Two weeks in Cambodia and how it flew!
The journey over the border was easy peasy and as soon as we arrived we met a lovely group of Canadia's and a Danish guy, Esben who we have spent a whole lot of time with.
First thoughts of Cambodia, beautiful! Rice paddies, houses on stilts and lots of palm trees. We go a Cambodian tuk tuk to our hotel, a tad different to the Thai ones, these are just mopeds pulling a carriage, haha, so a tad more fragile! But still, the best way to get around and I am determined to bring them home, they would go up a storm! haha
Our first full day in Siem Reap we headed to the 8th wonder of the world, the Angkor Wat temples! We started with the biggest temple, Angkor Wat, then headed to the Angkor Thom and the Bayon temples. They really were amazing, mystical and there were so many of them! Again, pictures will do some justice. Built by the Khmer people, they hold it as a place of fierce pride across the country, some of the temples are nearly 1000 years old and were built for different kings. Also, the place is HUGE, over 200 temples! There were monkeys in areas and loved to watch them abseiling down the pillars with absolute ease, it was so funny! Some tourists were playing around with them a bit and next thing the monkey grabs the the bottle and the guy flew back with terror and the monkey sat there and carelessly opened the lid, piured the water out and drank it, brilliant! haha Don't mess witht the monkeys! Once we got back to town I was estatic to find a food stool that sold laughing cow baguettes, yes! I love the taste of home =)
Next morning we headed out at 5am to see the sunrise over the Angkor Wat Temples, it was honestly incredible, with its peals mirrored in the lake in front of it. We then headed off to the temple Ta Prohm, where the famous Tomb Radier was filmed. It was my favourite temple, in amounst the tress, it was a tad creepy. The old, deshevelled temples with these huge tree roots growng amidst the carved rock temples, so so cool!
After we rode by tuk tuk for a while to to Tonle Sap river and floated through a floating village, honeslt it was so cool! Then went out to the lake ad then went back to watch the sunset over the village and lake. Children spinned themselves round in metal tubs, pigs in cages attached to boats, hammocks with dozy people swaying from side to side, loved it! Even little boats rowed over with a 4 year old with a cobra round it's neck! The drive there was as beautiful as the rest of the day, houses floating in amidst a lake of lillies, red soil roads, straw houses and rice paddies, that is Cambodia to me.
We went to a crocodile farm and fed them, there were soooo many of them, so looked so creepy! Just lying so still, with their mouths wide open staring right at us! After we headed to the war museum and sat in a war helicopter, plane and tanks!
Next day we saw our last temple, Banteay Srei and I was quite pleased by then, it is possible to see too many in a small space of time! haha. We then went on a small hike to a lovely waterfall with engravings in the rock, with a lovely view of the hills! On our ride home we saw more of the beautiful countryside and even saw dead pigs being transported upside down on the back of mopeds, lovely! They use those mopeds for anything!! Including putting like 5 people on them at once, adults and children as young as babies!
Last day we drove around the rural area for photo's, we walked long a village by the river, saw a little garden centre that uses hollow coconut shells as hangin baskets! Last dinner there and went to our favourite place, a few of the items on the menu are spelt as follows, haha:
french fries - french fried
scrambled egg - crumble egg
chicken - chicken breath
7 hours later we arrive in Battanbang:
In the one day there we went on a bamboo train! It was so fun and a tad bumpy! It was basically a bamboo flat carpet and four wheels. You travel along the one track, to go the one end and back and when we met another group of bamboo trains, you have to get off and the driver takes the train apart and re-essembles it when the other is past! haha
Then we headed to the 'Killing Caves', it was so so sad and chilling. We learnt of the Khmer Rouge group led by the Pol Pot that took over Cambodia from 1975-79 and the horrendous things they did to their own people. Here, they were imprisoned, tortured and killed, then thrown down the hole into the cave. So horrendous. The Khmer Rouge killed obout 2 million cambodians as they saught to create an agrian society, where religion, education and intelluctuals didn't exist, a society that was completely self reliant and anyone who wasn't a supporter of the Angkar government or linked to the previous government were brutally murdered because of it. Watches, clocks, schools were banned and anyone who wore glasses or spoke another language gave them enough of a reason to be killed. They had 196 prisons all over the country where these innocent people were sent to their death. I was stunned to learn such facts. I recently read a book about a child who survived the Pol Pot regime who gives her account of those four years, its called ' First they killed my father', definitely worth a read. The ironic thing is Pol Pot wanted a socitey where money didn't exist, where there was no hierarchy within jobs or society, a place where people were equal, but his whole regime was based on a hierarchy system itself, leaders, soldiers, base people and then the rest of the country had no worth to him at all.
Two temples that day, up a lot os steps, but with beautiful views, but what made me laugh most were all the signs saying 'danger mines!!' everywhere! humm
Our last stop and its dusty, busy and bustling with all kinds of street food, stalls, locals eating purched on small seats and tables at the road side, cyclos and tuk tuks racing around.
We visited the Genocide museum, also known as S-21 or Tuol Sleng which was a high school that was taken over by the khmer rouge and used as a prison and torture chambers, it was so strange to be there and put yourselves in just one of those peoples shoes, they had some furniture that was still there, horrendous photo's of the victims after they were murdered and each person that entered had their photo taken by the KR, so they were now on big boards, it was so awful to see those innocent faces, some even braving a smile.
After we went to the killing fields, people were brought here from S-21, killed and thrown in mass graves , I learnt a lot there and it's one of those places that you can only really have a conversation over, as it is too awful to write about, but it's history and we should learn about these things.