Just as the year comes to an end, so does my short time in the beautiful kingdom of Cambodia.  So last I wrote we were about to take a batman tuk-tuk. This may have been one of our best decisions this year.

We rode with an instant friend named Ramet who had an infectious laugh and taught us many Khmer phrases along the way. Specifically I appreciated “ot tey ahr coon” (no thank you) as I was running out of dollars and riel and drowning is rattan bracelets and cheap postcards pedaled by Cambodian woman and small children at each temple stop.  Ramet made the choreographed touron (mix of tourist and moron) parade of temple hopping a one of a kind experience. He plans to come visit us in the US one day. We have promised to throw him a party if he comes. It will be like his American coming out party.

Oh yeah I almost forgot, and we saw one of the wonders of the world. The mix of Hindu and Buddhist traditions proved very enriching. We learned about the churning of the ocean of milk. This legend was my favorite. It’s amazing that the majority of these temples were built as Hindu shrines in the 10th century and when the Buddhist took control of them, they did not rape and pillage.  They simply moved the Hindu shrines to an alternate less pronounced location and continued about their business. Provocative.  We also learned how the Cambodian psyche has been affected over years of invasion, genocide and civil war. All in all, I think we both left a little heavier in the knowledge of Southeast Asia category for Jeopardy.

Our time with Ramet ended at the top of Bakai Mountain overlooking the warm, glowing spires of Angkor Wat as the last people to view this site in the year of the Rabbit – well us and about 2000 Japanese tourists on a massive tour bus.

Anyway, I loved Cambodia and would go back early and often. The people make it one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. Thailand, the bar has been set pretty high. Let’s see what you got.

NOTE for friends with equally itchy feet:

If you ever plan a visit to Siem Reap, you should definitely ride with Ramet. We are building a site for him now however you can reach him at batmantuktuk@yahoo.com and eventually at batmantuktuk.com.

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