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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cambodia 1.12 - Part 2: Banteay Kdei, Sras Srang, Pre Rup

After the run in with Samantha Brown, it was still early before sunset. 
We stopped by Banteay Kdei and Sras Srang.
Unfortunately, I couldn't say much about them as I really did not do a lot of homework on the history & architecture of Angkor prior to this trip.

I usually have a very hard time absorbing the history aspects of the country that I am about to visit despite my best intent. (Food & entertainment, on the other hand, is a different story.)
I always feel that history makes more sense and becomes more relateable to me after I set foot in the country. So, without knowing much about the temples, we walked around and simply admired their sheer beauty.

After Banteay Kdei, we still had plenty of time before sunset at Pre Rup.  Hans and I walked towards the roadside souvenir vendors for a quick look.  Kids ran towards us selling all sorts of things.  I have read about kids selling stuff around the temples online, and was prepared.  We shook our heads, said "No, Thank you."  and kept on walking.  At one point, Hans was walking ahead of me, two older girls approached us and started a conversation.

"Where are you from?" The girl asked.
"Taiwan." I said.
"Taiwan, capital city - Taipei." The girl said right away.
"Very good!" I was impressed.

The girl that I spoke to wore a school uniform and hair back in a ponytail.  She had a pretty face and didn't look older than 10 or 11.  
I noticed that she was wearing black eye liners and thought to myself, "she was too young to wear makeup like that". 
I began to relax, thinking a friendly conversation was harmless.

We exchanged our names.  I was surprised to learn that she was already 15 years old.  
She asked me to buy one of the bracelets that she made.  After I declined, she handed one bracelet to me and said it was a gift for me.

"No, I can't take it." I was uncomfortable taking a gift from this little girl.
"It's okay.  It's a gift for you. If you don't take it, that means you don't like me." Ouch! The guilt trip!
I went over to the girl's shop trying to see if there is anything I would like to buy from her.
I told the little girl that I would buy the bracelet from her.  She refused.
"Man... She is really putting me on the spot." I thought.

I held the bracelet in my hand and saw Hans holding the same bracelet in his hand with the other girl he talked to. 
Haha, yep, the bracelets were the bait and we were hooked!

Hans and I ended up buying two bottles of water from the girls for one dollar each, despite the fact that we could have free water from our tuk tuk driver and you could get a dozen of bottles of water for one dollar in the market.

Walking back to the tuk tuk, our driver had a puzzled look on his face.
"You know I have prepared water for you, right?" Bunlong said.
"Ya, we know." I smiled.
Back on our tuk tuk on the way to Pre Rup, Hans and I recapped our conversations with the girls.  The conversations were identical.
I took the bracelet off my wrist and said to Hans,
"Let's hide the bracelets before other kids spot them and know that we are suckers."
We both burst out laughing.
Brilliant though. You gotta give it to those girls.

By the time we arrived at Pre Rup at 5 PM, it was time for the sunset.  Pre Rup is one of the temple-mountains.  The stairs to the top of the tower were steep and narrow, and I was climbing to the top on all four.  When we got to the top, there were already plenty of people who took the best photo spots waiting for the sunset.  Sunset at Pre Rup overlooked the countryside.

Once the sun went down, we did not linger for long.  Climbing down those stairs in the dark would not be fun for me.

Previous: Cambodia 1.12 - Part 2: Banteay Kdei, Sras Srang, Pre Rup 
Next: Cambodia 1.12 - Part 3: Sei, Khmer Kitchen, U & Me Spa & Photo Album

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