Archive for the 'Cambodia' Category

Published by Linda on 24 Jun 2008

The Road to Bangkok……

…….okay so I’d heard about this journey long before I took it. The road from Siam Reap to Bangkok is meant to be one of the worst journeys in South East Asia. (there will be another getting from Laos to Thailand – an eight hour ride in a power canoe sitting with your knees up to your chest!!!!!) The guide book says that a certain airline is paying the government not to resurface the road so people will choose to fly!!! Anyway our tour leader said the first leg from Siam Reap to the Thai boarder can take anywhere between 3 and 8 hours (she’s done it in both) It was raining the night before so we were prepared for the worst……..honestly, it wasn’t that bad. The road started like this……

……..which was pretty good I thought, and eventually looked more like this……………

In fairness though, it was funny more than anything else. Bit of a rollarcoaster without the g-force. Anyhoo we got to the boarder in about 4 hours – bonus. Took a couple of hours to check out of Cambodia and get into Thailand (we took tuk-tuks between the boarders) The boarder towns are weird, I had been told this but there is a kind of strange atmosphere that I don’t quite know how to describe, loads of hussle and bustle and then at the same time you expect tumble weeds to roll by. Strangeness. We jumped on our bus to Bangkok which took about 6/7 hours. Almost took a hopper in the bus loo at one stage (few bruises but I’ll live) Sounds ridiculous but going to the bathroom is a big deal here, you have to battle between drinking enough so you don’t get dehydrated and not so much that you need to go, because there’s just some places you just don’t wannna!!!! Anyway we got into Bangkok about 7pm so it was only 12 hours (seems long I know but we were braced for 16/17 hours so it seemed like we did well)

I was in Bangkok before so I knew what to expect from it. Took fairly easy because we will be back there again on our way to Koh Samui. Had a good old night out in an Irish bar (where else!!) but I prepared some skittle vodka to drink before we got to the pub. It went down pretty well, although some of my work colleagues seem to be a lot more partial to it :-)

You can also partake in the local drink of choice which is basically any kind of cocktail in a bucket for $6. Dangerous stuff.

Also went to see the The Grand Palace which is home to the Emerald Buddha. I’ve never seen so many grossly overly decorative buildings in such a small space!

So much cash was spent on these buildings, it’s amazing. For instance each of these tiny golden tiles cost $1 and that was way when back when it was built!!

Honestly the buildings are squished in. You can’t take a photo of one without getting at least another in your view!!!! Would be much more impressive if they were separated out a little. The Emerald Buddha is in another temple (where you can’t take pictures) but lads he’s so small, what a disappointment – I was expecting great things and you can barely see him with all the other gold and glittery things in the temple!!!

I think I’ve said before that I’m getting a bit templed out and I am but at the same time I have this weird addiction to see more of them and every time I’m disappointed because they are gaudy monstrosities!! We’re moving on to Laos and then back into Chiang Mai before coming back to Bangkok again.

P.S. I think my attention span is going again, have given up reading – can’t sit still at the moment either, hoping Laos will sort me out.

Published by Linda on 18 Jun 2008

Cambodia – Siam Reap

We arrived in Siam Reap which Suze (our tour leader) says is developing at an almighty rate. There are shops and buildings shooting up everywhere. As with some places in Vietnam, it is nice to visit here before it gets completely overrun. The big cheese here is Angkor Wat, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and it is well worth the visit. Some of us decided, in our wisdom(!), to go there for sunrise so we had a 4.30am start!! It was well worth it though to see this……

My photos don’t really do it justice and also look more like sunset I reckon! We had a good old stroll around Angkor Wat which is just enormous, again you just can’t see it from my photos, it’s amazing that they built it all by hand!!! All the carvings are sooo detailed and it only took 40 years to build. Headed back for a bit of breakfast before heading out again to Angkor City to see some of the other temples.

We were taken to see Ta Prohm Temple which is where Tomb Raider was filmed and it’s pretty cool. There are trees growing up throughout the temple and it makes it pretty spectacular. We hit another few temples throughout the morning, got a chance to get up close with Budda…….

…….before stopping for a well needed lunch break!!!

After lunch we headed back to Angkor Wat with the rest of the group and our guide. By this stage a couple of us (myself and Adrian mainly) were pretty much delirious and all templed out!!! Finished up in the afternoon and we were pretty knackered.

Was really tired and planned to go home after dinner, which included a traditional Khmer dance show……….

……….but it was raining so we hit the bar below the restaurant and the music was good so we made a night of it! The unplanned ones are always great. Made it to the wee small hours and still managed to be up at 9am for some crazy reason.

Totally chillaxed that day as the day after we had to take the infamous bus journey from Siam Reap to Bangkok…….watch this space!!!

Published by Linda on 18 Jun 2008

Cambodia – Phnom Penn

We moved into Cambodia for 5/6 days and first stop was Phnom Penn. Had a heavy night on the tiles here and after drinking the pub dry, we finished up in a nightclub called Heart of Darkness – nice!!!! Still though it was good fun and you only live once!!

Loads to see here including the torture camps and the largest Killing Field (of which there were many) in Cambodia. After that heavy night (suddenly not quite the best of ideas) we headed off early to the Killing Fields and after went to Tuol Sleng, the genocide museum which used to be the Khmer Rouge S-21 Prison. There are four buildings, two of which show photographs of the prisoners who were detained there.You can see how tiny some of the little kids were….

The other two buildings have been kept intact and more or less look like they would have I guess – not as nice though, I’m sure! The tiny cells they were kept in, the two spoons of watery porridge to eat a day and of course the horrendous methods of torture they were put through doesn’t even bear thinking about. The disturbing thing is there are still blood stains on the floor, which have been cleaned somewhat but not entirely, which I guess is fitting because this country will take a long time to recover. This is a pic of a typical cell in the prison…

I suppose the other thing that got to me was the innocent graffitti scribbles on the walls – from when it was a school in a former life.

We also visited the Killing Fields, where those who survived Tuol Sleng were brought to be killed. I had heard a bit about the Killing Fields so I was prepared for that or so I thought. The first feeling was of complete calm and serenity. It’s so peaceful out there and then feels kind of eerie when you know what went on there.

We were shown the mass graves and the trees against which babies and little kids were killed. Dreadful. Dominating the site is a glass tower filled with skulls of all the victims that were killed there – which of course is really disturbing. What got to me though, was the pieces of clothing still on the ground where we were walking.

They have also put cabinets of the victims’ clothing at the Killing Fields site and at Tuol Sleng. The clothes are relatively new looking and could still be worn which should how recent these events were. The people in Cambodia are so kind and gentle but there is a real sadness about them, again I guess it takes a few generations to recover from such events. Don’t really want to put many more of these photos up here but they are on my flicker site if you want to see them. I am reading “When Broken Glass Floats” which was written by someone who survived the Khmer Rouge regime. Very good read – I’m also very excited that my attention span is getting a bit better – haven’t read anything (apart from Potter) in years!!!!

That was a pretty tough morning and various emotions hit me in waves even throughout the days after. After a recovery lunch, we went to see Wat Phnom, a really beautiful Buddhist temple.

I have a few thoughts on the whole Buddhism thing though, I agree mostly with the way they say you should live your life – and I certainly don’t adhere to it properly but hopefully I’m not going to hell just quite yet. What bothers me about the temples is (and bearing in mind I’m seeing quite touristy ones) that they are sooooo ornate, filled with gold, etc, so much so that in Wat Phnom three quarters of the temple is filled with ornaments.

I don’t go to Church regularly but I think a place of worship should be filled with people, rather than objects. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Also there is so much poverty in the places that we’ve seen, and yet the money is used for decorating these temples. Anyhoo that’s a debate that could run and run.

After that I wandered over to the Royal Palace – famous for the Silver Pagoda which is spectacular. The other buildings here are equally as impressive but unfortunately you cannot go into them, which is such a pity.

Myself, Fiona and Amy then went for a massage done by the blind and it was great, totally relaxed and dopey after it. That finished our time in Phnom Penn and we now are moving on to Siem Reap.