Day 16 Siem Reap



Day 16 Siem Reap, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

An early start and the hotel taxi is ready and waiting. Even at 6am the city is humming with a million bikes and the traffic is the usual criss-crossing, seemingly impossible, interlocking whirlwind of completely calm riders, drivers and walkers, that only works because everyone is going relatively slowly and all are cooperating. If large numbers started to be selfish, the system would crash, and hundreds of people would die every day, instead of the mere 30 odd at present. Great views of the city through early mist as we head onto the motorway, and in minutes I’m through check in and security, ready to spend my last Dong in the airport cafe. Last night I bought a small back pack as an easier to carry alternative to my cabin bag. Like everything over here, it was dirt cheap and a knock off of a well known brand, The North Face.30 minutes later the handle snaps off. The odd thing is that the real deal is probably made over here…

Just when I’m thinking everything is going according to plan with the first part of this trip not organised by someone else, they announce that the flight is delayed due to bad weather in Laos. Thankfully, it’s the same aircraft for both legs, to Luang
Prabang and Siem Reap, so I won’t miss the connection, but I’m left hoping the flight goes ahead. Late is ok, cancelled would be bad news.

Another announcement. Vietnam airlines regret….. Delayed at least another hour.

But then, Vietnam airlines is pleased to announce…. and a short time later I’m arriving at Siem Reap airport. Visa application is effortless, and I’m greeted by my chauffeur who takes me to a 1935 Citroën limousine for a slow ride through the flooded streets. The whole landscape is under water, roads are closed, driver says the only way to the market is now by boat. But I don’t care, I’m too busy feeling like Poirot in the back of the limo, watching the poverty outside and feeling slightly guilty. At least I’m bringing in the tourist dollar.

The hotel is astonishing. The service is even more polite and attentive  than at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, and my suite is incredible. There is a lounge, a lobby, a bathroom, a bedroom, and each room, even the bathroom, is bigger than any hotel I’ve been in on this trip. There’s a coffee machine, and iPod music system, three air con units, luxury toiletries, it goes beyond description and has every amenity imaginable.

The lobby is stunning, with catfish instead of the advertised crocodiles, but no less impressive for that. The pool is even more sensational, and the restaurant surrounding it looks fantastic. I’m pleased to discover that my bargain booking includes a free massage and a free lunch, so I sit down poolside to enjoy a glass of delicious French red and a beautiful lunch from the French chefs, feeling more and more like royalty and running out of superlatives. I’m very definitely going to enjoy it here!

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