Gary and Sarah Girotti/Jones|
Southeast Asia, here we come!
Siem Reap/Temples of Angkor
A Boating we will go...
The next morning again came early, as we were to catch a "fast boat" at 7:00 for a 4-5 hour trip up the Tonle Sap River to Siem Reap. ["Fast boat" is a cute little nickname for "submarine with no bathroom that floats"]. We had been forewarned to be sure to sit on the roof of the boat, since if the boat were to get into a mishap, we would have a tough time escaping from the steel tomb below deck. Excellent call!! We got there early (another must-do), and settled on the bow of the top of the boat. Not exactly comfortable, but functional!!
The sites we saw heading north were amazing. Lining the banks of the rivers are tons of small houses (all on stilts for when the river swells during the rainy season), some farms, and a lot of furiously-waving children. The river was also littered with small boats, all of whom were net-fishing for the daily catch.
Four hours would have been a dream, and five hours was aggressive--six hours later we landed in Siem Reap, amid a horde of hawkers that would put the Papparazzi at the Oscars to shame. A taxi ride down some dusty roads--through small villages--finally took us to Siem Reap and our hotel.
We walked the city, and what sights we saw!! We discovered how to transport livestock via moto (moped):
--Pigs: tie two (alive!) to the back of the moto, tied at the front and back legs with rope. Attach bamboo poles to support their backs. They just blink and stare.
--Chickens: tie as many as is humanly (chickenly?) possible (if you don't have 50, you're not doing it right) upside down by their poor little chicken legs, and strap them to any part of the moto that's not moving. Docile little guys--they just hang there and blink.
We're off to the temples of Angkor in the morning...
The Temples of Angkor are absolutely spectacular. We set out early in the morning with our driver and our guide, Chips Ahoys, Pringles, and water stashed in our backpack. Our guide took us through a number of the different temples within what was the city of Angkor--just fabulous. There is a lot of restoration work currently being conducted, but for the most part tourists have full reign of the ruins--we were able to walk and climb just about anywhere. The etchings on the wall are amazing--they are still very clear in the sandstone, depicting life and war during the Angkor period.
Our favorite temple was Ta Promh, which is the only temple that the government has left to the jungle-they have done no restoration work on it, nor are they planning to. There are trees growing out of everywhere, the roots reaching down through cracks in the towers looking for solid ground.
Angkor itself is of course an awesome sight (it's the largest temple in the world, and in remarkably good shape considering its age!) We climbed up to the highest point, about 30 meters up (not for the faint of heart--the "stairs" were nothing more than narrowly stacked crumbling pieces of sandstone). Going up was easy--it was the going down that was tough!!
In the evening we dined at the Greenhouse restaurant, which our LP guidebook described as having "great service, although the waitstaff will probably not know the difference between red and white wine". Well, we didn't have wine, so I can't speak to their wine expertise, but we did find that "one Singha beer and steamed rice" actually means "spring rolls and fried rice". Close enough!!