It’s been a while since I posted … I’ve been busy … being lazy and not wanting to sift through all these goddamn photos.
Plus the weather has finally been nice so I’ve been outside.
But I’m not dead … yet.
Anyway, we left off with a second 6.5 hour bus ride to Siem Reap. It’s another poor town in Cambodia. The Vietnam War which spilled over into Cambodia, the subsequent US bombing of Cambodia (US dropped more bombs here than in all of WWII combined), followed by the Khmer Rouge, all played a big part in Cambodia’s current economic state. Most work for a few dollars a day. Many giving rides to tourists on the back of their scooters for $1. A lot of kids selling water bottles for fifty cents. Also begging. But, I witnessed some crafty begging techniques.
This conversation took place while I was sitting at a table eating lunch. She was about a 7 years old. She spoke with a slight accent but also in the most polite and formal English I’ve ever heard memorized.
Girl: Hello, where are you from?
Girl: [tilts head and gives me a confused look]
Girl: I believe that you are from another country but you happen to live in Japan.
Me: That’s very good, I’m from America.
Girl: America became independent in 1776, there are 50 states, the capital is Washington DC, your president is Obama, and the population is over 300 million people. What state are you from?
Me: [slightly shocked] New York.
Girl: If I tell you the governor, the capital, and the population will you give me a dollar?
Me: No, but that’s great. You’re very smart.
Girl: [walks away with a scowl]
Before you call me heartless, this was the 900th child beggar I had dealt with that day. Picture this situation: you get hard sold into buying a water, you pay, and then the same kid, still clutching your money tells you to buy more water. Huh? Kid, I just bought water from you 1/2 a second ago. They say “buy more” or “can I have another dollar then?” This. A thousand times.
But despite the poverty, Cambodians are probably the most friendly and smiley people I’ve ever met in my life. Really.
The town of Siem Reap is nothing really too special. The famous temples, which are 20 minutes away, bring in millions of tourists a year, and Siem Reap has been developed into this touristy place in order to give us temple crawlers a place to rest our weary bones. It does it with loud clubs, bright lights, cheap gift shops, 100 massage parlors per square inch, hookers, drugs, and enough cheap beer to drown a fish. But it still has it’s charm. Wander around some alley ways, or down a dirt road, just get off the main street and you’ll quickly lose the touristy feel and the sound of Australian accents. One thing to note, if you ever have a chance to eat durian, do it. The green, spiky fruit which I’ve heard nothing but horror stories about, is absolutely delicious.
This trip was about seeing new things and new cultures. I did that. I did that and I took it all back with me on 10.0 Gigabytes worth of memory cards. Cambodia has a lot of nature. Cambodia also has a lot of cows. Not so many dogs, but a lot of cows. And elephants. There were also bats. Bats that I could only see when I fired my camera’s flash at them. There’s also some cool looking rivers that give me the impression that if you decide to go for a swim that you’re going to die from some weird parasite crawling into your urethra.
Getting out of Siem Reap to do sight seeing was again done by tuk-tuk. There were a lot of tuk-tuks in Phnom Penh, but I feel like there were a ton more in Siem Reap. I’m probably wrong though. In Siem Reap every 1.2 seconds someone will ask you if you need a tuk-tuk ride somewhere, and it’s not really a pain-in-the-ass because the guys are all friendly. You can hire a tuk-tuk driver for the day, the week, indefinitely, I’m not sure how long, but they’ll take you everywhere, and then wait for you outside while you eat/sight-see/shop/sleep with a prostitute (I heard). I’m always skeptical about dudes being pushy about selling stuff, friendly or not, so when I struck up a random conversation with a nice guy in a restaurant eating next to me, and then found out he was a tuk-tuk driver I knew I had my driver for the week. Guy was awesome. Kroch, you are the man. Plus, on the last day, after 4 days of asking, he let me drive his tuk-tuk. I caught some interesting looks from the locals as I drove through a little village. He’s also the reason for this post.
If anybody reads this and needs a tuk-tuk driver in Cambodia, I have his number. そして彼は日本語を少し話せる。
I call this next series of photos “Cambodia from the back of a tuk-tuk.”
This trip was supposed to be Bali, Saigon, and Bangkok. Everyone I know who has been to S.E. Asia said “YOU MUST GO TO CAMBODIA! YOU MUST SEE ANGKOR WAT!” Angkor What? Yes. No, what? So Bangkok got sidelined and I came to Cambodia instead, I’m happy I did. Angkor Wat aside, Cambodia is a pretty interesting place. Angkor Wat is the biggest religious monument in the world, built in the 12th century, and you get to see all 43 photos from there tomorrow. Don’t worry, you sat through 54 photos from today’s post.
Tags: Angkor Wat, Animals, Bats, Cambodia, Cows, Dogs, Durian, Elephants, S.E. Asia, Scooters, Shopping, Siem Reap, Swimming Pool, Temples, Tourists, Travel, Tuk-tuk
Posted in Photography |