Trip to Cambodia, Part One: Phnom Penh & Siem Reap

A few months late, but we finally took our honeymoon.  After briefly flirting with the idea of trips to New Zealand and
Vietnam, we finally decided on Cambodia.  It was an awesome trip.

Here we have the pre-flight self-portrait, now a requirement of any big trip. 

In the event you've ever doubted just how damn big some of these planes are, here you see them loading a car into the
one we crossed the Pacific looks like a damn toy in that thing.

At our layover in the Taipei airport, they had free massage chairs...this was my best attempt to take a photo of Chelsea
in a massage chair while I myself was being vibrated in one of the damn things.  Not an easy task.

Finally, we made it to our hotel in Phnom Penh, which was simply stunning.  Given that Cambodia was a former French
Colony, the town is full of old French colonial mansions in various states disrepair.  As you can see with our hotel, called
The Pavillion, everything has been repaired on this beaut.

A view from the balcony of the second building (where our room was) of the main building.

All of the grounds around the place were this lush tropical garden as well. 

Some of the fauna of the garden...

Our room in the place was mighty fine as well, and nicely decorated, but the best part...

...was the private pool!!!  Take that, non-private-pool havers!  You gotta swim with the commoners!

Even better, the night view of the fuckin' "Melrose Place" does this thing look?

A few random textures from around the pool.

Walking outside of the Royal Palace, Chelsea applied for a job as one of the guards but was rejected roundly.

The front of the Palace.  We actually decided not to take a tour of the place for time contraint reasons, so this all the
photos we have of the joint.

Another of the French colonial buildings in town, only this one ain't looking as fancy as our hotel. 

A couple of other ones we came across on foot...we actually saw a lot of them (both fixed up and falling apart), but most
of the time we were in cars or tuk-tuks and couldn't really photog them.

This run-down looking specimen was actually still functioning, and as some manner of Cambodian government radio

Also, they had chickens in the back of the building. 

The Mekong River runs through Cambodia.  It's a big goddamn river, especially after the Tonle Sap joins it here in
Phnom Penh.

Looking up the Tonle Sap before it hooks in with the Mekong.  Also looking at a schoolgirl, her knock-off Winnie the
Pooh backpack, and just behind her a robust session of street gambling. 

Riding in the back of a tuk-tuk, which happened a whole lot on this trip. 

Wat Phnom, maybe the only active Wat we went to on this trip.  This is built on the only hill in all of Phnom Penh.

The wat had these neat person-shaped supports, which are probably pretty common in temple-building but godammit
why can't our buildings have anything cool like this on them?

Incense to buddhist temples is like stink on a bum...everywhere.

This joint is called Psar Thmei (sometimes referred to as the central market), a huge art deco domed masterpiece.
At least they call it art deco, and what do I know I ain't no architect building braniac type.

Inside the was a really cool building, like nothing I've ever seen.  I was so awestruck I was forced to buy a
pair of knock-off Ray-Bans.

Lots of business transactions happen on the street here...really, you could buy just about everything on the side of the
road (road being a very oose term in Cambodia).  There were trays of these small clams to be bought everywhere...

There were also coconut carts out the wazoo. 

This was a gas bought it by the pepsi bottle full for about a dollar (there were also gas stations as we know
them here in U.S., but they were very few and far between and these guys were absolutely everywhere).

These carts would be walked all over the neighborhoods, and the guys pulling them had these honky horns they would
toot constantly and folks would bring out cardboard boxes or recyclables or junk or whatever and they would haul it away. 

There were also about 4000 food stalls to every block, selling whatever they had on hand. 

Gassed up?  Already eaten?  Well, wile away the rest of your day with some cards on the street...

We stepped into the National Museum for a bit, which is the largest collection of Khmer art in the world apparently.  Since
I haven't been to every museum I'll have to take their word for it.

This statue is guarding the snack shack behind it.  Do not fuck with the snack shack.

The building the museum was in was just as awesome as the art itself. 

Sometimes you just gotta take a nap.  This is a man not to be trifled with.

We had lunch at the FCC (Foreign Correspondent's Club) but they didn't check out press credentials or nothing.  But
the wait staff can be seen here visibly mocking Chelsea. 

There was a photo of this French colonial mansion a few pictures above from the front - turns out the FCC bought the
place and are renovating it and it will no doubt look all fancy and new in the near future.  This snap was taken from the
back deck of the FCC.

Two things you see a lot of of in Phnom Penh - monks and scooters.  Monks on scooters though, not as common.

I think there are probably about a hundred geckos in this town for every person, damn entertaining creatures what with
their darting around and chasing one another and bug eating and such.  Not as colorful as the Hawaiian geckos though.

Speaking of lizards, here is me looking lizardly after a lot of walking around in the hot sun.  Taking an air-conditioned
break in the only mall in town.

The next few photos are of Tuol Sleng Museum.  I know it looks all nice and peaceful, but thousands and thousands
and thousands of people were executed here.  You can read more about the history of the location here.

There were these signs all over the museum.  I was never sure if it meant no talking or no smiling or maybe it meant
no dental hygenists were allowed.

It was noted that the barb wire wasn't put up to keep prisoners from escaping, it was put up to keep them from com-
mitting suicide to escape the torture all prisoners went through.

Like the nazis, Pol Pot's regime were diligent in documenting their activities.  There is room after room of photos of
the prisoners who would all be killed.

Chelsea pretending to be a prisoner, only without the getting killed and tortured part.

And now for something less depressing - a cute kid in a funny hat.  We took a 6 hour bus ride to Siem Reap, an
interesting experience to be sure.  See that TV monitor in the background?  They blare Khmer music videos from it
for the entire trip. 

We weren't smiling this much at the end of the trip.

Crossing the Mekong River. 

Chelsea took a few photos of roadside sights as we drove...there are no freeways in Cambodia.  Their major roads
are just two-lane winding country roads, only they are a little better paved than the other roads.

A photo of Chelsea inside the bus during a pit stop. 

During these stops you could buy snacks, like mango and pineapple and bananas and...

...fried giant hairy-legged spiders.  (Mom, I know you are really loving this photo.)

I think even the street dogs would rather eat styrofoam than a fried spider.  Yuck.

We finally made it Siem Reap and collapsed into our awesome hotel.  Best shower ever (outside of the sometimes
fluctuating hot water).

There was even a nice outside patio area, though we spent little time out here, instead planting our butts...

...out here at the salt-water pool.  Sadly, we had to make like the commoners and share it with other people.

The roof of the hotel, where they served an awesome breakfast and I stuffed myself on tasty croissants. 

Took a walk around Siem Reap, a much smaller and less-hectic town than Phnom Penh.

I never quite figured out what this building was, but it looked awesome, like the sort of place that would have monkey

A view of the river that seperated the side of town where we were staying from the main part of town.

There was a mexican restaurant in Siem Reap, so of course we had to try was surprisingly good. 

The central market in town - it was a combination of a farmers market where the locals did their shopping and a spot
to pick up tourist trinkets. 

There is so much awesome "engrish" on this box I don't even know where to start.  Lay egg is true, indeed.

We took a little trip to this joint called Artisans d'Angkor, which was set up to teach tradtional Khmer craft skills to folks
(especially those living in the very poor countryside) as a way not only to provide the students with a potential source
of income, but also to help re-establish the arts that were nearly wiped out by the Khmer Rouge. 

In this room they were taching silk painting; but on top of that, all of these students are deaf/mute so they not only taught
them to paint, but taught them sign language as well.

Owl carvings!!! These are rock, I bought a wood one cause I didn't want to carry around the stone version.

We had lunch one day at this restaurant that was set up as a butterfly sanctuary, they were fluttering round everywhere.

But I guess it was a sanctuary for butterfly-eating lizards too, cause I watched this guy have his way with one of them. 

Coming up in part least four million photos of the temples of Angkor Wat.