I apologise in advance for this mediocre blog. This is my second attempt (not by choice). I had written an amazing blog on Cambodia, full of wit and inspiring description, however whist trying to upload said blog the Internet failed me. So now I am rewriting it, and I feel disheartened and let down by the internet thus it will probable resemble a shopping list than a blog. So good luck.
I left off in Vietnam, during that time I had my own room which was good as i had my own space but I was looking forward to having a rookie through Cambodia. She arrived the night before we left Vietnam. When I say night i got a knock at 2am as her flight had been delayed. It wasnt the best start as she then profused to snore through the little hours wenhadnuntill boarding the bus to Vietnam. Thankfully I can say that she did not snore throughout the whole trip and the traveling must have taking it out of her. Patrice was from canida and has a great room mate as she had a great sense of humour. We were all a little dazed going through Vietnam boarder control which seemed a questionable to say the least, putting 25 dollars and being ushered through, still I have a stamp and a visa in my passport so it seemed ok.
If I was to asked what one thing sums up Vietnam I would say motorcycles and the things they carry, (I saw people carrying massive planks of wood to cages of chickens and 6 dead pigs, more things than Fred could even fit in the boot of the car these guys had the back of their bikes). And Cambodia it would be the roads, they are dirt roads full of pot holes, making one bumpy road to phenom penh, which to the astonishment of my fellow travellers only slightly hindered my capability to sleep on a moving vehicle.
We arrived I phnom penh in the late afternoon. Not long after we were settled in we went on a cyclo tour through the capital city to get our bareings of the place. The sights included a monument, a bridge, a very out of place looking casino complex and a more conventional palace.
The following morning we made our way to Toul Sleng Prison, used during Pol Pots regime in the 70's. It was a shocking place to visit, I knew little of the history of Cambodia and the fact that this had happened in the very recent past was horrifying. The pictures and the information was in to much detail. If that wasn't enough to take it we went it the nearby aptly named 'killing fields'. It was hard to go there, the first thing you can see is a tomb which has been placed in honour of the victims, however it is not a tasteful respectful monument, but a tower of the victims skulls behind glass. I just hope that it is just a cultural difference and not just done as a shock gimmick for tourists. As we were walking around it was sickening to hear what had happened in the not so distant past, such cruelty and slaughter. Bones were sticking out of the ground we were literally walking over mass graves. I am glad I went as I learnt about the countries history, our tour leader and the other Cambodians we spoke to all lost at least one family member I those few years of Pol Pots regime. The worst of it however is that his soldiers are the leaders of the 'democratic' party that govern the county today, those murders of their own people now rule the survivors. The international community is trying to support a trials against some of the key figures in Pol Pots regime, yet it takes millions of dollars which (those I spoke to) is a waste of money to spend on evil people when the country needs money for hospitals and schools etc. Justice maybe in on seance, to satisfy the western world but will it really help the Cambodian people? Rant over.
It was heavy morning, after lunch a few of us went it the palace. Unfortunately the weather was net particularly good, so wondering around the grounds wasn't as pleasant than in Thailand. Otherwise the palace itself was quite similar, simpler and plainer in colour. This is apparently because this palace is left to its original condition, whereas the Thai palace is in a state of constant reprinting and renovation. On the way back from the palace I thought I may wonder into the national museum, to my surprise it was a grand building, deep red in colour, different than any I had seen before. The exhibits were mainly about Angkor Wat temple, which I knew we would be visiting I the coming few days, so was keen to swat up beforehand. In the evening a few of us went to this rather swanky restaurant that Anne-Marie had spotted. The food tasted amazing and the restaurant itself was outdoors with little pools beautifully lit with little Buddha statues amongst the greenery.
We were off early the next morning the long bumpy journey to Siem Reap. At one of the pit stops we took some of the guys in our group tried the local culinary delights of fried spider and ants, being vegetarian I couldn't try them myself. I was very impressed by the children trying to sell us fruit, not just by their English but their selling skills, "hey pretty lady" and "I like your hair/skin" we're a couple of their hooks. We finally arrived in Siem Reap in the evening. It's a bit of a strange town as it only is a town because of the tourist demand for places to eat and sleep when visiting the temple. So it appears to be a main road and loads of hotels. There was a little night market that we checked out that night but it was mainly just selling tourist tat. I went to bed early as we were getting up even earlier the next morning to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat.
4am to any normal person just doesn't exist. If I see 4am on a clock I realise I have been partying too long and its an indication to go to bed, not wake up. So you can imagine what a bundle of joy I was at having to wake up at that hour. But I did it with minimal moaning, and managed to stumble through the blackness of the temple walls the point we were going to stand and watch the sunrise. It was a beautiful spot, perfect for photographs with the reflection of the temple upon the water. So magical was the sight that I woke up properly and managed to enjoy the view. Now I have to explain that Angkor Wat is a huge temple complex, countless of temples, towers, and building inside a massive wall and gated area. All have been standing for hundreds of years and it is just impossible to see the whole complex (people travel round it by bus and morotcycle it's that big!), so we were aiming to see the highlights of the complex. Our tour guide was very well informed and a local.. with a Londoners accent, he kept our pace up showed us around by saying "alwite" and " let's rock an roll" and I taught him how to explain to people that we has from 'Landan Tan'. So the first 'highlight' on our list was the temple used in the Indiana Jones and tomb raider films. It was amazing this old stone structure was under siege by nature, humongous tree roots sprawled over the door frames and through the roof. It really was like being on a film set, like a lost world forgotten and slowly being erased by natures forces. Some of it had caved away, yet the form still remained and many carvings on the walls and statues were clearly visible. We also went to other temples in the complex, all varying but all still awe inspiring. There were different temples for different uses, so one was more of a baths and others had many smiling faces of Buddha looking out in different directions on the towers. What I found beautiful about all of them is the amount of doorways and pillars. Looking down you could see through door after door, it made me wonder how amazing it would have been those hundreds of years ago, it would have been an incredible maze where a game of hide 'n' seek would last weeks. I really cannot do the temples justice through my descriptions, you will have to wait for some photies!
Feeling a little templed out we went to visit a waterfall. On the way up we saw a temple around a reclining Buddha that had been carved out of the mountain rock. It was quite interesting, yet what I found more so was the monk in the traditional orange robes and not so traditional inked skin. The river bed leading up to the waterfall had a carved patterned bottom, unfortunately as it had recently rained we could not see it very well. But this should make the waterfall more spectacular and powerful. Walking down to the waterfall I really did feel like Indiana Jones as it was down a rickety wooden flight of stairs, some missing, many creaky and unstable. The waterfall certainly was powerful, we got soaked from the spray so decided to clamber over the rocks a little as getting into the water wouldn't have made much of a difference. It was fun until we felt the little fish that started to nibble at our toes, we got out of the water pretty quick after that!
The next day we left Cambodia and went in the bus through the border to Thailand, arriving in Bangkok, which at this point seemed familiar and comfortable to me. What has really made this trip and the last in Vietnam are the amazing people I have been travelling with, all ages and backgrounds but we had such a good time together, so it was a fond farewell dinner down kho San road. I had street food pad Thai, the best pad Thai I had, so good it makes me hungry remembering it (and I'm writing this at 1am now).
I moved to another hotel for the one night with Patrice, and I happened to get upgraded to the super plush apartment room, which was heavenly! We were I the business district of Bangkok, which I hadn't explored before, so we caught the sky train and went to the posh malls which had all the designer shops and expensive cars (I felt very out of place in my travellers clothing!).w here I brought my iPad and we went to the cinema, on our journey back we went to the nearby night market but swiftly left after being approached by many people offering us tickets to rather questionable shows. After a brilliant nights sleep in my luxury king sized bed I got the flight to Bali.