Sunday, March 3, 2013


Hello everyone! It has been a bit since I had last posted due to getting back into the swing of teaching. I had a nice month long break, so my 3 friends and I decided to get out of Korea and head somewhere warm. Our main goal was to go to see Angkor Wat in Cambodia and try to see as much as we could without feeling rushed. We succeeded and couldn't have planned things better if we had tried.
Our route

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. 

I read somewhere that the best part of getting to Poipet is leaving. Just as you get out of Cambodian customs more touts approach you. Every backpacker who makes it though this dirty border are headed to Siem Reap. One gave us a good price to get there and we hopped in a car. Cambodian driving consists of a whole lot of honking, but we were so exhausted we managed to sleep most of the way. We were only awoken by our cab driver stopping to relieve himself off the side of the rode and when he almost ran a motorcyclist over. We were all pretty groggy when we reached Siem Reap, but it was great to finally get there. We were transfered over to another driver who would become our guide   

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.
It wasn't as relaxing as we had hoped. I'm not sure how it is during monsoon season, but while we were there the river/lake was a brown liquid that vaguely resembled water. We cruised down to the mouth of the lake where the floating village was situated. 

  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.

The next day we saw it all. We started at Angkor Wat and ended at Ta Prohm. I'll just let the photos do the talking for this bit. 

Angkor Wat is the largest religious complex in the world.

Angkor Thom

Ta Prohm
 These are just a few of the main temples around Angkor. The whole place is amazing, well worth the long trip there. 

 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 A: Pong Tai Koon - A 20 day old duck embryo served in its shell with salt and lime. Our guide told us that we were the first tourists he had encountered who were interested in eating this extremely unappealing sounding morsel.  No matter what I write here you are probably still going to think that this would be absolutely disgusting, but, it was actually amazing. I really had never had anything like it and cannot describe the taste.

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!

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