We have just left Siem Reap, Cambodia--I was going to call this post "Don't Fear the REAPer," but went with the equally bad title above--and are even know sitting in the domestic terminal at Bangkok Airport waiting to catch our flight to Phuket. And yes, I say that only to make as many of you as possible jealous because I am just that petty.
Moving on ....
Siem Reap was great: a town where the Old World meets the Third Word in a way I think only happens in Southeast Asia. (Well, except Thailand, which was never colonized by European powers, which will not be the first interesting fact I throw your way in this post.) Anyway, only in places like Siem Reap can you sit in a French colonial building that was built in the early 1900s--where everything is open to the weather and rugged black electric fans that will happily slice a finger off purr over every table--drinking cold beer and watching naked children play in the dirty puddles that form where the crumbling sidewalks tumble into broken streets. Yes, Southeast Asia: where every animal you see looks half-starved; where every mosquito bite makes you wonder if malaria or dengue fever is worse (the latter, I think); where geckos gather around lights at night like moths, which themselves are nowhere to be seen, possibly having been eaten by said geckos; and where the food is cheap and spicy and the beer is cheap and cold. What could be better?
Really, it's better than it sounds. Trust me.
At any rate, here are some interesting things I bet you didn't know about Cambodia:
- Anytime the mercury dips below 80 degrees Fahrenheit or so, the locals think it's cold. And we were there at the beginning of the summer! I know, lucky us. Nothing like having sweat literally rolling down your face at 8.30 AM.
- While Cambodia has its own currency, the Riel (maybe Rial, I never really figured out which), everyone uses the US dollar. Since the Riel/Rial is currently trading at about 4,000 to 1 to the dollar, this means that almost everything you want to buy--be it water, postcards, fans, t-shirts, whatever--costs one buck. Yes, Cambodia is, in fact, the world's largest "Everything is a Dollar!" store.
- The king is 52 years old. And single. And a dancer. You figure it out. I mean, I'm not suggesting anything, but our tour guide laughed when Holly suggested that lots of women would probably like to marry the king.
- Cars in Cambodia might have the steering wheel on either side. Technically, they drive on the right side of the road, like in the US. However, many people get their cars from Thailand because they are cheaper, despite the fact that in Thailand they drive on the left side of the road, like the British. Yes, it's weird.
So why go to Cambodia at all? For the Angkor Temples, of course, which were as spectacular as advertised. Even Holly--who yawned through the Louvre and grumbled through Westminster Abbey (note that she will now deny these things ever happened)--was impressed. Angkor Wat--the most famous one, with its five round spires--was spectacular; Angkor Thom, which has 52 different pillars, all of which have smiling stone faces looking out in all four directions, was incredible; and Ta Prohm, AKA the "Tomb Raider" temple since it was featured in the movie, was amazing, thanks mostly to the roots of massive Silk Cotton trees that have wound through the stone to such an extent that removing them at this point would cause large portions of the temple to collapse.
Naturally, I have pictures--oh so many pictures. In two days, I took about 300, and that was despite the fact that I was trying to not take too many. Even more incredibly, I think I did pretty good, given how cool all the temples were. I would love to put some up on the blog right now, but they're all on my camera and I didn't want to carry my laptop around with me--it's heavy!--so it's not really possible. Hopefully you aren't too disappointed, although I will tell myself you are, thereby justifying the amount of time I spend writing this. No, being delusional is not all bad--trust me.
Anyway, at some point on my return to the US--probably after June 1, so my bandwidth has a chance to reset--I will, as promised, post the GREATEST PHOG EVER. But until then, it's off to Phuket for eight days on the beach!
And yes, you have my permission to be jealous. I encourage it ...