Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Holiday in Cambodia



After exploring the excitement of Bangkok and experiencing the beauty of Vietnam, it was time for the third and final country on our whirlwind tour--Cambodia. Our main objective was to visit the city of Siem Reap--the home of an amazing archeological discovery, Angkor Wat. We flew from Danang, Vietnam, to Siem Reap, got through customs and passport control (don't worry, Pam--they'll let you in! :o), and met our driver. We ended up with a rockin hotel, the Angkor Terrace, a bungalow-styled tropical oasis (which reminded me of Hawaii), got ourselves settled, and decided to make an afternoon of it.

Now one of our group, Will, lived with expat parents in Singapore growing up so we had the inside scoop on what to do, where to go, and who to take us--our trusted guide, SolSok Som (Som, for short)--the same guide who had taken Will's parents through Angkor Wat years ago. In fact, Som was one of the very first tour guides for Angkor city and now only leads tours for VIPs (including President Clinton!), so we were in for the VIP treatment. Cool :o)

I can best describe Cambodia in one word: HOT (or to my expat travel buds, 3 words: H.A.B.) I can only compare the weather to being in New Orleans in August... you sweat constantly; your clothes are always wet; you take as many showers as you can and change into dry clothes only to soak them; and you need to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Can you see how wet we all were in the snaps? Oi. A walking spa. However, despite the sweltering heat, a visit to Cambodia is well worth the trip.


Our first afternoon we were greeted by torrential rains which you would think clear some of the humidity, but not so. That didn't deter us from seeing the main temple in Angkor--Angkor Wat--one of the most well-preserved discoveries of the 20th century. Som knew exactly where to take us, where to get the right snaps, and how to avoid the thousands of other tourists. It's great having a guide with the inside scoop! We spent the afternoon and evening at Angkor Wat and explored a few more of the 52 temples (one temple was built by each of the 52 kings that reigned beginning in the 12th century). By the time we got back to the hotel we were ready to jump in the pool and stay!

The next day we arose at 4:30am to journey back to Angkor and see the sunrise over Angkor Thom. The reason Som took us there instead of Angkor Wat is because there were no tourists at that temple so early in the morning--in fact, we were the only ones for two hours! We got to explore the temple as the sun rose, revealing the many faces carved into the stones--each facing North, South, East, and West. Som told us the history of the temple and its significance as kings converted from Buddhism to Hinduism and back... interesting! We also visited several other Wots (temples)--Wot's that you say? (that joke got old veeeeerrry quickly), several shopping sites and villages, a floating village that moves with the waters of the season, and had the opportunity to enjoy several fantastic meals at our hotel/bungalow. In fact, Angkor Terrace just won the award for "best chicken curry ever" in my book, just nudging past the current champion, MeKong of Honolulu. Congratulations! Never a bad meal in Cambodia :o)

Well, check out the snaps in all of the galleries (the slide shows are only samples, btw) and let me know what you think. It was an amazing trip--it's been an amazing year... and now it's all coming to a close; well, at least this chapter of it. I will blog about my last trip, Pondicherry, this weekend. Until then, check out my galleries and keep thinking about your next trip somewhere!

Peace.





5 comments:

KhmerLife said...

Hello,
Great Blog! Your trip sounds great, do you have contact #'s for your guide SolSok Som? Thanks.. D

Anonymous said...

Wow, that house would be so weird to live in! Do they get to it by boat? But yet that would be so cool to be able to open your door and go swimming. Sweet!

markopolo said...

Hey

Thanks for coming and talking to our class on Friday, even though I wasn't here I was in New York! I've read some of your blog though and it is very cool, I like to take pictures too and some of my favorites are in this post.

Mark

Anonymous said...

i think it would be cool to go to Cambodia. ithink it would be cool to see all the ruines! Thank you for coming to my school!

Lucia DiLorenzo said...

This is incredible. I love the pictures, especially the last one. this looks like an amazing trip!