First things first. This is very very important. Visual proof that the love of our lives is ok. He looks a bit uncomfortable since he just got groomed, but he is alive! And it's the furry one that I am talking about- not the old man!
Note: All food descriptions have been edited and further documented by your truly, Carrie.
Let's finish up with dinner from last night... We went to a place called Butterfly Gardens on the opposite side of the river from the Old Town. The restaurant was beautiful- literally a butterfly garden with 1000 butterflys. Of course, with Dave and Carrie luck, the butterflies were all asleep. The frogs weren't and with all the croaking we felt like we were at my parents house in Jacksonville. We decided on this place for 2 reasons: 1) it was in the Lonely Planet book and 2) Part of the money from your meal goes to conservation efforts. There was a set menu for $12 with enough for 2, so we decided to give it a shot. We had Fried Ginger and Chicken, and a Chicken Coconut Curry. It also came with fresh vegetable spring rolls. Of course, if you've been to the travel doctor, you know that fresh vegetables that have been washed can be intestinally dangerous. What to do... how 'bout eat some? It's ok- only a couple of bites so we weren't rude. And no ill effects later that night! The ginger chicken was delicious! Once again, white meat chicken with lots of ginger (make sure you really like ginger) and veggies. The coconut curry was really good as well, but not the best we've had here. Overall, if you come to Siem Reap, the food was good and it was a great value, so we recommend the place...
We fell asleep watching Meet the Fockers and then...
This day was our second, and last day of temple exploration. But, as with all of our days, it began with... breakfast. I would sit and tell you a long explanation of what a traditional Khmer breakfast is, but I haven't yet had one. Today was chocolate chip pancake (with bananas!) day! And coffee of course- Vietnamese for me, American for Carrie. Not sure what they do here, but along with the omelete from yesterday, these were the best pancakes, EVER! I think they use whole wheat and cinammon, but they were crispy on the outside and perfectly cooked in the middle. I had mine with Cambodian honey. Delicious with an undertone of flowers. Perfect combination. The bacon was very good too. (Quite good food at the Two Dragons Guest House.
Then Khim picked us up and we took off on Mr. Thy's tuk-tuk (pronounced Mr. T). We went to a couple of temples in the morning, and concluded the evening with what is officially called the Grand Tour. The temples this morning were the Banteay Srei, a Pink Sandstone Temple (probably the most beautifully decorated with very deep and detailed carvings) and a Temple made of Brick (I think this was Prasat Kravan) . Please also take note of the bullet hole in the pictures below, caused by war with Vietnam.
Pause for lunch: We stopped today next door to where we ate yesterday to eat at the Khmer family restaurant. Also extremely delectable. We had Amok again with chicken and Cashew nuts with peppers, onions and chicken. Absolutely superb and the cashews were from Cambodia! Who knew? While we were there, it started to downpour, so we sat and had another cup of coffee to waste time. But, like everything else, it was very tasty and delicious!
One quick note about today's tour. The temples were in the countryside which made the tour even more intriguing. We were able to see how the people lived in the country. It's very obvious how hard they work here. People were in their rice paddies getting the seeds ready, men pulling their cows along the road, children jumping on a see-saw type thing which when it would go down on the other side, it would pummel the grain into flour for noodles... We were able to see traditional stilt houses, and 4 people to a bike. Very interesting and I would recommend making a drive through the countryside.
On the grand tour (along with getting stuck in another storm, we saw a temple that served as a hospital (the doctors recommended which fountain to drink from depending on your sickness- the fountains were represented the 4 elements, Earth (a human), Fire (lion), Water (Elephant), and Wind (Horse). We also saw a temple that served as the university where they studied religion, war, medicine, and economics. We apologize, but we do not have our detailed guidebook here and therefore cannot give you the names.
The Khmer people switched between Hindu and Buddhism, and eventually ending with a hybrid religion (10%/90%). The temples all had depictions of religious stories, and we learned all about different gods. Carrie mastered them on the tour! but I suspect she has already started to forget. We were impressed with the detail put in to the stone carvings, marvelled at how erosion chose to dismantle only certain parts, and dismayed at how many of the carvings had been chopped off and sold on the blackmarket- as recently as the 1980's. We are going to let the pictures describe the rest- if you want more info, get your butt on a plane and stay at the Two Dragons (although if money is no object, you have about 20 brand new hotels here!)....
You can really see how this country is developing. There is construction everywhere, including hotels, government buildings and museums. The government (or NGOs) provide all children with free education and healthcare. They also have helped many landmine victims by teaching them how to play musical instruments which you then can see at all the temples. However, it is also obvious how much this company is still feeling the effects from the war. We had a serious discussion with our tour guide today who is very passionate and articulate about the subject. We hope that people will continue to visit this country which is absolutely beautiful and has much to offer.
So, off to dinner. Enjoy the pics!