22 January 2006

Preparing For Ruins

I fly to Siem Reap, and the temples of Angkor, in about 15 hours. I have spent the day sorting out clothing for the week and packing. As long as I have been traveling around, I still cannot ever manage to take the right things, even though I spend hours planning and packing. Or rather, I take a bunch of stuff and then wear the same two items.

The morning was filled with trying on outfits, deciding which would be the most comfortable as well as fashionable. I ironed everything, then laid it out according to the day it would be worn. I was quite impressed with my systematic approach to travel preparedness, and even more thrilled that I had accomplished it all before noon.

I needed some last minute things from the supermarket, so wandered out at 1:00. It started to dawn on me, as I walked home in the 98 degree heat, that the pants and t-shirt items I had so carefully chosen would kill me if I hiked around jungle and ruins all day. Back in the house, I quickly went about replacing almost all the clothes I had previously decided upon with skirts and jungle dresses. (not to be confused with Saturday Night/Office dresses.)

Even though I had checked the weather in Siem Reap, I started to get worried that maybe I would end up freezing, as I had done in Bali a few years ago. So, back in went a few pairs of pants. I think I now have a proper assortment of garments to accommodate any possible climate.

I also have every possible personal care item that one may need for a five day trip. This time I am bringing my own pillow and sheet. The sheet is because it seems that people in every country outside of the US do not use top sheets. And the places I stay in do not wash the top sheet cum blanket between guests. Yuck! If that isn’t enough to stave off sleep, there is always the 15 year old, rock hard pillow.

Yesterday I ran into town to buy a small backpack, film, and a few other things. I got a pack that I had assumed was a North Face forgery because it only cost $10. But when I got it home I looked at it more carefully. I think it is the real deal. I am not quite sure how that is possible. It is an uninteresting grey, but that was my color choice and I was in a hurry to get out of the center of the city.

Tet is less than a week away and everything is pretty crazy. Lots of shopping going on and lots of people everywhere. One of the major streets is blocked off and they are turning it into some sort of pedestrian garden, complete with little ponds. I only saw the beginnings but hope to see it next weekend. There is also something going on just around the corner from my house. I am not sure what it is, but it looks like vender stands have been erected on both sides of a side street next to my building, extending at least a kilometer. I thought it wouldn’t be ready until next week, but I just looked out my window, and they have turned the street out back into a motorbike parking lot. I suppose I should go out and see what is going on. Guess not. I looked outside again, and now about 100 motorbikes are lined up and revving their engines, waiting to pay the parking fee and get back on the road.

Just think, this time tomorrow I will be communing with the spirits of Angkor!