door. After lunch, we had a quick stop at the Cambodian Cultural Village. The village proudly displays Cambodian art and dance for the public and we caught a dance show as well as a traditional Khmer wedding. It is a worthwhile detour while in Siem Reap. While we were there, we met a Cambodian/Vietnamese couple (husband was Cambodian, wife was Vietnamese). The two languages are so different that when the Vietnamese lady overheard Becky’s family jabbering excitedly in Vietnamese, she hastily joined the conversation and didn’t depart from us until we had to leave for the airport. There is something to be said about strong Vietnamese ties…Becky’s family was making fast friends with the expat Vietnamese community everywhere they went!
Chai dropped us off at the Siem Reap International Airport for our onward flight to Hanoi. We were sad to say goodbye. Chai was a fantastic tour guide who made visiting Cambodia a true joy. We gave him and our driver a big tip and said our goodbyes. Our flight to Hanoi was delayed by an hour (typical of Vietnam Airways) so we hung out at the airport for a little while longer. Beautiful Cambodia…sayonara until our next trip!