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Fabulous Fun in Vegas

As a travel enthusiast living in Chicago, one of my favorite places to go for fun and excitement is Las Vegas. This oasis in the Mojave Desert has it all. Of course, there are plenty of things for Mom and Dad to do on a break from the kiddos, but there are a lot of family activities that the entire family can enjoy together in Vegas as well.

1. The Bellagio Fountains

Doesn’t it seem strange that a city in the middle of the desert is the home of world-famous fountains? The choreographed waterworks displays at the Bellagio Fountains are breath taking. This 8.5-acre area features water that flies up to 460 feet in the air. My kids really enjoy watching. It’s Mom, however, whom they have to pry away in order to see anything else in the city.

2. O at Cirque de Soleil

The shows in Las Vegas are legendary. My personal favorite is Cirque de Soleil’s O. My family loves watching the acrobats and synchronized swimmers perform. This spectacular show features a shape-shifting pool that holds 1.5 million gallons of water. The kids love the stunts and the characters too.

3. The CSI Experience

My husband and I are huge fans of the show CSI. Naturally, we had to try our hand at solving crime with the CSI Experience at the MGM Grand. The process is incredibly realistic. We started by being ushered into a crime scene and taking note of all the details. There aren’t any shortcuts to solving crime, but we had fun experiencing the process in person.

4.Pink Jeep Tours

One of the reasons I love Las Vegas so much is that there are many activities outside the city limits as well as on the strip. Don’t take a trip here without exploring the beautiful scenery in the nearby countryside. Pink Jeep Tours are a great way to do this. A number of tours and packages are available. You can even take a day trip to the Grand Canyon.

There’s plenty to do and see in Las Vegas. Additionally, hotel options are wide ranging. Sites like Gogobot make it easy to read user reviews and find even more tips and tricks. I hope you get to take a trip there soon. My family and I always enjoy our times there together, and no two trips to this desert oasis are ever alike.

Article by Kendra Thornton

Cambodia Day 2 – Siem Reap Without The Temples

“It's a bizarre but wonderful feeling, to arrive dead center of a target you didn't even know you were aiming for.” - Lois McMaster Bujold

The second day of our adventure was supposed to be spent in Pattaya, Thailand (which we later found out that Mario Maurer was there… sigh!). Unfortunately, the Thai anti-government protesters called for a shutdown which totally ruined our plan for that day.

Of course I wanted to push through with my plans for Thailand - to visit as many countries as I can even in a limited extent of time but… when you are traveling in a group, it is important to acknowledge what the majority decides. This time, I was outvoted!

Sure we can take a risk as it was reported to only affect Bangkok but, we can’t be too audacious because our flight going back to the Philippines was in Siem Reap. It would be uneconomical for any traveler to be locked down in a city and miss a booked flight. On the brighter side, that gave us the chance to get to know Siem Reap even more.

Crocodile Farm In Siem Reap
Tuktuks can take you to places from $2 to $4 depending on the distance of your destination. We headed towards the Crocodile farm. What to expect? Just crocodiles!

War Museum Cambodia
We decided to check the war museum which is far from the Crocodile farm. It would be better if you check the museum in the morning and carry on to Cambodian Cultural Village after lunch as they are near to each other. The museum has $5 entry fee.

I'm not the girl your mom warned you about. Her imagination was never this good. Chos!

DIY Bike Tour
Just a few minutes’ walk from our hotel (Vimean Angkor Pich), we saw numerous bike displays that can be rented for just $2-$9 a day. Since only two knows how to bike, we chose a 2-seater bike which costs $9 per bike.

Remembering how excited I was made me smile while writing this. Yes, I don’t know how to bike but getting the chance to sit in the saddle, hold the handle bars and place my feet on the pedals gave me the illusion of controlling the whole ride even though I was just seated behind. The full control is in the hands of the one seated in the front – Jenny’s spot. For the moment, Lavin seated behind ate Kristen.

It always makes me smile remembering how Jenny got panicky, stopping countless times in the middle of an intersection, and walked our bike to the side while Jenny’s complaining and I was there laughing at her! The pressure was all hers being in charge of our safety. She even yelled at people who overtakes her! Hahaha! I know it was difficult for her and I will always thank her for that experience.

I never thought that bicycling in a busy foreign national highway can be this exhilarating!

We explored the whole city of Siem Reap except for the temple area because it will require us to pay another dollar for the temple passes.

Check out the map below to start planning your own bike tour around Siem Reap:

We may not be able to carry on with our original plan but that day was not bad at all. Of course, that’s how life is. A turn of events may seem very small at the time it’s happening, but you never really know, do you? How can you?

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Siem Reap Cambodia Day 1 - Temple Run!

Siem Reap Cambodia Day 1 - Temple Run!

Hello 2014! It’s been a while since I last updated my blog but I got a whole new bag of experiences to share that is still fresh on my memory. It’s Siem Reap I Saw, baby!

Hotel: So I arrived in Siem Reap around 9pm with Jenny and her two lovely cousins Lavin and Kirsten. We were fetched by our hotel’s tuktuk driver Mr. Ly of Vimean Angkor Pich hotel for free! The hotel is a 15-minute tuktuk ride from the airport which only costs $15 per night. If you have someone to share the room with, the better… as you’ll save half the price of it!

Tour Package: Mr. Ly introduced us to his tour package. For $15 (sharing of 4) we will be able to tour Angkor Wat and its neighboring temples for the whole day. Sounds like a great deal, right? Certainly! So we booked a tour for the next day and rested early for my most anticipated Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider adventure. Teehee!

Philippines is one hour ahead of Siem Reap, Cambodia and so we decided to start our tour at 8am. We passed through a checkpoint and a crowded ticket booth for a one day ticket pass that costs $20 each.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat was our first stop which is 15 minutes away from our hotel. Since we had no breakfast yet, we decided to eat in a tiny food stall with a decent amount of red plastic chairs and tables just around the vicinity of the temple. For $1.5 we were served with rice topped with grilled pork and scrambled egg. Definitely tastes and looks like a pork teriyaki.

After a scrumptious meal, we were approached by salesy locals telling us that we can't get inside Angkor Wat in short pants and keeps on convincing us to buy long pants which is like a hippie casual boho dyed long pants. The price? $20 each!!! 

My companions bought one for themselves but I turned down the idea of buying because it's too expensive for a long pants. I have a shawl with me so I asked one tuktuk driver if I can get inside Angkor Wat by just making it a skirt and he answered YES. The lady seller behind me started yelling to the poor tuktuk driver in their local language, which I get the idea... she just lose a customer. Lols

The lady seller even ran after me on our tuktuk saying that since my companions made a purchase from them, I can now get it for only $15, but I think it's still too pricey so just I smiled and say no thanks!

Truth? You can get inside Angkor Wat wearing shorts, but it pays to wear long pants to protect your legs from the heat of the sun. You can also buy exactly what they offer in Siem Reap night market for as low as $3!!!........ and yeah, that was a tourist trap!

Snap Shots Around Angkor Wat:

The world's largest religious monument and a completely realised microcosm of the Hindu universe, culminating in the five peaks of Mount Meru. It is an architectural masterpiece in fine proportions and rich in detail; the apogee of classical Khmer construction. Some 600 m of narrative bas-relief and nearly 2,000 apsaras.

...and then we carried on to Angkor Thom.

Run! Temple Run! O_O

Around Angkor Thom, we found these lovely neighboring sites:

  1. Bayon (above picture)
  2. Baphuon (temple run like site)
  3. Elephant Terrace
  4. Leper King Terrace
Can't contain myself of too much excitement! ^_^

The complex of face-towers and the narrative bas-reliefs of daily life and Khmer history. The state temple of Jayavarman VII symbolic centre of the universe and empire.

After we toured around the vicinity of the Bayon Temple, we headed out for lunch and dined in front of Phimeanakas and the Royal Palace. After trying their popular Khmer dish named Loklak (sauteed pork or beef with ample amount of onions and lettuce), we went to the temple that was popularized by Angelina Jolie in her movie, Tomb Raider - The Ta Prohm temple.

Romantic atmosphere with opportunities to explore. Many hidden corners and strangler figs and silk-cotton trees entwined among ruins. From Ta Phrom we proceed to Banteay Kdei and Srah Srang. Last stop was in Prasat Kravan.

To sum it all, here are the temples we've visited:
  1. Angkor Wat
  2. Bayon
  3. Baphuon
  4. Elephant Terrace
  5. Leper King Terrace
  6. Phimeanakas and the Royal Palace
  7. Ta Prohm
  8. Bantay Kdei
  9. Srah Srang
  10. Prasat Kravan

That day was very satisfying for me but at some point, I wished I could have witnessed the scenic sunrise and sunsets with these magnificent temples. If I only have enough time in Siem Reap, I could have this 3-days itinerary:

  1. (First day) Pre-dawn to sunrise at Angkor Wat, followed by the South Gate of Angkor Thom and the summit of Phnom Bakheng. Late afternoon at Bayon.
  2. (Second day) Sunrise at Srah Srang, then Banteay Kdei and drive to Bantay Srei while the light is still good. Late afternoon to sunset Angkor Wat. If a full moon, the Bayon at night,
  3. (Third day) Sunrise at Rolous followed by early morning at Ta Prohm.

Meals: $5
One day temple pass: $20
Tour by tuktuk ($15 shared by 4): $4
Hotel: $7
Total: $36 or 1,620PHP

The tour ended in a timely manner and we celebrated our temple run adventure at the buzzling Pub Street for an al fresco dinner and Khmer foot spa.

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Cambodia Day 2 - Siem Reap Without The Temples