Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick Or Treat

Another Halloween has come and past. We split up this year. I took Jacob and a couple of his cub scout friends out, Nalin went with her friend Sydney, while Tim took Aleena and McKayla. Seriously, did I even have to say that Aleena and McKayla were together?

Overall it was fun. The other two boys were definitely not as gung ho about trick or treating as Jacob. One boy was ready to knock off after only an hour, and another maybe thirty minutes after that. Jacob would probably have gone on all night if there was candy to be had and I let him.

Nalin dressed up as a witch, although I never actually saw her in costume. She took her costume to Sydney's and got ready there. Aleena was "Gabriella" of High School musical fame. Jacob had a really cool robot costume that Tim made. He got a lot of compliments on his costume. At the end of the night, one neighbor declared that Jacob had the best costume that he'd seen all night, and dumped three handfuls of candy in Jacob's bag.

I took a few photos but they are more like snapshots. Next year I'm going to set up my lighting and get some nice shots of the kids.




Telling It Like She Sees It

While we were at the "grandmother" and "grandfather" rocks at Koh Sumui, there was a Thai-falang couple with her teenage son. They were up at the grandfather rock for quite a long time. The area up there was small, basically preventing anyone else from going up there. Additionally, it meant that they were in every else's shot, as they were right in front of the grandfather rock.

It wasn't something that I was going to complain about, because I knew I could easily crop them out and I didn't actually care if I went up to the rock itself. Still, I'm not a big fan of people monopolizing a spot, particularly when they are spending a good deal of it reviewing the photos (most likely poorly composed :D) that they just took.

When we were about to head out, the teen boy had come down off the rocks and told Tim that the view up their was great, and that we should go up. Here is the synopsis of the conversation:

Boy: You should go up there, the view is great. You can get lots of great photos.
Tim: Yes, I know, but people stay up there so long and monopolize the spot. That would let other people enjoy it.
Boy: Wait, my mom is up there still.
Tim: Yes, I know. (smiles)
Boy (screaming to mom): They are complaining about you staying up their so long.

I was a little distance away from Tim, and didn't realize the conversation took place until we were back in the car. If the guy had been a complete ass and confronted me about complaining, I would have had no idea what he was talking about.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Illin' In Ko Sumui

After a long days drive  to Koh Sumui, our plan for the first day was to relax at the beach.  The customer service  deficiencies of the previous night not withstanding, the hotel was located right on the beach and boasted both fresh and salt water pools.

In the morning I had a touch of diarrhea, but otherwise felt okay.  By lunchtime, I was not feeling well at all and went back to room.  In ended up spending Monday, Tuesday and most of Wednesday in my room.  I had stomach pains and diarrhea.  The worst part was Monday evening and night.  I was exhausted and sleeping off and on.  When I woke up and looked at my watch, I couldn't quite understand what I saw.  I comprehended that they were numbers, but didn't know what they were for.  I just didn't grasp that they represented time.

Tim and the kids spent one day visiting parts of the island and another on a day boat excursion.  Unfortunately, after our second day there, it started to rain.  My understanding is that we were feeling the effects of the tsunami in Indonesia.

By Wednesday evening, I felt well enough to go to dinner with the family.  We had grilled seafood, that while smelling fantastic, was a little bit disappointing.  The grilled squid was greed good though.

Thursday we visited the beach with the grandfather and grandmother rocks.  The reasons for the name is that there are two rock formations there that resemble human genitals.  When you see the grandfather rock, it definitely looks like a penis.  The legend is about a grandfather and grandmother sailing to look for their grandchild and crashing and dying on the island.    

After lunch we visited the big Buddha temple.  We might have visited some other sites, but the off and on rain made it much less pleasant.

On our final full day, we stayed at the hotel.  There was quite a bit of rain that day, so we didn't get to spend as much time at the beach.

Nothing really exciting happened on our trip back on Saturday.  We did see some wrecked cars on the side of the road.  In at least one of the accidents, it would not be at all surprising to learn that there were fatalities.

This certainly wasn't my favorite vacation. The rain and sickness certainly dampened the fun a bit.  Still,  the family had a good time.



Koh Sumui Trip - Getting There

The kids were off school this week for fall break, so Tim and I decided to take them to the beach. We decided on Koh Sumui largely because we hadn't been there yet, and its a pretty popular tourist destination.

We hit our first snag before we even left. Our original plan was to leave on Saturday the 23rd and return on the 30th. Tim had some urgent business on Saturday, so we pushed the trip back a day.

In order to save a little money, we decided to drive instead of flying. Koh Sumui is an island, so we have about an eight hour drive (with stops), an hour ferry ride, and then a half hour drive to the hotel. The one "X" factor is wait for the ferry. A friend told Tim that on some weekends that the wait can be up to three hours to get on the ferry.

The way down was largely uneventful until we were about an hour from the ferry when suddenly Tim blared the car horn bringing me out of whatever day dream that I was in. For some reason I glanced in the side view mirror and witnessed something that I can still see in my mind. A motorcyclist had lost control of his bike which was lying sideways on the road. The cyclist was suspended in the air over the bike, one arm still on the handle as if he were doing some balancing act. Of course that "act" ended almost instantly and he crash on top of the bike.

I turned and asked Tim what had happened. She said that a motorcyclist was weaving between the two lanes as she was approaching in the fast lane so she honked her horn to warn him. Apparently this startled him and he lost control of his bike and wrecked. I glanced back in the side view mirror and saw the man walking over to the side of the road.

We didn't stop for a few reasons. The cyclist was at least able to walk to the side of the road and by the time we saw what happened, he was quite a bit away. I'm not sure how long it would have taken to find a u-turn to get back to him. We hadn't caused him to crash, as he was driving a bit recklessly and Tim had honked to warn him.

The other less pleasant reason that we didn't stop is that if we did, there is a very good chance that he would have blamed us for the accident and tried to get money out of us. Its a pretty common thing here. When I was rear ended by a motorcyclist, clearly his fault, the driver hinted that I should pay. In that case, it would have been difficult to claim that I had struck him given the damage to my rear bumper. Had we stopped, I have no doubt that he would have claimed that we bumped him or came over into his lane.

We arrived at the ferry at about 4:50 p.m. and purchased a ticket for the 7:00 p.m. ferry. We had considered trying the other ferry about a kilometer down the road, but as the 7:00 p.m. ferry was the last of the day and there were only six spots left, we decided to wait. It turned out to be a good decision because we actually managed to get on the 6:00 p.m. ferry.

After the hour and twenty minute ferry ride, we arrived at the Imperial Sumui Hotel at about 8:00 p.m. We were all tired and ready to hit our rooms and go to sleep. After about ten minutes of Tim talking to the clerk, I suspected that there was an issue. We had picked the Imperial because Tim had bought some vouchers at a travel trade show. The issue since there were five of us, the hotel wanted us to upgrade rooms or book another room. This was going to cost us about $150 extra per night.

Tim said that she had spoken to the sales person who assured her that even though most rooms only allowed four people, that it would not be an issue. Well, it was an issue. About thirty minutes later we were packing up the car and ready to find another hotel when a manager came and asked us to wait. About fifteen minutes later, we agreed to pay a little more for the extra breakfasts and came to an agreement.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cub Scouts

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
Last Saturday the Cub Scouts had an outing where they built the rockets and plane to use for the December outing.

More Vegetarian Photos





Through the Mirror

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
When I was at ISB for Jacob's cub scout meeting on Saturday, I saw a mirror and took the opportunity to shoot myself.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Good Wrench

Good Wrench
Originally uploaded by ebvImages
This was one of my favorite sights at the festival. I was amazed that he was able to get two wrenches that large in his mouth at once.

One of the amazing things is not only do these guys put things through their faces, but they then parade around for several hours. Some of the items, like the wrenches, may not be heavy for a short time, but imagine having to hold them in place for several hours while walking around in the heat.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ladyboys in Phuket

I was just struck by the number of ladyboys that I saw in Phuket. Most of the time its pretty easy to tell. Some are more difficult to discern from women, and there are those few who are just stunning.

You certainly can't miss them if you walk on Bangla Road and go past Soi Crocodile. Before their shows, they gather in the road and solicit customers to take photos for a fee. There may be some other solicitation going on as well. I pay two to take a few photos.



Another spot where there were a lot of ladyboys was on Beach Road. These individuals were not soliciting photos, but definitely massages and more. As I walked by, one quite striking individual propositioned me about a massage. When I politely declined, "she" asked me if I wanted "boom boom" (i.e., sex). Naturally I declined. I'll tell you though, if it were not for where this person was standing and the individuals around "her", I would have been sure it was a woman. I would hardly be shocked if some straight guys took her back to the hotel room only to find an extra "surprise" in that pair of panties.

Of course there were ladyboys at the Simon Caberet. The show was pretty good. The highlight of the show was an old fashion drag queen type. There was no mistaking this ladyboy for a woman. He did two songs, the first, Living in a Barbie World, where he was dressed in a pink outfit with fake breasts that looked the size of the orange construction cones. In the second, the performed I Will Survive. In both acts, he got involved with the audience and was generally hilarious.

It was pretty obvious that most of the Simon Caberet performers were not women. There a couple who looked fairly convincing.

Ladyboy from Simon Caberet

There were also a few ladyboys at the "traditional" massage shops. I became aware of this because there was one particular shop near the hotel. Whenever I walked by, this particular ladyboy would run out and offer her massage services. I must have told her know six times. Of course she asked seven times. Okay, not really. I politely declined each time.

So Many Massage Shops

There are so many massage shops in Patong Beach. I laughed when I saw the sign for this one.

Willy Massage Sign

I did not visit the shop, so I don't know if they will actually massage your willy at Willy Massage, but based on its location, I think it is probably on offer.

Brave Men

On the days I took photos of the parade, I arrived at the shrines at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m.  There were already several dozen people there each day.  Most people wore all white, while those who would undergo the piercings would wear a colorful traditional garb.  It was pretty clear that the participants were getting ready for their ordeal, as they walked around, shaking their heads and often murmuring to themselves.

When it was time to get ready, the man would sit on a plastic chair.  Another man, usually one bearing the scars of having done this in the past, would stand behind him and hold his head with both hands.  Another man had an eighteen inch cone shaped metal rod with a point on one end.  He cleaned the rod with alcohol, then poured some kind of oil on it.  He then pushed the rod through the participant's cheek, creating a hole up to two inches in diameter.  Next he would withdraw the rod, and put in another object, such as a wrench, pistol barrel, knife, saw blade, etc.  Usually they would then do the same thing for the other cheek.

Most of the participants were pretty stoic when it was happening.  One guy left no doubt that it hurt as he yelled out 'uh uh uh" many times.

It was pretty crazy when this happened, as many photographers, both falang and Thai would gather around and try to take photos.  If you weren't at the right place at the right time, it was difficult to get the shot of the piercing happening.  Everyone wanted to get the photograph, and the crowds were sometimes 5 or 6 deep.

I really lucked out one time.  I having limited luck getting a photo of one piercing, when someone came over and placed a plastic chair within arm's length of me and a man in a traditional outfit sat in the chair.  I knew that this was my chance.  I actually stood in between the handles of one of the little platforms that are carried on the shoulder and display idols.  From there, I ended up getting quite a few shots, even some as it actually pierced the cheek.  It was kind of cool.

The wounds certainly did bleed, but there wasn't really a whole lot of blood around.  There were people around who would dab off the blood when it was happening.  As they marched, there were also people with each participant who would dab off the blood.




Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Got back on Wednesday from four days at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival.  Before anyone gets the crazy idea that I am eschewing meat, I didn't go for the food, but rather for the rather unusual ceremonies that are performed there.  Local Tsaoist of Chinese descent gather at the local shrines, pierce themselves with a variety of different objects, and then parade through Phuket Town.

By piercing, I don't mean that they make tiny holes like you might get for an earring.  No, they actually make  holes in their cheeks large enough to fit knives, saw blades, barrels of funs, and even beach umbrella stands.  Its amazing and disturbing all at the same time.

I went two years ago and took photos and decided to return.  Actually, I wanted to go last year, but it fell on the same week as the kids were off school.  While last time I did take photos of the parade, this time I managed to get to the shrine to actually see them do the piercings.  And yes, I have the photos to prove it.  I'll load them up as I process them.

I have a lot more to write about this trip, but wanted to share some photos first.

What I Saw




Thursday, October 7, 2010

Row, Row, Row to School

Originally uploaded by ebvImages
These Cambodian children live on floating houses on Lake Tonle Sap. Instead of biking, walking or riding in a car or bus to school, they instead row themselves.

More Photos From Cambodia

Here are a few more photos from Cambodia.




The current set is here:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fly Butterfly, Fly

When Tim and I were at one of the temples, I saw that a butterfly was on her back.  I walked over to her and gently lifted the butterfly off of her.  I then threw it up in the air, anticipating it fluttering away.  My eyes followed it as it ascended under the power of my toss, and then fall to the earth.  It was dead. 

I know, a very moving and touching story.  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Alleged Russian Arms Dealer One Step Closer to Extradition to US

After an initial setback where the Thai courts refused to dismiss the charges against alleged arms dealer Victor Bout, the courts agreed to dismiss charged against him for lack of evidence.  These charges, brought against Bout at the request of the U.S., were actually holding up his extradition, which was ordered back in August.

When the court dismissed the charges against him, Bout told his attorney to appeal.  Usually defendants don't appeal when charges against them are dropped.  Actually he was probably talking about the overall process, but the idea of a defendant arguing that he should be tried for crimes is pretty amusing.

Extradition is still not guaranteed, as Bout may try some appeal, and the Prime Minister could intervene on his behalf.  I find the later scenario of PM Abhisit coming to Bout's rescue to be extraordinarily unlikely.  While Thailand would like to have better relations with Russia, it would be a slap in the face to the U.S.  Its one thing if the Thai courts had found legal reasons (real or not) to refuse to turn Bout over, its another for a politician to come to his rescue.    Thailand and the U.S. have a very good relationship, and the PM would be foolish to jeopardize that. 

Of course, even if all the legal hurdles are cleared for Bout's to be handed over to U.S. authorities, there is always the chance that he could meet some sort of accident.  He arrived at court wearing a bullet proof vest and surrounded by black clad soldiers wearing body armor and touting machine guns.  


As we were driving around Cambodia, Tim and I saw these scarecrow like figures in front of a lot of the houses.  The guide told us that the people put them up to ward off evil spirits.  There were a lot of different varieties of them, this one was toting a wooden gun to help him.  Of course his sense of fashion leaves a lot to be desired.

href="" title="_MG_7641-Edit by ebvImages, on Flickr"><img src="" width="333" height="500" alt="_MG_7641-Edit" />

Cambodia Photos

Our trip to Siem Reap and the surrounding ruins was not really a photo trip.  Yes, I took my camera and carried my tripod around a lot, but generally I shot hand held.  Nor did I get up at sunrise and sunset to catch the perfect light.

I just wasn't in that driven single mindedness that I was on some trips.  The large part of this is that Tim was there.  Don't get me wrong, she is really supportive of my hobby and sometimes obsession.  Its just that if I am really serious about photography on a trip, then that is pretty much my only concern.  In that case, having someone else around is probably going to just frustrate me and the person.  Maybe if it was someone else who was of the same mindset it would work.

Despite the more casual approach to taking photos, I think that some of them turned out well.  They are probably going to trickle up to Flickr (and then some to this blog), and I have a few to go through, and will be going to Phuket on Saturday.  I don't think I have any shots that I will want to blow up and frame, but I think there are some that are nice.  

I did take a lot of photos of Tim on this trip, and many of them turned out well.  Of course the ones that didn't are completely the fault of the photographer and not my beautiful photogenic wife (hey, she might read this).  



Ladies and Gentlemen

On the last day of our Siem Reap trip, Tim and I did one of the "craft tours".  This is the kind where they show you how things are made, and then lead you to an expensive showroom at the end where you can spend money. Since the driver/guides usually get a kick back on this, I'm not a big fan.  In fact, I hate them, make a point to never buy anything at them.

Tim and I had our own guide there who showed us around to four or five small buildings where they made the art for sale.  They had painters, as well as people working with stone, wood and metal.  As he would take us to each place, he would give a little talk about what they were doing.  But before he did, each time he would start off saying "ladies and gentlemen."  It was really funny, because there were only two of us and he said it every time.

We didn't say anything so as not to cause him to lose face, and because explaining the nuance to him might have been a bit challenging.  Let me be clear that I am not making fun of the guy.  English is not his first language, so I have nothing but admiration.  I often hear English spoken incorrectly, but I am usually able to understand well enough, so it doesn't make a lasting impression.

I remember this because it was funny.  If you just listened to his words, you would think that he was addressing a large group of people, not just Tim and I.  

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lady Cab Driver

Cab drivers here in Thailand are usually men.  There aren't laws against women driving cabs, but nor are there laws that prevent someone from only hiring a man or woman for the job.

Tim and I caught a cab home from the airport last night.  Instead of getting in the normal taxi queue, we just went to the arrivals area to catch a cab that had just dropped off someone.  This saves the 100 baht (~$3) fee that you pay at the queue stand.  The taxis can't linger long at the arrival gate, but you can usually catch one.

The first guy didn't want to take us, so we took another cab that was dropping off a man.  The driver was a woman on the heavy side, with short curly hair and a plaid type jacket.  Tim had noticed that she had hugged her foreign male passenger as he exited the cab and asked in Thai if she had dropped off a friend.

At this point she proceeded to tell her story to Tim in a loud voice.  She would tell this to several other people that she called on the forty minute ride home, each time in a loud voice, and each time just as excitedly as the first time.

The previous passenger was not a friend, but rather a gay man with whom she had just formed an immediate bond and shared a deep and soulful conversation.  The guy had told her about his sexuality because he correctly guessed that she was a "tom" (lesbian).  He was so moved by their conversation that he invited her to London and gave her a $13 tip.  The fare itself was only $6 or $7, and considering that tipping is not part of the culture here, it was extremely generous.

She's telling this story in Thai, but is obviously very excited and loud.  I look at Tim questioningly, and when the cab driver stops talking, Tim starts to tell me part of the story.  She's speaking in a normal voice, but she doesn't get two sentences out when the cab driver just starts talking again; completely oblivious to the fact that Tim was talking.  She did this a few times; ignoring the fact that anyone else was speaking.

After she was done telling Tim the story, she started calling people on the phone repeating at least some of the story.  Whatever her and her new found friend had talked about, it had excited her.

When we come home via the expressway, we always take the back gate.  The cab drivers almost never know that way, and its a bit convoluted to explain to them how to get there.  They always ask left or right, but its actually straight and then turn on this little u-turn road that they can't see.  I always manage, but I need to learn to explain it better.

The one nice thing about having Tim in the cab is that she can explain it in Thai.  This cab driver was either so caught up in her moment or just stupid because she couldn't follow the directions Tim would give (as in turn right here).  It was funny because I actually have an easier time explaining it to other cab drivers with my limited Thai.

Immigration Officer

The immigration official that processed me here yesterday was not very friendly.  My current visa was put in at he end of my passport (skipping the 20 pages that I had added at he Embassy prior to receiving it), so he couldn't find it.  Usually I put my arrival card on that page, but either I forgot or he pulled it out without looking. 

He pointed the previous one and said "this was canceled."  I politely offered to to show him where it was in the book and he just glared at me.  Eventually he found it, as he paged through my entire passport.  The funny part was that when I arrived, there was no line, and Tim challenged that she would still get done before me.  I would have won if it weren't for him not letting me show him. 

Tim said he probably didn't give it to me because he thought it would cause him to lose face as he couldn't find it.  Oh well.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mini Entrepreneurs

Outside all the temples are groups of children selling things from bracelets, kitchen magnets, postcards, and t-shirts.  Generally I say no thanks, but I decided to buy something today.  I told one girl that I didn't like magnets, and without missing a beat, another girl who couldn't have been more than seven years old said "you said you don't like magnets, but I have postcards, buy some postcards."

I had been thinking of buying postcards from someone so I decided to buy from her.  I had been offered ten for $1 about a dozen times already, so I said "10 for a dollar".  She said two dollars.  I laughed and said no, so she sold them for a dollar.  There was another girl selling bracelets, three for a dollar, so I was going to buy some for the girls.  At this point other kids realized that someone was buying something, and it was like blood in the water.  I was surrounded by a dozen or so kids, all yelling out to get my attention.  I bought some bracelets and then headed for the car.  

I understand the strategy of trying to make the sale when you have a "live" customer, but the problem is that it was too much.  I was thinking of buying a t-shirt and maybe even some more bracelets, but there too many kids shoving things towards me.  

It is Your Problem

During our visit to Angkor Wat today, I was pretty irritated.  The problem was in part the guide, and in part a shot that I was trying to take.  I won't go into all the details, but let's just say I wasn't really happy.

When we went to the jungle temple, I just left my camera in the car.  We were walking through the temple, and of course there were a lot of other tourist there.  A lot of people were trying to take shots by this large tree growing through the temple.  There was a young Australian (learned later) guy who was perched in a window frame, waiting to get his photo taken.  People from this tour group from Korea kept walking in front of him to pose for their photo.  Not only do they see him and fail to show him any courtesy, but the one woman taking the photo has no idea of what she is doing.  There are a fair number of people waiting, and she is taking minutes fumbling around with the camera.

I was standing next to the incompetent lady and when she was done I said to her "I hope that photo turns out badly."  She didn't react if she understood.  Immediately after, another Korean couple walks in front of the young man.  He doesn't say anything, but it is clear that he is frustrated and I can understand why.  He is already in position and his girlfriend is ready to take the photo; if people would wait twenty seconds he would be done.  But of course they don't.  They see him, but to paraphrase an old boss of mine, "its not their problem".

Perhaps because of my frustration and perhaps because I've been in similar situations, I decided to make it their problem.  I walked down to the rock where the people were posing, pointed to the guy behind them, and motioned for them to move aside.  The Australian guy started to move away from his window sill, saying "don't worry about it."  I motioned to him and said "no, wait, take your photo."

The Korean couple was looking at me, and I motioned to move aside and said "he was here first".  I spoke in a very polite, but firm voice.  I'm not sure if they understood my words or realized that arguing with me would delay their photo opportunity even longer, but move they did.  Its a good thing that they did, because I was prepared to either stand in their way for a while, or be a part of their photos.

We walked along the trail, and a few minutes later the Australian guy caught up to us.  He shook my hand and thanked me for helping, and expressed his wonder as to why people couldn't take turns.  Our tour guide told us that there is a common perception here that many tourists from Korea are perceived as rude.

After that incident, I really started to feel a lot better.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cambodian Trip - Day One

Today was our first day in Cambodia.  The fun started when we arrived at the Cambodian immigration counter.  I had to pay twenty dollars for a visa, plus a one dollar fee since I didn't have a passport photo.  Tim, as a Thai citizen, wasn't supposed to need a visa.  She wasn't certain, so she asked the bureaucrat working at the counter, who told her that she did.  Later when we met our tour guide and told him the story, he told us that she did not need one.  A bit annoying, but not a huge deal.

This was actually Tim's second fun encounter with an immigration department.  When e were going through Thai immigration, she didn't have her departure card.  She had asked me if she needed one a few minutes earlier, and I told her that I didn't think so.  I was wrong, and she did need one.  She asked the immigration worker for one, and they told her that the airline was to provide them.  Turns out the person checking us out at Bangkok Air forgot to give her the departure card, so she had to make a ten plus minute walk back to get one.  When she returned, somehow she ended up in the line for diplomatic passports.  Initially the person told her that he couldn't help her and that it was his job to only process certain passports.  She asked him if it was his job to make sure that she missed her flight.  He processed her after that.  

Another thing that becomes apparently very quickly here in Cambodia, is that while they have a currency, the riel, that everyone wants dollars.  I converted some dollars into riel at the airport for 4,000 riel per dollar.  At restaurants and stores, the prices are all presented in dollars.  You can ask for the cost in riels, but the conversion rate is much than at the airport.  

We visited a lot of temples today.  Our list today included Preah Ko, Bakong, Lolei, Prasat Kravan, the Srah Srang reservoir, Banteay Kdei, Eastern Mebon and the mountain-temple of Pre Rup.  Its really impressive that some of these temples were built over one thousand years ago, but truthfully, the whole ancient temple thing is just not as interesting as it used to be.  I took a number of photos, but most of the time I didn't bother setting up the tripod.  

One common thing about the temples are the local children trying to sell items.  They are all working from the same playbook.  Usually they are selling something for a dollar.  When you say "no thanks", they will ask you where you are from.  "U.S. I reply"  

"USA, Washington DC" they shout back.  That happened at least four times.  When you say no again, then they try to get you to commit to buying something when you leave.  They are really pretty persistent, but fortunately, I have three children so I am used to people asking me the same question multiple times.  I do actually feel for the kids.  The people here are very poor and they are just trying to get by.  And while the kids are persistent, they were never rude or belligerent.  

My first impressions of Cambodian cuisine are less than stellar.  We ate at the hotel for lunch, where they served a set lunch.  I chose a hamburger while Tim had the thom yom gung.  The burger was okay, but apparently the thom yom gung was not very good at all.  

For dinner, we took the guides recommendation and went to a place where they had a buffet of Khemer food and had a dance performance.  I can sum up the food this way.  It was a buffet, and after my first trip, I had no desire to go back for seconds.  It wasn't like I was unwilling to try anything, nor was I alone in my disappointment in the food.  There were some dishes that I thought I would like, some of them similar to Thai dishes.  They just fell short of tasting good.  A lot of the food was very plain.  Overall not a great dining experience.

I have mixed feelings regarding our tour guide. He is trying to be very helpful and is very knowledgeable about the temples.  He was even carrying my tripod for me for a while.  Maybe he is imparting too much knowledge on us.  Sometimes I just want to enjoy looking and walking around.  The big thing that really bothers me is he is way too involved in trying to help me with photos.  In some of the photos when I use my timer and I am in the photo, he is looking at the view screen and giving me his thoughts on how the photo turned out.  I don't care what he thinks of the composition, lighting, etc.  In his attempts to be helpful, he is telling me where the good photo opportunities are.  The problem is that he just doesn't mention it once, if I don't go over there, he'll mention it again.  Its irritating me to the point that I don't even want to go to the spot even if it means missing a good photo.  I know that he has been in these places many times, and he is often right.  I need to figure out a way to let him know that he is going to end up irritating himself right out of his tip.  Actually, I'd just let Tim take care of the tip, which for him, would be a much worse thing. 

I can't post any photos since I left my card reader and my USB cable at home.  I thought about trying to buy one, but we'll see.  If I start running short on memory on my CF cards, then I might have to break down and buy one.  

Tomorrow morning we are visiting Angkor Wat, the entire reason for the trip, and the only real reason that I want to visit Cambodia.  We'll see how it goes.