A City of Hope

After Phnom Penh arriving in Siem Reap felt like visiting another country.  They were polar opposites.  Our first night we marveled at the energy of the city.  Don’t think we had blinders on – both cities were almost equally dirty and poor, but there was something about Siem Reap that was missing in Phnom Penh.  Siem Reap also had a strong nightlife scene, street food and night markets – a truly alive vibe that one expects from much larger cities.  Tourism is transforming Siem Reap into an economic powerhouse in Cambodia.  The people there also exude that vibe – there is an air of hope in Siem Reap that is a wonderful counterbalance to the weight of Phnom Penh.

There are countless temples scattered throughout Asia. The first temple you visit is always awe-inspiring because it’s so new, so different than what we’re used to.  The colors are vivid, vibrant and bold. The towers high.  The detail and depth of craftsmanship so sharp.  And you wonder aloud “how did they do all of this a thousand years ago!?”. Then you get to Angkor Wat.  Multiply the awe by another 1000.   

The scale of the world’s largest ancient temple is stunning.  Started in the 9th century, it only took 47 years to build.  One could easily spend a week investigating it.  All throughout the ruins the details of it’s history are etched in stone, a ribbon of storytelling wrapped around the fallen spires like a gift waiting to be opened.  

Our tour started at 6 am, which meant we were up and out by 5:15.  Well worth it to see the sun rise over this magnificent temple.  Mooney, our tour guide, was not only the voice of the past for us but also our photographer – snapping well over 100 pics throughout the day.  We handed him Edward’s iPhone in the morning and he did the rest.  At times we weren’t sure if we were on a tour or a photo shoot.  Angkor Wat and it’s surrounding temples were well worth the trip.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

More monkeys!  This little guy was hamming it up for me!

The center of the temple. We know there was something significant about it but we can’t remember!!

After a couple days of absorbing religious history it only made sense to go to the circus.  It’s a charitable circus, however, so perhaps not as strange as it sounds.  Really it’s part of a performing arts conservatory for youth; they have nightly performances of the most talented kids you’ve ever seen.  

I want to be that strong and that flexible…

Our last night there we spent with Courtney’s friend Kirstyn.  It was so fun drinking beer, eating street food and sharing stories with a friend from a place that is halfway around the world!  The earth truly is a small place.

She’s really not that much taller than me!
We are grateful for our time here, but equally excited for our next destination: Singapore!!  Yep, we’re entering the unplanned part of the trip, totally winging it.  Let the spontaneity begin!

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