Same Same but Different Siem Reap & Ankor Wat
Trip Start Aug 01, 2009
54Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
The Golden Temple Hostel
Siem Reap is an amazing place to visit, I would love to return. Not only did the little kids steal my heart but the beauty, culture and city is incredible too.
Just off the bus stretching our legs from the 5 hour bus ride from Phnom Penh I wasn't so sure. We had just witnessed unbelievably severe poverty throughout the entire 5 hour bus ride when we pulled into the fenced in bus lot of Siem Reap. The dirt roads into Siem Reap were very narrow. They were lined with shacks on either side. The gate closed behind the bus as it entered and many people were clambering to the fence looking in at us. I didn’t know if this was a good thing or not. It didn’t feel like a good thing. Was it stare at the foreigner time, see who we can steal from. Well, my initial feelings were soon put to rest
The attraction to Siem Reap is Angkor Wat, a large group of temples that were built 1000 years ago. They were discovered about 120 year ago and since then they have been clearing jungle and doing some restoration work on them. Of course during the civil war all restoration ceased and it is said that you can see some bullet holes in some of the trees surrounding the area. The guide book also cautions you from straying off the beaten track as there could still be land mines in the area. So, of course, we made sure we walked on the well worn paths and loved exploring the amazing temples.
The way to get around is by tuk tuk. I told Al to choose wisely, as we wanted to find a driver that would stay with us for the day. Well, of course, he did a fantastic job choosing a worthy driver. Mr. Tang turned out to be our friendly driver, tour guide, and reliable source of knowledge. Mr. Tang would decide on our route for the day and we were off. There are probably 30-50 temples grouped together some farther away than others. Each unique in their own way but the same, same same, but different. This is not an expression that I coined; we heard it many times from the Cambodian people. There are even t-shirts that jest at the expression.
The temples are amazing. Mark would love them because you can climb all over them, explore them like you are an archeologist and at times you feel like you are the only one there. I started counting the steps for Mark, but there were WAY too many
We were thankful for the ride with the breeze to cool us off a little, it was hot and dry. I bought my sunhat for a dollar for the second day to ward off heat stroke. Beth was sick the first day of the temples, Al was bed ridden for the second, Mr. Tang and I held it together for the three days of seeing the sights. We temporarily forgot to be vigilant in what we ate, the ice, a dirty plate or glass, who knows, but after seeing the two of them clutching their guts, not wanting to stray to far from the room we were much more careful with what we ate and drank. It was over after one day and they were back to being their happy selves, ready to go.
Siem Reap had some wonderful places to eat. My favorite was a vegetarian restaurant run by a French guy. The fresh herb and spices that he used were amazing! And no one got sick from his food. We loved it so much we ate there a couple of times. Chinese people don’t understand vegetarianism, but thankfully other Asian countries do. It was much easier to find vegetarian food outside of China.
The last morning, on the way to the airport Mr. Tang stopped off at the local gas station, pop bottles on the side of the road filled with gas, to fill up his tank. Our visit wouldn’t have been complete without experiencing this strange occurrence, yet it is so normal to them. Pull up, open up the tank and pour the contents of the pop bottle in. I think the bottle cost about $1. 70. We made it to the airport and said a sad good bye to Mr. Tang and Siem Reap. I will be back again some day.