Writing and the Fear of Retirement — Changes will Come

Its almost the end of times here in Siem Reap. Today I took a day off from the 7 miles walking almost every day and read a lot and worked on my story. I had spent time last night also drafting down the outline to a few sections so I could manage things easier. While the 11 step pre-writing process helps a person to drill down it soon becomes way too much when looking for a thing. It gets down to the following for me:

  1. Ideas, Plots, and Premises. I dedicate some pages to the idea and premises of my story plus outlining some of the conflicts.
  2. Characters. Its easy to lose sight of the characters when they’re stuck away in some note but I think you refer back to the characters to either add one that comes upon you in a blast of impression or when you want to check a name out. At this point, I still add a character or two because as I write, I think of someone who should be in that world.
  3. Writing or the Content. I’ve come to grips with the fact that I will go back and redo the first part. I’m up to 5 chapters now and the separations are when I feel like it. Since this is a draft, things may end up with less chapters or more.

I think once you get the first two things in sight the third can come but you don’t need to reach some ideal point. I dwelled on the ideas, plot, and premises for days. I had tried before writing to them but without the ideas actually written down. I failed. I think the important thing is to get them written down. They will change as will the plot. Writing seems to be an engaging and evolving process at least for me.

We’ll see how we do as I get more of the story crafted out. Now I’m sitting in the room with some beer and watching the clock kinda tick down on my last days in Siem Reap. I’ve been here a month and will leave on Saturday for another city in Cambodia. Then I get back to Phnom Penh and down to Kampot for some days.

Next year is a traveling year. I’ll be on the road from Cambodia most of it only to return for awhile in June to get ready to go to Vietnam and Lao and then in September to prepare for China. Busy times all around.

Retirement and Quora — Some thoughts here

I answer questions a lot on Quora about aging and retirement primarily because I think people that are young have this strange idea that when a person turns an age somehow they are really not meant for much else than coffee down the street and a slow walk in the park. There are numbers of ex-pat retirees here in Cambodia and others I have met in Vietnam that would tend to disagree. The truth is and I hate to burst the young folks bubbles that nothing changes just because an age is reached. We all want the same adventures and changes and relationships that you do. After all, we have all gone through more of life than you which does not mean we are smarter. It does mean we don’t drop all the dreams and focus on the nothing of retirement. Come on young people! Give us some ability here. We are not literally waiting for the final act here. Many of us decide to leave and find a new life. Sometimes the new life is in Asia or South or Central America.

The real truth is that it sucks to retire in America. Why? Because it costs so much. Everything you want and need or desire costs too much. So people get trapped in a life there that is not of their making and perhaps they’re afraid to change. Well you guys; change is out there and it’s always happening. But I think the main thing is others get trapped with the house and car and debt and either continue to work always thinking,

oh next year I will break free! I will take that cruise. I will remove all debt. I will find a new way forward

But next year never comes and they suffer the next thing. The next thing is fear. Or I should say FEAR. All in big letters. They are simply afraid of the first thing which is change. So they stay trapped because fear of change traps them.

I hope that as you get older you see that we are not just a bunch of decrepit coffee house wanderers. We all have the star stuff essence. There is still the hunter-gatherer in us. Its just buried under a ton of fear and fear of change.

Don’t let it be. Life is there for everyone. Age is no barrier. I did it. I am no hero. I figured it out. There is no secret sauce or conditions to be met. No book to buy or link to click on. No private club to join. Its you and what you want and not letting fear and fear of change conquer your life.

Thats all! Ain’t that enough? 🙂

Writing and the Fear of Retirement — Changes will Come

Its almost the end of times here in Siem Reap. Today I took a day off from the 7 miles walking almost every day and read a lot and worked on my story. I had spent time last night also drafting down the outline to a few sections so I could manage things easier. While the 11 step pre-writing process helps a person to drill down it soon becomes way too much when looking for a thing. It gets down to the following for me:

  1. Ideas, Plots, and Premises. I dedicate some pages to the idea and premises of my story plus outlining some of the conflicts.
  2. Characters. Its easy to lose sight of the characters when they’re stuck away in some note but I think you refer back to the characters to either add one that comes upon you in a blast of impression or when you want to check a name out. At this point, I still add a character or two because as I write, I think of someone who should be in that world.
  3. Writing or the Content. I’ve come to grips with the fact that I will go back and redo the first part. I’m up to 5 chapters now and the separations are when I feel like it. Since this is a draft, things may end up with less chapters or more.

I think once you get the first two things in sight the third can come but you don’t need to reach some ideal point. I dwelled on the ideas, plot, and premises for days. I had tried before writing to them but without the ideas actually written down. I failed. I think the important thing is to get them written down. They will change as will the plot. Writing seems to be an engaging and evolving process at least for me.

We’ll see how we do as I get more of the story crafted out. Now I’m sitting in the room with some beer and watching the clock kinda tick down on my last days in Siem Reap. I’ve been here a month and will leave on Saturday for another city in Cambodia. Then I get back to Phnom Penh and down to Kampot for some days.

Next year is a traveling year. I’ll be on the road from Cambodia most of it only to return for awhile in June to get ready to go to Vietnam and Lao and then in September to prepare for China. Busy times all around.

Retirement and Quora — Some thoughts here

I answer questions a lot on Quora about aging and retirement primarily because I think people that are young have this strange idea that when a person turns an age somehow they are really not meant for much else than coffee down the street and a slow walk in the park. There are numbers of ex-pat retirees here in Cambodia and others I have met in Vietnam that would tend to disagree. The truth is and I hate to burst the young folks bubbles that nothing changes just because an age is reached. We all want the same adventures and changes and relationships that you do. After all, we have all gone through more of life than you which does not mean we are smarter. It does mean we don’t drop all the dreams and focus on the nothing of retirement. Come on young people! Give us some ability here. We are not literally waiting for the final act here. Many of us decide to leave and find a new life. Sometimes the new life is in Asia or South or Central America.

The real truth is that it sucks to retire in America. Why? Because it costs so much. Everything you want and need or desire costs too much. So people get trapped in a life there that is not of their making and perhaps they’re afraid to change. Well you guys; change is out there and it’s always happening. But I think the main thing is others get trapped with the house and car and debt and either continue to work always thinking,

oh next year I will break free! I will take that cruise. I will remove all debt. I will find a new way forward

But next year never comes and they suffer the next thing. The next thing is fear. Or I should say FEAR. All in big letters. They are simply afraid of the first thing which is change. So they stay trapped because fear of change traps them.

I hope that as you get older you see that we are not just a bunch of decrepit coffee house wanderers. We all have the star stuff essence. There is still the hunter-gatherer in us. Its just buried under a ton of fear and fear of change.

Don’t let it be. Life is there for everyone. Age is no barrier. I did it. I am no hero. I figured it out. There is no secret sauce or conditions to be met. No book to buy or link to click on. No private club to join. Its you and what you want and not letting fear and fear of change conquer your life.

Thats all! Ain’t that enough? 🙂

The tale my old Merrill Moab Ventilators Shoes can tell…

The cell phone rang this morning while I was reading and enjoying some moments of morning solitude. First it was someone that did not speak English and then it was a delivery driver for an overnight shipping company asking me if I could be available to sign for a package. The package was a pair of walking shoes I had shipped from my mail service to Siem Reap almost two weeks ago. They had stalled in Phnom Penh and I thought that FedEx may send them back or Cambodian customs may stop them because they had questions. But in the end, the shoes made it through and then were placed with a local delivery agent and this morning I received them!

These are the only shoes I can really wear with any comfort at all and they are not sold here so once a year or so I have to buy a new pair. My old ones have really seen better days after lasting me through the miles since March. If they could tell a story it would be:

  1. Welcome to Japan. You used me for 2 weeks and 3 cities sometimes walking further and longer. I was there for you in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Osaka and we got to see each city together.
  2. Then we were off to Vietnam together. Thanks for taking me along! You first took me to Hanoi for three months but we did side trips to Hoi An and Hue and then we left for a few days to go to Hong Kong. I really liked Hong Kong and you put the miles on me there too. All told we spent a long time together in Vietnam and ended up going to Da Lat, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City a few times. We also did a few other trips like to Nha Trang and Cham Islands. Cool stuff! All told you and I saw Vietnam for 6 months. I was there every step of the way. I’m only a shoe but I think you found some value and we got to walk some city streets, some temple grounds, got to see the Golden Bridge and so many other sights in Vietnam.
  3. Then we left for Cambodia. Oh Cambodia! You took me along for so many walks in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville and Kampot and now in Siem Reap. I heard rumors though that perhaps my time was coming up and that new some shoes on the block would arrive. And so they did. I’m not jealous or mad. I know I am here for a mission and the new pair of Merrills and I talked a bit and they will serve you well. My time is just about done. I have some rips and tears but I’ve been loyal and steadfast here in Cambodia.

So the Merrill Moab V2 shoes have seen me through a lot and many steps and miles have been done. I’ve tried Sandals but they rub my feet the wrong way. So I always ended up back with the Merrills and they have been good to me.

Now I have a new pair and I’m good for another year. Next December I’m sure that these Merrills will have a similar tale to tell. The old ones get retired here. Their time has come and I’ll spend the last few days in Siem Reap saying goodbye to them. I don’t know about other shoes and these are not the cheapest but for my feet and the 5 to 7 miles every day I do, they are just the best for me. No break-in period. No blisters. No hurting feet. I’ve worn them for years actually and always they have been there for me. I won’t be trying other shoes or buying cheap sneakers. I’ll spend the money and let them tell their tale next year at this time.

Thanks to Merrill for making a shoe that is more than the sum of its parts. A shoe that can tell a story and be there for me in the steps I take. No product link. No affiliate. Only a recommendation from an old retired guy that walks a lot.

Siem Reap Times – Meeting another blogger and travel plans

Last week in Siem Reap and today got to meet a fellow blogger I follow. Here’s the back story. I was walking yesterday by the Siem Reap River just kind of enjoying the cooler day out and looking around and I thought I saw someone that looked familiar walking away from me. He was quite a bit ahead of me but he had turned to look at something. I wanted to be sure so after dinner and a few beers I checked his blog. On his About Page there is a picture. Sure enough. It was! I did not want to yell and disturb him so I wondered whether we would meet again somewhere. Siem Reap is not such a large city and though I wander in non tourist areas a lot today I walked by the Sister Srey Cafe which is a breakfast and brunch place right on the riverside and there he was!

I got to meet Cornell Sandifer, the publisher and author of this blog! One I admit to following for a few reasons. One is he travels kind of in a similar orbit in Asia but we always seemed countries apart. He would get to Vietnam as I was leaving. We had a chance to talk briefly and he let me know how his travels were going across Asia. It was really cool meeting someone who maintains a blog I follow. After a few minutes of talking about traveling and the places we both were going or had been, we parted but it felt good to meet him. Thanks Cornell! Really a pleasure meeting up with you in Siem Reap!

Days Fall Away in Siem Reap…

My days are slowly falling away here. Its my last Sunday here and its been a great place to visit. I’m down to only 5 full days left and then I board the bus to Battambang for 2 weeks.

In a way I kinda feel ready to go. I think walking the city, eating all the great food and seeing the temples has really recharged the travel batteries for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about the travels next year. I have wanted to firm up the plans after 5 months in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. I decided to do the following:

  1. Vietnam for 6 weeks. I’ll spend 2 weeks in Saigon, Da Nang, and Hanoi.
  2. Lao for a month. I’ll visit Lao for a month.
  3. Back to Phnom Penh around mid September. I need to renew my retirement visa extension of stay for another year.
  4. China in early October. I will get the Visa in Phnom Penh when I get back. Should take a week or so.
  5. Philippines maybe/maybe not. I don’t feel some desire to really go to the Philippines. Its never really been a place I have wanted to visit. A friend had told me that their retirement visas are good but the problem there is its an island or a group of islands. No train or bus service. No neighboring countries easy to get to like here.

So my desire early next year is to lock in all of 2019 in travel plans. I’ve been thinking a lot about India and I would want to go in early 2020 and see Chennai first and catch up with so many people there I know. I likely would want to spend more time in India.

That’s been the line of thinking my last few days here. I feel better having a basic plan in place so I know what 2019 has in store for me.

So it has been really good days here in Siem Reap and I always ask myself if I would return. I don’t think so now. There are only two places in Cambodia I would return to. One is Phnom Penh and the other is Kampot. Both offer something of value on opposing ends of the spectrum. Phnom Penh offers the big city stuff. The Central Market and shopping while Kampot offers the small city charms with such a diverse selection of food and bars and fun. I also need to get to some other places in Kampot which I did not do last time. I’ll be back there in January before flying to Singapore.

I also thought through settling down somewhere and staying longer. It would be in Cambodia since I have the visa extension of stay. There is nothing I gain from staying longer anywhere. I simply lose the time to see things that I want or the fun of the slow vagabonding that seems so good for my soul.

It will be good to see some people in Vietnam again but I have to be honest. I am only going back to get back to Da Nang again because I love the place so much. Saigon and Hanoi are extras and I can book the flights through all of them easily on Vietnam Airlines.

And that is a wrap for today! I got to meet a fellow blogger today that I follow, got to see down side streets and feel mighty good at the walking and how the warm Cambodian sun beats down on me and makes me feel so good. I sweat but those 5 to 7 miles slide by with the camera.

I’ll be publishing my photo album here by next Friday or so. Stay tuned! The adventure continues.

Days to the Left and Right – Fuji cameras gone and around

Slowly transitioning from one city to another is not so difficult when you are the slow traveler anyways. I’ve been in Siem Reap for almost a month now and each day has built on the day before in some ways. In other ways though each day is unique. I wander in a different direction with the camera. It does not matter if I’ve seen the street before because to me each day with the people, the weather, the environment is different. That same tree or street looks one way on a beautiful blue day but when clouds come the street gets bathed in some shadows and the photography is different. Down goes the aperture and since I vary from somewhat light to somewhat shadow on goes the auto ISO. I just let the camera decide what works.

I have found on the FujiFilm X100F the sweet spots for photography are somewhere between F/4 and F/11. If you settle on F/5.6 or F/8 you are gonna be safe because these seem to be so dead on whether you wander in clouds or bright day and let the camera decide the ISO you will probably get a good shot.

This works wonders for me since each day is a bit different starting from a bakery to have some morning coffee and a nice donut or other goodie. I have liked doing the pastry thing since Vietnam. I’ll just say in Vietnam the bakeries were oh so good! Here I have found the smaller places for coffee that Cambodia seems to specialize in. Particularly the neighborhood stands. Kind of street food for coffee. I have one across the street from the hotel here and there was a delightful one in Otres Village when I was there. Unfortunately while I wanted to get a picture of her and the coffee stand before leaving, she was not there and the cab driver to the airport arrived early.

Anyways back to whatever the main topic was if there was one. Oh yeah… The days. The days with the camera and the wonder of each day and that which makes it unique. The city streets in Siem Reap are like others I have seen but then again not at all. There is the mix of older colonial architecture buildings, government and city buildings, stately hotels, and beautiful restaurants and bars. In Kampot the mix was even more delicate. Streets there were graced with smaller coffee stands, neighborhood pastry shops and then the older buildings. Wonderful! Each day I went with the camera was something new. How the light struck the river or how the boats looked at night running the river. It all seemed so different each day.

So I figured out that the slow travel, the wandering with no real purpose in sight and the slow camera things all figure in to what makes the mode of travel I do the best for me. Relaxing after 3 hours of doing the wandering and back in my room I realize that tomorrow is the countdown. I will only have a week left and then will get to the bus station and move along. I always ask whether I would come back and an equal question is whether I should revisit places. Should I go back to Vietnam in June or July next year? I spent 6 months there already. I feel it would all be different this time but I also look at the other places I could go with the same time. I could go to:

  1. China
  2. Korea
  3. Philippines
  4. Taiwan
  5. Lao
  6. India

So many places I have not really been to yet. I would like to get the last 6 months kinda defined for travel because I have to be back in late September to get the retirement visa extended or move to the Philippines and get their retirement visa. Truth be told, I don’t want that visa. I like it better here. Its easier to get the visa here and I can travel all I want to and its not an island where buses and trains simply won’t work.

But for now the next few weeks beckons. To Battambang and then back to Phnom Penh and finally to that lovely little city Kampot by the river. From there I fly off to Singapore and perhaps see old friends there (or not). Then off to Malaysia for 90 days and traveling in many directions. Its not everything in Malaysia. I hand-picked places like Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Port Dickson and Penang to represent different cardinal locations in the country. Each places gets weeks so I can explore with the camera.

Final Frustrations with the FujiFilm X-T2 camera…

Yes, that camera was so frustrating and anger and irritation producing. I bought that camera in Da Nang to replace my original X100F which had gone through rain storms, been dropped in a puddle, dropped on the floor, slammed around in luggage and still mostly worked. The X-T2 camera to me is a piece of crap. I had the camera’s shutter button repaired after only two months. That took effort. Then I get it back and it starts sticking again in two weeks. I have only had that camera for about 4 to 5 months folks. Cameras are supposed to last longer than that. I have no faith now in those camera lines at all. I also will never buy the X-T3 because of its proximity to the X-T2. The X100F just is the best for me. Its small and resilient and reliable day after day.

I am no photographer nor do I want to be. I don’t crave instagram moments at temples or desire to catch the perfect shot or composition. What I like to do with a camera is capture what I like. How a simple building looks with the sky and clouds. How a tuk tuk looks against the backdrop of a building. How the light crosses the shadow in black and white shots. My interest in getting better is not to be called a photographer (ever). I want to be able to express myself better with the camera but still only capture that silly building or the darkness and light vying for the building.

The X100F does all this for me and it has never had a problem with the shutter button. I guess there is no next camera for me in the FujiFilm line unless a camera is released that builds on the X100F tradition with a fixed lens.

This whole thing brought me all the way around and back to the streets I love to walk and the pictures I want to take. A famous photographer when asked how to do the best photography said,

F/8 and be there

I’ll add you have to have a camera that’s fun to use and be glad to be using it. With no camera you will not be there and a smart phone camera will never be the same folks. It will never let you have the experimentation or fun. Its too “been there; done that”.

So I still love the Fuji cameras and would buy another one. Just not that X-T line of cameras. I don’t trust them and I think their quality control and build is lousy. I also know that I am not the norm with doing photography. I am the person who gives a shit less and just wants to capture and see what I did on a day on a tour. I also never edit photos. If I cannot take the picture and save it off as a JPEG what’s the point? I don’t have the time or inclination to learn Lightroom or Photoshop. The Fuji cameras pride themselves on the quality of their JPEGs so why should I be different?

At the end of the day, its me, the camera and the world in front, behind, to the left and right of me. I make the choices. I capture the photographs. Its me and the street and the camera. The X100F. The camera that just works to capture the world there around me. To me, the best camera ever.

Day in Siem Reap Between this and that

I have two more weeks give or take a day in Siem Reap. I’ve done my temple tours and had a blast seeing the 10 temples spread over 3 different tours plus the morning at Angkor Wat. Siem Reap is a fun city to live in folks. My hotel is a little away from the downtown area. Walking to downtown takes about 10 minutes and you are at the old market and the Siem Reap River. From there you can reach shopping centers, restaurants and bars, Pub Street if you are so inclined, and other places like the Night Market which is fun to cruise through.

Down one street, Sok San Road are lots of restaurants and guest houses and so-called residences which look like more expensive hotels. The number and variety of Khmer restaurants is amazing down this street. I’ve found food for about $4.50 including two beers, noodles or curry or a dish like Amok or Lok Lak and rice. There are also very nice multi cuisine places where for a bit more you can get get western dishes. I could live for a long time on Khmer food but I do get the need for a burger or a plate of ribs or pizza. As far as pizza goes, right down the street is a small vendor that makes custom pizzas from a little stall. She has 9 different kinds of pizza and you stop there and order then visit the next coffee shop and get a smoothie or fruit shake. I don’t think there is anything comparable in the states to the food scene like in Vietnam and Cambodia.

In two weeks I go to Battambang which is the second largest city here in Cambodia. I’ll spend two weeks there and then go back to Phnom Penh and get some things done there I want like a haircut at the Tokyo Barber Shop and visiting a friend at a camera shop that got my FujiFilm camera fixed in Singapore.

My time is slowly ending for the touring around Cambodia I had decided months ago to do. I think the overall plan worked out well. I was able to get my multiple entry extension of stay retirement visa for a year in Cambodia. That was a huge deal for me. It provides the stability of always being able to re-enter Cambodia on the visa for a year.

In a little under two months I’ll leave for 5 months as I travel through Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. That will get me through the first half of next year. By March, I will have the final part of the year scoped out and decided. I may go to Vietnam for three months in July and then come back and renew my retirement visa and then take off for China. I need to be back in Phnom Penh to get the Chinese tourist visa.

Anyways, just a grab bag of things which I’ve ben thinking of lately with the traveling between different cities here in Cambodia. Siem Reap has been a lot of fun and there is a lot to see and do here. I don’t think you would be bored here for a week or two. If you like food and having that occasional beer, there are much worse places. I have to admit though that Kampot really owns me now. I will get back there for a few weeks before leaving for Singapore in January.

Sitting here kinda watching the 2018 year come to an end, it has been interesting to see this first year of travel also come to an end. While I have not seen 30 countries and 3 continents in my year, I have felt very enriched by visiting the places in Vietnam, seeing Hong Kong again, getting to Japan, and finally Cambodia. The highlight for me has to be the time spent here in Cambodia and the time spent in my second home in Da Nang Vietnam.

The next few weeks I’ll be visiting more of the city, walking the streets and seeing local life here each day. Doing the usual camera explorations of city life, parks, and people. I never really have a plan on a place or thing to see. Usually its me and the feet and the camera.

Stay tuned though if you like reading my rambling and introspective approach to this slow travel mantra of mine. More to come!

Ankgor Wat – the Archeology and the Feelings

The final day of Temple Tours was upon me this morning at 430am. I had decided to get out to Angkor Wat temple then to see the sunrise. Unfortunately, the weather had clouded up a bit so the sunrise was not so glorious. But lets face it folks. If you can choose a place to be and one of them is standing next to Angkor Wat at 5am, that is pretty damned cool!

I spent another 2 hours exploring the temple. Its an excellent and unique place but its not the best. I think Bayon Temple is the best with its unique carvings and foot trails to see the different sights. Its also under active restoration so you end up seeing efforts to stabilize the temple walls, the higher levels, and even the ground structures. I think it gives a good idea about how active archeological preservation is with historic monumental architecture.

When I did archeology, it was prehistoric sites in the desert and mountains and southern plains and a dash of the Great Basin. These sites were completely different so restoration and protection was too. But some things remain constant at least to me. One is the work cannot impact the site more than natural forces. You cannot allow the restoration work to make the site appear different than what it was naturally intended. This takes more money and resources and talent. You need to measure and do science and ensure that the site’s material remains are correctly recorded and that perhaps the hardest thing is the thought and philosophy of the site. You cannot intrude on what the makers thought! When we protected rock art sites in the western Mojave desert it was not enough to simply cordon off an area and say “no entry”. The entry may have been a problem but the other problems were combinations of natural and social forces that would act on the site in a negative way. It always comes down to the twin forces of nature. Erosion and deposition. They are the hammers of life. Its not whether some force says protect them. It’s those forces folks. They act in so many ways to protect and damage the things of value.

So seeing the sites today and their protections by Chinese and Indian agencies under the watchful eye of UNESCO made me feel good. But never imagine that a site protected today is protected a decade from now or even next year. Budgets and people and feelings change. If I diverge for a moment to our current political environment, we have a president who denies climate change but asks about the weather. Probably the greatest deleterious impact to our natural and cultural resources and revenue is Trump. He simply seems dolefully ignorant of how a thing can affect other things. Our precious natural and cultural resources could be hampered or destroyed because Trump does not understand how climate change, not weather change, will negatively impact us, our cultures, our environments, and our natural and cultural resources.

It’s sad really. But its what we have. Nothing waits perennially for change. Cultural resources like Angkor Wat and natural resources like the Colorado River all require our protection. All of these things form a delicate balancing act between what we were, what we are, and what we shall become.

And in the final analysis, when you see Angkor Wat at sunrise or Chaco Canyon or the Grand Canyon or a myriad of other places, remember the none of these could be protected much longer. Do you want your legacy to see these things?

Visit the temples at Angkor Wat because they’re there and they may silently call you. A message across time and space. A whisper across the eons. Its the connection between the you now and the you to come. Don’t ignore it. It’s at your peril.

The Weekend Days in Siem Reap – Nice Hotel, Nice Walk

Today was more of a down day for me. Decided to pass on the breakfast at the hotel in favor of some pastry and hot latte down the street at a French bakery. I get tired of eggs each morning whether fried, scrambled or an omelette. Tomorrow being Sunday it may be time for another waffle at the rather nice laundry coffee shop down the street. The waffles are the real thing folks and they serve them with some butter and syrup and a nice cup of coffee.

Since was not a temple day or a tour day or a anything day at all; I decided to stroll the river farther than before and see what I could see. Its fun along the river because as I’ve mentioned previously, I really like bridges and there are any number of nice little bridges that cross the Siem Reap River. Each one has its own character whether its utilitarian and functional or beautiful and decorated. Pedestrians can cross on any of the bridges. So I walked down the river walk area past the usual tourist spots to more of the local community. At some arbitrary bridge, I decided to head back and get a Strawberry Smoothie at the Bangkok Cafe. Its a nice little place where you can rest, look at photos or read the news.

Finishing up after an hour it was the 0.5 mile walk back to the hotel from the river area and thinking about dinner. I am still looking at restaurants down this one street where there are lots of residences or hotels or long stay places. Lots of western and European places, lots of Khmer places that I keep finding more of like last night. I had the Cambodian noodles with beef, spring rolls, and two beers for $4.00. Cheapest yet I think for all that food. Tonight I will head further down the road and either do Indian food, a burger, or Khmer food at another place I found on the map. Since the places are next to each other and they are all next to really nice bars, its easy to find a place to sit for awhile after and nurse a beer or three and watch the people and also watch the waitstaff watching the people.

Tomorrow is the same kind of day but I will probably cross to the other side of the river and walk around over there for awhile. There are lots of streets with businesses, local rural areas, and shopping areas I have not seen yet. I also always seem to end up at the Old Market. Its probably one of my favorite markets since they have just about everything and if you are patient you can find it. Like I found this nice lady that sells better walking sandals that helps you fit them, gives you advice on sizing, and bargains a bit. I paid a decent amount for a second pair of sandals and my take is why buy some that cost $100 and then have them mailed if I get six months of wear for a pair of $20 sandals that I then need to buy again in Phnom Penh or Malaysia or wherever I happen to be. Unfortunately, my wonderful Merrell Moab shoes are approaching their end of life. I’ve worn them every day just about for 11 months now and walked lots of miles every place from Japan to Vietnam to Hong Kong and finally here in Cambodia. They are wonderful shoes but its the same deal with buying them as the expensive US sandals. I buy them then I have to have them shipped here which costs. By the time I’m done, the two costs equal 7 pair of sandals here. You can kinda figure what I go for 🙂

Monday is Temple Day…

This Monday is a very early day as I will go see the sunrise at Angkor Wat and then see three other temples that day. That’s it for the tours of temples here. I will have seen 10 temples all told here. I think that’s enough.

Its been wonderful also reading up on the temples on wikipedia and reading the conservation signs and pamphlets at each site to understand the reasons for building, when they were likely built, and their function if known. The temples are a major thing here in Siem Reap and the groups that manage the access, do security, and help tourists are excellent. Very professional people that take the job very seriously. Its a major archaeological and historic trove of information that is so well preserved in some places. Simply amazing! If you make it to Cambodia you should stop here for some time and see the temples. I opted for two packages but you could do one and see the major ones. Since I have a month here, there is no real rush but the issue I have is that the passes are only good for limited days. I bought the 3 day pass which I have to use in a week after its issued. Monday will be my last day on the pass.

The downward side of times in Siem Reap and then Onward!

When Thursday comes along, I’m on the downward side of things and will leave on December 15th for Battambang for two weeks. After that its a quick blur to when I go to Singapore and travel on for 5 months. I have not been back to Singapore since 2011 so it will be nice to see it again. Its expensive but so nice and I have friends there as well.

I’m pretty happy with the Cambodia adventures over the past months! Kampot was a good part of things for me. I may try again to go to Phu Quoc Island but not until I have the 90 day tourist visa for Vietnam already.

So this Saturday will wind down and it will be dinner time and then reading and relaxing in the AC room after getting my daily walk in. The steps become so much more to me each day. Each one takes me to a thing or place or park or nice city street where I can see a new thing, revisit a thing I have seen before, or just let it all go by and not focus on anything at all. Any of those are acceptable.

Siem Reap Temple Thoughts and Dreams

Today was my 5 temple tour day here in Siem Reap. To manage and control the photography, I have a simple control sheet that works for me quite well. I use the Ulysses App on my iPhone but you can use google docs or a text file or whatever as well. The main idea is if you are gonna visit multiple places in a day where there may be a bit of similarity you want some control over the images coming off the camera. The easiest way is to create a simple text document and include the name of each place and then note the starting and stopping image numbers. You may have to remove the SD card since when you export images as I did using the FujiFilm Remote app, the names get munged to new names. Its easier to just remove the SD card and mount it up or look at the images and do simple math. If you have a lot, its easier to remove the card and mount it. I use a nice Type C dongle that lets me see each image.

But lets talk about temples today. The 5 temples I was privileged and excited to see today were:

These temples are kinda scattered around so it’s easier to get a friendly tuk tuk driver that knows his way and get him to haul you around. It was a beautiful day for temple sightseeing today. Temperatures in the low 30s with some clouds. I don’t mind sweating since I seem to do so much of it walking the cities and trails here. Today I did about 6.4 miles on temple patrol!

Here’s the final outcome of my wonderful day. I have the album sorted earliest first so you can see each of the temples with the ordering above. Each of the temples and the last temple complex has unique features and subtleties. One has amazing waterway courses you walk over on a wooden sidewalk or path. Another has elaborate staircases to climb to the top. Yet another temple has carvings of intricate figurines and animals. There is no way to apply a standard measurement and you would have to spend a day at each one with more detailed photography to really appreciate the subtlety and differences. Tours and tuk tuks are not meant for that.

So what did I learn? All of the complexes were built within about a seven hundred year period and represent multiple chambers with outliers in smaller buildings. Some are preserved and others are not. The building style varies greatly and the last was almost a maze of access where you walked through numbers of small passageways to reach the next gate.

To give you an idea about each temple’s setting, I linked the temple to the wikipedia entry for each one above. This should help you get the historic context for each temple. But what about a personal favorite? Everyone always sees a place perhaps like Chaco Canyon or the Grand Canyon or another natural or historic site and has a favorite. My favorite from the day is the last temple complex. I include the word complex because it is. It is the only temple I went to that has entry and exits in the 4 directions. I did not really realize this until I got lost trying to find the exit I had entered. But the real thing is the complexity of the temple and its beauty. It is intricate with carvings and smaller outlier buildings and then a foot trail to let you see it all. It makes the Preah Khan temple the best for today for me. I also felt that it had command of the geography and produced a view of river moats, statuary, and beautiful buildings which did not compromise. My subjective feeling is that this temple demanded obedience to reach its interior grounds. Walking its internal pathway leads to numerous low and high barriers to entry much like other Wats. You have to want to get in.

Those Instagram Moments…

One of the things that was frustrating were those folks grabbing their instagram moments. Young men dressed down and their companions dressed up posing at various places, holding up the progress of people behind them, the women having to get to just the right spot with hands outstretched, sitting on a temple wall. The men with their big old Nikon or Canon cameras adjusting the pose, getting her to be just right for that one moment where you get the 900 likes. I just get the feeling of frustration with these folks. Its not the temple they are there to see. Its the moment of posting it in a coffee shoppe on Instagram and seeing the attachment rate. For me, I could care less what I post on Instagram. If you don’t like it, don’t follow me. I just share my photos there. I also share out my entire albums of JPEGs straight out of the camera. I don’t edit stuff. Some end up good. Some bad. It’s the way of it.

Closing Temple Thoughts…

If you visit the Siem Reap area, I think you should get to the Angkor Museum first to get a sense of context and who the rulers were and what they did but the Angkor park does a nice job of giving you information when you are there. Some of the temples take some walking but they have done a nice job of restoration and providing access for most people. Photography can be tricky of course. My rule was to set things to automatic where I could. I used Auto ISO and will always use aperture priority to around F/5.6 to F/8 given the light available. I just let the XT2 decide which it thinks the shutter speed and ISO should be. It does better than me and I was going from darker to lighter but I felt that f/5.6 was a good sweet spot for the type of photography. If I moved to more distant shots like at the last temple I changed to either F/8 or F/11 but kept the camera on auto ISO.

Perhaps I am not a purist but what I want are the remembrances and memories. I don’t shoot photography to please anyone. I do it to learn and be happy myself with the results. There is no final goal or picture being sold. If you like one of my works take it. I don’t really care.

My closing thoughts for the day are that there are way too many temples and I will still see 4 more on Monday. Angkor Wat at sunrise and then three more. These are huge complexes so I’ll spend more time cruising them on foot. I am still going to try to limit the photography since it’s easier to manage.

So there you have my closing temple and photography thoughts after a few hours of wandering. I walked a total of 6.4 miles today to see the temples including getting lost at the last one. That was fun!

Its gonna be time for dinner soon here. Tomorrow no places to really be so will go exploring again in the city.

Siem Reap and its Temples – sites to see and places to go!

The Temples in Siem Reap chronicles began today. Very exciting to start touring the various temples and took a long tuk tuk ride through the country around Siem Reap as well. All told I will visit 10 temples over 2 days coming up. I bought the 7 day pass for three visits so I have to use the card before next Wednesday. So the temples are just all over the place and I think there are more than the ones I will see but I am gonna give it my best shot to see the variety including next Monday at Angkor Wat for sunrise. I have to be up ready to go at 5am that day.

I may do one additional tour to Tonle Sap which takes some hours via a car to do. I would like to see it. Its a biodiversity preserve and recognized by UNESCO. So what to think of the temples? They are magnificent and the ones I’ve seen are in good shape and some are being restored that have had issues. I am hopeful that the government can protect the land surrounding the temples and not let construction or other projects occur close to them. I’m looking forward to Friday when I get the second tour to see 5 temples and then on Monday when I see the final 4 temples. Its all good!

When I’m done with the tours of the temples, I am definitely not done. I still have two weeks left here to hang out, eat good food, wander the city and finally prepare for my trip to Battambang. The year is winding up and it is hard to believe it is gonna be Thanksgiving weekend in the states soon. I’ll spend Christmas in Battambang and New Years in Phnom Penh this year.

I’ve been considering a bit about creating something on the so-called written page. I’ve had a few ideas flit about. I started working on one but it felt like it was not a thing to go forward with. The best way for me to start is to start creating ideas on Ulysses and then start building new sheets are I see things which I want to write on. I’ve mentioned Ulysses before but it really a writer’s and notetaker’s tool for sure. I have it sync’ing in iCloud so I can use the mobile app as well. My problem is that I don’t use the IOS app at all it seems like.

The remaining parts of the year will be interesting since I will be getting back to Phnom Penh and then back to Kampot before leaving for Singapore. I hope to see some friends that live and work there but we shall see. If not, its not like there is a dearth of things to do in Singapore. I’m excited about the travels for next year but Cambodia is just a lot of fun for me now. This is the place I wanted whether its in Phnom Penh or Kampot. I do think its one of those two places. But even staying there longer is not living there. I will only stay to get things back together before leaving again on another slow perambulation somewhere.

That’s about it for now. Thanks for reading along. Its been fun being in Siem Reap! The food and coffee culture here are very nice! People are friendly and the sights to see are good