another trip to Cambodia!
Bangkok Travel Blog› entry 32 of 49 › view all entries
April 15th, 2006 – by: bede17
Sooo... this is going to be a long one! I just got back from 2 1/2 days at Angkor Wat in Cambodia and have a lot to write about. But first, our last day before break at work on wednesday was pretty fun. It was the first day of the Songkran holiday, which we found out when the ladies came up to us and smacked baby powder on our cheeks. Not sure what the reason behind this is, but it's a tradition to cover people and things in some type of powder before they get wet. So when the girls left work at lunch they made sure to say bye to myself and Tom (we were sanding on deck), and also dump some water down our backs. It was pretty funny, and they weren't expecting me to come back with a water bottle at them! The yard was pretty quiet in the afternoon and we did some tidying up before leaving early.The only bummer was that we found a problem with the anchor system, so our launch might have to be delayed by a few days to get that sorted out. We got to the airport around 6 for our 7:30 flight and checked in and such, and I was disappointed in myself for succumbing to KFC, my first fast food this entire trip. But in my defense it was the only food there and I was hungry. Our flight put us into Siem Reap about an hour later and our hotel van picked us up at the airport. We couldn't see much out the window because it was dark, but there were Christmas lights everywhere because it is the Buddhist new year. Our hotel was really nice, what I would probably call Khmer tourist design, but very comfortable and with a gorgeous pool.I took advantage of the pool with a fairly long swim before bed. The next morning my body was pretty confused. I woke up a couple times thinking it was time to get up, and it was still very early. I realized that I haven't woken up to sunlight since I've been here, as my room in the apartment has no windows (even in Koh Samui we had the shades closed). Our breakfast in the hotel was sooo good; I miss breakfast food and having eggs on toast was such a treat! And they had honeycomb cereal!!! After breakfast we negotiated with some tuk-tuk drivers (in Cambodia the tuk-tuks are called remos, and the seats are attached behind the motorbike like a trailer) and arranged to have them drive us around for the day wherever we wanted to go.Apparently this is how you have to do it, and if you try to get a one- way ride to the temples you won't be able to get back, as everyone there is already waiting for their passengers. The ride to the main temple of Angkor Wat (Angkor Wat is the name of the one specific temple that you see in all the pictures, but actually also refers to the whole area) was really pretty, I wasn't expecting so many trees and it was quite pleasant to sit back and watch all the crazy people go by. It wasn't unusual to see 4 or more people on a motorbike, we even saw 6 piled on a couple times, and everyone yells hello!! and waves as you pass. We were dropped off at the entrance to the main temple, right across from a market of vendors set up to sell you anything you might ever want for your trip.I made the smartest purchase of the whole trip- a huge straw hat. I know I look pretty silly but I don't care!! It absolutely saved me over the next couple of days. The kids that sell things are pretty funny. Most of them speak English really well, or at least know the right phrases to suck the tourists in. "Lady you buy cold drink!" "Lady I have everything what you want to buy?" "You are the best in the world!" "You are the most beautiful!" One kid was following me after I declined to buy some postcards (I'd told him maybe I'd come back) and I realized after a minute that he was babbling at me "the tourists always say that they will come back and they are joking and never come back, you buy now." Smart kid! The temple itself is something like the world's largest religious structure, and it does look pretty big from the outside, but I was not prepared for how big it seemed inside.There were passages and courtyards and different levels and it was like a maze trying to get through. It was fun to explore and I found a quiet spot to sit and look out over a courtyard. What was really crazy though were the stairs- they were straight up! Any time you wanted to go up a level you had to scale a series of uneven, thin (less than half the length of your foot), super- steep stone steps. Luckily my straw hat prevented me from seeing anything but where my foot was going, so I couldn't worry about it... until I got to the top. Going down wasn't that bad, and at one temple there was a hand rail attached for the tourists. Our trusty drivers were waiting for us when we were done at Angkor Wat, and we drove to town to have lunch at a little Khmer cafe on the street.After lunch we went to a temple called Bayon at a site called Angkor Thom. It was my favorite of all of them. It's famous for huge carvings of faces in the stone and I took a ton of pictures. Next we went to a temple on a big hill that overlooks the whole area to watch the sunset. Even though it was cloudy at first, the sun pulled through in the end and lit up the whole area below. Climbing up the hill was definitely challenging in the daylight, but after the sun set it was a different story! Two things to note for the future- 1) the hill is the only way up, therefore the only way down. 2) when the sun sets, there is nothing to see, therefore time to leave. These both seem like simple common sense, but I had to laugh to myself when trying to stumble down a rock face with tree roots in the dark next to a couple hundred other people doing the same thing.It was really fun though. When we got back to the hotel we all enjoyed another night time dip in the pool before having dinner at the hotel's restaurant. The next day, yesterday, we started our day a little bit earlier and drove quite a ways (same tuk-tuk drivers, they were cool guys) to the temple Ta Phrom, also known as "the tomb raider one." I haven't seen it, but I guess the movie Tomb Raider was filmed there. It's known for the crazy amount of trees growing throughout the entire thing, the roots are everywhere. For some reason allll the tourists seemed to be there when we were, so I got frustrated quickly and spent my last bit of time there getting some $2 t-shirts at the market outside. The next temple we went to was very nice and quiet, more steep stairs to climb and pretty views.We had a late lunch in town again at a French cafe and then poked around the market for a bit. We also made a few stops at some souvenir shops to look for some specific carvings. We ended up back at Angkor Wat for sunset (along with a couple hundred people) and walked around in the pretty light. There was an insane amount of traffic leaving the temple just after sunset so we waited about a half hour to leave. Back at the hotel the workers were celebrating the new year by having a party in... the parking lot. We couldn't quite figure it out, but it looked like they were having a ton of fun. They had a karaoke machine and movie screen and were dancing around and singing with the music blasting. We had quick showers and then went to a restaurant called The Red Piano for dinner in town.It was on the end of a street full of cute open air restaurants and bars the upstairs of all the buildings. I was torn between listening to one of my favorite Elton John CDs playing at our place, or listening to the live Thai cover band playing across the street. I decided live music was the way to go, especially when they played such hits as "New York New York" and "Hava Nagilah." This morning we spent relaxing around the hotel (I swam and wrote postcards by the pool) before checking out and heading to the airport. Our flight was pretty uneventful and here we are back in Bangkok! It's still Songkran festival, as we noted by the dozens of soaking wet people walking the streets and trucks full of people holding buckets of water.Even some of the cops on the street were soaking wet and had a hose that they were spraying around! I had a great trip and it was really nice to get out of the city for a few days, but I still have a day and a little bit free so I'm going to go plan more things to do here! Hope everyone is doing well and Happy Easter!
p.s. I just got back from dinner and had to add a side note here because it was so hilarious. Well, it was hilarious to me at least. My ususal noodle place was closed because of the holiday so I went to a new one just a couple doors down. Only they didn't speak any English, and the menu had no pictures. I tried pointing to something under the noodle section and I think she told me it was beef on rice...hmmm. So the next thing I pointed at she started mumbling some things and I said to myself screw it, just order it, noodles can't be that bad and there's alway rice to fall back on. So when my food arrives it is indeed a bowl of noodles, but they are ice cold and floating in a clear cold broth of some sort. They also come with a bottle of some sort of clear liquid, which I gather that I'm supposed to pour on the noodles. I do that a little bit, don't really notice much of anything, just think maybe the broth tastes like cucumbers. Meanwhile the girls have stood approximately three feet away from me during most of my meal watching me eat. They even brought me a fork and spoon but I'm too stubborn to give in so I stumble through with my chopsticks.So after I'm done with the noodles I move onto the rice and decide to test the clear sauce out. Yup, definitely vinegar. I look around and there is no soy sauce to be had anywhere. So I try asking. After five minutes one girl finally tells me they don't have any. As I'm just trying to imagine life in a Japanese restaurant with no soy sauce, another girl comes up with a little bowl of it. Saved!! It was a pretty humerous meal and I had to stifle quite a few laughs while I was eating, mainly when the girls were standing next to me. It was definitely edible though, no where near bad, but I think I'll stick to my normal restaurant from now on!
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