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Going to Cambodia
Old 12-11-2007, 05:28 AM   #1
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Going to Cambodia

I'm going to Cambodia in the Spring to attend my best friends wedding. Anyone have much "on the ground experience" there? Any tips besides don't drink the water and steer clear of any public bathrooms?

The wedding is in Battambang (insert joke here). I know I'll take a trip to go see Angkor Wat. Anything else to consider?

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Old 12-11-2007, 12:43 PM   #2
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I'm going to Cambodia in the Spring to attend my best friends wedding. Anyone have much "on the ground experience" there? Any tips besides don't drink the water and steer clear of any public bathrooms?

The wedding is in Battambang (insert joke here). I know I'll take a trip to go see Angkor Wat. Anything else to consider?
boy do times change. i remember when "holiday in cambodia" was
being performed by the dead kennedy's

Holiday in Cambodia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 12-11-2007, 02:28 PM   #3
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My in-laws just got back from a three week trip to Cambodia (they emigrated to the US from there). I have heard about their trip at length and helped them plan many aspects of it. My BIL liked it so much he is planning on returning in the spring (April?) for their annual water festival. Days and days of festivities and partying in the street throwing water on each other and using massive squirt guns. It's supposed to be a crazy time if you can time your trip to coincide w/ the festival. Supposedly April is really hot.

immunizations - make sure you get whatever you need - my inlaws needed a lot plus they took anti-malarial pills while in-country.

Visa - you can get an electronic visa from the cambodian embassy online for $25, and it will save you the hassle of fedexing your passport to the nearest European embassy and waiting weeks. My inlaws still got hassled for bribes at the airport customs/immigration station in Phnom Penh ($20 each I believe - but they are travel n00bs, so didn't know how to negotiate the bribes).

Bring a mask - the road from battambang to siem reap is extremely dusty. For that matter, many of the roads are dirt-paved, even in battambang i think. Very dusty in general.

Regarding roads - the national highway between Phnom Penh and Battambang is nicely paved (all the way north to sisophon in Banteay Meanchey for that matter). Expect a two lane road that resembles a country road in the US of A. Except filled w/ honking trucks, motorbikes, and traffic traveling 3 or 4 vehicles wide at some points. A bus or taxi would work well to get from PP to battambang, and they even have cheap luxury buses that will get you there for a few bucks. The road from sisophon east towards Siem reap is generally very poor and dirt-paved. It washes out occasionally, especially during the rainy season. My inlaws took this road and it was better than normal but very dusty and bumpy.

If you want to check out some photos of their trip:
picasaweb.google.com/miller8008

Any other specific questions?
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Old 12-11-2007, 02:52 PM   #4
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I went to Cambodia for four days, three years ago. Angor Watt is the most impressive ancient wonder I've seen (and I've travel to a fair number of old place Europe, Turkey, China, Russia). Allow at least two full days and three or four days for Angor Watt. There are some interesting side trips, a pretty amazing lake that is a source for the Mekong river, near Siem Reap that are worth doing.

I heard positive things about going to places in Cambodia of the beaten path, but your wedding sounds like you'll get to experience some of them.

The capital Phenom Phen is perhaps worth a visit. To be honest it didn't strike as a particularly remarkable South East Asia city compared to Thailand, or Bali. That said as student of the Vietnam war, and in the company of Vietnamese boat person (now a doctor) I found the "Killing Fields" tour fascinating, depressing, and horrifying, so I wouldn't have missed it. The other folks in our group probably didn't find it fascinating.

The poverty of the place can be overwhelming at times, with plenty of land mine victims wandering the streets. However, the people are very gentle and friendly and tourist are enough of a novelty that you'll probably like it.
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Old 12-11-2007, 04:29 PM   #5
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The lake you are talking about is the Tonle Sap. It is one big lake, however, I don't think it is the source of the Mekong, as the Mekong comes out of Laos down through eastern Cambodia and into Vietnam.
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Old 12-11-2007, 04:55 PM   #6
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I think Tonle Sap is "a source for the Mekong river", as clifp said, but not the only source. Maybe Tonle Sap would be considered more of a tributary? Anyway, nice lake, and you can take a boat tour around it, or even use it as transportation between siem reap and surrounding cities, even to phnom penh I believe.
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Old 12-11-2007, 05:05 PM   #7
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A trivial point, but the source has to be somewhere in China. According to Wikipidia:

The river's source, and therefore its exact length, is uncertain, due to the existence of several tributaries in an inaccessible environment. According to the China Science Exploration Association survey, the source is the Lasagongma spring, at an altitude of 5,224 metres (17,139 ft).[

It is certainly the main source of water for the lower Mekong that runs through Vietnam.
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Old 12-11-2007, 05:25 PM   #8
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You are right Rustic, but I remembered it was the source of one of the rivers that converged at Phnom Penh (who's spelling I butchered). Thanks for looking it up.

The cool thing about the lake is the boat people on the lake have constructed floating villages on the lake.
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Old 12-11-2007, 05:34 PM   #9
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I spent a year in 1972 flying over Cambodia.
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Old 12-11-2007, 05:41 PM   #10
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I spent a year in 1972 flying over Cambodia.
Did you see John Kerry?
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Old 12-11-2007, 06:01 PM   #11
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He never crossed my gunsight.
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Old 12-11-2007, 08:57 PM   #12
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I spent a year in 1972 flying over Cambodia.
My FIL was probably right underneath you fighting in the Cambodian army against the Khmer Rouge. He has some great war stories - such as the time they were crossing the Mekong in Phnom Penh and their small boat came under attack from small arms fire and RPG's. Him and all his boatmates jumped overboard - some made it, some didn't. He was pretty amazed that he could find the location of the attack on google earth (they have hi-res images of phnom penh - pretty cool!). He did note that he never observed John Kerry fighting in any swift boats.
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Old 12-11-2007, 10:00 PM   #13
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Hi Trek,

I've been to Cambodia a few times. Its a bit rustic but personally I like it there. Amazing how people can recover and go on to live productive lives (Khmer Rouge reference.)

Are you flying into Phnom Penh? If so, I recommend the standard Visa on arrival at the small but modern PP airport. Takes about 15 minutes, $20 USD. Have correct change because they never do There is an ATM before you exit the airport that spits out US currency. Small US bills will always be usefull, just don't let them give you a ripped or torn note as change. (Torn Riel, the Cambodian currency is not a problem; torn $US notes are )

I stopped briefly Battambang and it was a sleepy, quaint old french colonial provincial city. The people are friendly and a bit less jaded than over touristed Thailand.

Angor Wat can keep you occupied for three days minimum (if you are into history.) Siem Reap, the small town outside Angor Wat, is developing rapidly and there are plenty of decent restaurants and guest houses available. If you do visit AW, consider returning to Phnom Penh by fast boat on the Tonal Sap River. Very senic and MUCh smoother than the roads

While in PP, have a meal and/or beverage at the Foreign Correspondents Club over looking the river-great view and atmosphere. Plenty of good food in PP and they do great French bread. There is a blind massage just north of Wat Phnom, worth the effort to find the place.

Khmer Surin restaurant has great Khmer food-tell Ong I said hello (South of the Independence monument on PH 57.) Tuol Sleng Prison, Killing Fields (Khmer Rouge) and the National Museum are all worth a look.

Enjoy yourself there. Cambodia is safe and a real bargain

Lance
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Old 12-11-2007, 10:05 PM   #14
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went to Siem Reap last year for a couple days. With help from Japan and the French they are trying to recover from years of the Khemer Rouge.
This is a picture of a billboard i was lucky enough to get while departing to the airport. It tells the story of where they are trying to go vs. where they've been. I think relief groups from Japan did the billboard. Beautiful country, very poor people and to see the injured from land minds play music for tips upset me very much. monkeys run free and there are elephants to ride. i'd like to go back but don't think dw wants a return trip.

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Old 12-12-2007, 08:43 AM   #15
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Out in the jungle where my inlaws went, the mosquitoes were really bad - bring repellent.

Very resilient people. In the videos/photos my in laws brought back, everyone seemed to be smiling or laughing and generally having a good time, even though they had very little in terms of material wealth.
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Old 12-12-2007, 11:29 AM   #16
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If you are on a budget, then the Two Dragons guesthouse in Siem Reap is very nice. We stayed there (3 years ago now) for about US$15/night with A/C (important for dehumidifying the air even if it isn't that hot). Owned by an American who married a Cambodian, and it's very clean.

We really liked the food in Cambodia, especially the fish curry. I wish I could find dishes like that here -- my wife and I still talk about how good the food was at Two Dragons especially, but also even at roadside stands (but don't get meat at a roadside stand -- it's probably from a 10 year old dairy cow that gave up the ghost and is mostly gristle!).

When we arrived in Siem Reap (by bus from Phnom Penh), we were mobbed by hotel and tour touts. Fortunately, we had a ride arranged from the guesthouse, and so we didn't have to negotiate with such a crowd. I kept my hand and eyes on my luggage!
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Old 12-14-2007, 03:33 PM   #17
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I've heard horror stories about the bugs there. I'm not trying to ruin your excitement for the trip just be prepared for the bugs with plenty of industrial strength repellent.
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Old 12-19-2007, 10:06 AM   #18
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I just returned (Monday) from a trip to Thailand with a 3 day visit to Siam Reap and Angkor Wat. People are very friendly and the temples in Siam Reap especially Angkor Wat can keep you busy for days if that is your interest. Air quality is terrible and it is very dusty during the dry season. Took a boat ride on Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia. Fascinating to see how this river/lake population lives. In Siam Reap, Amok restaurant is great and not expensive. Avoid Red Piano restaurant food is mediocre despite Angelina Jolie eating there.
I thought Thailand was wonderful and worth a visit if you have the time and inclination.
Larry
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Old 12-19-2007, 04:40 PM   #19
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Thanks for all the replies! I'm sure I'll have more detailed questions as the time gets closer and my friends plans are more solid.

Really, the only thing that bothers me is reading about the side affects of the anti-malaria drugs. I have an Australian friend that swears her anxiety disorder is due to the Lariam she took while in East Timor.

What did some of the people who traveled there take or did you take any at all?
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Old 12-19-2007, 04:54 PM   #20
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The only time I took anti- malaria drugs was when I went to Guadacanal int the Solomon islands. At the time it had 600 cases of malaria per 1000 people, seemed like wise precaution. I went to travel doctor before going to Thailand, Bali,and Cambodia but he didn't recommend Malaria drugs for those places.
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