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Whistle Stop Tour of Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia


After deciding it WAS worth the long travel to make it there (rather than visit somewhere else in Thailand), we had just 2/3 days in Cambodia. Some of the things I noticed about the country:

- how crazily bumpy the road from the Thai border was (because they apparently bribe the council not to change this so that tourists will fly across instead)
- how dusty it is, kinda like India but they actually wear surgeon-type masks here to save their lungs. We actually saw a girl come off her bike (recreated Becky's stunt, not surprising really with all that slidey dust)
- how green the country is - there were really well kept, pretty gardens especially around Siem Reap
- roads are packed with motorcyclists and bicycles...the cars have no chance against them!
- most of all though, I thought the people were very friendly, and although like India they are desperate for your custom, they were very welcoming and humorous in their approach to us.

The day we spent seeing the Angkor temples in Siem Reap was awesome. Didn't actually realise at the time that they are one of the 7 wonders of the world, but I can see why! The architecture was so detailed and the way it appears to be falling apart just makes it really atmospheric. We got up early to see sunrise at the Angkor Wat which is the main, biggest one. Lots of tourists there, just like at the Taj Mahal but was still quite peaceful watching the sun come up. Visited 6 of the many temples. Ta Prohm, where part of Tomb Raider was filmed, was a favorite because it's almost been left to its own devices, with a characteristic life of it's own (the trees sprout out of it all over the place!).

That evening we had some Amok (really nice Cambodian food) then watched some traditional Cambodian Aspera dancing.

From there we went to the capital, Phnom Pehn. Watched the film, The

Killing Fields before heading out the next day. However, this film did not even slightly prepare me for what we learnt and saw there! Firstly we went to Tuol Sleng Museum which was a school that got converted into a prison by the communist group of people called the Kymer Rouge (who took over the government, erased religion, healthcare, money etc). They imprisoned and killed anyone who was "educated", with a total of around 3 million deaths over the period 1975-9. So this museum had horrific photos and our guide didn't hold back on the details..

A natural progression for us tourists from there was to the "Killing Fields" where everyone from the prison was taken to be killed and thrown into mass graves. It really is indescribable. I just found all that had happened there just 30 years ago both inhumane and unbelievable! The 3 of us were very quite the whole day, not really knowing what to say, and it certainly makes you think twice before complaining about anything! Ended the day with a (insignificant) trip to the Royal Palace and a few drinks and a game of pool by the river.

Overall, was really glad we took those days to visit Cambodia and shall be reading Becky's book about the Kymer Rouge when shes finished.

permalink written by  H on December 20, 2007 from Phnom Penh, Cambodia
from the travel blog: H - Seeing the world...
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