The experience was as expected different. Be it the food, people, culture and the history. It is nice to see people just let you be, no ogling or no teasing; of course except few tourist places where they pursue you to take a rickshaw or try to have you in their restaurant. This trip was another semi backpacker adventurous trip. No prior hotel booking; with just the plan of where to go next; we had to search for stays and food only after landing in a place.
English is not widely used in both the countries; and even if used; its difficult to follow their accent. Took us a while to follow what they were communicating. Food was challenging - with exotic stuffs like frog, crocodile, grasshoppers, silk worms and scorpions as snacks. I did a mistake; didnt budget the trip properly; so it was a bit stressful. I think I am now a seasoned traveler and yet need to a smart traveler. Few things could have gone well; and few things turned out better than expected.
Thailand was clean, people were good except for few cons here and there at tourist places esp the tuk-tuk guys. I was actually surprised to see their infrastructure, roads and other facilities. Cambodia took us like 30 years back. The country is poor, the civil war and the genocide is a deep gash in the heart of Cambodians. You cant avoid feeling depressed and you need the gut to watch the gruesome prison and killing fields. Beggars and street kids selling stuff everywhere; the Siem Reap area is where all the tourists flock to see the great Angkor Wat.
The trip was somewhat a circuit. Started at Bangkok, went to northern Thailand the city of Chaing Mai. Chaing Mai was quiet, green and hill country; it was good for trekking, hiking, kayaking and other such outdoor activities amidst rain forests and rivers.The next stop was Phnom Penh - the capital of Cambodia via Bangkok and from thereon to the much awaited Seam Reap. Back to Bangkok to Phuket to fall in the Andaman sea.
The trip was 16 days; at times I felt we were rushing but we do not have the luxury of long holidays to live the life like a local would. I think that may happen after retirement. I did not show special interest towards photography this time. The reason is that its not possible to capture the details the way you want to when you are pressed for time. For that, you have to make a trip twice, first time to see it all yourself and the second time to capture it on camera.
Anyway I did get few good pictures. At Bangkok, it was mostly street life, food and the grand palace complex and Wats(temples). Here are few pictures of the Grand Palace complex at Bangkok
The Grand Palace complex at Bangkok - official residence of the King. The complex has numerous buildings, halls some converted as museum, pavilions, lawns, gardens and courtyards. A view of Wat Phra Kaew - The temple of Emerald Buddha along with Phra Sri Rattana Chedi.
Wat Phra Kaew has a plethora of buildings. Its the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand.
Emerald Buddha - is the palladium of the kingdom of Thailand; like the sacred tooth relic of Sri Lanka. Its 45 cm tall sitting Buddha made of green Jade. It was mistaken for emerald and thus the name stays. Only the king has permission to touch the idol. According to the legend the image was created in India in 43 BC by Nagasena(a Brahmin who became a Buddhist monk) in the city of Pataliputra. Its a long story; you can find it here Emerald Buddha. Photography was prohibited; I managed to sneak a snap
Phra Mondop - Library build in Thai style beside the chedi.
A close up of building, intricately decorated with colored glass pieces. It glitters so bright that one can't see them well during a bright day.
You kind of get lost in these numerous sisimilar looking buildings. Top of it; the names of them are so alien to you that you dont remember what is what and how politically or socially or religiously important they are to this country.
A close up a pillar stuck with colored glass and other knick-knacks.
A gold painted wall.
Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat - its a throne hall. The architecture is Western lower half and Thai roof.
At the far end is the Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat
A royal guard
The sprawling complex
The Dusit Maha Prasat is a throne hall built on a symmetrical cruciform form and looks beautiful. The hall is built in the shape of a tall mountain to represent the mythological center of universe - Mount Meru.
A fruit cart outside the complex
Bangkok's true spirit lies in street food. Pictures of food and more later.