to know one of the reasons India House is such a great place
for backpackers to stay? Because the owners are still known to
lug their packs around the world as well. Here's an account of
John's latest trip:
to Cambodia and Thailand
took a backpacking trip to SE Asia, in particular Cambodia
and Thailand in October and November. It was a return to
a region I adore so much.
staying on Koh San Rd in Bangkok, this area is now as far
removed from backpacking as it can ever be. Teeming with
tailors, e-mail facilities, Boots Pharmacy ( a British
chain store even) and Italian, Mexican and Indian cuisine............
what a change from the 1980's. None the less it is still
fun and adventurous. I stayed in the Koh San Palace Hotel
a little more than a hostel but only costing $15.00 a night
to avoid the blaring din of tuk-tuks as they screamed thru
the night, along with various "euro-music" tunes pumping
from street cafes.
few days later compliments of "Mr. Tiger" at Pilot Tours
in the Hotel Alleyway travel kiosk I was Air-con bus bound
to Surathani the countries southeast harbour town to the
Islands of Ko Samui, KO Pha-ngan and KO Tao. Having seen
KO Samui years before even electricity was available on
the Island and now with "Go-Go- Bars" and an Airport,
I moved on to KO Pha-ngan. There, amid the chaos on the
pier, I followed a chap called "Noom" to the off the beaten
track "Haad-Soon Bungalows" all the way up to the NW side
of the Island.
is not the word, breathtaking more like it. Bungalows start
at 150baht in low season up to 350baht depending on how close
you are to their private beach. "Koom" the Owner cleans it
each morning and between relaxing in your hammock on your
verandah, dining in the casual beautiful handcrafter restaurant
or tanning on the beach, you will feel like it's paradise.
I left Haad Son Bungalows the day after a "full moon " party
at Haad Rai on the SE side of the Island. Great party if
you like the "western culture" invasion of a paradise Island.
on back to Bangkok, I then moved on too Cambodia via minibus
to the Cambodian border at Poipet. "Mr. Tiger" again helped
with visas and transport. The reality of the poverty was
apparent. There followed a two day trip to Siemerep, the
closest town to Anghor Wat, the famous temples built in the
10th century by the Khmers. The roads have not been re-paved
in 30 years since the communist revolution war engulfed the
country in the mid-70's. Traveling with 10-12 persons in
the back of a pick-up backpacks included is the only way
to get there, other than flying. But you will miss the sheer
adventure of this experience. Siemerep is close to the ruins
of Anghor. Try a stay at "Orchidae" Guest House, House #
239, where clean rooms and plentiful "moto" transport abound.
You need a "moto" driver to get you about this area.....see
for yourself. Foreigners are not "legally" permitted to rent "moto-bikes" without
a driver and I agree after seeing the roads. Some try to
avoid this and cut costs. Saving $5.00 and wrecking your
bike hardly seems worth it.
Siemerep I took a dubious ride down the Tonle Sap lake and
river to the capital of Phnom Phen. I suggest staying above
board and close to "the bridge". Safer in case of capsizing
and dryer for sure. The boat design is old Malaysian and
rumored to be unstable. A backpacker rumor or not I was not
taking a chance. But it was wet in the area I avoided and
I felt unstable on many a moment.
Phen is growing and getting busy. Staying by the river is
preferable, try Guest House # 9 , Street #93,cheap at $3-4
a night. On the water and very friendly cool place. I loved
it. Out on the street I met a great British guy selling the
best sandwiches in town. 'Cafe Sonteiheap", (Peace Cafe)
on Street 86, he has beers and great food. Drinking 'til
sun up was a time after all my trekking and preparing for
the next days ahead. You must check out the" killing fields" (moto
driver required again ) and the Toul Svay Prey High School
museum for a worthy look at the countries horrific past.
It will move you, if not bring a tear to your eyes.
returned to Thailand by taking a bus to the coast and various
boats back up the coast from Sianoukville to KO Krong and
bus from there to Trat in Thailand and on to Bangkok. After
a return to Haad Son Bungalows to revive myself I was sadly
ready to return to New Orleans.
summary it was amazing and my story is abbreviated for
the web site. But if you wish to learn about cultures,
and see people less fortunate than yourself, yet more alive,
try a trip to SE Asia and in particular Cambodia, where
the struggle to rise from the ruins of the communist revolution
in the 1970's, is a picture in human endurance.