A Templing We Will Go . . . Day #2

Trip Start Feb 17, 2013
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Trip End Mar 21, 2013


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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What they say on Trip Adviser is true, get started early.  So, we did this morning. Out the door by 7:00.  Our plan today was to take a half day and see some of the outlying sights.

Our first stop was a temple called Pre Rup.  I forget who or what it commemorates but when I get to the Pearly Gates some day, I doubt it will be a test question.  The rising sun was beautiful shining on the walls and we were about the only ones there to enjoy the effects.  It was a nice stop.  Most of these little temples take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to tour.  Our driver dropped us off on one side and we met him on the other.

Today, because of the distances involved, about 75K round trip, we decided to rent a private car for the day.  Turned out to be a van with a first class "air-cond," as they call it here.  Costs about $40 for the day vs. a Tuk-Tuk which costs about $15 for the day.  Tipping is very optional here for everything and even then it is very little.  We gave our driver $5 and it probably made his week.  He was a nice guy, spoke English pretty well, actually tried to give us some real tour information, and didn't scare the shit out of us as he navigated the roads.  Typical Cambodian, he had 22 members in his family before 1975 when Pol Pot came to power, but by the end in 1979 or so he was down to only one other family member left.  He was 11 years old in 1975.

After Pre Rup we headed for our farthest temple, Banteay Srey.  This is a small temple, as temples go.  Maybe only a couple acres.  But it is special because it honors the Hindu god Shiva, a hottie amongst the gods and goddesses.  It had a LOT of decorative artwork and pink tinted stone.  Popular with the girl gods, I guess.  Anyway, it is considered one of the jewels of the temples here and not to be missed.  After seeing it, I agree.  It should be seen in the morning light (without the reflection of a hundred tour buses).  We did hit it right.  There weren't too many people there, yet.  Somehow we were briefly sandwiched between two buses full of Japanese tourists.  I had to restrain Dayna from hanging herself with the camera strap there for a minute but we pressed on, did some broken field running and broke free of the herd.  Dayna got some more pictures of the unique attire people wear.  Maybe she'll do a "coffee table book," someday!

The next stop was the Cambodian Land Mine Museum.  I had read about this place but it turned out to be even better than what I had read.  It is privately owned by an individual who had spent his childhood sewing the mines with the Khmer Rouge as a boy soldier.  He then switched sides when he realized what was going on and the Vietnam army was liberating the country in 1979-1987. Since then, he has spent his life personally clearing the mines and training others how to do it.  He also has founded a NGO (non-governmental organization) as they are called in a country that is over run with them and still doesn't have enough of them.  His NGO helps land-mine victims, something the country is not short of and is producing more of every year.  There are an estimated 3 to 6 MILLION undiscovered mines here!  Just outside of the last temple, there are signs saying that the area is a mine area.  So when they say, "Keep off the Grass" here they ain't shittin' ya, Bro!  You could end up paging through the Sears catalog in the prosthetics section looking for missing parts.

Dayna's note:  On the property of the Land Mine Museum is a school and living accommodations for children who have been victims of land mines -- to educate them and to help them lead more productive lives.  The disabled are not "mainstreamed" in this poverty stricken country.  Some of them are lucky enough to be taken care of and taught artistic skills so they can sell their artwork.  But, most are relegated to the streets to beg.  We saw one boy -- probably a teenager -- while we were having dinner the other night who had very crippled legs -- possibly club feet and other deformities.  He "walked" with his hands in cheap flip-flops and crawled on his knees.  Someone had made a sign, in English, explaining that he did not want to beg, that he wanted to go to school.  This country breaks my heart.  More to come later about sponsoring children to go to school. :-(

The museum is, like everything in this country, poor as a church mouse.  Dayna hit the gift shop and tried to help out.  I hit the donation box to sweeten the pot a little.  They can make even a dollar stretch seven ways to Sunday in this country. The museum building, which would fit in most middle class houses, was designed by Texas A & M students as a project.  And, very well done I will say. This was a very good stop and further filled in the blanks about this country's horrible past.  A must see stop for future travelers.

The next stop was the Butterfly Center.  We spent about 30 minutes there and I think we would recommend it to fellow travelers --  not worth the drive in and of itself for sure.  But a nice stop.  We were immediately tackled by a young man wanting to give us a free tour.  Fortunately, we fought off our natural tourist defenses and accepted his offer of a "free" tour.  Glad we did.  When you're touring a butterfly museum, you need all the help you can get!  (Mental, probably first).  It was really interesting!  Go ahead, ask me anything about butterfly breeding habits!  Dare ya!  We gave him a 2,000 Reil tip ($.50) and made his day.  Without him, the admission price would have been a waste.

Our final stop of the morning was the Banteay Samre temple.  Not a strong point of the day, but hell, we're half way around the world and they just don't build temples like this in Utah.  So we persevered, if for nothing else but to make our nice driver happy.  Another "glad we stopped" site.

We are back at the hotel, our minds drugged on temples, for a little cool air-cond Rest and Recovery, maybe a quick nap and then a walk to town for a very early dinner.  Anchor Beer here is 50 cents a mug most places, so maybe just one or four to wash away the dust before dinner.  Just pick a restaurant here, they are all good in this town.

Dayna's note:  Although we forgot the camera and have no pictures, we had dinner last night at the Green Star restaurant which supports children.  There are many businesses in Cambodia that sponsor children to help them go to school.  This morning at breakfast, I was able to have a conversation with a young English woman who lives here, teaching school.  Finally, I got some straight answers about the children.  Only those who can afford to go to school do, all the begging and hawking-their-wares children do not get an education.  That is why it is so important for individuals and organizations to sponsor the kids who cannot, otherwise, afford school   

Tiring of Khmer food, we found a cute little Italian restaurant on Pub Street for dinner.  The food was good and, as usual, cheap.  Two glass of wine, one large bottle of water, one salad, one pasta with mussels -- more mussels than I have ever seen -- all for $20.  We then stopped at the ice cream shop -- it felt as if the heat was turned on and the ice cream started out soft.  A little souvenir shopping and a stop at the pharmacy for more cold medicine and tissues before coming back to our hotel to gather laundry to be dropped off -- 1 KG for $1.   Tomorrow, we are off on our ATV adventure.
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Comments

Marge on

Really enjoying all your pictures. Keep cool, stay safe, have fun!

TB here again on

A quick comment about your body. That is our fellow travelers' bodies. WATCH YOUR ELECTROLITE BALANCE!!! You can drink water here until Hell freezes over and it may not meet your needs. I began to feel very lethargic on our second day in Siem Reap. Fortunately we figured out the problem. We stopped at a pharmacy and got some packets to add to our water. Something like "Gator Aid" if we were in the US. Within an hour I was feeling better and ready to take on the heat again. This heat is not to be fooled with!

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