Cheeky monkeys

They were cute and fuzzy, and accurately described as cheeky. They begged for bananas only to discard them half eaten before asking for more. There’s a video on Facebook.

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Most, like this one, were pretty nice. That was until I realized that he was distracting me while his friend stole my sunglasses.

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I’m not sure if this monkey was imitating me by wearing my shades, or simply teasing me. Either way, he was at least 4 meters out of reach.

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The caterpillars of Angkor Thom

There was a strange moment when we realized that we were surrounded by thousands of caterpillars. They were everywhere. While we reacted with the kind of curiosity that can only be bred through hours of watching the Discovery Channel, a group of Japanese tourists actually fled in sheer terror. Several members of the group were actually crying histerically in fear. I wish I had a video camera for that moment.

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I have no idea if the nearby butterflies were related, but they were also pretty impressive.

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The Temples of Angkor: Bayon

The giant smiling faces that surround visitors to Bayon have become iconic images throughout Southeast Asian art.

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One of the libraries in the temple was being repaired. Looking at the drawings made me realize how painstakingly laborious such a restoration actually is. Thousands of stones are numbered measured, catalogued, disassembled, then reassembled with missing gaps filled in.

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The Temples of Angkor: Southern Gate of Angkor Thom

These giant warriors line the bridge that crosses the moat leading up to the gate to the Angkor Thom city. They’re holding a giant serpent

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This gate could have come right out fo Lord of the Rings. It felt like we were humbly entering a powerful kingdom. I guess that was the intended effect.

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The Temples of Angkor: Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm wouldn’t be anything special compared to the other temples if it hadn’t been left covered in the jungle as it was “found.”

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I noticed that a lot of dangling tree roots had been removed since since the last time I visited.

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The Temples of Angkor: Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei is a temple 20 Km north of Angkor Wat which makes it slightly less crowded than any of the other temples. The level of detail in the carvings surpassed any of the other temples we saw.

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I was so engrossed in the reliefs that I stopped taking photos. This girl and her kitten were playing among the ruins under the watchful eye of her older sister.

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The Temples of Angkor: Angkor Wat

We tried to get to Angkor Wat for sunrise, but our driver’s idea of sunrise involved the sun already being in the sky. Our ability to function early in the morning meant that we didn’t necessarily protest. The temple is huge, but under the intense Cambodian sun I couldn’t capture the big picture.

Instead, I found myself paying more attention to the details.

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Instead of hiring a guide, I bought a proper guide book that explained the imagery in many of the reliefs. This added a new dimension which definitely added to the experience.

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Foreign Correspondent’s Club

We sat on the balcony at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club along the river in Phnom Penh and watched the world pass by.
Liz Peter Chad at FCC
Foreign Correspondent's Club View

Boat ride adventure

A four hour tour, a four hour tour.  I don’t think Gilligan had it this bad.

We decided to take a boat from Siam Reap to Battenbam.  The first part of the journey went quite quickly across a wide lake.  We then entered a river lined with fishing villages.  Everything there floats.  We were travelling in the dry season, so the water levels were low.  In the rainy season, it looked like everything would float another 10 meters higher.

Everyone moved around by boat, including this floating store of plastic goods.

Floating Store

The houses, and even the school houses are floating.  The second floor of the school house is the gym – complete with basketball court.

Floating School House Cambodia

Floating Cambodia House

The problems started when the river continued to narrow to the point where the boat was too long to follow the curves of the water.  Things were going very slowly for a long time.  The guidebook did warn us that the trip can take a long time during the dry season.  But, it didn’t say that boat ride would stop in a farm field and continue by pickup truck.  More specifically, it did not warn us that 23 of us would be in a single pickup truck.  No exageration – 23 people.

Pickup Truck Ride 

It was a long and very dusty trip.  My butt was sore for several days.  In the end, it was a lot of fun, and we became very close (in a physical kind of way) to a lot of fellow travellers.

Cambodian Dance

We saw a variety show of Cambodian dance at a dinner theater.  The key aptitude required is not necessarily skill in moving to the beat of music, but rather the ability to bend ones fingers.

Amazingly enough, the dance style and the story was exactly the same as what we saw in Yogyakarta.

Monks on wheels

We wandered around for a while and sat across from the river watching the people pass by.  I couldn’t sit for too long [why?] so I started taking photos of people passing over the bridge.  The monks in their bright orange clothes were a definite sight to see as they were offered rides by those passing by.  I think this might be one of my favourite photos from the trip.

Monks on Wheels

Relaxing in Siam Reap

Peter casually looks through his pirated Lonely Planet purchased at the easily accessible price of $2.50.  We decided we wouldn’t do that again out of principle.  But $2.50?  Looks like the real thing to me.

Angelina Joli was here – Ta Prohm

All we heard about the entire time we were in this part of Cambodia was the adventures of Angelina Joli. We’d walk into a bar and be directed to the booth she sat at. Apparently a good chunk of the first Tomb Raider was shot in this temple. At one point she gets sucked into a giant tree. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take a photo without an asian tourist posing in front of it.

The temple itself is amazing. The jungle had completely enveloped it at one point. Now the low brush has been cut away for tourist purposes, but it’s the trees that are holding the remaining buildings together.
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These are the roots from the tree that have found their way through the roof.
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Ta Prohm

 

It really was incredible.

My first water wheel

I’ve never seen one of these in action before.  I was actually quite impressed.

Water Wheel