04.07.2012 - 04.07.2012
Bangkok, Cambodia and Laos
04.07.2012 - 05.07.2012
Catching up on a couple of days with this posting.
Yesterday we completed the drive from Siem Reap to the Cambodian capital Phnom Pehn. The drive is only about 300km, but it took all day due to the traffic and the state of the roads (we should never complain about roadworks in Australia again!). There were a lot more villages along the way, mostly poor farming communities and rice paddys.
At our lunch stop, we had tarantulas crawl on us, and then our guide bought us some to eat (not the same ones that were crawling on us). So I ate a tarantula. It was fried so it was crispy and had a bit of a BBQ flavor. The legs were not to bad, but I didn't particularly like the body. If I had to choose I would have to say I preferred the cricket I ate the night before.
Upon arriving at Phnom Pehn, we headed out for cocktails and dinner over looking the Mekong river. It was happy hour at the bars, so our cocktails were half price. So $2 instead of $4. Needless to say I sampled a few off the menu. A few of us then kicked on at a club called Heart of Darkness, where you get patted down on the way in due to a shooting there a few years ago. The cocktails were also good here, and it was a fun bar, so it seemed like a good idea at the time to not leave until about 3 am.
Then today I discovered that cocktails followed by a day out in 35 degree heat, is not a good combination. This morning we went on a cyclo ride around the city, which is we're you sit in a little solo bucket seat at the front of a trike whilst a driver pedals you around the city). It was a really cool way to get around the city, as an alternate to the tuk tuks. We then explored the grand palace, which was really impressive, however I probably didn't appreciate it as much as I should have due to overcoming the effects of the affore mentioned cocktails.
The afternoon was then pretty grim as we went on a tour to the genocide museum and the killing fields to learn a bit of the darker side of Cambodian history under the rule of Pol Pot. This was not a very pleasant experience, especially out at the killing fields where there are still fragments of bone being uncovered when ever it rains and are visible as you walk around.
Lastly we got to go to a family home where they cooked us a feast of local Cambodian food. The family also help fund a school to teach kids English, and we got to spend some time with the kids which was really cool. The food was amazing. Here I then got to try tarantula rice wine, which is basically a really strong sake with tarantulas soaking in it (similar to the work in a tequila bottle). It is meant to have medicinal qualities, and did not raise too ad, just very strong.
To finish off my day, arriving back to the hotel I got stuck in a tiny lift with two other girls for about 15 minutes, so what ever of my insides that had not cooked from the cocktails and walking around in the heat, we're finished off in the time we were stuck in the lift as it was incredibly hot in there. Tomorrow we leave Phnom Pehn to head to Kratie, our last stop before getting into Laos. I will post photos tomorrow.
03.07.2012 - 03.07.2012
Today we explored the temples of Angkor, which was an awesome experience, and the photos uploaded do not really do it justice (plus I could not really upload the whole 200 I took!). One thing I was not really expecting was that we would be able to climb in and around the ruins which was one of the best things about the experience, rather than just looking from a distance which is probably what I expected. At one stage we were poking our heads out as a group behind some columns for a photo, only to have a monk walk past and poke his head into the photo too, and then insist on a photo being taken on his iPhone.
The first temple was the jungle temple, and we got there super early so there was hardly anyone around (except the Mosquitos). Then it was onto the massive Angkor Wat, which is probably the most famous of the temples. Though they are spending a fair bit of time restoring parts of it, and in my opinion this ruins some of the beauty of it. I guess it's a tough call on letting it continue to crumble or try to patch some parts up, but to me it just doesn't look rit when you have new bits of concrete or stone in among thousand year old mossy rocks.
On the way to the temple we stopped to get a photo of some monkeys that were hanging around the road, only to have one jump on my back and then try to grope me. Since I had not gotten a rabies shot and was just advised to steer clear of the animals, it goes without saying that it was a relief to get that monkey of my back!.
Next on the list was my favourite temple we saw, Bayon - the temple full of faces. This temple was the best fun climbing up and around, with it's crumbling walls. Lastly we stopped in at Ta Som, which is similar but less known than the jungle temple. Here the 'hallway' of the temple runs such a straight line from east-west and north-south, at some points it looks like you are standing in a house of mirrors. Amazing how they built that all those years ago. Here we got a blessing from the sweetest nun, who would have seen so much in her 75 years.
Finally we headed into town again for dinner, where I ate a cricket. It was crunchy and a bit spicy, but not too bad. On the way to Phnom Penh today apparently we get to try eating spider. And since we had been our feet for whole day in the heat, we decided to end the day with a fish massage of our feet, where little fish (and some bigger ones) munch on the dead skin of your feet, and at $3 with a free beer, why not really. I was very ticklish and quite weird sensation at first, but you slowly get used to it and can just chill out with your beer.