Holiday in Cambodia

Hello again!

Posing as apsaras at Bayon Srei

I’ve spent the last week and a half thoroughly enjoying Siem Reap, Cambodia with the rest of Pac Rim. Break was fun, but it was definitely nice to rejoin the group.

Here in Cambodia we’re taking the second part of our art history of Angkor class, though I have yet to figure out which part is art history… The first part was Hindu religion, and this part seems to be combination religion and philosophy, neither of which I’m particularly into, but oh well. I really like our professor, Stuart Smithers. He’s a really interesting guy, and he was really excited about all of the issues we discussed. The temples themselves are amazing, and it’s really cool that every other day of our class was going to see ruins. We saw 4 temples and some sort of significant river with ruins (I didn’t fully understand that one). The ruins are stunning, and we’re pretty much given free reign to explore them, which is great.

I’m so tiny compared to the center tower at Angkor Wat (and this is up close, near the top!)

Besides the ruins, Cambodia is a really interesting place. They use USD here, which is odd to begin with, and it seems to have developed overnight into a very westernized tourist hotspot. There’s great food everywhere, even a Mexican restaurant down the street (and it’s good!). The main form of transportation is the “tuk tuk,” which is essentially a mini taxi cart hooked to a motor bike. You can get a tuk tuk anywhere for between $1 and $13 (the highest being a full day driver). I really liked that the drivers would decorate their tuk tuks, and we saw batman tuk tuks, spiderman tuk tuks, and even a playboy tuk tuk. It was really entertaining.

Besides class, most of my time was spent hanging out in the markets, wandering the streets, and basically just relaxing. There are a lot of charities operating out of Siem Reap that have shops around, and that was interesting to see too. It’s amazing to see how functional and relaxed the country seems since it hasn’t been that long since they had a terrible genocide, though you can still see remnants of the horrible things that happened there. I’ve never seen more burn victims in my life, and you can’t walk off of the trails or out of the city, because there are still active land mines all over. It’s really sad.

Angkor Wat

But, on a brighter note, my time in Cambodia was totally explosion-free, and I would happily come back some day. I met some great people, saw some amazing sights, and overall really enjoyed myself. Now, it’s on to India, the land of holy cows! Should be fun.

Sunset at Angkor Wat

Cambodian Shadow Puppets

As a head’s up, I have no idea what the Internet will be like in India. We’ll see what happens with the blog!

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