After the three days of working with TB, we were very keen to see the Canadian Emergency Response team do their stuff. Gina and I headed out to TB headquarters early and meet Ellen and Thumi there. Unfortunately there is little action at the depot. We later found out that some of the gear that the canadians are relying on has been delayed in shipment so the whole exercise has been thrown back a number of days. Not really too much of a surprise over here so we have to go with plan B. Thumi and Ellen head off to do some exploring on their own. As we have a couple of days left in SR Gina and I decide to do a bit more exploring.
The previous evening, we met Sam, Nick, Elle and Alex and a bunch of young folk who all work for Non Government Organisations (NGO) in and around SR. The place is awash with aid money and there is a legion of folk working NGOs including our young friends who are responsible for dispensing the aid dollars - some are more effective than others is all I'll say about that. Anyway the dinner is one
of a number of aborted "family" dinners as the kids now have obligations with their new chums and the social life in SR is pretty hectic. One of the more pleasant ways of relaxing that we hear about later is to go down to one of the barays - these are the large water reservoirs that were built around Angkor Wat as water storages. The afternoon is spent by renting a hammock, taking a dip in the water occasionally and snacking on locally roasted chickens. We do end up having a few meals with Sam and Elle. A particular favorite of Sam's is a very good, cheap Indian place called the Indian Gate. And we finally get the whole gang together for a splendid meal on our last evening before leaving Siem Reap at a posh place called Viroths. Our friend Julie once again joins us after she bumps into Sam at his guetshouse.
Before we leave SR we do bits of sight seeing. First thing is a tuk tuk ride out to Phnom Krom, a hill and temple some 12 kms south of SR. The ride out is pretty dusty as its the dry season. All the same
Field of Lotus lilies
The hill of Phnom Krom in the background
its a lovely spot and one of the only hills around SR. It gives us a nice view back towards SR town. It would probably have given us a great view out to the great lake of Tonle Sap but the haze coming up from the dry ground all around limits the viewing. As the road nears Phnom Krom it is skirted by large marshes that are full of lotus plants, many in bloom. Its a magnificent view and on the way back to town we stop by the roadside to get a closer look. The lotus plants are actually farmed by the locals for the green nuts in the seed pod and the green stems of the plant. Some of the more enterprising farmers have set up roadside stalls to sell their produce. For a few cents, a visitor can also wander out amongst the lotus plants for a closer look - its a very pleasant thing to do.
The other thing we do is a bike ride through a collection of the lesser temples of the Angkor Wat complex. We end up riding about 30kms around the temples - with the heat and the less than adequate
bikes we are riding its a long grind. Around the temples we come across many sights: seeing a bunch of elephants being taken out to their marshalling area with each mahuts riding their elephant while texting on mobile phones; a traffic accident involving a motorbike with a live pig strapped on the back and sharing lunch at a roadside restaurant with a collection of trainee guides. This is the burgeoning source of employment in SR and it proved a fitting way for us to finish up.
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