Trip Start May 20, 2012
29Trip End Sep 04, 2012
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Angkor Wat is actually the name of the most famous of the temples, there are dozens more, some enormous, some quite small.
We spent two days in a tuk tuk wandering around the Cambodian countryside. You can spend all day wandering if you like, the tuk driver only charges by distance, its quite convenient!
Some temples, like Angkor Wat itself, are in pretty good shape, not a lot of damage, but others are pretty much halfway back to jungle, roots and trees busting through walls, its all quite Indiana Jones!
Each temple has thousands of intricate images carved into the walls, many of huge battles with giants or demons and gods using a giant snake to churn the sea in order to extract the elixir of life. Actually, that particular story comes up a lot. Most all of them are concerned with Vishnu in some way - who knew that the Cambodians were once Hindus? Now they've mostly switched to Buddhism. Angkor Wat is now an official Buddhist temple.
Aside from the temples, Cambodia is a mix of a place, both good and bad. Our hostel was in Siem Reap, which is quite a nice town, quite a variety of delicious restaurants. It seems to be a four star sort of destination, there were some very posh looking hotels, probably patronized by do-gooder Angelina Jolie types.
The people are quite nice, though the tourist hawkers are out in force. The story of their recent history, with Pol Pot and all, is terribly sad, and their current government does seemingly very little for the huge number of very poor people. Despite the poverty, the country was still cleaner and more well mannered than a certain major power to the north... ahem.
Next up is a journey through Malaysia into the oldest rainforest in the world, Taman Negara! We've been reading up on leech prevention and removal techniques, ay yay yay! To reward ourselves for bravery, we're going to the beach right afterward. Wish us luck! Hopefully all we'll encounter are a few whooping monkeys.. :)