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Cambodia

Cambodia: Siem Reap: A Concert at the Bayon Temple

February 26, 2011

sunny 88 °F

With our newfound fear of sharks and lions (thank you very much Discovery Channel) we decided to stay in and do some research on our next destinations. . . We ate another delicious bowl of noodle soup while sitting over the laptop looking at pictures of Krabi. Time passed by really quickly and soon it was time to head out to the ruins for the concert at the Bayon Temple. We thought we’d be sneaky and see a few ruins first (at no charge of course) so we left at 3pm even though the concert didn’t start until 6pm (that’s 7pm Cambodian time) and explored some more of the Angkor Tom before the show. Katharina and Andreas met us and we found got great seats. What a unique experience for all of us---we got to see the Bayon Temple (smiling Buddhas) lit up at night—something most locals don’t even get to see! The Cambodian music concert got better towards the end when they added traditional dancing to the music :) Andreas actually went INSIDE the temple at night. . of course no one was guarding it. . this is Cambodia! Tony was a little too nervous and didn’t want to end up on “Locked up Abroad”. . see I told you we’ve been watching waaaaaaay too much Discovery Channel! :) We headed back into town to grab lychee martinis and some good Chilean wine (a luxury in SE Asia) on our last night in Cambodia. Tony and I experimented with the free “fish spa” at our hotel where the fish come up and eat the dead skin off of our feet. . before meeting back up with Andreas (who hadn’t been eaten by a shark or locked up for sneaking into the temple). We exchanged photos and said our sad goodbyes and wished them well on the next 8 months of their trip!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 01:51 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Cambodia: Siem Reap: Talented Orphans and a ---FOODIE ALERT

February 25, 2011

sunny 90 °F

We were feeling a bit lazy this morning so we leisurely ate noodle soup for breakfast while working on the blog. By the way, prior to this trip I don’t think either of us had EVER eaten noodles for breakfast . . . it turns out its pretty yummy and not as gross as it sounds! Afterwards we headed to town . . . Siem Reap is great because you can really get just about anything you need here at a reasonable price, when the French colonized this area—they definitely left their influence behind. We’ve found great imported wines, cheeses, and pharmaceuticals (hadn’t seen the brand name Advil anywhere else). We had the MOST TERRIFIC goat cheese, pesto and mushroom sandwich-YUM at a French influenced place called Café de La Paix.

It really makes us smile to think about the real highlight of our day which was visiting an orphanage where the kids actually perform traditional Cambodian dances every night at 6:30pm. There are other traditional dance shows in town but of course Ruby wanted to visit the orphanage. It was great! There were kids as young as 5 years playing roles in the show . . . so cute as little monkeys in the tale of the Ramayana. The ACODO orphanage which was created to assist disabled kids and orphans in Cambodia is a terrific cause! We are no connoisseur of traditional Cambodian dancing but the kids are really talented and we were really impressed with their dance moves and costumes! They performed a section of the Ramayana as well as the traditional “peacock dance”. Afterwards all the kids came by to play with us and say thank you for visiting. If and when you go to Cambodia, we would like you to promise us that you will visit this orphanage. They accept any donation for the performance; it is such a terrific cause and an amazing experience which I don’t think either of us will soon forget! After all the fun we were definitely hungry and met up with Katharina and Andreas for a BBQ dinner and Ruby tried the green mango salad (YUM!). Don’t forget to ask for red chillies though because it’s not as good without them. We all indulged in acupressure massages before walking home!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:14 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Cambodia: Siem Reap: Angkor What?

February 24, 2011

sunny 88 °F

Getting up when it’s still dark outside isn’t easy . . . but we had seen some amazing photos of Angkor Wat at sunrise (thanks to Tony Do and Hong) so we were motivated to roll out of bed at the ungodly hour! The four of us met our personal guide Wandy at 5am ($25/day total including the premium for sunrise) and we all hopped on a tuk-tuk ($12/day total) out to the temples. We definitely needed a flashlight because of the uneven ground! Once we arrived we sat down and Wandy told us about the history of Angkor Wat and how many of the temples in Cambodia have wavered between being Hindu or Buddhist temples depending on the reigning king. Inside we would later see evidence of statues/carvings being defaced if they didn’t belong to the “right religion” of the time. Angkor Wat itself was originally a Hindu temple devoted to the god Vishnu. We spent hours exploring the temple and hearing stories. Wandy is a terrific guide and even walked us through the epic tale of the “Ramayana/Ramakien” which is intricately carved on the first level of Angkor Wat! Tony and I knew the story from Bali and India but both Andreas and Katharina were really impressed because they’d seen so many murals/carvings in Myanmar about it but hadn’t heard the story yet. After climbing some extremely steep stairs to explore the third level of the temple we headed off to one of the eeriest temples ever. The huge tree roots which seem to be slowly overtaking the temple! Ta Prohm is also known as the “Tomb Raider” temple because there’s a scene where Angelina Jolie jumps out of the water at this temple. The next temple was fairly simple compared to the others but there were TONS of stairs to climb to reach the top—of course we couldn’t resist climbing to the top as you can see.

By sunset we were at Ruby and Wandy’s favorite temple—The light was just beautiful at the Bayon Temple aka “smiling Buddha temple”, there are 54 towers with a smiling Buddha face on all 4 sides—216 faces in total! Each one was different and we had a fun time playing with pictures and exploring the complex. In our last few minutes of daylight we explored one more temple and had the whole place to ourselves :) After that long exhausting day the four of us had some Mexican food with refreshing mango margaritas (not bad for Cambodia). We had made a “date” with a fun group of people that we kept running into. We picked X Bar because they had a skateboard ramp on the roof. Tony skated and played pool for a bit with the boys while Sinead (a real estate agent from Dublin) and Ruby had a blast drinking delicious (and affordable) white wine while trading travel stories! We were thinking about heading back to Thailand but kept seeing signs for a concert coming up in a couple days so we decided to stay!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 04:20 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Thailand-Cambodia: Welcome to Scam-bodia –FOODIE ALERT

February 23, 2010:

sunny 88 °F

It’s a good thing we packed our bags last night because we’re up at 7am and in desperate need of some bad coffee to wake up. We’re leaving Bangkok heading for Cambodia so we’ll have to try and meet up with Nancy’s friends from Bangkok and aunt Jackie’s cousin Annouchka when we get back! Our research on crossing the border into Cambodia via bus talked about all kinds of scams, people trying to charge excess amounts for the visa on arrival, crazy long waits for buses and the whole process taking as long as 18hrs. The bus was great and it took about 4 hours to reach the Cambodian border and we knew the scam games were about to begin when the bus turned right even though the sign said the border was to the left. The bus pulled into a restaurant and the driver told us that they would be doing our visas as we had lunch and it would cost $40. We had been reading up on this and knew that it only cost $20 (and bring US Dollars to avoid a terrible conversion rate). It was a little confusing but we meet up with a couple named Andreas and Katharina who also knew about this scam and agreed to split a cab to Siem Reap. The border was a little crazy and everyone from the employees at the window to the person in the bathroom expected a tip to do the most basic of tasks. There was a man in a uniform pointing at a small post-it note on the desk asking for an extra 100 baht ($3) each just to hand your passport in a window. We didn’t give him the extra 100, they weren’t happy but at least we didn’t have to pay and still got our visas on arrival! After crossing the border we were then told to take a small bus to another bus stop to get a cab. They also try to get you to exchange your money at that bus station—don’t do it! The exchange rates are terrible and U.S. dollars are widely accepted in Siem Reap. The cabs may have been a scam but since they were the same price people talked about online $45 total to Siem Reap we decided to book one. We don’t really know if this was a real cab because as soon as we pulled out of the parking lot he stopped and took off the magnetic “taxi” stickers. The cab made several random stops on the way into town trying to get us to buy overpriced stuff but we already knew the scam and told him to keep going. We arrived into town and the taxi stopped at a tuk-tuk location where they told us about their great deals on hotels. We had been talking about Andreas and Katharina about their hotel and decided we would go check it out. The Palm Garden Lodge was great—friendly service, clean, 5-10 min walk to Pub Street, free breakfast and at only $9/night we couldn’t beat it. After settling in, the four of us took the free tuk-tuk down to Pub Street for a traditional Khmer dinner at “Traditional Khmer Food” restaurant which is an the main alley off of pub street—by far the best Khmer/Cambodian food we had during our time in Cambodia. The food is similar to Thai food but not as spicy. The fish amok, Khmer chicken curry and spring rolls were super delicious. Don’t forget to ask for extra red hot chilli peppers like Ruby and Andreas always do!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:14 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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