Saturday, February 2, 2013

Being a Complete Tourist

I'm not sure how to describe this day other than we were total tourists. The day started off with a rather "interesting" conversation with our tuk-tuk driver. Alexis and I wanted to go to the temples, but our driver insisted that we go to the floating village. This disagreement lasted until we finally gave in and went to the floating village... I guess it was neat to see how people lived on the water but it was gross - the water was filled with garbage, waste, and debris.  I wasn't happy we had to pay $20.00 for the boat ride plus Alexis got scammed into buying noddles for the orphanage. It might have been neat to see the orphanage, but anyone that knows me, knows that I really dislike small children and would prefer to not be near them. So, I just awkwardly waved at them while Alexis took photos with them.  The only good part of the trip was when I got to drive the boat back (which was a long distance).  The boat was harder to drive than I expected because the gas "pedal" is a piece of string that runs back to the motor and the steering wheel was exceptionally hard to turn. I guess the boat drivers just make it look really easy!

Driving the boat!
I was glad to be off the lake and back on land, even if the roads are poorly up-kept. The Tonle Sap Lake, which loosely translates to the freshwater lake, is the largest freshwater lake in all of southeast Asia. During the dry season it is roughly 2,700 square kilometers... during the monsoon season it increases to 16,000 kilometers! Oh yes... we also learned about a flood in 2011 that almost wiped out all of Cambodia. How did I not know about this flood?

After getting roped into this floating village ordeal we finally headed to the temples in Siem Reap. They all blur together in my mind, but I'm pretty sure this is the order that we went in. Also I had to spend another $20.00 to buy a ticket to the temple.

First our tuk-tuk driver took us to Ta Prohm, which is the temple that looks like it belongs in an Indian Jones movie. Or rather that an Indian Jones movie should be filmed there. The trees are absolutely stunning and I love how they grow in the complex. UNESCO added Ta Prohm to the World Heritage List in 1992 and happens to be one of the most visited temples in the region, however when Alexis and I went we managed to (somehow) avoid the crowds! It was great!

Alright. Where is Indian Jones?

Why hello there massive tree!

This tree was crazy awesome. Also awesome are the fallen rock wall pieces.

After grabbing a five dollar plate of fried rice with pork we headed to Angkor Tohm. This site was once home to a million people during the twelfth century! There are three main temples in the Angkor Thom site we visited. First we saw Bayon - perhaps my favorite temple at Angkor Wat. There are 54 large faces carved into the temple stone and they are beautiful!

Second, we went to Baphuon. (Side note... I just tried to swipe the screen of this laptop like an iPad. Doesn't work. You have to use the mouse!) Baphuon had crazy steep stairs, but no where near the steepness we experience at Wat Arun in Bangkok, Thailand.

The third temple we visited inside Angkor Tohm was the Terrace of the Elephants. The "basement" level of this temple sported many craved statues while the top boasted elephant motifs. I read online that the Terrace of the Elephants was were public ceremonies took place and people came to hear the king speak. So basically I stood in the same place a king stood (and several other million tourists)!

Once we left the Angkor Tohm temple complex site we went to Angkor Wat itself. I had high hopes for Angkor Wat, but it wasn't my favorite temple although it was impressive and very beautiful. Perhaps part of my dislike for this temple was the fact there were literally a hundred thousand people there. There wasn't really room to wander or explore like we did at previous temples.  I had read that the sunrise and sunset at Angkor Wat is beautiful, but I'm not sure if it's worth fighting the large crowds and tour buses. Perhaps Alexis and I will opt to sleep in then go swimming in the morning at our hotel's pool.

These photo doesn't even show the massive amount
of tourists that were at Angkor Wat.

Aren't Alexis and I awesome?!
Once our day finished (and we paid our tuk-tuk driver $20.00 each) I manged to spend $64.50 in Cambodia today alone. NOT OK. Plus I still have to buy dinner. Talk about a tourist trap! I really hope that Vietnam is cheap and unlike Cambodia (except I hope that it's beautiful). I have high hopes for our horse back ride tomorrow and hope to see a different side of Cambodia - one filled with genuine people and people that don't constantly ask for more money. Because this spending money thing is getting ridiculous. (For anyone that knows me also knows I HATE spending money.)

Also - we saw wild monkey's and Alexis was super excited.

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