Bang Saen, Khao Yai to Siem Reap – Ingenuity, Beauty and Resourcefulness
7 April – 9 April 2017
After lining up to have our team photo taken the Mgs set off in earnest with escorts front and back – as required by the Thai Government. We did attract a spectacle as we drove in convey to Khao Yai National Park. The scenery varied from villages, hamlets to bustling towns as we motored towards our destination in Cambodia.
The inside of Shamrock did heat up quite considerably despite having all windows open. The heat from the gearbox radiated throughout the cabin. We had come well prepared and consumed litres of water. We were very thankful to have sheepskin seat covers which provided us with some comfort. Shamrock has been performing very well as have the other cars despite the heat.
As we drove to Khao Yai NP the scenery changed as did the traffic density. We stopped at the Dasada Resort Gallery which had the most magnificent displays of tropical plants and flowers under cover – similar to walking into a giant hothouse. The floral tribute display to the king was breathtakingly beautiful.
We drove on to the national park and immediately noticed signs and warnings about elephants crossing the road. We saw evidence of their passing on the roads but no elephants. The temperature dropped a little but the humidity was high and as we drove through the lush jungle we heard the calls and yowls of the various monkeys and gibbons. The NP is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the largest forest areas in SE Asia, supporting 4 different vegetation zones from altitudes of 100mt to 1400mts.
While eating Lunch at the NP the heavens opened – at least we closed the windows of Shamrock- even a family of mum, dad and baby porcupines thought it was too wet to be out in the open and were quickly scurrying for shelter. We saw at least 3 different species of deer and a hornbill bird, and passed numerous monkeys on the road. The walk through the jungle and the drive the Haew Suwat waterfall in the rain and thunder was magical.
The Dasada Resort where we stayed was so vast we were driven around in golf carts. Another site which was picturesque with mountains as backdrops, ponds filled with amazon lily pads and pools to relax in.
Driving the next day to the border of Thailand and Cambodia and onto Siem Reap was an experience in having the right people to help us through the border control. Our guides and official made our border crossing painfree. The border at Aranyaprathet was a frentic border outpost where trucks lined the road side waiting their turn to be cleared by customs – around 5-6 days waiting. The traffic was bumper to bumper, the roads threw up clouds of red dust as we made our way through the traffic jumble.
The topography of the land changed as we entered Cambodia as did the vehicles which used their horns prolifically to warn others. In Bangkok the drivers were noticeably quieter and more restrained with their honking. Now we are driving on the right side of the road but someone needed to tell that to the motor scooters and hand pushed drays. The land was flat and aided the people as they strained to push drays and wagons loaded to overflowing with bags of rice, pineapples, melons and other produce along through the border crossing and on the road.
The vehicles are obviously multi-purpose – ploughing fields, providing transport and driving produce to market. Innovative designs which looked like bits of various motor parts welded together with a mix master engine which propelled the load and occupants along at about 40 km/hour looked more like works of metal art than vehicles. This area was flat and swampy, suitable for rice growing. The contrast in buildings was striking as was the types of cars – from ancient Camrys, held together with cables to up to date Lexus (i?).
Finally we arrived in Siem Reap, a busy hectic city which has grown rapidly since we were last here in 2008, when there were only 2 or 3 hotels and one main street. The rate of tourist development here is extraordinary. The hotel we are staying at is the Shinta Mani and quite luxurious as have all the hotels we have stayed in so far. But we are expecting abit of variety in accommodation so we better make the most of it here. Stunning pool and service – cool towels as you return from exploring the town.