Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's All about the Accessories

Believe me, I can appreciate a nice pair of shoes; and I really enjoy my heels.   Really.
However, when traveling, here are the friends of my feet:  Tevas!  Yep, I'm a Teva gal.  For the last 6+ years these 3 pair have taken my wherever my wanderlust as led--without a blister or sore ankle.  My all-terrain Trudge Tevas on the left have climbed to tropical waterfalls and done the cobblestones of Prague & Istanbul--and cobblestones are notorius foot/leg killers.  Then my Beach Tevas have walked miles & miles to and from beach and/or pool.  Last, my Dress Tevas--not that I dress to kill when out and about; still, I try to avoid looking like a "soup sandwich" at dinner.  These little black numbers go with skirts, capris, etc. plus do all the waterfront or city walking in total comfort.  After a timeout, I rinse them all in vinegar water and they're good to go for the next trip.

I have to throw in a picture of my favorite timeout hat.  My buddy.  It's a Walleroo from Boulder, CO and it could tell some stories.  It does require hand washing (those pesky sweat rings!), but it's worth it.  It's light, totally pack-able and stays on my head no matter how windy without giving me a headache. 

High time to give these faithful travel companions some press :)
...hmm...think Teva would pay me for commercial time?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cambodian Memories VI: the folks

Sokhum, my tuktuk driver for 5 days in yellow; Votah my tour guide for 3 days in the hat
I found the people in Cambodia wonderful--up until now the people of Viet Nam had stolen my heart.  I found them open, helpful, gentle and smiling.  My dear tuktuk driver, Sokhum, got me "off the base" several times in an effort to help me out; one with a visa issue (I needed my e-visa enlarged and a sheet of visa pics taken and processed--so off to a crowded hole-in-the-wall place we went one evening :) and another time to get an international sim card for my cell phone.  It was a great way to get into back alleys, etc.

My tour guide, Votah, was a hoot with his Australian English; but I also found him to be extremely knowledgeable about his country's history.  We had some great talks about our faiths and recent Cambodian history, the Khmer Rouge, and its affect on his own family.  He also got me off the beaten path to a local family (not his) who were in the process of making palm sugar.  Fascinating.  Sokhum squatted right down and started stirring just like he did when he was a child.  His brother fell from the top of a palm tree 20 years ago and became disabled so Sokhum would never climb the palm trees.  But he was an expert stirrer.  The candy is delicious!  I tasted the palm fruit, too, and slurped the juice.  The dad person cut it open and offered it--bottoms up!

These two guys both had small children at home and big dreams.  It was a privilege to get to know them

The children speak for themselves, eh?  The threesome were so persistent and irresistible that I bought a handful of bracelets from each of them.  And gave them extra for the picture. 

In the end, I just cannot help but smile when I think of this trip. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cambodian Memories V - Carvings

These are some of the amazing carvings I saw at the temples. I think they speak for themselves--but how about that dinosaur??? It was rather teeny and tucked away--my guide pointed it out. Remember, these were constructed a little over a thousand years ago. ??? I thought the birth scene was interesting, too. Then, my favorites--the Apsara--the nymphs who acted as cheerleaders in the creation battle. In the carvings each Apsara, and there are a gazillion, has different facial features, different hair do's, skirts, and accessories. I thought they were charming.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cambodian Memories III

Here we go, the biggie: Angkor Wat. I flew into Seam Reap around midnight, so the following day I explored a bit, went to the National Museum (stellar, by the way), and located a licensed tour guide. The hotel had already provided my tuktuk driver for the week, so I was set there. On day 2, the guide met me at 5:15 in the morning (!) so I would be sure and catch Angkor Wat at sunrise. Then, back for breakfast and at 10 am we were off to other temples. We came back to Angkor Wat in a few days during the morning hours before it got too hot and the tourists became too thick. Angkor Wat is MASSIVE. Over 1 million people lived around and in it. The Wat was used just for worship, whereas Angkor Thom is where only the nobility lived. The 4 reservoirs were constructed over 1,000 years ago and are fed by natural springs so they are still in use. Children swim in them and I witnessed a local wedding taking place on the steps of one. That's another thing: the step risers everywhere were perfect! Something that modern Mongolians still struggle with--and the Great Wall of China certainly did not have even stairs--believe me, this is a killer!
Angkor is constantly being renovated and efforts are made to keep the jungle at bay. So, while it is so very impressive, it lacks some of the mystique of the lesser known temples. Interesting that the surrounding villagers are descendants of the original builders--and now they're employed in the restoration work. Sanskrit tablets are everywhere, so archeologists know just who erected what and why. As my guide, Votah, would say (with an Aussie accent), "Amazing. Stupendous. Mouth dropping. Gob smacking. Incredible..." Truly.

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