Friday, November 03, 2006

A night in heaven, a day in hell (Bangkok to Siem Reap, Cambodia)

UPDATE! Yoshi, the Japanese man on our jungle trek just sent me a pic of me and claire and one of the guides swimming in the waterfall.. TADA!

So the rest of the day I spent with Claire just wandering about Koa San Road, sending our stuff home to avoid the awful weight (which by then had accumulated in a mahogany bowl, a few statues made of soap stone, an ebony plate, a painting, some wood carvings, and lord only knows what else). 10 kgs, at any rate, and i managed to ship them off to Canada so my bag would be a little lighter (until the next round of souvenire purchase, or course!)

I bought my ticket for Cambodia, which meant I'd be leaving at 7:30am. Woke up early, all packed and ready to go.. and 7:30 comes and goes, still no bus. Eventually, around 8am the bus shows up, and we sit. and wait. and sit. and wait. and there's no aircon and its roasting inside that bus, and we leave finally at 8:45. Hurrah.
Long long long long long and painful busride, and eventually we hit the cambodian border Poipet at about 2pm.. We're shuffled off the bus, onto a little truck thing through the border, then we're told that our aircon minibus is just not happening, and instead we're taking 4x4 trucks into Siem Reap... GREAT.

Welcome to Cambodia!

I sat in the back of the truck with my pashmina wrapped around my face to avoid swallowing dust. But the roads are all broken and we were splashed with water and people honking as they overtake and finally i'd had enough and asked to ride inside the truck. We didnt arrive into Siem Reap until 8:30pm.. and by this time i was shattered from the journey and HUNGRY!
Went to bed because the guide called peter told me I needed to wake up at 5am to watch the sunrise over the angkor wat temples: and i'd be paying 20USD for the priveledge, plus paying him 20USD for the ride on the back of his bike. Hurrah, cambodia, you're a rip off.

But I did it, I swarmed in with all the other tourists in the pitch to watch the sun rise over the temples of Angkor, but it was a cloudy day, so it wasnt that piercing sunrise we all hope we'll see. At least I did it.

The rest of the day was spent riding on the back of Peter's little moped to and from the different temples of Angkor..

Greece didnt care much about their ruins, these on the otherhand, are amazingly well preserved. You can see all the intricate rock carvings from long long long ago..

Just to give you an idea of the size, this was taken from already the second story of the temple, that steep stair people are climbing leads to the third and final story.


Elephant terrace: look at the long things: those are the trunks of the elephants..

And my favourite temple: Ta Prohm, also well known because Tomb Raider was filmed in it, was absolutely amazing. You have to walk through the forests to get to it, and on the way there were some sad sights:

Though I did bump into a monk who wanted to have his picture taken with me!

Ta Prohm is beautiful because its completely enveloped in the Jungle. So much so that the trees have grown into the stone of the temple:

But you dont know what it is to walk through the jungle listening to soft music, smelling insense and wood burning and hearing the chirping of the jungle birds while admiring the temples. Its the most peaceful thing I've ever done I think. If i had to pick somewhere to just be, to just chill out and think, i'd pick one of the temples in Angkor. Its so peaceful, with these immense rock carvings and the temples completely deserted, leaving you to wander and explore and get lost in the maze that they are. Its something I cannot do justice in describing, its something you have to go and see and smell and hear on your own to get just how completely breathtaking it is.

It was the true definition of Urban Decay, an amalgamation of nature and civilization sleepily resting together in the middle of the jungle bush.

((look at me go with my self timer! hurrah!))

Then in one temple i met this little girl, whose only english was "would you like to buy postcard?"
amazing, the kids here have excellent commercial english.

I still am in awe of the intricate carvings that are so well preserved..

I headed back to my hotel and hoped to update the blog, but internet is slower than grandparents there and civilization consists of barely electricity, barely clean water, no atms, and everyone trying to scam USdollars off you.
I stupidly confused my days, and thought that it was thursday, and knowing i had to meet John at the airport on saturday, and with a day's worth of travelling to get back, I set off the next day early in the morning for bangkok. I only realized when I arrived that I'd indeed swallowed a day, and could have spent thursday in Bangkok and come back friday rather than leaving thursday- oops. It turned cambodia into essentially a day trip that took three days to complete.

The journey back was MISERY.
It cost double what it cost to get there to get back, they charged me 18USD on account of the "road being broken". though on the way there i paid 250 Baht, about 9USD (Plus the visa, of course).
The company i was with didnt give me a ticket, so when I arrived at the border and needed to switch buses the assholes on the border-to-bangkok bus wouldnt let me on! They said i had to pay again, so I did.. but it just made the whole journey more miserable.
Finally, arrived in bangkok, back to Koa San Road, which is becoming my little haven. I wandered about after finding a hotel, having only eaten a piece of bread at 7am because I had given all my cash to Peter, my cambodian tourguide who turned out to be more expensive than he was worth. I was strarving since I arrived back into bangkok at 8pm without any food in my tummy, stupid restaurants in the middle of nowhere that only take cash!
Anyways, found a place that served salad, so salad it was, watched a movie they were showing about Asperger's Syndrome, which I could relate to having dated an asperger's sufferer for 2 years ("Mozart and The Whale" was the name of the film) and went to my little prison cell to sleep.
No really, it is a prison cell, the room is the same length and width as the bed that's in it.... it'll do until John gets here though.


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