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Journal Entries for 2015-08 Thailand, Laos & Cambodia Land Part I
OVERALL SUMMARY: We flew from LAX to Bangkok via Taipei, a long 18-hour flight, with China Air, arriving early in the morning. We spent three nights in Bangkok. Then we went on a cruise up the Chao Phraya River on an old rice barge for two nights and spent one more night in Bangkok. We flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand and spent three nights. We flew to Luang Prabang, Laos for two nights. We flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia for three nights. Then we flew to Singapore for two nights, resting up for our NatGeo Expedition to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

On our very first day, instead of a Day at Leisure, we had to go to the U.S. Embassy (Journals #2-#3) for some additional passport pages.

The next day we went to a large local railway market, a coconut farm, the floating market and rode in a long-tail boat (Journals #4-#5). The floating market was what attracted us to Bangkok and this area in the first place. It was really amazing!!

We left the hotel in Bangkok and we boarded an old rice barge, Anantara Dream, for three days and two nights on the Chao Phraya River. The cities along the Chao Phraya River are among the most historically significant and densely populated settlements of Thailand due to their access to the waterway. Our destination was Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam (now Thailand), about 60 miles north of Bangkok. We could have driven there, but going on the boat was fun in itself and was also a more relaxed way to travel. We had several stops along the way.

The first day on the Anantara Dream we went to Wat (Temple) Arun and the Royal Barges Museum (Journal #6-#7). The next day we learned about how to make merit with Buddha at Wat Bot (Journal #8). We learned a lot about the Buddhist religion, at least how the Thais practice Buddhism. Then we arrived at Ayutthaya. We first went to Wat Phanan Choeng (Journal #9) to see the Big Lord Buddha. Then we went by car to see temples in old Ayutthaya. The temples up to this point were renovated and pretty. The Ayutthaya temples were old and in ruins. Wat Mahathat & Wat Racha burana (Journal #10-#11). We went elephant riding (Journal #12) near Wat Mahathat and then we went to Wat Lokkayasutharam (Journal #13) to see the largest reclining Buddha and to the best-known Ayutthaya temple, Wat Chai Wattanaram (Journal #14). The third and last day on the Anantara Dream we went to the unique Gothic-style temple, Wat Niwet Thamaprawat (Journal #15), the Bang Pa-in Summer Palace (Journal #16) and the Queen's Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Center (Journal #17). After the rice barge cruise, we spent one more day in Bangkok to visit the Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace (Journal #18-19) and Wat Pho (Journal #20-#21) to see another reclining Buddha.

We'd seen a lot of Bangkok, so then we flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand. We spent one day visiting a just a few of the many temples in this area. We gave alms to the monks at Wat Phrathat Doi Sethep (Journal #22), went to the oldest temple Wat Chiang Man (Journal #23), Wat Chedi Luang (Journal #24) where the Emerald Buddha had formerly resided, saw some really old Buddhas 2,500 and 1,800-yr-old Buddhas, at Wat Phra Singh (Journal #25) and Wat Suan Dok (Journal #26) where the ashes of Royal Family reside. We went on a tuk-tuk ride back to the hotel. We had a good overview of temples, so the next day we went to the Elephant Nature Park (Journal #27-#29). We spent the whole day with the rescued elephants. We fed them, bathed them and walked around the camp visiting the various elephant families. Many of the elephants are blind or crippled (land mines and traps). This was a wonderful experience and one of the highlights of our trip! That was it for Thailand. We were ready to move on.

We flew to Luang Prabang (Journal #30) in Laos. We were only here for two nights, but we packed in as much as we could in such a short time, one day on the Mekong River and one day visiting temples. We started early the first day again, giving merit to the monks at Vat Sop Sickharam (Journal #31), before spending the rest of the day on the Mekong River going to a sacred limestone cave, Pak Ou Cave (Journal #32). The next day we spent visiting the local temples. We went to see the Royal relics at Wat Mai, the Royal Palace, Mt. Phousi (Journal #33) for the fantastic 360 views of Luang Prabang. Then we went to the historically significant Wat Xiengthong (Journal #34) and the oldest and most beautiful temple, Wat Visoun (Journal #35).

The last stop of our land tour was three nights in Siem Reap (Journal #36) in Cambodia. We spent the first day touring old temples, several in and near the old city of Angkor Wat. We went to the Angkor Wat (Journal #37) temple to watch the sunrise and then went by the Elephant Terrace to see the massive stone faces and bas-reliefs at Angkor Thom (Journal #38), the twin temples Wat Thommanon and Wat Chao Say Tevoda (Journal #39) and then Ta Prohm (from Tomb Raiders) (Journal #40). Ta Prohm was awesome!! The second day we went through the countryside to visit a couple more old temples. We went to see the red sandstone carvings at Banteay Srei (Journal #41) and the crematoriums at Prerup (Journal #42). Before we quit for the day, we went for a short horse cart ride (Journal #43) through the countryside. The last day in Siem Reap we went on a boat cruise on Tonle Sap Lake (Journal #44) through the Vietnamese floating communities and made a quick stop at one of the Killing Fields (Journal #45) before we went to the airport to fly to Singapore.

All of the pictures in this album were taken with the two red Tough TG-3s or the GoPro. That was the end of our Thailand, Laos & Cambodia Land Tour and the start of our Singapore to Raja Ampat Expedition on the NG Orion.

0003-Map of Thailand, Laos & Cambodia trip.JPG

0411-Floating market, Damnoen Nam Saduak.JPG

1154-C&N on Anantara Dream, Wat Niwet Thamaprawat pier, Chao Phraya River.jpg

1938-C&N & elephants, Elephant Camp, Chiang Mai.JPG

2297-C&N in lower Pak Ou Cave, Mekong River, Luang Prabang.JPG

2581-Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap.JPG

2779-Wat Ta Prohm, Siem Reap.JPG

3215-View from long-tail boat, Tonle Sap Lake, Siem Reap.JPG
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