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    Tropical Storm Tour: Cambodia Part 11

    Monday, July 13, 2015
    Siem Reap, Cambodia

    Step inside Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    Step inside Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    Visitors stroll around Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    Visitors stroll around Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    When I woke up, the Sun was shining and the sky was blue, so I walked a half mile over to Bunnath Guesthouse and rented a proper bicycle–a mountain bike–with hybrid tires for both roads and trails. For some strange reason, the guy only made me pay $3.00 instead of the usual $4.00 he usually charges for this kind of bike all day. Maybe it was because it was already 9:30 am and he figured part of the day was already gone. After a bowl of fruit and cereal with homemade yogurt at the Peace Cafe, I pleasantly pedaled a few miles up the highway to the Angkor complex mainly to shoot some video at the temples since I didn’t a few days ago. I also wanted to snap a few more pics since the sun was blazing up in a beautiful blue sky dotted with white, fluffy clouds.

    A Buddhist shrine inside Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A Buddhist shrine inside Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    I spent around 90 minutes at Angkor Wat, clocking plenty of footage of the gorgeous carved towers, walls, halls and scarily steep staircases. Second in line was Bayon, which was totally delightful with its towers sporting the large, grinning Buddha faces that I love so much. The way they smile cracks me up. At one point, I was attempting to line up a shot of one of the towers when a tourist lady suddenly stepped directly in front of me and stood with her face literally one foot away from mine as she shot a photo of something else off on my left side–all while prattling on and on to her little tribe. Finally, after a minute or so, the oblivious one finally moved, which freed me up to take my shot. Sometimes I wonder what goes on in the minds of people who do stuff like that; who have little to no regard for others’ personal space.

    A steep staircase at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A steep staircase at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    After I had my fill of Bayon, I unlocked my bike from the tree out front when I overheard another girl mention she was dying from pedaling a bicycle around the Angkor complex all day. Sure enough, she had rented one of those funky bicycles with the awful geometry and only one gear that prevents you from going more than five miles per hour. I told her she should rent a bike like mine if she was going to return, but she said she didn’t plan to. Then I implored her to at least raise her seat, since it was lowered all the way.

    A steep staircase at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A steep staircase at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    At my next stop, the Terrace of the Elephants, I pulled off into the dirt lot across the street to look for a food stall, as I was feeling pretty hungry. Right then, a lady tout beckoned me to come to her stall. So, I followed her on my bike as she ran ahead of me to guide me over there, which was pretty funny. All of the prices in the menu were double what you’d pay in Siem Reap. For example, the bowl of curry vegetables and rice I wanted were listed at $7.00. I tried to talk her down to $4.00, but we settled on $5.00 with a small bottle of water. It’s hard to go wrong with curry, so I wasn’t surprised that it was delicious, as usual.

    Grinning Buddha faces at Bayon, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    Grinning Buddha faces at Bayon, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    As I was leaving, the lady told me to come back to her stall, number 21, tomorrow. I thought the whole place was one big, long stall, but didn’t notice that it was divided up into a bunch of small ones–even though they were all under one roof. There were quite a few tourists snacking away in there with a million ceiling fans blasting away. Next, I headed back across the road to the Terrace of the Elephants, where I was amped to capture some video of the amazing maze of carved walls bearing intricate carvings that wound its way through a small hillside.

    A close-up of a grinning Buddha face at Bayon, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A close-up of a grinning Buddha face at Bayon, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    As I emerged from the labyrinth, I noticed that the entire sky had transformed, with dark black clouds replacing the clear blue sky that had dominated a short while ago. I jumped on my bike and headed out the East Gate toward my next stop, Ta Keo. Right when I passed through the tunnel of the gate, I had a feeling I should have waited in there, as it was most likely about to rain. But, for some dumb reason, I pressed onward. Once I rounded the corner in front of Ta Keo, the rain drops started coming down. I pushed my bike down onto a dirt shoulder on the side of the road, stood under some trees at the edge of the jungle and cracked open my umbrella.

    A steep staircase at Bayon, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A steep staircase at Bayon, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    I was hoping it would be a light rain that would soon pass, but no, it quickly turned into a torrential downpour. I crouched down low under my umbrella, hoping that would keep my legs from getting soaked, but no dice. So, I decided to head for cover under a nearby food stall, where I could put my camera and iPod touch, which I had wrapped up in a cloth in my left hand, into a plastic bag that was hanging on my belt. The problem was I was boxed in by a lake several inches deep that had formed right in front of me from all of the water that was streaming down from the road, and there was a tangle of branches on either side that prevented me from exiting in either direction. Behind me was nothing but thick jungle.

    A line of food stalls across the road from the Terrace of the Elephants, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A line of food stalls across the road from the Terrace of the Elephants, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    Finally, I decided to make a dash for it. I broke my umbrella trying to get out through one side, and the other seemed equally impenetrable, even after I had smashed down a branch that was blocking the path. My only choice to escape was to splash right through the lake, which I did, and much to my chagrin, it was pretty much ankle deep, which completely soaked my boots and socks inside and out. After I walked my bike over to a food stall, I stood inside and transferred my handful of gear to my plastic bag.

    The Terrace of the Elephants, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    The Terrace of the Elephants, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    Since they were nice for letting me do that, I bought a pineapple shake for $2.00. In Siem Reap, they’re usually $1.00. Too bad it was really tiny, at only eight ounces, but at least it was yummy. By the time I finished it, the torrential downpour had lightened up into a drizzle, so I headed back out onto the road and pedaled my way the several miles back to Siem Reap. On the way, I encountered several crossroads with no signs in English, so I had to ask directions. Finally, after close to an hour, I found myself on National Highway 6, where there was a gnarly traffic jam full of trucks, buses, vans, cars, human-pulled carts and he like. I’ll have to admit it was pretty fun weaving through all of it.

    A Buddha image at the Terrace of the Elephants, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A Buddha image at the Terrace of the Elephants, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    The service at the Peace Cafe on this night was a disaster. First, they didn’t bring a free glass of water like they usually do, so I had to ask for it and clarify that it would be free. Then I ordered tofu noodles with vegetables and asked if it came with a side of rice, because I was pretty sure it did the last time I ordered it. The server said yes. When they brought the noodles, there was no rice. I asked about it, and the server said, “Sorry, it does not come with rice.” So, I had to pay an extra 50 cents for it.

    A maze with carved walls at the Terrace of the Elephants, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A maze with carved walls at the Terrace of the Elephants, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    After a few minutes, my rice still hadn’t arrived, so I got up and gave the server my plate and asked her to heat up my food since it was already cold because I had to wait so long. Then I sat back down over at my table. A few seconds later, she brought my rice and my plate of cold food. I had to ask her a second time to warm it up for me. Finally, a couple of minutes later, it was all good as she returned with my food heated up. But, for some reason, the tofu noodles didn’t seem as yummy as the first time I had it. Maybe someone else made it. Also, the portion was really small, as usual.

    Beautiful carvings outside the maze at the Terrace of the Elephants, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    Beautiful carvings outside the maze at the Terrace of the Elephants, Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    A young man kicks back in a hammock in his pottery cart in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    A young man kicks back in a hammock in his pottery cart in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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