What Wat?

Posted on October 26, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

As the plane banked down into Siem Reap airport, the flooding caused
by the tail end of typhoon Ketsana was obvious: the ground beneath us
was flat and reflective, like the earth was a single paddy field. It
hadn’t occurred to me that the rain would have come this far inland,
but some of the roads were pretty wet the whole time we were in the
city – including the rocky side road which gave access to our guest
house.

This was the first flight we’d taken since we first landed in Bangkok
just over a month ago. Flying Laos Airways from Savannakhet was a
totally different experience to BA from Heathrow :->. Construction
work at Paxse airport in the south of Laos meant we had cancelled our
plans there, but construction work at Savannakhet airport was also
underway when we got there. We had to walk down an earth bank and
around the big hole in the ground to get to our aircraft which was the
only one on the airfield. The flight itself was uneventful, Rachel’s
first taste of Mooncake aside, and
we ended up in the newly refurbished airport at Siem Reap.

The ride organised by our guesthouse from the airport was Cambodian
tuk-tuk, or moto-remorque which gave us our first experience of
Cambodian roads – bustling, crazy and full of bikes, scooters and
bicycles. It turns out that Cambodian tuk-tuks are the best in Asia;
here they are formed by attaching a small trailer to the back of a
motorcycle. This means you have more space than in Thai tuk tuks, and
you get a better view of the scenery and traffic around you compared
to those in Laos.

Our guesthouse, despite being
down a rocky, partially flooded wee road, was good. The staff were
helpful in suggesting things that we could do, as well as organising
appropriate transport for the temples and things further afield
(ensuring we weren’t overcharged for our tuk-tuk rides). The food they
served was tasty and cheap (especially because the General Manager was
Thai, so speaking Thai helped to get even more tasty food), and I got
to watch the Currie Cup semi-finals on the screen by the bar.

There were a few downsides: the pool at the guesthouse was unusable
throughout our stay (the pump needed fixing), a t-shirt of mine got
ruined in the wash we asked them to do (complicated story, and I got a
gracious free replacement from them), and it was a USD 4 round trip by
tuk tuk to get into town if we wanted to sample the nightlife.

However, I know what y’all are thinking: this is all a bit of a side
issue. The main reason most tourists come to Siem Reap is obvious;
it’s the jumping off point for the Angkorian temples. James – what
about the temples?!? Well impatient reader, they are for the next
post. It might even get up tonight, since we’re in a quiet town on the
East coast of Malaysia today. Whilst you’re waiting, three other quick
things about Siem Reap.

1) The Blue Pumpkin is the
JoMA of Cambodia If you’ve been to Laos, you’ll know what we mean,
although I should stress I like the Blue Pumpkin a whole lot better.
It’s a cafe and a bakery that has several outlets in Siem Reap – one
opposite Angkor Wat, and at least 3 in town. Great ice cream, a
wonderful array of baked goods (that get discounted after 20:00), and
the best spring rolls I’ve had since we lived in Thailand. If you’re
in Cambodia, head there for a meal.

2) We spent a morning at The Silk Farm outside of town. We learned how
silk is processed from silkworm cocoons to the finished product, the
difference between raw silk and fine silk and traditional Cambodian
ways of weaving and painting/dyeing the silk. Rachel particularly
liked this, given her recent silk weaving experience.

3) Aspara is a form of Khmer dancing, variations of which you will see
in Thailand and Laos as well. We went to a performance which included
2 folk dances, 2 dances from the Ramayana (an epic
Hindu tale), and one Aspara dance.We actually preferred the folk
dances to anything else, although the whole performance was
worthwhile.

Explore Rachel’s tags below to get more dancing pictures:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dreadpiraterach/tags/aspara/

Right, that’s it! I’m off to check up on email and prepare photos for
the Angkor post. Hope y’all are well,

James

Posted via email from dreadpiratesarcas

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