Temples Galore!

Trip Start Feb 17, 2013
Trip End Mar 21, 2013

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Remember how I said yesterday that the weather was very pleasant . . .  well, God has a way of evening the playing field.  It was a scorcher today.

We had a very nice breakfast on our patio this morning.  It couldn't have been a nicer morning.  By 8:00 we were out the door with our now good friend, "Jim," and his tuk-tuk.  It is black with a red motorcycle up front and a blue ice chest.  These are things you must remember when you are sorting through a hundred or more tuk-tuks outside of a temple!

Our objective was what they call here "the small tour circuit."  That's like trying to schedule all Seven Wonders of the World before 3:00!

In order of appearance the stops were:

Now, I hardly care what the archeological history of these are, and I was there, so I know you don't.  If by some chance you don't have a life, I'm sure Dayna will set you up with the links.  ;-)

Let me just point out a few tidbits.  Angkor Wat is something special.  All kidding aside, there are only two temples that are worth a $1,100 airline ticket to get here -- Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm. Anchor Wat defines the word HUGE!  It took us nearly 2 hours to walk through and there was no sitting.  Anghor Thom is so large, I think Vatican City would fit into it with maybe room for Monaco.

What is this place?  People plan to go to Angkor Wat and talk about it like it is all there is to see. Wrongo.  The "Park" itself must be 400 Sq. Kilometers.  It just goes on and on.  You can't swing a cat without hitting some kind of ruin.  You can't walk it, it would be like trekking the Oregon Trail. You could bike it for a day.  There are people with strong constitutions and weak minds that do. But, it is like bicycling the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  Even taking a Tuk-Tuk requires some reasonable health.  Worst yet, you could take a Japanese tour bus and find out why some have been known to carry short knives to use on themselves. The outlying temples are, in some cases, 50+ kilometers away.  If you are not able to walk 2-3K at a shot, over unleveled terrain, climbing very steep stairs, scaring the shit out of yourself descending very steep and rough stairs, and ducking your head constantly, don't try it.  And that is just for one temple.  Remember that you're going to be doing it all in 95 degree heat and about equal humidity.  If you wonder how football players enjoy August "two-a-days" in Alabama, just drop in here for a day!  Also, this jungle -- I didn't really anticipate that.  There is heavy tree cover which is really very nice because there is shade. Monkeys live here and we found them begging in places.  There are villages within the park, restaurants, and shops with kids all over the place begging and trying to sell you everything under the sun.  FYI:  Prices seem to drop dramatically in the afternoon.  If you fell over dead, some little kid would try to sell your corpse some postcards!  Dayna's note:  These children should be in school but they are worth more to their extremely poor families by selling their wares.  The really sad thing, other than them not receiving an education, is that their "pimp" is nearby to collect the $$$.  They get very little, if anything, from the proceeds of their hard work of begging.

Of course, there are tourists by the thousands.  Every country in the world must be represented here every day . . . even a very few Americans.  You could make a study about what they all wear!  Do people think that it is OK to leave all sense of good taste at home when they come to Cambodia?  Cambodians read our magazines, GQ, and women's rags.  They must think it is just propaganda after seeing what we show up wearing!  The Japanese are the worst.  They look like a homeless people who just stopped in at the Salvation Army or Deseret Industries when they are distributing the good stuff!  I have never seen such outlandish getups.  People! We represent the "civilized world" to the homies here.  We have responsibilities!

Tickets cost $20/day, $40/three day pass and $60 for a week pass.  (A week pass also requires a death wish.). Better than Disneyland, they take your picture for the ticket and, believe it or not, in a country that is a model of inefficiency, they check your pass frequently once you are in the park. Someday, Cambodia will wake up and realize that if tourists will pay $100/day to see a mouse, they will do it here and the last good deal of the century will flutter away.  If you're willing to pay $90 for a 90 minute spa treatment in the west (sauna and body beating), why not come to this sauna and get beat up by hawkers for a day.

All of the sites were interesting and worth a visit.  Angkor Wat we have discussed.  That leaves one more worth a good mention -- Ta Prohm.  If you saw "Laura Croft...something-or-other", you saw this place.  It is the one with all of the trees growing out of the walls and floors.  Very cool place!  Downer -- it is falling apart.  Upper -- the Indian Government is spending a fortune to rebuild it.  What they have done already, since 2004, is spectacular.  So, we thank their little pea pickin' hearts.  (We thank their little truck drivin' hearts at work, right guys!)  If you want to feel like Indiana Jones for a few minutes, this is the place to be.  Did you notice Indiana and Laura never sweat.  Just an observation.  

Now we are back at the hotel.  Burn the clothes, take a shower, brief nap, rehydrate more, write the blog entry and get ready for dinner.

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