Homestay and Siem Reap
The two of us got up at about 6.30am, brushed our teeth, washed our faces (of course with cold water out of the trough) and went for a walk. Lots of life going on at that time in the morning. Children in uniform going to school on their bikes. Schools start here at 7.00am until 11.00 am and then in the afternoon a different group. Some of the girls dragged a long thick tree branch with them on their bikes. We assumed some kind of school project. One girl obviously forgot and remembered halfway to school. We saw her leave home and then return to pick up the big branch. Lots of bikes are too big for the kids – they can grow into them!
People everywhere are very friendly and saying hello (soussedai). We met a man on an oxcart pulled by two oxen. He was very willing to pose for a picture. Motor bikes zoom by. Trucks going by and blowing up a lot of dust. The leaves on the trees at the side of the road are red. The same goes for the umbrella covering a small stand that sells gasoline in liquor bottles. We see a mother washing a baby at the top of the stairs outside the house. We say hello and she smiles and gets the baby to wave at us. We just see a smidgen of village life in the morning.
Time for breakfast at 7.45am. We are getting fried eggs, bread, rice and a banana baked/fried in a crust of rice flour – very good! We can get either green tea or instant coffee from a package that contains sugar and milk already.
We say goodbye and lots of thanks to our hostess and leave at 8.30am. We take the same dusty roads back and arrive at the oldest bridge of Cambodia. The bus is not allowed to drive over it, so drops us off and it takes the new bridge across. We get a story about the bridge and then walk across.
The drive was about 4 hours and we arrive in Siem Reap by midday. The hotel welcomed us with a refreshing cold facecloth. After we wipe our face, the facecloth is red from the dust! We all wanted to jump into the shower as soon as possible. Some of us went for lunch. Brian stayed behind to rest and be cool. It is hot again – at least 35-38 degrees C. Kom told us that that temperature in too high for this time of the year. This means that the soil dries out faster and the rice needs the more water to grow.
Siem Reap has a population of about 90.000 and was up until a few years ago a poor city. Now it is the second largest and prosperous city in Cambodia after Phnom Penh. Because it is the gateway to the Angkor Wat temples, it is now a booming tourist town with lots of hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, markets etc. Kom lives here with his family and was looking forward to seeing his kids and his wife.
After lunch the two of us went for a massage at “Seeing Hands”. The massages are being done by blind people. They do a Japanese massage – no oil, just pressure. Eke’s massage was gentle and good, Brian’s was hard pressure and torture sometimes. All of that for $6.00 for an hour. Afterwards, the tuk tuk that had taken us there drove us to the Angkor Artisans Workshop. A guide showed us artisans at work doing silk painting, wood carving, making sand stone sculptures, and others creating decorations in copper and silver to make small boxes, napkin rings etc. After the tour we went into the shop: beautiful handicrafts such as silk scarves, shirts, jackets and other products that we saw made in the workshop. We bought a small souvenir for ourselves, treated ourselves to a home made ice cream and let the tuk tuk take us back to the hotel.
At 6.30pm our group followed Kom on a walk through Pub Street which is totally a haven for tourists. Kom had made reservations at a restaurant there. His wife and youngest daughter (11 months) joined us there. It was really neat to meet them and it was a nice evening.
Tomorrow the temples!
As promised in an earlier post, here is our list of
Many Things Seen Carried on a Motorbike
All are noteworthy because of their large size or large quantities.
Large load of Tires
Many large bags of rice
Brush / yard waste
Large boxes of toilet paper
4 Flat screen TVs
Large framed picture
Many cans of paint
Many loaves of bread
Car parts (plastic bumper)
Rolls of foam
Eggs (more than a hundred dozen)
Boxes of bottled water
Large boxes of cigarettes
5 foot freezer chest
Fluorescent light tubes
Father, mother, two children; mother nursing one.
Another with a family of five
Two live cows (on small trailer)