Asia | South East Asia | Cambodia | North West Cambodia | Siem Reap – A learning curve in Cambodia
I am feeling a complete emotional wreck at the moment – this place has just blown me away. Have spent the last three days exploring the many temples of Angkor Wat. Words fail me in describing how awesome they are – it is no surprise that they are one of the Seven Wonders of the World!
Today is Buddhist New Year, and it’s raining, so I’m spending the time exploring Siem Reap (the small town, next to the temples) where I’m staying. I ended up having to spend a night in Poipet (on the border) as I arrived too late to travel to Siem Reap. Not something I would recommend to anyone – but it was only one night. Travelled to Siem Reap by pick-up/bakkie. WHAT A TRIP!!!! It was a double cab pick-up and they squeezed 29 people on!! 7 people inside and the rest outside – we travelled for 5 and a half hours on a road that should not really be allowed to be called a road. It was more like a giant pot-hole, you could see pieces of tar in places – where a bridge had fallen down or the road was too bad we were driven through paddy fields. Needless to say I’m not going by road to Phnom Penh – I’ve booked a seat on a speed boat, about a 4 hour journey.
The Cambodian people are so lovely, friendly and gentle, they make Thai people seem like thugs in comparison. I have found it a heartbreaking experience, especially as poverty and the effects of the Khmer Rouge are so in your face!! You have tiny children coming up to you at the temples – they speak excellent English and are incredible guides, even though they don’t have shoes and are wearing a grey rag. It is very difficult to say no and on the first day I was constantly giving people money. Nicolas (fellow Round-the-World traveller) said that I shouldn’t be giving money to children as it gives them the wrong idea about life – so I had to be hard the next day – very difficult.
Another horrible reminder of the troubles here is the number of orphans and land mine victims you come across. I have been constantly on the verge of tears. Yesterday I visited an unofficial Land mine museum – it’s run by a man who is only 26, he lost both his parents to the Khmer Rouge and he has many stories and paintings describing his experiences – tragic is the only word that comes to mind. He now spends his time clearing mines for nothing, so the museum is there as a means to get donations of time and money from visitors.
Even so, I am very glad that I came here and look forward to visiting Phnom Penh…