Monday, September 6, 2010

Cambodia re-cap

It seems like we've spent ages in Cambodia, when it's really only been about four or five days.

We started our Cambodian adventure in Siem Reap. The first full day we got up at 4 a.m. to try to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. It's an interesting experience arriving at that time of day, but unfortunately the clouds made for a kind of disappointing sunrise. The rest of the day we spent touring some of the many ancient temples in the area.

Because we were able to see so much the first day (it's amazing how much you can get done when you wake up so early!), we spent the first half of the second day relaxing. We should have
taken advantage of the nice weather, because the rest of the day was rainy. Still, we braved the weather and took a small boat cruise of the river.

Siem Reap is an amazingly touristy town. It's impossible to go anywhere without encountering people trying to sell you something. It's also interesting that a lot of people in Cambodia refuse their own currency - they list prices and accept payment only in U.S. dollars (they do not, however, accept coins, even when they list prices that include "cents").

Yesterday was a travel day, so we didn't see much. This morning we got up early and were able to see the National Museum, Royal Palace, Killing Fields and S-21 prison (the last two from the genocide of the 70s). The Royal Palace was a bit difficult to see because, although it is beautiful, it's incredible that just outside there is such poverty. The Killing Fields and the S-21 Genocide Museum were also very sobering experiences. Even though it happened so few years ago, most Americans (including myself) have no concept of what happened here.

It is the middle of the rainy season, so the weather has been a bit uncooperative. Mornings are usually sunny (again, one of the hottest suns I've ever felt), and afternoons and evenings are rainy.

Cambodia has been a lot more difficult than Vietnam in many ways. It will be interesting to compare it to Thailand. Tomorrow afternoon we have another travel day, and by 11 p.m. we should be in Phuket, ready for another early morning and a transfer to the island of Ko Lanta.

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