Siem Reap – Cambodia – Southeast Asia – 2015 – Day 14

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Temples today. The hotel provided us with a take away breakfast which was amazing and full of protein (2 hard boiled eggs, toast, bananas, watermelon, dragon fruit). We found that the overnight attendants here in Asia end up setting up a tent or hammock so they can also sleep and be awaken if needed. 445AM pickup by Mr Dany and first stop was to purchase a 1 day pass for $20USD which also has your photo on it. We slightly beat the tourist buses in and then drove through and walked into Angkor Wat and positioned ourselves with majority on the left side by the pond so we can get the reflection as the sun started to rise. Even at 5AM, the air was thick and humidity was already picking up. The sunrise was pretty nice and we explored Angkor Wat until about 7-730AM? then met up with Mr Dany and he took us on our way to the next temple – Banteay Kdei. This was my favourite that we went through as it wasn’t too big but very intricate and beautiful patterns and designs etched into the stone walls. Phimeanakas has one main building that can’t be climbed but has a giant land which takes you to another section that has a huge catwalk to get to the main building that you can climb to the top. Ta Phrom has the overgrown trees that have taken over the temples which is quite beautiful but not for long when there are huge Korean and Chinese tour groups going through. Tomb raider was filmed in this area with Angelina Jolie. We ended up exiting from the other end and instead of just going back through, we decided to walk around the side which ended up being a long long journey in the heat to get to Mr Dany. NOTE- walk back through to get back to the front.

We all suffered a little bit of heat exhaustion and walking around temples at 11-noon is so difficult. Angkor Flower for lunch because of the aircon. I had the fried noodle with seafood and a Cambodian tea with milk. And finally Angkor Thom because we were all suffering from heat exhaustion, we were to walk over to the area near Angkor Thom to meet Mr Dany but there are  few temples in the surrounding area. Bayon was a beauty to be seen although we didn’t actually go into it as we were so exhausted. I really wish we had the energy to explore it. Those faces everywhere make it so picturesque and in my opinion is a much more photogenic place to explore than Angkor Wat. I really wish we had visited Bayon instead of Phimeanakas and Angkor Thom. It is outside Bayon that we saw this group of Korean tourists taking a group photo with a very stoic look by also with peace signs. This started an epidemic with my group for photos.

We all took a dip in the pool then Adam and Amy decided to nap and Andrew and myself found ourselves at Nice Cool for drinks – You just can’t beat a nice atmosphere with $.75USD giant drinks. Ice coffee with milk to go and of course the green tea with milk. We came back and Andrew joined them in a nap for 30 minutes before we had to get ready to leave for dinner. We chose Damnak Lounge Fine DiningRoad 6, Kruos Village at the Lotus Blanc Resort, It was a 4 course menu $25USD + tax.

Adam chose the degustation menu ($35 – 3 course) and we chose the Khmer tasting menu ($25 – 4 course). I got the Noam Makak to start – Makak fruit, dried smoked fish dried shrimps and roasted coconut with fish sauce. Followed by the Sailor Machu Teer – duck with lemongrass and marker leaf soup. For my main course, I got the Sach Ko Ang Dot Kul Slockkrey – grilled beef with lemon grass skewers with tomato, onion and garlic kalian. Then dessert was chek chhoeng – assorted fruits and banana glazed in palm sugar – similar to banana fosters. All very tasty and a little salty compared to all the meals we’ve had here.We got the Lotus Resort tuktuk to drive us home but he literally drove to the night market and we had to ask him to let us off so he didn’t go all the way in. NOTE: Tuktuks don’t know addresses but general areas so if you want to goto a specific area, they need a number of the place so they can call and confirm a location. $2USD for the ride home.

Siem Reap – Cambodia – Southeast Asia – 2015 – Day 13

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Woke up around 6AM hearing some Cambodian music flowing in the air. The mornings are slightly cool outside but you can sense the humidity already rising. We ate breakfast which has a decent selection of variations with eggs and baguette. We went to front desk to think of ideas for what to do during the day. I also asked if they could recommend any places we can play volleyball with locals and then Mr Dany came and said he knows a place. After that, we ended up heading back up to our room to figure out what we were going to do for the day. It took us 1-2 hours to figure out what to do. We stopped by a tour agency and booked our tickets for tonight to watch the Phare Cambodian Circus. We ended up going to the Landmine museum and Mr Dany took us by tuktuk about 40 minutes out of the city past all the temples. It costs $5USD entry to visit the Landmine museum and the proceeds of the entry, purchases and donations go towards the support and aid of the family of landmine victims and orphans. The main museum was closer in the city but got moved further out to build a larger area to accommodate the orphans. The museum was started by Aki Ra who was a rouge Khmer soldier who defected and joined the Vietnam and Cambodian army. Aki himself during his time in the Rouge Khmer form, planted thousands of mines and after he defected, he continued to disarm thousands upon thousands of mines and all the mines shown in the museum are ones he disarmed. The whole aim of this museum is to educate and make aware of the harm that was caused by al the mines and fighting that has folded Cambodia to what it is today. Even to this day, especially in Northern Cambodia, there are still thousands of active mines still buried. Mr Dany drove us back and we stopped over at Khmer Angkor Kitchen for lunch which was recommended by Mr Dany unfortunately it is a definite tourist trap (that cost double of what we paid at Nice Cool the day before) because it is so close in proximity to the temples. I guess he didn’t expect us to invite him to lunch and pay for it. I ended up getting Khmer Amok which consists of fish, chicken, shut leaf with coconut ($7.50USD) which is a popular Khmer dish. Mr Dany has been a tuktuk driver for over 14 years and has 4 children – 16,14,10,4 – 2 boys and 2 girls.

During lunch Mr Dany was on his phone and called up his tuktuk friends and organized it so we can play some volleyball today. We got back and at 3PM and had an hour before we were to meet him again to head to volleyball. When we came down, Mr Dany greeted us and introduced us to another tuktuk name Mr Ry who would be taking us to play volleyball and also playing with us. We got back around 3PM and we were to meet back at 4PM to play volleyball. Mr Ry ended up taking us to volleyball as Dany doesn’t play and Ry does. He drove us not too far from our hotel to TST Sport Club (ផ្លូវផ្សាក្រោម, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia) which could full out be a men’s club as Amy and myself were the only females minus on lady we think was the drink server. We played with Mr Ry and a few of his fellow tuktuk drivers joined us as well as other random guys who were there already playing. The facility is similar to North Beach in Toronto as it starts around 3PM and goes late into the night (until there is no light). There were 4 courts, 2 of which are dirt courts (not soft enough like beach but not hard enough like concrete or indoor) and then 2 courts that have a mat/vinyl pads placed down. They usually play 4 vs 4 here and similar to 9-man if the serve touches the net there is reserve. We played for about 2 hours and dominated at one point. The ball is a hard ball but not as heavy as the ones we played with in Hanoi. In the end, it cost us $5USD all together to play. From there, Mr Ry drove us back to the hotel to shower and then off we went to Phare Circus. So for the amount of driving today (Mr Dany & Mr Ry) it cost us $25USD including mileage.

The tickets we purchased were for C-Section which was $18USD and it was great. Section A gets popcorn and water and straight on viewing and B just straight on viewing but its in a small round tent so its fine just as long as you aren’t to infant of the columns. Only thing about C section tickets is its open seating so arrive early to get good seats. We arrived early and sat down to eat in their restaurant/cafe. We got chicken skewers with peanut sauce, fried spring rolls, teriyaki and lime egg noodle. I got an Angkor beer (much tastier than Laobeer for my tastebuds) then passionfruit and coconut ice cream / gelato.

Phare artists are students and graduates from Phare Ponleu Selpak Artistic Center in Battambang. The association was formed 20 years ago by 8 young men coming home from a refugee camp after the Khmer Rouge regime. They were greatly helped by art therapy and wanted to share this new skill among the poor, socially deprived and troubled youngsters in Battambang. They founded an art school and public school followed to offer free education. A music school and theatre school were next and finally, for the kids who wanted more, the circus school. Today more than 1,200 pupils attend the public school daily and 500 attend the alternative schools. Phare Ponleu Selpak also has extensive outreach programs, trying to help with the problems highlighted in their own tales.

Phare The Cambodian Circus offers these students and graduates somewhere to hone their skills and a place to earn a decent wage. Money that will take them out of poverty and give them self-respect and freedom. The smaller guy in the white shirt and red shorts who just flies through the air was by far my favourite. The storyline was well done as well with subtitles in the beginning playing on the 2 screens. Its a smaller Cambodian version of Cirque du Soleil and a few of the people who go through the circus school have actually gone international. We had an absolutely wonderful time here!

We sent Mr Ry home for the night we so walked back on our own which wasn’t bad at at. We ended up back in the Night market once more and grabbed $.75USD fruit shakes; I grabbed myself a carrot + sweet milk shake. Then walked around a bit so Andrew could get an elephant tank and Adam could exchange his tank for a larger size. Then we were done for the night as we have to get up early for sunrise at Angkor Wat.