Where Exceptional Begins

Thoma’s Travels Vol. VI | Cambodia and Thailand

Posted on August 1st, by Jim Thoma in Professors, Study Abroad. No Comments

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After leaving Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, my wife Judy and I took the bus into Cambodia. The trip was about 8 hours including the immigration exit in Vietnam and entry into Cambodia. Along the way we had two brief stops for food.
Vietnam --> Cambodia

As one can see from the video below, traveling the roads of Cambodia can be a bit challenging. Like Vietnam, there are many motorcycles that add to the traffic confusion. I guess if this is what you’re used to, it’s no big deal. However, living in Alliance, where a traffic jam is three cars, Indochina is a real experience.


The highlight and reason for the Cambodia trip is the World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat. This is one of the largest Buddhist temples areas in the world. As you recognize from the pictures, this is where “Laura Croft, Tomb Raider” was filmed. It’s a fascinating place that was rediscovered in the 1990s after decades of wars in Cambodia. We hired a private guide who took us to a temple that had not been restored yet, and we were the only visitors there. It was very fascinating. Many countries are helping restore the temples such as India and Germany.
cambodia-4 cambodia-5 cambodia-6 cambodia-7 cambodia-8

Besides the walk through history, two aspects stuck with me.

  1. All the prices were in US dollars. Menus, transportation, guides, etc. Not many countries like the US dollar so much!
  2. There were very young children begging in the historical Angkor Wat grounds as well as in the city of Siem Reap. Our guide, who spoke English well, asked us not to give the children money. His reasoning was that the children should be in school and that if they made money begging, the children would not be motivated to get educated. The reasoning is sound but it is so difficult not to give them something! So we gave them our boxed breakfasts from the hotel.

From Siem Reap we took a minivan to Bangkok, Thailand. It costs a little more than a bus but was faster and much more comfortable. We shared the van with a 4 person family from South Africa, a young Cambodian lady on a shopping trip and three college-aged men from Eastern Europe, possibly Russia.

Again, Judy shot a couple street videos in Bangkok to show how they squeegeed a car through the alley of food hawkers. Quite the challenge! One particular note is that we ate dinner and breakfast on the streets, which is very common. In fact, the best fried chicken I have had this summer was from a lady selling her food from a small stand on the streets. It was the very best!

We only spent one night in Bangkok as we had been in Thailand a couple times and we were headed to Malaysia to visit more alumni. Instead of the 22-hour bus ride through southern Thailand, we decided to fly the 90 minutes to Penang, home of many Mount alumni and their families.

Stay tuned!

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