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    Tropical Storm Tour: Cambodia Part 5

    Tuesday, July 7, 2015
    Siem Reap, Cambodia

    An impressive tower at Wat Damnakin in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    An impressive tower at Wat Damnakin in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    A field of chedis at Wat Damnakin in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A field of chedis at Wat Damnakin in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    I tried to find a restaurant called Sala Bai to eat lunch, but ended up riding around in circles and sweating my shirt full under the oppressive heat blanket that is known as tropical air. A lack of street signs at most corners in Siem Reap did not help matters much. I finally found the restaurant, but they informed me that they’re closed from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. I stopped by four or five other restaurants and asked if they accepted Thai baht, but they said no, so I went back to the one I ate at last night who did. (I had read that some Cambodian businesses accept baht, and I have some left over that I’d rather spend than pay a money changer to convert into U.S. dollars.)

    Buddhist monks enter the gate at Wat Damnakin in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    Buddhist monks enter the gate at Wat Damnakin in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    After a late lunch, Wat Damnakin in the south part of town beckoned, so I bicycled down there to take some snaps. Although the sky had been overcast and drizzled intermittently most of the day, the late afternoon sun peaked out of the clouds for a while and lit up the place very nicely. I spent an hour or two walking around the compound clicking away at the various intricate temples, chedis and gates, and even found some huge animals and Buddha images made out of foam. I also briefly took in another Buddhist prayer ceremony and captured a field recording of a group of kids making some shambling music as they learned to play traditional Cambodian percussion instruments.

    He used to be a weather man, but now he's just a weathered man at Wat Damnakin in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    He used to be a weather man, but now he’s just a weathered man at Wat Damnakin in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    Next, I hit the bicycle again and wandered around randomly in the back lanes of south Siem Reap, where a small pizza cart caught my eye. I stopped and ordered a six-inch diameter pizza for $2.50, which is a little expensive for Cambodia, but I’m spending less money at the Golden Takeo, so I should still stay under budget. The girl who worked there was really nice and talked with me for a while. She is 28 and used to sell clothes in a street market, but just recently quit and set up her pizza cart a week ago. She said maybe 10 to 30 people stop and buy a pizza per day–a few of them tourists. While I was there, I heard some strange singing blaring from a distorted speaker down the street at another temple, so I headed down there to capture a field recording. Too bad a million motorcycles had to drive by, which periodically smothered the sound I wanted to record!

    A dragon and an elephant made out of foam at Wat Damnakin in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A dragon and an elephant made out of foam at Wat Damnakin in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    After nightfall, I stopped by the Aspara Theater to book a seat at a dance performance. Unfortunately, it’s one of those dinner theater shows, but at least the audience eats before the performance and not during it, which seems disrespectful to the dancers. They didn’t have any seats left right in front of the stage for tonight’s show, so I booked one for Saturday night. (They only put on three shows per week, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and this Thursday had been canceled for some reason.) Luckily, they accepted my Thai baht. After grabbing a plate of noodles with vegetables and rice at a roadside restaurant, I bought some bananas, apples and oranges at a market for late night snacks. Then I headed back to the Golden Takeo, where I had a good talk with a fellow traveler, an older woman from Australia , who filled me in on the city of Pnom Phen, where I’m going next.

    An evening Buddhist prayer service at Wat Damnakin in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    An evening Buddhist prayer service at Wat Damnakin in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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