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January 11, 2011

Cambodia: Half-Marathon Through Angkor Wat

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Coincidentally, the day we ended up visiting Angkor Wat the same day as the Angkor Wat Half Marathon. We arrived as the race was wrapping up, but we got to see the familiar sight of the finishers stretching and walking off the long run.

January 10, 2011

Cambodia: Angkor Wat, Destination

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Like the rest of Siem Reap, Angkor Wat was filled with tourists and those seeking the tourists' dollars. Wherever we went we were nudged and jostled by tour groups and picture-takers. I counted German, French, Spanish, Russian, Korean, and Japanese groups over the course of the day.

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Cambodia: Angkor Wat

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Ten years ago, before I caught the travel bug, before I'd ever booked a flight on my own or gone further than New England unaccompanied, I worked in an office in Times Square. In the entryway to my department was a large print of a photo from Angkor Wat. I passed it several times a day and wondered where the hell Cambodia was and honestly never really thought I'd be there in person. A decade later, here I was in Siem Reap walking through the ruins and seeing the real thing up close. Without intending to, I'd accomplished a travel goal.


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January 7, 2011

Cambodia: Street Sandwiches in Siem Reap

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Most of the eating we did while in Cambodia was in the sit down joints up and down 'pub street,' the main tourist drag in Siem Reap. I didn't get a lot of opportunity to explore the street carts offerings the way I did in Saigon. There was the lady selling those yummy sausages and someone else who I got some barbecue chicken wing nubs from, but I didn't see nearly as many sandwich carts as I did in Vietnam.

After visiting Num Pang here in New York, I was curious to see how different the local sandwiches stood apart. I only saw one cart around where we were selling them, so of course, I tried it. Twice.

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January 6, 2011

Cambodia: Travel by Tuk Tuk

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The primary mode of transport around Siem Reap was tuk tuk, a motorcycle-driven rickshaw that was much sturdier that I'd expected and cost a buck or two to get us pretty much anywhere. We even ended up taking one to the airport.

Cambodia: Barbecue on Pub Street

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In a town as full of tourists as Siem Reap, Tammi and I indulged in some of the typically touristy spectacle-seeking activities like the fish pedicure and eating some odd meats at a barbecue joint that clearly catered to the sensational eating crowd.

While I eat my fair share of foods that might gross some people out, I seldom engage in the bizarre foods contests that becomes more about eating weird stuff rather than food that actually tastes good. This time we figured 'what the hell?' Check it out after the jump.

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Cambodia: Fish Pedicure

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Based on what we saw, the entire economy of Siem Reap is based on tourist traffic and dollars. Besides the kids hitting everyone up selling books and postcards, everyone around us called our attention to massages, restaurants, tuk-tuks and ... fish pedicures.

Giant tanks sat all around town full of small fish that suck the dead skin off of your feet. Tammi tried it for about 10 seconds before freaking out. I stuck my hand in and have to say it is a rather strange sensation.

January 5, 2011

Cambodia: Kid Hawkers

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Throughout Siem Reap, pretty much wherever we went, kids of all ages approached us to sell us something - anything. Persistent as they were ubiquitous, the tourist economy of this area was most obvious watching them follow and harass visitors with offers of guide books, postcards, bottled water and god knows what else.

My instincts as a New Yorker stopped me from even considering making a purchase from them. This apparent heartlessness was validated after seeing one lady swarmed upon after buying postcards from one child. Seemingly a dozen of them flew over demanding that she buy something from them too. No thanks.

Interestingly, the one exception for all hawking was within the bounds of the temples of Angkor Wat. Outside, they badgered and encircled potential customers, trying everything from striking up conversations to offering compliments - I was even told by one that I look like Obama. Yet, as soon as you walked in the ruins, it all stopped. Some of the kids were inside, but they sat and rested or napped.

I won't read any reverence or respect into this and just assume it's just not tolerated there. Regardless, it provided a much appreciated break for all of us.

January 4, 2011

Cambodia: Shellfish Street Cart

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I saw a few carts like this while walking around town in Siem Reap, but I didn't partake. They were selling what looked like tiny clams tossed in spices and hot pepper flakes. Get a closer look after the jump.

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January 3, 2011

Cambodia: Car Logos

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I have no idea why, but many of the cars around town in Cambodia had the automakers' logos on the side.

Cambodia: Street Cart Sausages in Siem Reap

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Compared to Vietnam, the street food in Siem Reap, Cambodia was pretty sparse. I did manage to find some carts selling skewers of chicken wing ends and even a cart with a variation on the banh mi sandwiches I love so much (more on that to come). The best of the cart food I found was from a lady selling these sweet, salty sausages.

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Cambodia: A Weekend in Siem Reap

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Though I could have spent weeks exploring the street food and sidewalk culture of Saigon, after a week of the hustle of urban life in Hong Kong and Vietnam,Tammi was ready for a break. We booked a weekend trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia to see a quieter side of Southeast Asia and to explore the temple ruins of Angkor Wat.

Two days isn't a ton of time to see a lot, but we managed to get a trip to the ruins and some R&R in town while we were there. More to come.

December 13, 2010

Analog: Airport Security

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Tammi and I landed back home in New York yesterday from Hong Kong. I've got plenty to post about and hope to get them flowing out of there next week or two.

Over the last couple weeks, we've been on 10 flights through six countries and dealt with countless different stages of airport security. Ever since I started shooting film, one of the biggest potential hassles has been dealing with airport security.

X Rays can severely damage the emulsion on film in a way that can totally screw your images. Now, the first thing any screener will say is that it'll only affect film that's faster than ISO 800 or even 1600. What none of them understands is that slower film isn't invulnerable to X Rays, it's just that it takes more passes to do the same damage because it's less sensitive.

I've read that it takes five passes to damage 100 speed film the way one pass damages a faster roll. Given that we've passed through maybe a dozen security checkpoints on this trip, the hazard is still there.

In one of the few compliments I've ever really considered about the TSA, I will say that they invariably will do a proper manual swab of my film without giving me a hard time.

Less so in Japan, above, where the security guy at Narita insisted on opening up and visually inspecting each of my 20+ rolls. In the end, it's better than the Cambodian guard who insisted that I put my one roll of 1600 speed film in the x-ray because the sign said it was 'film-safe.' I haven't shot it yet, so we'll have to see how it comes out when I get home.

Hong Kong: 13 Hours

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When Tammi and I went to Japan three years ago, the huge time difference was significant. It took us a few days of waking up at 3am before we finally adjusted. This time around in Hong Kong, it's been more challenging.

I think what's made it harder this time around is social media. Back in 2007, we'd check email once or twice a day but otherwise be pretty disconnected from the world at home. Now, we're so wired to Twitter, Facebook, tumblr and everything else that make us constantly aware that we're not on our usual schedule. Every evening we'd get back to our room and as we were winding down, a slew of posts and tweets and updates would start flowing in. It could be a little disorienting.

I also put together a couple Midtown Lunch posts while away and had to keep in mind what time it was at home - and when communicating with Zach, what time it is in California as well. That's not including the changes between Hong Kong and our stops in Vietnam and Cambodia to the west and The Philippines to the east.

I'm not complaining or lamenting, I think it's been really interesting to have to juggle multiple time zones like this. Now that I'm back on EST, I'm of course jetlagged and sitting here writing this at 4am and getting updates in the middle of the night when you can't sleep suddenly seems much more appealing.


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