After finishing our tour of the Salt Flats in Uyuni we decided to fly to La Paz instead of sitting in a bus for eight hours, which had no appeal for anyone.
La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia and sits over 3,500m above sea level with close to one million inhabitants. The Canadian Government Travel Smart app had many safety and security warnings about La Paz. But we found it to be a very friendly city with good food and interesting sites.
Colleen did her homework on this one (like all of our moves) and two options for our Venice stay were in play. The first choice was an affordable VRBO right in the heart of the old city, overlooking the canals and even close to some food markets. Great location, easy access from the train station, and in the heart of Venice!
After three days of trying to book it and being told by VRBO that our multiple credit cards had been declined, we finally gave up. Our credit card was no good?! We spent a bit of time on the phone with the card company who assured everything was good on our end. Rather the IT folks at VRBO could not capture the correct information on their booking platform. We still had money – phew!
We ended up going with our second choice, the Four Points by Sheraton Le Mestre. It was a brand new and modern hotel that seems to cater to business people. The breakfast spread was awesome. It was a short five minute walk to the train terminal and we were enroute to the Old City (19 minute train ride to the centre). They even upgraded us to sweet suite! Walking to the train, the kids remarked how it was like our own neighbourhood in Barrhaven. Mestre like Barrhaven? Does that mean Ottawa is the Venice of Canada? Read on to find out …
Following an overnight flight from Bangkok we arrived in Rome first thing in the morning. The crisp air in the sunshine was a welcome relief to South-East Asia hot temperatures. We waited 30 minutes for a bus downtown which dropped us within walking distance of our hotel, Le Meridien. A great location – about 2 minute walk to the Tiber River and only 2km to the Vatican. The rooms which had breakfast included were great value.
After 19 days, 8 ports, 6,000 nautical miles and $975CAD in tips we are back on terra firma (thanks Estelle for the word choice!). We are currently in Buenos Aires and looking at options of where to go next. As a side note, the water going down the drain or when you flush does go counter clockwise!
The options for travel to Bangkok from Siem Reap were many. We looked at planes, trains, buses and cars. Funny enough, the best solution for a family of five was flying. It took away some headaches of multiple transfers and it got us to our destination the fastest.
Travelling from a hotel to the airport is a big deal when you are a big family. For example, in Ottawa, to ask for a cab to the airport for five requires an extra $15 which is absurd. We avoid it every chance we get so imagine our chagrin in Siem Reap at the Le Meridien when they slipped in a $19USD car to the airport. Ooh it burns, when we should have crossed the street and tried to find a guy with a private car. There is always a guy with a private car in South-east Asia. We waited in the lounge at the airport and had to buy lunch. We knew we would pay airport prices. Burger King was a request by someone who likes burgers. Not only was it pricey, the burgers were definitely not the same size that we get in North America. Burn number 2.
We arrived in Bangkok without incident. Read about immigration and the crazy taxi rules (here).
I took some time to publish posts on the Angkor Archeological Complex which is the most amazing part of our visit to Cambodia. But, there are other aspects worth noting.
You’ll recall that the illustrious Mr Tay brought us into Cambodia as a clandestine border crossing from Vietnam (here). Ok, so it was a little bit dramatic, but as Colleen noted, ‘It definitely felt like a human smuggling operation or something equally shady. In truth, it was just a more expensive logistics arrangement commonly used by dozens of people daily.’
With a three day pass to the Angkor Complex you have 10 days to use it or lose it. We went on the 25th, 28th and the 30th of September. To avoid being over ‘Wat’ I recommend taking breaks in-between visits. A ‘wat’ is a temple so for us Western / Christian types just think Churches.
Our Tuk-tuk driver, Mr Davudthny Vun <firstname.lastname@example.org> helped shape our final route which includes a visit to the Cambodian Landmine Museum, and a visit to Banteay Srey which is approximately 37km from Siam Reap. The return trip includes a stop at Banteay Saimre. We had the option to carry on to see the Rolous Group to the South East of Siam Reap but declined…Too many temples makes Rob a dull boy.
The Landmine Museum provides a stark reminder of the horrors that Cambodia faced from the Vietnam War and also the brutal regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.
We did the twenty-six kilometre Grand Circuit on our second day into the ancient Khmer temples.
The main lesson from the visit was that although Hindu and Buddhist beliefs lived in harmony, particularly under Jayavarman VII, the reality is that subsequent Kings had differing views and many religious artefacts were destroyed.