We decided to take in breakfast at a hut just outside of Angkor Wat. On our way in, some little kids charged us and proceeded to tell us our national and state capitals, our "prime minister," and then try to sell us postcards as well as beads. These kids here are definitely the future for this country. They have an entrepreneurial way about them that will probably help to drive Cambodia to be a more modern country. They sell with charm, hustle like champs, and all of them speak about 3 languages. The kids are everywhere and they know exactly what they are doing. They hustle like their lives depend on it, and I suppose to some degree that may be the case. We told the little charmers that we may be back after breakfast. I ordered pancakes and a fruit dish that defied expectation. Kristin had an american breakfast. While we were eating, one of the kids delivered a letter that he had written to me. In this letter, it stated that, "I have a very pretty girlfriend and that he is sorry for bothering me..." among other things. It was pretty nice and so of course we got suckered into buying bracelets.
After our breakfast, we decided to check out Phnom Bakheng. This particular temple was originally used as a state capital and affords probably the best view in Angkor. Generally, people flock to this temple late in the day for a spectacular and dramatic sunset over the jungles of Cambodia. In fact, so many people flock to this temple at sunset that it is causing structural damage to the foundation. I would wager that Unesco will probably put an end to that sooner than later. We decided to go in the morning so that it would not be too busy. The climb to the top was a labor of love. Sweat in our eyes, deet mixing with sunscreen to create a chemical fragrance that burned with each breath, it was about 95 degrees outside, and it felt much much hotter. If pressed we probably could have cooked egg's on our forearms. Kristin sniffed out a few shortcuts, all of which were exciting, one of which was full of spider webs and dangerously steep. We probably shaved a few minutes off of our ascent with these shortcuts, which in the brutal heat translates to a great success. The view from the top, impeccable, you could see most temples, and all the way to Tonle Sap lake, the biggest lake in southeast Asia. We really like how, "at your own risk" everything seems over here. For instance, the stairs up to the summit of Phnom Bakheng are ridiculously steep, and there are no warning signs or ropes to balance with. You just have to know well enough to be careful. In the U.S. or Europe, or anywhere with a modern legal system, this could not exist due to lawsuits and idiots falling all over themselves.
Our next stop, Bayon in Angkor Thom, is a temple famous for its many faces. It has numerous (216) carved faces, and on most pillars, there are 4, each one individually symbolizing either love, compassion, sympathy, or community. This is according to a guide that threw himself at us and we later had to pay 4 dollars. He also told us that the wholes in all the stone bricks at the temples were drilled so that the elephants could carry the stones on each side of their large frame from the quarry about 50 km away. We visited a few more temples, and decided to head back to the hotel for kids meals. At this hotel, the food is pretty expensive, so we have taken towards ordering room service off of the super affordable kid's menu. It is our way of getting around the system without having to leave our room. Nehm was downstairs ready for round 2 when we exited our hotel following our brief reprieve. The grounds of Angkor are filled with tons of temples, but each is a pretty decent distance apart from eachother. Since there are extensive roads throughout the entire temple complex, you need either a driver or a bike and incredible stamina for a solid temple touring day. This is why Nehm is such a crucial addition to our crew. He makes the sights happen. We visited a lesser known temple sort of on the outskirts that Nehms suggested, and an older lady invited us in to pray with her. She gave us 3 incense sticks for an offering and led us into the temple. We said our prayers, and afterwards I asked Kristin what she had prayed for. "Life, Love, and Lou," she replied. Lou is her handsome 3 year old golden retriever. Towards the end of our day, we visited Banteay Kdei, another temple complex. We decided to hang out across the street with some local kids for a minute. Kristin met a little girl named Pau. She was a village girl who spoke 3 languages (English, French, Khmer), and she learned each not in school, but from talking with tourists. Kristin really liked Pau and they took a few goofy pictures and had some laughs.
For the evening, we decided to leave the camera at home and go out for a nice dinner. As Nehm was speeding down the road, we noticed a small French-Khmer (=Cambodian, Khmer is the language and ethnic term for Cambodians) Cafe called La Malraun. Our meal was the best of our trip, and my favorite dish was my banana flower chicken salad. It tasted both spicy and sweet, with some bites providing a hint of anise or even peanut sauce. It was a clever little dish. We also shared a dragon fruit, banana, orange, apple, and papaya shake. Our waitress brought a dragon fruit out for us to fondle. We later went back to the Angkor night market to spend our cash dangerously close to 0.
We both feel very comfortable and at home in Cambodia. The people are all very nice, and the kids are simply amazing. Tomorrow we leave for Phuket, Thailand.
Breakfast, pancakes and fruit
Climbing up to Phnom Bakheng
Climbing the stairs
Top of Phnom Bakheng
View of jungle
K - Atv farmer tan
J - seriously check out the atv farmer tan
Another shot of the steps
This elephant just casually rolled by
Close-up, looks like a zombie
Bayon Temple at Angkor Thom
An action scene
Some startled kid and 900 year old art
The many faces of Bayon
Center of temple
A place to sit
216 of these
Back of Bayon temple
This chick was hauling buns
More beautiful temples
Some kids swimming in moat around Angkor Wat
Wearing my kroma on my head
Some random bridge
Naga - these are very prevalent
Tree growing on temple
Dead tree on temple
Entryway to Angkor Thom complex
Smaller temple where we prayed
Lady that we prayed with
Practicing my moves
A rare photo of Nehm, he is almost
impossible to photograph due to his
More trees growing into temples, never gets old
Reservoir across from Banteay Kdei
A scene - Pau running up
Pau and Kristin
Those temples are very intriguing!!With your blog I don't even need to watch the discovery channel, TLC, Travel channel or the Food Channel. Great job with the blog Justin, you are an exceptional writer that makes me feel like I am on an adventure!ReplyDelete
Kristin: No need to pray for Lou, he is doing fine, just pray that Dexter doesn't beat him up!! (JK) Where in the world is Woo and Boo...yea Thailand's next, can't wait for the pic's. and story.....ReplyDelete
It is carving that must have taken a long time to do. Justin are you jealous of the stone man Kristin is smooching with? I am enjoying your journey with you. Fun pulling up the larger close up view. Love Gram SReplyDelete
More incredible fun! Just when I wonder how it can get any better--it does. Thanks to the fantastic pictures and your amazing way with words, Justin!! I am flying to Little Rock to stay with Cathy while her family goes to CA. She can't be alone--her surgery is next week. Love, Grandma OReplyDelete
Justin and Kristen,ReplyDelete
We LOVE reading your blog-Jared things you guys are the best.
Love, Julie, Joe and Jared
Your pictures (and words) are wonderful. It makes me feel like I'm traveling with you. It's obvious that Cambodia has touched your hearts. Thanks so much for sharing your adventures.
The Vietnamese New Year, or as locally known, Tet Nguyen Dan or simply Tet, will take place on 16 February 2018. The day is also called Feast of the First Morning or shortly Tet and is the most important of all Vietnam holidays. It is the feast of the new year after the moon calendar.ReplyDelete
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