Highlights of Thailand and Siem Reap, Cambodia

We spent 12 days in Thailand and 3 in Cambodia. It took 28 hours to get there and 39 to return home. My favorite souvenir is an attitude of contentment from a culture infused with Buddhism.

The Feet of Thailand: Been through the MudI downloaded our pictures the day after we returned, all 4,989 photos and 115 videos. As nearly all of them were erased from the SD card, my computer locked up on picture 4,565. The photos I took were gone.

When I told Tom, not one degree of upset crossed my mind. I did reconsider if I was meant to be a travel blogger with no pictures. I accepted it, trusting life as a guide to what I most needed.

Thailand and Cambodia are very spiritual places. We learned from our guides to take things as they come with steadiness. Life is a gift, be thankful for it. Circumstances can be and have been worse. There are ways to stay with your heart, and find it again if you lose it.

As you can see, the pictures weren’t gone after all. I shut down my computer in that suspended state of download and removed the SD card. When I turned it back on the next day, everything was there, nothing lost.

These are the highlights of the days. Over the next several months I’ll be sharing tips, stories and adventures.

Subscribe if you’re considering a trip to Thailand or Siem Reap/Cambodia, plan to travel with SmarTours on the Amazing Thailand with Angkor Wat  or if you’re a lover of culture and different places. Thailand is very different than home. I’ll write one story a week about this and so much more.

Highlights – Memorable Moments By Day

Sunday, December 29th

  • Wandering into a neighborhood in Bangkok discovering what the Thai’s do on a Sunday
  • Exploring the city on the BTS Skytrain
  • Our adventurous eating in the Weekend Market
  • Behold, a very decorated, upscale Siam Center
  • The most pleasurable foot massage right before bed

Monday, December 30th

  • A New Year’s blessing from a monk at the Golden Buddha
  • That Reclining Buddha is really big
  • Figuring out that we could connect to the internet in the lobby for free
  • Spending some relaxing time at the pool

Tuesday, December 31st

  • The glitter of the Grand Palace
  • Running into the vegetable and flower market downtown Bangkok
  • Tom and Mr. G getting on the Thailand news – Channel 5
  • Fireworks display at the pier from 3 different directions

Wednesday, New Year’s Day

  • A boat ride on the river after midnight with all of the lights
  • Giving an old woman my seat on the Skytrain
  • The expression on a woman-in-need’s face when I gave her the remainder of our all day passes for the Skytrain
  • The second most pleasurable foot massage – I could get used to this

Thursday, January 2nd

  • Admiring the Stupas of Ayuttaya
  • The Monkey Temple in Lopburi – monkeys were everywhere
  • Rickshaw rides around the city of Phitsanulok
  • Eating a cricket

Friday,  January 3rd

  • Sukhothai Ruins and pictures of the Buddhist monks
  • Behold, a water buffalo in the countryside. We stopped for pictures.
  • A great group picture taken by a visitor – everyone was in the photo

Saturday,  January 4th

  • Visit to the pineapple plantation and buying a picture frame made from pineapple
  • Medical emergency on the bus when travel-mate got sick and passed out. He had food poisoning.
  • Roaming the markets of the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma) come together.
  • The white dragon steps going up to a temple next to the 212 House of Opium Museum
  • Gazing at the Myanmar border across the river where Tom found a great t-shirt

Sunday, January 5th

  • Bena called me the Mother Teresa of the group when I helped her down a path with slippery rocks
  • The hill tribe women, the long-neck rings of the Karen tribe and a red berry smile that looked like blood
  • Students of the school of massage worked us over with a traditional Thai massage – pushing, stretching, and bending in Chiang Rai

Monday, January 6th

  • The White Temple – Wat Rong Khun
  • The rice farmers working the field.
  • Having an artist paint an elephant on my camera
  • Fish spa – feet in the piranha tank

Tuesday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 8th

  • Walking the old city of Chiang Mai,  the moat and the gated city
  • Listening to the monks chanting at Doi Suthep
  • Tom standing at the gate waiting for me when I thought I was lost

Thursday, January 9th

  • Looking for monks carrying their bowls to ask for alms in Chiang Mai
  • Watching the school children answer the principal or teacher in unison
  • Finding Chedi Wat by following the monks
  • Arriving in Cambodia – the visa process

Friday, January 10th

  • Angkor Wat – The Heaven of Vishnu, the moat of the seven seas and earthly life beyond
  • Bantaey Srei Wat – pink sandstone dedicated to the beauty of women
  • My sore throat went away and over the day I had more energy

Saturday, January 11th

  • Ta Prohm, the jungle temple – the most enchanting Wat of Angkor
  • Eating lunch family style with our fellow travelers
  • Taking a tuk tuk to the night market of Siem Reap
  • The Angkor Night Market – Pub street is alive
  • Cambodian foot massage includes a beer

Sunday,  January 12th

  • Buying bread at a roadside stand
  • Giving bread to the children – sharing the gift of a fuller belly and a few pencils and paper, too
  • The life of the people in the floating village at Tenle Sap Lake

What are your favorite experiences of Thailand or Siem Reap, Cambodia?

image credit: A Walk in the Mud; Feet from Thailand ©2014 Marie LaForce

Marie LaForce About Marie LaForce

Writer | Photographer | Explorer |Dreamer | Intentional Disciple of Christ


  1. Ooh! Foot massage with a beer! That sounds fabulous!

    Just reading your highlights , it sounds like it was a wonderful adventure and I can’t wait to hear more.

  2. Have missed you at the Y and have been wondering where you were. Sounds like a fantastic trip and I look forward to more pictures (glad you got them all back) and stories.


    • There was no weight lifting on vacation, but there was one 25 minutes span of aerobics when we couldn’t find where our bus was parked. Thankfully they came to look for us and didn’t leave without us. Phew!

  3. Julie Railsback says:

    Oh, Marie, this brought back such wonderful memories! You did all the things I thought about trying but didn’t – the fish spa, eating the cricket, midnight boat ride – wow!! The elephants and the cooking class were highlights for me, as well as just hanging with my family and absorbing the sights and smells, along with the occasional massage. Why don’t we have foot masseuses lining Nicollet mall? Now that would bring people downtown.
    Welcome home!

    • The cricket was a little scary. We loved the elephants and went to a cooking class on your recommendation. Why don’t we have masseuses lining the Nicollet Mall? Maybe someone will pick up on that idea this summer.

  4. Oh – I shall look forward to this immensely. Thank you for sharing your travel adventures with us!

  5. Amy Clough says:

    Sounds like an amazing adventure, Marie! Love reading about it, and look forward to more stories!

  6. Sounds like an amazing trip! Lots of memories you get to share.

  7. There are three reasons I like to share travel stories. 1) So others know if they’d like to visit or not 2) To make it easy and enjoyable for the next traveler by sharing tips 3) If one never goes physically, they’ve experienced a bit in their imagination.

  8. Surya Iyer says:

    Nicely said about the attitude of contentment.
    I would love to see pics from Angkor Wat – would like to go there myself one day.
    Also, would love to get the recipe for massaman curry.
    As someone who grew up in northern India where monkeys are a permanent fixture at many public locations, I totally agree with your PSA on dealing with them.

    • The pictures of Angkor Wat will come, and so will the recipe for massaman curry. Look for them.
      Thanks for the reinforcement about all that monkey business. Jan’s story in the comments was a great illustration of monkey mischeif gone awry.

Share your thoughts