Budget Wise :: Laos

8 03 2009

Our visit in Laos was relatively limited due to the frustratingly long and bumpy bus rides that are necessary to getting around as a budget traveler in this beautiful country. We ended up visiting only four cities and missed out some very exciting and picturesque parts of Laos because we just couldn’t bring ourselves to sit through a rough ten hour busĀ  ride every few days. An extra visa or enough money to upgrade to flying would have allowed us a much more comprehensive visit, but hey, now we have something to look forward to going back for. Though we didn’t get to see it all, we did get a pretty good idea of what it costs to travel in Laos on a budget. Read the rest of this entry »


Budget Wise :: Cambodia

13 01 2009

Cambodia was a bit more confusing than our other destinations when it came to traveling on a budget. A year or two ago, I’m not certain of the exact date, the Khmer people suffered a massive inflation due to rising gas prices. Unfortunately for them (and the tourists) the cost of living didn’t fall back down with the gas prices. Now what looks like, feels like, and should be a very budget friendly country is surprisingly not as friendly as it once was. This doesn’t mean that Cambodia is charging European prices, but it was actually more expensive than it’s more developed neighbor Thailand. Read the rest of this entry »

Slow Boat to Siem Reap

20 12 2008

Sangker River, Cambodia

Despite what you may think, we didn’t really have any desire to go to Siem Reap. We knew that the temples of Angkor were supposed to be one of the most amazing sites on earth, but whenever we thought of those temples the images always included hordes of tourists. After traveling for so long we have become strongly averse to hordes of tourists and generally try to avoid them. So when we decided that we wanted to go to Cambodia, our plan specifically excluded Siem Reap. Another reason that I didn’t want to go there is because I heard that the 4+ hour bus ride was full of bone-jarringly bad roads and that the only alternative route was by boat. A boat that safely holds 50 people and was routinely packed with 75. But one day we were chatting with our hotel owner in Battambang and he was saying that Cambodia and specifically the temples in Angkor were losing thousands of tourists a day due to the Bangkok airport being closed. He said that last week the boat to Siem Reap had only 25 people on it. When I expressed my apprehension about boats in Southeast Asia having a bad reputation when it came to floating, he laughed and said that the water was only about 5 ft deep and the most I would have to worry about would be water quality. And so we changed our plans. Read the rest of this entry »

Crossing Over: The Aranyaprathet-Poipet Border

13 12 2008

Poipet, Cambodia

Corruption is everywhere. It’s in governments, organizations, businesses, and average people. I know this. Almost all of us know this. This never really stops any of us from being appalled and infuriated by it, though. It also didn’t stop Gage and me from attempting to cross the border from Thailand into Cambodia. For a person who was angry for three days after the woman at the local bakery blatantly overcharged her a dollar for a bag of cookies, this was just asking for trouble. Read the rest of this entry »

Ninja Sighting in Sukhothai

21 10 2008

Sukhothai, Thailand

After the train ride to Lopburi in which we came close to melting into the seats, we decided that air-conditioned bus travel sounded pretty nice after all. So we go to the bus station and purchase two tickets for a 4.5 hour bus ride to the city of Phitsanoluk, where we will change buses and continue to Sukhothai. We confirmed with the ticket agent about eight times that we were buying a ticket for an A/C bus and she assured us that it was an air bus. Well, too bad we didn’t confirm that we would actually be able to sit. Once we got onto the bus it became quickly apparent that all of the seats were taken and that those people who were standing were going to remain standing for the rest of the trip. Gage jumped off the bus and politely pointed out to the ticket agent that we paid to sit on a bus, not stand and that we would like at least a partial refund. She assured him that she would find us a seat and after some brief words with the driver, we were offered accommodation on the driver’s bed, located behind the driver’s seat. That wasn’t going to fly either, so I was given the navigator’s seat and Gage was seated on the stairs. As bad as that may be, the fact that the bus continually broke down and our 4.5 hour bus ride turned into a 6.5 hour bus ride only made it comical. Welcome to Asia.

We paid extra for front row.

We paid extra for front row.

Read the rest of this entry »