Wednesday, September 28, 2011

these are some of the photos i took with my friend's camera during our trip to angkor. the four of us purchased $8 bus tickets and departed at 5:30 in the morning from bangkok to the cambodian border. after getting our visas and crossing into cambodia, we then paid $30 altogether for a two-hour taxi ride from the border to angkor. after checking into our hotel at around noon, we decided to take it easy on our first day and just relaxed while exploring siem-reap. on our second morning, that's when we headed for all of the temples and ruins with a hired guide, and pretty much explored throughout the whole day. all i have to say is FUCKING WOW---the temples and ruins were humbling, surreal, spectacular, and a million other adjectives all at once.

unfortunately, my friend's camera ran out of batteries towards the end of the second day of the trip, and that's where most of the photos end. i'm bummed that i have no photos to remember our third and fourth days of angkor, but i guess those will have to just live in our memories.

anyway, here are some random facts that i learned during the trip:

-cambodia uses the american dollar as its currency.
-siem-reap has two gay bars. the more popular one is named linga, and my 3 straight friends happily agreed that we should all check it out together.
-siem-reap's oldest hotel and most expensive hotel is raffles, and my friends and i decided to splurge and stay there on our last night. on a side note, jackie onassis had a lifelong dream of visiting angkor, and did so in the 1960's. she stayed at raffles while in town, and the hotel has a few photos of her visit on their celebrity wall.
-many of the natives who live in siem-reap speak at least a little bit of english. even the children who aggressively try and sell you souvenirs on the street have honed their english skills. when one little girl persistently followed and borderline-harassed me to buy her goods, i politely smiled and responded with "no, i'm okay, thank you." haha then she quickly snapped back by saying, "it might be okay for you but NOT OKAY FOR ME!"
-angkor has the world's largest roundabout.
-i thought that visiting all the temples and ruins might be like checking out the grand canyon, aka every designated stop looks the fucking same, but i was so mistaken. every temple and site of ruins had its own amazing and distinct personality, and learning about each of their stories from our guide was so fun.
-the bayon temple has hundreds of faces carved into its stone, and so no matter where in the temple you're at, you are being watched by one of the faces.
-thankfully, the time we visited angkor wasn't the busy season, so until we climbed up a mountain to reach a temple where we could watch the sunset on the evening of our first day of exploring, we didn't really encounter any crowds or hordes of tourists.

this is not even the tip of the iceberg of what i learned and encountered on this life-changing trip. for anyone who is thinking about taking a holiday to southeast asia, i definitely recommend checking out angkor. pictures and words can not do this place justice---you've got to go and experience everything for yourself.

and btw, i finally got a new backpack.