Published: August 21st 2008August 9th 2008
The colors of Angkor Wat
Since we started to travel around, people told us Cambodia would be the most beautiful country on South East Asia. We're curious to see it!
We entered in different dates, since Claudio and Lili were driving Tzarina (the motorbike) slowly and Fernando, Malin and Flavia were taking "fast" buses.
After the the adventure of the transport over the border, Fernando's team took buses after buses all the way to Phnom Penh. Flavia had only a few days remaining before having to return home. They arrived quite late in Phnom Penh (01:00am) and together with the other travellers in the bus, they checked in in one hostel on the lake side.
Early in the morning they started the City tour. Driving around town is a game of life and death. Cars, trucks, bikes, tuc tucs, cycles, and all kinds of moving things on the streets going to all directions at the same time, in both lanes, without any kind of rule. At first they got scared about it, but after changing their point of view from "this is wild" to "they are experts", they relaxed and even enjoyed the ride!
Fist stop was the shooting range to see how
The corridors of the former school turned into a prision.
hard the AK-47 kick! Everyone has seen it in many movies but Flavia wanted to do it for real... and she loved it! Looking like a maniac she fired her whole magazine in a few seconds. (Fernando was a bit scared of her, looking at her excitement with a machine gun in hands!)
After seeing how hard or easy
is to shoot, let's learn about who really did it.
The killing fields are horrendous for it's history. Unfortunately they aren't well preserved but visiting them still give a feeling about how brutal it all happened few years ago. A monument stands there for the people who died in one of the biggest genocides of the history. Behind the monument, remaining of the communal graves are unfortunately filled with mud and rain water. Bones still stick out of the ground. Pieces of clothes from the executed, fly with the wind or are taken by tourists as morbid souvenirs. Inside the monument a huge pile of skulls from man, women and kids show how many people were killed there. Knelled, blindfolded, hands tied on their back, anyone who had any knowledge of anything
were killed with a blow of a metal
The place still intact. On the wall hang the picture of that days.
bar on the back of their heads. This inhuman method was used to save bullets and avoid raising suspicions from the neighbourhood.
From the killing fields to the prison. S-21 was the name of a elementary school turned into a prison for high grade prisoners. Here they were interrogated, tortured, humiliated and raped. Have they given any information or not, they were send to the killing field. The "museum" has all the cells intact still with the hooks where prisoners were chained and beaten. Since every prisoner was photographed and all the confessions/ medical statements/ deaths were registered, the museum display, inside some of the former communal cells, pictures, notes and all kind of information about life and death in the S-21.
But Cambodia is not only terror, there is also nice beaches and of course, the famous Angkor Wat, a symbol of the explendor of the ancient civilizations in SE Asia.
After visiting Phnom Penh, Flavia set off to Siem Reap alone, before going to Bangkok and home. Fernando and Malin left to the coast for some relaxing days waiting for Claudio. After four days they took a bus to Siem Reap. On arrival, like any
Individual cells. Some of the people killed probably still wander around.
tourist destinations, there were a crowd of tuc tuc drivers waiting for them screaming and pushing so much that they couldn't even step out of the bus! The funniest is that the drivers know how annoying they are. Over the mess of shouts, screams, hands pulling here and there, one driver said: "Close the deal with me and we will stop screaming on you!". They don't know if was this one that took them, but after agreeing on the price for the ride, they left the bus station. At the hotel everybody met again! Claudio and Lili had arrived the day before and were waiting for Fernando and Malin.
Claudio and Lili crossed into Cambodia 4 days after the others. The border crossing went smoother than expected. Only one dollar bribe each side and was all good. The road was brand new and empty. The ride was almost like easyriders if wasn't for the rain. It's not very clever to travel by motorbike in South East Asia during monsoon season. Almost every day they got soaked, the bags got soaked, the bike got soaked, nothing escaped. But they had fun.
The distance that could be covered driving the
Flavia and the AK-47
Be careful, our cousin can be very dangerous!
motorbike wasn't very big (+/-200km p/day). So every town was a night stop. It took them five days, hours of sore bum and numb hands due to vibration, for less then 1000Km. Claudio and Lili arrived in Siam Reap almost at night fall. To commemorate their safe arrival, they ate in a Mexican restaurant (In Siam Reap with its huge influx of western tourists is easier to find western food than local food)
and afterwards crashed in bed. Next day, Fernando and Malin arrived.
The following day was a lazy day. Just a short visit to the Land Mine Museum. This is a big collection from a NGO created by a guy who worked setting land mines during the War and now work clearing it.
Now is time to the big visit. Angkor Wat is only one of the many temples in this area. By tuc tuc we drove more than 30 km visiting temple after temple. Some of them are reduced to a pile of rocks, others are complete wonders of architecture. Some are unknown, some are Hollywood stars. There are so many temples that we are sure you'll find one for your taste.
This is what we call rain, not that boring, annoying, little thing people are used to see in London.
to keep going. Malin wanted to travel by bike and Lili wanted some rest from the vibration of the two strokes engine! (Claudio didn't have choise.)
So we were all happy to change transportation for a while. (Claudio was forced to say he was happy too)
While Claudio and Lili took the bus back to Phnom Penh, Fernando and Malin left by bike to go around the lake. The first 100km were still in construction, it means the road was unpaved, covered by gravel and full of holes. Tzarina took 3 hours to cover this distance. Fernando almost gave up! But in the end they arrived on the paved road, in safety. The second day made everything worth, the landscape is beautiful and the kindness of the people in the villages, heartbreaking.
In Phnom Penh again, we applied for the Vietnamese and Chinese visa. Malin left to Thailand and home. With visas on hand (only the Vietnamese, because the Chinese couldn't be issued in Cambodia)
we were again on the road. This time Fernando and Claudio on Tzarina and Lili by bus.
There are more photos below