Day 10: Finally, a day to relax


Our group dining and relaxing at the home of Wichai and Kaew.


Group massage at MyCare Center.

I slept in.

As simple as that sounds, it was a lot for me to be able to sleep in. You see, during this trip to Bangkok, we have had a so many activities planned. Almost every morning, I have had to get up early to get started on the day’s activities or to catch a plane somewhere. It was really nice to be able to not worry about anything and rest.

But, once I was awake and dressed, it was off to first activity of the day: Getting massages! I love getting massages — and Aom’s aunt graciously offered to take me to get more more before I head back to California tomorrow. My sister-in-law and Alex joined Wichai, Kaew and me for a 2-hour group sessions.

This marked my fifth massage while on vacation.


Seafood selection at Talay Thai Seafood Market.

More seafood was in store for us for lunchtime. Kaew and Wichai took us to Talay Thai Seafood Market for us to select some fresh shrimp, fish, scallops, clams, blood clams, mussels and crab. At Talay, once you pick out the seafoods that you want, there is a place onsite that will prepare it for you.


Five-Star Chicken delivery.

We brought home our prepared dishes to eat in the comfort of Wichai and Kaew’s home.

We spent talking, eating and drinking — and booking Wichai and Kaew’s visit to California in time for Christmas. And even after devouring all that seafood, we still had room for food deliver of Five-Star Chicken and McDonald’s for our “tailgate party” before UCLA vs. USC football.

Game time in Thailand: 3:30 a.m.!



Day 9: Back to Bangkok


Siem Reap International Airport

It’s a travel day for us — from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Bangkok, Thailand.

We had a late afternoon flight. I’m thankful that we don’t have activities planned — free time — at least until 3 p.m. when we had to go to the airport for a 5 p.m. flight.

I opted to spend the morning catching up on sleep. But, for some reason, sleep eluded me. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. By 7 a.m. I joined my fellow travelers for a complimentary breakfast at the hotel. I was expecting your average continental style breakfast spread. But, the buffet spread included red vegetable curry, steam rice, bacon, french toast, poached eggs, fresh watermelon and mangos, variety of breads and fruit spreads, cereals, yogurt, coffee and juices. The chef also prepared omelette with your choice of fillings or you can choose the have a bowl of noodles.


Temple by the river in Siem Reap.

During breakfast, we were discussing what each person had planned for the day. Alex opted to take in the sites — walking around Siem Reap. Aom and Dora wanted to get manicures in the morning, massages in the early afternoon. My brother and Art wanted to rest. I opted for catching up on writing and then site-seeing. I also planned for an afternoon manicure.


Our complimentary lunch from the staff at the hotel we were staying at in Siem Reap.

With plans made, we also made arrangements with the hotel staff for our complimentary lunch. They told us it would be a “set menu” so I didn’t expect much. As we gathered for lunch, the waiter showed us the menu. I was pleasantly surprised at what was going to be served.

During lunch, we talked about our adventures during the past week — so much travel in so little time. After all said and done, we will have hopped on airplanes at least six times or more, traveled by mini-vans four times, takes speed boats twice, and simple power boats twice. No wonder many of us were tired.

While the guys in our group went up rest and pack before the trip back to Bangkok, my sister-in-law, Dora and I went to our planned appointments. Aom and Dora went for 1-hour massages. I to my hand scrub and manicure.

Time flies when you have activities planned. In no time, my manicure and Aom and Dora’s massages were done and we were checking out of the hotel to head out to the airport. Less than an hour after taking off from Siem Reap International Airport, we landed back at Don Muang International Airport.


Art and Dora with Lao Lao co-owner and chef.

Our host family, Wichai and Kaew came to pick us up at the airport. Chic was there with them, too. It was after 6 p.m. and Wichai wanted to take us to Lao-Lao Seafood Restaurant, a Chinese-Thai restaurant close by to where his job is located.

My brother calls Lao-Lao one of his favorite restaurants in Bangkok.

His review about Lao-Lao: “Nice local place for Thai/Chinese food specializing in seafood and for those late night eaters, rice porridge (jok). Still run by the children of the original owners. Decent food with decent service. Check out their specialties. Open from 4 pm to 4 am everyday so for those suffering from jet lag, it may be a great option.”

One of the adult children was a challenger on Iron Chef Thailand and won her challenge. So, you have to believe that the food is good — and it is.

After dinner, it was time to say good bye to Art and Dora. They were flying to Beijing to tour The Great Wall before heading back home to Los Angeles. After drop off at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, it was finally time to get some sleep.



Day 8: Thanksgiving in Cambodia


Sun rise at Angkor Wat

I have lots to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving day.

I am very thankful to be spending Thanksgiving with my brother, my sister-in-law and good friends. I’m thankful to be able to travel to beautiful places like Thailand and now, here in Siem Reap. Early this morning, I watched an incredible sun rise over Angkor Wat — which is also so incredible. I am thankful to be able to explore the Ancient Angkor — one of the World Heritage sites.

I am also thankful to have lots of supportive friends and family back home. Again, lots to be thankful for.

Like I said, we started out our day very early in the morning — 5:30 a.m. at Angkor Wat. We were here the day before for the sunset for a quick visit before dinner. But, it’s nothing like watching the sun rise. I thought we were getting to Angkor Wat pretty early. But when we got here, there were already hundreds of other tourists here. They too had the same idea of watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat.


Angkor Wat

After the spectacular sun rise, we went about exploring Angkor Wat. So much history behind just one temple/site. We didn’t have a tour guide. But, I would sneak a listen to some of the guides who spoke english to other tourists.

According to legend, the construction of Angkor Wat was ordered by Indra to act as a palace for his son Precha Ket Mealea in the 12th century. Originally a Hindu place of worship, toward the end of the 12th century, the site was slowly converted into a Buddhism site —  which it is still today.

By 7 a.m., we were done exploring Angkor Wat and ready for some breakfast. We asked our driver for a recommendation of one of several tiny restaurants by Angkor Wat. But, our driver suggested we go to one larger restaurant in the back of the other small restraurants for better food. We took him up on his suggestion.


Dora and Aom at Bayon.

It was pretty clean compared to the other outdoor food stalls. And, it looked like the local police officers liked dining there, too, as there were a number of officers eating while were were there.

Afterward, we continued on our tour of the Ancient Angkors. Next stop, Bayon, one of the richly decorated temples.


Faces on the towers of Bayon

They say that this temple, built in the late 12th century, is one of the most complex of the Angkor temples. Originally, they think there were from 49 to 54 towers. Today, only 37 are left standing. Each of these towers are carved with four faces. There are also guardian lions at the site.

By mid-morning, after touring Bayon, our group decided to explore one more temple site. We choose to visit Ta Prohm. The temple is popular due to its site being used in the film, “Lara Craft: Tomb Raider.”


Randy and Aom at Ta Prohm.

The trees growing out of the ruins are perhaps the most distinctive feature of Ta Prohm. But it is also the cause of some of the destruction of the temple.

We figured out why so many tourists start the day of exploring the Ancient Angkor so early in the morning. By late morning, the heat and humidity were getting to us.

After Ta Prohm, we were done walking the Ancient Angkor sites and were ready to head back to Siem Reap.

With the afternoon clear of activities, I decided to go for a relaxing massage. I opted to just stay at our hotel and get the 90-minute traditional Khumer massage.

My massage was so relaxing that I think I fell asleep during part of my massage. It’s like a regular massage back in the states, but you don’t get fully undressed. Rather, you change into very loose clothing so they can massage you.

IMG_9065[1]After my massage, I got a much needed nap before group dinner at 5 p.m.

This was our Thanksgiving meal. Our dinner consisted of Khumar-style food: Curries and amok, plus a Cambodian taco (more like an omlette), sauteed veggies, coconut and mango shakes, iced coffee drinks and beer. Draft beer: 50 cents. Dishes range from $2 to $4. Total cost of our Thanksgiving feast for six people: Under $40.

The rest of the night was again more walking and site seeing, shopping and a stop for a night cap before heading back to the hotel.

Tomorrow, a day of relaxing/site-seeing before we head back to Bangkok.