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Nomadic Notes Newsletter: March 2016
Greetings from Bangkok and another edition of Where I’m At; a monthly update of what I’ve been up to, site news, and where I’m going next.
Where I’m At: Bangkok
Where I’ve Been
I visited three countries this month, with one new city.
Ho Chi Minh City
As with the start of January, I started February in Saigon where I was finishing off another three month Vietnam visa. February was the Chinese New Year, which is the Lunar New Year (Tet) in Vietnam. New years day was on the 8th but the city is a buzz the week before with everyone getting ready before most of the city shuts down for a week.
It’s a great time of year to visit and see the festivities. The walking street (pictured above) is transformed into a garden and people come from all over to have their family photos taken there.
Siem Reap/Angkor Wat
With my visa running out and needing to time my arrival in Thailand to arrive at the end of the month I had just over two weeks to spare, which I spent in Cambodia. I hadn’t been back to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat since 2005 so I was due for a revisit. I know that Angkor Wat is an amazing place but I really did forget how good it was. Even with 11 times the crowds since my last visit 11 years ago, it was still worth it. [Angkor photo gallery.]
One change since my last visit has been the introduction of photo tickets. I got up at 4.30am to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat, and was caught unaware when my photo was being taken at the ticket box. I present to you my resting 5am-haven’t-had-a-coffee face.
I missed Battambang on my first trip here so I was curious to check it out as I have heard many good things. It’s the second biggest city in Cambodia and it has one of the best preserved selection of colonial buildings from the French Indochina era. I spent nine days there and I loved my time here. It was the first time in ages I was somewhere where I didn’t know anyone or didn’t have any meetup’s planned. I will be posting a guide for Battambang soon.
Phnom Penh is rough and a little bit crazy, but I love it. It’s the wildest capital of Southeast Asia and it’s developing fast (including this ridiculous proposed 500-metre twin towers project). I ended up here twice because I didn’t plan properly. I was originally going to go overland from Cambodia into Thailand, but Australian passport holders only get 15-days visa at land borders. I forgot about that. I had to go back to Phnom Penh to fly to Bangkok in order to get a 30-days visa. Good thing I like Phnom Penh.
The last day of the month (the bonus leap year day) I arrived in Bangkok. There are two airports in Bangkok: Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and Don Muang (DMK). The new Suvarnabhumi is more aesthetically pleasing than the tired and old Don Muang, but DMK is easy to fly into. Upon arrival at DMK there was no one in the line at immigration, my bag was out in 5 minutes, and there was no queue for the taxi. A taxi costs less than $10 USD to get to Sukhumvit Rd.
I’m in Bangkok at least twice a year and it never gets old for me. I would like to do a longer stay at some point but for now I am satisfied with these visits that I get.
I have no sexy photo to offer of the remaining few hours of the month that was in Bangkok, so I offer the above photo of a new metro line that is being built. This was the view from the taxi of the Dark Red Line, which will connect DMK airport with central Bangkok.
I am staying in Thailand for most of March on a 30-day visa. I have a week in Bangkok to attend the DNX conference and meet friends.
After Bangkok I fly to Surat Thani in the south of Thailand to visit the Gulf islands. I haven’t got any plans apart from the first few days booked at Koh Phangnan.
I had to consult the online equivalent of the Farmers Almanac (in other words, Google) to find out when the full moon was, to make sure I wasn’t going to be on Koh Phagnan during the Full Moon Party. I would just be mistaken for someone’s dad looking for their kids, plus it would just be weird for a sober dude to attend such an event. Fortunately Koh Phangan is more than a party, so I look forward to having a look.
At the end of the Month I will go to Hong Kong, which is also becoming an annual visiting destination. I will me meeting some of my family there, who will be on holiday.