We Survived Cambodia

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

They were selling t-shirts with that phrase on them at the 'old market.' It seemed pretty appropriate.
We spent yesterday exploring Angkor.  It was super hot and there were hundreds of temples and ruins to see.  They don't have things like handrails or keep out signs in Angkor, so pretty much if you wanted to go somewhere you could climb up it or squeeze through the rubble to find out what's on the other side.  The temples are a little less than a thousand years old and most of them were forgotten about for several hundred years and eaten by the jungle.  The area was huge too, and there were temples and ruins everywhere.  We rented a tuk-tuk for the day and he would just drive us to ruin after ruin.  They seemed endless, and we were taking the small tour, which is a circle road around the main two temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.  Angkor Wat is the main temple and was never destroyed by the jungle because of a moat.  Angkor Thom was huge walled in city at least a mile long on all sides.  In the middle of the city was a big temple called Bayon that had dozens of huge 4 sided face towers.  It was our first stop and we were amazed by how you could just explore everywhere, there was no tour route, you just walk in and out of dark musky rooms and up old stone staircases until you're tired.  Which in this heat didn't take long.  We killed at least a gallon of water that day.  
After Bayon we wandered around a few more places in Angkor Thom then we went to find our tuk-tuk driver.  The only problem was there were hundreds of tuk-tuks around, but after walking around aimlessly for a bit he found us.  Driving through the jungle we went through huge gates with creepy sculptures lining it. The next stop was a smaller but very tall temple in the middle of the forest.  From the top you had a amazing view of the surrounding jungle.  The only problem was getting to the top.  It was steep, ridiculously steep, worse than the old Municipal stadium in Cleveland.  The steps had been worn down over the years so that they were only a few inches wide and you had to put your foot sideways to fit on them and use your hands to pull yourself up.  But when you got to the top, sweaty and out of breath, it was worth it.  
There were monks in bright orange robes at many of the temples, just wandering around.  There were also a lot of locals trying to sell you junk.  A lot of the time, they had little kids come up to you to try to sell postcards or bracelets.  We ended up with both.
My favorite temple besides the main one was Ta Prohm, a temple that was completely overtaken by the jungle.  There were 50 foot trees sitting on top of the walls with massive roots draped over the doors and windows and breaking through the stone blocks.
After stopping at a few more places we ended the day with a quick stop back at Angkor Wat.  We took the back entrance this time, passing a bunch of monkeys on the way in.  The main tower was open so we climbed up to the top where you can see the entire grounds.  It was amazing.  It was kind of sad to leave really.
I was hoping to not have to write much about that day and just put up pictures, but since I've taken so many pictures I had to switch to our backup SD card, and at some point the card cracked and won't fit in the computer.  So hopefully when we get home we can salvage it, otherwise we lost all of our pictures from yesterday, and trust me, there were a lot of them.  I was pretty bummed.  
After going back to the hotel and jumping in the cool pool to avoid heat stroke, we went out for a little while in Siem Reap.  It is nothing like you would expect a Cambodian town to be.  It's really nice and fun.  It is a tourist town so there are a lot of bars and restaurants....and lots of hippies.  But the hippies were all pretty nice, and since the whole town kind of smelled anyways, you didn't really notice them.  We got a local food called 'amok' for dinner then hung out at a western style bar called 'Angkor What?' for a little bit.  It was just like any bar back in America.  Lots of people and music and stuff drawn on the walls.
We really had a great time in Cambodia.  I know I was kind of nervous going in, but it turned out great.
The only problem was that today we had to head back to Bangkok again.  We disliked the trip there so much that we looked into flights from Siem Reap, but it would have cost more than 5 times as much and not saved any time.  We were dreading leaving our hotel.  We grabbed a taxi (side note: nobody knows what you mean if you say "cab.")  It, for some reason, cost about half as much going this way, mostly because the mob wasn't controlling it there.  The ride to the border was great.  The cab driver wasn't insane and tended to stay in his lane.
The border was still awful.  I can't even describe how dirty and smelly and just awful it is.  You do see some crazy things though.  There was a wooden cart being pushed by a guy piled at least 20 feet high and 10 feet wide with styrofoam bowls.  There were trucks filled with pigs.  Carts that people would pedal with their hands.  Horse drawn carts.  Junky scooters with sidecars.  And lots and lots of people.  The whole visa process was much quicker this time though, and much less corrupt.  When we finally got into Thailand we walked to the market to get a taxi.  A guy tried to scam us into taking a van, and when we told him we just wanted a taxi he tried to scam us to take his 'friends' and to buy stuff at his store.  I'd seen this play before where they make you wait hours until the van is crammed full of people so we asked a cop where the real taxis were and grabbed a nice air conditioned van all the way to the door of our hotel in Bangkok.  
It was a long day, but it really couldn't have gone any better.  Being in Cambodia for a few days made Thailand seem modern and organized.
We made our March Madness brackets, so we're not completely out of the loop.
Thats all for today! 
Addendum: After arriving home we got the pictures off the sd card so I put these pictures after the fact. 
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Kris on

Love the description of the crumbling temples. The overgrown temple with trees sounds so unreal.

SD Card... if that was the one I picked out for you .... I'm SORRY!!!

Tania on

That sooooooooo sucks! I hope you can salvage the pics. I would love to see the Ta Prohm temple.

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