Beef and red ants

Trip Start Jul 12, 2013
Trip End Jul 23, 2013

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Just typed yesterday's blog while sitting poolside with a beer while the girls take a nap. Its 4pm, its been 100% cloudy all day, so we didn't have a sunrise this morning, but it was probably 75 degrees this morning and we were about 1 of 3 small groups of people in Tra Prohm. The movie Tomb Raider has some scenes that were filmed at Tra Prohm, so we were able to take some cool photos with no one else in the back ground. It also gave the place a sense of peace and serenity that the creators probably intended. Nothing puts a damper on serenity like 5 large groups of Japanese tourists playing follow the leader. Besides the massive trees growing out of the top of the buildings the most interesting thing about Tra Prohm is a small carving near the back entrance that is eerily similar to a stegosaurus (see photo). Its totally out of place among all the other millions of carvings throughout the entirety of Angkor Wat and is not repeated anywhere. Really makes you wonder where this 1 carving came from.

On to the South Gate of Angkor Thom, which looks similar to the faces of Bayon, we happened to look out the back window as we're driving towards the gate and notice a kid running after us, which was a little odd at first, but as we neared the gate we asked the driver to stop and let us take a photo (the kid was at least 500 yds away and still running towards us), but we paid it no mind and took a few shots and listened to our guide tell us about the gate's history. All of a sudden we're bombarded with, "postcards, 1 dollar"...the little 5 year old, barefoot kid has just chased us down from at least 700 yards away. I have respect for someone willing to work that hard for the chance that we'll buy from him, so he gets my dollar not because of his product but because of his work ethic.

I asked the hotel to pack us a breakfast picnic so we could stay out at the temples and get another hour of no tourists (tour buses and most tour guides take their people to Angkor Wat for sunrise and then directly back to their hotels for breakfast before coming back to the temples around 8am). I was thinking that our breakfast picnic would be just that, a shady picnic in a secluded corner of a temple, no...we pull into a local food stall/eating area and open our box breakfast which consists of 2 croissants, 1/2 a sandwich, hot yogurt, bitter oranges, and a bottle of water; while our table neighbors are chowing down on eggs and bacon from the 'restaurant'. Wonderful. However, we did order coffee, 1 iced and 1 hot, the iced coffee turns out to be the best either Heather or I have ever had so the stop wasn't a complete failure.

Onto Bayon (pronounced Ba-John) in front of the tour buses which should be getting there around 9am (its 8). Bayon is probably the 2nd most famous temple behind Angkor Wat, so there is little opportunity to ever see it devoid of people, you just have to try for the least crowded times. There is a group of elephants that beat a circle around the temple for the pleasure of tourists....its not exactly our cup of tea, but with Maclaren this 15 minute circuit will be a good exposure to riding an elephant. The animals are very well taken care of, they work 3 hours a day max, either a morning shift or evening shift with the rest of their time spent free ranging at a nearby sanctuary. We luck out and our Mahout turns out to be quite the entertainer; playing music with his mouth and a leaf from a tree and stopping at each corner of the temple for the obligatory photo ops. There were other elephants that were 1/4 of the circle behind us at the start that finished at least 1/4 circle in front of us, we definitely got out money's worth. If you're going to tip, you should tip both members of your tour, the mahout and the elephant! Elephants work for pineapples, FYI.

Inside the temple, its a zoo. Its TOUGH to get photos without other people in them, to the point of staking out photo ops and rudely asking people to move after they've sat in your frame for a minute with no other explanation than they are doing it on purpose. The faces of the temple are spooky, if you stare at them long enough the stone almost feels alive.

We must have spent a long time on the elephant and Bayon because we were hot and hungry afterwards so we opted to go back to the hotel for lunch and a swim. I got the girls setup with a safe lunch at the hotel and I left with our guide and driver to try some local delicacy...Beef and Red Ants. At the roadside restaurants infront of Angkor Wat, on the backside where mostly the tuk tuk drivers and locals eat lunch (most tourists eat in the front row of vendors) I ate ants for the first time. And no joke, the dish was good. It is like lemongrass marinated beef stirfry made with mint leafs, lemongrass, bamboo shoots, and red ants, over a plate of white rice. You're not living until you've eaten this.

After the nap that started this blog, we left for sunset at East Mabon which is famous for its elephant statues carved from a single stone sans the trunk. What is East Mabon not famous for you may ask yourself: its sunsets. Why you may ask yourself: because you're not allowed to watch sunset there. So much for the "secret tour guide points" I picked up in my research on the internet! While our guide had never taken anyone there for sunset, he was himself very surprised by the security guard asking us to leave because the temple was closed at 5:30.

So we headed back up the road about 1/2 mile to Pre Rup (Hindu crematorium) where you are allowed to watch sunset. Of course the best spots are taken because we arrive in the middle of sunset instead of the 30 minutes early we just wasted at East Mabon. The cloud cover sucks and the sunset is less than overwhelming so our feelings aren't too hurt.

Fly back to the hotel, change and leave for the circus. Heather is apprehensive...the circus in Cambodia, how will they treat the animals? "Trust me babe, have I ever lead you wrong?" (Mimi don't mention that one time in Bulgaria). Luckily I did my research and know that this circus is more along the lines of Circus Solei (sp?) and not Barnum and Bailey. We're not disappointed, its acrobatics, juggling, acting, flame spinning, dancing, story telling, and overall a really great time. They also sell good food and cheap beer there. And to boot, the circus is actually a child outreach program, orphaned and abused children group up in the program and learn skills to have a career as an adult. The circus has 3 troops traveling Europe and Asia right now. (I can't believe some of the reviews I read on TripAdvisor where people spoke negatively of this show...spoiled tourists who were expecting to see a Vegas style show for $10 in Cambodia...go home). The show was AWESOME.
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MiMi on

Try saving your work as you go if your app allows otherwise
go ahead and save what you have entered and then go back and edit if you
need to add additional info. That way at-least some of your blogging is saved.

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