[This is Part Two of Aaron's "Campus Division in Cambodia" story. Here's Part One and look out for the subsequent tales in the coming week...]
Sunday, December 30th, 2007
After a few hours sleep we got up to explore the city. Our itinerary was to take us to Cambodia later that night, so we had limited time. Our consensus was to visit a nearby Pagoda. There were golden statues and tributes to Buddha all around where people could light incense and pray to Buddha and hope for good luck. The atmosphere was peaceful, serene, refreshing and relaxing, a good omen for things to come.
(L-R: Me (Aaron), Natasha, Damara, Niko)
We regrouped at the hotel to catch our next flight to Cambodia.
We arrived later that evening in Siem Reap, the second largest airport in Cambodia. This was the type of airport that lets you step right off the plane into the fresh air before entering the airport. The night air was crisp clear and refreshing, but alas we were ushered inside to complete yet another round of customs forms and visa applications. For all the bureaucracy of international travel, it really is still worth it.
When we stepped out the other side, some Rood to Read staff, our tour guide and, driver were there greeting us with a giant Room to Read banner welcoming us to the country.
The fanfare and pageantry was far from over. At the hotel, some dancers in full regalia perfomed a traditional Cambodian dance, complete with flower petal tossing. At first, we did not even realize that this grandiose performance was for us, it was so over the top. It was quite a humbling experience. After posing for some photos with the dancers, we showered up and went out for a delicious dinner at Khmer Kitchen.
We were joined by Tith from Room to Read, and were able to get some good preliminary information to prepare us for our upcoming days in Cambodia. We went back to the hotel, relaxed a bit, and then slept in amazing comfort. The next day was to begin our tours of the temples in the Area. Our fearless tour guide, Sor (yes, pronounced as in “sore nose”) gave us the option to start as late as we wanted. Let’s be honest, we chose 10AM, to make sure we were properly rested and ready to go.
[To Be Continued...]