Updates from South East Asia!
Well, our five days in Cambodia has officially come to a close, We're getting a taxi tomorrow morning at 7am (providing we can find one) to the Poipet border with Thailand and heading back to Bangkok via train. Here's hoping that the road will be smoother in a taxi and take less than 8 hours... Cambodia has been amazing. It's absolutely beautiful here and the temples are completely stunning. The people are lovely and can't do enough for you and love to sit and chat to you to try to improve their English. We got ambushed today at a temple by a hoard of 10-13 year old students (couldn't believe it when they told me their ages, honestly they all looked younger than 7) who decided we were the perfect opportunity to practise English conversation, their 19 year old teacher standing beside them prompting them when they got stuck and translating anything they didn't understand. It was certainly an eye-opener. They couldn't believe neither Dave nor I were married by 20 (most people marry here around 17) and said I should have at least 2 children by now. I spluttered in protest that I was not old enough to be married with kids but they insisted I was. Cheers guys. The teacher told me we were very lucky to be able to travel and that he knew he would never leave Cambodia. As soon as he finishes his own schooling next year he says he'll get a job driving a tuktuk in Siem Reap to contribute money to his family and live here always as he will never have the money to travel. Felt hugely guilty for being born British and sad that he's so necessarily resigned to a future that doesn't inspire him. We had the perfect last day today as the weather was gorgeous, the temples even more so and as the temples were so far out from Siem Reap, we spent a good portion of the day riding around in the tuktuk with a refreshing breeze, people-watching to our heart's content. Cambodia has some of the best people-watching I've ever experienced as everything here is so incredibly different to England. Literally every two minutes you see something that fascinates, shocks or inspires you. We saw kids riding water buffaloes in the paddy fields, balancing huge bundles of wood on their heads and newborns asleep on motorbikes, slung over the rider's arm. We saw limb-less landmine victims and blind musicians playing a bizaare assortment of instruments. We saw lizards and monkeys, butterflies the size of our hands and buildings held up with spindly wooden scaffolding. All in a day's travel. Siem Reap is a bustling boom town since the resurgent popularity of Angkhorian tourism. It's definately a good place to visit full of interesting colonial architecture and jarring art deco hotels and museums. I'd love to come back to Cambodia, we're sad to leave it in fact, but to see the beauty, you have to be prepared to see the poverty here. As I write there are children standing at the internet cafe windows, looking imploringly in, holding out filthy hands hoping for some money or food. Last night when I left to go home a little girl clamped her hands around my arm as I walked and pleaded for 1000 riel (6p) to buy some food. How can you refuse? Eventually though you have to walk away-you cannot feed Siem Reap singlehandedly. It's easy to get annoyed at their persistence-and they are persistent- but then you remember that it's only their desperation that prevents them from accepting a "No" - how happy would you be to let your only chance of eating that day walk away with pockets bulging with money they don't really need? We fly to Sri Lanka on wednesday. Apparently some of the fighting has stopped now so it's looking less and less likely that we'll be blown to smithereens, which can only be a good thing. Hope to see you all really soon-well, no actually, that is a complete lie, I would much rather stay here than go back to England but it will be lovely to see you nonetheless! Loadsa love Jx