My Bangkok next-door neighbour and friend, Steve Van Beek has some spaces left on his fantastic kayak tours in South East Asia. I can absolutely recommend these; Steve has lived in Thailand for thirty years and I’ve met no-one else who knows the language, culture and geography as well as he does.
Prices below cover all accommodations, transportation, inflatable kayaks, equipment, meals, and guiding. They don’t include transportation to the starting point, visa fees, nor accommodation before or after the trip. It also assumes a minimum of five paddlers. Please contact Steve directly if you’re interested.
Paddle the 4,000 Islands of Laos
Jan. 16-29 (Wed.to Sun.) and Feb. 13-17 (Wed.-Sun.): Five days paddling through the 4,000 islands created where the Mekong, barred by a fault line, braids to 14 km. wide. The geologic slip has created Southeast Asia’s largest waterfalls (more water than Niagara) an obstruction which blocks navigation. US$940.
Down a Winding River to a Mekong Gem
Jan. 25-27 (Fri-Sun), 2008: This trip combines the beauty of the foothills surrounding Luang Prabang with the charm of paddling into one of the most beautiful towns in Asia. We’ll sleep in homestays and experience village life, visit a beautiful waterfall, run some rapids, visit a quiet Buddhist monastery, and pay our respects at the grave of one of Asia’s most fearless explorers, Henri Mouhot. Along the way, we’ll see how villagers and fishermen utilize the river in their daily lives. US$490.
Cambodia: Siem Reap recommendations
While I’m busy recommending South-East Asian fun, I recall that I had a tricky time finding recommendations about Cambodia that weren’t aimed at cheapskate backpackers or sex tourists. So here’s my recommendations; I don’t claim that these are cheaper or better than their competitors, only that they met my needs. They were accurate in August 2007.
Siem Reap hotel
I stayed at the Golden Orange hotel. It’s US$1 by tuk-tuk to the main bar street or a 15 minute amble, and costs US$20 per night (for the twin room, rather than per person). I booked three nights and got a free airport pickup and free breakfast every day.
Rooms were very clean, with aircon and ensuite with hot shower, a fridge and free water. There was free internet. The staff arranged my tuktuk driver for three days, my bus to Phnom Penh and a massage, all at decent prices. I was so comfortable, I extended my stay by a night.
Only slight downside is that the owner’s wife has a small pet dog which patrols the second floor at night. It’s entirely harmless, but can bark occasionally so light sleepers should ask for a different floor.
Siem Reap restaurant and dancing
I thoroughly enjoyed the apsara dancing upstairs at the Temple Bar. It was free to those eating or drinking. The US$5 Khmer buffet was very good, too— as was the fish amok served in a coconut.
Cambodia: Phnom Penh recommendations
Phnom Penh hotel
I stayed at the Tonle Sap Guesthouse, a few metres from Sisowath Quay. It was a functional and clean room for US$18. The Pickled Parrot bar downstairs had good food and beer, and the owners were very helpful about organising a taxi for me to see the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng.
Phnom Penh restaurants
I was very well fed round the corner from my hotel at La Volpaia, which was recommended to me by an Aussie NGO worker. I had great Italian food in aircon splendour, and a glass of good (chilled!) red wine, for about US$12.
For breakfast, I enjoyed watching the world passing by on Sisowath Quay from the pavement tables of Rendezvous, a French establishment.