Dec. 2002
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Check out Weeks ending: [7 Dec 02] [14 Dec 02] [21 Dec 02] [28 Dec 02]

Week Ending 7 Dec 2002 (Bob)

Siem Reap - This is the hub of sightseeing for Cambodia, with scores of temples and palaces within reach.  Thy (our personal tour driver) picked us up early Sunday morning, listened to our plans, and politely suggested an alternative that took better advantage of light and promised smaller crowds. This set the pattern for the week!  We spent 5 days walking and photographing:

  • Out of Town - A delightful 20 km drive throughBanteay Srei.jpg (23032 bytes) the country-side gave us a gentle introduction to Cambodia as we passed small villages, houses on stilts, rice patties, and water buffalo resting in the fields.  The temple at Banteay Srei is somewhat far from the madding crowd, and it was very peaceful walking through the thousand-year old buildings.  On the way back we diverted to a 1/2 km rutted side road to Banteay Samré, an small isolated  temple that has been very well restored.  Our last stop of the morning was Pre Sup, our first 'mountain temple', a small complex where that has been built up to resemble a mountain with a temple on top.  
  • Angkor Thom - A walled city, 3 km on each side with an outside moat and currently 5 gates.  Inside there are numerous temples, sporting grounds, and reservoirs, including: 
    • Bayon - Bayon tower with faces.jpg (25464 bytes)a large State Temple built in the 12th century, distinctive because of its many towers where the same face is carved on all sides, over 200 faces in all! 
    • Elephant Terrace and Leper King Terrace - The Elephant Terrace is a large open ceremonial areas that faces the Royal Square, a large reception area for pavilions where visiting royalty could be entertained in style.  The terrace walls contain scores of carved elephants, garudas (mythical man-bird figures), five-headed horse, and other figures.  The Leper King Terrace stands to the side, and has more detailed bas reliefs of Buddha and others.
    •  Phimeanakas - a relatively small 10th century royal palace in the shape of a mountain, we climbed to the top for a good view of the surrounding ruins.
    • Bapuon - a massive mountain-temple currently under renovation - our guide suggested it was not worth visiting at the moment.
    • Ta Phrom - a delightful un-restored site that shows how the ruins looked when the French found them 
  • Angkor Wat -Angkor Wat front view.jpg (18506 bytes) This complex site deserves a couple of visits, so we returned to it again and again:
    • Examining the 2000' of bas reliefs (stone carvings),
    • Climbing the high temples as priests would have done 800 years ago,
    • At dawn for sunrise silhouette shots like the postcards,
    • And afternoons as the walls glow gold in the sunset

The Tonlé Sap - South Tonle Sap backpackers on ferry roof.jpg (21714 bytes)of Siem Reap the land dips, and a lake extends 160 km south, more than half the way to Phnom Penh.  We took an afternoon tour on its banks, past Cambodian and Vietnamese villages, and the next day boarded a fast ferry to Phnom Penh.  The inside was crowded, seats were small and there was zero storage space - except our laps.  Many people preferred riding on the roof, both for the view, fresh air, and increased chance of survival if the ferry were to sink or roll over (a distinct possibility).  But, luck prevailed again, and 5 hours later we were in:  

Phnom Penh - The capital of Cambodian lady with bananas smiling.jpg (20636 bytes)Cambodia, Phnom Penh has seen more than its share of grief as the USA, Khmer Rouge, and Vietnam made successive forays into their country during the 1960-1980's.  With 25% of the population killed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970's, and many disabled by landmines, it is amazing that they can smile at all - but they do, and all were quite friendly to us.  Many people we met had personal stories - Thy, our driver in Siem Reap had lost 1 brother and 2 sisters to the Khmer Rouge and hated them, but was quiet and gentle with us. Other highlights:

  • National Museum - a good collection of artifacts from before and during the Angkor period
  • Royal Palace - a island of opulence in the middle of a city with many poor street people.  We found it interesting and beautiful, but many art works were being damaged by the elements and receiving little care.
  • Foreign Correspondents Club - This well-known restaurant/hotel was our base for 2 days, and our river-front room overlooked a busy street, boats and ferries on the river, and an occasional elephant being walked to or from work.  It has comfortable stuffed chairs in the bar with good views, PCs in the large rooms, and good Western food.  We recommend it highly for anyone visiting Phnom Penh. 
 

Week Ending 14 Dec 2002 (Bob)

Minor projects - It was a quiet week, recovering from our trip to Angkor Wat.  We had intended to leave our slip and sail to Phang Nga bay, but niggling projects got in the way: 

  • arranging to develop our film (28 rolls), 
  • cutting our storage box down to size; 
  • helping the schooner Schooner Voyager back in water.jpg (20719 bytes)Voyager launch, after a 9 month rebuild (we will never complain about our refit again)
  • readying the yacht for sailing, stowing items, getting and inflating dinghy, etc., etc.

Next week Bob has arranged to go to Singapore for 2 days, but perhaps we can drop the dock lines for a couple of days.

Struggling for cold air - On Thanksgiving day, our air conditioner (a life-line in this climate) stopped issuing cold air, and we moved dinner to a friend's apartment.  So the task for several days was troubleshooting the unit.  The local refrigeration fixer was too busy, and we got some leads from Terry on Virgo's Child.  By the time we fixed it (for $5 of parts), Judi and I had become adept at dismantling and re-assembling the unit in less than 10 minutes.  For 2 days now, it has been humming quietly as it should, and we are happy campers again.

Week Ending 21 Dec 2002 (Bob)

Mailing a package - Such a mundane topic, but a minor drama in Thailand. We had decided to send a few souvenirs and Christmas gifts to the US, so it went like this:

  • first we contacted a PUSCO, shipping company.  No joy, it seemed that we had to (almost) charter a 747 and fill it up based on their cost quote.  
  • Next stop, UPS - they said "no problem, here is a box, fill it up and we'll send it for $110".  So we filled it up, went back to send it, and the Australian in charge said: "one of our owners is having a dispute with UPS in Bangkok, so I would recommend that you send it with someone else".  
  • We thanked him, and went down the street to DHL.  They said "sure, it'll only cost you $125, and you have to repack it in our box".  We grimaced, but said OK. As we repacked, they noted all of the Christmas presents and told us "you'll have to unwrap each of these so we can inspect them, the USA won't allow it in unless each little package is inspected" - we grimaced again, and went along with this minor annoyance, angry again at the changed world after the Al Qaeda' attack on 9/11.

Blitz trip to Singapore - We had left a watch to be repaired in Singapore, and fear of Thai Customs convinced Bob to return to pick it up.  Of course no trip to Singapore is complete without shopping so he made some last minute purchases of hard-to-find food (Pepperidge Farm 'Chesapeake' cookies) and developed all of our film (28 rolls) from Cambodia.

Preparing to cruise - The rest of the week was consumed with getting the boat ready for our 2d longest passage yet, across the Indian Ocean.  So we stowed, crammed, and shoved things into corners, argued about the importance of various items, and gradually emptied our 'land locker"  Next week we do the big provisioning run, and move out to anchorages for a while

Week Ending 28 Dec 2002 (Bob)

Get ready, get Set - The week was consumed with the small matter of getting ready (again) to set off on a long trip.  

  • Provisioning - Judi prepared a big list of essentials: pasta, rice, chips, spaghetti sauce, Spam (did I say that?) and we spent one day going from store to store to get most of the items on the list.  
  • Stowing - The next challenge was finding places for all of the stuff, and Judi did an admirable job making the boat swallow 30+ bags of goodies.
  • Fuel up - We were in fairly good shape, but still had to carry 120 liters of fuel from the car to our slip (Boat Lagoon does not believe in making carts easily available) 
  • Sell Air conditioner - This was a big step since it means that the heat in the marina would quickly become intolerable.
  • Re-caulk Toe-rail - When the new toe-rail had been installed in July, all seemed well, but soon the caulk started to separate from the wood.  We finally got Nai and Toe to have a couple of workers remove the newly installed BoatLife caulk, and replace it with Sika black deck sealant - we hope this holds.

Party Hearty - As Christmas approaches,Long Passages Xmas 02 party.jpg (27001 bytes) Judi has an in-born instinct to throw a party, so she did, and it was a great success!  With mince-meat pies, cookies, wassail (warm apple cider, spices & brandy), regular wine, and fruit-cake galore, we had about 25 people on the boat the afternoon of 22 December, and a wonderful time was had by all.  Observers told us that the waterline went down 4", but we were not counting.

Quiet Christmas -Long Passages Xmas 02 tree and gifts.jpg (20291 bytes) December 25th is a normal workday in Thailand, and we had a quiet day, opening gifts early in the day, and doing final preparation chores in the afternoon.  The garland, Christmas ornaments, and lights inside Long Passages made it very festive indeed.

Go - To get in or out of Boat Lagoon, one must follow the tide tables religiously.  We asked the young men at the dockmaster's office and got contradictory instructions: one said we should wait until the tide was 2.3 meters above low water, others said 2.7.  We went with the latter, and drove over a shoal spot only 5.8' deep, and we draw between 5.5' and 6', so it was too close. 

First grounding - Unfortunately, the channel going out is twisty, and Bob zigged when he should have zagged, and we ran up on a mud bank.  A little help from the marina skiff that happened by got us off with damage only to our self pride.  Next week, we roam Phang Nga Bay.

 

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