A Travellerspoint blog

Seim Reap

sunny 37 °C

So after Angkor Wat...... Matt and I decided that we needed a day off in between each temple day. The heat is intense and you go home exhausted!! So we try to explain this to out tuk tuk driver. He accepts that if he wants any further work from us he is going to have to work with us.
The days off were fantastic and usually went along the lines of .......
Sleep in, have nice long breakfast with the Phnom Penh Post (Cambodia has amazing French breads), wander around the markets and the river, when is gets too hot head back to the room for a mid afternoon nap and then come out for dinner and nightlife.
We are really getting into the hang of this whole holiday thing.!!
Our second temple day - Sai picked us up and we headed back out to the Angkor region. We were doing a different circut (I forget the names of all the temples) and we soon arrived at the first. We head in.... To get to the temple you have to walk down past a number of stalls. The young girls jump on you the moment they see you. We kept walking and saying that we will see about buying something later. One little girl pressed a bracelet into my hand and said 'Free for you, for good luck' I tried to refuse it but she wouldn’t take it back. I kept it but I said that I this does not mean that I would buy something. It turns out that Matt also got a 'Good Luck' bracelet from another girl. We head into the temple and we are met by a young man. He asked if we would like to know the story behind the temple. As no price was mentioned we figured it would be the same deal as Angkor. Pay what we thought was appropriate on the way out. Not so much. When the tour was over we went to give him money and he said 'No, You give me more'. He wanted about triple what we were willing to pay. As you can imagine Matt handled this very well..... It was a bit high stress but we stuck our ground and paid him what we thought was appropriate for the tour we received. We walked out a bit frazzled and come across the little girls again. As we had bought a temple rubbing inside the temple there wasn't anything else that we wanted. We needed water though. We walked over to the stall that we thought was the girls and bought some. As we were heading out the gate they chased us down
'Why you not buy from me?’ I waited so long for you to come out and I remembered you Australian lady'
We tried to explain that we bought something from them - the water. It wasn’t their stall. They were getting them selves worked up and started crying and getting hysterical. I was getting upset and then they started yelling. They were vicious. I pretty much grabbed Matt by the arm and started running towards the tuk tuk. The girls wouldn’t stop. They were trying to grab at us and screaming out you are a stupid Australian man and a horrible Australian lady. You are both ugly and I hope that you break up'
I was shaken. We have dealt with the persuasive kids, the demanding kids and the persistent kid but nothing like this. It put a bit of a dampener on the day. I didn’t want to have to deal that again. We decided that we were just going to say a flat out No instead of maybe.
Other temples were great too. I would explain them all in detail but I really can’t be bothered. Although there was this one that was overgrown a bit and it was gorgeous. My favourite by far.

We ended up changing guesthouses half way though the week to one a few doors down. It was much nicer and had a pool which is a huge deal when its soooo hot. So we checked out of our place and moved in next door. We had to get up the next morning to go out to Beng Maelea. We had no way of contacting our driver so we wandered back over to the old guesthouse to meet him. He saw us and marched over to us. He looked furious.' You check out of here! Why?? How much you pay at the other place' I didn’t have anything to hide so I told him. It was just better then where we were.
He calmed down a bit and we headed out to Beng Maelea. It has the same floor plan as Angkor Wat but it has completely been left to the elements. It is a real Indiana Jones temple. It was a bit unrecognizable as alot of it had caved in but it was a real adventure. We met some sneaky little guide boys who I am pretty sure were trying to hatch a plan to steal out things and the most adorable little Cambodian girl who was there with her father. She seemed to take a liking to me and stuck to me like glue until Matt and I headed off in a completely different direction.
I was an awesome day in which we got to ride a tuk tuk through a storm drinking beer and see amazing temples.

We spent the next few days in the pool, beside the pool and in restaurants. It was pure holiday bliss. We met a nice Australian couple and had a few drinks with them. Went and watched Aspera dancing over dinner, went shopping and just wandering around. We found the dodgiest looking restaurant and went in for the cheap beer. I wasn’t hungry but Matt ordered a beef dish and it was amazing. The first time we have eaten meat and really enjoyed it.
We ended up having a few more drinks that turned in whiskey..... We were talking to one of the waitresses who was telling us about the place. How the owner takes in girls that no one else will hire because they are too young or don’t have experience. How they help them with finding a cheap room. Apparently they send most of their money back home to the country for their families.
Matt was a bit drunk by this stage and wanted to give this woman all of our money. We settled on $5 tip. Which is pretty big since that was more then we paid in food and drinks. We had photos taken with them and they sent us home around 12.

As of now we are sitting in an internet cafe in Phnom Penh. We caught the bus down yesterday which was surprisingly stress free and settled into the world’s diviest looking place. We accidently left the light on in the room when we went out and when we came back noticed that there is a hole that has been drilled into the door looking directly at the bed. I covered it up with tape. Matt then pointed one in the ceiling out to me. I am completely freaked out and want to move immediately.

I will continue our story another time...



Posted by katbet123 22:19 Archived in Cambodia Comments (1)

Singapore and Cambodia

Take 2

sunny 40 °C

We made it to Singapore! Margie and Greta met us at the airport (which was lovely of them) and off we set. We didnt do alot with our time in Singapore - just hung out with the family and caught up on sleep.
Although....... We did manage to catch the bus to Chinatown (saw the oldest Hindu Temple in Singapore) and The Asian Civilizations Mesuem and back home without getting lost once!! Proud as punch! The exhibits that they have on are amazing. Matt and I could have spent days in there but we only had hours so I spent most of my time in the Jewels of the Moguls exhibit. It was fantastic. I have never seen this amount of diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds in one room. I took photos of some but they just don't do them justice.

Apart from the adventures in the city we didn't do a whole lot. Sat around chatted, read books and ate. Pete and Margie took us out to dinner on the river in Singapore the night before we left which was beautiful. So a huge thanks to Margie, Pete and the kids who put us up for a few days. I really enjoyed it!!

Anyway we had to get up at some ungodly hour to make it to that airport in order to make our flight to Cambodia. Matt didn't buy duty free scotch and is once again very upset by this decision. We make it through immigration (although the guy who was looking at my passport kept repeating ''New Zealand' over and over again and looking at me as if I had just made this country up. I was a bit worried for a second) and hit customs. Now in my experience (I know it is very limited) but they usually don't just take your word that you have nothing to declare / illegal in you luggage. They still scan your luggage or at least run the dog up and down... When we arrived in Cambodia we walked up to the little desk and handed our forms to the man behind it. He looked down and them and with a big smile ushered us through the door. I am pretty stunned at how relaxed everything seems to be over here.
We find a Tuk Tuk driver who is willing to take us into town. As we are driving through the city I notice how clean everything is. They have women dressed from head to toe (including face masks, gloves and socks in sandals) sweeping the sides of the road with nothing more than a broomstick with some twigs tied to it. It also comes across as a bit more laid back than Thailand (The Tuk Tuk ride actually felt safe)

We arrive at the guesthouse that our drive took us to (one of the things about traveling in the low season is that alot of the guesthouses are closed) and head in to look at a room. We decide to take it and start to settle in. As we make our way back downstairs we find out Tuk Tuk driver still waiting in the reception area. He walks up to us and states that he would like a job from us while we are in the area. Negotiations start and we agree on a price (STILL GETTING RIPPED OFF) for a 3 day temple tour starting the next day and a further sunset tour on another day.
Our driver (Sai) picks us up at 4pm that afternoon and we head out to Angkor Wat to watch the sunset. We arrive at the ticketing booth to be told that we have to buy our 3 day passes to get in to see the sunset. We pay our $80 USD for our tickets and are on our way yet again.
Angkor Wat is beautiful. We head in over the 'Rainbow Bridge' and enter the temple. It is an extremely impressive thing to look at for the first time. We have a bit of a look around and get hassled by some people trying to sell things. As I knew that we were coming back the next day I was more than happy to stick to the front and the grounds of the complex and save the actual temple for when it is a bit lighter. Matt is extremely camera happy at this stage and wont stop so I head back out through the surrounding wall to where the bridge and the breeze are. As I come down the front steps there are a bunch of young men (approx 8) sitting around who seem like they are waiting for all the tourists to come out so that they can secure the complex. I smile and say hello and go to sit down on the side of the bridge. I am pretty sure Matt is the only one by now....... A nicely dressed man walks up to me and asks if I mind him sitting next to me. Sure I say... He introduces himself (There is no way that I can remember his name) and tells me that he is a teacher who lives inside the temple.. He takes disadvantaged street kids and teaches them English and history so that they have better career prospects. One of his students makes his way over to me and introduces himself and asks in very crude English if I would be able to keep talking - not so he could practice his conversation but so he listen to me. I feel a bit silly but I start rabbiting on about nothing in particular (the teacher is the only one who can understand me) and all of a sudden we are all laughing. Is a surreal and lifting moment. I am pretty sure this is the moment that I begin to fall in love with the Cambodian people.
Matt finally heads out and we make our way back to the driver who proceeds to take us to the Angkor night market which is a shoppers paradise that is open until midnight.

I am starving so we head through the market to find food. We stumble across a place called the 'Island Bar' where we order $1 (we haven't found the 30 cent beer quite yet ) beers and cheap burgers. The bartender yells out to us to find out what our names are and introduces himself as 'The crazy bartender' and the proceeds to do the lamest magic trick with a coin. When a deck of cards is pulled out by Matt his eyes light up. So many card tricks are done, some terrible some quite good. So many beers consumed. Everyone is just so happy. The waitresses smile all the time and stops past just for and chat and a joke. Its infectious. I LOVE THIS PLACE!!!

The urge to shop finally got the better of me and we went in to explore the market.
Note: Shopping while intoxicated is not the brightest idea
I bought lots. I couldn't help it. Everything is gorgeous and cheap. As we continue our shopping spree not caring how we would carry it all around I am distracted by something horrible. There is a man standing not to far away next to a tiled pool.
'Fiiiish Masssage!!!' he calls
I am appalled. I couldn't think of anything worse then fish eating my feet - For those who don't know I have only recently become ok with the idea of a foot massage from a human
'Freeee Beeeeer' the man calls again
Matt's face lights up and I can see the war is over. I lost. There is no way I am going to get out of putting my feet in that water. I feel sick. The man cleans our feet down and seems to find my nerves amusing. We get our drinks and turn around with our feet hovering above the water. Hundreds of fish swim to the surface expectantly. I lower my feet in and immediately pull them out again. I hate it. It's slimy, tickley and sharp all at the same time. Matt informs me laughing that unless I put my feet back in he is never going to let me forget it. In they go again. Is a horrible and unique experience that I hope never to repeat again. More people come. Less fish attacking me. Its a bit more bearable. They seem to loose a bit of interest. Even more bearable. Eventually Matt turns to me and begins to say something about being ready to go now. He didn't have to say it twice. My feet were out, dried and back in their shoes by the time he had finished his sentence.
Matt decides that we need to celebrate our triumph over the fish and we go back to the bar for shots. We are greeted by 'Matt!! Kat!! Come in' and big smiles. It was perfect.

The next morning we are greeted by Sai our driver bright and early to take us to Angkor Wat for day 1 of templeing. We run into a bunch of people in the restaurant and decide to share the cost of a guided tour. We head in and find a guide and start to wander.
The tour is amazing as is the temple. The guide gave us a bit of background on his family and how this situation is very normal in Cambodia and how Angkor Wat offers him an escape. His father wad killed when he was very young and his brother went off to fight and was badly injured. As they could not afford adequate medical care, his wounds festered and eventually turned gangrenous and drove him mad. He died not too long after. Our guide needed to escape so he came back to Seim Reap and was sponsored to study English. He became a guide and in his words he is the happiest he has ever been. He loves his job.
Anyway the temple is amazing, The stories and the sheer magnitude of it stuns. There is over 300 million tonnes of sandstone there. WOW

After a brief nap at our hotel we head back out to a temple called Byon. This is part of the palace complex and the king built it with over 250 smiling faces on it that resemble himself quite alot. It is a much more interesting temple to explore that Angkor Wat.

We piked after this. It is so hot here!! 42 degrees and as humid as could possibly be. Oh and there is no wind here at all.

Singing off now with more boring details very soon (I would really like to get this up to date)


:) xoxo

Posted by katbet123 20:28 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (3)

Kathryn is Lameo!

Everybody post comments asking for Kat's blog! She is hitting me right now so make this worth it.


Posted by sarchasm1 05:56 Comments (2)

Cambodia and Singapore

Just to let everyone know that eventually there will be another blog entry form me detailing Cambodia and Singapore. The computer decided to delete my entry after spending 2 hours typing it all in...

So eventually you shall hear from me again


Posted by katbet123 22:17 Comments (3)

Cambodia - sweet sorrow

sunny 35 °C

I am currently sitting in an internet cafe in Siem Reap. The weather, as always, is 35 degrees and muggy. It is 11 o'clock Thursday morning and I am wondering if it is too early to have a beer. Probably not.

We arrived in the area 4 days ago. Within hours of arrival Kat and I had both expressed our joy at being here and our mutual wish to stay longer. I have to say that our planned trip to India now looks like it might fall by the wayside to make room for more time in Cambodia and Vietnam. I'd also like us to visit Singapore again if I can work it. This is all direct result of a very brief exposure to Cambodia. A desire that has not waned with further experience.

We have kept busy(ish) visiting temples and getting to know the region of Angkor, as well as the tourist center of Siem Reap. I find it, hard, to describe my feelings for this place. Heck, I find it hard to figure out what they might be.

The temples are beautiful and certainly impressive. They speak of the might of vision and of what can be accomplished with determination (with a bit of wealth and power thrown in). It seems to me that religion was integral to a powerful kingdom. People need unity and faith in their leaders as well as a hesitancy to question what is required of them, if a an Oligarchical society is to perform effectively. It seems this was accomplished through the promotion of religion in the peoples lives. Additional tactics seem to be labeling your leader/s as a conduit for communication with/interpretation of God/s and their will. You can also deify your mights leader and subsequently fill your people with a sense of righteousness.

Sorry - got a bit sidetracked there.

Temples. Amazing. Built by hand. Hewn from rock (usually sandstone) that was quarried, again by hand, then transported large distances to the sites and then precision laid, one upon another, to a complex and meaningful design. A lot of lines, well, line up. Anchor Wat alone is made up of 300 million tonnes of sandstone, all meticulously carved. Then there are the water features.

Water was completely integrated throughout the temple complexes. Not just within the temple. Each temple was part of a larger system of irrigation for the kingdom. This system comprised of moats, lakes, ponds, pools, water features and rivers. For the most part these were man made and all very specifically designed to fit within the larger patten.

Just staggering.

But this is not what stays with me.

You hear tales of the Khmer Rouge and their brutal reign. Not in some history book but from a young man standing in front of you explaining, calmly, about the death of their parents, then the later death of their brother and then their subsequent disillusionment with the military. Not much you can do to prepare for that conversation. I just stood on the spot, listened and mourned for this strangers family and his life.

Then there are the children. They are enchanting creatures. Full of life and energy and seemingly fearless. I just watch them and smile.

Then they try to sell you stuff. At length. They are very effective. A young boy, missing a leg (presumably from 'just' another land mine incident) hobbles cheerily up to where Kat and I are eating lunch and delivers some friendliest, most casually impressive patter I have ever heard. Then sells us stuff. Saying no is very, very hard.

Yesterday, after visiting a temple (I forget which one) I am approached by a gorgeous young child. She must be about 12. Almost a woman. She remembers me passing earlier and my promise to 'maybe' look at the goods in her store on the way out of the temple. I had remembered my responsibility and purchased a bottle of water from what I thought was her stand. I was informed in no uncertain terms that this was not her stand and I should have brought the picture, rolled up in my hand, from her stall and not the one in the temple. I expressed regret but explained that I had already spent too much money and didn't need anything else.

The next few minutes an education. She asked many questions to which I had no answer for. The girl went from hopeful and empowered, to negotiating, then wheedling, on to anger, despair, she became vicious and then back to despair. She fled. Sobbing. Wishing that Kat and I would break up and that she hadn't known that all Australians were so mean, so deliberately unkind.

Kat was almost in tears and I wasn't far behind. This incident was not alone.

This country is, confronting.
I am confronted.


Posted by sarchasm1 21:10 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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