26.03.2013 - 06.04.2013 43 °C
Hello family and friends, I hope spring has returned to our corner of the world. We've had a busy couple of weeks in Cambodia. It ended up being almost 24 hours travel time from the 4000 islands too Angkor Wat a.k.a. Siem Reap. We entered our 18th country aboard a mini-van crammed two to a seat for 6 hours. We got ejected from our van at a "restaurant" and told to wait for the bus to come. We had a poke around the small market to the side of the restaurant. They we're serving quail egg fetus and spiders the size of a child's hand, dead and seasoned of course.
After an hour and half a big pink bus finally pulls up. Another 8 hours or so and wa-la it's 4:30 in the morning when we arrive in Siem Reap. Jannelle and I clambered off the bus like zombies moaning and looking for our bags. Bam! We get hammered by the Tuk Tuk mafia. "My friend $10 dollars for ride to town" one man says. "Town very far away" another man chimes. Imagine being awake for only 2 minutes, grabbing your bags then you have to start bartering in the dark. You don't get dropped off anywhere regular on these bus trips. This bus stop was basically a herding pen with gates but no lights. They literally round us up like cows in an auction, you can hear people yelling dollar figures and the hum of negotiating in the black of night. Tuk Tuk's start firing up and revving as the backpackers climb aboard. The three of us decided on the "Bat Mobile" tuk tuk.
Welcome to Cambodia!
Angkor Wat meaning "Temple City" was built in the 12th century and is the largest religious monument in the world. It's was built by the Khmers (Cambodians) and is their greatest symbol appearing on their flag since the 1860's. It's still being used by the Buddhist faith even to this day. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once visited. Angkor Wat is grand and beautiful and old but not that old which is why it doesn't fall into the ancient "Wonders of the World" list. The site of the temple lies about 5 kilometers north of Seim Reap but there are actually many other temples that belong to the Angkor Wat experience. They sell tickets in 3 day or one week packages which should hint at the size of history contained on and around the walls of the temples at various sites. I almost forgot about the "floating village" on Tonle Sap lake.
We found the Cambodian people very friendly and the country seems to be on the move up. They are optimistic and quick to shake your hand. After nearly 2 weeks there we could recommend to put it on the list to visit in SE Asia. The first place we went when we arrived was to the floating village. It consists of hundreds of homes from one room shanty's to run down bungalows. I don't know how to describe this wonder. There was a floating market with floating school and floating crocodile bar, gift shop and restaurant. 1500 people or more call this situation home.
Cambodia is currently in the dry season so the boat we hired had to thread it's way up a very shallow, muddy river. At points it couldn't have been deeper than a foot! It was very busy as well taking tourists back and forth to the lake which the floating villages rest upon. It was a tourist trap but I have never seen anything like it.
Standing with a stunned look at the border crossing
The Bat Mobile
River boat ride!
The Alligator Pen
The Boat Association.
It's hard to put into words just how hot it was. I'm talking 45 degrees at high noon hot. Please keep that in the back of your head while reading this post. The Angkor Wat Experience included many temple's throughout an 8x8 square kilometer area. The first day we went to the smaller one's, they were just as impressive as Angkor in ways. Even the small were large and you could have spent days in each of them. The jungle started to reclaim the temples a couple hundred years ago in fact the whole area was a large old forest. It almost felt like B.C. but flat. Giant trees had been growing on walls and through others in some temple's. The roots would consume brick and stone to prop themselves on. It seemed like magic had planted the trees eons ago like some picture from a story book. We had a bit of a late start the first day and the heat had pretty much done us in after 6 hours of walking. Our plan was to go early enough to catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat the next day. Up and at em by 5:30, coffee at 6:15 in front of the moat and sunrise at 6:30 ish. It was an amazing site to see, I think we snapped about 100 photos in 10 minutes!
Angkor Thom...Look at those faces
Oh there you are...
The magic trees of Elderon...
Cambodia's recent history is well...quite sad. The "Killing Fields" just outside of the capital city, Phnom Penh were depressing at best. Monsters turned the country on its head in a matter of days. Forcing all city-dwellers and anyone with an education into the fields for some character building hard labour. With no training or the skills needed to grow rice the people became victims of a massive famine. Cambodia lost around the same amount of people in a few years that the whole Allies lost in the entire Second World War. The Khmer Rouge committed unspeakable acts in these fields. Many of the guilty were never convicted and the leader of the "Revolution" lived to be 82. I don't feel like saying much more about this topic and I'm not posting many pictures of this trip...
I have this theory that its bad luck to talk about good luck even if you knock on wood. Jannelle was telling a traveling backpacker friend how she hasn't been sick for the whole trip and what do you know? She caught a bug and a bad one. I took the best care of her I could, running her meals during the day plus iced coffee's. We started her on some antibiotics and its seems to be clearing up finally. It was a rough couple of days and reminds you that healthcare isn't perfect at home but at least we have qualified professionals to help cure us. Maybe I worry too much but getting proper medical attention would be challenging here and I'm glad Jannelle didn't need more than pills.
Back on the road and off to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Stay tuned...