Monday, 10 May 2010

Cambodia


Cambodia has really been a pleasant surprise. The lovely, surprisingly optimistic people,  the wonderful cultural heritage (the Phnom Penh Museum was probably the best one I've seen in the South East Asia region so far) and the beautiful countryside (which we didn't really get to explore for fear of landmines) made it actually a much more rewarding destination than Thailand. We only had a week in Cambodia, so we tried to make it quite sight-seeing intensive. We first landed in Phnom Penh, which has an interesting mixture of the horrors-of-war memorabilia, and the remnants of the ancient Khmer empire. We first paid respect to those killed by the Khmer Rouge at the Tuol Sleng Prison, a seriously grueling experience, which I found to be a bit too much for me. Imagine Auschwitz, with the 'before' and 'after' pictures of men, women and children killed there. As I said: too much. But thank God Cambodia has much more to offer than the wrist-slashing-sad remnants of war.

In Phnom Penh we visited the already mentioned museum, which had an enormous collection of Angkor-era sculptures. We really enjoyed it, but we were detained for two additional hours by a flash flood! My first experience of the kind, really. While we were inside the skies opened. I have never seen the streets being flooded this quickly (I'll try to get pictures uploaded soon).

Another impressive thing we saw in Phnom Penh was the Royal Palace with the Silver Pagoda, which housed several solid gold statues, which somehow managed to survive the war, the solid-silver tiled floor and the guide with a seriously funny accent (something between Sean Connery and American movie trailers). We also managed to squeeze in a lovely dinner with the hippie friend we'd met in Thailand, which was great. 


Now- moving on swifltly to Siem Reap. The Angkor temples were many, tall and interesting: basically everything they are said to be. The Baynon one was a little creepy with the gargantuan statues depicting the face of the most egotistical king in the history of egotistical kings staring at you from every corner. The ones that I will really remember though are the ones that are in the jungle, covered by the roots of huge trees. Those temples are carefully preserved the way they were first 'discovered' by the French in the late 19th century, overgrown, but not too much so, just enough to guarantee a spectacular picture. Once all the Japanese tourists disappeared we walked around the ruins, which was just beautiful.


We didn't get to spend as much time in Cambodia as we would have liked but this is definitely one I will come back to.

more from the Trek

more from the Trek

Waterfall in the Jungle

Waterfall in the Jungle

Sweating on the Trek

Sweating on the Trek

Ayuthaya

Ayuthaya

the Tiger Temple.

the Tiger Temple.

As the tanks roll by...

As the tanks roll by...

The bridge over the river Kwai

The bridge over the river Kwai

Floating Market

Floating Market

Squid Stick. Yum.

Squid Stick. Yum.

Fish Spa- little fishes eating the dead skin. Ticklish

Fish Spa- little fishes eating the dead skin. Ticklish

Fruit Market

Fruit Market

outside a Wat in Bangkok

outside a Wat in Bangkok

Ko Tao beach

Ko Tao beach

The snorkelling trip in Ko Tao

The snorkelling trip in Ko Tao

The Princess Lagoon

The Princess Lagoon

Rock climbing to see the lagoon

Rock climbing to see the lagoon

Thailand- Ao Nang beach in the South

Thailand- Ao Nang beach in the South

me with the world's biggest flower

me with the world's biggest flower

the famous white tiger in the Singapore Zoo

the famous white tiger in the Singapore Zoo

Singapore Zoo

Singapore Zoo

On the spice plantation in Goa with the stinky fruit. It's not allowed on public transport

On the spice plantation in Goa with the stinky fruit. It's not allowed on public transport

The Main Mosque in Delhi

The Main Mosque in Delhi

Humayun's Tomb

Humayun's Tomb

Agra Fort

Agra Fort

No prizes for guessing where that is!

No prizes for guessing where that is!

Taj Mahal again

Taj Mahal again

in front of the Jain temple

in front of the Jain temple

Jain Temple

Jain Temple

Jain Temple

Jain Temple

Our room in Jodhpur

Our room in Jodhpur

Jaislemere

Jaislemere

Jailsemere

Jailsemere

Cameron of Arabia

Cameron of Arabia

me on the camel called 'Lucky'

me on the camel called 'Lucky'

the rat temple - the most pampered rats in India

the rat temple - the most pampered rats in India

Cameron having his nail painted by the world-class master of miniature

Cameron having his nail painted by the world-class master of miniature

Cameron and Karam next to an underground corridor leading to the local fort, near Karam's village

Cameron and Karam next to an underground corridor leading to the local fort, near Karam's village