And a good Saturday afternoon to you all from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City. IT'S THE WEEKEND!!!!! And believe it or not, the Bull actually got some sleep last night. True, I was locked into Season Two of V until about 2:30 AM, but I hit the sack a bit after 3 and slept until 11 AM this morning - that's my longest sleep in WEEKS! Today's been pretty chilled so far, with me running a 5K on the treadmill (the rain has subsided lately and it is BOILING today - no chance of running outside - can't say I'll miss that) in 23:35 and even (let's keep the laughter to a minimum) doing "limited" light weights in the gym downstairs. I took Friday off, as I needed a break after 8 straight days of cardio. I can tell that my legs and lungs are still a wee bit tired, but the workout felt good.
Two other pieces of news:
1. CONGRATS MARTIN AND SARA!!!!! For those of you not in the loop who know these esteemed members of the Granville Six, Martin and Sara welcomed Thomas Richmond Warf into the world on 17 November. And whilst I'm personally very offended that the child was not named Samuel Kyle Warf, Thomas Richard sounds pretty distinguished as well. :-) Seriously - SO HAPPY for you guys, and so glad that everyone is doing well. Can't wait to meet the new addition!
2. Today is a big day for the Bull and Striker, as travelwiththetaylors.com hit a milestone today. At some point since my last post, the website just received it's 20,000th viewing. Granted, I'm sure 19,986 of those were folks that hit it in error, but all the same - I'll take it. :-) I wanted to reach the 20K mark for hits, just as I want to reach 600 posts before closing this blog. I'm not quite to 600 (at around 540 currently), but I'll get there. All the same, today I'll celebrate the first of the two thresholds crossed.
|Cambodian Flag - during the reign of the Khmer Rouge it was |
much simpler and featured the traditional communist colors:
yellow and red. The temples of Angkor that you see now were
much more cuted on the Khmer Rouge flag.
I'm going to hold last night's festivities in reserve for its own blog, as I can assure you there were some GREAT stories that came out of the previous evening's dinner. I am scarred for life based on 3 separate events - and I've got the pictures to prove it. For now, let's return to the Kingdom of Wonder for a final time - this time to bid farewell to Siem Reap and what was a truly perfect vacation.
On Saturday, the Bull and Striker slept in until noon, which was EPIC. We didn't really have any plans for the day - we just wanted to walk the river, see a bit of local culture, and have a great last meal/session on Pub Street. We started the day by walking along the river, already a bit lower than it had been when we arrived but still quite swollen and muddy. There were statues of various animals along the walk, and the locals found it quite humorous that we wanted to take photos beside a stone elephant. What can I say - he was cute.
Despite being the second largest city in Cambodia (approximately 117,000 people), Siem Reap is very small and doesn't really offer much for the tourist other than a jumping off point for the temples. There are day trips, to be sure - but if you want to just chill and take in the "sights of the city," you'll likely be disappointed. However, that didn't stop us from wandering past the old Royal Residence, roaming through a few local markets, and having a terrific afternoon. We had lunch at a cute little restaurant that didn't disappoint on either the ice coffee or the mango shake (MAN, I will miss those - for FIFTY CENTS TO A DOLLAR!!!), and the food was excellent as well. But with belly's full and the city pretty much explored at 2:30, JT and I were looking at each other saying, "What should we do now?" I just happened to glance at a picture and see my (rather horrific) reflection at that time and said, "I could always get a haircut here and save the money." THAT, dear friends, became a GREAT adventure.
So we start walking home, and sure enough we find 2 "beauty salons" on the walk - side by side. One is heaving, and the other is empty. Not thinking about laws of supply and demand and that there must be a reason that one is more popular than the other, I say, "Let's try the empty one." So we rock up, and the haircuts are $11 for a cut and $18 for cut & shampoo (SERIOUSLY? $7 FOR SHAMPOO? Can I get it for $1 if you use the Head & Shoulders brand?). She doesn't speak a WORD of English (even if the menu is in my native tongue), and so we decide that explaining "I need a 4 on top, 2 on the sides, and then even it out" might be a bit of a stretch. Instead, we pop over to the next spot, which now has vacant chairs.
So I rock up, and it is CLEAR that they aren't used to foreigners in this joint. Signs are in English, and cuts are FOUR DOLLARS. This is 18% of the bushido buzz cut in Sing Sing, and so I'd already decided I was getting my hair cut here even if they gapped my scalp and removed an ear. I could feel the excitement in the room.
|The moment before "first contact" - but this lady was the |
Michelangelo of Cambodian Barber Shops.
The gaggle of stylists got together, chatting furious about what to do with the Ang Mo (I'm apparently called a "farang" or "Francoise" or something in Cambodia, on the assumption that "if you're white, then you're French." I so wish Andy Carter or some of my British mates would have been beside me when they learned that). Finally one of them stepped forward and said, "You for cut hair?" And I nod, pointing to the rat's nest above my cranium. 30 seconds later I'm in the chair, the gal's got scissors and clippers in hand, and there's a peanut gallery of 5 stylists waiting to see where this goes. And it's at this point that Jenny says, "I'm gonna go buy a Diet Coke - I'll be back." And suddenly I'm all alone with 6 Khmer ladies, their scissors, and their rapt fascination.
I point to the clippers and make the corresponding points to my head and the guard that should be used for each. This proved wicked effective, and 10 minutes later I was a space monkey ready to be shot into orbit. I was actually THE BEST haircut I've had in 2011, as I didn't have bushido samurai woman trying to break my shoulders or telling me that "you not cut so short, la. It no good for you. I cut less. You like, ah?" This gal was fantabulous - and she about flipped when I gave her a $1 tip. Best $5 I've ever spent.
It was then back to the Motherhome, where we packed and hit the pool to just relax and chill for a bit. We then showered and shuffled back over to Pub Street, where we decided to try an experiment. We were both starving and ready to make the most of our last night of fifty cent beers, and so here was the game: "Can you actually spent $50 USD in Cambodia on dinner?" Confident that we could do it, we rocked up to the 8th Street Pub (which isn't anywhere near 8th street - details) and settled in on the second floor for a SESSION.
|BBQ knows no boundaries - and it was soooooo guuuuuuud...|
Peppy Cheekies. But I could have done with some Memphis
Pit BBQ as well...
This place was GREAT - Western cuisine, but we were ready for that after 9 days of Cambodian soup, lots of Amok curries, and plenty of noodles. And the best part - they featured NORTH CAROLINA PULLED PORK as an option. You GOTTA love that, baby! Team Taylor ordered the pork (very good), as well as Nachoes, potato skins, and chicken wings. Jenny had six - count 'em SIX - mojitos, and I had 3 mojitos with 6 beers. We even sprang for creme brulee desert and bottles of water throughout dinner. At the end of it, we were almost ready to rupture. It was as full as I've been in years, and there was no space left in the tank (mum - it wasn't the "Peddlar night," but it was still a good effort). The bill comes, and after tip, we spend $44 USD!!!! THAT was our answer, as we were eating at pretty much the most expensive place on pub street and had basically stripped their pantry bare. WOW - I love this country.
And so it was, sitting there with Anchor beers, listening to the mine victim band, watching the tourists in the fish spas screaming, and hearing the hustle and bustle of the tuk tuks on the streets, that we paused to take in a last memory of Cambodia. I thought it would be a neat place, but this country offers tourists SO much more than is advertised. I really have ZERO complaints about our time in Cambodia - even the length of the stay was perfect, as I was ready to get back to SG and civilization after our week plus there. I would tell EVERYBODY to put this on your short list of travel destinations. If you're flying from the states, it's a long haul, but add in Thailand or a stopover in either HK or SG, and you won't have any trouble filling 2 weeks (go ahead - let the vacation jokes roll).
And so that's it - Cambodia in eight parts. Next up is the recap of Chiang Mai, which I'll get into either Sunday or Monday at the latest. There are some activities (and visitors!) coming up, so the recaps on Chiang Mai and Railay might be a bit choppy. But stick with me - I WILL get caught up eventually.
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and (I think finished with her 2K open ocean swim in Hamilton Island by now and probably enjoying a glass of Margaret River wine as I type this) Jenny