Siem Reap Times – 30 days

I just got into Siem Reap and walked around for a few hours. What a different place compared to the others. Lots of restaurants packed into small streets, shops, bars, pubs (and pub streets). Also a whole lotta fun with a camera I think. The markets are bustling and then the river area with the wonderful little bridges are quiet. Its going to be an interesting mixture of photography. I have not been able to visit a more lively spot since Phnom Penh. Siem Reap has this funk going I think.

I’m going to spend a few days looking around the downtown area where my hotel is and next week will do one of three tours by tuk tuk and car that the hotel sponsors. The prices are much better. I think I just want to do all the tours they have and the total cost will be around $70 plus a week’s pass for Angkor temples and parks.

The town is a busy and thriving place with I have to say a lot of flirtatious young Khmer women that will smile and wave and even wink at me. I found that rather fun to see as one gave me this rather beautiful smile and then checked on me again to make sure I had caught the smile and returned it. It kinda makes an old retired guy feel good to think that someone will smile. The market stall owners are very friendly and most speak more than a fair amount of English which is nice as well.

Now I’m in my room or as I prefer to call it my lair. I’ve been looking at Google Maps and there are way too many restaurants so I will just pick a local Khmer place tonight that is a little bit of a walk to the market area. The rule still is that the food is cheap but there are such a diversity of restaurants here. I’m glad I have a month! The hotel also has free breakfasts each morning so thats a good way to start things off.

Starting tomorrow!

Starting tomorrow will be days out with the camera exploring in all different directions for a few days. I want to get familiar with the street layouts and shortcuts here and there but mostly I want to get lost. The city is big enough to be able to do some serious wandering and sightseeing. Buildings and parks are interesting as well. The Siem Reap river runs right through town and there’s a really charming park area with bridges that separate the market. I’ll start working on all that tomorrow with the camera.

Then starting next week I will be doing a tour a week for three weeks through the hotel. I’ll be able to see a lot of the locations either by tuk tuk or car. The temple areas require a pass to get in that you buy for different time lengths and you need a ride there. I’ll finish up by visiting a biodiversity area called Tonle Sap which is a nationally registered ecological zone.

So, I think Siem Reap has a lot to offer the enterprising vagabond. Lots of interesting people and sights to find in the city that will take up days and days of time. Some hunting for some shoes I would like, some socks and a new belt. I’ll start looking off and on as I walk the city. I’ve seen the belts but the market by the river does not have a good showing of men’s socks and I saw no real shoes to speak of either. One of the persons in a clothing stall told me I should go to the local market to find things.

I have to say its really nice being here compared to Sihanoukville. The area around Sihanoukville is being so heavily developed and the little Otres Village area I think is slowly but surely being taken over by Chinese business owners. Soon many of the restaurants will not be owned by the Cambodians. One already appears to have been sold and when I went there last all the prices had gone up.

I will not be going back to Sihanoukville. I think the cities I could revolve around would be Kampot, Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap. I have not seen Battambang yet so will reserve judgement and perhaps I will like it there and add it. At the current time though I think a decent home base is Kampot but a nice thing about Siem Reap is the airport where Kampot is 2 to 3 hours from Phnom Penh Airport.

Lots to consider and its why I took the 4 months to see some of the places here in Cambodia. I wondered even before if one of the places would catch me and I would consider staying longer. The only one so far is Kampot. The real thing though is that settling down and just living in a place does not do much for me. Its the slow travel and spending as much time as I would like in places that really gets me.

Stay tuned for the next month of reporting here on my Siem Reap adventures. Gonna be fun!

13 years with wordpress.com

An interesting perspective is that I have had an account on wordpress.com for 13 years now. I never realized when I first signed up there. I had so many other providers and hosts and services I’ve lost count. To say its all changed is an understatement. To ask if its changed for the better is a valid question. My answer is that it has not. I loved blogging years ago with the folks then that put words together out of love and desire to see them stand up next to each other. I won’t venture an opinion on what’s wrong with blogging now. I’ve said it before and you know what I think.

When what really matters was the same thing that mattered 20 years ago when i started.

It is content that matters folks. If you blog for travel, adventure, fashion, lifestyle, or just like me to write whatever the hell I want to write; its the words next to each other. Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 12.14.33 PM

Try to not write clickbait blog posts. Try to write what you see, feel, think, desire, despise, want. Do you want to blog for 20 years? 10 years? Don’t know? Its all good if you have words. You have some of those, right?

Conversations are Places

Today I went to the Starbucks here for some coffee and a croissant. I like to sit and read on my phone even though they only give an hour of internet for each thing you buy. I have a good cell phone provider so I don’t mind crunching up some cell data. I will need to buy a scratcher for Viettel next few weeks and “top up”.  Here you just find a place with the logo and buy the little card and then send the code in and you get the goodies. Happens there is a place down the street from my hotel that has them. Easy peasy.

I lingered over some beers at one of my usual places and listened to all the people mostly tourists exchanging their map ideas, places to go, things to see, food to eat. I had decided to go get a Banh Mi or two at my favorite place called Banh Mi Pho in the old quarter. I get two sandwiches for about $2.73. Cheap but delicious dinner! Now I am working my way through the second one and will soon have a beer carefully stored in my hotel fridge.

This morning whilst at Starbucks I met an Australian retired couple traveling for a few weeks. We discussed old cars, travel, how to find things to do, food to eat, places to go. They were an interesting pair and the guy probably would have stayed longer but I think his wife was gently urging him to not waste more time on conversation. So off they went. Its amazing to me of all the people I meet how little time most people decide to spend here in Hanoi. To me, Hanoi is this wonderful place with culture, food, history and streets that lead to other streets. A novice and hobbyist photographer’s extravaganza! But people have their schedules and timings. Three days here and 4 there. See only the old quarter. What? There’s more? I told them a bit of the history of Long Bien Bridge and how they should get there since its not terribly far from West Lake at least by my foot wandering.

But lets face it. Conversations are places. You come from a place and are going to one. Your path on that route crosses another and they have a place to tell you about. Its all about the conversation and the place. You know you have a story to tell that is made up of intricate and wonderful things called places. Your memories strike the iron foundry of yesterdays and perhaps are captured by a photo gallery or a journal or a blog. But each way station reminds me the journey is not complete. You may meet another that is traveling a path not so similar. They perhaps are going to a place that you will not or their conversation is about a whole bunch of yesterdays that you can never share. Those places are locked away and no matter if you visit one, it will be different.

So I left that conversation and it dawned on me. Each time we talk to another we are exchanging not only ideas but places. Perhaps at first it comes slowly. You try to find common ground. There are always good things to start with. Food, travel, home. But soon the vagabond in you strikes out and so do theirs. You know their mysteries are not yours. You will travel a grand road made of turns and hills and dips and stops. Their road can never equal. No matter how much you want, the vaunted goal of commonality is perhaps jaded. In the end you each come from a place so unique that with a touch and a smile and perhaps a laugh and a story you find a place that each can meet at.

Other times there is no connection and no commonality. The words are slow and the other person will not meet you at a common place. Its easier to just move on. Find another place. Maybe its a solitary one. A place where its you and a thing. A sunset. A cliff. A limestone karst in Halong Bay.

And then you know. You can reach 1000 miles but sometimes the other person is just out of reach. Maybe you have a moment like I did. The words come easier. But soon the coffee cup is empty and the wife is telling him gently but brooking no argument its time to go.

So ends the places you went of that one conversation. Is there another? Who knows. Time will tell. And its fickle and it does not give away the happenings to come.

Stay tuned and perhaps you will see.