Cambodia – Day 2 – Angkor Wat Sunrise & More Temples

Today I woke up very early at 4:30am for a 5:00am pickup to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. The sunrise wasn’t too spectacular because it was a bit cloudy, but it was still nice to see and get a reflection of Angkor Wat against the water in front of me.

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After watching the sunrise I went and got blessed by a Buddhist Monk, who put a fabric bracelet around my right arm, which symbolizes good like. After being blessed it was time to get some breakfast. I ate a small booth that was setup on the northern perimeter of Angkor Wat; delicious scrambled eggs and some coffee. The mosquitos were brutal here and I didn’t have any anti-malarial pills, but I ended up being okay.

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After breakfast it was time to visit more temples. First stop was Banteay Kdei, also known as the Citadel of Chambers. Banteay Kdei was completed between the 12th and 13th centuries. The complex is in very rough shape due to the poor quality of construction and poor quality of sandstone that was used in the building of the temples.

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Next up was Taprom. Taprom was completed in 1186 AD. When it was found it was found to be in excellent condition due to the trees growing out of the ruins and jungle surroundings protecting it. Taprom was used for the filming of the 2001 Tomb Raider movie. I absolutely enjoyed my time at this temple and liked it even more than Angkor Wat!

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After Taprom we walked through the forest to Ta Nei, a temple dedicated to Buddha, which was built in the late 12th century. It was in fairly rough shape and quite overgrown with trees.

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It was time to get some lunch. We stopped at a place called Ta Keo Khmer Food. I had some local soup and a coke zero. The soup was absolutely delicious. I ended up abandoning the coke zero because a swarm of wasps had surrounded my can.

After having lunch I walked across the road to the Ta Keo Hindu Temple. Built in 1000 AD, Ta Keo Hindu Temple was the first temple to be built entirely of sandstone by the Khmers.

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Next stop was Tonle Om Gate (South Gate), a beautiful gate with a head sculpture sitting inside the sandstone gate structure.

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After passing through the Tonle Om Gate we made a quick stop at the Terrace of the Elephants. The terrace was used by Angkor’s king Jayavarman VII as a platform to view his victorious returning army. The 350 metre long terrace is covered in intricate carvings of elephants on its eastern face.

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Next stop was Baphoun Temple, which was built in the mid-11th century. The temple is three-tiered and also adjoins the southern enclosure of the royal palace that houses a swimming pool. My tour guide told me that when he was a child he would go swimming with his dog inside the pools. The temple was built on land filled with sand, and due to its immense size and site instability it collapsed. By the 20th century much of the temple had collapsed. Restoration was started, but then abandoned in 1970, when civil unrest broke out. Over 300,000 pieces, which were carefully labelled, were abandoned. In 1996 restoration began again under the guidance of French architect Pascal Royere from EFEO. The restoration took 16 years to complete.

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I also noticed some monkey’s playing around on my walk from Baphoun Temple to Bayon Temple. I got some great shots before one of the monkeys started getting aggressive with me and coming after me. The tour guide dropped a water bottle to distract the monkey so we could escape.

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Bayon Temple is an intricately detailed temple built at the end of the 12th century. The Buddhist temple had 49 (now 37) towers with faces on all four sides. This was my favorite temple of the day.

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It was getting late in the afternoon now, so it was time to head back to the hotel. I relaxed for a while by the pool until it was dinner time. I decided to try a vegetarian restaurant called Yuan Sheng Vegetable Restaurant. It was fairly good food, but I don’t think I could be a vegetarian as I like my meat way too much.

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Check back tomorrow when I continue on my Cambodia adventure and explore even more temples! Tomorrow is my last day of my Vietnam / Cambodia adventure. The remainder of this summer will include hikes I have completed, as well as weddings / family portraits I have been hired for.

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Ptarmigan Cirque Hike

Today I just finished a lovely hike with my friend Sara called Ptarmigan Cirque in my beautiful home province of Alberta. Ptarmigan Cirque is a 4.3 kilometer loop in Kananaskis Park that starts just along Highway 40, before traversing up 355 metres of elevation gain through the thick forest before opening up to a beautiful meadow / rocky area between some mountains. This hike is about 8000 feet above sea level, so make sure to pace yourself or you’ll find yourself out of breath.

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Check back tomorrow when I continue on my Vietnam adventure in the beautiful city of Hoi An.

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Jasper National Park

Two weekends ago my girlfriend and I took a little weekend trip to Jasper, Alberta. Jasper is situated in Jasper National Park, which is located in the Canadian Rockies. Jasper was established in 1813 as Jasper House and was a fur trading outpost for the Hudson’s Bay Company on the York Factory Express trade route. Jasper National Park was established in 1907. The town of Jasper saw the arrival of the railway in 1911 with the railway siding being added by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (now CN Rail).

On the drive up we stopped numerous times to take photos along Highway 93 North (Icefield Parkway). We also stopped at Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, and Columbia Icefields.

Our stay in Jasper was fulfilled by Sawridge Inn, which has a day spa, pool, hot tub, and sauna. They went above and beyond to accommodate us and we really appreciated the hospitality.

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Snow Shoeing

I had the opportunity to go snow shoeing last weekend with my father. I hadn’t ever gone snow shoeing before, but the conditions that weekend were perfect. The snow was ~60cm deep on average, the sun was shining, it was a long weekend, there was almost nobody on the trails, and I got to spend the day with my dad.

My dad and I get to travel every year, and we used to go hiking quite a bit, but with my busy schedule we have not really been able to go hiking or explore our own country much in the last few years. This was such a fantastic day. We’re both going to be travelling for the next few weeks but perhaps when we’re both back in the country again we shall go again.

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Larch Valley Hike

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go on a beautiful hike near Moraine Lake with my friend Sara. The hike is called Larch Valley. The drive from Calgary was about 1.75 Hours to the overflow parking lot near lake louse. We had to wait there for about an hour to catch a Government of Canada chartered bus up to Morraine Lake. The hike is about a 2 hour journey to the valley up a bunch of steep switchbacks, but the view is definitely worth it. Going down took a mere 45 minutes. This is one of my favorite hikes that I have ever done.

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August 23rd 2016 – New Zealand Day 3

Today I woke up at about 7:00am. I had a pretty lazy day today but I had some house keeping stuff I had to do. I needed to dump my waste water, and pickup fresh water. I drove to Kaikohe and used a dump station there. It was fairly easy, considering I had never done this before.

I then started to drive towards Omapere where there was a beautiful lookout overlooking the sand dunes that I had read about. I got distracted along the way and saw a sign to Wairere Boulders, which I followed. I’m glad I did! It led me down a gravel road for about 12km until I reached a private property with signs on it. A Swiss gentleman named Felix drove down from his house on his quad and reached the visitor hut that I had parked at. He greeted me and asked me where I was from, and then he told me a bit about the property, the history around the property, and a bit about himself. There was a $15 entry fee, which I didn’t mind paying. This place was rated one of the best 50 locations in New Zealand to visit, and the photo’s he had on display made it seem worth it.

The boulders are reminiscent of volcanic activities from thousands of years ago, and they are very unique because they are very hard basalt rock, but they are eroded. The erosion is due to debris from Kauri leaves, cones and branches, which created a very acidic environment. Felix is a geologist and a civil engineer and he said this is extremely rare.

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The amount of effort he put into building bridges and steps on his property is incredible. He said that it took him nearly 5 years with the help of his wife. You can tell that he over engineered everything because there was absolutely no flex in anything, and the wood was fairly beefy. He even had some drawings left up to show the detail of his work. Very Swiss indeed!

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I then continued on my way to Omapere, where I was absolutely awe struck by the beautiful views that were to be had!

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After Omapere I continued on my way to the Waipoua Forest, where I stopped to see the worlds oldest and tallest Kauri tree, which stands nearly 60 metres tall, and is around 2000 years old!

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My friend Anne, who I met in Australia on my tour contacted me via Facebook and told me that she was in Auckland tomorrow and that we should meet up. I was headed back that way anyways so I said I would drive as close as I could and we could meet up tomorrow. It was time to find a camping spot as it was starting to get a bit dark. I headed to a beautiful campsite overlooking Port Albert around 70km away from Auckland. There was only one other camper in the parking lot besides me; another Britz rental.

I had a shower, made some dinner, and did some photo editing, and wrote my blog, before heading to bed.

Tomorrow I’ll be off to Auckland to meet up with Anne for breakfast!

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June 26th 2016 – Deer Ridge Hike

Today I went on a beautiful medium length hike with my friend Carissa. We started off early morning so that I could get back to my second job for the afternoon. When I picked her up with purchased some Phil & Sabastian’s coffee, which was absolutely delicious, and made the short car ride out to Deer Ridge much more enjoyable. This hike was the first time I’ve really been able to use my new Canon 1DX Camera. We saw some beautiful dogs, some birds, some squirrels, beautiful views, and also got lost for about an hour because we didn’t follow the directions. I absolutely love this camera, and it takes some of the most incredible photo’s ever. I barely have to do any photo editing because what I see is what I get. The colours are so accurate, and the metering is fantastic. Canon really did a great job with this camera.

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