Holiday in Cambodia

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Upon our return to Cambodia (we were here in 2003) a few things we quite noticeable; there are way more tourists here than ever before and it’s still a pretty untamed part of the world. We only visited Siem Reap this time around for 4 days (compared to three weeks in 2003 where we saw most of the country) but man has it changed. Giant hotels litter the landscape, the roads are much busier, tour groups from around the globe – but mostly from various Asian countries – are constantly jamming up the place. I shouldn’t be surprised, Angkor Wat is still one of the most stunning place to visit on the planet. We were lucky enough to be here and in Petra, Jordan in the span of just over a week.

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The scourge of the tourist.

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Poor Angkor Wat. Having all of these parasites, I mean tourists, climbing in and on it. (And yes, I’m aware of the irony of being a tourist and complaining about tourists)

I do have to say that the “wow” factor just wasn’t there for me upon seeing Angkor this time around. Maybe it was because I’d been here before or maybe it was the glut of humanity clogging the sites or maybe it was because all of my “wow” had been used up the week before in Jordan, but even if it was underwhelming, it was still cool to see my old friend Angkor once more. Swanson thought it was pretty incredible although he was quite disappointed that he was barred from climbing up some of the relics (for whatever reason some of the ruins one had to be 12 and older to ascend them while others – some way more dangerous for climbing – he was good to go).

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Steep steps – OK for children. Safe, wooden stairs – bugger off, kid.

I remember in 2003 we could climb anywhere we wanted or were able including the inside and outside of the famed giant towers of Ankor Wat. This time everyone was relegated to going up some wooden stairs to the top of just one of the spires (no children under 12 here – sorry Swanson). It was so busy, just a steady stream of sweaty folks going up and down. And it smelled like pee and groin sweat up there. Nice view from the top but still…

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There were even a sweaty, angry Buddha walking around.

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May I present to you….

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It was rare when there wasn’t a human in front of your eyes.

Angkor is huge. We checked out so many temples. They really liked their temples back in the day. We spent 3 days traipsing around by tuk-tuk which was amazing. Many of the best parts of the trip were just watching the Cambodian countryside and the folks who live there pass by.

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Read the damn sign.

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Not too awkward at all.

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Lots of bikes. With people on them!

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Taking photos from a moving Tuk-tuk can be a challenge.

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Must see one more temple!

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Always some ham trying to one-up the Dangler.

Even the town of Siem Reap has changed quite a bit. When we were last here, there was maybe a handful of restaurants (didn’t see any “Happy Pizza or Not” signs this time) and small hotels. Now there’s a two block section of downtown called “Pub Street” that seems to be trying real hard to be a Cambodian Khoasan Road. For better or for worse I suppose. We actually had some tasty Mexican food there one night (Cambodian cuisine is still a bit lacking I have to say). But even with all of these changes, Cambodia is still pretty untamed – I think that there was only one streetlight in town and even that is treated as a mere suggestion. Tons of traffic on mostly dirt roads and broken sidewalks make for an interesting getting around experience.

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Lots of bright lights and thumping bass (I doubt you can actually hear the bass, but try)

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At least dad is wearing a helmut.

It was still a great 4 day adventure. It was exhausting and exhilarating and it really made us want for the next leg of the trip – lots and lots of beach action. Now only to get there…

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