Snapshots of Cambodia

Neither Zac or I know the first thing about photography or how to use a camera to the best of its ability. One day I would like to have a better understand of photo composition and the rule of thirds and aperture settings but at the present moment progressional photography is not a skill I possess. I’d say I’m an amateur at best. That doesn’t matter though. This trip isn’t about capturing the worlds most impressive photos. It’s about experiences, pushing personal boundaries, reaching outside our comfort zones, strengthening our marriage and achieving goals. That being said, we are taking pictures in every city we visit. We want a permanent record of the things we see and do and if we’re lucky we will have a few photos that we can print to hang on our wall one day. Some of our pictures are better than others, some will only have meaning to Zac and I, some might bring back memories for people who have been to the places we have been and some might inspire others to start planning a trip of their own. We are excited to be able to share the pictures with our family and friends and provide a small glimpse of the expansive, diverse and incredible earth we live on.

 

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Our first selfie in Bangkok
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Hot pink tuk tuk interior. He was easy to find in the crowds!
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Neak Pean – Temples of Angkor Day 1
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Mother Nature reclaiming her territory – Temples of Angkor Day 1
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Temples of Angkor Day 1
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Banteay Kdei – Temples of Angkor Day 1
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Temples of Angkor Day 2 – complete with elephant pants and runners!
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Temples of Angkor Day 2 – a tree branch swing
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Temples of Angkor Day 2
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Fresh lemongrass and mint tea on Otres Beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia
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Incredible sunset at Otres Beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia
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Poor Zac was sick while we were on Koh Rong Island, Cambodia
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Koh Rong Island, Cambodia
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Koh Rong Island, Cambodia
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Koh Puos (Snake Island) Bridge, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
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View from our hostel in Sihanoukville, Cambodia
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Sihanoukville, Cambodia
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Caves near Kampot, Cambodia
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Countryside outside of Kampot, Cambodia
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Secret Lake near Kampot, Cambodia
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Peppercorn Plantation near Kampot, Cambodia
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Peppercorn Plantation near Kampot, Cambodia
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Peppercorn Plantation near Kampot, Cambodia
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Peppercorn Plantation near Kampot, Cambodia
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Countryside outside of Kampot, Cambodia
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Countryside outside of Kampot, Cambodia
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Crab Market, Kep, Cambodia
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Kep Beach, Kep, Cambodia
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Salt Fields outside of Kampot, Cambodia 
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Salt Fields outside of Kampot, Cambodia 
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Bokor National Park, Kampot, Cambodia
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Bokor National Park, Kampot, Cambodia
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Waterless waterfall, Bokor National Park, Kampot, Cambodia
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Sunset riverboat cruise on Kampot River, Kampot, Cambodia
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Sunset riverboat cruise on Kampot River, Kampot, Cambodia
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Sunset riverboat cruise on Kampot River, Kampot, Cambodia
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Sunset riverboat cruise on Kampot River, Kampot, Cambodia
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Sunset riverboat cruise on Kampot River, Kampot, Cambodia
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Sunset riverboat cruise on Kampot River, Kampot, Cambodia
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Snapshots of Cambodia

Temples of Angkor

We came to Siem Reap solely to visit the Temples of Angkor. I’m sure the city has much more to offer but we really didn’t wander around much except to get $3USD/hour foot massages, check out a night market where I bought my first pair of ‘elephant pants’ and find places to buy $1USD fresh fruit smoothies or $0.50USD draft beer depending on the time of day. If you ever get to Cambodia I highly recommend visiting the Temples of Angkor.

Based on recommendations from our Lonely Planet book and from several people we talked to we we started our three day tour of the grounds with the smaller temples and work our way up to Angkor Wat, the biggest and most impressive of all the temples in the area. This map was our main guide:

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Day 1:
We had no idea where the temple grounds were located, how big the grounds were, or what to expect at all so we decided to take a tuk tuk. We found a great tuk tuk driver to take us for $15USD (seemed to be the standard fare). We bought three day passes for $40USD each and then explained to Mr. Saveon that we wanted to start small and work our way up to Angkor Wat on the last day. Apparently this is very common because he knew exactly what we were talking about. Mr. Saveon spoke English firstly well and would give us a little history on each temple site and then just sit in his tuk tuk and wait for us to wander around the site for as long as we wanted.

We visited Preah Khan, Preah Neak Poan, Ta Som, East Mebon, Pre Rup, Banteay Kdei, Sras Srang and Prasat Kravan.

Preah Khan is a Buddhist temple and its name means ‘Sacred Sword’ (I’m not really sure why).
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East Mebon is a Hindu temple and was Zac’s favourite of all the ones we visited because he loved the view and we could climb all the way to the top floor around the tallest tower which we weren’t allowed to do at many of the temples.

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Day 2:
We decided to bike out to the temple grounds. We rented bikes for $2USD each for the day and set off! I was terrified about navigating the traffic in town and though there doesn’t appear to be any traffic rules we managed just fine. As long as you pay attention to what’s going on in front of you and use your horn (or in our case, bike bell) there’s no issues. Even though it was super hot we loved biking around the temple grounds. We’re not entirely sure how far the route was that we biked but we figure it was around 30km.

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We visited Ta Prohm, Ta Keo, Chau Say Thevoda and Thommanom and then biked through Victory Gate on the east side of Bayon and then around the outside of Bayon to get back to the main road to lead us back to Siem Reap.

Ta Prohm is a 12th century Bhuddist temple and was used as a location for Indiana Jones Tomb Raider and Two Brothers. Mother Nature has started to claim back some of the area that was cleared for the temple grounds and the trees and their roots are absolutely massive!

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Victory Gate was my favourite site in the whole Kingdom of Angkor. I can’t exactly describe why but I found it so empowering to bike up the road leading to Victory Gate!

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Day 3:

We saved the best for last and visited Angkor Wat, Bayon and Central Angkor which included Baphuon, Terrace of the Elephants, and Terrace of the Leper King.

We woke up at 4:30am to meet Mr. Saveon outside out hostel to take us to see Angkor Wat at sunrise. It was $18USD to get a ride that early in the morning but neither of us were brave enough to bike in the dark and both our butts were so sore from biking the day before so we had no problem paying for a tuk tuk.

It was pitch black when we got there but we just followed the mass of people walking towards the temple and found a place near a pool infront of the temple to watch the sunrise. It was hazy and there were clouds hanging low in the sky so as it got light the sky turned a light pink and purple. Because we were so close to the water we could see a perfect reflection of the temple and the sky. Such an amazing site to see! Angkor Wat is a massive and stunning temple and to slowly see it as the sun was rising was something else. The pictures are nothing compared to how impressive it is when you can see it for yourself.

We ate breakfast right on the temple grounds. Very over priced pancakes (and mine was raw) but I doubt we will ever have a chance to eat breakfast while looking out at Angkor Wat ever again so we were glad we did it!

Angkor Wat is built from sandstone that was floated down the Siem Reap river from a site over 50km away. The temple itself has some of the most impressive carving work I’ve ever seen. Long passageways depict historical events with soldiers that look almost identical from one end to the other. The steps to reach the upper level are very steep and they were built that way intentionally as it is believed that reaching the temple of the gods should be no easy task.

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Bayon is said to be the heart of Cambodia. It has 54 towers to represent the 54 provinces that were in existence in Cambodia at the time it was built (there are currently only 24 provinces). The 54 towers have 216 faces carved into them!

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Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor did not disappoint and were a great way to kick off our trip! Next we’re hopping on night bus to travel twelve hours south in Cambodia to find beaches around Sihanoukville.

Temples of Angkor

Learning How To Be Uneducated

It seems like a silly thing to say I’m learning how to be uneducated but that’s truly what it feels like. Maybe it’s better to say ‘I’m coming to terms with being clueless’ or ‘I have to accept the fact that I know nothing’, but however I say it, it all boils down to how hard it is for me to accept how little I know.

When I say I feel uneducated I am referring to more than just the obvious things I don’t know about all the places I’m travelling. Absolutely its difficult to be in a foreign country and have little to no concept of the currency, language and culture but those are things that I can Google or read about in books or use an app to figure out. What I find much more difficult is accepting that I am uneducated about the every day things in the cities I am in. It’s quite the experience to have no clue what mode of transportation is best to take; no idea how much things should cost; no concept of whether the street vendor food is safe to eat; no idea what clothing is appropriate to wear; or no clue how to verbally express gratitude to a local who helps us out. It really bothers me that I don’t know anything about these daily things. I find myself mulling over ‘game plans’ in my head about where we will go for supper before we’ve even had breakfast or pre planning a conversation I will have with the receptionist at the hostel about how much Thai pants should cost. I’d much rather be totally immersed in the present moment than focused on how anxious and embarrassed I feel about how little I know. Zac says he’s totally fine with feeling like an idiot and I am a bit jealous of that. He has no problem asking someone to repeat themselves if he doesn’t understand what they said or asking people for information on something. I want to be at ease with admitting that despite all the knowledge I have, I really don’t know anything and it is 100% okay. Since I’m not okay with it yet, I have to learn how to be okay with it. The good thing is, I am eager to learn and I am eager to push myself to accept that it is okay to not have all the information and facts and it’s okay to be clueless. The next six months will present me with many opportunities to learn and everyday I will be able to accept being uneducated and lose the negative feelings I get from not knowing things. Tomorrow we are going to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. What an amazing opportunity for me to recognize that it’s okay that there are many unknowns to the day and just enjoy the incredible view. With time I will be able to appreciate what a gift it is to know so little and what an even greater gift it is to have daily opportunities to learn so much.

Learning How To Be Uneducated