Cambodia is filled with amazing temples and cool things to do and see, but what’s really cool about traveling to a new place is seeing the people, just doing their everyday life. The people of Cambodia are certainly no exception.
Motorcycle Tour around Siem Reap, Cambodia
I used to ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle every day, until a kid fell asleep behind the wheel and nearly hit me head on and put me in the hospital for a while back in 2005. Since then, I’ve only been on a bike a few times. When I was looking for something to do in Siem Reap, Cambodia, one thing that caught my eye was a motorcycle tour. There were a few choices, from a couple hours to multi-day excursions. I decided to select a full-day trip that was 8 hours long and 125 km (78 miles).
I spent the previous two days trekking around temples all day, being driven from temple to temple in Cambodia’s version of a tuk tuk, called remorque, which is actually a bit different from other tuk tuks from around the world. They are two-wheeled covered carriages that can seat 4 people (or more) and pulled like a trailer by a motorbike. The weather in Cambodia in September was quite hot, around 90F/32C every day. I enjoyed the wind generated by the open air tuk tuk, and sweat my butt off every time we stopped. So I thought I’d welcome spending a bunch of time cruising around on a motorcycle without many stops.
It turns out it was probably the absolute best day/adventure of my entire three week trip. We got out of the city and managed pot-hole filled roads to view the beautiful countryside. The destination was the Beng Mealea temple, which is a stunning, heavily overgrown temple complex.
One of the benefits of living in China is that it provides pretty easy access to much of Asia. I’m currently living in what they call “East China”, near Shanghai. East China is loosely defined as the Eastern coastal area of China. Very nearby is “South China”, which includes Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau. And right next to South China is a bunch of countries in the region called “Southeast Asia”. A few of the countries include Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore (which are all islands), and non-island countries of Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and others. It’s those last three I mentioned that were the focus on my vacation trip.
Some people talk about bucket lists, but I actually have one written down. In case you don’t know what a bucket list is, it’s a list of things you want to do or see before you die. You can start as early as you want, but some people may kick it into overdrive if they know the end is near. It was also the name of a good movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman back in 2007.
My list isn’t very long, currently only about 35 items. Some are relatively easy to attain, while others may never be within reach. I guess some goals that are out of reach are called dreams or even aspirations.
“You have to set goals that are almost out of reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential.” —Steve Garvey
Angkor Wat and the Angkor Archaeological Park
One of my bucket list items was to visit the amazing temples of Ankor area near Siem Reap, Cambodia. The most well known one is Angkor Wat (Angkor Wat means “temple city” in the Cambodian Khmer language), but it is only one of many in the Angkor Archaeological Park, which is over 40,000 hectares (nearly 100,000 acres) and contains more then 37 significant archaeological sites!! While there are 37 significant sites, there are over 1000 temples in the area. So I started my 3-week long trip to Southeast Asia with 6-days/5-nights in Siem Reap, Cambodia in order to cross off one of my bucket list items.
Many of the large temples were built in the 1100’s, but some dated back to 900 AD. Not nearly as old as the Pyramids of Giza, but far older than anything in the USA. While my European friends are surrounded with old architecture near their homes, I’m still amazed at things that are 900 years old or older. Excluding anything built from the Pueblo Native American’s (only a couple left), the oldest buildings in the USA are from the 1630’s-1640’s. That’s 500 years newer than these temples. Of course these are all babies compared to the Pyramids of Giza I saw last year, which were built around 2560 B.C., making them around 4500 years old. Insane!
This area has become popular only after the 1990’s. In 1993, there were only about 7000 visitors for the entire year. In 2004, it was a half-million. Over 1 million in 2007, and over 2 million in 2012. Crazy growth. It sure would have been nice to see this place 20 or 30 years ago when it would have been nearly empty, and no deterioration due to so many visitors.
Anyway, here’s a few of the 2000+ photos I took in Cambodia in 5 days. Click on any photo to see it much larger.