Tag Archives: Angkor Wat

Cambodia Day 4 – A recommended sunset

21 May

This post is part of our adventures in Cambodia.  To see other posts in this series, please click here.

As we talked about our trip to Cambodia we had lots of plans.  I wanted to ride on a bicycle through the temple complex and Li had certain restaurants he wanted to try.  One thing that came highly recommended was to see the sun rise over Angkor Wat.  That wasn’t going to happen.  Instead we tried to see where the best sunsets could be found.  Our third day there we had stumbled across beautiful skies at Bakon Temple.

That was, though, a happy accident.  There was one location for sunset viewing that was recommended in all the tourists books was Phnom Bakeng.  This temple was at the top of the highest hill in the area and was supposed to offer unparalleled views.  The books also recommended you go early because it got quite crowded.

True to form we arrived over an hour before sunset.  On the way up we saw more temples and another beautiful view of Angkor Wat from above.

A hidden temple through the lush scenery

A hidden temple through the lush scenery

Angkor Wat - an aerial view

Angkor Wat – an aerial view

The elephants followed us up!

The elephants followed us up!

Then, we settled in and watched the crowds.

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It was truly amazing how many visitors they crammed at the top of this monument.

Slowly, slowly, the sun traveled west and the sky started to change color.

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I tried to block everyone out and enjoy the beautiful colors, but it required a lot of effort.  We took more photos and finally watched the sun slip over the edge.

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It was a beautiful sunset and now I can cross it off the list – but after having seen both, I think I preferred the first, accidental sunset more. My travel tip then it to go to Bakon Temple for Sunset.  It’s a magical place and much more peaceful.

Which would you prefer?

Cambodia Day 4 – A Balloon Ride

16 May

This post is part of our adventures in Cambodia, to see other posts in the series, please click here.

One of the items in the tourist brochures we looked at that appealed to both of us was a hot air balloon ride over the temple area.  We did some research and there were two types of balloons – one a free hot air balloon and the other that was attached to a cable and winched up so it wouldn’t blow away.  We decided on the second option, as it was more flexible and also more affordable.

We started our day trying to go up in the balloon, but after snapping a photo, we were informed that the wind was too strong and to try to come back.

Our first attempt to ride the balloon early in the morning

Our first attempt to ride the balloon early in the morning

We then went to explore several other places and then returned again after lunch.

Once again they told us that they weren’t sure when/if we’d be able to fly.  This time though we really didn’t feel like going back into the hot afternoon sun and decided to sit and wait for a while.  The ticket takers said we could wait, but we didn’t need to pay until they decided if it was safe to fly.  We watched group after group come, listen to the weather report and then leave.  Finally, after waiting for over an hour they told us that we may be able to go up.  We took a couple of “happy pictures” with the balloon from below and then waited along with a group of German tourists for our turn.

Yay!  We finally get to take a ride.

Yay! We finally get to take a ride.

Look at the blue sky and puffy clouds - it was still pretty windy up there.

Look at the blue sky and puffy clouds – it was still pretty windy up there.

Even though the balloon was very large, only 8 people could go up at a time.  We watched the earth get smaller and smaller as the winch let us float above the fields below.

My guess is that it was a German balloon.  That's a good thing - I trust German technology

My guess is that it was a German balloon. That’s a good thing – I trust German technology

The winch letting us up

The winch letting us up

The beautiful pattern of the fields below

The beautiful pattern of the fields below

Finally then, we were able to see Angkor Wat from above.  To think that so many hundreds of years ago this temple was there – before hot air balloons or airplanes – was mind boggling.

See Angkor Wat over Li's shoulder?

See Angkor Wat over Li’s shoulder?

Angkor Wat from above

Angkor Wat from above

The ride only lasted about 20 minutes, but we had a wonderful time.  I would highly recommend it if you are visiting the Angkor Wat complex.

Heading down after a great ride.

Heading down after a great ride.

After finishing our balloon ride we then headed to Phnom Bakheng hill which was the recommended spot to watch the sunset.  Stay tuned to see if it could match the sunset of the night before!

What’s the longest you’ve waited in line for a tourist attraction?  Disney World doesn’t count!

The seventh quarter review

21 Apr

Hard to believe that in a few months I will hit the two year mark with Zhongguo Jumble.  The time continues to speed by, days blurring together.  I feel very lucky that I have the blog to look back at to remind myself what I was doing and where I have been.  For some reason my following has tailed off over the last month – so if you’re out there, please give me a shout out!

The seventh quarter has been a busy one – lots of travel and visitors which has meant that finding the time to blog has been a bit of a challenge.  Even with that pressure though, I remained fairly consistent and had some great comments on my posts from the last three months.

Here are three of my favorites.

  • Chinese Voicemail – Weixin – this post about this app on my phone sparked a lot of comments as well as plenty of views.  Weixin has been in the news lately as the largest mobile phone company (China Mobile) is contemplating banning it because it is free.  They claim to have lost money from text messages, especially over the Chinese New Year season.  I’m not sure how it will turn out – but for the moment I am enjoying the photo sharing.  At a training I went to recently we even made our own Weixin group where we are doing follow-up actions.

Weixin logo

  • Musk cat coffee – this post got lots of interesting reactions to the fact that this restaurant was in my office.  Musk cat coffee is coffee that has gone through the digestive track of an animal that is based in Indonesia.  A couple of months after the store has opened, it seems to be doing a brisk business, but I don’t know of anyone who has tried their specialty.
And what exactly is a musk cat?

And what exactly is a musk cat?

  • My adventures in Cambodia – I have posted on the first three days of our adventures in Cambodia and all of these posts have gotten great feedback.  Continue to be patient with me as I go through the last two days of photos.  More great shots to come!  The entry that received the most feedback was the one I did on Angkor Wat – the most famous temple in Siem Reap.
View from the very top of Angkor Wat - think 1000 years ago how high this was - even taller than the tallest trees

View from the very top of Angkor Wat – think 1000 years ago how high this was – even taller than the tallest trees

I’ve got more travel and some great adventures coming up in the next quarter, so keep tuned.  Your comments inspire me to keep sharing about my daily adventures and occasional travels.

Did I miss one of your favorite posts?  If so – let me know which should have been at the top of my list.

Cambodia Day 1 – Angkor Wat

5 Mar

After a day of travel and a quick layover in South Korea (Pusan airport was the easiest and friendliest transfer I have ever had), we arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia at around 10pm, several days after the official Chinese New Year celebration.  The air was balmy as we waited in the open air customs terminal.  Per our request, the hotel had sent a tuk tuk to pick us up and after identifying our driver we loaded our bags and ourselves into the seat and rumbled to the hotel.

The next day, our first full day, we got started late – a little after 10am and with the help of the hotel, determined that we would try for the major sites on day 1 and would travel by tuk tuk for the day.  Renting a tuk tuk was only about $15 US dollars and seemed like the best option to get our bearings and understand what was going on.  Our driver asked if we already had tickets and when he found out it was our first day, dropped us off at the main ticket office where we had to wait in line to buy our passes (a three day pass) and get our photo taken.  Then, after another 10 minutes or so, we were there – in front of one of the great wonders of the world – Angkor Wat.

Even from a distance, it was enormous.  Because it was approaching lunch time, the tourist crowd wasn’t that thick and so we made our way across the long bridge to the main building, noticing the king cobras carved on the railings and the pitted walkway.  Halfway down the walk guides started approaching us to give us the “inside scoop” and eventually we settled on one to tell us the story and guide us through the building.   Getting the guide was a good move – he kept us moving through the main rooms, showed us the major sites and areas and started to share some of the history and culture of the Khmer Kingdom that created the great marvel.

Our first view - the cobras guarding the gate to Angkor Wat

Our first view – the cobras guarding the gate to Angkor Wat

The view of the front of the Templte - over three football fields long

The view of the front of the Temple – over three football fields long

As we walked through the temple we saw the now empty pools where the king would purify himself and the steep, steep steps that indicated the difficult passage up to heaven.  We saw the intricate carvings of thousands of Ankara dancers and the empty pedestals where hundreds of statues of Buddha would have rested during the time period when the temple was converted from Hinduism to Buddhism.  After pointing out the major sites our guide left us and then we climbed up our first set of steep wooden steps to the tops of the five tours that make the classic postcard of Angkor Wat.

Peering through the columns into one of the pools (now dry)

Peering through the columns into one of the pools (now dry)

Our guide pointing out some specific details

Our guide pointing out some specific details

The steps up "to heaven" - that are now blocked off because they are so dangerous

The steps up “to heaven” – that are now blocked off because they are so dangerous

Li found me through the columns - each corner led to something new

Li found me through the columns – each corner led to something new

View from the very top of Angkor Wat - think 1000 years ago how high this was - even taller than the tallest trees

View from the very top of Angkor Wat – think 1000 years ago how high this was – even taller than the tallest trees

Making my way down from the top.  This ladder was one of many over the 5 days we were there.

Making my way down from the top. This ladder was one of many over the 5 days we were there.

After doing the circuit we rested in the vanishing shade and watched tourists coming by.  To our amusement we even saw a dog ambling down the historic cobblestones and then a holy man making his way to see this wonder of the world.  Our eyes not accustomed to so much sun and dripping with sweat in the early afternoon heat, we made our way slowly out of the temple and over to the lunch stands on the side.  Two bowls of instant noodles with chicken and vegetables later, we headed back to the entrance to meet our driver and continue the afternoon’s adventure at Bayon and Baphuon Temples.

Our very own holy man - or just a tourist?

Our very own holy man – or just a tourist?

Lots more to see!  What's next?

Lots more to see! What’s next?

What else would we see that day?  Would we be able to find and communicate with our driver?  Keep tuned for more of our trip to Cambodia….

Cambodia – Towers, tuk tuks and ta das!

24 Feb

As I have referenced a couple of times, we had been planning a trip to correspond with the end of the Chinese new year holidays.  Our destination?  Cambodia – more specifically the city of Siem Reap that is best known for being the home of Angkor Wat, one of the great wonders of the world.

As we (mostly Li) took over 2000 photos and we just got back middle of last week, I have not yet had the time to go through, categorize and tell the story that they deserve.  Instead I am going to leave you with a teaser – three photos that I feel start to represent the adventure we had during our trip there.

I chose the photos to connect with the headline that I posted – towers, tuk tuks and ta das and they were all from our first day as we started to comprehend the history and complexity of the beauty that could be found in Angkor Wat.

Our first day, posing on the roof of Angkor Wat with one of its characteristic towers in the background

Our first day, posing on the roof of Angkor Wat with one of its characteristic towers in the background

The tuk tuk driver from the first day as we exited the complex by one of the gates

The tuk tuk driver from the first day as we exited the complex by one of the gates

Li in front of the library at Angkor Wat - every place we turned there were ta dah moments!

Li in front of the library at Angkor Wat – every place we turned there were ta da moments!

We have many more photos and stories to tell, so please check back for those over the next few weeks!

How do you go through your photos after a long trip?  I can sometimes find it overwhelming, but always find it a lot of fun.  Any tips as I start to go through them?

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