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Cambodia

We got to Cambodia at around 4 on the 24th. We went straight to our hostel, which ended up being very nice. We got a private room for $10 a night, only $3 more than a dorm room! We immediately met a girl from Ohio and a guy from Florida. We walked around and rented mountain bikes before going out for a Cambodian dinner. Cambodian food was very tasty, and nothing like I had ever had before. We went to bed early as we had a REALLY early start the next day.

We woke up at 4am, yes 4am, to bike ride to Angkor Wat for the sunrise. Angkor Wat is described as the mother of all temples. It was built in the 8th century and was inhabited by the Khmer people. Getting up early for the sunrise didn't end up working out too well as it was overcast and we couldn't see the sun rise. But it was a nice 8km bike ride in the dark, and it was good to get out early before it got really hot out. We spent a couple of hours at Angkor Wat before we had breakfast at a little hut nearby. It was my first experience with Cambodian coffee and it was fantastic. It's very strong and a little thick, with a hint of chocolate to it. I made sure to bring some home. After Angkor Wat we headed to a temple that was about 5km away called Ta Prohm, which is actually where Lara Croft Tomb Raider was filmed. This temple was amazing because of the vegetation that has grown in and around the temple. I forget what the trees were called but they actually grew out of and around the rocks. This temple was in quite the ruins. There were piles of rocks everywhere, but they had started to restore it which I think is unfortunate. I'd like to see the temples just how they are, not put back together. After that we headed to Angkor Thom, which was the biggest complex of temples in the area. The coolest temple of the day was within Angkor Thom called Bayon. It was the most intact and the most intricate of the temples we saw. We walked around the rest of Anchor Thom, which included more temples and terraces, before we headed back for a rest.

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After we got back to the hotel, we traded our bikes in for a tuk tuk (a small open cab that holds two people) as the next temple we were going to was 40km away. This temple, called Banteay Srei, was made out of pink sandstone which was very cool, but in terms of size and extravagance, was nothing compared to the other temples we saw. We then went to a landmine museum, which wasn't that great but you gave you some insight into the lasting effects of war. From there, we went to a military training ground where we went to a shooting range. It was awesome!! We were hoping to throw grenades but they were out of them. I shot an AK47 and Ron shot an M16! I made sure not to tell my mom before because I am sure she wouldn't have been too happy, but it was really cool. We got some great pictures with the guns and also with an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) after! It was really awesome.

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After a rest we went to dinner with our American and German friends. We had Khmer BBQ which is a lot like Korean BBQ which you can get in Vancouver. They bring a BBQ type apparatus, which is kind of a dome, with a moat around it which you add a broth to. It's hard to explain, but you cook the meat on the dome and then the moat collects the fat and juices and makes a delicious soup. You add veggies, noodles, and chili peppers to the soup and it gets very tasty! The meat was definitely the best part, though. They give you 5 different meats which you cook yourself. We had beef, prawns, frog legs, snake, and crocodile. I had never eaten an amphibian or reptile before so I was very excited. I quite enjoyed the frog and crocodile, and while the snake tasted good, it was pretty chewy. This whole meal was capped off by 50 cent beers, which is right up my alley. After that we went to a bar called Angkor What? where we played pool and danced and had a great time.

We slept in the next morning because the day before had been really, really long and we had pretty much done everything there was to do in the area between 4am and 5pm that day. We decided to take a day to relax. We went out for lunch (because we weren't awake for breakfast!) at a place called the Red Piano. We had some good western food, which we hadn't had in a while. We then went to get full body massages that cost us $6 for an hour. I actually fell asleep for most of it and so guess I wasn't too impressed. We got ice cream at this cool lounge after, called the Blue Pumpkin. They had couches and bean bag chairs so it was very relaxing. We had dinner with a couple that Ron met on the Facebook group for the MBA program that he is doing in September. The guy and his girlfriend just happened to be in Cambodia at the same time and he's in the same 80 person program as Ron, so that was very cool. We just had a couple beers, went to the night market, and went to bed.
We woke up the next morning early enough to finish our shopping. Cambodia has been the best place to shop by far. The prices are so cheap and they seem to accept US currency over the Cambodian Riel. I bought so many pairs of sunglasses and elephant pants it is ridiculous, but totally worth it. We are now headed to Hong Kong!

Posted by geoffboulton 09:07 Archived in Cambodia

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