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Cycled 400km- Cambodia and Angkor Wat

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Payge McMahon during the G2G Ultra


We arrived in Cambodia 2 days ago after crossing into the border town of Poipet.  A dusty, poor city with dirt roads and casinos (lots of Thai gamblers…it illegal in their country).  It has improved quite a bit since the days of Pol Pot’s regime.  It was an area booby trapped with land mines.  We have been advised to stick with main roads and trails while in Cambodia as there are still many undetected (Note to self…no wondering off)

We are staying in a nice hotel in the bustling town of Siem Rep.  A tourist mecca to the great Angkor Wat.  Over the past 2 days we cycled all over the vast, park-like area of Angkor.  We spent time wondering around the Hindu and Buddhist, sandstone built temples of Banteay Srei, Angkor Thom, including the Terrace of the Leper Kings and even the one made famous in the movie ‘Tomb Raider’, the jungle covered Ta Prohm, also known widely by the Cambodians as ‘Angelina Jolie’s temple’.  It was very cool as these enormous trees and roots have intertwined with the ancient temple.  You almost felt like you walked into a Universal Studio’s movie the layout had such a presence.

Known as the worlds largest religious structure, Angkor Wat was equally impressive.  Its HUGE!  The 2.2 squared miles shaped complex is surrounded by an enormous moat.   The lawns are green with many trees boarding the massive, decorative carved temple and surrounding Khmer buildings.  It everything you would expect when looking at pictures of it in books.  The name itself is a combination of the Sanskrit and Khmer languages and means ‘the temple city’.

We are taking the next 2 days off from cycling and I am quite psyched about it.  Don’t get me wrong…I love the exercise, but I took a bit of a spill in a Thai village negotiating the dirt roads and pot holes a few days ago.  I am now the owner of some sweet, sporty battle wounds up and down the right side of my body.  The abrasions on my shoulder and elbow are my favorite.  One of the British girls suggested I tell people I was attacked by a tiger as it sounds way cooler. No worries, I’ve always been accident prone…so why stop now?

We leave Siem Rep tomorrow and are driving 6 hours to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.  I hear we are stopping at a town on the way called Skuon to try one of their local delicacies, fried spider.  Ewwwww!  I have a better chance of eating it if they dip it in chocolate!

Cycled 170km in past 2 days & now in Sakaeo, Thailand

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Cycled 170km in past 2 days & now in Sakaeo, Thailand (Wednesday- July 16, 2008)
Well I’m in Thailand and loving it!  The people are so nice and the European group I met in Bangkok to cycle to Vietnam with are great.  Out of 12 people, I am the only American (8 are from the U.K., 2 from Holland and 1 from Denmark).Сделать своими руками дачный патио

Between yesterday and today we cycled 170km over cement and dirt roads, through the countryside passing many rice paddies, tapioca fields, rubber trees, cows, water buffalo and friendly Thai children waving as we rode through their villages.  Its HOT and very humid, around 95 degree.  Its a great, sweaty workout going over some of the hills.  Aside from my bum being totally sore and mostly numb from the bicycle seats, I am hopeful my legs will look amazing by the time I get back to the USA in September

My favorite place so far has been in Gaeng Hin Poeng where we stayed in these rustic bungalows (Wangtaptap Resort) on a hill overlooking the river in the jungle.  After a long day of cycling, we were all jumping into it to cool off.  There was a zip line running above the river and a single, cable footing bridge which I crossed just to see if I could.  I think my balance is improving!  After dinner in the common pavilion that night, they had an old karaoke machine which we all laughably enjoyed.  The best singer was our Thai support driver, Watson, who did a great rendition of Elivs songs.

The food has been very healthy and yummy.  Lots of cooked veggies, chicken, fish, noodles, rice and fruit for desert.

Today we cycle another 90km and will be stopping at a market and waterfall park.  We will end up just 10km short of the Cambodian boarder where we will cross into tomorrow morning.

I’m off to Southeast Asia!

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I’m leaving tomorrow morning for Bangkok, Thailand. It will take me almost 21 hours flying, not counting a 5 hour lay-over in Tokyo. Can’t wait! I’m flying solo on this trip and meeting up with a cycling group from England on July 13 in Bangkok. We start from there, biking through Thailand and Cambodia and into Vietnam.

Some people ask me, “why would you want to do something like that?” There are several reasons; 1.) I’ve never been to Asia and I prefer being active and out in the country, meeting the people of the land…versus in a major city. 2.) Cycling is my weakest sport and I’m stubborn in mastering it. 3.) My 3 step-sisters’ mother is from Vietnam. They have been my sisters since I was 6 years old and I think it would be interesting learning more about that side of the family. 4.) I’ve always wanted to visit Angkor Wat, the great temple city in Cambodia. There are just so many other reasons for getting out of our comfort zone, to learn and experience life outside our privileged world.

Wish me luck amigos!

24 Hours in Ethiopia- If you blink, you’ll sleep.

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My Bunk on Sleeper Train

Jambo! (Swahili for “Hello”)

Well…we are in Tanzania and getting ready to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.  We leave our quaint lodge in Arusha tomorrow morning at 8:30am and take a 45 minute ride to the Machme route starting point.  This climb should take 6-7 days.  If you don’t hear from me by next Sunday…those with my emergency contact info…please try to find me!

So Ethiopia was a quick, 1 night stay.  Due to jet lag we slept part of the day.  Tried sleeping the 6 hour flight on Ethiopian Airlines from Rome but it was PACKED and the seats left little room for movement.  We did manage to get a massage for 120 Birr (= $15) and laid out by the pool and natural hot springs at our hotel.  We went to dinner and had traditional Ethiopian food which is…I would say similar to Indian/Middle Eastern.  Upon our review of the local alcoholic beverages, we found red wine to be quite bitter and white, very sweet.  The local beer, St. George, was flat and bitter with a delightful after taste…In case anyone cared to know.

This was the first time I have been to a country where 50% of the population is Muslim.  It was common to see many women covering their hair and wearing long skirts/ shirts.  About 5% of the women we saw wore the equivalent of a black burka.  It should be interesting when we get to Zanzibar as it is 95% Muslim.  They’ll love my bikinis!

Tanzania is quite beautiful and looks like what you would think Africa would look like.  It has fig and banana trees and quite green in some places.  A majority of the population is Christian with Muslim being the next biggest religion and the remaining 20% is various tribal beliefs.  Many of the Swahili words we recognize from the Lion King and wish we would have rented it before coming.

Wish us luck on getting to the top (19,500 ft.)!

I DID IT!!! I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro!!

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That was THE most physically and mentally challenging thing I have EVER done in my life!!! Ken also made it.. though the guides were placing bets he wasn’t going to make it.  Not many people over the age of 50 attempt it.  He did it..and just days away from his 55th birthday!

The first 3 & 1/2 days I thought were quite easy. We trekked uphill through forest, moorland and lava fields. I enjoyed some of the bouldering and scrambling.  We were usually one of the first people to make it to camp each day.  That all changed when the last part of the 4th day hit and we were climbing into 15,000 feet altitudes at 45 degree or steeper angles with 18 lbs day packs.

The climate went from me wearing shorts and a yoga top to long, hiking pants, multiple layers on top, a fleece sweater and a hat.  I didn’t want to wear my winter coat until summit day.  The temperature went down to the 30’s at night.  We slept in a little gray tent and stayed warm inside our sleeping bags.

On Day 5 (Absolute HARDEST), Wednesday, we woke up a little after midnight and dressed in thermal leggings and tops, multiple layers of long sleeve shirts and our $20 Walmart sale, triple layer winter coats. We got our gear ready and left by 12:50am.  It was snowing like crazy and windy.  Very cold.  My water line in my day pack’s hydration tube froze!! My new watch stopped registering the temperature half way up.  Last reading was 20F degrees.  It was a slow climb with very carefully placed, small steps to navigate around the narrow ledges and slippery snow covered rocks.  It was pitch black, not many stars and we could only see 5 feet in front of us from the illumination of our headlamps.  You didn’t want to look up to see how far ahead the other climbers were as it just reminded you of how much further you had to go.  Instead I focused looking only at my guides feet shuttle up the mountain.

It was VERY hard to breath.  My heart rate is normally 58-60 beats a minute at sea level.  It went to 85 beats resting at 15,000 feet.  When we started climbing the final 4,000 feet, it was at a constant 150 beats +.  It took 5 hours and 40 minutes to climb the final 4+ miles and 4,000 feet to the Uhuru Peak, of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain peak on the continent of Africa.  We made it in time for the sunrise and it was beautiful!!!!  God we were exhausted and cold.  Happy we made it.  We took some pictures at the Uhuru Peak sign and lets just say, part of my mom will forever remain on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro…in addition to inside one of the 7 Wonders of the World in Rome (some of you will know what I am talking about)…Anyway, we only stayed for 10 minutes at the top as we were physically exhausted and it was going to take another 2+ hours to get down the steep, 4 miles we just climbed…then we had another 8 miles to descend later that day to another camp.  Long day!

Anyway, we finished yesterday and received our Gold Certificates for climbing. Apparently 1/3 of the climbers who were to summit that day didn’t make it to the top.  Three even had to be taken down on stretchers.  Can’t imagine how the porters managed that feat.

We got back to Arusha late in the afternoon yesterday. I wanted to email last night, but a storm came through and knocked out the Internet.

We are heading off to our trekking safari and will be out of reach until 2/23.  I appreciate all the e-mails everyone is sending and wish I could reply to everyone.  Internet is very slow and spotty.

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