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A change in the weather

sunny 30 °C

It has been a busy few days for us as you can see from the additions to our map. Lots of early mornings and long days to get to where we are tonight, relaxing in Siem Reap and thinking of all our friends and family celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, best wishes to all.

Yesterday we packed up early and headed for the airport in Goa at 5am for our 7 o'clock flight that took us through Mumbai to New Delhi. It is a huge airport, but the airlines were being reasonable and we had plenty of time to find our bags and get onto our flight to Bangkok. Our flight arrived on time and our hotel near the airport had a car waiting for us which was great after 12 hours of travel. We weren't sure what to expect, but the efficiency and warmth of all the people we encountered and the cleanliness and (relative) lack of chaos on the roads was a warm breath of fresh air for us. Remember that when I say relative lack of chaos, we are comparing to India and Nepal so it still is very entertaining as long as we are in the safety of a bigger vehicle than everyone else. The hotel was great and the restaurant made the best pad thai we have ever had along with some great soups and rice dishes as well. We almost made use of the spa, but opted for a shower and some clean sheets instead as our alarm was set early again for this morning.

I think the wake up call came at 5:30 this morning and we were headed back to the airport for our 8am flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Cambodia's history is somewhat violent and at times pretty nasty, if you have seen the news lately you know that they are currently holding trials here against a few of the top brass of the Khmer Rouge, the regime responsible for the death of over two million Cambodians in the late 70's. I haven't had a chance to ask anyone yet about their thoughts on the trial, but whatever their feelings and in spite of this years severe flooding, the people here are overwhelmingly warm and hospitable. The airport reminded me of St.Maarten before the new terminal was built; you walk out the airplane door into the warm fresh air and sunlight, down the stairs and across the tarmac to smiling faces and the arrival terminal. We were the only airplane arriving early this morning so it was a rather intimate affair, within minutes we were cleared through and out the other side. More smiling faces and uniforms arranged a taxi for us and we prepaid the seven dollars that it would cost to get us to our hotel. We couldn't help but to be grinning as our driver chatted with us about where we were coming from and when we would like to explore the town, it was obvious he was fishing for more work, but he was so nice about it that we didn't argue. Preferring a "tuk-tuk" to his air conditioned car for our days adventures he made the arrangements that his brother would be our guide for the rest of the day. We checked into our hotel, grabbed a shower and met him at the front door.

Siem Reap is world heritage site and, according to our map, is home to 53 historic sites dating back as far as the 8th century, the most famous being, Ankor Wat. We bought a three day pass that includes access to all of these sites and totally lucked in with our guide as he knows everything we want to see (usually before we do) and has a great sense of humour to boot. He had plans from start to finish, sites, lunch, more sites, sunset views, all the great photo spots, then an hour break for showers and he was back to take us to the best dinner spot in town. The details would make this blog the longest one yet, by far. To give you an idea, I think we took about 50 pictures over the last 3 weeks in India and today alone we took almost 300. Ankor Wat was the first stop and was incredible, the detail in this (and every) temple we saw today was mind-blowing. Lunch was delicious, mine a fish and banana leaves in a coconut sauce and Nat had a chicken curry, both were cooked and served in a coconut which added to the show and the flavour of the meal. The afternoon was temples and palaces that are unlike anything we have ever seen, we wandered from one to the next, and when it was too far to walk, our tuk-tuk was ready to go. One of the last sites we saw was a temple that was used for the set of the Tomb Raider movie from the mid-1990's. It was one place that even Hollywood couldn't improve as the temple left us in awe, while, I am pretty sure, the movie left us a little disappointed.

Just as the long day was starting to take it's toll and we were thinking of a nap, our trusty guide announce that he had secured reservations for us at the best place in town. His excitement was obvious so we couldn't disappoint and we grabbed a shower and sucked it up. We arrived at a fancy entrance equipped with smiling faces and sharp uniforms and were immediately ushered to a table for two. That wasn't going to do, so we grabbed a chair and made it a table for three and brought our new friend along. The restaurant is a huge, with hundreds of seats, a big stage in the front and enough food to feed an army arranged around the back. Food stations are manned by teams of chefs that are mixing soups, noodles and meat skewers faster then we can eat. There was no strategy, we just tried to keep up with the amazing smells and flavours that we dragged back to our table to share. Just as our appetites started to give up, the show started. First was local musicians and then different groups of traditional dancers, a feast for all of the senses.

What a great couple of days. This part of our trip is going to be great. Enjoy the turkey!

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Posted by colincampbell 09:26 Archived in Cambodia

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