Sunday, January 10, 2010

Leaving Cambodia

Hello All!

So the riverbed place was a place called Kbal Sprean. It's a long tuk-tuk ride & a 2km hike up a hill, and some boulders - to a place they carved religious icons into the stone in the bank. Pretty incredible.The waterfall itself was a bit lame & we didn't see anywhere to swim (as was advertised),but the carvings & the place were cool. We stopped at another temple on our way back. Also very famous - and well worth it because the carvings were more intricate & deep than any of the other temples we saw. We were planning to head back to town, but instead we went to the Floating Village just outside of Siem Reap & we took a boat down the Mekong river past all the floating homes & schools & the police department all the way out to Tongle Sap, which is the famous huge lake in Cambodia. And then back. We bought some school supplies & donated to the school. Then back to our hotel. It made for a long day, a lot of back & forth in the tuk tuk. Which isn't so bad for us on our cushioned seats - but Boi our tuk-tuk driver had the hitch digging into his back for all those hours!
That evening was our last in Siem Reap and we went for dinner & then on a shopping spree. Which was mostly successful & on which we met this great Cambodian fellow who is making his own purses & wallets out of Krama- which is the traditional Cambodian scarf that they use for a million things. They are very cool & we each bought one, but we also had a very interesting 20minute conversation with him! Very cool end to our time in Siem Reap.

Then we hopped a bus in the morning & headed for Phnom Pen. The bus was pretty good. Air-con & all that. But we did blow a tyre out- conveniently right in front of a tyre shop! Which of course made a few people who are big on conspiracy theories throw about a few ideas. We just chilled out, I kept reading, it was fixed within 20 minutes & we were on our way. We stopped once for food, and saw our first crickets & spiders all fried up & spiced up. Haven't tried any yet. Just saw them. lol Then we actually arrived in Phnom Pen a bit early. Hopped into a Tuk Tuk & ended up at Okay Guesthouse. And it's been OK so far! lol After we moved in, we looked into the Lonely Planet guide for a restaurant that gives back. We ended up walking to Friends, which is a place that teaches former street kids how to do many things, one of which is the service industry & working in the restaurant. It was great. I had a traditional Khmer fish dish & a glass of orange & beetroot juice! Pretty good. After that Crystal had noticed a place that had showings of traditional Cambodian dances, music & shadow puppet shows, so we grabbed a tuk tuk & made our way out there. Our driver was hopelessly lost, but there are many nice Cambodians about, so he just kept asking directions until we got there. It was a really great show, we saw many dances & heard some awesome music. An awesome start to Phnom Pen & a great night out. We did find that it's definitely a bigger city, and we don't feel as safe at night here if we get off the beaten track at all. So tuk tuks & motos are key. But our second day had us feeling better about it, but not in love with Phnom Pen. I think the thing about Cambodia is that they have been thru so much. They are so much more desperate in their poverty & it makes both Crystal & I eager to help out & do something about it. I hope that if I come back here it is with an NPO, Unicef, or something like that where I can feel like I'm really helping to make a difference in their lives.
Anyway, yesterday we wandered around a fair bit. Wandered down a street with some cool shops, slowly, and we had slept in pretty good. So we missed the day markets, spent a bit of time in one of the big western style shopping malls & then ended up at the night market. Pretty crazy, there was a band & a whole lot of people. We got some food & sat down on these big mats with everyone. Had babies staring at us & their parents thinking it was hilarious, and this great woman named Alice beside us. She was born in Cambodia, but has been living in California for nearly 30 years. After the real estate market crashed, her real estate career was a mess, so she decided to go for simple instead & she came back here & is teaching. She was really great to talk to, being the she has been in North America for so long & yet she has Cambodia in her blood. After our evening there we went back to our room & mellowed out.
Today we got up a bit earlier & grabbed some breakfast & went to the Russian Market, pretty cool, but really hot & tight. Then to the Orussey Market, which was insane & strange, but also kinda like a wholesale place, not much for Khmer things, just everyday stuff that they need to buy. And finally the Central market, and by then we were hot & marketed out. And it was the same, not so much Khmer handmade we weren't as interested. We took Motos all day back and forth - which are what it sounds like. A motorbike with the two of us & a driver on it. They are cheaper than the tuk tuks & it was another experience to add to the list! :) We went in search of a specific place & at the address we had, it was not there. So who knows. Ended up at a place we knew & liked. Went for a wander for some Chuppa Chups (because I am more than a little obsessed with the mango ones) and I was let down. Then back to our room, I read, Crystal read & napped. We had a snack & now this! I felt it was probably time for an update as tomorrow we are on a bus at 8:30am to Vietnam! I think we'll be travelling up the country, seeing what there is to see for about 15 days - and then Laos!!!!

Hope everyone is super!