Monday, May 22, 2017

Merry Christmas folks! Good cheer to one and all. I'd just finished my first term at Durham and starved for some sun and heat, my parents and I decided to take a week in Siem Reap to see the fabled temples of the Jungle Book and get into some good Asian scran. I can say with confidence the food in Siem Reap was P H E N O M E N A L. We went to a restaurant right in the centre of town by the canal (Malis) for 3 of the 4 nights we were there, interspersed with a meal at the FCC Angkor as well as 2 stints at street market vendors and a night courtesy of the Hyatt (the best rice paper rolls you could ask for). Cambodian food will now go down in history as my second favourite cuisine after Vietnamese. The fish amok (a local delicacy?) will henceforth be the only time I take fish and I could dine on rice paper rolls for the rest of my life.
Of course the temples were another highlight, particularly for my historically and disney oriented mind. The stone structures looked as if they'd been plucked straight from a Kipling novel and I was expecting King Louie to come swinging out of a window at any second. Our hit list went as follows:
1. Angkor Wat
2. Bayon
3. Preah Khan
The Khmer style of architecture is similar everywhere, so the temples didn't diverge much aesthetically, however, to reach Angkor Wat, a long bridge had to be crossed, for it inhabited an island in the middle of the city. Preah Khan was decimated by nature, with trees growing through the structure. Within, an old 'holy woman' sat by a single candle, tying string bracelets onto passerbys for a donation, presumably offering a blessing with it too. I'm not the most superstitious person, but with exams and summatives nigh, I thought why not.  
Many of these temples were located far from the rush of the city, protected by trees and swathes of nature completely blocking out any form of civilisation. Indeed, the crowd of insistent stall owners and tuk tuk drivers was oppressive by day 2.

Additional visits were made to the French quarter along with the national museum (which was basically a lot of old pots...) and markets, which, however had nothing on Chatuchak in Bangkok. 4 days were by no means enough to explore the lengths and breadths of this dynamic country. Perhaps Phnom Penh is next on the bucket list.

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