posted by Mandy
23.08.2011 - 05.09.2011 90 °F
As many of you already know, our epic journey has come to an end. Kevin and I flew back to the states at the end of September and are staying with my parents in Placerville. We are slowly getting reaquinted with the real world and are looking for life's next adventure. We will have 2 more postings after this one~ Vietnam and Hong Kong, so stay tuned!
We spent about 2 weeks in Cambodia, starting in Siem Reap, next to the famous Temples of Angkor. I have been wanting to visit the Temples of Angkor for quite a while, so this part of our trip was very special for me. The border crossing from Thailand to Cambodia was a bit of a challenge because of the residual corruption from the Khmer Rouge era of the 70s. Everyone had their hand out and it was difficult to tell the difference between official border business and scams, including a fake customs office with fake officers giving out visas. We made it though, relatively unscathed.
For those who have not been to the Temples of Angkor, it is a massive site and cannot be navigated on foot, nor is it recommended to visit in just one day. We decided to get a 3 day pass and rent bikes to explore as much of the ruins as possible. The heat and humidity was intense, but we had a great time making our way through on our own pace. One of our favorite temples was Ta Prahm, which is overgrown with trees and jungle. Angkor Wat was amazing as well, as it is one of the largest and most preserved temples.
After Siem Reap/Angkor we took a local ferry down the river to Battambang. The "6-12 hour" ride ended up being closer to 12, due to getting stuck in deep lily pads which our captain and noble passengers painstakingly dug us out of. Our eventful ride also included passing through narrow mangrove forests and we had to stand in the middle of the boat to avoid getting whacked with branches. We saw tons of local floating villages and locals, which was super cool.
Battambang is a fairly large town next to some noteworthy temples and religious sites, but it doesn't feel as touristy as Siem Reap, so it was nice to spend some time there. One day we hired a tuk-tuk (motorbike taxi w/ carriage behind) to take us to all the sites. We visited Cambodia's only winery (no, the wine was not good), a "killing cave" where many Cambodians were dropped to their deaths by Polpot's Khmer Rouge and a beautiful temple on the mountainside. We also saw picturesque rice fields and small villages with friendly locals.
Unfortunately, I started to get sick on the last day in Battambang, which ended up taking a full 2 weeks to recover. I felt well enough to hop on a bus to head to Phnom Penh, but stayed in bed for 4 whole days, including my 30th birthday. Poor Kevin had to explore Phnom Penh solo, but took good care of me, bringing me food and meds. I have to admit, if there was ever a time on our trip that I wanted to go home, this was it! Kevin enjoyed the craziness of Phnom Penh. He rented a bicycle and bravely explored through the chaotic motorbike laden streets. The years of cycling in San Francisco really payed off!