Cambodia and Angkor
profile Kim Thörning location Cambodia - Siem Riep Time Jun 02, 2007 - 12:13:48
I'm sitting in a internet cafe in Siem Riep with a tiny very cute puppy in the door opening :)

We finally got our ride to Cambodia and the seats weren't too bad. The trip wasn't spectacular but getting our visas at the Cambodian border was interesting. It costs 20 dollars to get a visa for 30 days and you need photo with your application, i just so happened to have one with me but Rickard did not...the penatly? A gruelsome two dollars fine :P
If you didn't have an official vaccination card, a fine of one dollar.I guessing those fines went straight down the officers pocket. When we got our visas the bus just so happened to move to a resturant about 2km away without telling us so we had to get motobikes there for a dollar each, but we refused to pay them and referred them to the bus guides...just another cheeky way to try and make more money out of tourists and to be honest I'm getting quite tired of it.

Anyway once in Cambodia you immediately notice the differences from Vietnam, first of all the roads which are much worse and much dustier and along the roads are banana plants instead of rice fields. The people are must darker and they have rounder features in their faces, like a mix of indians and east asians. The art work and architecture here is more detailed and there is lots of gold and bling bling. Instead of "lady, want motobike" you hear "lady, tuk tuk?". Prostitution is more prominent and in the hotel in Phnom Pehn there were instructions on how to keep safe if you're a sex buyer...
It's generally more expensive here, about twice as expensive than viet Nam. There isn't as much litter and waste bins are usually within reach. The spirit of the people and country which I felt present in Viet Nam is not present here. It's pretty westernized and seem to be influenced by America, France and Japan quite a bit.

Phnom Pehn was very pretty and clean, at least the parts we saw.
We only stayed for one night and only had time for a walk with some photo opportunities. We managed to get stuck in a thunderstorm with heavy rain but got out of it still alive and kicking. We had some food, talked with some Americans who turboed through Cambodia, Viet Nam and Thailand...with just a couple of days in each country. They must miss out on so much!

The day after we spent another five hours on the bus to get to Siem Riep, which in comparison to Phnom Pehn is much smaller and roads are very dusty. After a shopping spree we had some food and went to bed to prepare for a full day of temple ruins starting at 5 am the next day.
Our tuk tuk taxi took us to the temple area and we got our tickets which were 20 dollars per person, sounds expensive maybe but once you've been there for a day it's really quite cheap.

The first destination was sun rise at Angkor Vat. A magificent thing to see! We spent a good 5 hours in there taking photos and just being amazed of what we saw.
Unfortunately I was very much in pain and was close to faint several times, it was quite scary but it got better after a few hours.
I'm curious of how many people helped building the temple since it took 37 years to finish. Back then they transported stone by water and with the help of Elephants and other strong animals they managed to build this complex which has been standing there for almost 900 years now. It's very well preserved compared to the other ruins we've seen so far and I overheard a guide saying that the ruins biggest enemy is polution and acid rain...I would like to add tourists to that list and I think that in a few years there will be very restricted access to some parts of the temple.

We continued on to Angkor Thom which is a big area with a multitude of ruins and most famous for Bayon which is older than Angkor Vat and very different. It was not as well preserved but still impressive with big faces on almost every tower and there were MANY towers. We saw various ruins, nothing as impressive as Angkor Vat and Baupon but still amazing to see. After another 5 hours, quite a few calories were burnt during the day, we headed on to Ta Prohm which is the temple ruin were parts Tomb Raider was filmed. It was in a pretty bad shape but it stood out from the others with all the trees that seemed to almost hold the ruins captive with their huge and slithering roots. We found one spot we reckognized from the movie and at this point I had to remove some photos from my camera to make room for new ones! I so should have bought more memory, a lesson to learn from I guess.

The tuk tuk driver wanted to take us back to town since he now had been with us for about 12 hours but we insisted on staying for the sunset...which we saw from the top of Phnom Bakheng. The sunset was so so, mostly because it was hidden behind clouds but the view was breathtaking and it was amazing to see hundreds of tourists of all nationalities share this moment side by side.

Back in town after being out for 14 hours straight we only did the essential, had a shower and something to eat...we started watching a movie on the tv but I must have fallen asleep after 5 minutes or so :)

It's so hard to describe the experience and capture it with images. And I'm amazed and I feel previlaged to have the experience now because I'm almost certain that within a few years the area will be much more restricted and you won't be able to walk, climb and touch the way you are today. Angkor Vat and Angkor Thom definately should be on everyones todo list.

Today was a lazy day, I finished my book "The Girl in the Picture" which is a journalistic story of Kim Phuc life before and after the famous photo that in a way stopped the Viet Nam war. It really had me from page one and I think my experience of the book was different from many others since I have just been in the area where she used to lived. I shed many tears when reading it and I can really recommend it.
Otherwise we've only done the basics today, sleep, eat, shop and blog ;)

Tomorrow we're heading on for Bangkok with another bus ride to look forward to, it's suppose to be the ride through hell :S.
There are a few more days to kill before Koh Samui and a whole week on the beach :)

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