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Monday, January 6, 2014

Hong Kong #16: Backpacking > Thailand. Cambodia. Vietnam. + Trip xVideo!

Location: Bangkok, Thailand
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Bangkok, Thailand.

Staying one day in this big "Hangover" city would never be recommended. However, plans are meant to be followed sometimes. As we arrived during December 21st, we encountered a city that is still developing, where cars have no respect for pedestrians whatsoever, as in most third world countries.


During my first and only day in Bangkok, we went visiting two temples: Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) and Reclining Buddha. Our group also visited the weekend street market afterwards. It was awesome because of the variety of stuffs to buy there. Later that day, on our way to the MBK mall, we passed by people that were marching and protesting against the current Thai government.


Temples were mind opening as often; the weekend market was extra crowded, however, you could probably spend hours walking around purchasing local handmade products and inexpensive and good food; the people protesting against the current Thai government all over Bangkok and the Victory monument reminded me of my home country Venezuela, where people are starting to open their eyes on a corrupted government; and the MBK mall was just too large and we were just too exhausted after a long walking and exploring day.

Notes:

  • We stayed at the Nasa Vegas Hotel, which I'd recommend
  • Weekend market is at Mochit MRT station
  • Be aware of pickpockets 
  • Going to Siem Reap, Cambodia, take the Rail train (~6 hours to the Cambodian border)
  • The money exchange rate at the booth was $1 = Baht 31.50 and HKD 1 = Baht 4.026
  • Bargain everything; you're in Southeast Asia!
 







 
















Siem Reap, Cambodia.

If there would be one thing I had to highlight from Siem Reap is how friendly people are in this touristic city. Even though it's a third world country and people earn little money, they seem to be happy with what they have.

We stayed 3 days in a more than good and convenient hostel in terms of money and quality. Free breakfast and WiFi included, swimming pool, nice people, inexpensive food and drinks, and lots of backpackers with authentic interesting stories to listen and learn from.

If you ever visit Siem Reap, it's a must to visit temples such as Angkor Wat, watch the overrated sunrise and sunset, go for a walk at Pub Street market and nightlife and get a massage there, get some happy pizza, and ride a Tuk Tuk.

Notes:

  • Buy E-Visa online at (website) for $28
  • Print two E-Visa; one for the immigration office and another for yourself to keep
  • Once arrived at the border from Arranya Prathei train station, Tuk Tuk drivers will take you to an unofficial Cambodia immigration office where Visa is way overpriced
  • Get off from that "office" and keep walking until you see the official one at your right after a big Hotel and Casino
  • Get a taxi from the border to Siem Reap for $40-$45 (4 people); the ride takes about 2 hours
  • We stayed at the Jsmine Family Lodge hostel
  • Buy Angkor Wat one day pass for $20 and try doing all temples on one day including sunset
  • Be aware of pickpockets
  • Buy elephant pants
  • US Dollars can be used to purchase everything
  • ATM machines give you US Dollars
  • Exchange rate was $1 = Cambodian Riel 4,000
  • Try bargaining for fun
  • Bargain at the unofficial exchange booth ;)
  • Going to Vietnam, you can have the hostel book bus tickets for you
  • Hire our Tuk Tuk boy: Sikla (855) 0888481121; fluent in English and a nice guy

































































































































Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.



Ho Chi Minh, as my friend told me once, is a city where motorcycles are all over the streets and it's pretty difficult to cross over. Ho Chi Minh is probably one of the cities where we didn't make as many touristic things as we had done in Bangkok and Siem Reap. However, we still got to enjoy one last time before the CityU team separated.



During the only day we were in Ho Chi Minh we got to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, a place where Vietnamese soldiers used during the war to hide and communicate. It was a great experiencing knowing the history and secrets behind the tunnels and also the weapons and traps they used against the American army. At the end of this visit some of us were offered the opportunity to fire a M16 and of course we tried it out :)

Notes:
  • Getting a Vietnam visa in Hong Kong costs HK$ 500 (~ $65) [ Instructions below ]
  • Taking the bus from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh takes ~14 hours
  • Places to visit: War Remnants Museum and Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Try: Vietnamese Sandwiches, Coffee, and of course Pho 
  • We stayed at MyMy Art Hostel
  • Exchange rate was $1 = Dong 21,000
  • Watch out when crossing the streets. Seriously.
  • Bargain :)









































Getting the Vietnam Visa.



  • Wan Chai MTR Station
  • Exit A4
  • Go right on Hennessy Road for about 2 1/2 blocks
  • Cross the street after the Caltex gas station to the right
  • Go left after crossing the street when you encounter the Emperor Group Centre building
  • Take right when in Heard Street and walk for 1 block
  • Take left when in Wan Chai Road
  • Walk for 2 blocks until you reach the Great Smart Tower
  • Consulate General of Vietnam is located at the 15th floor
  • Visa for Single entry for US Passport holder is HK$ 500
  • Takes 3 business days
  • Address: 15/F, Great Smart Tower, 230 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai
    Hong Kong












Photos taken by Alan T.












Backpacking Southeast Asia xVideo!


It's been an amazing time and experience backpacking around 3 countries in 10 days with great friends. I hope that all of you who are reading and checking this entry can experience something similar or even better.


“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Mae West


Miranda, Alan, Steven, and Alvin: Enjoy the rest of Vietnam! See you guys soon :)


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Until next time!


Adeu :)


rc~

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