Monday, July 5, 2010

Siem Reap Cambodia

Monday, June 28, 2010 We had hoped to catch a boat North along the Tonle Sap to Battambang but although we are in the wet season the water had not yet risen enough to allow the larger boats to pass. Instead we took a leisurely two day drive along the river through small villages and rice paddies to the heart of Cambodia's rice bowl, Battambang. We arrived early and decided to spend the afternoon being tourists and took a sweaty walk up Phnom Sampeau mountain for glorious views of the surrounding countryside and the more sobering limestone caves used as "killing caves" by the Khmer Rouge.

I booked myself in for a cooking course the following day, which included a trip to the local market. It was brilliant wandering through the manic morning market mayhem with Vannak (our teacher) putting names and uses to all the weird and peculiar fruit and veg. I did gag a little at the squirming bowl of ants and maggots which is (apparently) great on salads Stopping before a police checkpoint
Stopping before a police checkpoint
! I learnt to make Amok, a totally scrumptious fish curry that has easily become one of my favourite Cambodian treats, as well as a tangy chilli salad and a veggie dish of stirfried morning glory and tofu. yum! Matt got his hair shaved off although the barber had real issues understanding the idea of a buzz cut and kept on wanting to style it, much to Matt's annoyance and my amusement. We got there in the end although it wasn't quite as short as Matt had intended.

In the morning we were back on Frank speeding towards Siem Reap and the ancient ruins of Angkor. We checked into an awesome little guesthouse, a little pricier than our usual but with the luxurious perks of free tea and coffee, free fruit, free internet and a free massage each! Sweet! We spent the next 3 days playing at tombraiders and dodging the touts whilst exploring the magnificent and awe-inspring temples of the Ancient Khmer Empire. We watched the sunrise over Angkor Wat, got lost in the labyrinthine passages of Bayon, stared in wonder at the huge trees that had become one with the walls of Ta Prohm and scrambled over the massive stones of the collapsed archways of Preah Khan. All in all we visited no less than 20 temples with our 3 day passes, no two the same and each utterly breathtaking. We have posted a bunch of pictures of some of our favourites but no amount of photos or description can portray the experience of visiting Angkor, it has been one of the highlights if our trip so far.

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