Monday, May 5, 2014

YOLO folks from Kampung Cham to Siem Reap, Cambodia Feb 2014

Cambodia IS Angkor Wat for us.  We went to Siem Reap, the nearest city and bought one-day passes to the Angkor temples, a whole area filled with temples and other stone buildings from the 800-1200's.  This was a thriving city in the millenia gone by and the stone carvings are incredibly intricate and varied.  The artists and craftsmen/women who carved such huge pieces were masters of the skill.  And on a scale that is no longer done.  
The Angkor Temples are one of the Wonders of the World, and deservedly so!  We were pretty 'templed out' before we got here, but this place is really special and we immersed ourselves for a few days and were so glad we'd come here!  
Photos, as usual, just can't do it justice, and you may get 'templed out' just looking at this small selection of the hundreds of photos we took.  It really must be seen in person to appreciate the grandeur of this place.

The towers of Angkor Wat reflected in the lotus blossom pond at sunrise.  This is the shot thousands of people get up at 4AM to get here to take!  You must have a photo ID taken for your Angkor Temples Park pass, so everyone must stop and stand in line to get their pass and pay the fee.  Very inefficient and we were glad most of us had done so the night before.  Paraic took this shot and it's like a postcard.
The evening before we visited Angkor Wat, we took a tuk tuk to Ta Prohm, another temple site known for its tree roots taking over the stone temple buildings.  Awesome example of how Mother Nature will take over if left a chance.  These trees are several hundred years old.

Paraic with the tree roots taking over one of the temple buildings.
The temples themselves were full of carvings.  These remain ornate even though exposed to the elements all these years.
One of the first buildings seen when entering Angkor Wat.
Before we got to Siem Reap, we had to cross into Cambodia at the border with Laos.  The brush here was on fire and the smoke was rolling about.  What a welcome to Cambodia!
Walking across the border from Laos to Cambodia.  This border crossing is in the middle of nowhere!
Big ornate government buildings on the Cambodian side are impressive, but sit empty.
The most important building, the toilet, at the border crossing was a wooden outhouse.  With the brush fire raging just beyond it, I hurried to do my business before it caught fire!  It didn't, but it could've.
They wanted a donation to use the outhouse!  Not getting my money--they didn't even spell it right.

 We saw these political posters everywhere.
This is where we were told to wait after crossing into Cambodia.  We were dumped and the guide eventually disappeared, leaving us to our own to wait hours for the bus to come take us to our first stop in Cambodia.  We had been told, and the bus schedule showed us getting into Kampung Cham about 1-2 in the afternoon, so we didn't book a room ahead.  We would find a guesthouse or a cheap room upon arrival as there weren't many online options.  Many places just don't advertise on the internet.  We sat in the heat here at the border crossing for hours and knew we were in for trouble ahead.  NEVER believe anything you see, hear, read or are told about bus travel in Cambodia.  The buses are always late and take longer to get to your destination.  And they don't make pit stops for you, either.  
 Jason fascinated by the ice delivery system here.
 Charcoal is the primary fuel for cooking here.
 Another poitical poster along the road in Cambodia.  We can't read the signs as they use a different script than we do, so we were totally at a loss as to any meaning of any signage.
 Somebody thought a statue in Siem Reap needed some toenail painting.
Part of the temple in downtown Siem Reap.  Clean and new.

 Another example of humorous writing in a foreign country.  And it wasn't just menus and small signs.  Even big business signs had similar errors in them.
Skewered chicken for sale.  Just like the ones offered through the windows as the bus went through a town.
Obama power of a different sort....  This car battery was in a stack for sale in a shop.
Karen at a fabric stall in the market.
Karen, Maureen and Myra stop to have a cool drink
A good mix of exotic fruits:  bottom center, the round, brown things are longans; they taste like lychees.  The spiky big fruit just up and left of them is the stinky durian fruit;  Just left of them are the yellow/red rambutan, another fruit that tastes like lychees.  The brown pods behind the durian are tamarind, as are the bags of them in the upper right.  Break open the brown pod and the sticky seeds inside are so full of vitamin C that they make my teeth hurt.  The pink fruit is dragonfruit, a mild, delightful fruit that is either white or magenta inside and full of tiny black seeds like in a kiwi fruit.  The green fruit to the right are oranges, ripe when they are green.  The oranges on the right are mandarins and the fruit in the lower right hand corner are mangosteens, another lovely sweet fruit when peeled, with a taste and texture again like lychees.  Your lesson on tropical fruits for today is now over.  Test later.
 Statue of the monkey gods fighting.  Why?  Not a clue.
Close up of monkey god statue.  Remind you of The Wizard of Oz?
Pony cart was along a major road in Kampung Cham, our first stop in Cambodia.
A cart full of charcoal, probably, mixing it up in car traffic.
We ate breakfast at the same place both days we were here in Kampung Cham.  The first day, the lady didn't understand English and we ordered omelets, but got fried eggs.  The daughter spoke English and assured us she would be there the following morning so we could get what we wanted for breakfast.  We ordered omelets and this is what showed up.  Fried eggs and green tomato slices with cucumber.  It was tasty and came with a French bread roll, but they never quite got the concept of what an omelet was, even though that was a menu item we'd seen throughout this area.
This was the grandmother of the girl who spoke English.  When the monks came by for an offering, this lady got out some money and gave it to them. 
 Monks looking for offerings.  I suppose they aren't yet monks, but boys studying at the Buddhist monastery.  They dress like the monks: shaved heads, barefoot in saffron robes.

Lady selling lotus blossom pods.  You peel the edge to reveal a bean inside that you can eat.  At first I thought she was selling sprinkler heads!
Tuk tuks (motorcycle carts) in Kampung Chung
A truckload of mattresses being delivered.
This jar full of creepy crawlers was for sale.
That round woven basket on the back of the motorcycle was full of a pig, heading to market.
An overturned Angkor Beer truck.  Construction on the road for miles left a steep dropoff on the side of the road and this guy obviously got too close and tripped and fell over it.  The drop looked to be a couple of feet.  We were sorry we couldn't stop to pick up the cargo!  A little further along, we saw a brick truck that had met the same fate.
Who needs a white elephant?  This statue was in a temple in the middle of the city of Siem Reap.
Signs and menus were a constant source of amusement for us.  The misuse of words and grammar, along with misspellings were cheap entertainment whereever we went.  Obviously, English wasn't the author's first language and quality checking is non-existent.  Have a closer look at the sign in front.
Elephant statues along the river in Siem Reap.  The park like settings on both sides made it a pleasant walk.
A local tried his luck at fishing in the city river.
A waterwheel in the riverside park.
The Old Market in Siem Reap was a treasure and a treat to wander through.  This shop sold sausages and the dried, splayed out squid hanging was unique.  Not sure what some of the stuff was, but it was interesting to look at.
One of two Batman tuk tuks I saw in Siem Reap.  This one's for you, brother Jim.
Stuffed aligators and pieces and parts in one market shop.  What would this style of decor be called??
That's my hand in a fish tank of little fish that come nibble off dead skin.  They sell time for folks to sit there with their feet in the tank to let the fish 'massage' your feet and eat away the dead skin.  It was a funny feeling, but I didn't want to pay to sit there in public with my feet in a giant aquarium.
The sign on the front of the fish tank.
Batman tuk tuk number 2 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  Who says Western culture hasn't pervaded this society?
This lady is selling these tiny shellfish from a cary on the street.  They are cooked with chilis and she scoops a bagful up for customers.  I think you suck the little snail-like creature out and chew it like a snack.
One of the 'off the beaten path' temples in Angkor Thom.  There were many temples off the side of the paths that people just didn't have time to visit unless you had a multi-day pass to the Angkor Temples.  We only had one day so skipped some of these littler ones to see the big attractions.
One of the most picturesque trees in Ta Prohm.
People lined up to take their picture with this root.
Karen in an obscure corner of Ta Prohm.
How these trees got a hold without being taken down hundreds of years ago is beyond me.  They certainly took over this corner of a wall at Ta Prohm.
These carved ladies were some of the first we saw.  There were many, many more examples in much better condition than these.
The grandeur of the roots of Ta Prohm at dusk.  We were nearly the only folks there at the end of the day.  You can buy a one-day pass the night before and then go to see one temple area before it gets dark.  The park is closed at night.
Stone carvings that survive being out in the open for nearly a thousand years or more.
One of the temple buildings at Ta Prohm.
This looks like the tree is climbing over the wall.
These tree roots are gargantuous!
Funny how the one root followed the roof line.  Strong roof not to have already collapsed with the weight of the tree on it.
Maureen and Paul off Calypso checking out the roots at Ta Prohm.
Karen near a tangled mess of roots at Ta Prohm.
One of the trees is now hollow inside but still looks pretty grand.
Conservationists are trying to preserve the buildings and have shorn up these roots so they don't do more damage to the stone construction they've taken over.

Jason and Paul had a tizzy one afternoon over some detail.  Jason could shoot himself for the way he reacted and Paul decided he needed help keeping his mouth shut so he put his knee bandage over it.  The gesture made us laugh and the boys made up.  We really had very few disagreements over the six weeks we were traveling together.

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