Siem Reap, Cambodia

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Apr 27, 2010

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Arrived in Siem Reap after 5 hours in the bus and 1 hour in the plane..... What a bustling city!! After Laos it really is a change, eventhough Siem Reap is of course not representative of Cambodia. There are luxury hotels all aver the place, thousands of tuk tuks fighting for space on the road with luxury cars and buses full of tourists…it is supposedly low season…wouldn’t want to be here during high season!!!!! We are all looking forward to Angkor Wat tomorrow. The heat is pretty hard and we are advised to go early. But waiting for tomorrow we'll enjoy a lazy afternoon at the pool! First pool since the beginning of the trip and the girls are super excited about it!!
Back from our first day at the temples...Well, there is not much to say more than…incredible!!! Some temples are so big it’s unbelievable! It is just incredible to imagine how it must have looked like when ther French "rediscovered" them. Most of them have been stripped from all the vegetation that swallowed them up and have been "repaired". But some of them can't do without the huge tree roots that have come to keep them standing. They would collapse if the trees were to be removed. In some of the temples it is like walking on an Indiana Jones movie set. Just missing the snakes and scorpions (eventhough they are present but hiding!!). The first day we did not visit the famous Angkor Vat, it wasn't the right time of the day, too many tourists. We went to Angkor Thom, the second best known site, where the Bayon is located, with it's 214 or so faces. Sure feels like being watched!! Around the  temples it is full of kids and street vendors trying to sell you the same books, postcards and junk. It is the first time on our trip that we have to concentrate not to lose our calm...they can be very insisting! Luckily they are not allowed on the sites.....Cambodian people love to talk, just smile at them and they'll start a conversation. 9 year old kids know how to sell you their stuff in like 6 different languages, know the capital of Switzerland and ask you if you speak german, french, italian or...romanch!!!! Not sure our kids knwo about the fourth swiss language!!!!! Once you answer, the continue in the language you selected (not so sure about romanch....didn't test it!!!).
Back at the hotel for a dip in the pool and a cold shower, when there is water.....Off we are to the centre of Siem Reap. It feels good to see so many people again and so much activity. We have spotted a supermaket with.....Toblerone!!!!! A real supermarket with lots af european goodies!!! Get lots of chocolate, a bottle of wine, two small bottles of Gin and a few cans of Tonic! After only 4 weeks without junk (not a single cookie or piece of chocolate or anything in Laos) we act as if we hadn't had anything in months!!!!!! After delicious dinner in a Khmer restaurant (for 16$ for 5 pax...very expensive for Asia but cheap for Siem Reap) we are off to bed. Michael got it in his head to leave for the temples tomorrow at 5:15 am!!!!!
It was hard getting up at 4:45, especially for the girls who were not that motivated...would have been more motivated if it were to go to the pool!!! Anyway, the sunrise was beautiful and the few temples we saw as well. Can't give many details becauce the different temples are all mixed up in my head!! At 9:00 we head back to the hotel and have breakfast and do some school work...very hard to concentrate with the pool in the background!! The girls are being a little troublesome, whining to go to the pool. It was actually easier without a pool but well, I guess they are a loud their bad days too! They have been so cool till now! Back to the temples at about 4:00pm for a hot air ballon flight!! Sooooo coooool but a little scary. It is not flying free, you just go up about 130m in the air...the view over the temples is beautiful! The girls are jumping aroung making it swing dangerously.....
Tonight we are having...hamburgers!!!!!! Get a break from steamed rice!! We are going to a restaurant supporting a local orphanage allowing the kids to perform traditional dances and all the benefits go directly to the orphanage. Those kids are so beautiful! It is incredible hom many humanitarian organisations there are here in Siem Reap (and in all of Cambodia). Lots of people have been mutilated by the landmines of the Red Khmer regime and it is hard for them to survive without help. There is no hea;th insurance, no social security, no invalid income, nothing!
The girls wanna have a Dr. Fish massage....just put your feet in a pool full of fishies and they come and eat your dead skin cells....yuk! The girls enjoy it.
Two more days of temples and we are off to Battambang, a little further south.
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Irene on

Hamburgers!!! :-)

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