Monday, August 17, 2009

Temples of Angkor

The capital of Cambodia's ancient Khmer empire, the temples of Angkor are as every bit as spectacular as you hear about. Angkor Wat, the worlds largest religious building is, to say the least, impressive. Watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat is a new highlight of my trip and certainly a memorable experience (up there with the Taj Mahal and Amritsar). Other notable temples include Ta Phrom, or the 'Tomb Raider Temple', that is being slowly digested by the jungle. And my favorite, the enigmatic temple of Bayon in the fortified ancient city of Angkor Thom. I'll let the pictures I took save me a few words.

I'm back in Bangkok now and in the midst of deciding where to spend my last few weeks in Asia. My initial plan was to fly to Burma for a few weeks and then hit the beaches of Malaysia before going home but I'm a little culture and templed out right now so I'm leaning towards exploring the remote beaches of Sumatra in Indonesia.

In other news, the Austrians and I made a pit stop at one of Cambodia's military bases so that we could fire a couple rounds from a machine gun. This was a pretty expensive detour but worth every penny! I purchased a full M-16 magazine and fired off 30 rounds at some targets. So freaking cool. Fastest 50 bucks I ever spent.

It was a bit of a journey to reach Bangkok from Siem Reap, but I do enjoy returning to a big cultural city every now and then to create a little contrast. Bangkok is truly a multi-cultural city. While Khao San road is every bit as crazy as it sounds, the diversity of Chinatown and Little Arabia make for great day trips. This city has it all from cool chilled out cafes and restaurants surrounded by simple street stalls serving up some of the best food in SE Asia to shopping mega malls and soaring skyscrapers shadowing ancient Buddhist temples. In the evenings you can chill at a riverside cafe or head down to Patpong and gawk at the sex tourists before checking out a ping pong show! Bangkok has it all. I love it.

Vang Vieng, Laos.

No machines to pour the foundation. Working together one bucket at time.

Cruising around Vientienne with the Austrians.

How many people can you fit in a Sawngthaew (pickup truck with benches in the back)? In my experience: 36. This is where it broke down.

Cycling around Champasak, Laos.

View from the top of Wat Phu Champasak, an impressive archaeilogical site in Laos.

Children working the rice fields around Champasak, Laos.

Sunset view from our balcony over the Mekong River on the island of Don Det in the '4000 Islands' of southern Loas.

Can't get enough.

Cruising around the Mekong.

Children of the family we stayed with on Don Det.

Lounging after sunset.

Partying in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

A view like this makes waking up with a hangover not so bad.

Deep fried cockroaches anyone?

Ya we're cool. Actually shooting an M-16 is freakin' awesome!

Sunrise over Angkor Wat.

Exploring ancient temples of Angkor.
Definitely a 'wonder of the world'.

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