Archive for the 'Cambodia' Category

Cambodia by bus and boat

I spent my last days in Cambodia down south by the coast, which is really beautiful – lush green hills and some pristine beaches. It was very peaceful and relaxing and I got to do some scuba diving and took a boat trip and trek through the jungle.

Here’s a video snippet from my boat trip through Ream National Park:

And from my bus ride back to Phnom Pehn.

Altogether, I would say that I enjoyed Cambodia. It was challenging at times for a relatively inexperienced traveler such as myself, but it was refreshingly un-Western (especially compared to Thailand) and the history and culture are just fascinating. Having the little beach vacation at the end didn’t hurt either!

Today I fly to Hanoi where I will meet my dad and begin our 3 week adventure in Vietnam!

Otres Beach, Sihanoukville

Aaaahhhhh….

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Phnom Penh

Yesterday I visited two contrasting extremes. In the morning I wandered through the beautiful, tranquil gardens and glittering golden pagodas of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. In the afternoon I went to the Tuol Sleng museum, which is housed in a former high school that was turned into a prison that was notorious for the brutal torture of prisoners during the Khmer Rouge regime. I hadn’t planned to go there but being here has made me want to better understand what happened. One thing I didn’t know about was the connection to Angkor – Pol Pot was obsessed with returning to the agrarian societies of ancient Angkor so everyone was forced out of the cities to work in rice fields. During 1975-1979 it is thought that 2 million Cambodians were killed by the regime.

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Phnom Penh is challenging in so many ways. There is no local public transportation, so pretty much the only option is the motorbike “taxis”. I haven’t yet seen a traffic signal, and there is no respect for any sort of rules of the road. At the same time, the city is fascinating with 19th century French architecture and the Tonle Sap river running through town and the bustling markets, and the people are friendly and welcoming.

Children are everywhere on the streets – selling water or souvenirs or just asking for help. MY Lonely Planet states that 40% of the population is under the age of 15, and it certainly feels that way here. It’s heartbreaking to see so many people in need in a place that has so few public services available. There are quite a few non-profits that provide social services and get funding through sales of various things to tourists, so I have been trying to seek out those places, but it seems like so little when there is such overwhelming need.

While down at the river, I happened upon a ceremony that involved releasing “good-luck” birds. I met the acrobatic kids in Siem Reap at the Royal gardens there – they gave my camera a good workout!

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The Temples of Angkor

I’ve spent two days visiting the temples of Angkor, and it really is as amazing as people say. I’m just now beginning to wrap my brain around what I have been seeing. Its crazy to try to imagine what the area looked like in the 9th-11th centuries, when a million people resided in cities surrounding many of the temples.

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