China and Cambodia: Part 10

The following day we took a day trip to Kulen Mountain. Our driver had mentioned it the night he picked us up from the airport. So we decided it might be a really neat thing to try. But we had a bit of a time frame to do it. We had to get to the mountain before noon.

We started off early to try to squeeze in a ride on the hot balloon near Angkor Wat. I really wanted to ride a hot balloon and see Angkor Wat from the air. However, both times we tried to go, it was not operational. Boo urns. We were the only people there so I suspect they didn’t want to do it with so few customers.

We headed off to Kulen mountain. It was a lovely drive through the outskirts of Siem Reap. We saw dragon fruit farms, houses of all shapes and sizes on stilts, spirit houses outside all of them and more. After a half hour drive, we were at Kulen Mountain. Our driver told us that the reason we had to get there by noon was that there was only one road up the mountain. So traffic could only go up in the morning and go down in the afternoon! It was a bumpy route to the top of the mountain since the road wasn’t paved but there are amazing views.

Our first stop was the sandstone Reclining Buddha. We found ourselves in a little town around the temple with the Reclining Buddha. We wandered up this incredible staircase with nagas flanking the balustrade. The Buddha at the top of a giant sandstone structure. It was carved into the rock with a structure built around it. To access it, you had to ascend a flight of stairs to find the Buddha taking up the entire room. It was astonishingly beautiful. There were little Buddha statues flanking the larger Buddha. Very impressive that someone was able to carve it up here!

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After we descended the stairs, we got a tasty drink, the name I don’t recall. It had these chartreuse colored fat noodles, rice flour?, that was in a coconut drink. Very refreshing.

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Our next stop was the RIver of 1000 Lingas. For those of you who are unaware a linga is an abstract representation of a phallus while a yoani is a representation of a vagina in Hinduism. This river had lingas carved into the river bed with a few yoanis around. This was an astonishing thing to see. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of something like before. It was really neat to see it.

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Our final stop was a swimming hole with a waterfall. It was the real reason for the trip. It wasn’t something I would normally think of doing but since my friend was keen to try it, I was open to trying something very new. And boy, it was worth it. We parked the car and walked downhill through a village, catering to folks who go to the waterfall. We weren’t alone by the smallest stretch of the imagination.

When we got to the base of the waterfall, it was astonishing. Beautiful scenic area. There was the waterfall before us, roaring and sending off a light spray. We changed in a tiny corrugated tin hut without a light source and put our belongings into a cabinet. To get to the water, you had to climb over some large rocks to get in (no easy beaches here like at Lake Michigan). Once in the water, it was the right amount of cool. There were tiny fish in the water that would nibble if you didn’t move enough or wiggled your fingers in the water. It was a strange feeling to get nibbled on. It didn’t hurt at all but it was a weird feeling. I eventually crawled onto a rock and took it all in. I felt like this was a thing I’d read about in travel books or see photos but never do myself. I felt relaxed.

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After we got our swimming and relaxing time in, we decided to head home. We tried to stop at a dragonfruit farm on the way back but the farmers said they had already sold all the good dragonfruit. Oh well.

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Where dragonfruit come from. The ones on this succulent look sad.

When we got back to the hotel, I decided to use our free massage from the hotel. It was one of many perks. We had also gotten lunch and snacks made up in boxes for our journey to the mountain. We made the mistake of doing both at once since it was so much food! The massage was great save one small detail. It wasn’t until the end of the massage that I realized that I had gotten a pretty good sunburn on my back! Whoops!

Afterwards, we decided to head to the circus in Siem Reap. It’s a socially conscious circus that has themes in its shows. They train young impoverished kids to give them skills and a way to learn a living. We took a tuktuk to their space, which was a tent. THis was my first time on a tuktuk. Now, the carriages are hooked to motorcycle or scooters. It was a novel experience. Soon it would be normal to travel that way in Cambodia. THere’s something special about a tented circus even to  this day. The title of the show was “Influence.” It was a wonderful show. I saw some of the best tumbling I’ve ever seen. They had live music too, which is always a bonus. All the materials and costumes were made from everyday items: brooms, rice bags, and more. It was magical using these everyday things in such creative ways.

After the show, we headed back to Pub Street to find some more food. I saw a vendor selling fried crickets that I wanted to try. I then made a mistake. I wanted a chaser to have after the crickets just in case. Instead, we found a place and had a full delicious meal. After dinner, I had lost my appetite to try the crickets. Very disappointing! Next time I’ll have to try it again. Also, no durian vendors that night. Boo urns.
All in all, a great day despite my cowardice about fried crickets!

That’s all for now!

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