Cambodia: Not For Human Consumption

Visa Schmeeza

So here we sit. We are in the airport in Cambodia (siem reap), where we’ve been stranded for a few hours. Poor planning on our part, but apparently you need a visa prior to arrival for vietnam. We thought we could grab one on arrival as we did in cambodia and as you can in many places. Once we were denied checkin, we jumped online to myvietnamvisa.com to try and get our visas arranged. they have an expedited option for 79.00 for two people. After 2 hours, and having not received our email yet with our visa letter, I asked one of the agents at the desk if they could recommend another site. They said to try govietnamvisa.com. I chatted with a support rep there and they assured me we could get a visa within the hour. I canceled the request with myvietnamvisa and paid the $140 for a guaranteed 1 hr turn around. We got our new visa and, having missed our flight, rebooked for a 20$ fee for the new flight. It was an adventure and a lesson learned for sure. Just one more thing in the list of things that cambodia kicked our asses on. More to follow.angkor wat temple in cambodia at sunrise from the front hdr

Back to the start

We had two flights to take to get from Bali to Cambodia. The first was a 4+ hour flight from bali to bangkok and then about 1+ hour flight from bangkok to cambodia. The flights were pretty standard although neither had any entertainment. Getting into cambodia we needed a headshot (again, didnt know this). I happened to have a copy of my passport so they used that. After, I realized I could have just paid a $1 and they would have made a copy of my passport photo.

I had forgotten that I booked a car service to pick us up at the airport and take us to the hotel (such a smart guy). When we walked out of the airport towards the taxi line there was a guy with a sign that said Mr. & Mrs. Meyerowitz. My travel partner marina got a good laugh out of that. We decided to play along and have been referring to each other as mrs and mr since. The hotel (Le Meridian Angkor Wat) was about 10 minutes from the airport and we arrived in style. Doorman, bellhops, Starwoods Preferred Guest concierge, the whole 9.

The hotel and hotel grounds are beautiful. The pool area is gorgeous and the rooms were spacious. The beds, however, were not up to par with the Le Meridian Beds that I experienced throughout 3 hotels in thailand. The breakfast buffet was excellent. For about $13 they had everything we needed/wanted including both local cuisine (noodle soup, local fruits, etc) and american favorites (eggs, bacon, etc).

le meridian pool and floating lotus flowers

Tour Number 1: Local Stuff and Floating Village

We hooked up with a tour guide our first day to take us around and show us the town and some places to eat and the location of the night market as we heard that was a cool spot to be (it wasnt). We also want to make a stop at the atm to grab some cash. However, as we would find out, everywhere in Cambodia accepts american money and will give you change in american money. The only problem with my atm trip is that I left my card in some ATM in bali, as I discovered opening my wallet at this atm. O well. 30 minutes and a call to citibank and I should have my card delivered to me in Vietnam. I have a couple hundred in cash and my credit cards, so I should be fine.

Anyway, the rest of our tour was solid. Our tour guide Pisseth (we had a good laugh on that) was awesome. After a few hours of exploring he took us to a local place to grab some lunch which was really good. We had a sweet and sour dish, a fish dish, some noodles and rice. All excellent. It was a seedy, whole in the wall place, but the food was good and if the guide was taking us there we figured it would be good (it was). After that we took a trip to a floating village on the largest lake in asia. That was pretty cool and while there WERE other tourists on the lake, there weren’t many and it didn’t feel like a completely touristy activity.

We took a trip down river into the lake (Tonle Sap Lake) where there are more than 1000 families (about 5000 people) living in floating houses. I was surprised to see that many of them had tv’s and satellite dishs and VCRs, etc. They even have a floating school and church. We stopped at a restaurant type place to get away from the heat for a minute and grab a cold beer and check out some crocodiles (big fucking crocs) they have as kinda-sorta pets. This was one of the highlights of the trip for sure

tonle sep lake floating village tour guy with throw net cambodia floating village on tonle sap lake cambodia-floating-village-boat-driver

We went back to the hotel and hung around the pool for a few hours (which was excellent). The breeze and the music and the sound of the water flowing all melded together for the perfect mix of a nap environment. We passed out by the pool for about an hour before jumping back to the room to prep for dinner and the night market.

We grabbed a tuk tuk to the night market and walked through the shops and stalls for a little while. It was NOT like the night markets in thailand (from my experience) . People were very aggressive and, so much so, that we had to get out of there. Most of the stuff we saw was junk and there weren’t any street food stalls, as we had hoped. We found a quite area to grab a couple of beers before bouncing out of there. On the way to finding more things to explore we finally found a street food stall. The guy was making a mixture of drunken noodles/regular noodles/chicken/pork/AWESOMENESS. Whatever we were eating it was excellent. We got a little stool to chill on and hung out for a half hour just taking in the scenery.

cambodia-marina-lady-boy

Tour Number 2: Temple Run, Dog Curry

Our next day was an early one. We were up at 430 in the morning to (we thought) catch the sunrise over angkor wat. 5:05am sharp we were ready to walk out the door. After grabbing tickets to access all the temples in the area, we were at the Angkor Wat ‘compound’ by 530. However, as we were driving up I noticed that the sun was already up. Not UP up, but up enough that sunrise was essentially over. This obviously was not ideal and not part of the plan. I mean come on tour guide, how hard is it to check google for the sunrise time.

Any day that I am sweating before 9am is gonna be a long day. It is HOT here in cambodia. Like florida in the hottest days of summer hot. And humid. I was a hot, sticky, sweaty mess all day. We visited 5 or 6 different temples and thank god we had a car with AC and cold beverages to jump into a couple of times during the day because it made a huge difference. Me and marina both agreed that our tour guide the second day was not nearly as good as the first. Summit’s (guide) english was not as good as pisseth’s and the ‘factoids’ he had for us were not as interesting. But that is the job, I suppose. Finding a way to present often fairly stale/boring information in a way that is, in fact, interesting. Marina was more interested in hearing about the history of things whereas I was more interested in exploring, seeing, taking a photo or two and getting back to the car. There’s just something about having ball sweat all day (sorry mom) that makes me a bit more ornery than usual.

Angkor Wat (next 3 photos)cambodia angkor wat temple from the side at sunrise cambodia angkor wat temple at sunrise guy sitting on perch demons statue at angkor wat temple in cambodia

It got to a point in the day (around noon, after being at it for 6 hours) that I’d just had enough. The next stop would be back to Angkor Wat to climb to the top for a ‘great view’ and photo opp’. I just didn’t have it in me and knew that, seeing as it was the hottest part of the day, that I would be miserable. I was trying to roll with the punches, but I didn’t want to be a negative nancy. I know my limits and it was time for me to head back to the hotel pool and take a nap (after all, I did just turn 30 so I’m not as spry as I used to be).

Marina finished the tour and got back to the hotel about 2 hours later, sweating her face off. We relaxed at the pool (which is beautiful, btw) had a couple of drinks and started thinking about plans for dinner. We SHOULD have just stayed at the hotel, but nooooo, we wanted to be adventurous…. stupid american tourists. Summit had recommended a local favorite restaurant of his for DUCK. I clarify DUCK here because I want to make sure I’m explaining that correctly. That’s QUACK QUACK… not WOOF WOOF. The place we were trying to go per summit’s suggestion was packed so our tuk tuk driver took us to another place that the tour guide had suggested

So, yea, we ate dog curry last night. No it did NOT taste like chicken, and NO it was NOT good. The curry sauce was alright, but the actual meat (without knowing that it was dog while we were eating it) didn’t taste very good. When the guy put it on the table I could have sworn he said PORK curry. The meat was boney, chewy, fatty, and all around difficult to eat. I don’t know at what point we discovered the truth of the source of our protein, but neither of us were happy about it. It took several back and forths, several animal sounds and, finally, showing our tuk tuk driver a picture of my dog, to figure out what just happened. I felt sick immediately and also very upset with the tour operator that he would suggest such a place to americans. Even if, as he said, he thought we were asking for DOG and not DUCK, he should have clarified. Any tour guide worth their weight would understand that americans don’t eat dog. He should have known that and clarified very plainly what it was that we were looking for.

While I was not happy about it, Marina was pretty upset. I gave the tour operator a harsh talking to and told him to figure out some way of making it up to us. He offered to give us a ride to the airport the next day, free of charge. For having us unknowingly eat lassie… no way. He ended up (after some prompting) taking about $200 off our tour bill for the two days. This does little to satisfy the overwhelming urge to vomit that I’ve had for the past 12 hours, but it’s better than nothing.

We got back to the hotel, had a couple of strong drinks and retired back to the room. Our flight that next day was (supposed to be, see above) at 10:10am and we would need to be out of the hotel by Cambodia. However, I think we took it all in stride and hopefully we’ll have our game faces on for vietnam (our home for the next week or so).

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