Saturday, November 7, 2015

We are in CAMBODIA!!

We had no internet available for the first 2 days in Cambodia.   So now it is time to catch up!

Friday, November 6, 2015
This morning we woke up IN CAMBODIA!!!!!
It was a very long trip to get here.  The three hour drive to the airport, arrive 3 hours early, the plane was an hour late, 13 hour flight to Seoul, Korea.  We were late, they help the plane, another 5 ½ hour flight and we arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia!  We left on Wednesday am, and arrive here at 11pm on Thursday.  There is a 15 hour time change, so we basically “lost” a day.  But we will “gain” it back 
It was very warm (not hot) and pouring rain.  We were picked up at the airport, in a car, not a tuk tuk, and had a bit of a drive out to our lodging.  We are staying in a traditional home outside of the city.  We are upstairs in a large room with multiple beds.  The family lives downstairs.  The bathroom is outside… and nothing like a bathroom in the US.  More about that later!

The house we are staying in.  We are upstairs with some other guests.  The family lives downstairs.

The family:  Maden and his wife and their 4 beautiful children live downstairs.  Dith, Maden's brother does not live with them.  He lives in Siem Reap with his wife and two children.  Dith was our driver for the two days.  Dith is pronounced "Dit" as close as this American can understand and say...
Michelle watches one of the cows and her calf being lead to their grazing spot for the day.

Maden, our host, and his family are very nice.  He speaks a moderate amount of English, the rest of the family does not… at least they have not spoken to us yet.  Lots of smiles and giggles!  The Brahma cross cattle were led by the house today on their way to their grazing area.  There are three adults and two calves.  We have seen a few cats and just saw a couple of dogs.
We have not taken a “shower” yet…you stand on the floor in the “bathroom” and pour scoops of water over yourself.  Cambodian style.  The “toilet” is a porcelain covered hole in the ground that you squat over.  Then scoop some water into it to “flush”. 

The bathroom: actually a rather large room, this is just the corner.  That porcelain bit is the toilet that you squat over.  The area to the right is a big cistern holding water that you scoop with the red scoop to pour into the toilet to "flush" (really just rinses down.)  That is also the water you use to "shower", just pour it over yourself (uh, yeah, it is cold...) though we did not try it yet... Oh, and you just do that in the center of the floor.  This is an adventure in itself...

Not sure what we are going to do today.  I am sure it will be fun, whatever we do!  Let the adventures begin!

Early am walk in our neighborhood.  A traditional house.
We went out for an early morning walk in the neighborhood.  It is the end of the rainy season, but it did rain last night and the roads are quite muddy.  Just have to watch where we walk!  Some dogs, cats and chickens seen along the way.  Lots of very green plants and some flowers.  Unfortunately, lots of garbage.  The ground, the water and many of the yards are strewn with garbage and debris.  Very unsettling.  

The dirt/mud lane leading to the house.  We are at the end of the monsoon season.

There is a small creek running through the area.  Can't see it, but there is so much garbage, it is gross.  So unfortunate.

One of the local street dogs.  This is the typical look... almost like a Basenji.

Sandy at the head of our stairs, ready to head out on an adventure!
Lots of yummy little bananas.  Notice the one on the left is a double!
We returned to the house and had a nice breakfast of fried rice, bananas and sweetened coffee.  Then Dith drove and Maden joined us on a day excursion to some ruins and a floating village!  It was a long drive to the ruins.  Along the way we saw some men fishing in a river alongside the rice fields.  I don’t believe I have ever seen fields of rice.  Not sure I would recognize them!  It was a beautiful drive in the countryside.

Several men were fishing.  They wade into the water to set the net.  Mostly catching little mud catfish.

This vehicle was very interesting and common.  Difficult to describe... long extension between the tractor and the wagon... to avoid the fumes??

These five headed serpents, Nagas,   guard many temple entrances.  
Some of the less tumbled ruins.

We arrived at Beng Mealea.  From the Lonely Planet guiede: Built by the Suryavarman II to the same floor plan as Angkor Wat, Beng Mealea is the Titanic of temples, utterly subsumed by jungle.  Nature has well and truly run riot here.  Jumbled stones lie like forgotten jewels swathed in lichen, and the galleries are strangled by ivy and vines.

The vines are growing through and around the stone ruins.
It was totally amazing strolling and climbing through these ruins.  The stones have been totally tumbled by the jungle.  But there are pieces that are still preserved.  The trees growing through and over the stones are a work of art.

Some of the bas reliefs are well preserved.

A contrast in time... a young monk and friend playing on their smart phones!

We bought a few paintings from this local artist.

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Sandy and Nutmeg enjoying a refreshing beer after the tour.  When Maden was asked what was his favorite local beer, he immediately answered "Guinness"!

Part of the majorly muddy road we had to walk on to get to the boats.

After our tour through the ruins, we stopped to do a little shopping and had a nice lunch.  Then off to the floating village of Chong Kneas.  Again from the Lonely Planet tour book:  Unfortunately, Chong Kneas has become a somewhat of a zoo in recent years.  Large tour groups end to take over and locals have invented countless scams to separate tourists form their money.  

There were dozens (hundreds?) of boast tied to the shore of the river.

But it was still very interesting to see.  We drove down a horrible muddy road alongside the Tonle Sap River then took it up stream (that’s downstream in the wet season!) and eventually it becomes the Tonle Sap Lake around Kampong Chhnang.  A short sail, on very interesting boats with ingenious motors and propellers for the shallow river, leads to a couple of colorful floating villages.  They have all the amenities of a mainland village: houses, machine-tool shops, vegetable vendors, a mosque, a petrol station – except that everything floats.  The families live in the land homes during the dry season then move out onto the lake in houseboats during the wet season.  Their main occupation is fishing.

These boats could travel pretty fast!

We had a very interesting boat ride upstream, changed boats several times, playing leapfrog with other boats.  The village is very interesting to see from the river.  We went out onto the lake, we were met by a little “snack boat” that sells drinks and snacks and you can buy extra snacks for the school kids.  On the way back down the river, we stopped at the village and walked through town before getting back on the boat for the last of the trip.  Then we traipsed through the muddy road, back to the car and back to the house.  We were very tired, hot and sweaty… decided we had to break down and have a shower…

Some of the homes.

Many children gather near the boat docks in hopes of treats.

So the three of us goddesses went into the bathroom together, laughing, then screaming (well, that was mostly me) as we poured cold water over each other to wash up!!  Oh my, it must have been pretty entertaining for anyone that could hear us!  We could hardly stop laughing and squealing (well, again, mostly me…) but we were much cleaner and felt a lot better after that!

The Godesses were as fresh as a flower!

A short rest, nice dinner with the family and some of the other guests then off to bed.  It was still early, but with our long travels, little rest and lots of activities today, we hit the hay pretty early.  I was trying to go through photos and write the blog… but kept falling asleep.  So, the blog had to wait until later.  No internet access available, well, that is my excuse anyway… until later!!

Planning to get up early in the morning to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat!
Good Night!!


  1. What an interesting study in contrasts. And ... what an adventure. Thanks for sharing.

  2. So glad you made it. sounds like a great adventure.