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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cambodia 1.12 - Part 1: Ta Prohm & Samantha Brown

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After arriving in Taiwan for two days, we took a early morning non-stop chartered flight from Taiwan to Cambodia.
The direct flight was 3 hours. It was only 11 AM when we arrived in Siem Reap.
Going through the custom, I was a bit nervous because of the stories I read about how custom officials would ask tourists for tips.
However, the whole process of applying for a visa and going through customs was pretty easy.
We did not experience any officials acting in an unprofessional manner.

We had pre-arranged transportation before the trip. By the time we came out of customs, our tuk tuk driver,
Bunlong, was already holding a sign with my name waiting for us.
The weather was warm and dry, just what we were looking for to escape from the harsh east coast winter.
We peeled off our winter clothing, sat in the back of the tuk tuk and enjoyed the breeze and unfamiliar scenery.
It is the first Asia country Hans visited other than Taiwan, and it's been a long while since I visited an underdeveloped country.
We were excited to explore what was in front of us.

After arriving at the Le Meridian, we asked Bunlong to come back at 2:30 PM. The General Manager of the Le Meridian spent quite some time to give us a very thorough introduction of Siem Reap and Angkor Park. All the transportation and itinerary could be arranged by the hotel. It was quite nice to receive this kind of personal attention from the hotel.  Siem Reap seems to be the kind of destination that you could just arrive at the airport without any plan, and everything could be easily figured out from there.

Le Meridian Angkor is a solid 5 star hotel. The staff was friendly. The hotel room was spacious and clean. Complimentary bottles of water and small snacks were provided daily. I was mostly impressed with the TV channels in the hotel. There were UK, US, India, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, German, and local channels.

After a quick rest, we were at the lobby meeting Bunlong again. Within 5 minutes, we were at the Angkor Park ticket booth getting our 3 day passes. The first temple to visit was Ta Prohm, famous for appearing in the movie "Tomb Raider". The temple was left in it's original state from when the Europeans discovered it in the late 19th century. The state of the ruin was what's so appealing to many visitors about this temple. I was mesmerized by the silk cotton trees. The tree trunks had this beautiful silver glow that gave the trees an elegant appeal. The intricacy between the temple ruin and tree roots was visually dramatic, both harmonious and conflicting.

On our way out of Ta Prohm at the west entrance, we saw some people setting up camera equipments. I said to Hans, "wow, that's some serious photography." Upon walking closer, I noticed a small framed blond woman among the group looking very much like a travel show host from Travel Channel, whose show both Hans and I love to watch. I was almost certain it was her and called out her name, "Samantha Brown?" She smiled and said yes! I was too excited to think of anything else much to say! I could not believe my luck! She briefly chit-chatted with us and went back to talk to her filming crew. Hans and I stood nearby and I pressed Hans to ask Sammy for a picture together. I need to have a picture as a proof that I actually ran into her on my first day in Angkor Park!!! Just the encounter alone was worth the trip for me!

Seeing us lingering around, Sammy must have figured out what we were after and graciously offered to have her photo taken with us. Perhaps she wanted to get rid of us so we would not be in her shot.
Either way, I was happy.

Samantha Brown was there to film the new season of her "Passport to Asia" series, which will air in June this year.
I know I will be watching. :)

Previous: Cambodia -- Prelude

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