A Travellerspoint blog

Cambodia

Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

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Siem Reap was only ever going to be a fleeting visit, we only had one desire while we were there, to visit Angkor Wat and the other temples. The first day after travelling overnight was taken up with just a wonder around the town. Unfortunately as the day progressed as did me feeling poorly, and unfortunately that night I spent in bed recovering and hoping that I would be well enough to go visit the temples the following day!

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Luckily sweating it out paid off and we got up early enough it head to Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples while it was still dark with the intention of seeing the Sun rise. Our TukTuk driver drove us to a temple which is located up a large hill. He pointed up a dark pathway and told us that's where we needed to go. He must have realised that we were not convinced so said he would guide us. Once we got up there there were a few others waiting for sunrise and it eventually came. Cloud cover interrupted the spectacle, but it was a good way to start the day. After that our driver took us to get some breakfast. During the chaos of a tomato sauce bottle exploding and causing great amusement at our table I noticed a monkey about 100 metres away and decide to steal away mid breakfast to take a picture. It started towards me with conviction and I feared I might get accosted by it, when it charged passed me towards the breakfast table and shimmied up one of the legs and stole Kaileys baguette. This obviously caused a greater eruption of laughter to explode over the group of us. 

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(the culprit!!!)

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(this picture doesn't do justice how large this spider was, it had made it's web between two trees and was sitting in the middle of it waiting for birds I expect!)

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(the temple with the trees growing out of it is where Tomb Raider was filmed, it's called Ta Prohm).

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The temples are arguabley some of the most impressive temples I have ever seen, and although many are ruins the place is still considered a religious area and is still in use for Buddist Monks. There is a large distance between the temples an each one is different, some have large moats around it, and others have trees that have become rooted in the fabric of the building, pulling it over or sitting on top of the large stone walls. The Cambodians proudly call it the 8th wonder of the world, and in all honesty I felt that it would be ranked in the official 7. 

The Cambodians seemed to have only very recently realised what they are sitting on in terms of tourism, and there is now efforts to repair the temples and make sure that nature doesn't damage too much of it. I expect in years to come the place will, if not protected, turn into somewhere much like the Pyrmids or the Great wall, where some of the magic is lost because of the comercial element that comes with popular tourist attractions, sone I'm pleased to say I have seen it before that potentially does happen. It was arguably the most interesting place I have visited on my travels so far!

The next stop is in a new country, Thailand!

Posted by Christian25 19:27 Archived in Cambodia Tagged travel cambodia angkor wat reap siem Comments (1)

Sihnoukville - Cambodia

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Sihnoukville is one of Cambodias most popular seaside resorts. On arriving we headed to try and get accommodation at one of the most popular hostels in the town Monkey Republic, we were already sure that three of our friend were already there and Smith, Kailey,Emma, Zoe an myself were lucky enough to pick up the remaining beds available and meet up with the other Emma and Leanne and Sammy.

Our first full day in Sihnoukville we headed down to a beach called Otres beach. The sand was warm white and the water was calm, clear and a beautiful inviting blue. We spend the day by the beach and ate at one of the restaurants overlooking the sea. I mentioned to Smith how guilty I felt sitting there hot and sanding in my swimming shorts while everyone back home was working, it honestly did bother me and it pleased me that I haven't forgot about everyone or the desire to work. Feelings like this are easily forgotten however when you are being hugged by the warm embrace of the tropical sun and repetitive swell of the waves.

The following day after a heavy night out with a large army of fellow travellers, our group, growing larger by the day surfaced late and headed for a local hotels swimming pool. The evening is Sihnoukville are taken up at the beach bars or across the road from Monkey Republic is a place called TopCat's. A little cinema with private booths for about 5 or 6 people maximum. Any film they don't have is not worth watching, the American owner is happy to find you anything on his huge database of movies. Or as was the case a few hot afternoons, me and Smith hid ourselves away and played FIFA 2012.

I hadnt been massively keen on the idea of another boat trip but everyone we had made fiends with was going and dinner on return was included so it sounded more inviting. As it turned out, even with the freak weather conditions that came over the boat, apparently massively rare in Sihnoukville for the time of year we embraced the different nature of the trip. Lashing down with rain it was warmer to be in the sea so we continued to jump off and back onto the boat throughout the afternoon. Nobody seemed to care that it was wetter aboard the ship than it was in the sea. Plenty of beers were consumed on the trip back while dancing away on the packed deck!

By now we had been joined by our German friends who had been traveling along the coast with a friend they met on the road Tom. Off Sihnouville are several islands, and one in particular Koh Rong has several small beach resorts where you can stay in bamboo huts on stilts. Monkey island was the name of the bungalows we decided to stay in, run by the same guys who own Monkey Republic. Our whole group decide to go and spend a couple of nights on the beach front. The boat trip was set to take about 2 hours, but when we arrived at the port, we were informed it was likely to take longer because the sea was particulary choppy. The boat ride was an experience, with several people being sick, I managed to keep my breakfast down and relatively enjoy the trip. Once we arrived at the island we had to walk across the beach following a resort employee. The place looked close to paradise, and as we walked along the blindingly white fine sand, close by the little jetty, standing in the surf with it's owner was a massive water buffalo. I'm still upset I didn't get a picture as it was quite a surreal sight. A short walk along the shoreline and we arrive at Monkey Island. We dumped our belonging in our little bamboo hut and ran down to the beach to jump in the sea. After we washed up and went to get some food and relax. During my washing up process, in the little bamboo bathroom something caught my eye. On the back of the door, relatively well camouflaged was the largest spider I have ever seen. I promptly dried myself and got out of the room, then explained to smith the size of it, and he looked sceptical until he shimmied in and peered round the door. The thing was bigger than my hand and we decide it wasn't allowed to stay rent free! Standing in the bathroom with our weapons, me a bin and Smith a broom, we had decided to knock it into the bin and chuck it outside, until I gave it further thought and didn't like the idea of holding something as small as this little bin with a potentially poisonous and disgruntled insect inside, so smith went ahead and hit it with the broom. In all honesty I'm surprised it didn't whip it out of his hands and snap it over one of it's many knees, but it scurried off shocked but unharmed under the bamboo wall.

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(our bunglow)

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The following day we got up early to watch the sun rise, it was a little cloudy so not quite as impressive as we had hoped, then later in the morning me and Smith went on a little trek along the coastline, dipping in and out of the rainforest. It was like the film 'The Beach'. The rest of the day was spent either sun bathing or playing volleyball until the sun went down behind the island.

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(you might just be able to spot a water buffalo!)

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The following day it was time for us to leave, the Germans and their motorbike buddy Tom decided that the island was too beautiful to leave behind and decide to stay on, so we begrudgingly said our fairwells to them, knowing we wouldn't see each other again until potentially the New Year due to our directions changing.

The boat trip was a little rough again, but more pleasant, and once we were back on dry land we had to wait around until the evening to be picked up to move onto our next destination Siem Reap, where the famous Angkor Wat temples are situated.

Posted by Christian25 20:03 Archived in Cambodia Tagged travel cambodia sihnoukville Comments (1)

Phnom Penh - Cambodia

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Phnom Penh was the first stop in Cambodia. Cambodia is somewhere I had been really looking forward to but was also quite apprehensive. It was somewhere that in all honesty I knew relatively little about, plus it was the first place we had been advices to take our malaria tablets. Arriving in Phnom Penh at night by coach to be greeted by a small Cambodian man with Mr. Smith held over his head on a piece of paper. The hostel had kindly offered a pick up service and hilariously we all crammed onto this TukTuk and bombed though the traffic. That evening we went out for a meal after having a wonder around the night Market.

The following day we organised with a TukTuk driver who worked from the hostel to take us to the cheerfully, but honestly named Genocide Museum, then onto the Killing Fields. The Genocide Museum is located in a suburb of Phnom Penh. Before the Khmer Rouge seized power of Cambodia it was a large school, but it was converted into a prison to interrogate people who Pol Pot belived was scheming or against his regime. The fact that the Prison had been left almost exactly as it was found after the regime was overthrown was a little difficult to comprehend. Some of the makeshift cells even had spot of blood on the tiles and manacles and chains connected to the floor. In other areas were rooms where beds had been left with implements of torture. It was a particularly depressing place! In one of the building where they we exhibiting some of the items found at the prison were all of the pictures that had been taken of the inmates that had been taken to the prison. It was had to believe how recently these acts of horrendous treatment had occurred. Between 1975 and 1979 20% of the population of Cambodia lost their lives at the hands of the Khmer Rouge!

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(Just one of the many frames with pictures of the inmates tourtured in the prison)

After the Museum we headed out of the city to the Killing Fields. There were Killing fields located all over Cambodia but this was know to be the largest of it's kind. The fields are located in a rural area which actually had been used as a grave site by Chinese people living in Cambodia years before it was taken over by the Khmer Rouge. Included in the priced of the ticket was an audio guide which was fantastic at helping someone understand what they were seeing. It's a strange to say but the place was amazing peaceful and actually quite beautiful which set a strange contrast against the horrendous atrocities that happened! It's a place that needs no explanation, if anyone is more interested in what happened at the killing fields I think it's important that people learn for themselves, it's almost too difficult to put into words.

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(during the rainy season, bones and rags of cloohing that have not been retrieved yet surface from the mud!)

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(this tree was used for actions that are too terrible to explain)

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One evening we had out we made friends with some a group of Cambodians. The following day I went along with them to their house for some beers and then we met up with the guys we were travelling with for a night out which proved to be very funny, all of us dancing a progressively getting more drunk! It was really fun to mix with the locals and it gave us a taste of how friendly and hospitable some Cambodians can be!

After the horrors and joys of Phnom Penh we decided to move on to a seaside resort for a bit of relaxation. Next stop Sihnoukville!
 

Posted by Christian25 23:08 Archived in Cambodia Tagged travel cambodia phnom penh Comments (1)

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