[YEAR 7!] Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding...


The northern route cuts through the marshlands, lots of crops here and animals graze not too far from the road. Neda tries to get an ox's attention...


"Why are you throwing rocks at me, human?"

Just kidding!!!! She was just throwing rocks into the marshes. She's actually quite an animal lover.

Because most of them are quite tasty...


We pass through several small villages on the way south

The standard of living is definitely lower than Thailand. A lot less industrial, at least up here in the north. Our "big bikes" are getting lots of stares and a few Cambodian kids (mainly the boys) give us the thumbs up as we ride by.
 

We stop to watch these fishermen


They were casting their nets into the marshes and then diving in to collect their catch. Neat stuff.

One guy found it very amusing that I was taking pictures of him fishing. I smiled and waved. He gave me a look that I think in Cambodia might be the equivalent of "SMH" and then went back to what he was doing...


And then we found a larger body of water and tons of fishermen there. I wonder what they were catching.

Speaking of which, we were getting hungry. It was a long day and we wanted to reward ourselves with a nice sit-down meal in an air-conditioned restaurant. Treat ourselves!
 
Villages turned into larger buildings, tractor-engines turned into cars, in no time we found ourselves swallowed up in the big city of Siem Reap.

A lot of people think Thai traffic is chaotic. Cambodia is worse. Motorcycles get much less respect on the road here. Cars whiz past with no room to spare, expecting you to get out of their way. But the biggest difference from Thailand: honking. I did not notice how restrained Thai drivers were with their horns. Not so in Cambodia. Everybody beeps here. It wasn't as bad as India, but definitely a big change from where we just came from!

We pulled into the first touristy restaurant we saw in Siem Reap. We were in the mood for seafood after watching all the fishermen earlier on. When we sat down to look at the menus, we realized that despite all the research we had done on how to get into Cambodia, we actually didn't bother finding our what currency they use here. The stuff looked pretty cheap, 30-50 something for a meal. If the currency is like the Thai Baht, that's like $1-$2 for a plate. Not bad. We asked the waiter what the exchange rate was. He told us everything on the menu was priced in US dollars.

Excuse me? $30USD for a plate of seafood in Cambodia?!?

This was the first restaurant we went to in this country, so we weren't sure what to expect. Cambodia had already ripped us off for the Visa, we were *NOT* paying $30USD/plate for food. We've never paid $30 for food anywhere in SE Asia!

We beat a hasty retreat back out into the streets of Siem Reap. At least we learned that they use USD here, so we don't have to exchange currency. Is Cambodia really that expensive though?


We rode further into town. Close to our hotel, we stopped at a shopping mall with air conditioning. :)

Ahhhh, air conditioning....

Inside the mall, we found one of those family restaurant chains, like a Kelseys or Applebys. Very western, but we didn't care. It was cool inside and it had nice comfy booths where we could spread out all of our gear. A quick check on their prices revealed that Cambodia is not that expensive. Food costs a bit more than Chiang Mai, around Phuket prices... It was like $10 each for a nice sit-down meal. I suspected we were paying more for the air-conditioning! Street food would probably be less than half that.

I can't believe that first restaurant. Probably tried to sucker in the tourists who stop at the first restaurant they find in Siem Reap. Crazy!
 
We did splash out on a nice and fancy hotel for our first couple of nights in Siem Reap though. You can tell how nice it is by the welcome tray they serve you when you check in.


Welcome tray = nice hotel


After checking into our hotel, we ride around Siem Reap in the evening to pick up some groceries

And... I forgot to plug in the fuse for the headlights for night riding.

Very unnerving riding around the dim back streets of Siem Reap, lit only by the lights of the stalls on the side of the road.

Gotta be more diligent about that fuse.
 

After relaxing in our hotel room for the day, we venture out into the haze of the late afternoon to explore Siem Reap when the weather is not so hot


Pub street is *the* backpackers destination in Siem Reap. Lots of hostels, diners, pubs and nightclubs all in one place here


Grabbing some drinks and doing some people-watching from a restaurant right on Pub Street

We are really liking the Angkor Beer, named after the Angkor Watt temples just outside of town. We also tried the "Cambodia" brand beer, but didn't like that too much. So far, Cambodian beer is better than Thai beer! But not as good as BeerLaowDark...

So refreshing on a hot day!
 
Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/380.html



Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world.

So we've given ourselves a few days to visit the entire complex, which is made up of several sites about 15 minutes north of the city of Siem Reap. It was a bit confusing finding out where to pick up tickets. The office is in a building somewhere between the city and the temples, and the signage is not very good. We rode up and down looking for the ticket office. We got a three day pass for $50 each. Pricey!
 

We've read that the main temple, Angkor Wat, is best viewed at sunset

So we hid out in our luxurious hotel room, waiting out the hottest time of the day, to venture out in the late afternoon, a couple of hours before sunset.

Parking is free for motorcycles! We just pulled up to where all the taxis were and stashed our bikes between a couple of tuk tuks. Camouflaged! I love traveling by bikes!


We met some of the locals of Angkor Wat

The site that the main temple is on is huge! The grounds are 1.6 square kms and it takes a long time to walk from the parking lot on the outside of the moat surrounding the site to the actual temple itself.

Also whoever is recommending visiting the temple at sunset is telling everybody they know, because it is friggin' crowded! I guess it is the #1 tourist destination in Cambodia...
 

We try to time our walks through the temples in the lull between tour groups


The lull between tour groups

The city of Angkor was the capital of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th century. These temples were built in the 12th century.


It is not just a tourist site, it's an active temple as well.
People come here to pray and burn incense sticks.


Angkor was founded on political and religious ideas from India. This explains why this statue has multiple arms, which indicates that it's a Hindu deity. The Khmer were a Hindu/Buddhist religion.
 

So I found out that these monks don't live at Angkor Wat,
they all make pilgrimages to visit the temple



Another tourist, just like us. But dressed more snazzy...


Interacting with the monks
 

Walking a bit further away, we get a chance to snap the world-famous shot of Angkor Wat
reflecting off the pond in front of the temple. This is the picture on everyone's Instagram feed


What those Instagram photos never show you is where you have to stand to get the shot:


Seems so peaceful and serene in front of the camera, doesn't it?

I am fascinated with tourism.

Having traveled to many of the tourist hot-spots, there's often a sharp contrast between the marketing of a destination and the reality. Everyone's picture of the Greek island of Santorini shows the solitary blue domes on spartan white buildings against the wide-open Aegean Sea. There's never any other people in the shot. But the reality is that there are thousands of sweaty tourists all crowding each other trying to take that spartan shot. And *all of them* continuing to perpetuate the marketing myth that Santorini is a peaceful, solitary getaway!

Stonehenge backs up right against a major highway. In Pisa, we took more pictures of the tourists miming than the leaning tower itself. I've heard that the Sphinx in Cairo is being crowded by McDonalds and shopping malls (I still want to see it though!). But everyone wants a picture of how it was a hundred years or a thousand years ago, when there weren't cities and highways, shopping malls and parking lots, and acres of concrete, glass and steel all dominating our landscape.

I find that so interesting.


Here are two more of those sweaty tourists, lined up to get their picture taken in front of Angkor Wat

We've visited many of the "Top Ten" tourist spots in almost every country we've traveled to. Although we dislike crowds, there is a reason why these places are so popular. Angkor Wat is magnificent, due in part to the sheer size of it, but also all the way down to the well-preserved old grey stones and the odd monk walking around in orange robes (odd as in few, not weird).
 

Neda spent a lot of time taking pictures of the lily pads on the pond in front of the temple


A horse is parked in front for more tourist picture opportunities.


So this is a thing now...

We've kept this blog going for so long that it's not only just a diary of where we've been, but it's also become sort of a historical record of worldwide fads and trends. Back in 2012, we returned from a six-week trek to and from the Arctic Ocean in Alaska, and our friends in Vancouver informed us that Gangnam Style had become a thing while we were gone...

So let this be a record. As of right now, "dabbing" is a thing.

Personally, I find it a bit odd. (Odd as in weird, not few)
 

Sun is approaching the golden hour and everyone is flocking outside


The crowds outside the temple


Are these monks also walking outside to get a shot for their Instagram account?

Not joking! I've seen a few monks tapping and swiping on their smartphones. So apparently it's allowed.

I've heard that they have special Buddhist SIM cards for their phones. There's a guy who sells it to them, he's called the Chip Monk...

(insert obscure Asus Zenfone reference here)
 

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