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Published: February 17th 2009
Crossing the border was relatively painless, if a little long winded. We had to stop to leave Thailand, to cross the border and then to enter Cambodia. Surely it would be easier to have one stop? Anyway, we paid for a bus ticket to get us to Siem Reap and refused the 'offers' a tout kept giving us of paying a little extra to leave straight away and get a taxi. Eventually he admitted that they had overbooked the bus and that we could get the taxi at no extra cost. Yay! What to say about the roads in Cambodia. Well they weren't initially as bad as we had been expecting. There had clearly been, is a lot of work going on and the roads are being transformed from dirt tracks to tarmac. Driving itself doesn't seem to be too complicated. From my observations, they seem to drive on the right side of the road, though the cars are generally set up to be driving on the left, and as long as there is a space, it can be filled. There only seems to be two rules - 1) Don't crash into oncoming traffic and 2) Use horn as often as
possible so that everyone knows where you are. We arrived at our hostel and were greeted with a fabulous twin room. Not sure how we are going to go back to dorms after all these nice places.
First day there we didn't really do much, just went to the markets. In the evening though we got some passes and went to watch the sunset over Angkor Wat. There were lots of steps. And they were very steep. It's a miracle clumsy me didn't fall to my death on the way back down. (that may be a slight exaggeration) We hired a Tuk Tuk and driver for the next day and went round, well, a lot of temples. Mr.Dara was his name and he didn't seem to sleep, or eat. We spent the whole day, 8:30 - 4, doing a tour that should have taken 2days. After the first few though, it started to get a bit samey. I guess if we hadn't been stingy and hired a guide we might have known what the places were actually used for, but we didn't, so the most interesting ones were the ones that had been taken over by the jungle. The
I love this picture.
The tourists disappeared for a second, long enough for me to take it
next day we got up early and watched the sunrise over Angkor Wat. It was a bit misty so we didn't really see that much. Later it cleared up, so we went for an ariel view of Angkor Wat in a balloon.
What did hamper the temple visits a little was the hoards of kids begging you to buy things from them. (Don't be harsh, I'm being honest.) My first impressions of this country was that i didn't like it. I didn't like being hounded for money everywhere we went. I didn't like being made to feel guilty because I wasn't poor. I think going to Phnom Pen first would have been a better idea, though going the way round we are going, that wasn't possible for us. In Phnom Pen we went to visit the Killing fields and the Tuol Sleng Museum. I knew vaguely about the genocide in Cambodia, but i guess i didn't really understand what happened before. We visited the killing fields first, and the rain seemed very poignant. There are big holes and ditches in the ground where the mass graves are, and in the pathway that runs between them are half buried clothes,
I like this one too...
Taken while we were killing time before getting the tickets to Angkor Wat
and objects that look too smooth and pale to be rocks. The Khmer Rouge basically tried to irradicate anyone who could stand up against them making the rest of the country slaves. Anyone who wasn't killed initially for being in the government were shipped out to the country to work in the rice fields. A school, which has since been turned into the museum, was converted into a prison camp, where people were tortured before being shipped out of the city to the killing fields. Both places seemed broken, fractured by the atrocities that had happened there. And barely 30 years ago. Going to Phnom Pen made me realize what this country had lived through, and that I should be a bit more understanding of the people begging.
Moving on from that depressing note, I've been ill. I went to the local hospital (its not serious, they just speak english there) and was prescribed three pills and a sachet of yuk to be had for the next 5 days, twice a day after eating. What i can eat has been reduced to rice, porridge and dry bread. No spicy, no sour, no sweet, nothing with citric acid, no uncooked
It's very steep
And dont believe her if she tries to tell you she went to the top. This picture is taken as far as she got!
vegetables, no fruit juice and for some reason no milk. So for me, the rest of Cambodia and half of our time in Vietnam is filled with gastronomic blandness. The Joy.
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