Cambodia - 7

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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5am in the morning. Is this nuts or what! This is supposed to be a "vacation"! Wayne set this god forsaken schedule. Claiming it's best to beat the tourist. The taxi driver will be here at 5:30am and I am hungry. I go to try out this breakfast. It basically consists of fruit and a baguette. It's a Cambodian rendition of a Continental breakfast. My cohorts arrive and the taxi driver shows and waits for us patiently. We leave the hotel and enter the main road. To our surprise it looks like a rush hour on the way there. Jeez, are these people mad! It's 6am in the morning and there is a line trying to get to the temples. As I find out later Wayne was absolutely right about leaving so early. It's the weekend and the tourists are out in groves. I will also find out that the heat gets to be blistering.

We take a few shots outside of the temple but the clouds are out and they are not the best. There are vendors hustling to sell water and Coca Cola. We choose a guy and he brings us chairs. We finish our drinks and proceed inside. As we enter the temple I get this feeling of wonder imagining what it must have been to enter such an emense temple grounds when it was in excellent condition. It is just massive and the etchings on the walls throughout must have taken years to complete.

Unfinished... will complete shortly (Ending on Sunday afternoon).

(Beginning Monday afternoon) Sorry for the delay, I guess my body is still getting adjusted to LA time. It's been over a week. I have supposedly conquered the sickness I had and my body is constantly in a state of exhaustion. I had gone to see the doctor last Wednesday and am awaiting results from the blood test. I feel good though. But if I suddenly stop this blog you will know wh....(arrgh, loud thump then silence...).


So, I seperated from Ozzie and Harriet and am walking through the temple and kinda wondering where to start first. It's kinda erie being here as it feels so unreal. I can't shake the thought that these ancient people once walked these hallways as I do now. I take some cool shots (See my pics) and I traipse around the grounds like a lost child. I get approached by tourist here and there all asking "What's your name, where you from, what you do...). After some small talk one family of 17 or so was seriously asking me to take their daughter's hand in marriage. The mother was dead serious. The dad had this look on his face as if to say Pa-leeeeez be the one. The daughter was dressed modern and was like "I only bring them out on special occaisions... you know, because they're spe-cial". I laugh and offer to take a picture of them to change the subject. They agree only after they make me agree to take one with their daughter.

Afterwards I'm feeling spry so I decide to walk the steep and absolutely dangerous stairway to the top. Looking back I musta been nutz. I start climbing the steps and feel like a gazelle. So I go with it and lean in and do the thing. I pass people holding on to the side as I think to myself "You guys haven't been doing the stairmaster, have ya". I hear people commenting in the back but who knows if they are speaking in French, Hindu, German or Japanese. I can't think about that now because I have lots of equipment on my back and it would take some time to get me to the hospital if I survive the fall. I get to the top and look back and it is a breathtaking view (haven't found that shot in my archive yet). I take my breath and go back to help a few of the girls up the last few steps.

I started to walk around and see a few monks hanging out and speaking in Khmer. I ask to take a pic and they are cool with it. I am careful not to overstep my boundaries with them. I walk around and I end up looking more than taking pictures. Then it is time to get down. I go back to the stairs and say "Am I out of my mind"? It is one thing to go up but quite another to get down. Then I realize what a burden my 50lb. photo equipment backpack is. I have visions of me making the slightest mistake and bouncing down like Fred Flintstone only with much more damage as I reach the bottom. I start down and another woman starts behind me. I guess she figured I could break her fall (Not funny). She's French and there are others shouting from the bottom of the temple. I am 15 steps or so down when she tells me that there is a rope on the other side. I contemplate for a moment and decide that it is not worth the ego to say "I did it" with the possible consequences of falling to my death. I go back up and then to the other side. This is not an "E" ticket for me. I get down the other side and start taking more pics.

I run into a few Khmer kids (Vatig & Tengh) and ask them to take a few shots. They agree and I get two cute little tour guides. The youngest one (Vatig) has scars over almost every inch of her exposed body parts. I do not inquire about it because she may be sensitive to it. They instantly latch onto me and I go with it. I'm a kid myself. We go through the temple and Tengh tells me the history while Vatig carries my tripod. They are fascinated by where I am from what I look like and and what I do. They can recite to me the capitals of all of the U.S. states and most European ones. They are 7 - 10 years old. I should have been as good at that age. As I go through I notice some of the guards are eyeing them closely. They grab my hand I let the guards know that it's ok. We finish our tour and we start to go to the front. Tengh tells me that she cannot come with us. I ask why and she tells me that the police officers will beat her. My jaw drops. I say ok and tell her to meet us outside. She takes the long way and meets us later.

While walking out I am bombarded by Khmers wanting to sell me the goods they offer. I decline and say "Te Awk Koun" (No, thank you). Some persist others take me at me word. I get to a guy that we bought water from earlier and he offers me a chair. I sit down and look at my watch. It's only 10am and it is unbearably hot. I sit to catch my breath and it takes awhile before I get up. I do not see Ozzie(Wayne) nor Harriet (Tash). I finally go look for our driver as the heat gets to me more. It's madness to be out here. I start walking and the older girl Tenhg meets up with us and she explains to me that if she does not sell any postcards her mother will beat her. I'm appalled. I kid with them and negotiate prices but in the end I offer to buy one from each of the girls and they love me. They only let go of my hands when they are close to the security guards.

We get to the parking lot and I look for my friend and find him in a restaurant (He eats often). I am also famished so I sit to order food. I look up and my friends have mutated and cloned into 8 heads varying in height, gender and hair length. They peak over the restaurant wall and all start to ask "What's your name, where you from". I laugh and Wayne and I entertain them while I order food. It's funny that when the food arrives they leave like clock work. I finish my meal and like paddle ball, they are back. They start talking to Wayne but I guess they like me more. They tease him and call him ladyboy. I fall out the chair laughing. They ask me to get them ice cream and I agree to my two adopted friends Vatig and Tengh. I soon find out that it would be next to impossible to do reward them alone. As I try, the crowd of kids get larger and larger. I believe the number reaches 14-20. I bought what I had with the few dollars I had left with me after food and refresments ($7 worth). The ice cream man does not take plastic. I tried to distribute them the best I could. Big mistake. Like metal to a magnet I was. Wayne has the video. It's not pretty. We get back into the taxi and I find out that Tash went back in early. Wayne was actually amazed that I stayed out there that long. It felt like 95-100 degrees with unbearable humidity by 10am. We get back to the hotel for refreshments and a dip in the pool. We check in on Tash and she is worn out.

Wayne is worried.


I never got to the bottom of why the guards beat the kids. I can only guess that they are trying to protect the tourists trade. Still, there is no excuse for beating a defenseless child. The kids are dirty, poor and in dire need.

The Khmer people have a legal right to go to the temples freely and without being charged.

Mosquitoes are very prevelant and as we were to find out later sickness is inevitable if you stay longer than a few days no matter what you do.
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photo by: genetravelling