Hamann Asian Trip, Winter 2015 travel blog

Indigenous peacock costume in "Mak Thering"

Daal Soup at Indian Restaurant.

Aloo Gobi

Tantoori Chicken w/naan & curry

Expat Street: small child on cycle

Guys practicing kicking w/ball

Traffic on Expat

Five stories/French Influence

Cat perched high up on Buddhist Temple roof.

Buddha inside spirit house.

Spirit house near monkeys

Monkeys run free near Temple

Lori below spire of Temple.

Monkeys are fast movers!

Cute but can be nasty!

Inside Buddhist Temple.

Yet another Spirit house near Temple.

Mangy dogs lay outside temple.

An altar of Buddhas.

Candles and fruit adorn altar.

another altar with many Buddhas.

Smaller Temple altar.

Incense and gifts for Buddhist practitioners.

Practitioners bring gifts.

Saffron-robed monks walk into Temple area.

Dog comfortable under incense.

Spirit house with incense and Buddhas.

Woman honoring her beliefs.

Stairway to the Buddhist Temple

Empty street in front of Palace.

Independence Monument.

Typical corner cafe.

A view from inside our tuk-tuk.

We look at the back of our driver.

Building going on everywhere.

Bikes hold hundreds of pounds.

Cafe spirit house.

A mass of wires everywhere on every street.

Dead fish at Central Market for sale.

Butt enhancement.

Clothes and food sold next to each other.

A scene from the play.

Dancers on stage

The snake appears in a dream!

This was a moving scene.

Peacocks are indigenous.

Peacock movements amazing.

Peacock flight.

Beauty and drama together

The King's Court.

Friends and Family,

Today we left our hotel at 9:45. I think yesterday took it out of us. We needed to recoup and regroup.

Our first adventure today was venturing out into the streets to get to the Central Market. We see everything here. We did not spend a lot of time with the food section of the market. Ellery looked for cheap t-shirts, which he found by the bazillions. He got a cool tie-dye for $2 and a pair of shorts for $5 USD. How about the buns support! Wouldn't you like your back end to be more full? Apparently, I've been attempting to reduce all my life instead of add to that part of my body! Ha! Course it is true that I have more than enough support compared to Cambodian women who tend toward the small sizes, top and bottom.

I just want to mention again how aghast I am at the telephone wires all over this country. Same thing in Siem Reap. It is insanity for what would happen if they ever came down on the people. But we won't go there, right? There's a lot of places we "won't go!"

Rich succombed to the tourista trots this day. He was out of commission, quiet, somber, unable to fully participate in Ellery's and my adventuring. It was okay, because Rich hates shopping, and he was thrilled to not have to join us. So Ellery and I went in and out of as many shops and markets as we could knowing the only thing stopping us was our own exhaustion. That finally happened. We cannot for the life of us figure out what caused Rich's intentinal problem. He and I have eaten just about everything the same, though Rich has gone back to meat-eating wherein I gave it up a week ago when I noted my arthritic pain in my hips returning. Since I've stopped, by the way, so has the pain. go figure. I'm just happy to be without pain of any kind. Lucky me. We feel for Rich.

Ellery and I stopped at a corner authentic Cambodian restaurant. All the dishes had meat in them. Ellery's soup, marked "Wonton" on the menu was actually riddled with animal intestine. We have no idea which animal. Did he eat the intestine? Ah - no. He picked the intestines out and slurped the rest of the soup admitting that it was too oily and too salty. Not for me. I asked them to prepare my vegetable noodle dish without meat. They did. It is prepared on the spot, so in this case, I think it actually had no meat in it. I'm not always clear that that is the case. Friends, even if I was still a meat eater, I think I'd pass on the meat all the time. I'm so spoiled that I like to know more about my food than one gets to know here. Actually, I don't want to know. Just skip the many varieties of meat for me. [Note the spirit house in this restaurant.] My noodles tasted like nothing I've ever had before: quite delicious. I wonder what spices are included...so unusual.

After a while, every scene is repeatable. We are beginning to notice that our interest in this city is one of a glorious feeling of being here because we know we will soon be on to other places on the earth. Don't get me wrong. We like it well enough. We are just happy that we don't have to stay forever.

A note ... if you walk down the street, you will be asked every minute or two if you want a tuk-tuk. There is so much competition among the drivers, it makes me sad for those who don't get our business. Yet, I must remember: there are plenty of tourists everywhere, so most must get some business each day. An average ride for a good distance for three is $2-$3 USD. If it's a short ride, you offer $1 and they negotiate up. You usually settle for $1.25 or $1.50. Since they don't give you change in USD, you are then stuck with Real Dollars by the thousands, literally. If they stay with you all day and wait for you to finish whatever it is you are doing, the cost is $30 for the day. Unless you are going a far distance, there is not need to hire them for the day, since, as I said, they are everywhere. Every now and then, as in yesterday's trip to the KF, you do need a driver for the day. So it goes.

Rich is still out of commission by afternoon. Poor guy just wants to rest. Our hotel provides the calm respite he needs.

After ellery and I view many parts of this Temple, we watch a mother training her daughter as to how to prostrate, bring flowers, and light incense and candles to honor Buddha. Outside the Temple, people bring cameras to capture the antics of the monkeys. Just as we were about to leave that area, two of the monkeys attacked a Chinese woman and her son, breaking skin. The five year-old boy cried he was so scared. The onlookers freaked out, screaming. We guessed the monkeys were sick of being stared at. What set them off, I have no idea. The woman and her son note the monkeys had broken their skin, and they were bleeding. Ellery looked at me with fear in his eyes. No one there spoke Chinese except Ellery. I encouraged him to go to the woman and advise her. Ellery did just that telling her she ought to take herself and her son to a doctor or hospital. In Chinese, the woman answered she might do that. Ellery was emphatic, but her stubbornness downplayed the serriousness. Not much we could do but ampathize as she tried to calm her son. What they ended up doing, we have no idea. We only hope they did not get a disease from these wild animals that lure us humans in with their cuteness and then let us have it when they are sick of our attention. So it goes.

Ellery and I enjoy a leisurely walk back to our hotel. We note the French influence of the architecture. We dubbed this busy street "Expat Street, which is not its real name, but because all up and down the street we see westerners. The cafes are filled with westerners and most cater to their likes in food and silverware of spoons and forks. Chop sticks can usually be made available, but the Cambodians do not use chop sticks all the time as the Chinese and Taiwanese do. The music in the cafes is American pop. I suppose it adds comfort to some people, but for us, we do not care for it. We want to be off the beaten path to find the authenticity we came here to see.

Once back at our hotel, Ellery and I find Rich,l not 100% but doing slightly better.

He decides to walk with us to dinner but forego eating.

We decide to go "Indian cuisine" this evening. Ellery enjoys fried chicken with cabbage in a serving of Tantoori Chicken with naan & curry; I have a potato and caulifower stew, called Aloo Gobi, a famous recipe all Indian mothers pass down to their daughters, and daal, a spicey, flavorful lentil soup. Rich has half a helping of white rice. We decide to go back to the hotel. This is is for the day. Since this is such an international city, every cuisine is available here just about, except Mexican.

"Mak-Thering, a Love Story" performed by Yike Amatok troupe.***This day was completed with our seeing an authentic play. The costuming was bright and glorious. The acting, though staged and over-wrought with drama, enabled us to appreciate the level of societal understanding of where their live theater is at. We enjoyed the one hour fifteen minute performance. The cost was $15 per person. Expensive but well worth it, we thought.

Are you tired yet? We were. We walked miles and miles and enjoyed many sights in the bright sunlight of the day. Just being among the crowds is tiring. I'm not used to this amount of sound surrounding me all the time except for when we feel relief at our quiet hotel amidst the hub-bub.

How privileged we feel to experience these exotic sights, see the chaos and disorganization of a poor, poor city lying in wait for help with garbage pick-up in front of most buildings, and clean water relief. No one, however, is complaining. Smiles and bowing to honor us is everywhere around us. The Khmer people are so very grateful for our visiting. This is truly a third-world nation. Now you virtually know first-hand what it is like. Aren't you glad you are with us on this trip? We are thrilled you that are with us.

Be well.

Lori, Rich, Ellery

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