Monday, November 5, 2012

Four Wheelin' (Siem Reap #3)

After we had learned so much about silk worms, we took a lunch break and returned to our hotel to rest up for our afternoon activity:  a sunset tour of the outskirts of town on 4 wheelers.  While we rested, it began to storm.  The rain was impressive.  The rainy season in Siem Reap was supposed to be over, but the mean rain clouds certainly had not gotten the message.  We had nothing to do but contemplate riding 4 wheelers in the rain a monsoon. 

Our tuk tuk driver met us to take us to the tour spot, and he was soaked.  We were happy to see that our tuk tuk at least had plastic sides.  When we got to the tour office, the rain had stopped and there was a sliver of blue sky.  Whew.  What a relief, but I knew just enough to realize that we were in for a very muddy ride. 

AK was thrilled with the pink plastic bags they put on our feet to keep them dry, and they were quite the fashion statement.  As soon as we got rolling, she gave a big "Woo Hoo!!!!", and she cackled for most of the trip.  My favorite quote was, "I didn't know I wanted to ride a 4 wheeler so much!" 

B3 rode with Dad, and he had a ball.  I think he even pleaded to go faster, but since I was in the lead, it wasn't happening.  Besides, B2 had to hold B3 with one hand and drive with the other, so slower was better. 

Our guide was on a motorbike, and we played follow the leader down muddy roads and paths.  Note the girl on her bike. Not only did I have to keep up with our guide at a safe distance, I had to navigate crater-like mud puddles and try not to soak everyone else using our roads.  A challenge indeed. 

We rode past rice field after rice field.  Some had workers harvesting, and others just had cows. 
We only stopped a few times, but if we had stopped for every photo opportunity, our one hour tour would have lasted all night.  Our guide picked some rice for us and gave us a crash course in rice farming.  Some types can turn three or four crops per year, but this particular one was only twice a year. 

 Because of the storm, our sunset tour lacked a sunset.  We didn't mind a bit.  We were thankful that everyone else with reservations that evening cancelled; a private tour is way better!

 We did have one traffic jam.  Of the four legged kind.  AK was thrilled and said it reminded her of our cattle jam in New Zealand.  I LOVE that her frame of reference for livestock in the road is from yet another continent; we don't often have animals in the road in our suburban Charlotte neighborhood.

AK's favorite part of our night (and perhaps our entire trip) was when our guide offered to teach her to drive.  Can you tell she was a serious student?

 ...And they're off  - he's not touching; she's driving!
 here they come again! 
 I suppose it should have made me nervous to have a stranger take my girl down a dirt road at dusk and leave us in the middle of nowhere, but it didn't cross my mind at the time.

She was so  proud of herself!

I wish we could have videoed the entire ride. It was definitely a different side of Siem Reap than we saw in town, and it was fantastic.  I kept making mental notes of things to remember, and I, of course, had forgotten most of them before we were even half way done.  Mostly, we just saw people living their lives:  kids walking home from school, moms cooking and cleaning, folks working in rice fields, and men herding water buffalo. Oh, and a dead pig on the back of a motorbike. 

Sure, seeing Cambodia on a 4 wheeler just screams, "I'm a tourist!", and that's not usually what we go for. But, in this case, it was perfect. We saw things we wouldn't have seen otherwise, we had a great time, and the kids had a blast. AK may not remember the poverty or the incredible sights we saw that night, but she'll remember the ride and driving lessons.  That, in turn, will trigger the memories (I hope) of the Real Siem Reap that we saw from our 4 wheeler tour.  I know it's not something I'll forget anytime soon. 


kathryn patton said...

That looks like lots of fun. The expressions on all your faces show enjoyment. The guy teaching AK to drive seems delighted!

Chrystal said...

WOW!! What an amazing journey!! Makes me miss that seeing that smiling face even more . . .