So we are experiencing some technical difficulties today. We are unable to copy and past the pictures into their right location. Please read the blog first and then look at the pictures that go along with our stay in Siem Reap. There are big spaces too...keep reading til you get to the bottom...where you are supposed to leave comments. It is pathetic how excited we get to read comments from you people!
On the bus today we have counted that in three weeks we have stayed in ten different hotels in 6 different cities- we are sick of packing and repacking!!
Okay we spent the last five days in Siem Reap. It is Cambodia’s most touristy city, however we enjoyed it very much. Our hotel was right by the market where we bargained away a lot of the stresses we would develop thorough the day. Our bags are getting bigger-and heavier. A few of the shop keeps would regonize us in our twice daily trips…however each time we only would spend about $5. Everywhere you walked people would yell “HELLO LADY! Buy something.” When you left the market the tuk tuk drivers would yell “Hello Lady! Tuk tuk?” or “Hello Madame, tuk tuk?” our favorite was “Hello sister. Buy something?”
Our first full day in Siem Reap was spent at the market, walking around a little, and at a very relaxing spa where we had pedicures and facials. We each had different experiences during the facial. Caitlin would calls hers one of the most relaxing facials ever, while Kate enjoyed the facial part of the deal the massage at the end was pretty painful. In Siem Reap there is the main street with lots of bars and restaurants called Pub Street (bet you cant guess where we liked to hang out). Every other restaurant seemed to be called the Khmer Kitchen or the Khmer Family Kitchen, or the Khmer Village Kitchen, or the Khmer Family Village Kitchen. We bar hopped our way down the street on $.50 beers- it’s a rough life we lead.
Wondering how we were going to get to the temples the next day, we decided to ask one of the ever-present tuk tuk drivers what their daily rate was. Before we knew it we had created a bidding war among a group of drivers and were escorted to the tuk tuks where each was showing off his tuk tuk. The drivers were offering us everything from free wifi and massages to air conditioning and free water. We made a deal with Lyn..the first driver we had approached. We didn’t know the name of our hotel so we hopped in and showed him where to pick us up in the morning. Then he drove us back to Pub Street for us to continue our bar hopping- Lyn soon learned if he ever needed to find the Kates he need only look as far as Pub Street. We should note Pub Street, the market and the Mexican restaurant witht hey best margaritas as Mexican food in all Asia were less that a block apart creating the perfect trifecta for us!!
So back on Pub Street- It was hot and none of the food seemed appetizing, so we settled a Cambodian BBQ restaurant where all the customers were cooking the meat fondue style on a little grill placed on the table. It was sooo good. We has chicken and beef and there is a broth around the edge where you cook the noodles and vegetables. We enjoyed it so much we returned the next evening to have it again. We sat in the same table and had the same waiters even. We suggest Cambodian BBQ to all who go to Siem Reap.
The next morning after a morning stop at the market, we headed out to Angkor Wat around noon. We had actually run into Lyn randomly on the street (Pub Street) and we were off. We bought the three day tickets that have your picture on it. It’s funny because in both of our pictures we have a “what the heck is happening” look on our faces. We got to Angkor Wat and after we pushed our way through the children selling cold drinks, guidebooks, scarves, and bracelets we were in! "Cold drinks lady!!"
Angkor Wat temple is the most intricate and biggest of all the temples and one of the best restored. It was much easier to access than most. Caitlin had downloaded a travel app onto the iphone and we followed that most of the time in the temples. It was really interesting. There were bas reliefs on all the walls that told stories of mythology and the king-gods lives. It was soooo hot there but we spent about an hour and a half wondering up and down staircases, through rooms, and outside the walls just taking it all in. As we got to the less famous wats, little restoration had been done, they were less accessible and we were constantly hoping over rubbles, climbing steep foot and a half steps and looking at piles of rocks.
Next we visited Ankgor Thom, which is really just kind of a village of smaller temples close to each other. Our guide books try to describe what it used to look like when there were millions of residents in the wat areas but we had trouble invisioning the wooden structures and homes they spoke of. We spent about another two hours climbing up and over and around that day…taking lots of pictures in the late afternoon heat. We ended up calling it a day and made plans with Lyn to pick us up for sunrise the next morning. Hello 5am!
That evening, while strolling around pub street we noticed these fish pedicure places set up. After a few beers we decided to check it out. You basically put your feet into a fish tank of little grey fish for 15 minutes and the little suckers eat the dead skin off your feet. We gave it a whirl and think we collectively lasted 1 minute 30 seconds . Other customers sat calmly and let their feet just soak in the fish infested water while we seemed to be the only two who squirmed and squeeled and actually felt fish biting their toes. After two quick pics we got out of there, paid the man $1 for our photo op and returned our feet to under a table at a happy hour.
We arrived at the temple with the massive groups of people just before sunrise. We had not seen that many tourists yet in our trip. We watched the sunrise over the iconic Angkor Wat.
It was pretty cool however not the super colorful or bright rise we had imagined. Once the sun was up we piled back into the tuk tuk and Lyn took us off for the further of temples. Within 5 minutes we were the only people in the Wat again. At the first temple we were literally the only people there. We had it to ourselves to climb up and down and over. (Going up is a lot easier than going back down.) Our next stop was at the Ta Phrom, which was in the movie Tomb-raider. The trees had kind of overtaken the temple, they were growing out of the stone walls with the roots wrapped all over. Next up were a few of the further off temples, and just as we were getting templed out for the day, Lyn returned us to the city for our night Pub Street crawl, schoolwork, and dinner. While Angelina Jolie and Cambodia kind of go hand and hand at home, not many people know her over here. However we did find a bar that had Laura Croft’s drink of choice and we found it to be very delicious. Cointriou, lime, and tonic…so good and refreshing. We have plans for stepping it up a little with some stronger liqiour and making a signature summer drink- watch out Dockside!!
As two rather clusmy people, we only had one spill the whole three days in the temples. Can you all guess who it was?? Going down a normal five step stone staircase, (not the crazy steep or high ones) Kate just wiped out. Caitlin remained standing! We don’t know how and she didn’t even know what was happening until she was on her side on the ground covered in dirt. It really seemed like there should have been in injury but so far so good. We bet the poor Cambodian grounds keepers are still talking about it.
It was really neat to see these huge wats build with such intricacies and no mortar or concrete holding them up. All of the temples were built over hundreds of years…some as far back ad the 9th century and the latest was in the 18th century. The Angkor period was when Cambodia was the leading empire in all of South East Asia and the kings were considered gods so they build these hugh wats to show their power, as mausoleums, and for other god-king reasons.
Our third day, we headed out late in the afternoon to visit the furthest temple Bantraey Siea. It is the smallest temple but has the deepest carving and is a different color than the rest- almost a pinky color. They have nicknamed it the ladies temple because it was so intricately built they presumed ladies must have built it because no man could have carved something so pretty.
Next up Lyn took us to a temple to watch the sun set….however there was still over three hours to go. We got bored waiting and envisioned what the sunset would have looked like and had Lyn take us back to the hotel.
A funny thing happened after we said goodbye to Lyn. We went to pub street. (We will continue writing when you get off the floor and back into your chair.) We hopped some bars, discovered skype calling, and had some Mexican for dinner again. Mid-Margarita the most intesting tuk tuk we have seen yet showed up….the rock and roll tuk tuk. Complete with a fan, picture slide show on a portable dvd player, and rock music we loved the rock and roll tuk utk. We jumped in with the owner and took some pictures and tried to convince some passerbys to book the Rock and Roll tuk tuk the next day to no avail. While we loved the rock and roll tuk tuk, Lyn will always be our number one tuk tuk driver.
Next we went to the local bakery to get some snacks for the road. 50% discount after 8 combined with the aforementioned pub hopping resulted in a feast for the long bus ride the next morning.
We haphazardly packed our bags and we were ready to set off for Bangkok. The bus was tiny and cramped but we made it to the border crossing nonetheless. It was hot, stressful and confusing getting through…but the biggest disappointment is that we left our boxed bakery goods on the bus! We almost cried. There were chocolate filled croissants, chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate chocolate cookies and all kinds of discounted deliciousness that we will never know. We walked across the Thai-Cambodian Friendship bridge and about 6 blocks to the Thai immigration statation and had about an hour wait to clear customs and then we were into Thialand!
Now we are still sweating our way into Bangkok where we will spend a few days before heading north to Chaing Mai and onto Laos. (Which the rest of the world calls Lao not Laos…fyi.) Until then leave the love!!