Day 5 : Siem Reap

Lesson #1. Siem Reap (See-em Ree-ep). You're welcome.  So we made it to Siem Reap and It is Obama-Fever around here. It was kind of cool to sit around a Hostel lounge and watch Air Force One land for the first-ever American Presidential visit to Cambodia. Really? No one has ever been here? (hmm).

So what can we tell you about this place?  The life support of Cambodia has been the Temples of Angkor located just outside Siem. The town is quite charming if you ignore the hoards of tour groups. With its French shops, tree lines streets and a slow flowing river, it was little more than a village before the discovery of Angkor. The first hotel opened only in 1929 however the area remained sleepy until the 1990's due to the Khmer Rouge (and those guys were NOT nice). 

The Jasmine Family Hostel. Our dreamy little slice of heaven.. with a Pool! $15 a night with breakfast. First Hostel with a Pool we've ever had. Times are a changin. Everyone has wifi now and ipads. Traveling has changed a lot in the 4 years we have been MIA.
Is this better Geoff? we ended up sleeping on the hard mattress - only to discover the other one had memory foam 2 days later - son-of-a!

i've never stayed in a hostel that nice in asia! wow! From pavone, on Nov 25, 2012 at 04:21AM

Hostel vibes. 

We dropped off our bags and immedialtly grabbed food. Cambodian BBQ - the new official love for Brian and Jim.  Take a small round camp stove, throw a slab of delicious pork fat on top to melt down the sides, some "fresh" meat, shrimpies, squid, veggies, herbs and noodles - and you have Cambodian BBQ. Brian is determined to search Amazon for one the minute we get back to the States. 

First delicious meal. Brian even wore his delicious T-shirt for the special occasion. Cambodian BBQ.
Delicious ingredients - a little chicken feet to flavor it up. If you are wondering, it tastes JUST like chicken. Rubbery, with little crunchy tidbits in there which are probably nail

There is a great area called the Old Market which shows the French influence of the early 1900's. Its a happenin' spot where everyone in town seems to hang out. Discos, bars, restaurants.... We went to Old Market and didn't even make it 1 full block when we were sucked in like moths to a light : "Foot massage... 20 minutes $1" . What was suppose to be a quick revitalizing foot massage led to 2 hours ($9) of pure heaven when we found out they served drinks. All on a street corner in downtown Siem Reip Cambodia. What we should have done next was go home, but we wandered dreary eyed and limp legged into a club to chat it up with a Brit, a Pakistani and one Crazy Scottish chick that freaked us out with her Scottish intensity and a lot of "F-Bombs". She was like a character out of SNL.

And then this happened....

Siem Reip Old Market. Ohhhhh lala - the 2 hour foot/body massage session that was $9. Plus drinks.....

We hired a private Tuk-Tuk (Sam) to drive us the 1 hour to Angkor. And left early to do so to try and beat some of the heat. Also - it can take you days to see it all. Its massive. Way bigger than we expected. We have seen lots of Temples and Ruins in our travels, and this ranks right up there. It is exhaustingly large, hot as all hell and about 90% humidity, so the fact that out Hostel has a pool we can dip into later is like a gift from Buddha himself. Angkor Watt is ridiculous  - in a good way.  It is far bigger than we expected. We have seen lots of Temples and Ruins, and this ranks right up there. Its is exhaustingly large, hot as all hell and about 90% humidity, so the fact that out Hostel has a pool is like a gift from Buddha himself. OO has been convinced by the inter webs that dinosaurs coexisted with humans and roamed freely across Cambodia because of some random temple carving. We shall see OO  - we shall see. 

Marisha's theory wins.

Angkor Watt. Just one of over 200 Temples on the complex. This is the main one, the King's Temple. The rest are smaller and only about 40 are open to tourists. The rest are used for Cambodians still for worship.
(Angkor Watt) Like all these countries, monkeys run around everywhere - we had to keep OO away from picking one up and getting rabies. Watch your wallets!
(Angkor Watt). Trees taking over some of the Temples, looks like an Alien movie. This is probably why a lot of the temples are and have fallen down. They are undergoing loads of restoration here.
(Angkor Watt). The guys , thinking about moving in. This is the back side of the Main Temple. The center entrance.
(Angkor Watt) Monks in lessons at a Buddha temple. On the grounds of the Angkor complex

We got back late and went in search of food and a delicious cold beverage. What we stumbled upon was most glorious discovery since Angkor Watt itself - the Jeep Bar.

Jeep bar. Yet again, sucked in like moths to a light. A street side bar made out of a JEEP. Segria (Soogie) made Fantastic drinks!
Jeep bar's limited, yet delicious menu. I had a non-menu item that the owner Sagoura aka"Soogie" made me. A spicy TomYum martini which rocked my world (and he gave me the recipe!).
Brian enjoying the "Coconut Mekong Jeep" made with Mekong whiskey. The closest thing to a 7 and 7 Cambodia has to offer.
Leave it to OO and his tendency to love on stray potentially diseased animals of all kinds.....We can only hold him off for so long. Mange anyone? (he is pretty cute though...)

Our second day of Angkor was to explore the outer temples that most people don't even know exist. Our same TukTuk driver Sam picked us up and we hit the road early. On our way there we had him drop us off in a small village so we could walk around and take it all in. Walking through a village out in the middle of nowhere is was one of the coolest local experiences we have had traveling. It is super chill here, people stare a little but they all say hi and no one hassles you. The people are so friendly that they will stop and talk to you if you engage them at all. We got to see an up close and personal side of what it is like to live here.

Views from a TukTuk

Stickering the kids. We took a Tuk Tuk ride out into the countryside. We asked our driver "Sam" to let us off so we could walk around and see the village a bit. Everyone was so amazing.
A village woman making Palm sugar. Very similar to maple sugar but lighter tasting and has a little brown sugar taste to it.
Just sitting here - sawing.... They must have good cores. Sean T would be happy
Gas stations Cambodian style. Plastic water bottles....not sure how that holds up. Fill her up. These are everywhere mostly for the massive amounts of motorbikes and Tuk Tuks on the road.
Some of the kids that followed us around. No one hassled us at all and everyone said hi. "Hellloooo"
Mmmmmm tasty. Trying out some of the Palm sugar
If you don't have the funny little tractor, you can always plow the old fashioned way. Cambodia is about 30 years behind even its poorest neighbor.

They look like Johnny Walker Red bottles. From Paul Sherman, on Dec 5, 2012 at 07:15PM

One of the things we were pretty excited for was  to take a boat into one of the water villages off Lake Tonle Sap. Monsoon waters still flood the rice paddies and roadways which turns the village into a lake most of the year. Our boat driver was maybe 13 - which could be part of our next problem. We proceeded to break down in the middle of the lake, float down stream so we couldn't be seen by other boats, ran aground on a treetop, got moving again over an hour later just to crash into another boat on our way to the wildest mechanic shop in the middle of nowhere. Thank god they don't move very fast. Only us.... This kind of crap happens to us all the time. Welcome to traveling with the Cowles Double O.  

Headed out on out river tour. Good old lucky #117. right before she chugged into life
Our boy - and worst river boat driver ever!
Hahahahahaha... seriously. This says it all. A Toyota land cruiser steering column
Cruising around later on our wee boat. I think the three of us hit it's max weight capacity.
A great shot of the whole scene. A Full stilted village and life on the water
Tell you what, kids here are NOT coddled. You see 2 year olds playing by the roads or driving boats all by themselves and playing on ladders 15 feet above the water. There never seems to be an issue.
A closer shot of the houses and buildings in the village. A far cry from Queen Anne or Highlands Ranch
So part of the deal is the boat driver takes you out into Tonle Sap Lake to turn around and wait.......chug, chug, sputter......dead boat.
Aaaaaan an hour goes by......
Some pretty strong currents carried us down a mile maybe until we ran aground on a submerged tree top. hahahahah

Well,  as much fun as Siam Reap is  - it is time to move on. This place is certainly geared more for tourism offering plenty of lodging, food and entertainment options. We are hoping to see and experience a little more of an off the grid vibe as we move on into the inner parts of Cambodia. 


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