Wat? More Wats??????
Trip Start Jan 13, 2009
70Trip End May 17, 2009
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I love this town!!!! Not at all what I expected - thought it would be a small town supporting the Angkor Wat tourist trade. Actually it is a really big town/city with a huge expat population , many NGO's serving the poverty and medical issues of the Cambodians and a huge wealthy tourist scene. The town is booming - lots of very nice construction, huge Vegas style Hotels catering to the very wealthy package tourists who fly into the international airport, stay a few days at fancy Country Club style Hotels and Spas, bus out to see Angkor Wat, and take in dinner theatre and shows and all is very nice. A lot of the tourists are Japanese and Korean, Chinese, Thai, German and Swedes. Their currency exchange makes this an incredibly cheap vacation with 5 star service and fab food and accomodation.
Then there are the backpacker/flashpacker types - travelling SE Asia on its own or part of an around the world trip. Lots of us in that category....Funny though, seems most of ""us"" seem to be 20 somethings and most of the other category seem to be my age!!!
This town reminds me of Bangkok 24 years ago - just new to big tourism, finding their way, or even Puerto Vallarta 30 years ago. More charming now in its early stages then the generic feeling some resort places take on. I am grateful to see this now as I bet in a few short years it will look much more polished.
Angkor Wat - one of the seven wonders of the world????, or the eighth? we have been debating that.....is truly up there with the Grand Canyon, Great Wall or Niagra Falls. A must see. It is waaaay bigger than I thought. The protected site with all off the ˇfficial' temples is the size of Manhatten!!!!!! Not Central Park, which I would have guessed - all of Manhatten. You have to be driven from temple to temple. Haven't seen Angelina or Brad yet but I did see elephants and wild monkeys. I like that part - a lot.
I bought a three day pass $40.00 for the temples and did 2 days - one with the woman I met on the bus here - Rachel, then she went on to the Thai islands, and one day today - starting out pretty early today with my tuk tuk driver, Samsun. As amazing as they are - and they are huge and it takes a fair bit of physical prowess to climb up most of them, they become kind of temple. temple, temple, temple.....just like the ruins in Rome or the temples in Egypt did. I wish I was more sophisticated or had a longer attention span but......I don't. I liked riding around in the tuk tuk best. The breeze cool, out of the staggering heat, and seeing water buffolo and cows and kids trying to sell you stuff everytime you slow down
Then I went back to my hotel and spent the afternoon above the deep fried pig, on the 3rd floor balcony, sucking in the incense that fills the air everywhere and even more this week because of the holiday, and watching life in my laneway. The house across from me is the pig frying place - seems to run about 20 hours a day - frys little pigs and ducks and geese whole
When I came into town yesterday - the market crowd was so huge - traffic, nearly all motor bikes and scooters - me on the back of a bike, rubbing up against the rich tourists in their air conditioned chauffeur driven range rovers....wild....one women in front had mega chickens strung to the front handle bars and I went to get out my camera when I noticed.....they were all alive! Strung upside down by the feet, looking around the wild traffic and wondering, - who knows?
I had hoped this trip might bring me thin thighs in thirty days but........might not come true. If it was for the meat part - that is easy to not eat chickens, ducks geese, eels, fish, clams etc when you have just seen them alive seconds ago but the rest of the food?????? French pastries and lots of gelato. maybe smaller towns will be easier
Ok, this is long enough. I actually have, for the first time, a keyboard with all english letters so it is easy to send this note. No excuses for spelling.
Thanks again for the notes - it has only been two weeks since I left - that is mind boggling - three totally diverse countries in 2 weeks. Seems impossible to put the sights and sounds and smells I have witnessed in two weeks into words. At home, two weeks can go by with a blink. Here - not so much. I am savouring the moments and relishing in the absolute diversity of experience. Each place has been a study in contrasts. Great wealth and great poverty. But not poverty in the way I normaly would imagine. There is true joy here and in Thailand. Life is simple, gritty yet filled with community. Everything is shared and there is lots of laughter. The simple life looks physically ugly in many cases - litter, open fires, shanty type shacks with cows and buffolo and chickens and roosters and dogs and cats strolling through, but I see mostly happy laughing people, enjoying their days. After all it is New Years Day - the Year of the ox and that means hard work will bring riches.
I got the message about the Bass dying
My plan is to stay here for a couple more days at least - the Hilton is very compfortable and I am getting a cold - sore throat and sniffles. To be expected I think after sucking in a few pounds of dust and grit on the road from hell. Hell, but fun - surprising how attached a group can get in 12 hours together under adverse conditions. We taught the young, new to the road, kids a bunch of scam busting things and things to watch out for. They were so sweet and grateful. Age/wisdom - has to be some sort of payoff for the wrinkles.
Jan - I am going to call your friend tonite and hopefully hook up. I wanted to wait until the New Years festivities were over just in case they had the days off to celebrate. Maybe I will be at the orphanage if that works. The lineups for the pediatric hospital are unbelievable - obviously parents bring their kids here from all over this area of the country and just wait outside hoping to be seen. Two girls who were typing beside me are heading over there wanting to volunteer a few days as they have no money to buy things from the street kids and want to give something back. I took their email so maybe your friend can help out with that
More about that later.
Oh yeah - seems I left my camera card reader in Bangkok at the last internet cafe. Maybe I will have to wait til Phon Penh to get another one, or at least until businessed here reopen post New years. I will try to select just a few photos as I am sure the huge chunk of them I sent got a little dull.......come over and they won't seem dull at all.
Love and hugs.