Hanoi to Siem Reap, Day 9

The weather has cooperated some, with overcast skies, the temperature was very comfortable. We started the day with an electric car ride downtown. These were oversized six passenger golf carts. The three we had weaved their way through the traffic with ease. Occasionally, we had to close our eyes to avoid seeing the oncoming traffic.

We drove through the French Quarter with architecture that feels like Paris. We returned to old town and then wove our way through the very upscale area of Hanoi. It was an interesting way to get a feel for the city.

Time to get our luggage ready for our afternoon flight to Siem Reap. We grabbed a quick bowl of soup at the hotel and made our way to the airport for the hour and a half flight. 

Although Pnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia, Siem Reap is the home to the most ancient temples and ruins. The local currency is the riel, $4000 to the dollar) but the US dollar is the currency used for almost everything, including ATM’s. Also, English is the main language spoken, not Cambodian, a derivation of Sanskrit, fading in use for young people, who can speak and read it, but are resistant to writing or using it for every day communication. 

Our Vietnam guide, Kit, continued to accompany us to Cambodia but we now also have a local guide, Narun, who is multi-lingual, including speaking Spanish and French. He is very knowledgeable and will accompany us for our time here.

Scheduled for another day, we went to a school training artisans in many of the most important skills and techniques. They learn to carve in wood and chisel different stones to create statuary, create porcelain, lacquer work, weave silk and create items that will be sold all around Cambodia. They are usually younger students learning a trade, working in stifling buildings for many hours a day. Still, it is a skill they would not otherwise have and eventually can translate these skills to other possibilities.

Before leaving, we visited the artisan store (of course). However, the quality of the items was spectacular. The silk was used for clothing, wallets, jewelry holders and more, they created porcelain vases and dishes, lacquer art and bowls, metal and wood sculptures and much more that was beyond the normal souvenir quality.

Finally, we checked into our hotel after we got settled in our hotel. Dinner was not included in our tour tonight, so we caravanned in the local transportation, the typical tuk-tuk, into town for a group meal. A tuk-tuk is a carriage holding four passengers pulled by a motorcycle. No crazy traffic, so it was an easy trip. We had a delicious dinner from an ala carte menu, which allowed us to sample food we may have not had previously. We tended to have a beer with our meals and so far, they have all been tasty and refreshing.

By the time we returned to the hotel, we were exhausted. It was a long day of travel. In no time, we were asleep.

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