Today we stood in THE LONGEST immigration line ever!! Going into Thailand from Cambodia at Poipet was insane. It was organized but so very slow.
Ahhh. Our final day in the tuk tuk seeing temples. It was wonderful and exhausting. Wet took us to the biggie, Angkor Wat, first where we tried to avoid the crowds by going in along the side and seeing he famous panels from the reverse tour route. It is massive and gorgeous. The kids were tired of carvings soon into it, but didn’t tire of looking for Buddhas and apsaras.
Bryan was sick all night with food poisoning… Something didn’t sit well. So, we changed some plans around and I took the kids out.
At Zoe’s request, we walked a few blocks across the river to the more modern Wat we visited a few days ago. It is a treasure trove for Zoe – she brought a bag to collect dropped flowers and nearly filled it. The Wats’ are not just a temple, but a walled area with grounds, gardens and many buildings as part of the monk training areas.
Started the day with a mediocre but just fine buffet breakfast included at our Rithy Rhine hotel. Then it was tuk tuk time with our driver Wet. He is a nice guy.
We spent our final rainy morning in Hanoi visiting the country’s most famous leader.
Our flight home from Cambodia was fine; slept most of it and was awoken to a lot of turbulence on landing. In fact our pilot had to go around, which added a half hour to our already delayed flight. bummer…puking Koreans everywhere. We both fell asleep again on the bus home; it was great to see Bryan at the bus station waiting for us. Today we walked around town for a few errands and then went to Mrs. Lee’s house for dinner. It was so nice to hang out with her family for the evening, and a wonderful treat to have a homemade dinner after our long trip.
Today we had a liesurely day of shopping and swimming. Woke up to another sunny hot day and read an email from my Dad about snow in PA! Hard to imagine as I’ve been sweating from every pore all day. We had breakfast and packed up our stuff checkout – they stored our suitcase for the day in hotel office.
Walked down to the old market and spent a long time browsing before buying some gifts and souv’s. There is so much neat stuff, but we have limited space (I purposely brought a suitcase bag to avoid buying to much) and we really just don’t need a bunch of kitsche even if it is cool. As it got perilously hot we tuk tuked over to the Butterfly Garden Restaurant I read about from the ad on the back of a tuk tuk. It was fun and cool; an outdoor place with huge netting around and lots of butterflies and gardens. Zoe had a banana pancake while I tried the chicken and cashews plus a red bull; I needed wings. We spent a long time there and then had a nice long stroll along the shady river back to the market area. Zoe spotted some ‘needs’ and the locals are good at selling her stuff. She has gotten good at saying “how much is it” and “no thank you”.
Eventually she was almost asleep on my shoulder so I thought I’d get a massage. Well, apparently there is nothing like a darkened zen room full of futons to wake up a sleepy child. She ran around playing with the towels and one of the massage girls for a while; they both seemed to have fun, and she even got her fingernails polished. I had a Khmer massage which is awesome; similar to Thai but less forcefull. You wear a linen shorts/shirt set and they both rub you and do a semi-chiropractic number with stretches. It’s great. Well, Zoe finally konked out…I decided that another hour of massaging was in order (hey they are only $5) and opted for a foot reflexology and back/shoulder combo – the lady was amazing.
When Zoe woke up we walked back to the hotel, hit up a grocery for some snacks, and went for a swim. We stayed at the hotel playing in the pool, looking at pictures, and then skyping with Bryan until 9:30. Pearom met us for a final ride to the airport. It was actually tough to say goodbye, he had gotten fond of Zoe and really made our trip enjoyable. He was even tearing up. I was sad to say bye, as we had gotten to know him so well…our 26 year old Cambodian tuk tuk driver worked in a factory for a long time (some teen number of years) to earn enough money to buy a tuk tuk. Now he makes good money, but doesn’t yet have a wife and family. Such a nice guy! We happily exchanged emails.
Zoe and I are now waiting in the boarding area of the Siem Reap airport (free wifi!) waiting for our flight. She fell asleep on the ride here and is now sprawled on the bench beside me. The next couple weeks will be so busy as we move to Georgia, I’m not super excited to go back to that but can’t wait to see Bryan.
We awoke this morning to a deluge; it was the most and strongest rain I’ve ever seen, complete with lightning and thunder. Powerful. Took our time having breakfast, and hung out at the hotel for a bit waiting for it to let up. Surprisingly to me it was over in an hour.
We boarded our tuk tuk and were off to the village of Kampong Phluk. It’s not super far away, but the drive took about an hour. The first half is on the main thoroughfare through Cambodia…so we were passing bikes while motorcycles and trucks passed us. After that it was a half hour down a very rough pothole filled (and now soaked) dirt road. It was fun bumping along passed folks who didn’t seem to get alot of visitors. This route is off the beaten path; most people go see a floating village closer to town, and rent a boat from there. Well once we arrived at the end of road there is a home setup that sells tickets to get on the tour boats around the village. I was shocked to find that our fare is $40! Thats’ crazy considering I’m paying $20 a night for a hotel. Oh, well I coughed it up, but not after deliberating with the ticket agent to make sure he wasn’t charging for Zoe and even asked for a discount…he said no, “just one”. We then walked a 1/2km down the road to the boats and I figured out why its so much…”just one” boat…that can fit about 10 people. Had I known this I would’ve been happy to sit around for a bit waiting for any other tourists to come down the road. I felt a bit gipt (well I still do), but it’s tough to know sometimes and we’re only here once.
Since I got the whole boat, Pearom our tuk tuk driver came along. He ensured me that alot of that money goes to the town people, and especially the school; he also said it’s more expensive (like $100)to go the other route…via a different town nearer Siem Reap and then boating farther down the lake. I believe him and I’m so glad we went. It was awesome to see how these people live in the lake. During the dry season the houses are on stilts about 10 feet up above the water, but now they were only about 3 feet up! Amazing. I guess they live off fish and sea veggies and venture into town periodically to get other staples. There were dogs, chickens, pigs, and cats living in these little islands of homes. The kiddo’s learn early how to boat and balance on the board bridges and the village Wat (temple) is the only built up flat space so that is where they all hang out and play. It was way fun to have Pearom along since he explained some stuff and helped play with Zoe. I always welcome another set of eyes to watch our crazy kiddo – especially on the water. It was cool…there is also a flooded forest near the town which was neat to see as was the center of the Tonle Sap lake where we turned around.
The return trip was enjoyable as the clouds had fully cleared and the sun was out in full force. Zoe had to pee, so the boat driver stopped the thing so I could hang her over the edge to go. I really wish I could’ve gotten that on video. We then tuk tuked to the last set of temples on our agenda: Roluos complex. The drive was fun since there were lots of kids everywhere taking a dip in the water. There is standing water and a flooded river everywhere, so it’s fun to see all of them out playing and fishing. Zoe fell asleep in the tuk tuk enroute so I got some lunch while she napped in a hammock at the restaurant-hut. She awoke and was obsessed with feeding her rice to the local chicken. The Cambodians love her and think she is hysterical.
The last of our temple visits was neat. These were older, Buddhist temples, the first in the area. So, they are built differently with more brick work. The Bakong temple was awesome; it’s like a big pyramid with elephants and lions gaurding the corners. The sun was getting low by the time we got there, so we didn’t have many other tourists to deal with. Zoe enjoyed running around the different levels and up the huge stairs. The view from the top was neat; just over the trees. Our tuk tuk ride back to town was uneventful.
We then enjoyed some swimming pool time and I had a beer with some of the workers. I guess the owner is having a bit of a party and they all love Zoe, so we hung out with them for a bit. I believe we’ll go back down to the restaurant and get some dinner before hitting the hay.