Homer's Travels: Southeast Asia 2023 - Days Twenty-Five Through Twenty-Nine - Siem Reap, Cambodia And The Way Home.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Southeast Asia 2023 - Days Twenty-Five Through Twenty-Nine - Siem Reap, Cambodia And The Way Home.

UPDATED 12-06-2023: Added photos.

Day Twenty-Five (Monday)

We arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia landing in their brand new airport.  We met our guide and driver and we went to our hotel. (Along the way I saw the transformers ... sorry, no photos.)  Cambodia was going to be hot, humid, and wet.

We had the afternoon free so we took a tuk-tuk to a market for some shopping.  I found the Monkey King head I'd been looking for.  I almost bought one in Thailand but the price wasn't right.  This one was not quite the same but I hadn't expected to see it outside of Thailand so I jumped at it.

Day Twenty-Six (Tuesday)

This was a very difficult day for me.  I woke up with a sore throat and a plugged up nose.  We were picked up by our guide and driver and we headed into the park.

One of the many temples of Angkor Thom.
The first stop was Angkor Thom.  This magnificent stone complex was incredible. We visited several temples in the area.  At one temple a french tourist asked if we had seen his lens cap.  A few minutes later I found it but he was gone.  I figured that we would be visiting the same temples so I kept it with me.  Sure enough, at the next temple, after climbing up the stairs to the top level of the temple, I found the man and returned his lens cap.  That was my good karma of the day.

We climbed to the top of this temple.
We broke for lunch.  I liked Cambodian food better than Thai.  It has very similar flavors but not spicy hot.

After lunch we visited the local Killing Fields museum and memorial.  There are several of these museums spread around Cambodia.  The one in Siem Reap is a bit underwhelming which is sad considering the millions who lost their lives to the Khmer Rouge.

A mine sniffing rat.
The next stop which we almost skipped, turned out to be very interesting.  Apopo train African Giant Pouched Rats to sniff out landmines.  These rats, too light to set off the mines, can clear an area in thirty minutes which would take a man with a metal detector four or more hours.  We were shown a demonstration and a few people, including the Wife, held one of the rats.  It was all very interesting.

In the afternoon we visited Angkor Wat.  It was magnificent but I was starting to wear down.  The heat and humidity (heat indexes over 100℉ ... 38℃) just sucked the energy out of me.  I did my best to see everything but near the end I was fading.  Near the end it started to rain and we left the park and returned to our hotel.

Angkor Wat.
After cooling off a bit we went out for dinner at a nice restaurant.  The multi-course meals in Cambodia were about half the size as those in Vietnam which was much better for us.

Twenty-Seven (Wednesday)

Our helium balloon.
We had three activities today.  The first was a very early sunrise balloon ride.  They used to have hot air balloon rides over Angkor Wat but after several people died in an accident, they ended.  Now they offer tethered helium balloons that take you up high enough to witness the sunrise over Angkor Wat and the surrounding lakes and jungle.  It was our first helium balloon and it was pretty cool even if it was more limited than our other balloon rides.

We returned to our hotel for breakfast before heading out to see Ta Prohm, more commonly known as the Tomb Raider temple.  The temple was the backdrop for the movie "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider".  I have to say, while this tomb is more modest than Angkor Thom or Angkor Wat, it is what I think of when I think of these temples.  They are only partially restored.  The stones are covered in moss.  Tree roots wrap around the walls.  It felt like the jungle had just been cleared and the temple felt wild.

Ta Prohm.
We left the park for the last time and headed to the largest lake in Cambodia.  The lake varies in size seasonally becoming larger in the rainy season and shrinking during the dry season.  We were there near the end of the rainy season so it was near its high.  We got in a boat and went through the town.  The homes and buildings are all on stilts and people travel by boat until the water recedes and the houses are on dry land again until the rains return.

We switched to a smaller boat and we went through a mangrove forest.  It was very peaceful with just the sound of the bamboo pole used by the woman moving the boat along.  Unfortunately my old body was very uncomfortable sitting on the thin cushion on the floor of the boat.

The town on stilts.  In the dry season this water will be gone.
We returned to the city and the hotel for a few hours in the afternoon.  We had one last dinner out, this one at a restaurant that offers a traditional dance show.  The food was good and the entertainment was interesting.

Day Twenty-Eight (Thursday)

After a quick breakfast we went back to the airport to catch a flight back to Bangkok, Thailand.  We arrived in Thailand and took the hotel shuttle to our hotel where we would be for about twelve hours.  The Wife took a taxi to the knock off market one last time while I went over pictures and stuff in the hotel room.

Day Twenty-Nine (Friday)

Our flight left at 2:10am and, after a six hour flight followed by a fourteen hour flight followed by a one hour flight, we arrived home.  I think I managed to sleep on some of the flights.

As I am drafting this we have mostly adjusted back to our time zone.  The jet lag has been pretty brutal the past week or so.  The Wife came home with a bad cold.  Whatever I felt a few days earlier faded away quickly for me.

We were both happy to be home with the cool, dry Fall air.

Photos can be found in my 2023 Cambodia Google Photos album.

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