We travel to learn about other customs and cultures, so that we come back changed by the places we have seen and the people we have met. But to truly understand another country, we have to be willing to share not just that country’s joyous past, but also the tragedies that have changed lives and changed history. Cambodia is such a place, and this is such a story.
Our day started early as we visited Holy Mountain and Wat Notor Temple. The day we visited happened to be a national holiday and the temple and the surrounding complex was filled with people offering rice and other food to the Buddhist monks. By offering food they believe that they are feeding the souls of their departed relatives which in turn provides them with good karma. In addition to the temple there are many statues of Buddha in a variety of positions including the sleeping Buddha. The complex was very near one of the 388 killing fields found in Cambodia after the end of the Pol Pot regime. A Stupa was erected there memorializing the souls of those found in that killing field.
The 3:45 wake-up call came early but we were ready. We boarded our bus at 4:45AM and headed out to Angkor Wat armed with flashlights and cameras. Everyone crowded around the lake eagerly anticipating the dawn of the day as the sun rose over Angkor Wat. We were not disappointed. Also, the date was September 21, 2014 which also happened to be the autumn solstice. As the sun ascended it was perfectly centered behind Angkor Wat creating a spectacular sunrise.
After arriving in Siem Reap we transferred to the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort. The resort is lovely and would be our home for three days as we explored the ancient community of Angkor Wat. The hotel is open and airy filled with teak wood, beautiful grounds and luxurious rooms. After relaxing in the bar for an hour we called it an early night as we had a full day ahead of us.
After enjoying breakfast it was time to depart Hanoi – destination Halong Bay. We boarded our motorcoach with our guide Thom for the four hour ride to this spectacular region in Vietnam. The ride was pleasant, the motorcoach was comfortable and Thom even set up a wireless hotspot for us from his phone. We stopped along the way at a market about half way. It was worth the drive as Halong Bay is simply magical. Continue reading
Our journey began as we departed for Seoul en route to Hanoi, Vietnam. The fourteen hour flights was long but after three movies and a sleeping pill we arrived at our interim destination feeling relatively refreshed. After searching for our connecting flight we found that typhoon Kalmaegi proceeded us and was bearing down on Hanoi. Given the circumstances our flight was cancelled and we got to enjoy an unexpected overnight in Seoul. It worked out pretty well and gave a chance to get over our jetlag before catching a morning flight to Hanoi. After a 4AM wake-up call we regrouped and headed back out to the airport. Destination Hanoi!