Day 2: Temples, Floating Village, and Butterflies


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January 17th 2010
Published: January 18th 2010
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Preah Ko TemplePreah Ko TemplePreah Ko Temple

The first temple we visited today.
Waking up wasn't as hard as we thought given our lack of sleep the previous few days.

Before heading out, we ate a quick meal of toast and fruit, and met our driver. By the way, our driver is pretty much amazing. Friendly, funny, and helpful, he takes us to see paradise....and this is what this place is. Pure paradise-like beauty.

Riding in a tuk tuk, is an adventure in itself. Cars and motorcycles zoom by at what seems like inches away from us. Along the way, we pass a produce market, cows, and naked children playing in the fields. Life is simple here, and everyone has a smile on their face.

We arrive at Preah Ko, the first temple built in the area, nearby the main group of temples at Angkor.

We lucked out because nobody was their except for us, one other tourist, and 5 of the cutest little children ever, playing around the site.

I've been playing around with a technique of photography known as HDR, and the conditions couldn't have been better for it.

The children playing around were intrigues with my camera and tripod, so I invited them over to
The 5 KidsThe 5 KidsThe 5 Kids

These cute kids were playing around the temple, and were very friendly, and did I mention cute?
each take a picture. They weren't so familiar with it, so I helped their tiny fingers press down on the shutter. Their smiles could have melted butter, they were so happy to see the image on the display.

We then made our way to Bakong, the official state temple of one of the kings. Another jaw-dropping site.

We thought we'd see some more temples next, but our driver, remembering we were interested in visiting a floating village, suggested we do that next as we were close by the starting point. The next few hours were some of the most memorable hours spent in our lives.

To begin this most memorable experience, I'd like to first mention It took us going to Cambodia for me to ride on my first motorcycle. That's right, our driver casually mentioned that we would need to ride motorcycles to reach the area where the boats depart for the villages. A bit nervous, we happily smiled and said onward! We needed motorcycles because the road wasn't safe enough for cars or tuk tuk's, but naturally they were fine for motorcycles!

Like I said, I've never been on one, so it added to
Curious KidsCurious KidsCurious Kids

The kids were very curious with my camera, so I helped them each take a picture. They loved it!
the nerves. Staci, however, was familiar with riding on her father's bike, but his, being a touring bike, is a lot different than the smaller dirt bikes used for this. She too, was still nervous.

Mixed with the fast speeds and road conditions, we could have easily balked from the lack of safety precautions we've been used to our whole lives, especially when adding to the mix we wouldn't be wearing any helmets! Not many people wear them around here, not even the seven year old girls driving motorcycles with three other younger passengers on board.

Anyway, back to our adventure....Our driver pulled over at the beginning of the dirt road to park the carrying wagon. Staci would be riding on the bike of his bike. Another man showed up on his bike, the one for me. He looked at me and laughed. He motioned for me to hop on. Not knowing how to, I looked like a fool, but figured I it out, just barely avoiding an upper thigh cramp. The driver's first words to me, accompanied with a chuckle, were "you are a big boy". I laughed, squeezing my legs harder around his, and assuming he
Bakong TempleBakong TempleBakong Temple

The second temple for the day, Bakong. Aren't we cute!?
wouldn't want my burly hands gripping his crotch, I found a metal bar on the back of the bike, and held on.

The ride was supposed to take 20 minutes, but 10 minutes in, we pulled over so my driver could fill air back into the bike's tires that my "big boy" backside had taken away, and we were off again. My nerves had died down, and I was able to soak it all in. Yes, the road was uneven, bumpy, and at times scary, but here I was, in Cambodia with the bluest of blue skies and the greenest of green rice paddies zooming past. It felt like paradise, with the wind blowing across my cheeks.

We finally arrived at the boats, and my bike driver happened to be the boat driver too. Staci's bike driver (also our tuk tuk driver) came with, so the four of us climbed on the boat, and took off. Again, the views were breathtaking. We started seeing houses on high stilts due to the wet season in October/November, and were informed that around 5000 people live in such housing in the approaching village. Slowly, we made it through the village, smiling
Another Bakong ViewAnother Bakong ViewAnother Bakong View

Bakong Temple gave us stunning views like this.
and waving at all the families going about their daily lives. Many of them were fishing, and many of the children were playing, swimming, and relaxing, as there is no school on Sundays.

Finally, we made it to the big lake, where we turned off the engine, anchoring peacefully under the still bluest of blue skies. We relaxed and chatted for about 15 minutes. The driver even took a pee off the side of the boat. When it was time to go, the engine would not start, and it appeared we would be stranded in the middle of this huge lake. We weren't worried because there could be far worse placed to be stranded. A few attempts later, laughing the whole way, the problem was fixed and we headed back through the village and docked in the middle so we could walk on land under and through the houses where during the wet season, we'd sure to be deep under water. Again, it was fascinating. The village people were drying shrimp, playing badminton, and the babies were rocking back and forth to sleep in hammocks.

We bought some lychee soda from a mini restaurant and got back on
More AirMore AirMore Air

I'm a big boy, so we had to fill the tires back up with air. Yes, I rode on the back of this bike. Say hello to my driver!
our boat to finish our floating village journey.

It was back on the bikes, and another 20 minutes of high speeds, swerving through the long bumpy road...I had the biggest smile the whole time.

The rest of the day was spent visiting a few more temples, and then our driver dropped us back off at our hostel. A bit tired, we went back to the room for a quick break before heading out to dinner, which proved to be icing on the already cake of a day.

We chose to eat at Butterflies Garden Restaurant, where three times a week, local children come to release thousands of butterflies in the enclosed by netting outdoor restaurant. It's a beautiful place to eat and relax. Not many butterflies were out, but we saw a few next to our table.

The food was phenomenal. We started with a bowl of fried cashew nuts mixed with chili and lemon, and fresh spring rolls. The main courses consisted of a vegetable curry dish, and a ginger tofu dish. We each had an iced tea as well. On the way back to our hostel we stopped by to get 50 cent draft
Pitstop ViewPitstop ViewPitstop View

The view from where we filled up the tires. You can see the green rice fields and the dirt rode we went down.
beers, and reflect on the day we had.

We lounged a bit in the main area of the hostel, writing a few postcards. I also enjoyed homemade white chocolate ice cream served on a mini-waffle. Staci had a fresh coconut shake.

Exhausted, we're back in our room for some much needed sleep.

Tomorrow's day starts at 4:50am for the sunrise at Angkor Wat.

Life is good.



Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


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Floating VillageFloating Village
Floating Village

On a boat, we rode through this village. 5,000 people live here.
StrandedStranded
Stranded

The boat's engine failed. Could be worse places to be stranded. In the back you can see the driver bent over examining the problem.
The VillageThe Village
The Village

On the land, we walked through the village. Wouldn't be able to during the wet season. You can see kids playing volleyball.
SwimmingSwimming
Swimming

Driving around in the tuk tuk, this is a common view.
Yum!Yum!
Yum!

The food was GREAT!


18th January 2010

WOW
All I can say is amazing amazing amazing....incredible day and I can't wait to see the pictures. This all sounds so beautiful, fun , crazy and a blast. I ate a coconut popsicle to toast to your coconut day:)
18th January 2010

what an amazing adventure! So glad you are getting to experience it! Love you both (and so glad you survived the motorbike adventure!)
19th January 2010

Beautiful scenes
How nice it is to keep up with everything you are experiencing. These memories will last a lifetime, I'm sure. Your pictures are so clear and colorful. It was kind of you to let the children use the camera. The bike rides were rather harrowing, I feel, and glad that you didn't fall off. We hope the remainder of this fantastic trip will be good. We send our love and prayers. Grandma
23rd January 2010

Awesome
It is neat to see the difference of 2.5 months what the dry season does to the floating village. Pete couldn't believe his eyes when we saw no water around the houses.

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