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Published: December 22nd 2018
"When I think about Cambodia, I immediately think about two great reporters of the twenty century like: the Italian Tiziano Terzani and the American Sydney Schanberg, both coverd the Indochina war in the 70s, Sydney Schanberg was the only westerner reporter that was trapped in the Phenom Penh besieged by the Khmer Rouge troupes in 1975. I was inspired by Tiziano Terzani travel books of Asia, where he talked a lot about Cambodia and its lovely people."
After a great month in Vietnam full of new experiences, people and travelling moments, I was about to enter another country, Cambodia, a bus got me there after a few hours drive from Saigon to Siem Reap, the trip actually lasted a little bit longer because the bus has broken down, along the way, so we had to wait for another one to come to rescue us. Siem Reap is like the center of the tourism in Cambodia and a perfect place to start to explore the stunning and magical temples of Angkor, with no doubt, this would have been one of the most spectacular places to visit during my journey in Cambodia and allover Asia, a
place that I have always seen on TV since I was a child, a place that inspired and excited me all the times I have seen it, for its great history and civilization, a place that I have always dreamed up and, now, that dream was about to come true.
Travelling by bus is always interesting, it is a lesson of life, on the bus from Saigon to Siem Reap I encountered so many travellers from different countries, we exchanged our travels experiences, we talked about our interests and hobbies, with some travellers I also shared the same interest about literature and reading books which is one of my great hobbies. That travel was really remarkable, having a good company of travellers, the gentle and warm air of the tropics filtering in from the window fissure made me really feel at ease, it is one of those moments that you never forget, especially when travelling by yourself, because meeting different people, it is a good chance to get to know the others, the ones that are different from us, different for their religious belief, different for their colour of the skin, different because
they speak another language, different in their traditions and customs, it helps you to open up your mind and become more respectful and less racist toward the others.
Arriving in Siem Reap, as I already described in my previous blogs about Cambodia, the first impression that I had was of a typical bustling town of southeast Asia, where you have to bargain for everything in order not to get ripped off, especially at the guesthouse, arriving there they started with a price of ten dollars, but I just left immediately and I saw that I could get something better without having the constant sensation of being trapped by someone payed on commission, every few meters there were hotels, I arrived in one that for about 5 dollars I could have an accommodation on the upper floors, quite clean, good and friendly staff, the only problem was that I had to walk, all the times, up and down to get into the room.
In Siem Reap, I found the options to explore the area, one was by renting a bicycle and the other was by getting a
TukTuk escorting you around, but, at the end, I chose to rent a bicycle that with no doubt gave me much more freedom, even though bicycling for thirty or fourty kilometers, in such a humid environment, was a daredevil activity, but as I experienced very rewarding in the end. There is a tariff to pay to get access to the temples, I got the three days pass, which was 40 dollars. The temples are 8 kilometers from Siem Reap, the most famous is the great Angkor Wat, which I have already described in another blog. The major complex dedicated to the Hindu deities.
When I am in the tropics is my habit to wake up very early in the morning, at about eight o'clock I set off to start my trip to visit the temples of Angkor, the air was still cool, it was a pleasant moment, I was about to get to one of those places that I always wanted to visit and as I approached the excitement rose more and more, I could not believe it that my dream was about to come true.
At my arrival, I was welcome by many street vendors, they had everything, books about the temples of the area, postcards, T-shirts, food, drinks, toys and much more. The entrance to the marvelous Angor Wat was just in front of me, that moment was just indescribable, I wished this moment since I was a child, I just stared at it for a while, absorbing all its beauty and mysteriousness that this magnificent place transmitted to me in that moment, it was really awesome.
Since that I have already described my experience visiting Angkor Wat, in another blog, I will try to move forward getting to other interesting temples such as Bayon, which is one of my favourite. Bayon area is a good place to take a rest after a long ride by bicycle in this humid environment, I ate something while my sweat slowly dried up and felt comfortable again, there were plenty of kids, some spoke english, they could say the name of a few soccer players of Italy and of other national teams, I was surprised that they could talk english, I heard about the situation, here, in Cambodia that many
kids do not have the possibility to go at school due to the luck of a good government system, this is one of the many negative aspects of the developing countries.
With no doubt, one of the most magnificent temples of the area is, Bayon richly decorated temple of the 12th century CE, built by the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII at the center of the capital, Angkor Thom. The many faces of the temples are really alluring, dedicated to Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, I sat down on the grass to enjoy this amazing moment before starting visiting the temple. The outer wall of the outer gallery features a series of bas-reliefs depicting historical events and scenes from daily life of the Angkorian Khmer. The Bayon resembles like a labyrinth full of nice carvings and reliefs that eventually leads you up to the top where those gigantic heads stand, truly amazing.
Angkor area is an unforgettable place, it is immersed in the jungle, even though it is certainly touristic, it is so huge that some areas are almost deserted, it gives you the impression of being a real
explorer that after a long day, under the extreme heat, exhausted with no more energies, finds, eventually, another marvelous place to explore. Indeed the heat was tremendous and, after a long ride, I found refuge in one of those magical structures cooling me off a bit in its seemingly endless corridors, this is a truly remarkable travel experience.
I will continue my travel story in the next travel blog about Camdobia, soon.
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