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    Angkor Wat

    January 24th, 2008 by mary

    During our admittedly lengthy travels whenever we came across someone who had been to Angkor Wat they describe it as the ultimate temple; the best. With such glowing recommendations we knew we would be disappointed. That’s our skeptical, negative personas peeping out. Nonetheless this was on my list of things to see in this lifetime so I was looking forward to it. Angkor Wat is just outside the city of Siam Reap. These series of temple cities were built at the height of the Khmer civilization between the 12th and 16th centuries with each king building their own to show the extent of their influence. With our fancy laminated photo tickets we were ready to tackle the mega temple complex. We were stunned with the parking lots full of tour buses. There were equivalent quantities of souvenir and snack shops to match. Over three days we took our time admiring the numerous temples. They were in various conditions of renovation. Many had been cleaned up and the jungle pushed back though half of it was still in rubble mounds.

    Others were left mostly to the environment and looked like the set of Tomb Raider, which is probably why they filmed it at this location. The only time we got away from the hoards of tourists was when we biked the entire 37km grand circuit to see the lesser visited sites. That was the best day there. If you go expecting the Las Vegas strip then you’ll be delighted but to expect anything less would be setting yourself up for disappointment. I think we found a comfortable middle ground.

    There’s always a little time for monkey business and napping on the job

    Posted in cambodia | No Comments »

    Christmas in Cambodia.

    January 24th, 2008 by mary

    Yep, this is it. Cambodia is Buddhist so this was the extent of the Christmas spirit. I’m not sure they knew what they were putting up the decorations for but they seemed to find it amusing to yell ‘Mehri ‘ismus!’ to foreigners. Not giggling afterwards would’ve made it more convincing.

    Posted in cambodia | No Comments »

    Buying the Border Control

    January 14th, 2008 by mary

    We had heard that crossing the border from Thailand to Cambodia by land involved a series of unavoidable scams. Given that we chose the least scammy and least traveled point to cross at, Koh Kong. Of course it took the usual shuffling of long bus rides to get there. The other foreigners paid the demanded $40 and was given the visa at arrival immediately. We knew the official price of the visa was $20. The border guards across the desk didn’t seem to appreciate that piece of information. They pushed us to hand over the amount they asked for or go back to Bangkok. After a few loud exchanges they directed us to leave the office and wait outside. Steve continued to hassle the guy in the white wife-beater to process our visas. It’s always the guy in the least formal attire that’s in charge. He hands over a local travel agency brochure stating the inflated visa price. Then rants about paying $350 to apply for a visa to the US and being rejected. Steve parried those weak attempts and kept pushing. Finally, an hour later they agree to $25 and we were on our way. Welcome to Cambodia.

    Posted in cambodia | No Comments »