Oh Sacred Book of Angkor, give me strength to channel my inner Lara Croft and discover the secrets that lie within
1. Cambodia operates on a dual-currency system usually favouring the US Dollar over the local Riel.
2. Because of #1 most transactions from accommodation to haggling over tuk-tuk fares are conducted in USD making it a hell lot more expensive than even touristy Thailand. :-(
3. Angkor Wat is not an end in itself. Rather, it is a gateway to discovering Cambodia's many breathtaking temple complexes. My favourite is Bayon in Angkor Thom, a fantastic stone forest with vivid bas-reliefs topped with face-towers. While we're on the subject of temples:
4. Khmer obsession with 85 degree steps that feature prominently in their mountain temples. And wow have I seen some big old trees!
Apsaras are celestial dancers. Sculptures like these adorn all of Angkor Wat and all the Khmer temples in the surrounding area
Having a breather to take in the beauty Angkor Wat and the surrounding rainforest
Max makes the long, arduous trek to the peak. There's no turning back now. His life dangles by a thread... Will he make it?
Yees! Ain't no mountain (temple) high enough!
King McVillian surveys the temple grounds
Jo @ Bayon, Angkor Thom. This is probably my favourite temple.
One of the numerous face-towers at Bayon
Khmer history comes to life at Bayon!
Nature reclaiming what is hers - massive buttress roots of a silk cotton tree
Nothing but a tree hugging hippee! Any tree that grows that big deserves a hug from me!
5. No one speaks French despite nearly one hundred years of colonial rule?!
6. Everyone speaks really good English?! Compared to China there were no major signage cock-ups, the street urchins charmed visitors into buying things unlike the mini Sanlitun thugs yelling 'Fark Yoo!' at passersby who dare deny them of loose change. Which brings me to:
7. Cambodian children are probably the most adorable and charming I have ever come across. I generally think that children are devil's spawn but it's impossible not to like the Cambodian kids. Smiles ever at the ready and just bursting to say 'Hello!'as we pass them followed by 'Good bye!'
Me and three of the best saleswomen in Cambodia. They were persistent but always very sweet in convincing us to purchase postcards and souvenirs.
Max "Handsome Man" McVillian and our favourite sales girls. The Yashow/Pearl Market/Silk Market crew could learn a lot from these young women
8. I never knew that pubs/restaurants could keep live crocodiles in a sunken pit! Dead Fish in Siem Reap is a cool little place in town for good Western and Thai/Khmer food and traditional Cambodian dances in the evening.
The Dead Fish in Siem Reap
Jo @ The Dead Fish
9. Meandering cows and idyllic kampong scenery came as a side dish to USD 1.50 stir fried instant noodles. Stir fried instant noodles appear to be jostling with amok, a tasty broth of fish cooked in basil, lemongrass and coconut milk served with rice, as Cambodia's national dish. Both can be found in most establishments.
Waiting for my nutritious meal of stir-fried instant noodles lovingly prepared by the matriarch of the family who own the stall
Adorable little Cambodian girl chilling out with her mum next to the stall.
Even the cows are friendly! This one loitered and poked around as Max and I had lunch while a couple others grazed nearby
10. The motorcycle as a common and effective way to transport pigs to the market! I just want to know how they manage to strap the pig - sometimes up to four - on the motorcycle in the first place. Most that passed us by appeared subdued enough, as if having resigned to its sorry fate. Others were not quite ready and put up a bit of the fight, all four trotters kicking madly and squealing with all its might.
This little piggy went to the market... and was very unhappy about it. Meat eaters take note: this is your bacon along the supply chain in all its horrifying squealing glory.
Pig on motorbike in the distance (click on image for a clearer view)
More pictures from our trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
An ordinary afternoon in Siem Reap. Tuk-tuk drivers waiting for their next fare and not very much else going on
Siem Reap countryside by tuk-tuk
Breakfast at Cafe de la Paix. Max ordered breakfast menu II - coffee, orange juice, freshly baked croissant and bread, with butter and jam, fruit salad and yoghurt. Just what a tomb raider needs to kickstart his day!
A little slice of heaven in my breakfast - waffles with caramelised apple and vanilla cream. Pure ecstacy...
Max in front of a traditional wooden house with the Sacred Book of Angkor. The book is so named because it was instrumental in guiding us around the vast and diverse temple complexes and decoding bas-reliefs.
"Mine! Mine! All mine! Bwahahaha!"
Bottled water - check. Sacred Book of Angkor - check. Humongous silk cotton tree roots in the background - check