Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Seeing the Sights in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Siem reap is the touristyest of all the touristy places I've been. Just a couple kilometers from Angkor Wat, this would-be-but-for-tourists small town is beautiful but completely out of place amid Cambodia's extensive rice fields and roadside villages. 

There's a street called Pub Street  in the middle of the town, with its name announced in lit up letters across the road, packed with restaurants and street massages and fish pedicures and tuktuk drivers, all eager to help out "sir and madame" in any and all ways possible. It's like a combination of New Orleans at Marci Graz and a classier Adam's Morgan on a Saturday night.

 It was weird and surreal, but I enjoyed it for the two nights of our brief stay. After a dinner of Cambodian bar-b-que (who knew that was a thing?) we got banana pancakes and $1/15 minutes foot massages, then went "out" (so silly) at a bar called Angkor What? and a club called The Temple. Again, so surreal. We're in Cambodia!

But before the silliness we soaked in as much of the wonders of the Angkor Wat area as possible. (Angkor Wat is just one of many Buddhist and Hindu temples and ruins in the area.) 

We shunned the insistent tuktuk drivers (Oh no madam too far too far!) and rented bicycles to explore for ourselves. 

Let me tell you, there are A LOT of ruins. We agreed that one day of ruins was the perfect amount of time for us, instead of the recommended three. 

They were really cool though -- especially the Hindu ones with their Legends of the Hidden Temple carved faces, and the ones with huge trees growing amidst the ancient mossy rubble -- but by three o'clock we'd seen enough, sweated out all traces of liquid in our bodies, and we're ready to call it a day at our hotel's rooftop pool (such classy travelers are we!).