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Happy 2013!

Posted: December 31st, 2012 by Scott

Thinking back on 2012, we feel that we’ve been super fortunate. We’ve been able to do and see an awful lot as well as share and create memories with some great friends and of course our families. All these experiences taught us quite a bit, here’s a few lessons learned this year:

We learned New Years in Sydney is AMAZING!

We learned that if you move to another country, and wait long enough, people will visit you!

The Johnsons visited!

Friends from University, Garrett, Dana, Henry, Tony, Emma and Alicia visited too!

We learned that some of those visitors might not leave… they stayed with us for 5 weeks, then got jobs and moved to Australia for the year!

We learned that even in Australia there’s an issue with illegal aliens.

Saw some fish

We learned that some fish are big!

We learned how to make new friends in the most unlikely spots.

 

We learned how to fix a bumper with duct tape and zip-ties after an episode of “When Kangaroos Attack!”

We learned that Henry could have been a very profitable street performer 100 years ago.

We learned that in Singapore Less is NOT More, More is More

We learned that I’m the “Fun Australian Uncle Who Keeps Kangaroos As Pets” to my friends’ kids.

 

We learned that Courtney does not like sitting in the front on Splash Mountain.

For more than one reason

We learned how to make Texas style Beef Brisket

 

Then learned what its really supposed to taste like.

We learned that I’m a pretty good man, some would even call me the “best”.

We learned that the 5 Euros that your mate in Australia gave you will get you something pretty delicious in Paris.

We learned that goats are cheeky little fellas.

We learned that a liter of beer at Oktoberfest is really enough.

We learned that Chinese women like to pose like this for pictures. Also learned that Courtney is more Chinese than earlier suspected.

We learned that Chinese people really DO eat dog, but would prefer that you took pictures of vegetables instead.

We learned that snake’s blood and rice wine is surprisingly not too bad.

We learned that banana peels and plastic bags make a pretty good impromptu burn remedy. (And Scott learned that Bananas are actually pretty tasty!)

We learned that Cambodian wats look an awful lot like Thai wats which, I guess, is not that surprising.

 

We learned that the Khmer Rouge did some atrocious things to their own Cambodian country men and women and children!

We learned that personal privacy in Asia isn’t really a big deal.

We learned that monks need to do laundry too!

We learned that a scooter can be a “Family Vehicle”

And can be used to transport just about anything.

We learned that bananas, coconut sugar and rice can turn into something amazingly delicious.

We learned that ancient temples were not built for people my height.

 

We learned where I get my great mustache from, and that Courtney is not a big fan of it.

We learned where I get my great mustache from, and that Courtney will be much happier when it’s gone!

But most of all we learned how great it is to be back home with family for the holidays.

Happy holidays and hope 2013 is another great one!

Happy holidays and hope 2013 is another great one!

One last World Herirtage Site, Angkor Wat

Posted: December 24th, 2012 by Scott

Our last stop in Cambodia before heading back to California was the town of Siem Reap, which is the closest town to Angkor Wat.  The area around Siem Reap includes a huge number of temples, both Hindu and Buddhist, built by the kings of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to 15th centuries.

This is possibly the temple used in the Tomb Raider movie, or maybe it was another one that looks exactly the same.

This temple gate has been completely engulfed by the Strangler Fig tree.

One more cool temple, because this one had lots of giant faces.

The area was eventually abandoned in the 15th century when threats of invasion from Thailand forced the capital to be moved to Phnom Penh.  Angkor Wat, the most famous of the temples, is the largest Hindu temple in the world. It was built in the first half of 12th century by King Suryavarman II and remains one of the finest monuments in the world.

Angkor Wat “artistically framed”, or just “through a doorway and partially obstructed by a tree”. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

We spent two days touring the many temples and were fortunate enough to be able to see both sunrise and sunset at Angkor Wat.   Both made for some amazing photo opportunities.

Angkor Wat at Sunset

Sunset the other way.

The Sun Also Rises

We stayed in Siem Reap for 6 days to try to include some down time for relaxation. We took full advantage of our hotel’s pool enjoying the last bit of warm weather we are going to see for a few months.

I may not look like it, but I’m pretty excited about our pool, because it was HOT!

When we weren’t lounging or exploring the temples we wandered around town to see the Old Market, the numerous night markets, the local artisans’ workshop and of course the center of the western section of town “Pub Street”.

A stone carver at the workshop

Some of the partially finished products

The famous “Pub Street”

Courtney enjoying her soya bean drink in a bag we got at the Old Market

Its sad that our trip is finally coming to an end, but we were both pretty satisfied with everywhere we’d been able to get to in the past few months and we were excited to get home to see our families for the holidays.

More photos of Siem Reap and lots of photos of Angkor Wat and other Temples

Battambang, Cambodia’s second city

Posted: December 16th, 2012 by Scott

From Phnom Penh it was another 6-hour bus ride to Battambang, Cambodia’s second largest city, which actually felt like a very small town.   Battambang has many small wats (Buddhist temples) and some French colonial buildings to explore.  It is also adorned with many statues decorating nearly every round-about, sidewalk and park.

Statues all over the place

Another statue

Statue made from dismantled weapons.

Another great statue.

Though after a day of wandering around, we felt like we had seen most of what there was to see.

So on our second day we went on a bike tour of the nearby countryside to visit some of the local industries including rice paper making, fish paste, dried bananas, sticky rice cakes, and rice wine.  We had a great local guide who was very knowledgeable about each business and the process of making each product.  It was a great way to learn about local customs and daily life, as well as get out, get some exercise, and have a bit of fun.

Learning how to make rice paper by hand

Scott trying his hand at making rice paper

Sheets of rice paper drying in the sun

Woman making dried banana sheets

Delicious sticky rice cake with banana and coconut

Brewing local rice liquor. This stuff is strong, 30-40% alcohol.

Fish drying in the sun, this place had a strong aroma.

 

More photos of Battambang and the bike tour.