Banana Pancake Trail : Day 3, crossing the overland border

10 October 2014 :

We woke up at around 6.30am  and packed our stuff for the trip to Bangkok. The bus company’s tuk2 that we booked 2 days before came to pick us at hotel at 7.45am and brought us to the company’s office. We embarked on our journey at 8.00am. As i stated before in my previous post, there are couple of reason why I chose this company. Firstly, the feedback from the previous customers of this company was very good. Eventhough it’s a little bit expensive, but there is assurance you will not suffer throughout the journey or encounter any mishaps. I dont want to take risk because once we reach the the border of cambodia and Thailand, anything can happen. Then, the seat is comfortable and they provided us with morning snacks and lunch. I came across reviews about other companies that provided the same service to Bangkok albeit with lower prices, and the feedback was very bad. They had to compress themselves in a bus of 60 people for 4 hours journey to the border and once u pass through the border , u had to scuffle for minivan. Hence, I chose Nattakan bus company which provided the hassle-free service.

Inside the bus
Inside the bus

The bus reached the border at 11.30am. The whole process at the immigration took us about 45 minutes and everything was going smooth as planned. We saw some problems faced by those who used other bus and there shoutings in which we cant understand. The bus conductor patiently waited for us at the other side of the border before guiding us back to the bus and continued our journey to Bangkok. One interesting sight was school children passing through the border everyday,in which they are cambodians who are schooled in Thailand. They literally going abroad everyday !

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crossing the border with the kids !
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Cambodian border
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Thailand ‘s border

We arrived at Bangkok Mo Chit bus station at 4.30pm. Initially we plan to take taxi to the nearest MRT station but the price was expensive so we took Tuk2 instead. From the MRT Mo Chit station, we shoot straight to Hualampong Central Train station to buy our ticket to Surat Thani next Monday. This is where people come to take trains to all other cities in Thailand. When we first arrived there, the person in charged at the information counter recommended us to take package to Krabi as it would be easier. She brought us to the travel agent office to book the packages. However, after much consideration, we concluded that the package price was too pricey (1000 baht , inclusive of 2nd class train ticket and bus from Surat Thani to Krabi). Luckily we did our research prior the journey and we decided to gamble and will just take any bus at the Surat Thani train station and hop into any bus once we reach there later. The fare for 2nd class fan ticket to Surat Thani cost us around 500 baht.

From Mo Chit Bus station to Mrt. Its quite dusty
From Mo Chit Bus station to Mrt. Its quite dusty
The main railway station of Bangkok
The main railway station of Bangkok

We had our dinner at a foodstall besides the Hualamphong Railway Station. I bump into a local who actually can speak Malay and he showed us the halal food stall. It is important for travellers to ask questions to locals because u would not know what kind of assistance u can get unless u open your mouth.  Once we finished our dinner, we departed to On Nut MRT station via the Sukhumvit Interchange MRT Station. From On Nut, we took taxi to our hotel that I already booked. Initially, we came to the wrong hotel and I alreay worried that we might not be able to reach the hotel as the time already 10pm. Luckily we still managed to find the hotel after roaming around the area. The location of the hotel was quite isolated. Maybe that’s the reason why the price is cheap. We only paid RM66 per night(I booked online through Agoda) for a King size bedroom plus breakfast. So we only paid RM22 per person per night !

The receptionist in this hotel were very friendly and their hospitality was great. I overheard them speaking Kelantanese on the phone so I decided to have a conversation with them as I know the basic Kelantenese. From there, I was told that the owner and workers of this hotel were from Pattani and most of them were muslim. So all the foods they served were halal foods. Its really a big relief for me. I dont have to worry much about food in this hotel. Their room was very comfortable and I believed i had struck a bargain by choosing this hotel.

Good enough for 3 person
Good enough for 3 person

BANANA PANCAKE TRAIL : DAY 2, THE MAGNIFICENT ANGKOR WAT

9 OCTOBER 2014

We begin our journey to Angkor Wat complex at 8am , intending to complete the Small circuit. There are 2 types of circuit. The Small Circuit takes in several of the major temples around the area while Grand Circuit is an extension on the little circuit but covering more temples and places and is highly recommended for anyone spending three or more days in the complex. As we only stay in Siem Reap for 2 full days, we chose the small circuit.

This is where the Tuktuk fill in their petrol. Easy right ?
This is where the Tuktuk fill in their petrol. Easy right ?

Our mode of transport was tuktuk. After lengthy negotiations the night before, the tuktuk driver agree to bring us around small circuit for USD15 plus the sunset view. If u have only one day, its better to take tuktuk rather than renting the bicycle, as the place was huge! it will drag your time trust me. But if u have the three days pass, then go for bicycle. It only cost u 1USD per day. The distance from central Siem Reap to Angkor Wat complex entrance is about 8km. The fee for one day pass is 20USD.

The Ticket for one day entrance
The Ticket for one day entrance

Our first stop was the Angkor Wat temple. This is the main temple of the Angkor Wat complex. Angkor Wat literally means “City of Temple“. It is a Hindu temple built by King Suryavarman. We hired a licensed tour guide to guide us and explain about this marvellous architecture. We pay 10USD for that services. It is highly recommended to do so because it would be a great waste if u just come there to take pictures and not knowing the treasure behind the construction of this temple, For me, the essence of travelling is to know other cultures and history and not just sightseeing. Try to haggle the price because there are tour guides who tried to charged USD15 per head ! in that case, just let it go, and find other tour guide. But dont haggle too much too. Be reasonable.

The entrance to Angkor Wat. We have to cross the river that symbolizes as world and the complex that is symbolizes as sky kingdom
The entrance to Angkor Wat. We have to cross the river that symbolizes as world and the complex that is symbolizes as sky kingdom

The Angkor Wat temple is very huge and it takes us 2 1/2 hours to fully explore that temple. It has three main part and the last part u reach will be the “heaven” part.  As we stroll around the temple , the tour guide explained us about the unique history of Angkor empire and the meaning of the symbol inside the temple. One interesting fact, the Ayutthaya city in Thailand use to be under the kingdom, and the people associate themselves as khmer people.

The inside view of Angkor Wat. Majestic
The inside view of Angkor Wat. Majestic
Wonders of the world
Wonders of the world
The Palace
The Palace
View from heaven, as the tour guide told us
View from heaven, as the tour guide told us

After Angkor Wat Temple, we had our lunch in one of the restaurant along the journey. The price is quite expensive though and i suggest those who want to have lunch to pack their own. Then we progress to the next temple in the small circuit. For every temple , there will be people selling stuff and dont say anything to them unless u want to buy anything, or else they will wait u to finish and force u to buy something. In one of the temples that we visit, there are people who performing traditional khmer music and most of them are the victims of Pol Pot regime. The music was nice and I decided to give some token as appreciation. One more thing, I regretted that I did not buy some of their drawings. It was cheap and beautiful. U can scroll it and put it into your backpack.

The last temple we visit for the day is the Angkor Thom complex. It comprises of several temples, the famous one is the Bayon Temple. Built in the latter part of the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII, Bayon is one of the most widely recognised temples in Siem Reap because of the giant stone faces that adorn the towers of Bayon. There are 54 towers of four faces each, totalling 216 faces. However before we reach there, suddenly there was super heavy rain and we had to take cover in a small hut with Buddha statue and people praying. I feel very awkward at that time with my wet clothes. haha. The rain lasted for about 45 minutes and after that me and my colleague continue to explore the complex. Due to the rain, we missed our sunset as the entrance to the sunset view spot is only open untill 5.30pm. We reach our hostel at 6.30pm.

For the night activities, we explore the Pub Street and had our dinner at stalls along the street. I prefer to eat there as I can see they way they prepare the food and ensure it is halal. Besides that, the taste is nice and the price is cheap. The juice stall is highly recommended as it is fresh and tasty.

Banana Pancake Trail : Pre-Departure and Day 1

Here it is. Banana pancake trail. I have been craving to do this route for a year. The initial plan was to start from Vientianne , Laos going through Hanoi (for their awesome Halong Bay) , Saigon and Phnom Penh, but I had to scrap it out due to to my other travel partners who had time and budget constraints. Some might say, just go for solo travel, but as this is my graduation trip, i decided to sacrifice that because I want to make this trip memorable with my close friends. Solo Travelling can wait later.  So for those whom never heard of this route , you can check it here .banana pancake trail     7-8 October 2014

I departed from my hometown bus station(Teluk Intan) to KL at 6.25pm and reach the Puduraya Bus Station at 9.30pm. As expected , my journey was quite rough as the bus company ,SPT , does not use the highway route and I was sitting at the back. After trying to contact my friends and checking out the hostel rate in KL, I decided to stay at Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS). It seems that everyone was unavailable. To make things worse, the surau at TBS was locked and the hotel rate at TBS was a rip-off at RM15 per hour. As i roam inside TBS, a stranger whom I bet in the same condition as mine ask me to follow him to smoking room to sleep. I initially quite hesitated but after exploring the whole tbs, i decided to go there and joined him. To my surprises, we are not the only people who are stranded as it looks like people are everywhere sleeping at chairs and foodcourt.

This was where I slept for the night
This was where I slept for the night

I woke up at at 5.40am and perform my subuh prayer. Due to expensive price of food in KLIA , i decided to chill out at TBS and had my breakfast there. At 10am, i departed to KLIA2 by shuttle bus which cost only RM9 , which is way cheaper than KLIA transit which charges u at RM26. The journey takes about 45 mins. After that, I met my travel buddies a.k.a SRC mates , Cham and Dhanesh at KLIA2. I did my currency exchange at Maybank as the rate was better compared to CIMB and Bank Islam.

We departed to Siem Reap with AirAsia AK540 at 1.30pm. Guess what, my fares only cost me RM70. I made friends with a guy named Simon from Australia which sits beside me. We chat about our own journey. Apparently, he and his GF are having vacation for 3 months. Yes, for 3 Months. I really admire their boldness when they want to do something. He just quit his job for the trip. We arrived at Siem reap Airport around 2.30pm local time. The journey actually takes about 2 hours. After that, we went to our hostel that I had booked before through Agoda by using the Tuk-tuk that was provided by the hostel for free. The Hostel was about 5km from the airport. When we arrived there, the hostel lady was already there to greet us. The hostel location was perfect, as everything is within walking distance. We book triple room for 2 nights for RM 90. So roughly its around RM15 per person for each night. Totally worth it as the hospitality was good and the room was comfortable(by backpackers standard).

The TukTuk that pick up us at the airport
The TukTuk that pick up us at the airport
Banana Pancake !
Banana Pancake !

We had our dinner at local restaurant in pubstreet. Bear in mind, everything here is in USD. So make sure U bring enough USD if u plan to travel to cambodia. This is due to their very weak currency. There is KFC too in pubstreet. We book our bus to Bangkok that day to ensure that we did not miss out the tickets. It cost us USD28. yes I know might be quite expensive but the bus company that I chose is the best for Bangkok trip. I did my research and Nattakan services are good and hassle free. U can get bus ticket as cheap as USD15 , buttttt, u going to endure a tough time. They would only send u to the border and u need to take van from the border to Bangkok. U can checkout from travel websites such as TripAdvisor for more details. I had the Banana Pancakes ! The taste was quite good. Its like a combination of roti canai and waffle. The road was dusty and it is advisable for traveller to bring face mask. We enjoyed the Phare circus performance at night as it was rated 5 star in Trip Advisor. It is quite expensive though at USD 15 for one hour show.

Angkor national museum. Strongly recommended to go to this place before u embark for a journey through the Angkor Wat complex. The Phare Circus location is behind this building
Angkor national museum. Strongly recommended to go to this place before u embark for a journey through the Angkor Wat complex. The Phare Circus location is behind this building
The Phare Circus performance
The Phare Circus performance