July 21, 2005

siem reap

we ended up spending five days here. three days exploring the angkor temples and two killing time since the flights to pakse, laos are only twice a week. unfortunatly you really don't need more than one day here (not counting days spent touring temples.)

siem reap is a dusty dusty town. and i've been told that it is actually much worse in the middle of the dry season. (it's the start of the rainy season now, but on the news we were hearing that there is currently a drought.)
the first night we got here i took a shower and the water going down the drain was brown. the next morning i took another shower and it was still brown. even the tap water here has dirt in it. the amount of dirt on the ground and dust i the air here makes the area of beijing i was living in last year look very very clean. the air quality here is pretty horrible. me and ronda both got sore throats and stuffed noses on our second day here and the situatin hasn't improved any with time. just walking around town you feel like you've accumulated a layer of filth on you.
it probably doesn't help that the amount of construction and big expensive hotels/resorts that are currently being built here is amazing. they are really banking on a HUGE future tourist industry here. (there are already lots of large hotels.)
there is a royal palace in town but you can't tour it. there are also some royal gardens which don't feel very royal. (there was construction going on in them as well.) the best part about the royal gardens is that you can see thousands of bats hanging from the trees in the gardens. and these aren't small bats, when they take off you realize that they have a wing span of at least two feet.
the center of town is actually pretty small and has a high concentration of "fancy" resturants, bars, and cafes geared torward tourists. one place we spent a lot of time at was the blue pumpkin cafe. i spent almost an entire day here reading since upstairs they have a giant 4 foot deep futon cushion that spans the length of the entire wall and you can sit on it burried in pillows while ordering drinks and food on smal tray tables. needless to say it was a pretty comfy place to relax and read. (it really seemed surreal and kinda outta place in this small town, but somehow i got over that.)
we also had some pretty tasty soup here at a place called the Soup Dragon. we had pho ($0.75 USD) and cambodian beef stew ($0.90 USD) for breakfast here twice. we also had some good thai soups for dinner at a place called In Touch. Finally, our favorite resturant here (that we went to three times) was a small down to earth place called Little India. the resturant has been around for a long time (supposedly the first indian resturant in siem reap) and the current owner is an indian nurse from sri lanka who came here to work at the local hospital in 1999 (and she still works there during the day.) we had some really tasty samosas, chana marsala, chicken tikka marsala, raita, and other bits here.
well, with all the time we've had to kill here i have had a chance to catch up on a little of my overly detailed and verbose blogging.

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