Cambodia: Fever in the Ruins

Monday, June 1, 2015

Recently I went to Siem Reap, Cambodia. I had actually been meaning and wanting to go to Vietnam ever since I've been in South East Asia (for lol, the past year and a half), but figuring out the visa (it seemed complicated as hell, but in actuality was easy as pie) just threw me off every time (I mean if the visa was confusing, getting around the country seemed like an even more daunting task). Finally I was like, okay, going to make Vietnam happen and since I am in that part of Asia already, it's so close to Cambodia, that well, I am into UNESCO Heritage Sites (life goal: see all the UNESCO Heritage Sites) and there's a preeetttty famous one in Cambodia, so how's about seeing that one too.

And so I did.

I only spent a few days in Siem Reap because I knew that I only really wanted to see Angkor Wat and then spend most of my time in Vietnam. I did little to no research prior (re: laziness) and didn't realize how small it was. So small (or at least the main center) that I was able to ride a bicycle around, and I can't tell you enough how good it felt to ride one in light traffic, weaving in and out and taking things in that way.

Anyways, Angkor Wat:

I went as early as I could manage, getting there at around 6am. The light and atmosphere was beautiful. It was hazy and...mystic. Even though there were already a lot of tourists there, there were still moments of quiet and grace.

It's just so incredible to me that human beings created these complex, intricate, and at times really pictorial/illustrative structures with crude materials and you know, way back when.

People spend days in Angkor Wat (it occupies a pretty sizeable amount of space and each temple is spread across it and has so many aspects to look at and explore)...I could only manage to stay for 5 hours (when I got back to the place I was staying at, he was surprised that I saw everything in that amount of time). Do yourself a favor and avoid Cambodia in May, the heat is brutal. It's like walking through hot jello, the air is thick and humid and you can't think about anything else but the incredible amounts of sweat your body can produce.

I spent the rest of my time seeing some back roads.

Eating pate sandwiches and noodles and jackfruit shakes.

Getting massages (like I said it was hot! I'll gladly kill time by paying someone a pretty reasonable amount of money to get knots out of my body when it's 34 degrees outside with blaring sun). I had one where the guy cracked my back an insane amount of times and I laughed every time he did and at the end he said, "so nice". lol yah, so nice.

I also haven't travelled like this in awhile, going to a foreign place by myself where I know no one and very little about the place. It was a good change and a nice way to start this trip off with because of its size, the food, the warmth of the people and its contrasts, like the use of "lady" to acknowledge or get your attention if you're a foreign female. It's rude (especially how they say it) but I found it hilarious.

Things are a bit of a blur and I felt a bit delirious at times, partly because I fell slightly ill, partly from the heat, and partly/mostly from being in a new place and being so into what it had to offer and feeling like it was more than happy to show itself to me and have me take it all in.

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