Greetings from Cambodia! We have arrived safely back in South East Asia for the final leg of our travels here which will take us to the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat, Vietnam, and then up through China toward Beijing. What a journey our return was! The flight back from Melbourne stopped in Sydney en route, and then flew through a typhoon back to Manila in the Philippines. It was a very bumpy decent to say the least and it was just pouring everywhere with lots of wind. But here we are, still alive!
I have to say, I nearly froze to death in ""Gell-ong"" (I never thought I'd say that!), but it really is pretty darn cold in Southern Australia in the dead of winter. The coolest part (pardon the dreadfully ordinary pun) though was seeing the sun at only low angles of incidence. It made everything have long shadows again, which are virtually non-existent in South East Asia because the sun is always directly overhead. Anyway, it was little moments like that, and a proper pillow that became etched in my mind on this most unlikely of visits.
Top of the list though was seeing family again, and being able to relax for a few days without thinking about the next hostel or next mode of transportation. This was great! On the other hand, there was just a bit of an itch toward the end of the week pushing me along - telling me that there were things we should be doing and places we should be getting to. This is the traveler's disease - you can never really get too comfortable for some reason.
I had a great game of golf with Kelvin and Steven, and we ate lots of great lamb (which is one of my favourites), and there was plenty of time to just hang out and partake in Australia's greatest of leisure time activities - pouring back a few. Kelvin and I went to watch a local "footy" match, and I can now add that to my list of foreign sports that I understand. It was cool - those dudes are built like outhouses and they are tough as nails! I stood there and froze as I gulped on my Wild Turkey and cola, a local favourite.
Also high on the list was a visit to Steven's new house, which he is building, complete with a large shed (they really are huge here - more like small warehouses). The newly minted shed walls are to be lined with the drinking accomplishments of various friends and family in the form of empties welded or siliconed to the beams of the building (see photo). I was honoured to be the first user of the "blow ins" wall, which is Australian for people who are just passin' through.
Cathy and Kelvin also have a great new house with lots of space for visitors (whoops, did I say that??!??) and a great back yard for the dogs to run around in. They seem thrilled. And so do Cathy and Kelvin. Strangely though, all this hominess can do strange things to a traveler's mind - especially when coming in and out of a western place has Asia on either side of it. It was really weird to be hanging out where there are shopping malls; and where credit cards are accepted without gigantic fees, or even accepted at all. And man did everything look expensive! I don't even want to talk about our visit to the winery (which tasted great but stung the pocketbook big time!) I guess this is what culture shock is all about, but coming back to Asia (in the form of Cambodia this time) felt strangely familiar. I almost missed the touts trying to sell me junk every five seconds. And I have hundreds of thousands in my pocket again due to the usual depressed currency situation - at least that feels cool!
Anyway, we're off to see the temples over the next three days before heading off to Vietnam. Angkor should be fantastic. I've wanted to see it for years. An engineer's wet dream of sorts I suppose...