A week in Cambodia
22.11.2011 - 28.11.2011 -30 °C
When we left on this adventure, I had given a bit of thought to visiting Cambodia, but admittedly, knew very little about it. Thoughts of Cambodia were accompanied by visions of poverty, jungles, and general disorganization. Guess what? I was right! What I didn't count on however, were smiling, friendly people, remarkable ruins, and a country struggling to overcome it's past in order to build a future.
After a dodgy start (the usual rip off schemes found in border towns, designed to prey on unsuspecting, naive, tourists), we settled in to our hotel in Siem Reap, and had a great week haggling with the locals. Highlights included a visit to Angkor Wat, a tuk tuk ride through the country, visits to the market, and of course...spa treatments! Even Mac, our country bumpkin, thought that as far as cities go, Siem Reap was OK.
Once we got the money figured out ($1=400 000 riel), we hardly ever got ripped off - at least not that we know of. Strangely, they mainly use US dollars, but to keep you on your toes they give you part of your change in riel and part in dollars. In the end, everything was so cheap, and we were so (relatively) rich, that we tended to just pay people whatever they wanted and tell them to keep the change.
Here's our Cambodian Top 10:
- 1 The Children.
- 2 The Temples
There can never be too many Buddhas carved in stone. This one is watching the gate.
Social Studies at it's best. A lesson from our guide.
It's difficult to say what's more amazing; the amount of work that must have gone into creating the relief carvings that cover the walls around Angkor Thom OR the fact that they remain in such remarkable condition today.
By far the coolest temple of all was Ta Prohm. The jungle trees are intertwined with the temple and make for stunning photos.
- 3 The Transport Vehicles
- 4 The Countryside
- 5 The resilience of the people.
Our Angkor Wat guide told us that his father was killed by the Kmer Rouge when he was a very young child. He was raised by his grandmother, and didn't start school until he was about 10. He would take trays of cakes to school every day to sell to the other children in order to earn money so that he could to pay for school. After finishing school, he struggled as a tuk tuk driver for many years, until at age 37 he began learning English so that he could work as a tour guide. He is now learning french so that he can earn even more money as a french guide. In the mean time, he sends most of his money to his pregnant wife who lives and teaches school in the country. She earns $45/month. Despite it all, he keeps smiling because he says life will be much easier for his own children.
- 6 The Markets.
- 7 The street vendors.
- 8 The tuk tuks (and the drivers who never, ever, give up on asking you if you need one)
- 9 The spas. Hmmm, I think I'll have a manicure with pain today.
- 10 The food
Let's start with the crocodile, and save the snake for later.
The silver lining to the French occupation? The pastry legacy of course.
Jane's pineapple-coconut fruit shake. It's like having a pina-colada every day.
Megan, of course, finds icecream everywhere we go