Cambodia – 90/90/90 and Floods!

90 degrees F, 90 % humidity, 90% chance of rain daily, streets flooding as the river is highest level in 14 years.  What’s not to love? 🙂

Our flight from San Francisco to Siem Reap, Cambodia was long…  We left at 1PM on Friday and arrived at 11PM Saturday.  The first leg from SF to Seoul was almost luxurious, on a wide body Asiana flight, even though we were in “travel class” — AKA “economy”, AKA “back of the bus.” The seats were wide, the legroom ample, the food… well, let’s just say the term “airplane food” applied here quite well.  The entertainment system allowed you to watch any of dozens of theater-run movies on demand… until the entire system froze about 4 hours into the 12 hour flight, after which we were fascinated by endless runs of The Green Lantern… NOT.

The second leg was the same airline (Asiana), but the plane was old, small, crowded, no entertainment system at all, and one of the most continuously turbulent flights I have been on in years.  There were at least 3 tour groups of teenagers on the flight, and every time we hit an air pocket, they would scream in Korean “we’re all going to die!”  (at least I’m pretty sure that’s what it sounds like in Korean…)

Landed in Siem Reap, were met by our guide and were taken to our hotel.  We are staying at the City River Hotel, named because it is across the street from the river than runs through the city… literally.  The river is at the highest level in 14 years and is flooding the streets, with people wading up to their knees through the water.  The car drives right up to the steps of the hotel, so we can hop out of the car and onto the steps to avoid most of the flood. Fortunately the hotel is up a few steps, and on the high side of the street, so it is (barely) dry so far.

We have now been through two days of temples, including the grand daddy of them all — Angkor Wat.  They are all ruins dating from the 9th through 16th century in construction, and at its peak, there were close to a million people who inhabited this city. Though they are being guarded, with steep entry fees to pay for their maintenance, there is actually not much evidence of renovations being done.  As such, we are seeing them largely as nature has left them after the centuries of tropical weather.  The overcast weather, with occasional short rains, means we have very flat lighting on the temples.  For photography, this is a mixed blessing — no harsh shadows to counter, but also no shadows to give depth to the images.

Since we are traveling with just the two of us and a guide, we are flexible enough to go places that larger groups would not be allowed.  Yesterday we stopped in on a working monastery, and were allowed to photograph them having lunch.  The chanting almost made me wish I were back making videos, but we got some nice photos from that session.

Getting up at 5AM to start the day means we haven’t had much time to edit our photos yet.  Here are a few selected images from our first day.

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