-- purple haze - cambodia day 1 ...
Trip Start Dec 07, 1999
8Trip End Jan 07, 2000
** I included alot of pics but they are low resolution, the high res pics will come later when I get back.
Add a little Jimi Hendrix and the thud of a chopper and you have a Vietnam war flic. Flying into Cambodia, looking out the window, the rice fields and cattle are reminiscent of Platoon or Full metal jacket. Cambodia here I come...
The plane screeeeches down...
I exchange a quick worried glance with a few other passengers, is this normal? Not sure we all look a little worried, including the flight attendant...
The momentum of the plane halts and we all breath a nice long sigh of relief... we survived the flight :)
I landed in the town of Siem Rep, a town which exists more or less for its neighbouring temples in Angkor. The airport is tiny, you land on the tarmac and walk out to a tiny little building to get your luggage and pay for your visa. I haven't seen my luggage since Ottawa... I am a little worried that it didn't make it... sure enough, there it is being hauled out of a the tiny plane we fell out of the sky in.
I play it cool and strut over to pick up my slighten beaten ruck sack
Hordes of Hotel Touts await us, as they pull and prod one of the tourists ahead we make arrangements for a ride to our hotel. A Guest house which was recommended to us, the Eclipse.
I say "us" because the on the flight in, Nicky, a hardened traveller who sat next to me in the Bangkok airport, has tagged along to ease the pressure of travelling solo. She has been to Asia and has a huge amount of helpful info to help me out of trouble, Thank God :) she saved my Jet Lagged butt countless times already...
The guest house is great, 10$ US for a room with Air Con, a fan, 2 beds and a bath room. can't ask for more.
The sign in my room reads the rules of the guests... Rule Number 8 reads:
"Leave explosive at front"
We head out to check the city of Siem Rep out
"Cambodia watch your step"
You do see many one legged amputees. 1 in 254 Cambodian are mine victims. The Khmer Rouge planted mines all over the country side to demoralize the people in an effort to bring the government down. The result is that Cambodia is that most mined country in the world. We stay on the beaten path ...
What you don't see here is a certain age group. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge killed most of the middle aged, educated men and it shows in the fact that you can't see anyone from that age group on the streets.
"Jet Lag... time to sleep"
With only a few hours of sleep ( 3 to be exact ) under my belt after 48 hours I start to see stars, I feel very faint
But, I lay there, terribly Jet Lagged starring at the ceiling... I managed to squeeze in 5 hours of sleep. Awoken from my peaceful slumber by a Cockroach crawling on my forehead. Needless to say I didn't sleep from 2am on.
I have to say that the best thing I like about Cambodia, Siem Rep specifically, is that there are very... very... little tourists here. Walking down the street is an experience in itself. Cambodia is a Third World country, and it shows.
The US dollar is gold here, although the Cambodian Riel is the official currency I only get 20$ US exchanged into Riel for my entire stay. The Riel I do get is falling apart. The Riel is very dirty, I swear there was blood on some of my bills. I'll stick to the US currency, thanks.
"Angkor - An Authentic Cambodia Experience"
We arrive by motor bike at Angkor Thom at 6am
The temples here are just now being turned into a tourist attraction. With the violent past Cambodia has had, the tourism which Angkor can bring is just what they need. But much work is needed. I think that if I were to come back in 2 years the experience would have been much different. It was so authentic and real, no tourist signs and warnings, ... this comes with some danger. The temples are falling apart and you can see that rocks and boulder fall daily here, just watch your step in the temples and heads up! But that's what makes it special and very real...
Angkor Wat, the temple everyone hears about was a little disappointing to me. It is marvellous but the bayon (Angkor Thom) was something that is hard to beat. The one thing I enjoyed at Angkor Wat was that we sat there for 4 hours. 2 Monks and a security guard gathered next to us and we talk for hours about what it was like living in Cambodia
Sun burned, tired, jet lagged and hungry, I trotted for the food stalls where my state of health made it hard to negotiate the price of a Coke. For some reason I was bargaining in the wrong direction, I found myself increasing the price I was trying to pay! Nicky bailed me out here and I wolfed down my Mr. Noodles to gained back my sanity, slightly...
"Parlez vous Francais?"
Cambodia was a french colony before King Sihanouk had that changed in the mid 20th century. The result is many english and french speaking Cambodia, thank god for that!
"Day 2 - Cough Cough..."
Good news, my cold is gone
Off to the temples... Ta Prohm is something else... The trees here have taken over the temples. Although most of the temples in Angkor were once overrun by the jungle, the archeologists have restored most temples and have removed the trees. This temple was preserved but many trees were left just as they were found. The feeling which result is as if you are stumbling onto an archeological find!
Its wonderful how the trees embrace the temples, supporting the rock. The trees are really holding up the rocks now, take the trees out, and you are left with a pile of rocks on the floor... Reminds you of how powerful mother nature really is...
We visited a slew of other temples and ended at a mountain top to see the sunset over Angkor Wat
"Last day in Siem Rep"
Lots of sleep ... I feel great! We head off to Banta Srei... what a disappointment! About 1 hour on extremely rough roads and this miniature temple isn't what it's cracked up to be. It's safe to go now but 4 years ago a tourist was shot dead on the way to this temple. Guards were once needed and bribes to be payed to the Khmer rouge were also needed. Thanks to the decline of the Khmer rouge and the death of Pol Pot, this is no longer a problem. I would recommend going though but not for the temple ... for the countryside.
On the way up you pass tons of Cambodians on the countryside. They live in tiny huts and labour in the field. its quite sad and the conditions are very poor, this would explain why 1 out of 5 children in Cambodia die young.
The Cambodians are the friendliest people I have ever seen in all of my travels
"Fruit and Discos"
We bought a slew of weird fruits but the pics didn't quite come out. It's unbelievable the colours and tastes that you can find at the Cambodian fruit market! After chowing down, the guest house owner takes us to a disco...
Ahhh! The power just went out! I have to save and continue later before the UPS (power supplies) die...
Great the Internet router wont work... here I am in Cambodia and I find myself trouble shooting an Internet Link!!!!!!!
I am back..
The disco was pretty funny ... Cambodian music isn't quite my cup of tea but our slightly horny yet funny guide made it worth the while... the hordes of prostitutes blowing kisses my way was good for a laugh though...
That's it for Siem rep... a speed boat to Phnom Pen and here I am. The boat was nice, the morning sun rise at the tiny port is breathtaking. 25$ to Phnom Pen in 4 hours, can't go wrong.
Internet in Siem Rep: Dont waste your time... it's really expensive
Hotel in Phnom Pen: The Eclipse Guest house.
Angkor getting there: 6$ US for a ride there and back daily
Angkor: get the 3 day pass - 40$ US ( 20 $ a day regular)
That's it, gotta run, Nikky took a Valium by mistake instead of a Malaria tablet 2 hours ago, I should go peel her off of the floor :)
I'll try to call everyone when I can... 5$ US a minute in Siem Rep was a little too much for me :)
Lea Sun high... that means goodbye :)