|Arriving in Siem Reap is a bit of a culture shock because it's so geared towards tourism and so Westernized. There are restaurants of every kind, people speak excellent English, and you get the feeling that you could be anywhere! The town is relatively small (160 thousand people), but booming with tourism to support visits to Angkor Wat and other nearby Khmer ruins. In terms of sights, it's really all about the temples. Angkor Wat is the most famous, but there are dozens of incredible ruin sights all within ~ 50 KM. We were able to hire a Tuk Tuk (see photo) to take us around the sights. In total, we spent 5 days exploring the Angkor archaeological park. Some ruins are nearly perfectly restored, others are being overgrown by fig trees and other vegetation. The stone carving is incredibly intricate and is everywhere!
It is impossible through words or pictures to convey the huge area that makes up the ruin sites, or the incredible sites themselves from the immense size of the structures down to the fine details that you can spend hours discovering.
We've enjoyed 9 days here and are off to Battambang next. The 8 hour boat trip is supposed to be spectacular so we are looking forward to it.
A little rant on the noise in SE Asia. We've decided that culturally there is just no awareness or concept of "noise pollution". In Cambodia, this was reinforced as we heard a funeral (which typically lasts 3 days) and a wedding (which lasts for 2 days) broadcast over loudspeakers at all hours of day and night. Our introduction to this started before dawn one day, when we heard extremely loud music blaring. We later discovered that it's common practice to blast music, speeches, etc. from inside the wedding to the community outside via a very high-powered loud speaker. While the event was at least a block from where we were staying, it sounded as if it was right outside our doors! Incredibly loud and no boundaries in terms of time, as it started early and went very, very late. Shocking to us, but none of the locals seemed to bat an eye. Similarly, hammering - which in these quickly developing areas - begins at first light and without thought to anyone who might be trying to sleep. Our earplugs, while not able to block everything out, have certainly been among our most important travel accessories.