Yonis, Lingas and a few Apsaras
Written by Patrick
The friendly staff at the Golden Banana were willing enough to find us a new guide – all we wanted was someone with good energy excitement about this amazing place and even in-depth stories. And they knew of a guide they felt was just like that. We got introduced to Sokhem who did not disappoint us. In fact he was fantastic and was clearly the most knowledgeable guide we had on this entire trip. What we liked about him, most was that he actually listened to our needs and customized the program accordingly (bringing us to the spots at unusual times and hence having amazing "tourist-less" experiences such as being alone at Ta Phrom instead of pushing the standard tour on us. Secondly, he was of such a happy and friendly nature that it was fun to have him around. Third, he was so good at what he did that he accepted (and mastered) every knowledge challenge I gave him: I would ask him about all sorts of details on reliefs, "Who is that?", "What is the story behind this?", "Why is this the only apsara showing teeth?" and he would always have a very knowledgeable answer for us. In fact, I think he liked the challenge and strived to master it as best as he could. Sokhem was actually a pretty new guide doing this for about 1.5 years but was the 7th best of a class of over 600 people. He said 7 has always been his lucky number. Fourth and lastly, Sokhem was able and willing to expand his explanation to regular life in Cambodia, which meant we could talk and ask him about politics, regional cultural differences, dating and weddings and life in general. We could have not hit it better with him and would without a doubt recommend him to any future Angkor visitor.
Here is how to get a hold of him:
Around 10 o'clock in the morning Sokhem picked us up from the hotel and after discussing our day's strategy of revisiting the temples, we headed off to see the amazing sights. He made brilliant suggestion by saying we could approach Angkor Wat from the back. By this time it was almost 11 o'clock and most tourists were leaving the site with their tour buses to catch lunch in Siem Riep.
In case you were wondering, Siem Riep means, to the Cambodians, "defeating the Thai people" although you might find scholars from Thailand claiming that it means "defeat brought by Thais". You choose.
Experiencing a Thai hospital
Written by Alex
The doctor in New Zealand had said, “Just don’t get Dengue again.” That sort of made us laugh, considering we were headed straight to Southeast Asia. But we figured we’d be careful. So when fever, chills and body ache appeared yesterday, we were on high alert. The big sign outside of the Children’s Hospital that read “Haemoglobin Dengue Epidemic – Caution” did not help us either. What was probably just heat stroke or some common flu had us a bit nervous. Regardless, we called off our day of touring the temples and found the best medical care Siem Reap had to offer.
One of the latest addition to Siem Reap is a gigantic Thai hospital, full of Western trained medical doctors and nurses with 3-inch white heals, short skirts and white caps. After an examination, some blood work and a chest x-ray, all for around $500US for the both of us, we breathed a bit easier that we in fact did not have Malaria or Dengue. We learned there are 4 strains of Dengue and the severity of a second infection is due to what strain you contracted the first time. And what strain you contracted is only determined with DNA testing. And yes, the second time can be fatal as the immune system begins to attack the internal organs. Better educated and supplied with plenty of Tylenol, we puttered back to the hotel, crawled right into bed and hoped to sleep it off.