20.06.2009 - 25.06.2009 41 °C
Our time in Cambodia was good, it went quickly but we were only here for 5 days (not why it was good). Upon entering the boarder from Moc Bai to Bavet our first impressions of Cambodia were good. It seemed a much cleaner country, relaxed and the people just happy to be alive. Not surprising after learning a bit about what they and their families have been through with dictatorship and war. Heading to the Capital, Phnom Pehn and arriving late in the day we hopped off the bus and walked through the city to our lodgings for the night. The City felt safe and the welcome looks from the Khmer’s gave us a sense that we were going to enjoy our time here.
Dumping our luggage and going straight back out to search for something to eat. We didn’t get too far before we saw a corner thriving with locals all eating what looked to be good food. Going upstairs was a bit of a challenge as you kept hitting your head on the ceiling – a building built for short people. Something else we have noticed since being in South Asia we have good views everywhere we go as everyone else is shorter! Sean said you’d fit in well here Marcus! This place was a blast, the locals making us feel very welcome and many chatting to us intrigued where we was from and why we chose to go to Cambodia. Enchanting people and good natured.
We had a couple of days in and around Phnom Pehn, a buzzing city nice to walk around at your own pace whilst taking in everything. We explored Wat Phnom, a hill Temple where Khmers flock to it each day to pray for their fortune. There is a lot of poverty here around here with the homeless and needy at every entrance, something that was common throughout Cambodia. A total contrast to the inside of the temples where the shrines are decorated head to in gold and glimmering gewls, and the offering pot is full to the brim with money from people that have prayed, and the strong smell of incense that is lit with every prayer. Sam Bo the beautiful popular elephant was plodding around at its base, whilst crazy food pinching monkeys run riot higher up the hill. The Royal Palace pristine and glimmering. The Russian Market sold everything and everything. Tonle Sap River dirty, but an essential part of daily life here. Locals spend hours fishing, washing clothes and bathing/playing in here. The streets full of Khmers making the most of what they have, fantastic to hear a group burst into laughter as you walk past – this was so much fun and would always make you smile rather that become paranoid as you knew this was just their way.
The killing fields of Choeung Ek could only make you feel for what these people went through just 30 years ago. We took a tuk tuk 14km from the city to see a horrifying 8000 skulls from the victims of the Khmer Rouge. Along with the mass graves of the tortured and slaughtered there was almost a devastating 17’000 poor souls die here. Toul Sleng Museum originally a High School that was taken over and made into the S-21 prison by the Pol Pot force. The classrooms were made into torture chambers where unimaginable interrogation procedures took place. The long corridor of prisoners photographs each having their own expression of hate, fear, or sadness. You could only feel an immense sadness yourself for the victims and a hate towards the dictators of these acts.
Heading out of the Capital we made our way to Siem Reap – appropriately named after the battle between the Siamese and Khmers meaning ‘Siamese Defeated’. The area known for the Temples of Angkor. We spent the next 3 days here exploring the many different Temples and ruins by tuk tuk – Sean at 1 point being the crazy driver of the tuk tuk!
A beautiful area with amazing architecture, that is awe-inspiring and has to be seen to be believed. Angkor Wat simply blows you away - the beauty enhanced by the pristine reflection in the lake. I think it also has the biggest volume of street sellers! The Bayon was a temple designed around 54 towers each housing 4 large faces of smiling Buddha. 216 kind faces looking at you from every direction.
Our favorite temple was the enchanting Ta Promh. Its walls stretching 700m x 1km, we walked through the welcome shade of the huge trees scattered throughout. The ruined Temple was still possible to walk through the majority of it if you can find you way. We spent many hours here exploring and admiring how the gigantic sculptural, shimmering trees have the temple under its clasp with their roots. Beautiful. We explored many temples, too many to mention! The carvings incredible and some very intricate. The heat and dust making every day exhausting.
On our last day in Cambodia we received sad news from home. Poor Nan had been found unconscious and had been rushed into hospital. At this point they were still trying to find out the cause, with Nan's relentless strength, she had re-gained consciousness and was asking for a cuppa! Good on ya Nan. Our love goes out to you and we're thinking of you heaps Xx