Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Land of ruins - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Cambodia was full of amazing adventures. We hired our cab driver, John (his Cambodian name is too complicated so he goes by John), who picked us up from the airport to drive us around for the two days we were in Siem Reap. He has lived there all his life so he was full of all kinds of information.

The first thing we did was hire a boat to take us around the floating villages. There are about 170 floating villages that house the local fisherman and their families. It was interesting to see how these people live but it was also heart breaking at the same time. Some of these people literally have nothing to their name. So, when little children hop on your boat to sell you things as you are sailing downstream (we call them kiddie pirates) or children with snakes around their shoulders want you to take their picture for money (for the record, I hate snakes and would run away when ever someone would approach us) we could hardly turn a blind eye.

Next on the list was the Cambodian Cultural Center. Unfortunately, this place wasn't worth attending. It's a very sad version of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii. We had lunch at some little outdoor shack close to Angkor Wat. Scott Hadley had already warned me to not eat while I was in Cambodia because there wasn't much there worth eating. Well, let's just say that he was right! After lunch we briefly stopped by the Killing Fields. This place houses a stupa full of human skulls from innocent people who were brutally murdered by Pol Pot, an evil Camodian ruler. Approximately two million Cambodians were murdered between 1975 and 1979. The Cambodian people have had to live through some pretty horrific events. It's quite sickening.

Next we all went and got an hour long Cambodian massage. I seriously need to move to SE Asia just for the massages. After that we headed over to buy our tickets for Angkor Wat. If you buy your tickets at 5pm you can enter that day to watch the sunset and then you can come back the next day to explore all of the temples.

We were all giddy as we approached Angkor Wat. Thank goodness it lived up to all of the hype! When we arrived we stood there in complete awe of what was standing before us. The architecture and carvings were seriously out of this world. There will be more to come on this in my next post. The pictures posted below will give you a taste of what is about to come.

We ended the night by going to a dinner and dancing show at a nearby hotel. The food was decent and the traditional folk dancing was quite fun to watch. I was a little worried this was going to turn out like Turkish Nights (see blog entry from Turkey) but nope, I was pleasantly surprised. So, at the end of the day we agreed out first day was a huge success!

PS - it is the end of monsoon season here and it had rained in Siem Reap for three full days before we arrived. Some of the main streets were still flooded when we arrived. Do you think that would stop the people from driving their motorcycles, cars, or even bicycles? Nope. They ride through the streets like it's an ordinary day.

PPS - I won't have Internet for the next few you will have to wait to see the rest of Cambodia. Sorry, but a girl has to sleep sometime!


  1. Sara,

    I should have warned you too that the food in Cambodia wasn't great. We also went to the dinner and show place and I just remember not caring for dinner at all.

    Can't wait to see more of your pictures. Brings me back to almos 2 years ago when I was there. :)

  2. I just couldn't stand seeing the poverty. I would never sleep again. As a matter of fact, I couldn't sleep last night. I ached all over. Finally at 4, I went downstairs and turned on a movie. You know me -- the TV goes on and I go to sleep. In five minutes I was sound asleep and woke up three hours later to CNN News.

    The house was still dark and quiet. Scared me to death. I thought Dad had died in his sleep. I went racing upstairs and yelled,"Don, it's 7:30." Thank goodness he jumped out of bed!