Cambodia - Temples of Angkor

Trip Start Sep 23, 2005
1
6
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Trip End Jul 31, 2006


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Thursday, December 22, 2005

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!

Sue and I will be thinking about all of you over the holiday season and we wish everybody safe travels.

Okay so Cambodia. We didn't really have any expectations about going to Cambodia and we wanted to go visit the Temples of Angkor just outside of Siem Reap. I figured that Cambodia would just be more of the same as compared to Thailand....but I was wrong. When we crossed the border into Cambodia, literally the invisible line dividing the countries, everthing was different. There were no paved roads, dust everywhere, people missing limbs, a six fingered man, children begging for food and complete mayhem! We got onto the bus from PoiPet, Cambodia heading for Siem Reap and the distance is about 158km, but this bus trip took us 6 hours on the dirt 'motorway'. Driving through the country side everything is poverty, there are rice fields as far as you can see in every direction and they have to manually harvest it all by hand. You feel the pain of the adults when you see them but the children are running around, playing, smiling oblivious to it all. It was very humbling to see this and I couldn't help but notice the occasional 'Danger Mines' signs on the highway. There are still landmines scattered throughout the countryside from the wars of the late 70's and that is why you can see the difference in the older and younger generation because the people who lived through it all probably have a whole different outlook on life.

When we arrived into Siem Reap there is all of a sudden electricity, paved roads and luxary hotels. The Temples of Angkor are a major piece of the Cambodian economy, maybe one of the only pieces as Cambodia has no exports. This is a main tourist hub because of the temples and therefore there is some money in this town. We found a cool guesthouse and spent a day or so walking around Siem Reap, just checking it all out. It is interesting to see that there are two types of children around town, the ones who have on school uniforms and are riding there bikes to school and the ones coming up to you at every chance to sell you postcards, cold drinks, bracelets, etc. Not everyone can afford to go to school and therefore take on a completely different life. What blew me away was that these 'street kids' speak amazing english, they ask you where you are from and can tell you the capital city of your country, they can carry on long conversations with you and can completely understand everything. Yet they are filthy and are vending to bring money home to their families. Again all very humbling to see.

Temples of Angkor - So here we are, at some points what seems like the middle of the jungle, climbing and crawling around on these ENORMOUS 1000 year old stone temples, it is just crazy! Some of the temples are so large that it takes hours to see them. There are intricate carvings on what seems like every square inch of the stone depicting wars, animals, people, etc. The symetry of these temples are just incredible, everything is perfectly aligned, I can't believe how precise every column, pillar and tower is with one another. We would be standing there staring at these temples shaking our heads in awe. Some of them have trees growing right out of the stones and their roots are now interwined within the foundation of the temples themselves, sometimes the force of the roots causes the stone to crumble to the ground but others coexist and the natural beauty of it is really somthing to see. (I don't want to bore you all with talk so all I can say was that we were simply blown away.)

After an incredibly long day travelling back to Thailand, in which only one person was sick on the bus, we are now getting ready to head to the islands of south west Thailand (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta, Railey and Phuket). We will be spending the holidays and the next 3 weeks on the beach!!!

Bring on the sunshine - see you all in 2006!

Jason & Sue
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