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Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Letters #37 & 38

Happy Friday Y'all! 

I hope you had an amazing week. Mine went by pretty quick seeing as I took two days off of work to hang out with my dad. I missed last Friday's Letters because we were really busy exploring around Korea, so today I'll do a bit of a catch up. 

Dear Last Week, I can't really remember if anything exciting happened. I know the work week went by fast and that's about it. 

Dear Friday (May 23rd), It was great having the day off work. My dad and I spent the day walking around the Suwon Fortress. Dad insisted we walk the whole 5k around. I'm glad I did it, but man was that a long day. Although I did take part in an archery experience and that was pretty cool. 

Dear Dad, Thank you for coming out and visiting. You might not have been impressed with our knowledge of hotels, but I think the trip can be counted as a success. I enjoyed showing you around the country that is home for us right now. It was great taking you around and seeing all the Koreans look at you and smile. It was especially fun when a group of school children would pass us saying 'Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Welcome to Korea.' I enjoyed posting pictures with #popsinkorea. 

Dear Saturday and Sunday, The weekends are usually pretty boring for us because we are usually laying around and catching up on Netflix, or I am studying for the GRE. But this weekend was pretty jam packed full activities with my dad. Dear DMZ, I really wasn't looking forward to going on another tour again, but it was actually pretty fun. Stepping into North Korea is always pretty exciting. And we saw things on this tour that we missed out on last time. It was worth going to again. Dear Olympic Park, It really was cool seeing you again. It was actually better this time because we visited the velodrome and my dad has a friend who raced there at the 88' Olympics. 

Dear Korea War Museum, This was probably my favorite stop of the entire weekend. The museum was really amazing. Pretty interactive. Great displays. And there is a memorial dedicated to those that lost their lives in the Korean War. Matt's Great Uncle and namesake was killed during this war, and we were able to find his name along the memorial. It was such an amazing experience and I'm glad we got to see this. Matt's Great Uncle was Tetsuo Kiyohiro. His Dad is Kevin Tetsuo. And Matt is Matthew Tetsuo. It was also even more special because while we were doing this in Korea, Matt's Grandmother was putting flowers on Tetsuo's grave in Hawaii. It was very touching. 

Dear Sunday, We sent Dad on his way for his fishing trip, and we saw X-Men Days of Future Past. We really enjoyed it. I love when American movies come here!

Dear Monday and Tuesday, It was back to the grind as both Matt and I worked while my Dad took a fishing trip in the mountains. It was nice to see my students, but more exciting to only have a three day work week. It was also my little brother Jud's 11th birthday. Matt and I skyped him and sang happy birthday. We sang in Korean and then Jud said "That's cool, but can you sing in English this time." So we sang again. 

Dear Wednesday, It was another exploration day as my Dad and I took a day trip to Busan. It was nice to have some time to just chat on the train and then peak around Busan for a bit. I really really love Busan. It's becoming a favorite place of mine. 

Dear Thursday, Today was the last day Dad was in town. We spent the day exploring Suwon Folk Village. Dad was picked to participate in the Farmer's Drum and Dance performance, and it was so funny to watch. We had an amazing last meal with Dad that consisted of a huge platter of meat. It was so delicious. Then we put Dad on a bus and waved goodbye. Dad it was great to see you! 

Dear Friday, So glad to see you again. Today was a pretty fast work day. I was in such a hurry that I got onto my bus without paying. I had sat down and the bus driver was yelling at me, but I just totally spaced. So I walked back up and scanned my bus card. I guess I was just ready to be home. 
When I got home, Matt and I were looking at plane tickets and we decided to book a trip to Mongolia! We had been going back and forth on visiting. The ticket prices were really expensive and I just couldn't get over paying so much money, but I changed the dates and the tickets were slashed in half! So now in September we will traveling to Mongolia! Dream Come True. 

This weekend we will be getting ready for our Tokyo trip. We need to clean and pack up so we are all ready to leave bright and early Friday. There will also be a ton of studying going on in our house. 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! 

Love, Alex 

Daily Diaries with Diaries of an Essex Girl

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King

Happy Thursday Y'all. 

Today I'm continuing to share my journey through the small circuit tour we took at Angkor Wat. I realize you are probably getting tired of Cambodia and temple pictures, but I really want to make sure I share everything about our trip. This is more for my memory's sake than, so sorry about that. 
Each place we saw was unique in some way or another, so I am trying to take my time. In the next couple of weeks, I will try to mix in some Korea posts to break up the temple posts. 

Today I am sharing pictures from our walk around the Terraces of the Elephants and the Leper King. 

The Terrace of the Elephants was used by King Jayavarman VII as a place to watch his men return from war. It was also used as a place for public ceremonies and as an audience hall. 

Terrace of the Leper King was built under the reign of Jayavarman VII. The terrace got its name from a sculpture that was found at the site. The state was the Hindu god Yama, the god of death. I guess it was covered in moss and looked similar to someone with leprosy. I still maintain that Bayon was my favorite temple, but the terrace of the leper king was pretty amazing. It was just filled with rows of statues of the Aspara dancers. They were done with such detail it was just amazing. 

I hope you enjoyed looking through these photos as much as I did. While these terraces aren't as large as some of the more famous temples, there is something just as special about them. If you are planning to visit Bayon- I would recommend adding these to your list of things to see.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Phimeanakas Temple

Happy Tuesday Y'all! 

Today will be short and sweet.
 I wanted to share this temple we walked by while on our small circuit tour. After walking through Baphuon Temple we made our way to Phimeanakas Temple. 

According to the reports, this temple used to have a tower on top with a golden statue siting on the very top. 
Matt and I didn't do too much exploring around this temple, but we still enjoyed snapping a few pictures and continuing our tour. There are thousands of temples that make up the Angkor Wat Complex. Some are fully restored, some are partially (like Phimeanakas), and some are in complete disrepair. I knew it was a big place, but I really couldn't comprehend until we started our tour. 

Maybe not as impressive as Angkor or Bayon, but it's still amazing to see all these old temples built together like this. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Baphuon Temple

Happy Monday Y'all! 

I hope your weekend was a good one. Matt and I were busy showing my dad around Korea, so forgive us for being pretty absent around here. To make up for it, I wanted to show you another stop we made along our Small Circuit Tour of the Angkor Wat complex. 

After walking through and being amazed by Bayon Temple, we continued along the path to Baphuon Temple. According to the books, this is known as the 'world's largest jigsaw puzzle'. I guess a group of archaeologists took apart the temple, but the records were destroyed during the upset of the Khmer Rouge. Now, after years of research, the temple is being restored. 

While not as large as Bayon or Angkor, Baphuon is pretty amazing. It reminded me of the pictures I've seen of some of the temples in South America. 

If you've missed any of our past stories about Cambodia- catch up with us here

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Explorations at a Local Market: Travel Tuesday

Happy Tuesday Y'all. 

While in Cambodia, Matt and I decided to take a day off from the temples and take a cooking class. From what I've heard, there are many places around Siem Reap that offers classes, but we decided to go with the class our hotel offered. 

Our class included a trip to a local market, instruction on how to make four different dishes, a recipe book, eating our food in the restaurant, and a certificate of course completion. 

Today for Travel Tuesday, I wanted to share some of the photos we took while exploring the market. At 8:00 am we got in our TukTuk with the Sous Chef and Kitchen Manager and headed out to the market. The market was a section of street just jammed pack with stall after stall of vendors. It was so crowded with motorbikes and people milling around- I couldn't believe it. I have been in tight spaces with a lot of people, but this felt a whole lot different. The market consists of the outdoor food stalls (which is where my pictures are taken) and a indoor maze of stalls that sell anything from jewelry to shampoo. 

I think the cooking class just threw in this market trip as more of a tourist gimmick than an actual need for ingredients, but I'm glad we went. It was a whole different side of Siem Reap than we had seen at the temples and on Pub Street. 

*Note: Some of these pictures may be considered a little graphic (i.e. pictures of raw meat and the like) So if you don't like looking at this kinda stuff, I would recommend clicking away.* 

{I was really excited about seeing a picture of these because on season 23 of Amazing Race they had to make these fishing baskets. It was cool to see them in person.} 

{These black fish were still somewhat alive and every once in a while they would jump. Some made it all the way out of the basket. I may or may not have yelped and made the women behind the stall laugh. And if you were wondering, the basket on the left is filled with skinned frogs.} 

{After the market, we stopped and the manger picked us up some sugar cane juice. It was delicious. In fact, I'm craving it right now. It was fun because it was just juice and ice served in this little plastic baggie with a straw. Simple, but delicious.} 

I loved walking through the market. All the veggies looked so fresh. It was a little weird to see just slabs of meat hanging at the different stalls. The rules of meat temperature and such seem to not be as strict as back in the states, but we ate some of the meat and we lived. :) 
And it was cool to see stuff we had picked up at the market in the prep food for our class. I am going to go into more detail about our cooking class in another post, but I thought these pictures deserved their own post. 

I really would recommend a cooking class for anyone traveling to Siem Reap, especially if a market trip is thrown in. 

Would you take a cooking class on one of your travels? Have you have done this before? I'd love to hear from y'all! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Small Circuit Tour: Bayon Temple

Happy Monday Y'all! 

Is anyone else a little sad to see the weekend go? If so, hopefully this post will cheer you up. Today I am sharing another wonderful temple we visited while in Siem Reap. 

Bayon Temple 

This was- hands down- my favorite temple we went to. It was more crowded than Angkor Wat, but I think that was because it was later in the morning- so more people were out. 

Angkor Wat was amazing to walk through, but Bayon was unbelievable. I loved everything about this temple. The faces. The detail. The size. Everything was amazing. 

I wish we had thought to visit Bayon one more time, but we completely forgot. It would have been nice to explore the temple without all the people milling around, but I guess that's what second trips are made for right!?! 

I'm glad this was the second temple we went to because we were still really fresh and hadn't reached the exhaustion point quite yet. My recommendation for the temples is to see the ones on the top of your list first. 

Sometimes people like to save the best for last, but I think with Angkor it's the opposite. Because the heat is so intense, and climbing up the temples and exploring can be tiring- it's best to see your top picks first. I found that after walking around a few temples I was a lot less enthusiastic than how I started the day. I enjoyed all the temples we saw, but I was most adventurous and ready to explore when I was fresh. 

What do you think of Bayon? Would you visit the Angkor Temple Complex?