April 13, 2014

The Borann L'Auberge Des Temples Hotel

The Borann L'Auberge Des Temples Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Located only about 10 minutes' walk from other major hotels, this nicely spare hotel is popular among European travelers.

Breakfast is included. The pineapple juice has a strong, pulpy texture, as if the outer core has been blended as well.

Jams, butter, and salt and pepper.

Poolside tables.

The anti-mosquito spray was slightly unsettling to watch -- and smell, as it seeped inside our rooms.

Found a small frog in the courtyard.

The bathroom, which has a sink in one corner and a toilet to the left. It took me a day to figure out how to make hot water come out, but I quite appreciated how spacious the room was. The body soap and shampoo are locally produced, and very good.

The big vase was filled with water to pour over your head when you shower. I don't know if this gecko was startled and fell in, but it rather valiantly swam with its head above water for a good five minutes before I fished it out. Every now and then, it would try and scramble out, giving the surreal impression that it could walk on water.

Creatures on the Island

The great thing about Apulit Island was that it was a more than comfortable resort, but also has retained a lot of its natural ecosystem. Therefore, we were able to see so many plants, animals, and fish that we'd never seen before in our lives. (As comfortable as Tokyo is, it certainly does not have enough nature.)

The first time I saw a monitor lizard, I had to laugh, because it was almost terrifyingly large. After that initial encounter, I saw them all over the place, but it was impossible to be frightened because they are so noisy. There's never a chance of being caught off guard.

Paw prints in cement.

Fly? Moth?

The geometric print would make a great skirt.

These birds seem to make their nests under the cottages and on the thatched roofs. Luckily these roofs were new, due to the recent hurricane.

A sandpiper.

A kingfisher, which we were lucky enough to see on our very last morning. I caught flashes of electric blue and orange as it flew above us.

Flower-spotting on Apulit Island

The nature guide showed us how to suck the nectar out of the stems of this flower.

The flowers also showed up at a dinner on the beach one night.

Everything was transported onto the sand for a night.

A hardy plant perfectly able to survive in sand. I think this flower is also commonly found in Japan.

A lily in a tree.

I can't remember the name of this flower, but the name "half" is in there, a reference to its shape.

The Trees of Apulit Island

The most magnificent tree at the foot of the beach.

A parasite plant had covered the original tree completely.

Something that I found hard to believe: this tall tree is part of the orchid family!

The proof is in the little flowers that have scattered all over the ground.

A close-up of the overlapping leaves.

A member of the staff had climbed up a coconut tree to cut down a bushel.

Fresh coconut juice for dinner!

A nut tree with pretty casing.


Nature Hike on Apulit Island

Another activity on Apulit Island: a quite strenuous nature hike, very at odds with the placid beach shore. Amusingly, our laid-back guide was so used to it, he padded along on flip-flops while I was huffing and puffing in sneakers.

For me, the best part of the hike was encountering new plants and creatures.

A lizard, quite different from all the geckos that patter around the cottages.

This ladder was not part of the hike. The island was Japan-owned until around 6 years ago, and during the two years that the island was closed due to repairs, locals from neighboring islands created this man-made ladder so they could climb up to the top of the mountain to catch the ever-profitable swallow's nests made from their spit.

Leaves stuck in a spider's web.

A tree that looks like it's covered with barnacles. Apparently it is so rare that it doesn't even have a scientific name, just something in the local language.

Bamboo trees growing in sideways. In Japan, I think they only grow vertically.

Another flimsily-constructed ladder, this time made for the nature hike. Check the guide's flip-flops!

We saw lots of these large red beetles.

Bamboo like barbed wire.