Sunday, February 17, 2008
We have spent the last two days getting "templed out" at Angkor Wat and all of the other temples surrounding Siem Reap in Northwest Cambodia. Other than the corrupt cops who told us that foreigners aren't allowed to ride motorcycles in the park (because of course three 13 year olds on a moped is much safer than me), we have enjoyed the largest religious monuments in the world. It is definitely up there with the greatest historic sites in the world that we have seen.
Plus it is a nice town, the people are friendly if a bit overzealous towards the tourists, with many nice restaurants, a relaxing river with nice park running through the town, and more foreign tourists than anywhere but Disneyland. And yet again there is the now very familiar smathering of French, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, English, Australian, American and many of the single men have amazingly met local Cambodian women whom they seem to bond with easily!
Today we went off into the jungle and the hinterlands of Cambodia to find some more remote ruins that the jungle has reclaimed. We passed whole villages without running water or power, with houses built on stilts for the rainy season. The people are friendly here and speak the best English (and even some Spanish!) of anywhere in south east Asia.
We have met a ton of great people. From Jerry and Craig at our guesthouse, to Duncan from England a guy who had a stroke but never lost his sense of humor who lives on Sanibel Island in Florida; then there was Lawrence a guy born in Boston with dual Swedish/American citizenship who rode his KTM from Sweden to here, and Mike and Jan a young at heart couple from Washington who are thinking of riding their own bikes around southeast Asia. We have enjoyed drinks and meals with all of them. Cambodia seems to be a slow paced place where people can relax, enjoy, and easily escape from the rat race.
If the locals can get over their recent past and enjoy life and smile big, then certainly we extremely rich (and in so many ways lucky) westerners can do the same!