Off we go to the ship...Long drive through the Cambodian countryside...Mode of transportation


Local danger and musicians greeted us with a ceremonial dance as we entered the hotel.

In Cambodia, US dollars are tendered for most purchases, receiving Cambodian money, the reil, for change which can be confusing especially when one US dollar is KHR $40,973.50.  The cost for the drive back to our hotel was US $3.  The driver was so grateful when we gave him a US $5 bill.  Tipping isn't expected in Cambodia but greatly appreciated based on low wages.

Fountain in the lake at the hotel, taken last night in the dark.
As much as long drives in cars, vans and buses are not our favorite mode of transportation, I'm looking forward to the almost five hour drive through the Cambodian countryside as we make our way to the awaiting boat on the Mekong River.

As we approached the entrance to the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra in Siem Reap, Cambodia, another five star hotel.
These past tour portions of this cruise/tour has been rich in history and highly entertaining including the extra three days we spent on our own in advance of the cruise in Hanoi when we arrived from Singapore over a week ago.  I did my best to keep up, only missing a few days of touring, having participated in the remainder.

The first night in the hotel in Cambodia we were entertained with local dancers performing in the dining room.
Last night, the final night at the Hotel Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia it dawned on me that we'd yet to share any photos of this five star hotel and its surroundings.  Its been a glorious hotel stay once again, with the past two Sofitel Hotels providing the utmost in both ambiance, amenities and service.

Upon entering our beautifully decorated hotel room with a full veranda overlooking the river, the table was set with fresh flowers, complimentary linen napkins as a gift to keep, baby bananas and cookies (all of which Tom consumed).
I'd never paid much attention to Sofitel Hotels other than occasionally dining (in my old life) at the hotel's restaurant in Bloomington, Minnesota for business type lunches. 

It was a long walk from the lobby to our hotel room down several long bridges such as this over the lake on the hotel property.
Each walkway to the various buildings provided a lovely view of the hotel's massive grounds.
Now that we're signed up as members we'll certainly pay the Accor hotel chains a little more attention when we're wondering where to stay for a night or two on occasion.

A portion of the hotel's lake.
We had the opportunity to chat with one of the hotel's managers, Sam Sorn who along with the remaining staff have provided exemplary service and attention to detail. 

This sign is posted along one of the walkways in the hotel.
From the complimentary handmade linen napkins left in our room as a gift from the hotel, to the baby bananas, fresh flowers and chef's perfection in seeing to my menu, the hotel nor the other two restaurants where we dined in Siem Reap, left a stone unturned. 


Its unfortunate the mosquitos are so bad and the heat and humidity uncomfortable or many guests would have spent more time outdoors.  Instead everyone stayed inside air conditioned comfort. 
From the gentle-hands-clasped-bow elicited by each Cambodian we encounter whether it was the pool man or the tuk tuk driver, each individual made us feel supremely invited as guests into their country.  I could easily return here for an extended stay although, practically speaking, it may not be possible with so much world left to see.


A bicycle rickshaw on display.
Last night's dinner for 54 guests at Malis Restaurant, ranked #4 of 622 in TripAdvisor, excelled beyond most restaurants when they prepared entirely different meals for me than those offered on the menu.  They went as far as making a totally sugar free mousse/flan dessert than surprisingly was quite delicious without any form of sweetener.


These gorgeous flowers are commonly seen on display in hotels and restaurants in Cambodia.
Of course, the conversation was indescribably delightful as we've continued to get to know one couple after another, never disappointed, always enlightened by the stories of others as they freely ask question after question about our peculiar lifestyle.  I suppose if it was the other way around, we'd be curious as well.


One of several seating areas in the hotel's lobby.
We try to temper our enthusiasm and ask about their lives.  Most of the participants on this type of cruise are well traveled with equally fascinating stories to tell.  Most of the passengers are within our age range with a few much younger and equal number, a bit older. 


A shrine in the hotel lobby.  Most Cambodians are Buddhists.
Age seems to be no barrier in keeping these adventurous folks from continuing to travel well into their 70's and 80's.  Some have obvious disabilities and yet forge ahead with the excitement of 20 year olds, seeking to fill their lives with new experiences. 


This talented young man played peaceful music in the lobby.
A few stayed behind like us on the more difficult excursions over the past few days while others returned exhausted and hobbling with aching joints, hips and knees commensurate with older age. 


Fresh flowers are frequently replenished.  This humid climate in Cambodia is a perfect environment for growing flowers.
A
s for my continuing recovery, its still a work in progress.  In reviewing the calendar we tried to recall the exact date of the injury and we believe it was around June 1st.  Most likely it's been almost six weeks.  If I blew out a disc (or two)  or whatever, it could be several more weeks until I'm pain free once again. 
A humidor with a variety of cigars for sale including Cuban.
My only fear is that the pain won't go away and this will be my lot in life, not unlike my life before I started this way of eating.  I will no longer be pain free as I'd been two months ago.  Could I continue on at this level of discomfort?  I think so. 


Elaborate desserts such as these are offered in the buffet as well as at "high tea" in the bar where we worked on the posts.  Tom was only interested in the doughnuts on the bottom right.
As we mentioned in the post on July 11th, "In the past two weeks we moved into four different hotels in four different countries, flown on three international flights, taken over 1000 photos and posted each and every day.


We sat at the left corner of this banquette in the bar each day while posting.
As you've seen, we've been able to continue on.  If we were living a "fixed" lifestyle and this injury occurred, I'd still have the discomfort and life would go on.  Its not a whole lot different now other than the hours of moving from one location to another which generally isn't quite as often as its been lately.

Sam Sorn, the hotel's second in command worked his "way up" after 16 years of employment at the hotel, originally working in maintenance.  His kindly demeanor and interest in each guest is delightful.
However, we both remain hopeful that soon I'll be back to my "old" self once again, able to walk longer distances and manage more steps and rough terrain.  I remind myself how grateful we are that it wasn't totally debilitating where I couldn't (or wouldn't) get out at all. Sheer will and determination have kept me moving. 

With rain each day, we never took advantage of the hotel's enormous pool.  We have plenty of pool time upcoming over the net several months.

As soon as we upload this post, we'll head back to our hotel room to leave the already-packed and ready-to-go three checked bags outside our hotel room door to be picked up by staff and delivered to the two buses for both Group A and B (we're A) and off we'll go at 11:30 am for the long journey to the ship awaiting us in Kampong Cham, Cambodia.  

Last night on our way to dinner on the bus, we tried to take a few photos through the glass.
Once we're all onboard and checked in, we'll be offered complimentary welcome aboard cocktails (along with cocktails included  at no charge at both lunch and dinner) and be introduced to the ship's captain, other officers and support staff.  Then, we'll set sail.


Siem Reap is filled with a multitude of shopping options from expensive galleria type malls to strips centers such as this.

Many building copy the design of the Angkor Wat temple.
We're as excited as always to be back on the water, this time on our first river cruise which so far the land portion, has proven to excel our expectations.  Back at you tomorrow with photos and updates!  Stay tuned!


The entrance to last night's restaurant, Malis.  It was absolutely exquisite for me although Tom found some of the unfamiliar spices less appealing to his taste buds.

Have a glorious day!

Bob and Tom having a great time, sitting across from Tina and I. We arrived at the restaurant at 5:45 while it was still light.  At 8 pm, some of the group were headed to a local circus with bleacher-type seating.  Unfortunately, there was no way I could sit on bleachers for any length of time.  Instead, we had a fabulous time returning to the hotel in a local tuk tuk.

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Photo from one year ago today, July 13, 2015:
Holloways Beach, near Cairns Australia.  For more details and photos, please click here.

 

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