Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cambodia Diary

Wed, Aug 10 - Arrived in Phnom Penh. First tuk tuk ride from airport into city. Stayed at Patio Hotel., just off 51 Street, also called Foreigners' Street. Construction booming in the city. The skyline is blocked by buildings clad in green netting. Visited gay bars in the evening. The best one was Space Hair, which doubled as an hair salon in the day. The servers, tall and hunky, unlike most Khmers, were trained to sit and chat with customers. Ours moved to Phnom Penh from a village on the border with Thailand.

Thu, Aug 11 - Walked along the promenade adjacent to the brown Tonle Sap River and around the palace area. Had a gin and tonic at the Elephant Bar at Raffles Hotel. Had a nice massage in Patio the day before, and had another one, two hours, that day. Stress relieved!

Fri, Aug 12 - Van to Sihanoukville, where we took the boat to Koh Rong. Rough ride. It lasted an eternity. A skiff greeted us, and we finally arrived at the Lonely Beach, run by a Frenchman called Danny, who had lived in Asia longer than he had lived in Europe. Guy's birthday.

Sat, Aug 13 - Had the beach all to ourselves as other guests left in the morning. Beautiful clear water. Sandy beach. Startd reading War and Peace, and finished reading Book One of Volume One.

Sun, Aug 14 - Boat back to Sihanoukville, then tuk tuk to airport. We landed in Siem Reap and was picked up by hotel transfer. The Rambutan was a lovely hotel, just behind the Siem Reap River. It was opened by the same guy who opened the first gay hotel in Siem Reap, The Golden Banana nearby.

Mon, Aug 15 - Saw the sun rise over the Angkor Wat. Nietzsche: "The sage as astronomer.—As long as you still experience the stars as something "above you" you lack the eye of knowledge." Angkor Wat is within, not out there. The wall bas reliefs were astonishingly alive in the rhythm of marching legs and threatening spears. Angkor Wat was a fighting temple. Then we went over to Angkor Thom. Walked by Bayon. Baphuon is my favorite temple of this trip, with the poetic door frames at its peak, facing the four cardinal directions, and showing--what? Nothing. We were suitably impressed by the tree roots clutching the temple at Ta Prohm. Too many tourists, and so it was hard to meditate on the sight of nature holding the man-made structure together. Back from the temple tour, we had a very good massage at Sokka Spa, then light dinner at Miss Wong's, and then drinks at the oldest gay bar in Siem Reap, Linga Bar. Met two young guys there who persuaded us to go to Barcode, where we saw a drag cabaraet.

Tue, Aug 16 - Lazy day. Breakfast and lunch in. Did a spot of shopping in the afternoon and saw the Park Hyatt. Then off to a so-called sunset tour, stopping at the very symmetrical temple Pre Rup. We did not stay for sunset, but our driver brought us to Prasat Kravan, where a party was in preparation, not a wedding party, but a party for a political party, our driver said.

Wed, Aug 17 - We made full use of our three-day temple pass by touring Banteay Samre and Banteay Srei. The latter, also known as the women's temple, was a kind of miniature model of other temples we had seen. Intricate carving remained on the stone panels, and the clay monkeys were also amusing. It was far away but worth the visit. A good end to the temple visiting.

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