In the morning we woke up and rented a couple bikes from our guesthouse and headed off to the temple. Angkor Wat is actually only one of a great variety of Hindu and Buddhist temples in the area. The second temple we really wanted to see is called Bayon, inside the Angkor Thom complex. Bayon is a grand temple created by a king that converted to Buddhism, so the temple has large carvings of Buddhist heads (as tall as I am) engraved into the sides of the large towers of the temple.
Angkor Wat is amazing. The temple is in great condition thanks to many international conservations efforts led by UNESCO and various nation states. The best part about the place, by far, is that you have free reign to the place. We wandered all over there temples, and climbed to the very top of a couple, were we had a magnificent view of the city and forest around us.
One ruin that we went to, the first capital temple, had an amazing view from the top, and the ruins were virtually empty. So many tourists just go to Angkor Wat and Bayon that the other places are very low traffic, which is all the nicer.
One thing about the place is that there is a constant stream of little Cambodian kids trying to sell you stuff around the bigger temples. The children's English is very good, but you can tell that they have been trained well to say certain set phrases to warm you up. For example:
Kid: What's your name?
Kid: Churevaa. OK. Where you from?
Kid: Oh, your capital is Washington DC. What state you from?
Kid: Oh, I'm from Sacramento. You buy from me, OK? Remember me.
That was a common transaction. Although I didn't buy anything, the kids are pretty cute, albeit persistence.
They even know some Japanese. I told one of them I was from Japan and they conversed a little in Japanese with me. I suppose it is good to know simple phrases in many languages when you are working in such a popular tourist area.
Speaking of that, I was surprised at just how many tourists from around the world are at Angkor Wat. There are very few Americans. The most common seem to be Germans and French, but there are people from all over that are visiting here. It is a shame more Americans don't come out. I fear that we breed Xenophobia in our part of the world. Our fellow Americans just don't travel the world as much as our international counterparts.
We ran into a couple from Germany that have been touring on motorbikes for 11 months, started in Germany and intend to end in Australia, riding their bikes all the way.
All and all, it was a very good day. We ate dinner at an outdoor stand and had some good food for $0.75. All our meals are cheap over here, although there are fancy hotels and restaurants in the area; we opt for the local cuisine, complete with fly-ridden tables and sort-of clean plates. But even with all that, it is GREAT food. V. Good Times.
The buddy I am traveling with is a vegetarian, so I have also decided to go vegetarian for the trip. It is a fun challenge and it has the added advantage to being usually the least expensive things on menus. :)
That's it for this time. Tomorrow we are going to explore town, so until then, take care and good night.