How I spent my summer vacation
Aloha! Greetings from Cambodia. Touring Cambodia and Vietnam is how I chose to spend my vacation this year.
Saying “summer” would be an understatement. The weather is hot, still and humid. Makes one appreciate the trade winds of Maui more than ever.
Starting in Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat, was an amazing example of temple building throughout the ages. “Wat” is the word for temples in Cambodia. Originally constructed as Hindu temples, most Wats have converted to being used as Buddhist temples in the past 200 years with the conversion of the population from Hinduism to Buddhism.
Navigating down the Tonle Sap River, conversing with other tourists from all over the world, I realized what a truly small world this is. A German professor and I had real estate as a common discussion topic. He teaches property management at the university level and is in the process of developing several commercial properties. The constant “demand” on Maui is to include an affordable component in any new development. In Germany, the government requires that all housing developments include a retail component. This is because German developers do not see retail space as viable going forward into the future and do not like to include it in their projects. Developers in Germany are very excited to build homes, condos and living space, as they know people will always need somewhere to live, but retail space is a must to win government approval to proceed.
Two adventures I never dreamed I might experience both include transportation: a ride in a Tuk Tuk and a ride in the back of an oxcart. First, a Tuk Tuk is a small, open-sided cart that seats four tightly packed people pulled by a motorcycle racing through the streets of a large city.
West Siders, imagine if you will the Keawe Street intersection, take out 60 percent of the cars and add 1,000 motor scooters and another 700 Tuk Tuks at every intersection and riding down every street, weaving in and out of traffic in a city of over a million people. The amazing thing is you rarely hear a horn honk or see expressions of road rage. Vehicles are constantly cutting in and out of traffic, narrowly missing each other. No seat belts, the occasional helmet on the driver, a good 20 percent of the drivers checking their cell phones, and small motor scooters with up to six (yes, SIX) people on one scooter.
The oxcart is a whole different experience. One driver, two people in the back facing backwards, the second person between the first person’s legs, bumping over country roads with another oxcart tailgating too close for comfort. Getting out after a six-mile trip to the nearest Wat, I wondered if my legs would hold me. They did, and the trip home went by much quicker than the trip out.
Cambodians are friendly – happy to welcome tourists to their land. Cambodia as a nation has been through so much devastation and terror in recent history, it is truly amazing how forgiving and willing to share their home I found the people.
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