Our brief sojourn into Camboia took us firstly across the vietnamese border into the capital, Phnom Penh. Although we made a fairly touristy route through Cambodia, staying in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, you are still starkly aware that you are visiting one of the worlds poorest countries. The capital is particularly affected by famine, disease and poverty and Cambodia, as well as being the poorest country i have ever visited is in a lot of ways also the saddest. Phnom Penh has like many parts of South East Asia a very strong French influence but despite the architecture and charm of the city, there is not a lot in the way of cultural learnings to bring back to england. We failed miserably in our attempts to avoid falling into the trap of spending our days drinking in Western bars with other English people, watching films and playing playstation while in Phnom Penh. But such is the scale of Western cultural dominance in Phnom Penh that it is often very difficult to get much of a flavour of how life is for many Cambodians. Certainly i regret that we did not have enough time to venture further out into central cambodia as chatting to the people, particularly meeting and interracting with many of the children in Cambodia was one of the most rewarding and educative things i have done since being away. Tuk tuk drivers are often happy to show you round and give you loads of information on life in Cambodia and they are far cry from the rude untrustworthy drivers who line the streets of Bangkok. They are friendly, willing to hel pyou and eager to learn about life in england too. Although most children on the streets are only asking for money or food, they are genuinely greatful to get it and it is nothing compared to the enthusiasm they have for playing, dancing, chatting etc.
After only 3 days in Phnom Penh we made our way up to Siem Reap, gateway to the Angkor ruins. I did not like Siem Reap itself at all. It is now so touristy, mainly i think because of its proximity to Angkor, that it has lost so much of its charm apparently. Having not seen it before i dont know, but it was not a particularly nice or charming place. I and im biased, due to having lots of stuff nicked from a bar, only partly due to spending most of the night dancing with a 2 yr old, but we didnt end up spending much time there apart from at Angkor. The Angkor ruins comprise over 100 temples, dating back to the 9th Century, where the mighty Khmer empire was based. I am sure that i overuse the word frequently here but it truly is an awesome sight, royal extravagance on a very grand scale. The most famous buildings are Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom and if you ever get the chance to hang around for sunset, you will not be disappointed. And so that unfortunately was that for Cambodia. Done and dusted in little over a week. Hard to believe that we spent only a day or two longer in Cambodia than in Hong f***ing Kong but there we go. We were in a massive rush to get to Bangkok and meet Mikey and so we made our way by bus, again, to Thailand for the 10th and final country of my trip.