Best Wishes From (and to) Phnom Penh

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February 20th 2007
Published: February 25th 2007
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Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, and Beyond

Gate to a TempleGate to a TempleGate to a Temple

Angkor Wat is full of these things, but I never seemed to tire of photographing them.

The road to the Cambodian capital from Siem Reap is smooth. The bus is inexpensive, and the journey is uneventful. All of these factors made for a very pleasant ride, indeed. I was compelled to write about this because you can take these things for granted when you live in Canada, and your average highway speed is 120km/hr on what I have now come to romanticize as billiard-table-smooth roads.

Our arrival at the "bus station" was greeted with much fanfair from the local purveyors of intra-city transport. As far as two blocks away from our point of dis-embarkment that taxi and tuk-tuk drivers crowded the bus, peering in, looking for white faces: these were their potential passengers/cargo. If my clumsy and all too subtle attempts at communicating our wish to make our own way to the hotel did not get my point accross, Jen's manner certainly did. We have an expression in Quebec to describe someone who is uncompromising and determined: "Tu fais ton chemin a la largeur de tes epaules". It translates to "You cut
Angkor TempleAngkor TempleAngkor Temple

...let me know when you've seen enough.
your path at the width of your shoulders." Jen did just that, falling just short of mowing the unsuspecting drivers down to the ground. Good fun to watch.

We stayed for three days. We got out visas for Vietnam from the embassy, and visited the few sites in the city whose names didn't have the words "Killing Fields" in them. This included the Silver Pagoda, with its floor of 5000 silver tiles, and the National Museum. You can't take pictures in either of these places, but I only found out about the restrictions in the National Museum after I had been firing off my camera for half an hour. My apologies to the curators of the museum, but I promise that no flash was used at any time in the production of the photos.

The condiotions in Phnomh Penh range from very affluent to desperate. With very little in terms of social services in the country, beggars abound. This is to be expected, I well know, but I as I have metioned before, this is a city that makes you wish you were drunk. However, this is not a city where one should be drunk; I never felt that we were in danger (but then again I double the average Cambodian in size, and any ill-intentioned element has any number of more attractive targets to choose from), but you always have the feeling that anything could happen at any time. Perhaps we were just road-weary.

The author of the Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia and the guide to Vietnam lives in Phnom Penh, and he exhibits what I would have to call more than a slight bias for his home town and adoptive country. In our next installment: How much better is Saigon than what the Lonely Planet guy says it is.

Ciao for now!

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


Hellenistic InvasionsHellenistic Invasions
Hellenistic Invasions

Note the building on the left. Unlike any other ruin in Angkor, or Cambodia for that matter, its columns are round. Also, the structure has two floors with the same floor area. VERY Greek. No one knows why this building came to be.
Cute Little DevilCute Little Devil
Cute Little Devil

A good restoration job, you'll admit.
Street SceneStreet Scene
Street Scene

From the terrace of the Indochine 2 Hotel
Buddhas, Buddhas EverywhereBuddhas, Buddhas Everywhere
Buddhas, Buddhas Everywhere

A roomful of Buddhas in the National Museum in Phnom Penh. The statues span a wide range of styles from different periods.
Angkor CarvingAngkor Carving
Angkor Carving

Taken from Angkor Wat "for it's own good", this carving was the last thin I photographed in the National Museum before getting busted by one of the incense selling ladies. My apologies to the National Museum of Cambodia, but I'm not deleting the pictures.
Your Eight Days in Cambodia End ... soon.Your Eight Days in Cambodia End ... soon.
Your Eight Days in Cambodia End ... soon.

During our last pitstop with the Phnom Penh to Saigon bus ride we spy (through the dust, and though a 300mm lens) the border crossing in to Vietnam.

25th February 2007

missin ya from over here
hi guys, miss you lots but console myself with the knowledge of the fun times you are having!! ;) p.s. to Dom - i like the way you write
25th February 2007

Do you need help with your bags?
you're pictures are fabulous-- i'm sure that no monuments were harmed during the taking of the photos. i can't wait to follow your story into vietnam; how's the food been? if i was your sherpa i'd cook for you...maybe.... the girl.
26th February 2007

Just wanted to let you guys know, it is snowy and grey here in good old Calgary, thought this might brighten your day up. Great Pictures and commentary, just as I would have expected.
27th February 2007

We really do need help with our luggage
Funny you should write what you did, when you did, Aparna: the room we left this morning had an extra (single) bed with your name written all over it. My only concern is that each of our packs weighs about as much as you do (did?), so you might have some trouble with them. Take care.

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