Thursday, February 7, 2008


Sorry it’s been a while since we’ve updated with anything significant. We took 300+ pictures in Cambodia, including something like 220 at Angkor Wat, so it was a little daunting to go through all of them and put together something coherent.

But now we’re back in Thailand with nothing to do for the rest of the month except lay on beautiful white sand beaches, so here you go.

At the moment we’re actually on a small island called Ko Mak. It’s a nice setting, but there is a huge spider that lives in our bathroom so it’s not as relaxing as it could be.

In any case, here are the photos.

This was the first place we stayed in Cambodia: The Lazy Fish guest house in Phnom Penh. We had another guest house in mind, but, as is standard in Cambodia, our tuk-tuk driver refused to take us there until we checked out the guest house that pays him a commission first. So we went to the Lazy Fish. And the first thing you see is this awesome setting… the rooms are actually on a dock above the lake, and there is a killer common area with tons of hammocks, a pool table, TV/DVD player and a bar. We almost agreed to stay here without even seeing a room.

Then we checked out the rooms. Not terrible, but a bit rustic. We didn’t see any massive spiders though, so we figured it was ok. That night, I woke up to the sound of scratching and scurrying rodents along the walls. Liz got up around the same time and was about to head to the bathroom. “Be careful,” I warned her, “it sounds like there is at least one rat in the room.” She wasn’t happy that I told her that, but I figured better she find out from me than discover them on her own.

For some inexplicable reason, we actually decided to stay a second night there. Maybe it was the awesome setting; the day of reading books in hammocks beside the lake that made us forget about the rats chewing through our walls. But the second night was even worse than the first. The rats were making a racket when I woke up, and it sounded like they were crawling along the wall just above our bed. I couldn’t get back to sleep while they were squeaking and chewing, and so I laid there sweating for quite a while. When I woke up the next morning I had an awful pimply rash on both elbows that I think was caused from laying in a pool of my own sweat on greasy, disgusting sheets.

So, on the third night, we moved hotels. We spent the extra $2 (our new room cost $8 rather than $6) for air-con, satellite TV and, best of all, NO RODENTS.

Riverside, Phnom Penh. A lot of the city is dirty, crowded and insane, but the riverside is nice, and occasionally you see an elephant out for a stroll. We’ve heard that living in the city is terrible for elephants, but it’s hard not to stop and gawk at something so massive walking down a city street.

Another riverside shot. Very unlike the center of town, where the bus deposited us among a near-riot of tuk-tuk drivers vying for our business. There were actually one or two police on hand in anticipation of the arrival of the tourist bus. It was nice; they held the mob at bay with billy clubs and we were allowed to retrieve our bags in peace before being assaulted by offers.

This is why the beef in Cambodia tastes funny.

Sihanoukville. The beautiful beach town with the unfortunate name. We weren’t planning on visiting the beach in Cambodia, but since we’re only allowed 30 days in Thailand at a time, we found ourselves with some extra time to kill before re-entering the country. It turned out to be a great decision to head south and check it out.

Liz thought it was already a little overdeveloped, but in my opinion, Sihanoukville is one of the best beaches I’ve ever visited. Soft sand, no rocks, and perfect water that’s gently warm but still refreshing. Unbelievable sunsets, too.

I finally bought a watch. When we first arrived in Bangkok, I was tempted to pick one up, but they were too expensive ($50-80). This one was considerably cheaper.

We also took a boat trip from Sihanoukville to a couple of the surrounding islands. This was the first time I ever properly snorkeled, and it was actually pretty cool!

Bamboo Island. Even better beaches than Sihanoukville. Same sand and gentle, shallow water, but far fewer people.

Plus Liz’s favorite accessory, a hammock.

The other side of the island. As an Oregonian, it’s still weird to be able to run straight into the ocean and feel refreshed rather than frozen.

Not sure if I mentioned this in the other update, but my Prada glasses broke randomly while they were on my face. So I got this pair, which lasted approximately 5 days. I’m now on my 5th pair of sunglasses for the trip.

Typical roadside view in Cambodia. The amount of garbage along the roads is staggering.

Sunset in Siem Reap.

Angkor Wat. One of the 7 wonders of the world? I’m not sure. Liz seems to think so. Anyway, it’s pretty cool.

This is at Angkor Thom (part of what’s known as “Angkor Wat” as a whole, but a separate location), a ruin known as “Bayon.” There are over a hundred of these large, enigmatically smiling faces placed throughout the facility.

Some of the more “ruined” ruins have these colossal trees that have sprung up in the most unlikely places… on top of walls and buildings or nearly blocking the front entrance to the temple.

More detail.

$5 to the first person who can explain this shirt.

A couple little girls who were selling postcards and bracelets, and, failing that, just wanted to collect as many plastic bottles as possible.

In front of the most famous temple at Angkor Wat…. Angkor Wat. It was about 20 degrees hotter than the surface of the sun when this picture was taken, hence my expression.

Some of the bas-relief artwork inside Angkor Wat. Some historian once described the place as “the masterpiece of an unknown Michelangelo.”

The back of the temple. I just included this because the lighting came out so bizarre.

Hundreds of feet of detailed bas-relief carved into stone.

Taking a break in the shade.

We found some monkeys hanging out near one of the exits. Apparently they’re a fixture there… they’re even included on the Angkor map!

Another long shot of Angkor Wat.

This one’s for Kyle. Would you like the Special Muscle Wine, the Muscle X.O. Wine, or the Wrestler Wine? Or maybe you’ll just stick with the Bird’s Nest?

This is also the first restaurant I’ve ever seen that brags about its blacksmithing skills right on the menu.

That’s all for now. Will update again when internet is cheaper.

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