Monthly Archives: September 2008
First Impressions of Cambodia
- I walk out the doors of the airport and expect the normal rush of people trying to sell me crap and offer me rides. Something seems fishy. No one is trying to sell me anything. I get handed a flyer and a guy who looks official tells me I can save $5 by taking a motorbike instead of a car. Not only are they not selling me stuff, they are trying to save me money. Very odd.
- The few people I’ve met so far speak English better than most people in Thailand, even those who cater to tourists. Pretty much everyone under 20 can speak English quite well I’m told.
- The ATM machines dispense US Dollars. Everything is priced in US Dollars. Transportation seems expensive, but rooms are pretty cheap. The local currency (Cambodian Riel – KHR) is one of those incredibly inflated things where you have to have a stack of money. $1 = 4,100KHR. The symbol for the Riel is like a heavy metal half note.
- Before I leave Cambodia, I’m going to shoot a machine gun.
- Siem Reap is less developed than anything I’ve seen in Thailand. It seems on a par with the Philippines and Indonesia.
- There is a huge lake and wetlands nearby, which I wasn’t aware of. You can get from here to Phnom Penh by boat, which I just might do. Much more interesting than a bus.
- I’m going to look into visiting the Temple of Preah Vihear, which isn’t too far away. It is an ancient Hindu temple which was the focus of a brief border conflict with Thailand about a year ago.
- Due to its colonial history, Cambodia has French as an official language. Outside of government signs, it is nowhere to be seen. I guess old people know it, but never have reason to speak it. Sort of like how Portuguese was treated in East Timor and Macau.
I leave Thailand today for Cambodia. I’m flying instead of taking a bus because of heard so many bad stories about the road from Bangkok to Siem Reap. It is sort of expensive for a one hour flight. There are still things I want to see here in Thailand but 1) my visa runs out tomorrow, and 2) I’ll be coming back as I do a big loop into northern Thailand.
The plan is to spend multiple days at Angor Wat and just photograph the hell out of it. It will be one of the more notable thing I’ll have seen on my trip to date. If anyone has suggestions for what to see/do in Cambodia beyond Angor Wat, I’m all ears. There are a few things I have planned, but it isn’t a lot so far.
Between The Blog Posts
Anyway, if you had been following me on Twitter, you would have read about yet another bout of food poisoning I had yesterday. I decided to be adventurous and ordered a bag of friend grasshoppers from a street vendor. Fast forward about 12 hours later and I’m vomiting and have the runs all day long. This is the second time I’ve consumed insects on my trip, and both times I ended up vomiting soon after.
Now, I know what you are thinking “Gee dumb ass. No kidding you’re going to get sick if you eat insects.” The thing is, neither time do I think it was the insects per se that made me sick. In LA I had just finished a 48 hour Amtrak ride from hell and was sort of sick before I ate anything. In Bangkok, the insect vendor was the only street vendor I’ve seen who didn’t cook the food in front of me. I have no idea how long they may have been sitting there.
I’m close to being back at 100%. It has extended my stay in Bangkok by a few days, but I have to get moving soon because my visa expires on the 30th. I did finally get to watch some sepak takraw, which is the most amazing, crazy sport I’ve ever seen. (think badminton meets hackey sack.)