Posts Tagged With: Siem Reap

Angkor Wat – exploring the city of temples

Angkor Wat – “Temple City” is a historical site that lies just outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia. It’s been referred to as the Machu Picchu of Asia and is the largest religious monument in the world.

Tickets are necessary and run $20 for a one day pass, $40 for three days and a seven day pass is $60. You can trek in on a bicycle, hop a ride on a tuk tuk or pay for a tour and bus. (Bicycling was our first choice but due to a back injury, we opt for the tuk tuk). Guess who our driver was? The same smile that picked us up at the bus station!

A familiar face, two tickets and a nice ride to the city was a brilliant start for a gorgeous adventure.

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When approaching the main entrance, your driver will drop you off at any temple you’d like and will patiently wait until you’re ready for he next. First thing to catch my eye was the peaceful orange robes that made their way across the path.

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The length of the main entry is long and gives you plenty of time to take it all in. It also allows a pause for an upside down handstand shot (in respect for the entry way).

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Here are some photos in no specific order as we explored the sandstone grounds of Angkor Wat.

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Although there are many tourists, it still doesn’t take away from the wonder of what these walls have seen. With the broken path ways and stressed stones, I can only imagine how many sets of feet have made there way through this area.

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This specific scene stopped me in my tracks and struck an emotional note in my heart. Was this her first time here… after many years, did she finally make it? Or was this an annual thing and today was her visit of 2013? Would if she comes here every day to pray? No matter what the scenario, the unconditional support she got from the young man and the help that came along was priceless.

My gratitude for health, life and love just jumped another notch. Thank you gentle example that was set before me!

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Following the steps of that delicate scene, we entered what seemed to be a shrine in which some were kneeling at and others observing from a distance.

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I could hardly pass up the opportunity for a blessing and a red string bracelet from this kind smile. Depending if you’re following Buddhism, Hinduism or Kabbalah the meaning varies as well as which wrist to wear it on. According to traditional belief, generally it eliminates unwanted energies in a person’s life to make room for positive ones… I like that.

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We jumped tracks a bit and left the crowd when I spotted out these stacked rocks. If you’ve seen some of my other posts, you’ll know this is one of my favorite out doors scenes. How neat to find it here!

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Who else was enjoying this view? It was one of the friendly guys that assisted the elderly woman! With a nice conversation and a photo, we now have new friends to catch up with!

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Who wouldn’t want to climb a stair case that looks like this?

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The reward was a beautiful view and a couple fun silhouette shots!

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What goes up must go down!

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Another view that welcomed a great handstand photo.

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If you choose to stay in the city for an extended amount of time, hunger is bound to present itself and your options range a bit.
Along the path of the souvenir stands, there’s the typical cooking pots that are usually full of pork or chicken with rice and seasoning.
Next you have several restaurants that are all called by different names, but will offer you the exact same menu as their neighbor with identical prices.
The other option, and our choice, is located in the back alley behind the restaurants where we found all of the local employees eating… Jackpot! My buddy knew where we were headed!

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We took a seat on a tiny chair at a miniature table and kept our fingers crossed for what was about to be served. Fish soup with a mound of rice next to a plate of sticks, greens and flowers, all complimented with a raw garlic hot sauce. The jug on the table was all you can drink light green tea, perfect for our hot day.
For a grand total of $0.75 each, we got all of the above, smiles from our table friends and a genuine “thank you” from the chef (or we just gave them free entertainment each time we smelled a bite and swapped spoons). Either way it beat restaurant prices and I’m sure it tasted better than the “pot of surprise” across the lot.

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So we’ve seen the Siem Reap Night Market and donated at the Angkor Children’s Hospital.

After exploring Angkor Wat, it’s time for the bus ride back to Phnom Penh to finish up my stay in Cambodia.

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Categories: Art, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Siem Reap Night Market and a Mad Monkey!

“Home” for a couple nights, was a hostel just situated in walking distance from everything we needed.

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The Mad Monkey Hostel has a restaurant, swimming pool, common area and a sand bar on the rooftop terrace. Excluding the smell in our room and the Aussie’s partying next door all night, it was comfortable, easy and affordable.

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My personal favorite quality was the art covered walls that kept you entertained on the way to your cozy room.

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Here are a few night shots from the roof top bar. It all starts by kicking off your shoes and hoping that you can find them on your way back out.

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We finally found our shoes from the sandy terrace and with a successful donation at the Angkor Children’s Hospital we chose to take it easy and explore the famous Night Market of Siem Reap.

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This street venue is so massive, I truly don’t think you could see every stall in just one attempt. There’s several different sections ranging from clothes and jewelry to house decor and souvenir trinkets. Want to make your own creative pattern? Just get lost in the maze of fabric and materials.

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If you get tired from all of the shopping, you can always take a break and enjoy a $1 massage! Snag a seat, sit back and relax. If you step up the price to $2-3, you get a curtain for privacy (so nobody can witness them) as they bend, kick, knead, twist, punch, pinch and massage you to bruises. Some may refer to this as borderline assault… we may or may not know this from experience.

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Along the way you’ll see several artists crafting their own offerings. Much respect to the creative and driven mind!

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You defiantly won’t go hungry as just like every other street market, there are food vendors, push carts and restaurants lining the path. On this night, we chose authentic Indian food. A moment of silence for the amazing meal that was set in front of us to share. $2 later, we’re pleasantly full and ready for the walk home.

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A solid evening walk and a fantastic meal… check and check. Tomorrows sunshine brings the temples of Angkor Wat!

Categories: Accommodations, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Angkor Children’s Hospital… All starts with a pink tuk tuk!

Northwest of Phnom Penh is another popular city that’s the gateway to the sacred temples of Angkor Wat. Semhal and I decided to take a weekend jaunt in that direction to explore the fascinating sights of Siem Reap. In addition to everything this historical city has to offer, it’s also home to the Angkor Children’s Hospital, a very special place that was introduced to me by a fellow traveler. (Ill describe that farther in the post). For now, lets get out of town!

7:15am – Semhal and I discuss what would be the best option to get to the bus station, a motorbike or… Wait, what’s this? A pink tuk tuk with a matching scarf around the drivers neck? Sold! What a perfect unique handstand shot! I cant dedide what I like more, his tuk tuk or that he’s holding up the hand signal for “Rock on” or “I love you”!

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The bus providing us with the 6 hour journey is clean, comfortable and $13 per person.

8:45- Departure!

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The first leg of the trip offers up some photos that capture the daily routine of the locals that live in nearby villages.

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11:15- Our first pit stop allows for a 10 min leg stretch, bathroom break and quick snack. There was fruit, baked goods, fried plantains and a variety of spiders, crickets, and beetles… or were they worms? I’m not really sure, but either way, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to partake in this local delight!

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A young local who didn’t speak English took it upon himself to show us through example, that the bugs weren’t only edible, but tasty too. Can’t you just see it in my face?

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11:30- We pulled away and now have turned our focus on the bag of bugs in my lap. Since Semhal is a vegetarian (good excuse for not trying eight legged creatures) it was all on me to embrace this unique tasting.

Cricket, gross. Grasshopper, same. Bumpy worm thing, worse. Tarantula, like teriyaki jerky? Wait for it… Oh, nope… Gross.

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We had to work for the other surprise snack as it was a bamboo stick that was properly packed with tightly bound leaves. Once unsealed, we found sticky rice and beans that seemed to be flavored with a touch of coconut milk.

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1:20- Honestly nothing much, I just wanted to post this picture because I think it’s beautiful!

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2:00- Our last break for lunch captures my eye for another handstand shot, it’s not everyday I get to kick up next to these beasts.

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3:58- We arrived at the Siem Reap bus station and were quickly greeted by an adorable tuk tuk driver that led us to our hostel. We had him put a rush on it due to the fact that the hospital was closing at 5p and we still needed time to check in and donate blood.

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4:32- When we arrived to the hostel we just put our bags behind the counter to save time as we took off for the Children’s center. Showered by the rain, we ran in mud covered flip flops in search of the green sign that would lead us to our donations.

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4:52- As we eagerly entered, they welcomed us with a smile and a direct guide to the donation room.

I’d like to pause here for a minute and personally thank Sabrina, the backpacker I met in Spain last year who is the mind behind encouraging me to check this place out. Her sincerity towards the children and passion for helping them was more than enough to send me on my way.

Step one: Check to see if our hemoglobin number is high enough in the “donating zone”. Unfortunately Semhal’s was too low, so she got served a dose of iron pills (and dietary-nutritional advice from me) to boost her levels with the hope to donate next month. I was in the clear, so I snuck a bite of our handy rice bamboo stick (we hadn’t eaten in awhile) and now I’m feeling ready!

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Step two: Lay down and let the process begin!

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Step three: Trade in the awkward sack he put on your lap for a goody bag full of sugar crackers, a coke and a t-shirt!

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If you ever get the chance to visit this city, I highly suggest going to the Angkor Children’s Hospital and giving 20 minutes of your time for a life enhancing experience. You get to meet the families that are directly affected by your energy and its a guaranteed spirit lifting event!

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Serious side note: It’s becoming such an issue that they suggest, “If you’re taken to the hospital and you may need blood… bring a friend”. For more information on the need for supply in Cambodia, here’s a link that was just posted this month in regards to the shortage.

Categories: Edibles!, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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