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Published: January 14th 2007
After a few days spent hanging out in Bangkok with Nicki (and without my husband) shopping, getting facials, massages etc etc we decided we had better get a little intrepid and head on to see the sights in Cambodia. After a mildly confrontational Thai/Cambodia border crossing involving some corrupt border police trying to score an extra few US$ we headed on as part of the infamous Siam Reap bus scam, which took us on a 6hr journey down a horrendous road (which legend has it, is sponsored by an airline to stay that way indefinitely). We ended up being dumped at a guesthouse at about 9pm with the rest of our group, however Nicks and I, along with a couple of other Kiwis and a couple of Aussies decided to spoil our bus driver's plans for a juicy commission and ended up walking to a guest house of our choice.
We spent the first of three days at the temples at Angkor Wat, which was stunning, but Nicki and I felt that the place had a very sterile feel about it, the place was literally teeming with tourists. We were (again literally) elbowed out of the way by dozens of
pushy Korean women dragging their smaller, apologetic, brow-beaten mates behind them.
We spent the second day on horseback at one of the smaller, more remote temples. We were the only tourists there and it was very peaceful. We met some local boys who were working for the monks, in exchange for food and board. They were very keen to practice their English with us, and were very helpful in giving us a brief historical background to the temple and traditional funerary practices. We ended up exchanging email addresses, and bought them an English/Khmer dictionary when we got back to Siam Reap to help them with their studies, wrote in the front of it, and left it with reception at the hotel that we were staying in with instructions that our friends would be in to pick it up.
The name of the hotel is Royal Guesthouse, and 'Corruption in Cambodia' seems to have reached it. When our friends came to pick up the dictionary, the hotelier said that there had been a misunderstanding and that we had actually left the dictionary for the hotel, not for our friends.
We are still following this up, and hope to
We met this little fellow and his mother on our day cycling around the Angkor Temple complex. He tried to suckle the banana - I guess he's just starting on solids.
have the hotel replace this dictionary for our friends.
The third day we spent about 7hrs cycling around the temples, which was relaxing and peaceful. Plus it meant that we earnt the coffee shakes and pineapple shakes (which have condensed milk and coconut cream in them) ...
On day four we went to the country with a friend we had made, Bansun who is a waiter at one of our favourite restaurants. He took Nicki and I on the back of his scooter to his family's farm. They grow rice and vegetables primarily in order to feed themselves, and if they have any left over they sell it at the market. They also raise their own pigs and chickens, and use oxen for most of the farm work. They get their rice threshed using a big machine down the road from them, it costs them one pig to get this done each year.
His family were all extremely welcoming and his grandmother even cooked us a gorgeous lunch.
We were very privileged to have this insight into rural life in Cambodia. They live on nearly nothing, but then again are missing nearly nothing. They are very
Rubbing the belly of these dancing women is supposed to bring you good luck. Finally, proper appreciation and respect for women with bellies ...
happy, smiley people (see pics).
Next time I see povery statistics talking about the number of people living on $1 per day, I think that I will take them with a pinch of salt, as farmers living on US$0.10 per day seem very happy living this peaceful life.
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