Southeast Asia with Peter – Day 13 (Continued)
After a long sad morning we had lunch at the La Rose restaurant in Saigon
I can’t remember the menu, but I do remember the beer: Cambodian “Kingdom Pilsner”. The best beer I had on the trip and the only Pilsner. After lunch, we visited the Vietnam National Museum. This is the courtyard of the museum. A beautiful restful place. Here’s some school kids tittering over a collection of Lingums. What’s so funny?
We weren’t allowed to take pictures in the museum, I got this pic in the lobby of Garuda.
In Hindu religion, Garuda is a Hindu divinity, usually the mount of the Lord Vishnu. Garuda is depicted as having the golden body of a strong man with a white face, red wings, and an eagle’s beak and with a crown on his head. This ancient deity was said to be massive, large enough to block out the sun.
Garuda is known as the eternal sworn enemy of the Nāga serpent race and known for feeding exclusively on snakes., The image of Garuda is often used as the charm or amulet to protect the bearer from snake attack and its poison, since the king of birds is an implacable enemy and “devourer of serpent”.
I bought a Garuda amulet and I haven’t been bitten by any snakes, yet
After the Museum visit, we went to “The Russian Market” This market is the most popular market among tourists and expats and probably the best place to pick up souvenirs. It does not look like much from the outside but when you get in you will find everything from beautifully hand carved statues, colorful lanterns and handmade silk scarves to fake bags, printed T-shirts and DVDs.
I went to several DVD stalls looking for the “Mamma Mia” movie. I finally found it and bought it for $2.00. Incidentally, The US Dollar is accpted almost everwher in Cambodia.
This dilapidated apartment block was near our hotel. It was supposed to be torn down, but it is filled with squatters who won’t leave.
Peter, Will and I went for a walk to find a restuarant for dinner. This was another “on-your-own” evening. We walked to the central plaza and saw these monument lit up. It was very impressive
The top picture is of the King’s late Father Norodom Sihanouk It was inaugurated in October 2013 ahead of the one-year anniversary of his passing.
The 4.5-meter-tall statue, housed under a 27-meter-high stupa in a park east of Independence Monument, depicts the King Father wearing a business suit. Costing about $1.2 million, It took eight months to complete.
The bottom picture is the Independence Monument. It was inaugurated in 1958 to celebrate the independence of Cambodia from foreign rule.
We never did find a restaurant that appealed to us so we went back to the hotel for dinner. I had a steak sandwich that must have come from one of those old wagon-pulling Brahman bulls. It was very tough and chewy.
After dinner Will went for another massage (his 4th?). Pete and I hit the hay. So ended a grim Day 13
Southeast Asia with Peter – Day 14
We left Phnom Penh for an 8 hour trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia. We didn’t go in this vehicle, although it would have carried all 16 of us. It’s called a limousine here.
We crossed the Ton Le Sap river on Cambodian Rout 6. Note the dish TV antenna on the houseboat.
Rice fields were being planted here. Later we saw rice fields being harvested. Note all the Sugar Palms. More on this later…A spirit house along the highway.
We made a quick stop to allow a woman to board the buss selling lotus seed pods. Rath, our Siem Reap guide, explained that the seed were edible. We tried some. They we OK, but nothing to write home about. We also tried a rambutan fruit. It was better than the lotus seed. It was sweet, kind of grape-like and had a big seed inside.
At another stop, Rath introduced us to Mrs. Sawoun. She was a widow with several children. To raise money, she captures tarantulas – FOR FOOD! She digs them out of their holes a pulls the fangs off.They were actually quite docile: Ugh! That’s me!! But hold onto your hats!! She cooks them in a wok and Peter (always the food adventurer) ate 2. I didn’t have my camera ready for the first on so he had to eat a second!!Not to be out done, I tried one. As you can see, I thought it was disgusting: A soft gooey body with lots of crisp hairy legs. I had to spit it out. Even their dog wouldn’t eat it. Fred Swartz, from CA, seemed to enjoy my discomfort, though. I was picking tarantula leg hairs out of my teeth for an hour.
Let’s move on. Here are some women harvesting rice. We got off the bus and went into the field to watch and help. The rice stalks are cut with a very sharp sickle and bundled together and left for a later pick up. Rice stalks are very hard and coarse. Even the water buffaloes had difficulty eating it. It’s usually burned.
Green funerals are becoming more popular among the ecologically conscious. Some people are now asking that they be buried quickly, without embalming, in a coffin that is completely biodegradable. Rice straw is now used to make biodegradable coffins.
The bottom picture show threshed rice being dried onmats. This was a common sight along the road.
We had lunch at the Prey Pro riverside restaurant. Note our lovely waitress!
Some of us tried the local beer “Angkor”. I preferred “Kingdom” Pilsner.
We stopped later and watched a stone carver at work. These sculptures are made of sand stone and, because of their size, they are made to order. Note the long ears on the Buddha. Long ears means “listen for a long time before deciding important issues”. Good advice!
I think the “Angkor” and tarantulas may have gotten to Pete.
This is the “Naga Bridge” at Kompong Kdei. The bridge, built in the late 12th century, is the best laterite-built bridge of Angkor era (the 9th to 15th centuries) which has survived until today. The bridge is located on the main highway of National Road 6 from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and it was used to carry all kinds of transportation as the main highway. In 1965, the bridge had been restored.
Nowadays, Kampong Kdei Bridge is still in good condition, however, the main highway has been diverted with a bypass and a new bridge has been built. Now it’s crossed mainly by villagers ( and the occasional tour bus) who travel by motorbikes and bicycles only.
Note that the river rises to the top of the bridge openings. Note, also, the nine-headed Naga. His body is the bridge balustrades.
Don’t ask me why this ferris wheel is here in this small village near the bridge.
Our last stop before reaching Siem Reap was at Rath’s home. We met his wife and childern out side a store she operates. Rath is an unusual person: When he is not being a City Guide for OAT, he is a teacher. He teaches local kid how to read in this “one room school” (above) next to his house. He does this free of charge! We were all quite impressed with Rath!!
We overtook this guy. They use motorbikes to transport everything including 4 pigs. Pete said that a pig on it’s back is almost paralyzed. These guys look paralized!
We’ll stop the Day 14 narrative here and pick it up again on Page 11.