Day 1 and Day 2 of the cambodia adventure
Trip Start Jul 29, 2008
25Trip End Ongoing
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I find a seat by the window and am joined by a mother and her 10 year old son. I must have been the first white person that this boy has seen. At first, he just stares and smiles at me. He tries to ask me some questions in broken English and I try to answer him in my broken bahasa. We are both unsuccessful. The airlines hands out immigration cards to everyone. The family sitting next to me can not fill it out because it is in English. It turns out their passports are all in English as well. I always assumed that I got the English cards and there were cards in Indonesian as well. I helped the mother and boy fill out the cards by pointing at the area on the passport. This little boy according to his passport was 20 years old. I think there was a typo somewhere.
This flight is one an the scarier ones that I have been on. I don't know if its my age or the fact that I know this airlines is second tier. As we hit turbulence, I am on verge of breaking into cold sweats. The little boy next to me is having the time of his life, ah to be young again! I land safely, maybe a little less sound than before. I do the taxi dance in Malaysia. I stand in line to realize that I need a ticket. I can't get a ticket because its inside the security gates. Finally, I have the security officer get me a ticket to my hotel and off I go. By the time I get to the hotel its 11 pm, I still need to shower and have dinner. I need to be at the airport by 5:00 am tomorrow to catch the next leg of my flight. This does not look good, ugh. I have a quick bite to eat across from the hotel's karaoke bar. I think the singing helped me eat faster. The cool thing was that my glass I was drinking out of was from IKEA! I tried to take pictures of it!
Day 2 :)
I am out the door groggily at 5:00 am. The lines at the airport are massive. My flight is at 7 am, I barely make it. For some reason, the foreign passport kiosk in customs have Malaysian passports going to it instead. I start sweating bullets when I am still in line and my gate closes in 5 minutes, thankfully someone is looking out for me and its not Richard Simmons! :) My flight was a tad bit delayed! In line, I meet a Canadian women, who lives in Malaysia. (This will become a theme of the trip, most people I meet are expats.) She invited me to sit with her and her friend on the plane. The two women are going on a mediation retreat in Angkor Wat. Sounds interesting! I talk to them about running the 1/2 marathon and the two British men across the aisle are also running it. We share running stories and how its hard to run in the Asia because of the heat and rain. The women ask me if I want to get some happy pizza with them on Sunday night. At first I agreed, until I learned that happy pizza was hash pizza. I don't think so! I rather have dinner alone sipping my Angelia Jolie drink.
We land in Cambodia and its a breeze. I have my e-visa already, which is perfect because I get to avoid the lines. I go to the taxi station and discover that a taxi for one person is really just a moped. At first I refuse, I have a larger bad where will that go. They tell me that the driver will put it in front and take care of everything. I looked at the people and just agreed, I came here for an adventure. Here I go!
Thats when it happened, I fell in love with Siem Reap. The highway was just finished, everything looks clean and green. The roads don't have many cars on them but have shoulders filled with bikers and tuk-tuks. I guessed it reminded me of the villages in good morning Vietnam, except everyone has more modern clothes. It was beautiful and real, there were no skyscrapers or pizza huts. It felt like I was in Asia.
I picked up the packet without a problem. Already, this marathon is turning out better than Bali. Thankfully, I was able to check into my room at 10 am. I arranged for the hotel to hook me up with a car and driver for the day. The hotel charged me 3x more than what my little moped driver wanted for the day. But, I was still worried about traveling by myself and wanted the safety of 4 doors around me.
My first stop was the silk museum. I still have no idea how I got here, but it was pretty interesting to me. I have never seen silk butterflies or silk worms. It was a learning experience. The tour was about a half hour, the guide was more interested in the fact that I was running the marathon than explaining the silk making progress. It was an interesting place. I am easily impressed with this stuff though! I hope you enjoy the pictures.
My vision for Angkor Wat was completely wrong. I thought it would just be a mass of temples and not alot of green. It was nothing of the sort. The Angkor temple complex spans an hour around and there has to be at least 20 different temples. People need a week to see everything. Obviously, Angkor Wat is the largest and most popular one. I planned to start my day on Sunday with watching the sunrise over it. I decided to go the Banteay Srei, which means citadel of women. It is about a 45 minute drive from Angkor Wat and is often overlooked. Mary Helen highly recommended it. I decided to put it top on my list. The interesting history of this temple was it was one of the few not built by the king, instead it was built by a tutor for the king. Some think that the temple had to be built by ladies because the carvings are so fine and detailed that man could not have done it. It is supposed to possess the finest stone carvings in the world. It was the most amazing thing that I have ever seen. I spent about 90 minutes walking through it. Thats the issue with the temples, they are so vast and so many little things. If you want to see them you need to really spend time walking through them and discovering all the parts.
My next temple spot was Ta Prohm, which stole my heart as well. This temple was left for a hundred years and nature took it over. To get to it, you walk along and path in the jungle/forest. At first, you don't see anything and then you start seeing these huge trees merged with the ruins. It was the most fascinating thing that I have ever seen. The trees were growing in between, on top and sometimes under the temple. I loved the fact that it was backed up into a forest. All you could here were the high pitch sounds of the termites. It felt like secret garden, Jurassic Park and the world without us all combined into one. It felt magical to me. (I know that I am a cheese ball)
The last temple of my day was Bakong. This temple was a little simpler but higher and involved more climbing than the other ones. I tried to take pictures of how steep it was, but they didn't really capture it. It was a nerve wrecking climb but was beautiful on top.
The saddest part of the temples is the children hawkers. These kids are everywhere and you know they have no money. In the guide book, they said to try and give the kids food instead of money. I bought 20 little power bars. Those were gone within minutes of the first temple. The next temple, I gave away my yummy American kit kats. Then I finally bought the souvenirs. I now own 30 bracelets and 2 flutes. I am sucker for the little ones.
The next stop of my adventure is the pre-race celebration. I go to the hotel and freshen up a little. I get to the dinner and tell them there is only one of me. They sit me in the corner at a table for two. I don't think so. I see two Japanese women at a long table, who look bored with each other. So, I ask them if I could sit by them. They agree and the fun begins. They are two awesome ladies that I will see repeatedly as the trip goes on. Two European women and three American guys join the table. One of the guys is from Washington DC and we just talk about the things that we missed the most. All the American guys are living in China. All the expats that I talked to have been living overseas for at least a year. They all love it and understand that this period that I am in is the toughest. It gives me hope. The food is wonderful and very Asian. I got a kick out of the fact that the spaghetti noodles were fried, a very healthy menu. They had Cambodian dancers. It was really a great night. I talked to wonderful people and just enjoyed myself! I even took a tuk-tuk home!