Our trip was from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet, Aranyaprathet to Poipet, Poipet to Siem Reap, Siem Reap to Ko-Chang and finally back to Bangkok.
I had done a bit of research before we embarked and was a tad nervous aout this route. One worry was the Thai and Cambodian boarder, but we will get to that later. The other was getting around, the trains and buses were not as reliable as they are here in Korea. We had a lot to see in 11 days.
We got into Bangkok around 3 am. As soon as you get past security there are plenty of people who will take you anywhere you want to go. There are also plenty of people that would love to rip you off. In Thailand as well as Korea cabs are cheap but, touts will lead you to believe that this is not true. But, that is part of the game you play when traveling in SE Asia. We decided to not even bother with the bus and got a taxi from the airport to Aranyaprathet for around $40 ( the Thai border town). We drove through the night, only stopping for gas, and made it to the border at around 5am. Being there an hour early was a blessing. The border turns into a mad house as soon as it opens. Huge lines piled up behind us and even though we were in the front to get completely through took a while.
We were all quite exhausted after our day of traveling. Going straight to Angkor Wat was a bit out of the question. We were all far to tired to go explore, but another option that our guide gave us was to check out Tonle Sap lake. Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia, it is fed by the Mekong river, changes directions twice a year, and has a floating village on it. So going on a boat ride on it seemed like a perfect way to relax after our travels.
|The high point of the boat ride.|
This part was interesting at first, but it quickly became apparent that the image of a floating village I had in my head and the reality of the floating village were two very different things. This was when it all hit us. Siem Reap had been built up on the money that Angkor brought in. Outside of our nice, but very cheap hotel, Cambodia was still recovering from its turbulent past. We cruised around the village and were brought to a floating store. The drivers of our boat told us that this is where we could buy some rice for the floating orphanage. After paying an exorbitant amount of money for a bag of rice, a tour of an orphanage, and a ride down a mangrove forest, we were out of scam lake.
We made it back to the hotel in time for dinner and hopped back into our guides car for sunset at Angkor Wat. It was perfect. We wandered around the 900 some year old ruins and everything was all worth while.
A view from the outside.
|Angkor Wat is the largest religious complex in the world.|
Not only does Cambodia have some beautiful temples to check out, it also has some of the more interesting things that I have eaten since coming to Asia.
Exhibit B: Durian aka the stinky fruit. Durian is a large spiky fruit common in most SE Asian countries. The smell is so powerful we saw signs up in hotels, taxis, and airports forbidding its consumption. I have heard that either you love it or hate it. We all enjoyed it quite a bit. It was like creamy garlicky... fruit. I would not recommend eating it before a date because it will give you some of the worst smelling breath imaginable.
Exhibit C: Cobra Blood Whisky and Cobra Soup. Our guide had suggested us a few other things to do once we were finished wandering around the temples. This one seemed the most doable ( We could have shot RPGs, but they are much more expensive than cobra). We were brought around the side of a restaurant into the kitchen. The place was covered in flys and there was a chopping block and an orage mesh net which contained our cobra. Our guide had informed us that the chief who normally is in charge of this operation was not there and some hesitant Cambodians surrounded the net. Our guide assured us that it was going to fine and took the first shot of it with us. It tasted like smokey whisky, not much more.
However the soup was especially delicious. Cobra meat is like extra chewy chicken. We sat outside of the restaurant in a little bungalow eating our cobra. Our guide mentioned that this wasn't entirely legal, but we were at a "big power mans" restaurant.
Cambodia was quite a trip. It wasn't relaxing and often times nerve racking. But, for me zipping around dirt roades past bombed out buildings was infatuating. I'm pleased that I had the chance to see this amazing country.
I am going to have to take a break from blogging for a bit ( I hate to say it considering that I only have 3 posts). I must devote my time to writing a paper for my TESOL class. Hopefully I will get that done soon and I should have some posts up on Thailand and Japan. Thanks for reading!