Ayu-pad-thaya!

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Hey everyone! I’m finally outside of the Great Firewall of China and I can freely post on WordPress. I’m about 2 weeks behind on posts, so they’re going to be coming fast and furious. Especially because I’m spending a night at the Bangkok airport where the wifi is incredibly fast and I’m incredibly bored. But more on that later. Let’s get back to… Bangkok?

The view from our hotel room in Bangkok. Not too shabby.

Yes! About 2 weeks ago, Tori and I had our last day in Bangkok and we decided to travel north to see Ayutthaya. This city was the former capital of Siam and has a special place in Thai royalty. King Rama IV loved the area so much, he decided to have his royal summer palace built there in the 1800s. Our little day trip started at this beautiful palace. The palace is very interesting because it was built after the French came to Thailand, so it is a pleasant mix of Thai pagodas and colonial architecture. Take a look for yourself:

A little pagoda in the middle of a lake. Like at all of the French chateaux.

This lighthouse is a great example of the weird combination. I liked it. Tori hated it. Thoughts?

Then we went to one of the most incredibly photographable places I’ve been. The ruins of the former temple at Ayutthaya are incredible. Dating back thousands of years and representing three different faiths and architecture styles, the temple was ruined a thousand years ago in an earthquake or something and no one bothered to rebuild it. The result is the dazzling red limestone ruins overtaken by the lush green landscape. That’s really about all the history there is to this place. The guides just let you walk around and soak it in and soak I did.

This head was once on the ground but has been picked up by and embedded in the roots of the tree. Crazy!

 

Here I am, lurking in the shadows.

We then visited some other uninteresting temple and then Thailand’s 3rd largest buddha. You saw the 2nd in my last post, and this is basically the same thing, but slightly smaller. Here he his:

 

And if your taste buds have been missing my food posts, it’s here! Here is all of the yummy food that I ate while in Thailand – an endlessly delicious country.

A little chicken salad at a gorgeous restaurant in Chiang Mai I’m sure was delicious.

 

The coconut pancakes from above at the floating market.

 

A coconut cream taco garnished with carrots. More delicious than it sounds.

Vegetarian Thai Tofu Salad.

 

Vegetarian Fried Spring Rolls.

 

Something else at the vegetarian restaurant we went to. I should put these posts up closer to when I actually eat the foods.

 

My first pad thai. Excellent.

I have no idea why there are so many spoons for this dish.

 

Some kind of spicy chicken dish. But aren’t they all?

Airplane food. The chicken was really spicy. And yes, everyone gets served water (in the blue), fruit juice (in the green), and tea. ALL THREE! Go Thai Airways.

 

Northern Thai chicken wings. Not quite buffalo wings, but still tangy and scrumptious.

And the award for best thing I ate in Thailand goes to… Massaman Curry! It’s heavy on potatoes and just a little spicy.

 

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Chau Down

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After leaving the beach town of Sihanoukville, we boarded a bus, traveled through a series of back roads and dirt paths for about 4 hours, and then made it to the Cambodia Vietnam border. This wasn’t the magical cultural experience that the Thai Cambodian border crossing was. Oh no. This was scary. You could tell that there was a shift in the culture, as if the pressure in the room increased. The presence of communism was already oppressive. To cross the border, you have to engage in institutionalized bribery and pay the officials 20,000 Dong. Even though it’s only 1 dollar, it’s the principle!

We drove just a little onward to spend the night in the small and unimpressive town of Chau Doc, a mere stepping-stone on our journey to Ho Chi Minh City. Another difference between Cambodia and Vietnam became abundantly clear – the people of Vietnam are richer, and therefore fatter than those of Cambodia. English is mandatory in the schools and people are everywhere. It really shows that they are one of the most populous countries in the world (I think they’re number 3?).

A view from Vietnam. The mountains in the distance are the border with Cambodia.

The only thing of note that we did in Chau Doc, and it was really actually exciting, was to ride on the back of motorbikes through the city and out to the countryside up a local holy mountain. As we rode up, we went through all of the back alleys of the town and saw every little kid waved to us. At the top of the mountain there was a beautiful view of the sunset over the Mekong Delta, but I had other concerns. I started hanging out with the motorbike drivers and tried to pick up their mysterious card game. Here’s what I’ve learned: It’s called Chinese Poker and you play all 13 cards at once in 3 poker hands. How it’s scored? A total mystery. It was a lot of fun, even though I lost every time, but I’m determined to improve!

What is this game?!?

Since this a light post, I’ll finish off with a brief collection of all of the food I remembered to take pictures of through out Cambodia! And don’t salivate too much! I’m going to try and do this for every country.

A Tapioca Porridge for Dessert

Deep Fried Crickets for a light appetizer

A simple chicken curry with white rice, a Cambodian staple.

Chicken with cashews. That glaze is kind of tangy and delicious and I think it’s served with spring onions.

A traditional Cambodian dish called Amouk. It is rice cooked with whatever coconut, some veggies, meat (chicken, in this case) and served in a coconut.

Steamed beef garnished with ants. Yum.

Some light Cambodian dumplings filled with pork.

Some light spring rolls, vegetarian style.

Fermented Duck Egg. This was not one of my favorites. The sauce was so salty.

This dish was called “Khmer Special Ingredient with Rice.” Still no news on what the special ingredient was.

A version of chicken lok lak, a cambodian dish with some local spices and peppers. This one has a fried egg on top.

And the posts will be coming fast and furious now that I’m back in Thailand and I can post freely. Buckle up.