Monday, October 13, 2014

Cambodia Vacation, Part Two: Recovery and Exploration of Town

Siem Reap International Airport


Looking good, me!
[Getting to Cambodia was a bit of an adventure. In the last post, I wrote about having my flight information changed and losing a day in Siem Reap. On the positive side, I saved a bunch of money on my rooms for the week. However, I managed to get food poisoning, jeopardizing my entire trip.]

The plane ride to China and then Cambodia was no problem. I was full of stomach medicine; therefore, I had no trouble making it without any...embarrassing moments. I even ate during the flight!

Once in Siem Reap, we walked across the tarmac to the airport. Inside, all of us travelers filled out the visa form and prepared our money. A row of officials looked disinterested while taking each visa form, reading it, and passing it to the next one. Down the line these went. I paid for the visa and had my picture taken. At the end of the line, I was able to pick up my passport with the fancy new visa. Quick and easy.

My Cambodian visa: so easy to get!

Thanks for the smoothie!

Schein Guesthouse & Restaurant

I bought a sim card for my phone at the airport. It was rather cheap. I'm still not sure if it was the best deal, but I had no trouble affording it. Then I walked outside and tried to get a taxi. It was night and I did not know exactly where my hostel was, so I figured a taxi would be my best bet. The driver did not know where it was either, but he asked the other drivers and figured out.

I only paid $20 total for two nights in my own room with my own bathroom. Although I had seen photos online, I expected the worst so as to not get my dreams dashed. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was my room spacious, but they treated me wonderfully. I was brought a banana smoothie within minutes or arriving. That is great service!

A Real Meal?

I just want to eat in peace!
Please stop talking!
The next day I was feeling considerably better. Still, I worried I had not fully recovered and would be in a weird place if I was out in the middle of nowhere when my stomach started acting up. I wanted to test my body out, so I went for a walk around Siem Reap. I ended up finding a decent restaurant for lunch.

Yum! Fried spring rolls!
Only two other people ate there at the same time as me: an American man and a German man. It seemed they had just met each other and were having a deep conversation about world politics, religion, and the role of the USA in the world. It was terrible! I remember people having these silly conversations at 18-years-old. You know, when people think they know so much but really have not thought through any of their ideas. I kept pointing out the holes in their reasoning and mistakes in their knowledge of history (but only in my head; I had no interest in engaging in pointless, silly conversation).

The guys left before my food arrived. I was excited to eat fried spring rolls. They were some of my favorite things to eat in Vietnam! And this restaurant did not disappoint me at all.

The restaurant had a large open entrance that allowed me to people watch very easily. Families walked by, tourists, teenagers laughing with one another, etc. However, what I found the most interesting was the bank across the street. A truck arrived and three armed guards came out. They guarded the entrance with these large shotguns while another man went inside with a bag. It is not too often that you see guns, especially big ones, in Korea, so I was transfixed on them. Meanwhile, people walked all over the place, ignoring them. It did not seem super secure, but nothing happened.

Museum Time

Angkor National Museum
Afterwards, I decided to check out the Angkor National Museum. I figured that if my stomach betrayed me, I would at least be around restrooms. I generally enjoy history and art museums, so I try to check one out on each trip.

Down the street I walked, and I was impressed with the size of the museum. Not only was it impressively large, it also looked beautiful. Once inside, it seemed even more impressive. Moving from room to room, I viewed many old sculptures and artifacts from mostly Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples. I had learned a bit about these places from documentaries, but seeing actual examples in person really made it feel more real.

The exhibits had a great deal of English explanations which helped with understanding what everything meant. After awhile though, it began to feel repetitive. It is only so often that you can view the same figure without beginning to grow bored by it. One figure in particular was soon hundreds of times. While it was interesting to see how it slightly changed over time and how the materials used changed, there were simply too many examples of the exact same thing. I was more patient than most of the people there, most of whom began to zoom through the exhibitions after about 10 minutes.

A nice touch were the mini documentaries in a couple of places. They included overdubs in about 10 languages, including English. I sat and watched all of them. You can easily spend three hours there if you are taking your time to see everything. At one point about halfway through the museum, I stopped at the little restaurant and had a smoothie. It was nice to sit down for a bit. Overall, I enjoyed the museum. It is better to have too many things than too few. And what you do get to see is interesting and impressive, though repetitive.

Unfortunately, they do not allow photographs inside the museum...
Luckily, the outside is still photogenic.

Hey! I live in Korea!

Night Time Is the Right Time...To be Creeped Out

After a successful day of not being sick to death, I decided to check out the famous Pub Street. First, I wanted to try out their highly rated Mexican restaurant. It was okay but kind of funny. I ordered fajitas and a margarita. When I got my food, the server offered to teach me how to make a fajita. Ha! I just let her and thanked her for the help, even though I've eaten hundreds of fajitas in my life.

The food was okay, nothing special. The margarita was good though. I people watched again before heading off to check out the surrounding area. And here is where things got interesting.

I figured I would look for a nice place to get a drink while I was on Pub Street. I walked around a couple of times looking for the perfect place. Most places were full of jovial, young foreigners. I wasn't really in the mood to hang out with them. If I wanted that scene, I could have just stayed at home and gone to Itaewon. Ew. Gross.

Restaurants on Pub Street
Now, as I walked down the crowded streets I heard many tuk tuk drivers call out for me to go places. At various times on the walk I was offered, in order of number of propositions:

  1. Women ("You want a happy massage?" "I can take you to girls!" "Want to meet girls?")
  2. Marijuana
  3. Cocaine
  4. Heroin
By the sixth time I was offered to "meet girls," I was starting to get annoyed. At first I would just saw, "Nah, man. I'm good." Eventually, I would just death stare at them. They would just move on to the next person. I mean, have you seen me? I'm cute as hell. If I wanted to meet a girl on Pub Street, I could do it without having to pay her. Maybe I'd have to buy a drink or two, but I wouldn't have to really pay, you know? Ugh.

Eventually, I found a bar that was mostly empty. I sat and ordered a couple of drinks. On the t.v., they were showing rugby. I had never really watched rugby before, but, wow, it is really fun!

After that, I found another bar with a two for $2 deal. I couldn't buy only one beer though. Having a free beer is a good way to make friends though! When I was done there, I walked back home. I really did not super enjoy Pub Street. It is just not my scene when traveling.

Just let me be, man.
This would be my last night at the guesthouse. The next day I would move to a super fancy resort! It wouldn't be all blue skies and healthy stomachs though...