Oh yeah. The country I’m in. I suppose I should say a bit about it.
Well, to be honest I’m not a huge fan. I think the problem is that I’m only visiting the two tourist areas: Phnom Penh and the ridiculous tourist mecca of Siem Reap. Every 3 steps some guy steps in front of you and says, “hello lady need tuk-tuk? need moto? where you going?” If you’re walking along it’s as if the motorcycle drivers swerve to come as close to you as possible, for no real reason except (I suspect) to fuck with you. Evidently this village has undergone a gold rush-like tourist boom in the last few years, so perhaps the locals are taking out latent frustrations on tourists. I can’t blame them, but it makes this place quite uninviting.
In any event, on Tuesday and Wednesday I rented a bike to tour the incredible Temples of Angkor. The bike ride itself was an adventure – cars and motos deliberately try to cut you off and the drivers laugh in your face if you have to stop short and fall off the seat. But I’m still glad I did it by bike. First, I got a ton of excercise – I did around 35 km the first day and around 20 the second, not including climbing up and down and around the temples. Plus I was able to go at my own pace, without a tuk-tuk driver bugging me. And it was cheap $1.50/day instead of the $20 charged by tuk-tuk drivers. That, at least, offset the outrageous $40 that the Cambodians charge for a 3-day pass ($20 for one day). Yes, the money that doesn’t get siphoned into government pockets goes toward the upkeep and renovation of the temples, but it’s a pretty steep charge, IMHO.
Anyway, the temples themselves are quite impressive – the architecture, the wall carvings. I’d describe the temples as a whole in a state of atmospheric decay – trees, moss, animals and rain are slowly reclaming the sandstone structures and the ground they’re built on. I won’t bother trying to explain. Wait for the photos…though the internet is so slow in this cafe that I’m going to give up and try to upload more pics later.
Anyway, I’m glad to be leaving tomorrow morning. Finally….to Bali, beach and scuba!