Ending 7 Dec 2002 (Bob)
Siem Reap - This is the hub of sightseeing
for Cambodia, with scores of temples and palaces within reach. Thy (our
personal tour driver) picked us up early Sunday morning, listened to our plans,
and politely suggested an alternative that took better advantage of light and
promised smaller crowds. This set the pattern for the week! We spent 5
days walking and photographing:
- Out of Town - A delightful 20 km drive through
the country-side gave us a gentle introduction to Cambodia as we passed
small villages, houses on stilts, rice patties, and water buffalo resting in
the fields. The temple at Banteay Srei is somewhat far from the
madding crowd, and it was very peaceful walking through the thousand-year
old buildings. On the way back we diverted to a 1/2 km rutted side road
to Banteay Samré, an small isolated temple that has been very well
restored. Our last stop of the morning was Pre Sup, our first
'mountain temple', a small complex where that has been built up to resemble
a mountain with a temple on top.
- Angkor Thom - A walled city, 3 km on each
side with an outside moat and currently 5 gates. Inside there are
numerous temples, sporting grounds, and reservoirs, including:
- Bayon - a
large State Temple built in the 12th century, distinctive because of its
many towers where the same face is carved on all sides, over 200 faces
- Elephant Terrace and Leper King Terrace - The
Elephant Terrace is a large open ceremonial areas that faces the Royal
Square, a large reception area for pavilions where visiting royalty
could be entertained in style. The terrace walls contain scores of
carved elephants, garudas (mythical man-bird figures), five-headed
horse, and other figures. The Leper King Terrace stands to the
side, and has more detailed bas reliefs of Buddha and others.
- Phimeanakas - a relatively small 10th
century royal palace in the shape of a mountain, we climbed to the top
for a good view of the surrounding ruins.
- Bapuon - a massive mountain-temple currently
under renovation - our guide suggested it was not worth visiting at the
- Ta Phrom - a delightful un-restored site
that shows how the ruins looked when the French found them
- Angkor Wat -
This complex site deserves a couple of visits, so we returned to it again
- Examining the 2000' of bas reliefs (stone carvings),
- Climbing the high temples as priests would have done
800 years ago,
- At dawn for sunrise silhouette shots like the
- And afternoons as the walls glow gold in the sunset
The Tonlé Sap - South of
Siem Reap the land dips, and a lake extends 160 km south, more than half the way
to Phnom Penh. We took an afternoon tour on its banks, past Cambodian and
Vietnamese villages, and the next day boarded a fast ferry to Phnom Penh.
The inside was crowded, seats were small and there was zero storage space -
except our laps. Many people preferred riding on the roof, both for the
view, fresh air, and increased chance of survival if the ferry were to sink or
roll over (a distinct possibility). But, luck prevailed again, and 5 hours
later we were in:
Phnom Penh - The capital of Cambodia,
Phnom Penh has seen more than its share of grief as the USA, Khmer Rouge, and
Vietnam made successive forays into their country during the 1960-1980's.
With 25% of the population killed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970's, and many
disabled by landmines, it is amazing that they can smile at all - but they do,
and all were quite friendly to us. Many people we met had personal stories
- Thy, our driver in Siem Reap had lost 1 brother and 2 sisters to the Khmer
Rouge and hated them, but was quiet and gentle with us. Other highlights:
- National Museum - a good collection of artifacts
from before and during the Angkor period
- Royal Palace - a island of opulence in the middle of
a city with many poor street people. We found it interesting and
beautiful, but many art works were being damaged by the elements and
receiving little care.
- Foreign Correspondents Club - This well-known
restaurant/hotel was our base for 2 days, and our river-front room
overlooked a busy street, boats and ferries on the river, and an occasional
elephant being walked to or from work. It has comfortable stuffed
chairs in the bar with good views, PCs in the large rooms, and good Western
food. We recommend it highly for anyone visiting Phnom Penh.
Ending 14 Dec 2002 (Bob)
Minor projects - It was a quiet week, recovering from
our trip to Angkor Wat. We had intended to leave our slip and sail to
Phang Nga bay, but niggling projects got in the way:
- arranging to develop our film (28 rolls),
- cutting our storage box down to size;
- helping the schooner Voyager launch, after a
9 month rebuild (we will never complain about our refit again)
- readying the yacht for sailing, stowing items, getting and
inflating dinghy, etc., etc.
Next week Bob has arranged to go to Singapore for 2 days, but
perhaps we can drop the dock lines for a couple of days.
Struggling for cold air - On Thanksgiving day, our air
conditioner (a life-line in this climate) stopped issuing cold air, and we moved
dinner to a friend's apartment. So the task for several days was
troubleshooting the unit. The local refrigeration fixer was too busy, and
we got some leads from Terry on Virgo's Child. By the time we fixed it
(for $5 of parts), Judi and I had become adept at dismantling and re-assembling
the unit in less than 10 minutes. For 2 days now, it has been humming
quietly as it should, and we are happy campers again.
Ending 21 Dec 2002 (Bob)
Mailing a package - Such a mundane topic, but a minor
drama in Thailand. We had decided to send a few souvenirs and Christmas gifts to
the US, so it went like this:
- first we contacted a PUSCO, shipping company. No
seemed that we had to (almost) charter a 747 and fill it up based on their cost
- Next stop, UPS - they said "no problem, here is a
box, fill it up and we'll send it for $110". So we filled it up,
went back to send it, and the Australian in charge said: "one of our
owners is having a dispute with UPS in Bangkok, so I would recommend that you
send it with someone else".
- We thanked him, and went down the
street to DHL. They said "sure, it'll only cost you $125, and you have
to repack it in our box". We grimaced, but said OK. As we
repacked, they noted all of the Christmas presents and told us "you'll have
to unwrap each of these so we can inspect them, the USA won't allow it in unless
each little package is inspected" - we grimaced again, and went along with
this minor annoyance, angry again at the changed world after the Al Qaeda'
attack on 9/11.
Blitz trip to Singapore - We had left a watch to be
repaired in Singapore, and fear of Thai Customs convinced Bob to return to pick
it up. Of course no trip to Singapore is complete without shopping so he
made some last minute purchases of hard-to-find food (Pepperidge Farm
'Chesapeake' cookies) and developed all of our film (28 rolls) from
Preparing to cruise - The rest of the week was consumed
with getting the boat ready for our 2d longest passage yet, across the Indian
Ocean. So we stowed, crammed, and shoved things into corners, argued about
the importance of various items, and gradually emptied our 'land
locker" Next week we do the big provisioning run, and move out to
anchorages for a while
Ending 28 Dec 2002 (Bob)
Get ready, get Set - The week was consumed with the
small matter of getting ready (again) to set off on a long trip.
- Provisioning - Judi prepared a big list of
essentials: pasta, rice, chips, spaghetti sauce, Spam (did I say that?) and
we spent one day going from store to store to get most of the items on the
- Stowing - The next challenge was finding places for
all of the stuff, and Judi did an admirable job making the boat swallow 30+
bags of goodies.
- Fuel up - We were in fairly good shape, but still
had to carry 120 liters of fuel from the car to our slip (Boat Lagoon does
not believe in making carts easily available)
- Sell Air conditioner - This was a big step since it
means that the heat in the marina would quickly become intolerable.
- Re-caulk Toe-rail - When the new toe-rail had been
installed in July, all seemed well, but soon the caulk started to separate
from the wood. We finally got Nai and Toe to have a couple of workers
remove the newly installed BoatLife caulk, and replace it with Sika black
deck sealant - we hope this holds.
Party Hearty - As Christmas approaches,
Judi has an in-born instinct to throw a party, so she did, and it was a great
success! With mince-meat pies, cookies, wassail (warm apple cider, spices
& brandy), regular wine, and fruit-cake galore, we had about 25 people on
the boat the afternoon of 22 December, and a wonderful time was had by
all. Observers told us that the waterline went down 4", but we were
Quiet Christmas -
December 25th is a normal workday in Thailand, and we had a quiet day, opening
gifts early in the day, and doing final preparation chores in the
afternoon. The garland, Christmas ornaments, and lights inside Long
Passages made it very festive indeed.
Go - To get in or out of Boat Lagoon, one must follow
the tide tables religiously. We asked the young men at the dockmaster's
office and got contradictory instructions: one said we should wait until the
tide was 2.3 meters above low water, others said 2.7. We went with the
latter, and drove over a shoal spot only 5.8' deep, and we draw between 5.5' and
6', so it was too close.
First grounding - Unfortunately, the channel going out
is twisty, and Bob zigged when he should have zagged, and we ran up on a mud
bank. A little help from the marina skiff that happened by got us off with
damage only to our self pride. Next week, we roam Phang Nga Bay.