My friend, Greg, was waiting for me at the airport in Siem Reap after a brutal flight from Ashgabat to Bangkok, followed by a nicer flight to Siem Reap. We were shuttled away to the guesthouse he had booked and after I had a much needed shower, we made our way to Angkor. We bought the three day pass and spent the first half of the day exploring Angkor Wat, the most famous of the Angkor complexes. It is impressive. It’s huge and the whole thing is covered in carvings that were done, of course, by hand.
That afternoon, we got hour-long massages, the best I’ve ever received, and long overdue. We followed up with ice cream, as one should, and some shopping. I managed to find camel ornaments at an NGO store, continuing my streak of finding a camel in every overseas trip I take (even South Korea and Romania). It’s a gift.
For dinner: two types of pulled pork BBQ (Texas style and North Carolina style) plus mac ‘n’ cheese with bacon, coleslaw, and green beans. Yes, I’m going to talk about food a lot. If you lived in Turkmenistan you would understand.
On the second day of our pass, we got up at 4am to make it to Angkor Wat for the sunrise. It was crowded and the pictures we got weren’t as great as I’d hoped since the sun didn’t create the orange/pink/red sky I had imagined. But, the positive was that while all those tourists who came for the sunrise stayed to explore Angkor Wat, since we had seen it the day before, we headed to Angkor Thom and we had it pretty much all to ourselves. We saw some monkeys on the way and I took a short video of them. I even caught the tail end of two of them mating. I liked Angkor Thom better than Angkor Wat, probably partly because it wasn’t swarming with people. We were able to wander around more leisurely and in one place, we discovered a huge spider spinning its web. I got some National Geographic-caliber photos of it and another video.
After Angkor Thom, we returned to Siem Reap where we decided to try Dr. Fish. Dr. Fish is the name they give to those tanks of fish that eat the dead skin off your feet. For three dollars you get to have your tootsie wootsies nibbled for twenty minutes plus a Coke to sip while you endure the torture. I say torture because it tickles something fierce and at first, you can’t really keep your feet submerged, it feels so weird. I couldn’t stop laughing for the first five or seven minutes of it. But I’ll admit, that my feet did feel softer afterward.
That night we went to a restaurant that offered as free entertainment, traditional Cambodian dances. Those who know me, know I was a dancer and a dance coach, so this was right up my alley. They performed five or six dances while Greg and I ate a curry sampler. Sometimes they serve their curries in folded banana leaves, which I think is an eye-pleasing way to cut down on dishes that need to be washed. Two other volunteers, Phil and Alex, met us there but came after we had finished eating, and they decided to go to a different restaurant for dinner. We split so they could eat and we could wander the shops digesting until we met up again for drinks.