Siem Reap translated means Siam Defeated. Cambodia and Thailand didn't always get along, hehe.
So, I don't know if anybody is actually reading these posts. But, what the hell...it is rather therapeutic for me. And I have a forum to say that Cambodia is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. With the exception of a few concrete roads, there's nothing but lush jungle and woods. There is a healthy mix of bayons (the kind of tree Buddha would meditate under), palms and other cascading trees. The pace is pretty slow and their rush hour even seems easy-going compared to traffic back home. Tourism here will probably only continue to grow; new luxury hotels seem to be springing up everywhere. Alas, most of the locals--a lot of them children--have to sell goods like clothes, souvenirs, or cold beverages to make money. The little children are frighteningly persistent and will follow you for several feet before giving up. You feel bad because they look so vulnerable but even when you buy once, others nearby don't give up on pitching items to you.
Today, the three of us rose early for the second day in a row. This time, we caught the sunrise at Angkor Wat. It was pretty amazing and peaceful. I really like our tour guide for the whole time we're in Cambodia. His name is Prom Chomrong. He is a local who lost three relatives to the Khmer Rouge. Chomrong always tries to take us through temples where there are fewer crowds or where there's shade. (It's a sauna out here) Yesterday, he regaled us with stories about his experience as a driver on the set of the first Tomb Raider movie. He got to chauffer Angelina Jolie around Siem Reap. When I asked if she was nice, I think he misunderstood and thought I asked if he thought she was pretty. He said he didn't much like her because her "lips too big" and she was "too skinny" and "dark-skinned." He didn't like how she was dark in real-life but the camera made her look white. Apparently, he was more impressed by her stand-in.
At this same temple where Tomb Raider filmed, there's a little 83-year-old-man who for years has taken it upon himself to sort of maintain different nooks and crannies of the place. It's an awesome temple; there are a bunch of trees whose roots somehow grew on top of parts of the temple. A picture of his smiley face graced the cover of a recent Lonely Planet Cambodia. I'm sure everday, somebody cries out "It's the Lonely Planet guy!" OK, I was one of those people. But Jen got really excited and took a couple of pictures. Some of the people here are pretty amazing. I'm going to be sorry to leave although the sketchy bathrooms I keep encountering will help ease the pain. Well, off to take advantage of the indoor plumbing at our hotel and wash off the aches of some of the intense climbing we did today.