Sunday, 25-01-2015. Day 158.
A Nature Walk with Bees Unlimited
Dani from Bees Unlimited contacted us with a proposition. He didn't have a tour on Sunday, and he was planning on taking a nature hike with his daughter. She was interested in hanging out with our daughters, so he invited us along on what would be one of his Angkor Nature Tours to see some of the flora and fauna that could be found in the Cambodian forest. All we had to do was pick up the tab for the tuk tuk. We didn't have any plans for the day, so it sounded like a good deal to us, and the deal was struck.
First STOP ... Revisiting the Market
Dani wanted to take us back to the Cambodian Market we'd visited on our first full day in Siem Reap. We were looking forward to having another plate of deep-fried glutinous rice and eggs with bean sprouts, but the vendor wasn't there. But we did get to have another helping of silken ginger tofu and a few other fresh market foods, like some deep-fried breads and some baby watermelons.
Well, weird is relative, isn't it? But two of the stranger things that were for sale at the market that we'd missed the first time around were ants—not deep-fried or chocolate-covered, but just ants and ant eggs in a big bucket—and duck embryos—partially developed ducklings still inside the egg. We didn't partake in either.
Sen dropped us off at the eastern gate of Angkor Wat. But instead of entering the temple grounds, we walked down a trail that ran between the Angkor Wat moat on our left and the Siem Reap river on our right.
Right away we were immersed in a side of Angkor that a lot of people don't take the time to see. We saw a lot of cool insects and spiders.
One of the coolest things was all the tubes built by stingless bees that they used to get access their hives. Nearly every tree along the path had at least one of these tubes.
Dani brought along a butterfly net, and the girls had a good, if somewhat frustrating, time trying to catch butterflies (they each ended up catching one).
Dani knew a few locations to find tarantula dens. One in particular was not happy we were poking around its front door.
There were a lot of spiders. We spent a good amount of time trying to avoid the webs that were built across the trail (with marginal success). Dani said that, while there were a lot of webs, there were a lot more during the rainy season. We were currently in the dry season, though, and I can't imagine how many we would have walked through if it had been the rainy season.
One of the coolest things we saw was a nest of daddy longlegs on a tree. There had to be thousands of them, and they made a continuous rustling sound as they crawled over one another and the dried leaves and bark of the tree.
Dani also spotted a walking stick insect on a leaf. I would have totally missed this one.
Eventually, we came out of the forest at the Gate of the Dead, which is also known as the East Gate. It's nearly inaccessible by tuk tuk, so tourists don't get there very often. The Victory Gate is a short walk, maybe a kilometer, to the north, and that's where we met up with Sen.
We got back into the tuk tuk and sped off to have some lunch, and then left Angkor for the last time (I know I said that last time, but this time it was really the last time—at least on this trip).
On the way out of Angkor, there are always a number of monkeys hanging out alongside the road. We'd told Dani about our experience in the Monkey Forest in Bali (it wasn't good, in case you missed it), and he was determined to show us that monkeys weren't that bad. And while we remain unconvinced, we had to admit that this little guy that climbed into the tuk tuk with us was pretty mellow.
- Daddy longlegs seen: thousands
- Monkeys seen: 13
- Spiders seen: 17
- Butterflies caught (and released): 2