Matt Burke Travel Blog: “I spent the last few days in Siem Reap, the home base for exploring the temples of Angkor Wat.”

Posted by Tara Altman on June 28, 2012 – 4:03 pm

“The first thing that I noticed about Cambodia is the smell. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. There is something always burning here (for cooking and who knows what else) so the air has a pleasant smoky smell to it. It reminds me of people burning leaves in a New England fall. Probably the second thing is how nice the people are here. Everyone was much more friendly and helpful than the start of my trip.

“I spent the last few days in Siem Reap, the home base for exploring the temples of Angkor Wat.  I won’t do justice to what I have seen here, it’s hard to capture in words. The only thing I have come across in my travels that is comparable to the scale and grandeur of it is Machu Picchu in Peru. The massive ruins of temples built 1,000 years ago with intricate stone carvings are something to be witnessed. People will sometimes spend weeks here exploring all the sites. I effectively had only 2 full days, so I had to really work it.

“The first day I hired a remork driver and a guide to hit the main circuit. These include Angkor Thom, highlighted by the central temple called Bayon, which has over 200 giant stone heads carved into its walls and towers. Next up is Ta Prohm, ruins that have been overrun by the jungle, with massive tree roots engulfing some of the buildings. It is referred to as the Tomb Raider temple since some of the movie was filmed there. Finally, you end up at Angkor Wat the name sake of the entire area. It is long and expansive and has five towers stretching into the sky as its trademark. I spent a full day there (about 9-5) in some fairly oppressive heat but it was well worth it.

“The next day I awoke at 4 a.m. to get up and see the legendary sunrise over Angkor Wat. Since it is the start of the rainy season and fairly cloudy in the morning the sunrises have been hit or miss. I was lucky enough to get a decent day, not some of the spectacular reds and pinks and oranges they get sometimes, but a still impressive way to start the day. From there I took a remork again out to some temples about 40 kilometers away. Banteay Srei was a small temple but known for its finely detailed carvings, and also the fact that it was made with pink sandstone giving it a striking color.

“I followed that up with a trip to the River of 1,000 Lingas. After about a mile hike up into the mountains you come to a river and waterfall. The actual stone in the river bed is carved with fascinating designs of Hindu gods and symbolism. They believed the water washed over them and was blessed. I was fortunate that I got such an early start in that I was literally the only person up there except for the park ranger who walked me around and showed me some of the hidden carvings and took some pictures for me. I enjoyed the hiking and being out alone in nature for a bit.

“Again a few paragraphs is not the proper due for this experience. If I can get some of my pictures loaded hopefully that can help! Once again met some great fellow travelers to share some downtime with. I just embarked on a seven-hour bus ride down to Phnom Penh so not feeling great about that!”

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Fairley trying to make amends by attending Rookie Symposium

Posted by ttwentyman on June 28, 2012 – 11:25 am

Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley wasn’t able to attend the NFL’s Rookie Symposium last year because of the lockout.

After two offseason arrests for marijuana possession and DUI, Fairley probably would have benefited from the league’s four-day orientation that advises the NFL newest players on everything from the NFL’s legacy and tradition, character and leadership, player safety and financial planning as well as social and professional responsibility.

In the wake of his offseason run-ins with law enforcement, Fairley placed a special request to the NFL to attend the second half of this week’s symposium for AFC rookies in Cleveland. The NFC rookies, including the Lions’ seven draft picks, completed their session on Wednesday. Fairley was granted special permission by the league to attend as a second-year player and began the symposium on Wednesday.

“Nick knows that his actions will speak louder than his words in accepting responsibility and moving forward,” Lions president Tom Lewand told Thursday. “Asking to attend this year’s symposium is clearly a positive action and a step in the right direction.”

According to reports, Fairley’s attorney electronically filed an appearance on Fairley’s behalf for an arraignment Thursday morning in Mobile, Ala., on his DUI charge. Fairley plead not guilty with a trial date set for 30-45 days. It’s now clear why Fairley couldn’t attend that arraignment himself.

Fairley is facing a possible suspension by the NFL for his offseason choices. Lions running back Mikel Leshoure was suspended two games by the league and docked two additional game checks for two citations for marijuana possession this offseason.

Attending the symposium is a good move by Fairley, which could be viewed by the league as him taking a proactive approach to his troubles this offseason. Hopefully, Fairley learns something being there, and if his attendance could possibly reduce his potential penalties from the league, it’s a win for the Lions, too.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 13 Comments »