AMAZE-BALLS Siem Reap, Cambodia

AMAZE-BALLS Siem Reap, Cambodia

US Embassy Bash in Singapore What a worldwind!  Thursday night, the fellows attended the US ambassador’s Fourth of July reception at the Ritz Carlton.  It was pretty amazing to be surrounded by almost 1000 fancy, important people.  Deb and I were talking to a Chinese man for awhile who gave us explicit instructions on how to eat Durian, which is a famous, smelly Asian fruit. He told us to go to a specific MRT stop and get ready to splurge (since good durian isn’t cheap).  Then, we need to find an Asian man to buy it for us, since the seller wouldn’t give their best fruit to foreigners who don’t look like they’ll appreciate it properly.  We can’t mix the durian with beer (or we may die) and we need to finish up eating the King Fruit with a dessert of the Queen Fruit (mangosteen).  At the end of the conversation, he gave us his card “if we ever needed anything”- it turns out he’s the executive advisor to the Singapore minister of defense!  Good guy to know and not just for his fruit eating advice! The event overall was enjoyable and we got to talk to so many interesting people- Paul hopefully got us invited to a New Zealand colonel’s mansion for a barbecue.  The food was delicious and highlighted dishes from around the country (Boston Baked beans, New Orleans Jambalaya, New York Cheesecake), free drinks were a-flowing, live jazz, a cheesy digital fireworks show and we got met the ambassador.  When we left, we got goodie bags of “American” treats- I’m not sure I’d pick Hershey’s chocolate, soymilk, Sydner’s pretzels and Bigelow tea to represent our country but I’m not complaining!  Armed with our patriotic drawstraw flag bags (where boxes of tea would randomly jump and Deb would yell, “Katie!  Why is there tea on the table?!?”), we headed to Clarke Quay for some dancing to a live band to paint the town while we’re all dressed up. Us and the US ambassador Off to Cambodia! Bright and early on Friday morning, Deb, Marie and I boarded the plane to Cambodia.  I had learned about the Ankor Wat temples during an undergraduate Asian Art class so it was one of the destinations I was looking forward to most for that reason.  It’s my favorite country this summer but for different reasons than we expected- we expected the temples to take our breath away but we didn’t expect the people and the culture to steal our hearts! After landing in Siem Reap, we headed out almost immediately for a “Cooks in Tuk Tuks” cooking class and market tour.  Our chef for the day accompanied us the local market to teach us about the local ingredients while exposing us to the daily life of the people with skwirmy fish, ladies violently chopping up meat with their bare hands with cute kids running around and people making flower and fruit offerings at typical temple.  The class was phenomenal- the three of us made a banana flower salad, amok and a tapioca-yam pudding for dessert.  We enjoyed our meal poolside and I think we all plan to recreate these khmer dishes back in the US. Us and our chef with our delicious meal served poolside Saturday morning, we woke up at 4:30 am to catch sunrise at Angkor Wat.  The sunrise itself was somewhat anti-climatic but the temple was awe-inspiring with its massive three layers of intricate carvings everywhere.  Our tour guide had temple traveling down to a science: he knew all the best places to take pictures and could navigate the crowds- at the first temple, he warned us that a surge of Asians would arrive in fifteen minutes and sure enough, as we walked out, tour groups from every asian nation flooded in waving flags and wearing matching t-shirts.  After that, we headed to Angkor thom through the bridge lined with creatures churning the mystical milk sea.  The bayon temple was probably my favorite with Buddha faces smiling down at you from every angle.  After a delicious lunch of cashew stir-fried veggies, we headed to the La Phrom temple that Angelina Jolie made famous with the Tomb Raider movie.  Gigantic trees tore the temple apart while holding it up with their snaking roots.  Seeing how the jungle overtook this temple, turning much of it to ruin made it easier to understand how some of this complex was hidden until an airplane laser surveying mission discovered more ruins last month. Morning at Ankor Wat Us at one of the gates to Ankor Thom Floating Village Our tour should have ended there but we asked if we...