Our time with Dan and Christy brought about some interesting scenarios. Maybe we had just the same type of things happening to us before they arrived and we did not know it. With them here, maybe we can see that in fact some of these things are interesting. Or maybe their arrival actually sparked some funny, interesting, and bizarre events.
First, let’s look at number one. Touring Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, we were awestruck by the vastness of the complex. Built around 1000 years ago, the massive temples still remain erect. Trees have taken to the stone, vandals have taken relics, wars have been fought nearby.
As Brooke blogged before, the monkeys were not so happy about her crowding their space. One charged for her, well, her water bottle, and made off with a fresh liter of water.
The day continued to get interesting. We booked ourselves for a tour to Tonle Sap lake, just south of Siem Reap. During the dry season, the lake is about 2500 sq km; the wet season, it swells to over 10,000 sq km. On this excursion, we checked out a floating village. Huddled into the boat, the four of us and our guide motored our way to the Vietnamese floating village.
We thought we were in a safety zone from the locals selling their goods as we were in the middle of a lake. We were wrong. We pass a canoe of sorts that is just sitting there. As we pass by, we notice the father pull the crank on the engine, gaining speed to get near us. They get right next to the boat and this young naked boy is holding a snake, advertising something to get $1. We were unsure. What was the sale? Was it to hold the monster snake, take a picture of the snake, buy the snake?!
Unfortunately, words cannot describe our emotions or feelings. The average life expectancy is 54 on such a floating village. 12% of children die before the age of 5.
The approach by child was something we had not seen before. Koreans/Japanese/Chinese are the top tourists to this area. Our theory: after watching several Asians freak out over small bugs (including a centipede and a school of fish), we suspect that the child’s object is to scare these tourists. In turn, they will do anything to get the snake (and the boy) away.
On our way back, our boat breaks a belt. No problem, we will just get tugged by another boat. Wait, that one breaks down too. Now, there is one boat tugging two boats along. We make it back safely though with assurance from Ly, our guide, that everything is ‘okay.’
To mark the end of our time in Siem Reap, Suzanne (my sister), gave me her friend’s contact information. Den helped her and James tour Angkor Wat three years ago. But Den has since moved, but his brother, Tola, lives in SR. Tola invited us over for dinner on our last night. We gladly accepted. Upon arrival, Tola lets us know that he has arranged a special performance for us. Great!
His troupe of 10 performers put on a powerful production. The actors have disabilities ranging from incorrect injections (rendering certain limbs useless or contorted), polio, or land mine injuries. The play featured a man wondering into the forest, only to step on a landmine. He was initially an outcast to the community and after much desolation, he is accepted widely by his friends. The performance was breathtaking, moving, powerful, and so emotional. It is one thing to see actors, but it is much more to see that these people live with this day in and day out.
With the performance finished, Tola fed us a grand family style meal. Cold beers and great conversation followed. The night quickly flew by. With an early morning departure, we had to wrap up the evening. We gathered out belongings to head out. Except for one belonging: Brooke’s one Birkenstock sandal. Yes, she had her right foot sandal, but during the course of the meal, the dog slipped around us, grabbed her shoe and made off with it. The rescue search was called off due to darkness; we resumed in the morning. Unfortunately, the search and recovery the next morning ended without a recovery. Brooke’s one sandal was somewhere in the middle of the field (with the rest of the shoes scattered about–I never noticed the number of odd shoes lying about until we actually had to look for one). Looks like Brooke’s was not the first theft!
Between the charging monkeys, the snake and the boy, and the missing sandal, our time in Cambodia brought about some stories to tell.