Monday, 12 March 2012

The tour group

We joined the tour group in Siem Reap about 5 days ago. Our group consists of 17 people including our guide. These are australians, candians, new zealanders, an american and a brit, mostly between 25 and 32 or so, and another older couple around 60. Siem Reap is very touristy, lots of bars, shops, restaurants and markets, thai massages, foot massages on the street, fish massages, manicures, etc.

 But the highlight of this place is definately the Temples of Angkhor. These temples date back to the 10th century and receive up to 3000 visitors a day in the peak season. We visited here for a day and man, are they beautiful! Huge stonework with carvings and engravings of dancers and elephants in the walls. In the temple where Lara Craft was filmed the trees have grown over and into the temples. Because we started out at 5am, we witnessed the sunrise over the temples and were able to wander around in them for hours in solitude without the crowds.

Anghkor Wat at sunrise
Anghkor Thom
Trees growing over the temple walls

Wim outside Angkhor Wat Temple

Carving of Apsara dancer on temple wall

Trying to climb the temple stairs with the other girls...very steep..

walk like a cambodian.....

cant remember which temple at sunset..
The next day we visited the houses on stilts  near the lake (now on dry land because its the dry season), took a boat ride to a monastery and watched the sunrise while sipping drinks on a floating restaurant.
Tonle Sap lake and some of the house boats

buddhist monks along the river at sunset

Our tour guide Sarou showing us the river boundaries

Tonle Sap lake at sunset

drinks with the group on the floating restaurant
The evening was completed by dinner with a traditional dancing show followed by a stroll in the night market and a foot massage with the group.

Spot the south african among the dancers

streetside foot massage
 The next day we took another long bus ride to a rural town along the Mekong River. here we rented bicycles and cycled over a bamboo bridge. Let me tell u something about bamboo: that shit is tough. because it was not only our group on bicycles crossing that bridge, but tons of other motor bikes and people and bicycles:at the same time! I had no fear for the bamboo bridge collapsing, but because it was narrow and bumpy and one has to peddle fast and hard in order to gain the momentum to stay moving forward, my fear was of catapulting over the side of the bridge into the prayers saved me again and I reached the other side safely. The rest of the cycle tour was bliss. We cycled through a beautiful rural village island. Wooden houses on stilts set among the green fruit trees, people waving at us, kids standing on the side of the road shouting "hello, hello" in english and raising their hands so we can 'high five' them as we rode past. We visited an old woman's house and sat outside eating huge grapefruit from her tree, we also visited a monastery or pagoda and took a stroll through the tobacco field then watched the sunset over the river before I said my prayers again for the bamboo bridge return trip.
the nightmarish bamboo bridge

note the look of concentration

tobacco fields
The night was completed by a home dinner to a family who cooked an amazing meal for us. We sat on reed mats on the floor and were surrounded by bowls filled with Amok curry (traditional chicken curry with veg), steamed rice, stir fried noodles with veg, deep fried pork and mushrooms and grilled fish in banana leaves. After that supper we were all exhausted and went to bed early. The next day would prove to be quite emotionally exhausting......
Dinner at a local cambodian home

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