Laos & Cambodia or just Cambodia?

Ancient temples swallowed by the jungle, rice paddies, local markets, stunning beaches, fiery cuisine, smoking incense at the feet of a golden Buddha, and the friendliest locals around.

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Re: Laos & Cambodia or just Cambodia?

Postby dreaded_luggage » Fri May 31, 2013 2:48 pm

ballu wrote:Vang Vieng is mostly known for the tubing, which is basically a floating pub crawl...but I'm not sure about G Adventure's position on it.

I skipped the tubing and got a spare spot on a canoe trip instead. They took a mixture of 1-, 2- and 3-bod boats up the river and then worked out who was going in which one. I got the solo one, which was fun. Pretty gentle river, so no threat to an amateur anyway. One of the guides turned to me, gestured to all the bars down "river right" and asked me what I thought. I looked them over, thought it was a tragic waste of a beautiful river and replied: "I think you have too many bloody tourists!" It got a laugh. :lol:

Personally, I'd happily have started further up and done as much of the Nam Xong as a canoe can, from "barely deep enough" all the way down town or even to the Nam Ngum ... er ... mess. Put in at 19.120122N,102.516099E. Pick up on the beach at 18.760713N,102.549133E. Long way, but what a trip!

The thing to watch for on the tubing is the pickup times. Unless they've changed their business model, the trip's really cheap but there's a huge surcharge for not making it to the pickup point by the allotted time ... and there are all those bars to tempt people to linger. We towed a few locals behind our canoes some of the way to save them the surcharges.

Tried canoeing again down the Nam Ou into the Mekong, based at Luang Prabang. Different experience. Nam Ou's pleasant enough but the Mekong's got a current you wouldn't believe, giving very little time to avoid hazards like that sodding great whirlpool that's wider than this 3-person boat is long!

...the scenery in Laos was pretty impressive.
That it certainly was. Nothing like a million tonnes of unexploded bombs to keep the scenery unspoiled, eh? That and it being too steep to farm, of course. Limestone makes some really spectacular knife-edge ridges, covered in virgin forest, towering above the river valleys and the narrow towns stretched out along the flat valley floors. Even in February, it was a bit too hot to want to go hiking, but it looked like it would have been awesome. Vang Vieng's at around 175m and some of the nearby peaks are over 2400m. <=== short version, not sure how long it'll be valid.

Long version ===> ... +Laos&z=13

I think it's Vang Vieng that has the bamboo ladders up a rock between two ridges to the west. It's fenced in so you have to pay to get in and the ladders ... well ... I'd rather climb bare rock. The views were pretty good from the top ... as long as you don't suffer from vertigo. When you can see someone carrying two buckets on a yoke on the riverbank below and they look like o-O-o you know you don't want to try rolling back down.
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Re: Laos & Cambodia or just Cambodia?

Postby julian.sanchez » Sat Jun 01, 2013 9:13 am

Hi all,

Great info about Laos and the water... Ohh I went actually to some waterfalls in Laos near Luang Prabang and had a little accident, and well, I have to admit they were not very good in the hospital so I simply advise to be careful. I stayed in that town and people were firendly, there was this little restaurant at the other side of the river, veyr very beautiful and cozy, though we had to cross the river on these tiny boats and it was pretty scary as the monsoon season was at its peak and there were huge wood trunks in the river current.. oh I'm glad we were not hit in the middle of the dark... lol.. Food on the other hand was super !!!

I have never been to Cambodia and would like to know how similar is to Laos and what differences are there?? And also what do people recommend to do.... They say it is very beautiful but last time I didn;t get a chance...

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Re: Laos & Cambodia or just Cambodia?

Postby dreaded_luggage » Sun Jun 02, 2013 5:41 am

Cambodia: food's better! Maybe it's because I had Cambodian before Laotian, but it's the Cambodian that sticks in the mind. We ate in Pub St Alley, from two menus at once, for such low prices it's not worth worrying about who had what, and it was heavenly.

Siem Reap traffic: everything moves at a steady pace. Do not stop and look before crossing the road. You'll only confuse them. Just keep walking and weave between everything else. That's how it works.

Geography's not so spectacular. Laos has those 2400m peaks above deep valleys. Cambodia's pretty flat by comparison. Floating village and market on Tonle Sap are quite something. Some of us went by boat from there down to Phnom Penh, which I'd highly recommend if it's available. Water levels are a seasonal thing.

Phnom Penh: could taste the air pollution before we saw the city. Plenty of things to see and do, but not a place I'd choose to stay in general. My opinion may be coloured by the food poisoning I got in the Friends Restaurant. Someone else had the exact same thing as me and was fine, so it's just luck. Lots of tuktuk drivers offered "Suderan," which took some thought to translate to "shooting range." It's there alright, on a military base outside the city. Expect to pay $1 a shot for ammunition and around $70-$80 for the ride, adjusted for inflation and depending how much you haggle. If you're going to Cu Chi Tunnels, shoot there instead. Same rates, no tuktuk fare. Also take your own ear defenders.

Traffic: see it to believe it.

Cheung Ek and Tuol Sleng: ... :? ... definitely an experience. Not really an enjoyable experience, more of an educational one, but quite an experience. Definitely to be seen while you're there, and definitely a "once is enough" thing.

If you wander off at all you'll find a really sharp break between tourist-enriched and poor, which can be uncomfortable. The local children will happily practice their English with you anywhere that isn't a tourist hotspot. At the border crossing there were opportunists stalking our bags and back pockets the whole time, at the Angkor complex, around the restaurant, there are swarms trying to sell bracelets and postcards and at the boat pier there were kids trying to get tips by putting bags into the baggage space at the back, about 10 metres' walk from where they got in the way. Away from that, though, no trouble with anyone.

Our tour took in Sihanoukville: en-suite cottages around a peaceful central courtyard 100m for a beautiful white sand beach in a sheltered bay between forested, rocky headlands, with a low ridge behind it and views out over the Gulf of Thailand to watch the sunset ... and someone trying to sell you something every square metre, at least three offers of a ride to the beach, with each refusal followed by offers of "ganja" and "lady" one way round or the other. I think G have dropped that from the itinerary.

Did like Cambodia. I'd go back ... probably on this one.
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