22 October 2012

HEAVENLY SLEEPS IN SIEM REAP

 
Entrance to the Boutique Hotel
Before I go back to posting about temples, there is one more thing I need to write about - our hotel during our last stay. 

Bedroom
We had been in Siem Reap three times so far. First hotel was a beautiful resort but too quiet and anonymous. Second hotel was too far on the outskirts to really do anything in the town of Siem Reap, though nice and friendly. 

This last hotel was recommended (or rather not) by a friend in Singapore who said he stayed there and he could not recommend it!! But my brilliant tour guide actually brought me there during the second trip and I regretted the fact that I did not stay thereSo I booked it for this very recent visit. 

Pool Area

The Golden Banana Boutique (note!!) Hotel! I am saying "note" here because there are several hotels and resorts with the same/similar name in the proximity of this one, but I am only talking about the Golden Banana "Boutique" Hotel (and Boutique Resort)!  Obviously my friend had stayed at the "other one" before. 

Even during my brief visit I found it the friendliest staff I had ever met on my trips through Cambodia (given that I was not even a guest there). And I was amazed during this 10 day stay that the friendliness of the staff even exceeded my already high expectations. 
Upstairs

I never felt so welcomed and "at home" before! The staff was fluent in English and willing to practise it in an "non-bothersome way". I had great conversations with them during my evenings after visiting the temples. 

The room was great and spread out over two levels. Comfy beds, spacious room to store my luggage and a nice seating area upstairs to watch TV, which I never did! I rather used the free WiFi everywhere in the hotel.  It also has a nice balcony which overlooks the pool. 

Balcony
I did my walks to the touristy Old Market and back but I really enjoyed eating at the restaurant of the hotel and having my drinks at the bar next to the pool.  The food at the hotel was really good - local and international. 

The staff of the hotel is very willing to "fix" things you point out to them. I could not have picked a better hotel for my stay and will for sure be back there on my next trip to Angkor Wat.

One of the "lounges"
I know there are huge new 5 star hotels in and around Siem Reap, but that is just not my thing. I like a personal experience when I stay somewhere and I want to feel welcomed. That is what the Golden Banana Boutique Hotel and Resort will excel at, in addition to providing a nice room at a great price. So, I give it my personal 5 stars!







Great food options!







17 October 2012

OFF LIMITS FOR UNDERDRESSED VISITORS


Not clear enough?
I know this post will be controversial, but the subject is controversial and I really feel that I have to write something about it. 

In Europe we have a sign at shops, which show a cute little doggy and the message "I have to stay outside!"...meaning the dog can not be brought into the butcher, bakery or restaurant. 

After my third visit to Angkor Wat I seriously feel that we do need a sign like that for people who are "seriously underdressed". With my friends we use the term "slutty"...but since I can speak more openly with my friends than with the general public, I will use "seriously underdressed" here. 



Beach or temple?
What in the world do people think when they go to a temple, Angkor Wat or the Borobudur temple in cloths, which are barely enough to cover their genitals? Even going to the beach like that would be "slutty"...oops...seriously underdressed! 

Have these people never read a book about Angkor Wat? Or maybe they cannot read? But then, why do they also not understand the signs posted? Maybe they think "my shorts are not that short"...or they are plainly ignorant! 





OMG!
I thought for the longest time it is just Europeans (along with all other western looking guys like Americans, Australians etc etc) who behave like that because they simply don't know. But my last visit to Angkor Wat was very eye opening to me when I saw bus loads of Chinese people who where dressed as if they were going to the beach after the temple visit. ... Oh wait...there is no beach in Angkor!  So they intentionally underdress! 






Underdressed AND respectless!
My tour guide keeps getting as upset as I do. So this is not the conservative part of my brain acting up here. It is actually common sense that you do dress with long pants and maybe even long sleeves when you visit a temple, a mosque, a cathedral!






Beach cloths at Ayutthaya
I really wish the APSARA Authority, which is the governing body of Angkor Wat would control the dress code more AND turn back visitors who are underdressed. But even the tour guides could help here and tell their clients that there might be a slight problem with those tank tops and bikini slips! Obviously money rules even here at the temples and they do not speak up. 


Gym outfit!






That a dress code actually works, can be seen at the Borobudur on Java, a Buddhist temple in a Muslim Nation! There EVERY visitor has to wear a sarong, no matter how long or short the pants and skirts are. And they have to cover their shoulders, both men and women. 

So, show some common sense and respect people and get dressed! The other lesson about how to behave in a temple, we will cover in another post!  And don't get me wrong...I am a man of shorts...I had my Malaysian friends laugh at me because they had only seen me in shorts before, but I do know when it is time to put long pants on!

10 October 2012

CLIENT - TOUR SERVICE RELATIONSHIP

I've just been back to Angkor for another visit this week. Loved it ...as always. And part of why I enjoy my trips there is the tour guides and the drivers I usually book. 

This time I noticed that many people keep booking these guys through the Internet, facebook, sms or other means and I saw how happy my driver was when he got a booking for the next morning by two ladies. Message just said "can you pick up up at our hotel xxx at 5:30 am...thanks xxx and xxx" . 

My driver said that the two where referred to him by other friends through his facebook and he was happy that more business came through since it was still low season. These guys don't make much money. They work for as little as 2$ per day for driving tourists around. Not a lot to make a living. 

So sure thing, he went to the hotel at 5:30 am and ...there was no tourists waiting for him. Not only did he get up at 4am to drive to the hotel, he also spend his money for washing the car and used up his gasoline to get there. And then no income because he also told other potential clients that he was booked. 

That is a common pattern with these tourists at Angkor Wat. They ask for prices, book a diver or guide verbally and then meet another person who does it for less. Or, as it also happened a lot, the tourists change their mind, don't want to get up, sleep in etc etc and not show up. 

Another problem I do encounter a lot is that friends or strangers through my web sites, ask me for pricing information of my tour guide along with their contact details. They do inquire with him, but not really being specific about the day, how long of a tour they want and where they will be staying. So, the tour guides block their day for them and again, they do never contact them when in Angkor. There are 3000 tour guides and 4000 tuk tuk's (if I got the number right) in Siem Reap alone, so naturally there is a lot to chose from. But it does leave a really bad impression and personal disappointment when we do not honour our commitments as tourists. 

The personal interaction and relationship with my guides and drivers all over Asia has really paid off over time. I do get to see things which other tourists do not get to experience and I do get a view of SE Asia which is very rewarding. So, loyalty and honesty pay off!!