September 30 was our last day in Phuket, and we flew to Sydney that night. We both lost weight (Dale lost 8 kilograms; Darcie lost 4), discovered that we like Muay Thai, and learned some better health habits at the resort. We also visited Phuket Town, an older part of the city with shops and restaurants.
Our resort in Phuket focuses on Paleo meals and encourages us to drink a lot of water. We also start off each morning with a cup of "Bulletproof Coffee," a controversial concoction of coffee, butter and coconut oil that totals about 450 calories (compared to 300 in an Egg McMuffin)! By Day 2, the staff apparently recognized that they might need to supersize Dale's TP supply.
Also, each morning we go for a walk at a different location in Phuket, which has included a lake, dam reservoir, beachfronts, and dinosaur park.
The first syllable of "Phuket" is pronounced "poo," which leads to just as much sophomoric joking as the intentional mispronunciation that Darcie's mom enjoys when she asks about our trip (i.e., "How's fuck-it, you two?").
In any case, back in Siem Reap, we took a 5:30am tuk-tuk ride to the airport in the middle of a monsoon downpour. Actually, it wasn't bad: we stayed dry and alive.
This was our first experience flying Air Asia, a discount airline (and the one who had a fatal crash in December 2015). Overall, the experience was pretty good, with quick luggage check in, (which we paid extra for) efficient boarding, decent seats (which we paid extra for), a small breakfast (which we paid extra for), and a smooth flight. The biggest issue was the other passengers, who had bad manners which they were passing-on to their toddlers, in our humble opinions. Total cost for 2, one-way flights from Siem Reap to Phuket? $166.
Another issue we faced was that Dale broke a tooth in Cambodia, so we needed to get that fixed ASAP. Our resort in Thailand found a local dentist who is able to make a crown of Dale's tooth during our stay. Thank you, Smile Island Dentistry! www.dental-clinic-phuket.com/
We had nothing specific planned for our last day in Cambodia, so we declared it a day of pampering. First, inspired by our trip to the temples the previous day, Darcie tried the "Angkor Wat workout" on the gym treadmill. :-)
Next, we swam in the hotel pool (did we mention how ungodly hot it is here?), then located an air-conditioned spa that gave one-hour foot rubs for $1.50!!! So, each of us got a foot scrub, Darcie got the foot massage and Dale splurged on a full-body massage with oil for $7.
Our flight to Thailand was early the next day. Based on our divergent travel styles, Darcie spent the rest of the day catching up on emails, doing laundry, and packing. Dale squeezed in 2 more massages at 2 different spas.
Read this short article to understand what it is like traveling with Darcie and empathize with Dale, who only lost his boarding pass once on this trip so far, at the Tokyo-Narita security check.
Today we went on an all-day tour of the temples. We paid for a guide (and an air-conditioned car), both of which were phenomenal. We'll let the pictures do the talking.
Why Siem Reap, Cambodia?
Without exception, friends and coworkers in Asia told us we had to visit Siem Reap, Cambodia, especially to see the temples. Neither of us is religious or very spiritual, and Darcie has low tolerance for (i.e., becomes bitchy during) high heat and humidity, so we never visited. But even after we repatriated to the US, people kept raving about Angkor Wat and the Cambodian culture, so we made it a destination.
During our first full day in Cambodia, Darcie was on a mission to get a $5 foot-long...massage. First we had to justify the need for massages by exploring the markets. We walked around the huge open-air shopping market where food items like raw meat and fish were right next to clothing.
We decided upon one-hour foot massage/shoulder massage/reflexology sessions for $6 each, the going rate! Dale's masseuse begged him to get a foot scrub, since his feet were black and calloused from walking around in sandals. He declined. We tipped her well.
We spent most of September 16 traveling from Tokyo to our hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia (BB Angkor Residence). We flew China Eastern Airlines with a short layover in Shanghai Pu Dong airport.
This was Dale's first time back in Shanghai since we moved from Shanghai to Minnesota late in 2013. Being back in China was a sort of homecoming: everything felt very familiar!
While living in China from 2011 to 2013, Dale learned to focus on the positive aspects of the culture and ignore the negatives. As a result, when he reminisces about his time in China, he has almost exclusively happy memories. Sitting in the Tokyo Narita airport with mostly Chinese nationals reminded him that nothing is all sunshine and roses...ah, the nose picking.
The first person he saw waiting at the gate was openly, casually and methodically mining what must have been a massive booger out of his right nostril. I had forgotten that picking your nose in China isn't the social taboo it is in the US.
On September 14, we spent the day at the Peace Memorial Museum and Park in Hiroshima, a site memorializing the history and impact of the atomic bomb. We also listened to a moving, second-hand account of an 87-year-old bomb survivor. The entire visit was sobering, especially in light of the news that North Korea launched another missile over Japan today. Man's capacity for cruelty and annihilation is simply astounding.
We took a high-speed train from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka station and are staying at a hotel attached to the station. The next day, we took a local train to see the Osaka Palace. This train has "women only" cars. Our Tokyo tour guide told us about these train cars, necessitated by men groping women on trains.
In Kyoto, we visited the Temple of the Golden Pavillion, a stunning Buddhist temple. The pictures don't do it justice.