Sunday, March 2, 2014

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap is most famous for the 1000 year old temples of Ankor Wat, Teh Prohm and dozens of others frequented by millions of tourists each year and also featured on Hollywood thrillers such as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

I decided to take a 6-hour bus ride there that was actually okay.  We stopped for food and I had my first disgusting meal in Asia….some creepy beef soup.  The girl next to me was Cambodian and ordered it, so I figured I would to… I think they gave me the “fuck you, cracker” portion of fat and tendons and she got the lean meat.  Barf!

I wonder if this is part of the heart….that clump of gnarly shit looks like ventricles to me!

I arrived around 6PM, so as per usual I spent the first night exploring my ‘hood.  My hostel, One Stop Siem Reap was conveniently located right next to Pub Street which is where all of the bars and restaurants were.  It was also right across the street from the night market full of trinkets and bullshit that I neither needed to purchase or wanted to haul around the rest of Asia.  I had decided to have an early night because I was getting up at 7AM to see the temples!  That night, I met a guy named Armond that was keen to share a tuk-tuk and I didn’t want to be late.

Tourist central Pub Street

Emily and Armond at Bayon Wat

Intricate recesses of dancing people made me super happy at Angkor Thom

One of the 216 faces carved into the side of the Bayon (Wat) Temple

How many slaves do you think it took to carve the gagillion carvings everywhere?  I loved this one. 
Same Same….but different

There are actually 2 circuits that you can take around the area of Angkor, the long circuit and the short circuit.  We started with the long circuit on day one and the short circuit on day 2.  I would highly recommend this program.  The long circuit has all of the smaller temples on it and since it is your first day, you are amazed by everything…every carving, every statue, every crumpled wall and passageway.  By the time you complete this circuit, you are pooped, but fulfilled.

Here are a few photos from our journey around the long circuit…



Mother Nature stepped in to reclaim some of the temples.  Trees grew up and around some and she painted the limestone with petinas of green and pink.

This elephant statue was super well preserved after 800 years!


Some of these Wats were super high up and required scaling a lot of steps!

There were shrines in each Wat with offerings of incense, flowers and red string bracelets 
That night we met up with my new friend Michael (Misiek) for some dinner and drag queen fun on Pub Street. Leave it to me to find another drag enthusiast while in Cambodia!

I eased my way into creepy food with a deep fried snake...

I chickened out on spiders today...

My new friend Misiek

Good thing booze is vegan, right? 
Pretty lady….

er um…fella

yes yes yes….with backup dancers!


Asian drag queen twerking….why is this only a photo and not a video!
 This drag show was quite tame.  They all looked quite pretty, but the sound system was poor so we ventured over to another drag show at Linga…yeah, that's right, there are 2 DIFFERENT drag bars in Siem Reap.

Whereas the drag show at Station bar was tame with beautiful drag queens, Linga took the complete opposite approach with horrendous looking drag queens doing potty humor and reenacting violent scenes.  It was actually a little (read: a lot) disturbing.

Potty humor…  :(

She proceeded to beat her two male dancers furiously
The finale of the show was actually pretty funny, however.  A drag queen came out singing "I'm telling you" from Dreamgirls and was interrupted by another one performing it in a high pitched (sped up) version of the song.  They battled back and forth for some time before one of them pummeled the other to the floor.  I'm not really into violence, but the song battle was funny.

Misiek and I weren't finished with the evening yet, so we went on to a band with a live band.  The funny part about listening to Asian cover bands is that they don't actually know the words.  They just sound out the sounds and most of the time they are pretty close….MOST OF THE TIME.  But its actually more entertaining to listen to the sounds they are trying to make, than listen to the actual song.

Night Cap buddies!
"A" for effort, dear.
The next morning we got up early to go to Angkor Wat to see the sunrise.  This is the most famous of the temples and it required a 5:30AM tuk tuk ride to make it in time.  Misiek is an animal and did the short circuit on his bike the day prior, so Armond and I grabbed Tini and went out to see the most famous of the temples of Angkor.

TRAVELING TIP: When doing the short circuit for sunrise, go counterclockwise.  The typical route is clockwise and will be filled with tourists.  If you reverse the route, you can see Teh Prom without all of the crowds.

Early risers!  Armond, Tini, Em

Instant noodles for breakfast!


Yes, I did the Hammer Dance on Angkor Wat!


The Bengals would also be proud...

The detail in these Wats is incredible.  Like nothing I have ever seen

My favorite wat was Teh Prom.  Nature has completely taken over this 800 year old temple and its covered with overgrown roots from giant trees.  This site was so peaceful, I could have stayed for hours just looking at all the roots weaving in and out of the old limestone.

Giant Budha statue outside Bayon Wat

Next up: Battambang, Cambodia!

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